Mayor Curtatone Announces Somerville's Commitment to Vision Zero Initiative

Vision Zero aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Somerville’s streets

Mayor Joseph Curtatone announced today the launch of Vision Zero Somerville, reaffirming the City’s commitment to multi-modal road safety. The initiative will take 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.
“In 2016 alone, Somerville saw 636 reported crashes on City-owned roadways, and 224 of those resulted in some type of injury. This is unacceptable; traffic deaths and serious injuries are preventable,” said Mayor Joseph Curtatone. “If Somerville is to become the most walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly city in America, an achievement we are steadily striving for, then we must take a systematic approach to creating safer streets. Through our Vision Zero commitment, we will treat traffic safety like the public health issue that it is, examining behaviors and conditions on our streets, so that we can make lasting improvements that get us closer to eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in all Somerville neighborhoods.”
Somerville joins 27 other Vision Zero communities across the country and will release a Vision Zero Action Plan in 2018. The plan, which will be developed through data-driven technical planning work and a robust community process, will include one-, three-, and five-year actionable goals around engineering, education, and enforcement efforts that build upon ongoing road safety efforts.
The City has been preparing for this commitment for the past 18 months by increasing awareness across municipal government departments and improving roadway safety through lower speed limits and upgraded infrastructure. In November 2016, Somerville lowered citywide speed limits on most roads from 30 mph 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, 65 new 20 mph safety zones were established in higher vulnerability pedestrian areas around schools, senior centers, medical facilities, parks, and more. Finally, recent infrastructure improvements include parking protected bike lanes on Washington Street, and a midblock crosswalk and flashing beacon at Union Square.
Additional projects and ongoing work will continue throughout the development of the Vision Zero Action Plan. For example, Beacon Street reconstruction, which is underway, includes safety features such as raised and separated bicycle facilities as well as pedestrian beacons at high-demand crosswalks.
“We are well aware that setting a goal to prevent all traffic deaths and serious injuries is highly ambitious. It will take careful planning, city resources, and the focused participation of the full community ultimately to reach our Vision Zero goal. We will certainly face challenges, and we will not succeed overnight,” said Mayor Curtatone. “But we are setting our course right here and now, and we are determined. We look forward to joining with—and learning from—the growing number of Vision Zero cities as we all intensify our commitment to roadway safety.”