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File #: 2021-1408   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: Transportation Commission
On agenda: 10/27/2021
Title: Endorse the City Council's Adoption of the Vision Zero Action Plan (Action)
Attachments: 1. Vision Zero Action Plan, 2. Public Engagement Activities Summary, 3. Public Feedback Summary & Changes Based On Feedback, 4. Correspondence: Bike Walk Alameda, 5. Correspondence: Combined (4 emails), 6. Correspondence: Erinn Larsen, 7. Correspondence: Fifth Street Neighbors, 8. Presentation

Title

 

Endorse the City Council’s Adoption of the Vision Zero Action Plan (Action)

 

 

Body

 

Transportation Commission

10/27/2021

Item # 6A

(ACTION)

 

 

ALAMEDA VISION ZERO ACTION PLAN

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The Alameda Vision Zero Action Plan (“Action Plan”) aims to eliminate fatal and severe injury traffic crashes by 2035. Alameda’s Vision Zero policy, adopted in late 2019, requires the City to develop this Action Plan and makes safety the highest priority in transportation efforts. Per the policy, a Vision Zero Task Force (“Task Force”) comprised of community members and multidisciplinary staff helped guide development of the Action Plan. The Task Force includes a Transportation Commission representative.

 

The Action Plan, which will be updated once every five years, contains an introduction to the Vision Zero approach; an analysis of ten years of Alameda crash data, including High Injury Corridor maps; over 50 actions aimed at increasing traffic safety; and performance metrics to measure success. The actions speak to prioritization and design of street safety investments, public safety campaigns, the City’s state legislative agenda, and more.

Staff conducted an intensive public engagement period for the draft Action Plan in July and August 2021, including presentations to five City boards and commissions. The Task Force approved a series of changes to the draft based on public feedback. Most significantly, the vision’s target year was changed to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries by 2035 rather than 2040. This more ambitious goal will require funding and staffing for expeditious street safety improvements.

Staff recommends that the Transportation Commission endorse the Council’s adoption of the Vision Zero Action Plan. The Action Plan is attached as Exhibit 1 (note that the formatting and photo selection are not final). Its seven appendices, including the detailed crash data analysis, are available at www.alamedaca.gov/VisionZero#section-2 <http://www.alamedaca.gov/VisionZero>.

 

BACKGROUND

 

From 2009-2018, an average of two people died and ten suffered severe injuries per year from crashes on Alameda streets. Since then, one person died in 2019; four in 2020; and three have lost their lives so far in 2021. These terrible deaths affect families, loved ones, and broader communities. Alameda is currently mourning the loss of a young community member who was killed on September 6, 2021. Not one of these deaths is acceptable.

Vision Zero is an international movement with a goal to eliminate traffic crashes that result in deaths and life-changing injuries. It encompasses all people who use roadways, whether they are walking, using a wheelchair, biking, taking transit, driving, or traveling as a passenger in an automobile. Vision Zero is a multidisciplinary, data-driven effort that prioritizes equity. With Vision Zero, the City aims create an environment where human error does not cause death or severe injury. This systems approach focuses on “upstream” factors including street design, policies, laws, and operations.

In November 2019, City Council adopted the Alameda Vision Zero policy, which set the goal to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries and made safety the highest priority in transportation efforts. The policy required that a multidisciplinary Vision Zero Task Force guide development of an Action Plan that is data-driven, implemented equitably, and includes actions aimed at eliminating fatal and severe injury crashes.

 

The City worked with Toole Design (“Toole”), a leader in the Vision Zero realm, to help develop the Vision Zero Action Plan as part of the Active Transportation Plan consultant contract. Toole executed the crash data analysis, created the High Injury Corridor maps, and worked with staff and the Vision Zero Task Force to draft the Action Plan.

 

In August 2021, the Vision Zero Network recognized the City of Alameda as a Vision Zero Community, adding Alameda to their map at <https://visionzeronetwork.org/vision-zero-communities>. This national advocacy organization only recognizes communities that demonstrate commitment to eliminating traffic deaths and severe injuries, make systems-level changes to increase traffic safety, work to increase equity in traffic safety, and more. Failure to adopt a Vision Zero plan would likely result in losing Alameda’s status as a Vision Zero Community.

 

Caltrans will also require municipalities to have Local Road Safety Plans in order to apply for the next cycle of Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) grants, and this Vision Zero Action Plan will fulfill this requirement.

 

DISCUSSION

The Vision Zero Action Plan includes over 50 actions aimed at achieving the following vision: “People of all ages and abilities can travel safely using any mode, and traffic deaths and serious injuries are eliminated by 2035.” The Action Plan prioritizes actions that rely on street design changes, followed by education, to improve traffic safety. While police enforcement plays an important role, the Action Plan works towards creating an environment where it feels natural to comply with traffic safety laws, both due to street design and the behavior of other road users. Prioritizing street design interventions over enforcement measures aligns with recommendations from Alameda’s Community-Led Committee on Police Reform and Racial Justice. See Exhibit 1 for the full Vision Zero Action Plan.

The following are descriptions of sample actions.

 

Prioritizing resources:

                     Prioritize street safety investments on High Injury Corridors, supplemented by community input (action 4.1)

                     Use the Socially Vulnerable Populations map to prioritize investments, while also engaging with equity priority communities (1.1)

                     Focus traffic enforcement on moving violations associated with severe crashes (4.4)

 

Choosing street safety improvements:

                     Use Federal Highway Administration crash reduction factors to choose interventions (4.3)

                     Study roundabouts and signal improvements (4.6 & 4.12)

 

Community education:

                     Conduct a citywide safety campaign (3.1)

                     Hold an annual Traffic Safety Open House (3.9)

 

Legislative agenda:

                     Advocate for an income-based graduated traffic fine structure at the state level (1.5)

                     Support state legislation to allow automated speed enforcement cameras (4.11)

 

Increasing safety for young people:

                     Implement a School Zone program with 15 or 20 mph limits on streets allowed per the California Vehicle Code (4.14)

                     Conduct School Safety Assessments at all K-12 schools and implement results (4.15)

 

Guiding implementation and monitoring performance:

                     Provide an annual Vision Zero Status Report to the Transportation Commission, City Council, and the public (5.1)

                     Turn the Vision Zero Task Force into the Vision Zero Advisory Committee, a group that provides guidance on Vison Zero Action Plan implementation (1.2)

 

Based on the Vision Zero policy, the City has already begun implementing some elements of this plan, such as prioritizing High Injury Corridors. Projects in the 2021-2023 Capital Budget were prioritized and selected, in part, according to whether they fell on High Injury Corridors. Because of this prioritization, the Capital Budget includes funding to plan a major street safety improvement project on the Lincoln corridor, which is a Tier 1 High Injury Corridor. For a list of related projects, see Appendix D: Vision Zero Capital Projects List, which can be downloaded at www.alamedaca.gov/VisionZero#section-2 <http://www.alamedaca.gov/VisionZero>.

 

Role of the Transportation Commission

The Transportation Commission will play an important role in overseeing implementation of the Vision Zero Action Plan. Staff will seek input and recommendations on major associated projects, like street safety improvements on High Injury Corridors (action 4.1), the traffic safety public education campaign (3.1), a potential infrastructure rapid response program that responds to fatal and severe injury crash locations (4.10), and more. Starting in early 2022, staff will also present the annual Vision Zero Status Report to the Transportation Commission, reporting on actions taken and performance measure data points. The performance measures, found on page 30 of Exhibit 1, include measures to track the following:

                     Crashes and injuries by mode and whether victims were children or older adults

                     Street design projects to improve roadway safety

                     Police enforcement prioritization

 

In addition, as the Vision Zero Task Force morphs into the Vision Zero Advisory Committee (action 1.2), the Transportation Commission will continue to be offered a seat. The Vision Zero Advisory Committee will meet 2-4 times per year to provide guidance on Vison Zero Action Plan implementation. The group will include community members, multidisciplinary staff members, partner agency staff, and Board and Commission representatives. Transportation Commissioner Tina Yuen has generously offered to serve on the Vision Zero Advisory Committee, a continuation from her membership on the Task Force. The Social Services and Human Relations Board selected Board Member Scott Means, an expert on access for seniors and people with disabilities, as their representative. The Commission on Persons with Disabilities will be invited to select a representative as well (Commissioner Beth Kenney, who served on the Task Force, will finish her eight-year term this year).

 

Public Input on the Draft Vision Zero Action Plan

The draft Vision Zero Action Plan public engagement period ran from July 12 - August 6, 2021. The community was invited to participate via an online survey, in-person and virtual events, and public comment during presentations to five City boards and commissions. Staff and community members got the word out using the following methods: a press release that resulted in an Alameda Sun article; 100 flyers posted throughout Alameda; six mailings; social media posts; and outreach and presentations to community groups. Community groups that shared the information with their members include the Alameda NAACP, Alameda Black Achievers Alliance, Housing Authority, Bike Walk Alameda, West Alameda Business Association, Downtown Business Association, and more. A list of outreach activities, and their reach, is available in Exhibit 2: Public Engagement Activities Summary.

Community members who gave feedback on the draft Action Plan generally supported its direction. Three-quarters of survey respondents thought the Plan set the right goals to achieve its vision. Nearly 90% thought that prioritizing High Injury Corridors over other streets is the right approach, and 70% agreed with prioritizing street design solutions over enforcement (although many comments on other questions called for more traffic enforcement). Members of the five City boards and commissions who received presentations were broadly supportive of the Action Plan, with particular engagement and enthusiasm from the Social Services and Human Relations Board, the Commission on Persons with Disabilities, and the Planning Board. Exhibit 3 contains a summary of public feedback from the survey, boards and commissions, and other communications.

 

Table 1. Percent agree/disagree with prioritizing High Injury Corridors over other streets

 

 

However, respondents did call for some changes to the Action Plan, most notably the year that the City aims to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries. The draft Action Plan said the City would seek to do this by 2040, but over 80% of respondents called for an earlier year. Based on this overwhelming response, the Vision Zero Task Force decided to push the year to 2035, acknowledging that this ambitious vision will require ongoing public, Transportation Commission, and Council support for bold street safety improvements. The Task Force also agreed on a series of other changes based on feedback from the community and members of City boards and commissions. These are outlined in Exhibit 3: Public Feedback Summary & Changes Based on Public Feedback.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

Implementing the Vision Zero Action Plan, and working to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries by 2035, will require the City to make traffic safety a major funding priority in every budget cycle for many years to come. The City will need to continue to invest in, and seek outside funding for, Capital Budget projects related to traffic safety. These projects include Street Safety; Safe Routes to School Infrastructure; Pavement Management; Signs, Pavement Markings, and Curb Painting; Traffic Signals and Systems; and specific projects for major corridor and intersection safety improvements. In addition, continued and increased funding will be needed for programmatic efforts like traffic safety education campaigns. Implementing the Action Plan will require increased staff time in the Transportation Planning Unit and by transportation engineers at Public Works. In late August, the City filled a new two-year Senior Transportation Coordinator position to, in part, oversee implementation of the Action Plan.

 

MUNICIPAL CODE/POLICY DOCUMENT CROSS REFERENCE

The Vision Zero Action Plan is required by the Vision Zero policy adopted in 2019. The following policies and goals also directly or indirectly call for Vision Zero in Alameda:

                     A September 3, 2019 Council referral included a call for a Vision Zero policy.

                     The 2018 Transportation Choices Plan’s Projects 2, 9, and 30 all include creating a Vision Zero Safety Policy/Plan, marked high priority in all cases.

                     The 2017 Safety and Noise Element of the General Plan, Policy SN-5, states: “Ensure that the City prioritize public safety through the implementation of a Vision Zero policy to reduce annual pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries resulting from collisions with faster moving vehicles and unsafe street design.”

                     The 2013 Complete Streets Policy called for a “transportation network with infrastructure and design that allows safe and convenient travel along and across streets for all users.”

                     The 2010 Transportation Element of the General Plan Objective 4.1.1 calls for “safe and efficient movement for people, goods, and services” by improving safety of pedestrian crossings; enhancing general pedestrian safety; providing bike facilities throughout the City; ensuring that people with disabilities can use transportation facilities; and improving safety for all modes.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

Approval to develop planning documents is statutorily exempt from further review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15061(b)(3), the general rule that CEQA applies only to projects which have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment. Any future physical changes to the environment or roadway network that requires discretionary action by the City Council or Transportation Commission will be subject to future environmental review.

 

RECOMMENDATION

Endorse the City Council’s Adoption of the Vision Zero Action Plan.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Lisa Foster, Transportation Planner

 

Exhibits:

1.                     Alameda Vision Zero Action Plan

2.                     Public Engagement Activities Summary

3.                     Public Feedback Summary & Changes Based on Public Feedback