'Vision Zero Summit' Provides Update on Street Safety Programs

There was praise for San Antonio's three year old Vision Zero program to reduce and eventually eliminate transportation related accidents in San Antonio, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

An average of 162 people a year, or roughly three per week, die on San Antonio roadways, and even though that number is down since the start of Vision Zero in 2015, City Assistant Transportation Director Art Reinhardt says there is a lot of work that has to be done to get that number down further.

The goal is to have zero transportation related deaths in the city by 2040.Reinhardt says one area that needs improvement is an uptick in deaths of  pedestrians who are killed trying to run across busy roads, especially after dark.He says engineering has to be brought to bear to solve that problem.

"If you have a traffic signal a mile away from the next one, and you have a bus stop in the middle, do we really expect someone to walk all the way down to that crosswalk and walk across and then go all the way back," he said.

He says San Antonio has too many straight stretches of road without marked crosswalks, which leads to the problem.

He says more must be done in the way of what is called 'traffic calming,' to get motorists to slow down.  Among the ideas are reducing the number of lanes on main surface streets, adding architectural features to slow down traffic, or not make streets so straight, requiring drivers to break to navigate curves.

"If you look at a driver who is going 20 miles an hour, there is a one in ten chance that the person dies," he said.  But if you are going 40 miles an hour, there is a one in ten chance that they survive."

West side Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, who has made Vision Zero a centerpiece of her term, says efforts are underway to make San Antonio streets safer for cars and for pedestrians.

“We want San Antonio roadways to be safe for everyone: whether they choose to drive, bike or walk,” Gonzales said. “This is why San Antonio adopted Vision Zero. It is our goal that no one dies on San Antonio roads. The decisions that we make every day have an impact on our lives and all of the lives around us. We can decide to take care of each other, our children and our community through Vision Zero.”

Current Vision Zero construction projects include the Wurzbach Road pedestrian crossing and sidewalks, Culebra Road access management medians, Commerce Street pedestrian crossings, and the Austin Street pedestrian crossing. The project locations are determined by crash data and other factors including: the distance between signalized pedestrian crossings, travel speeds, traffic volume, and high-priority destinations.

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