Somerville Vision Zero

"To build a better city for generations to come, we must prioritize creating safe, accessible streets for all users in Somerville. With forward-thinking policies, design, and education, we can work together to save lives.” – Mayor Ballantyne

Updates

What's New?

2021 marked Year 2 of the City’s 5-year Vision Zero Action Plan. As part of that milestone, there are several resources below with more information on the City’s progress and plans as well as educational materials about Vision Zero.

  • Citywide Vision Zero Mailer: As part of our outreach, education, and advocacy around Vision Zero, the City sent out this mailer to all residents in March 2022.
  • Citywide map of mobility and safety improvement projects: This map shows safety, accessibility, and mobility improvement projects completed and planned throughout the city from 2020 - 2023. For the construction years 2022 and 2023, the projects on the map represent City priorities and a forecast of the changes you can expect to see on our streets in those years. As the 2022 construction season advances, we will do our best to update this map to reflect current progress and timelines of project implementation.
  • Action tracking spreadsheet: This spreadsheet shows the status of all Vision Zero actions as of the end of Year 2 (2021) of the plan.
  • 2021 Vision Zero Report Card: The Vision Zero Report Card summarizes the City’s progress and accomplishments in each Vision Zero Objective Area at the end of the 2021 reporting year.

What is the Vision Zero Action Plan?

Vision Zero Action Plan Draft

In 2017, Somerville’s Mayor Joe Curtatone formally adopted Vision Zero as part of the city’s strategy and planning process. Vision Zero is a worldwide advocacy campaign focused on reducing and eliminating transportation injuries and fatalities.

The Vision Zero Action Plan puts forth the City’s strategy for eliminating deaths and serious injuries from our transportation system and details the actions the City will take over the next five years. It was developed by a team of City staff and dedicated resident volunteers on the Vision Zero Task Force, including representatives from advisory and advocacy committees from Somerville and the Greater Boston region. The objectives, strategies, and actions set forth are intended to be ambitious, specific, actionable, and measurable.

The draft plan was released for public review in January 2020, public comments were accepted through the beginning of February and the plan was finalized in April. Please read below for more information about Vision Zero and Somerville’s plan to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries from our streets.

How can I get involved?

Here are some easy ways for residents and visitors to help us make the City a safer place and achieve our Vision Zero goal:

  • Read the Vision Zero Action Plan
  • Sign up for the Mobility Division’s monthly newsletter for information on projects, public meetings, and other ways to make your voice heard.
  • Report safety concerns on our streets under the ‘Report a Safety Concern’ tab below
  • Check back here for more ways to participate, and share this page with family, friends, and neighbors!
  • Background

  • Progress Reporting

  • Vision Zero Data Dashboard

  • Vision Zero Working Group

  • Other Resources & Meetings

  • Report a Safety Concern

  • Getting Around Somerville

  • Progress Reporting Archive

What is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero Somerville is the basis for the City’s commitment to multi-modal road safety. The initiative takes a multi-department, data-driven approach to improving safety for all road users, whether on bicycles or on foot, in vehicles, or aboard public transit. With the release of its Vision Zero Action Plan, Somerville joins approximately 40 other Vision Zero communities across the country. 

A Vision Zero city must meet the following minimum standards:

  • Set a clear goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries
  • Have a Mayor that has publicly, officially committed to Vision Zero
  • Have a Vision Zero plan or strategy in place, or a Mayor that has committed to doing so in clear time frame
  • Engage key city departments (including Police, Transportation, and Public Health).

Vision Zero cities include Somerville, Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, Charlotte, Austin, Denver, LA, Portland, and more

Each year, more than 35,000 Americans are killed on our streets and millions more are injured. In Somerville alone, there were 4,231 crashes from 2014 to 2018, including 84 injuries (69 of them serious injuries) and 1 fatality. These tragic results have for too long been considered an inevitability of modern mobility, and the commonplace reference to traffic crashes as “accidents” further entrenches the idea that there is nothing we can do to prevent them from happening.

Vision Zero fundamentally shifts how we approach traffic safety. Rather than assuming an acceptable level of risk from traffic crashes, it declares that no death or serious injury on our streets is acceptable and that we can proactively prevent traffic crashes through:

  • Prioritizing proven safety strategies
  • Interdepartmental city collaboration
  • Data-driven decision-making
  • A systems-based approach to traffic safety

A Vision Zero approach recognizes that users of the transportation system will sometimes make mistakes and that crashes will continue to occur, so it focuses on designing our roadways and transportation policies so that these mistakes do not result in serious injury or death. This is one of the reasons that Vision Zero focuses heavily on speed management – to lessen the severity of crashes. The graphic below summarizes the key differences between the traditional approach to traffic safety and a Vision Zero approach.

A traditional, individual-oriented approach sees traffic deaths as inevitable. Vision Zero's systems-based approach sees a world where they are preventable.

How was Somerville’s plan created?

As the Vision Zero Action Plan was being developed, a Vision Zero Task Force was formed to help identify actions for inclusion in the Vision Zero Action Plan. The Task Force worked with City staff to identify citywide traffic safety issues that may be remedied with changes to city policy, roadway or intersection geometry, traffic calming, enhanced enforcement, user education, or other factors. The Task Force consisted of nine Somerville residents with a diverse set of expertise and backgrounds. The Task Force included:

  • Angie Byrne
  • Chris Dwan
  • Alex Epstein
  • Louisa Gag
  • Jim Gallagher
  • Enid Kumin
  • Adi Nochur
  • Ian Schnieder
  • Susann Wilkinson

Justin Scheiber, a Transportation Planner in the Mobility  Division, served as  the City’s liaison to the Task Force. The Task Force typically met twice monthly.

The City will form a Vision Zero Action Plan Implementation Working Group to strategize, guide, and troubleshoot implementation of the actions called out in the plan. The Working Group will also play a key role in annually evaluating the City’s progress in implementing the plan and measuring performance around safety for all road users.

How will the City work to accomplish Vision Zero?

The City works on many fronts to increase awareness across municipal departments and to improve roadway safety through lower speed limits and upgraded infrastructure. In November 2016, Somerville lowered citywide speed limits on most roads from 30 to 25 mph, becoming one of the first cities in Massachusetts to take advantage of new State legislation that allows municipalities to do so. Additionally, throughout 2020 and 2021, the City expanded 20 mph safety zones to cover most residential streets in addition to higher vulnerability pedestrian areas around schools, senior centers, medical facilities, parks, and more. Finally, recent infrastructure improvements including speed bumps, Neighborways improvements, and sidewalk reconstruction are shown on the Mobility and Safety Improvements map.

2021 marked year 2 of the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan. Check out the resources below to see how we’re tracking our progress and what’s planned for years 3-5 of the plan

Progress Reporting 

 

  • Citywide map of mobility and safety improvement projects: This map shows safety, accessibility, and mobility improvement projects completed and planned throughout the city from 2020 - 2023. For the construction years 2022 and 2023, the projects on the map represent City priorities and a forecast of the changes you can expect to see on our streets in those years. As the 2022 construction season advances, we will do our best to update this map to reflect current progress and timelines of project implementation.
  • Action Tracking spreadsheet: This spreadsheet shows the status of all Vision Zero actions as of the end of year 2 (2021) of the plan.
  • Citywide Vision Zero Mailer: As part of our outreach, education, and advocacy around Vision Zero, the City sent out this mailer to all residents in March 2022.
  • 2021 Vision Zero Report Card: The Vision Zero Report Card summarizes the City’s progress and accomplishments in each Vision Zero Objective Area at the end of the 2021 reporting year.

 

Status of 0-2 Year Vision Zero Actions

 

As part of Vision Zero implementation, Action CS 1.2 calls on the City to convert the task force that was instrumental in developing the action plan into an interdepartmental working group with City staff and resident members.

The Vision Zero Working Group was formed in the spring and summer of 2021 and met twice during its first year. The Working Group aims to meet quarterly to discuss progress on actions, interdepartmental coordination, and street safety concerns throughout the City. Members of the Working Group include:

  • Representatives from the following City Departments and Divisions: 
    • Mobility
    • Parking
    • Communications and Community Engagement
    • Department of Public Works
    • Personnel
    • SomerStat
    • Police
    • Public Schools
    • Health and Human Services
    • Food Access and Healthy Communities
    • Council on Aging
    • Infrastructure and Asset Management
    • Constituent Services
    • Fire
       
  • Residents serving on the Working Group include:
    • Alex Epstein
    • Angie Byrne
    • Stephanie Galaitsi

Any questions about the Working Group can be directed to the Mobility Division at Transportation@somervillema.gov.

If you notice something on our streets that doesn’t look right, let us know!

Mother and children cross at a stoplight in SomervilleSomerville is a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family. One reason why is that there are a lot of ways to experience the city: walk around a favorite square, conquer the seven hills by bike, traverse thoroughfares by bus, zip about by train, or drive in a car. Find out the best ways to get around (and how to do so safely) at the link below.

2020 was the first year of the Vision Zero Action Plan and the first opportunity for the City to track its progress towards the specific 0 - 2 year actions in the plan. See how we assessed the City’s progress in the Vision Zero Report Card.

The report card summarizes the status of all of the actions in the 0 - 2 year timeframe and measures the City’s achievement towards each Vision Zero objective. The report card also discusses some of the challenges that can influence Vision Zero implementation as well as main focus areas for 2021.

Progress Reporting Materials:

  • 2020 Vision Zero Report Card: check it out and let us know what you think!
  • Action Tracking spreadsheet of 0 - 2 year actions: This spreadsheet shows the status of all Vision Zero actions as of the end of year 1 (2020) of the plan.
  • Mobility Division Key Performance Indicators: the City measures its progress by looking at data that helps us analyze the safety of vulnerable road users - among other information, this includes crash statistics, vehicle volumes, speeds, and bus ridership on our streets. this presentation summarizes crash data as well as before and after data for several recent projects and shows changes in vehicle volumes, speeds, and bus ridership. In addition, the Mobility Division has collected and analyzed several years of data on the number of people walking and rolling around our City.  

The chart below summarizes the status of 0-2 year actions at the end of the 2020 reporting period, and this map shows the locations of key mobility and safety projects from 2020-2023. Please note that, for the construction years 2022 and 2023, the projects on the map represent City priorities and a forecast of the changes you can expect to see on our streets in those years. As the 2022 construction season advances, we will do our best to update this map to reflect current progress and timelines of project implementation.

 

Chart that summarizes the current status of 0 - 2 year actions for Vision Zero