Somerville Vision Zero

"Somerville strives to become the most walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly city in America, and if we’re going to get there, we must be bold, and we must bolster our dedication to safer streets.” – Mayor Curtatone

Draft Vision Zero Plan Released for Public Review and Comment

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 Draft 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 on January 9th. More information is listed below about public events where City staff will be showcasing the action plan, and links to review and comment on the draft document. You can also read the press release announcing the draft plan.

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:

  • Attend an open house in January or February (see schedule below) to learn about the draft plan and discuss your ideas for reducing and eliminating transportation-related injuries and fatalities within the city.
  • Read and comment on the draft Vision Zero Action Plan
  • Report safety concerns using the form and map below to help us to identify and resolve problem areas
  • Check back here for more ways to take part, and share this page with family, friends, and neighbors!

Open House Schedule

Tuesday,  January 21st, 6-8 p.m. East Somerville Community School, Cafeteria
50 Cross St, Somerville, MA
Thursday, January 30th, 6-8 p.m. Somerville Community Baptist Church
31 College Ave, Somerville, MA
Wednesday, February 5th, 6-8 p.m. Somerville Public Library, Auditorium
79 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA
  • Report a Safety Concern

  • Vision Zero Data Dashboard

  • Vision Zero Task Force

  • Background

  • Meetings & Resources

  • Getting Around Somerville

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.

Ali Kleyman, a Senior Transportation Planner in the Mobility Division will act as the City’s liaison to the Working Group. It is anticipated that the Working Group will meet quarterly.

What is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero Somerville undergirds 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 will the City work to accomplish Vision Zero?

The City has been preparing for this commitment for the past two years 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 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, the Beacon Street reconstruction, 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.”
 

What are the basics of Somerville’s plan?

Guiding Principles

The following principles will guide the actions we take as a part of this plan:

  • Equity: Implementation will focus on underserved communities and will acknowledge the disproportionate burden of traffic crashes on communities of concern.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: Implementation will be guided by regularly updated data on the locations, behaviors, and other conditions related to deaths and serious injuries on our streets; performance metrics will be used to track our progress.
  • Coordination and Accountability: Implementation will take place through a coordinated effort across city departments and together with our regional partners.

Objectives and Strategies

  • Build a robust and transparent data framework
    • Develop a traffic monitoring program
    • Improve crash data
    • Enhance the Vision Zero Portal
  • Prioritize Safe Street Design
    • Enhance design of major intersections
    • Calm traffic in residential neighborhoods
    • Build safe mid-block crossings
    • Build safe pedestrian routes
    • Enhance and expand neighborways
    • Grow network of separated bicycle facilities
    • Prevent blocking of bike lanes and crosswalks
  • Operate safe streets
    • Reduce traffic speeds
    • Ensure equitable enforcement
    • Evaluate and modernize traffic signals
    • Provide safe routes through construction
    • Mitigate the impacts of extreme weather
  • Promote and institutionalize a culture of safety
    • Establish a framework of advisory and policy committees
    • Educate and engage the public on Vision Zero
    • Improve truck safety
    • Create city policies and advocate for state legislation supportive of Vision Zero

To understand more about our commitment to provide safe, quality, and low-stress means of transportation to every resident as well as the specific actions and implementation time frames of the Vision Zero Plan, please read and comment on the Draft Action Plan.

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.