There are many ideas that sound great and are marketed well, yet end up in the history books as failures. We often make decisions based on emotions, only to confirm that emotions don’t necessarily govern well. Going against what’s popular is rarely pleasant, but I was convicted by my research when I voted ‘nay’ to endorse Vision Zero on Tuesday. Taking into consideration the current financial obligations of the county, and of our citizens who must support not only their federal and state governments, but manage their personal lives, too, the Vision Zero system with all the accolades would not represent the priorities of the 3rd Council District.
Nearly 6 weeks ago, the heartbeat of a young, vivacious son was stopped while crossing a state highway in a marked crosswalk. The lives of untold members of our society instantly changed forever. My heart hurts for those affected by this tragedy and for those who have similarly lost loved ones and were mournfully reminded of the pain. The recent incident sparked a campaign for the Pierce County Council to adopt the Vision Zero system in its transportation planning.
The resolution: R2022-118, A Resolution of the Pierce County Council Related to Traffic Safety; Endorsing Vision Zero with the Goal of Achieving Zero Traffic Deaths and Serious Injuries on Pierce County Roadways by 2035; Directing the Planning and Public Works Department to Prepare a Vision Zero Action Plan; and Authorizing the Submittal of Grant Applications in Support of the Vision Zero Effort. It showed up on the August 16 consent agenda and was referred to the EID Committee the following week for a presentation. It was an extremely emotional meeting. There was little time to thoroughly research Vision Zero and inform the public before Tuesday’s vote.
I recall from when I worked at the state, the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) was cited as a source for legislation, particularly the Complete Streets concept. That organization shares extensive information about the Vision Zero system. Founded in 1930, ITE is a community of transportation professionals including, transportation engineers, transportation planners, consultants, educators, technologists, and researchers. It has a network of nearly 16,000 members working in more than 75 countries. You can say the safety industry is highly represented.
You can also learn about Vision Zero on the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) website. It’s an organization that promotes multiple initiatives and projects, particularly concerning the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and their implementation. Many cities and counties through out the country are members of the global organization ICLEI, which does have a seat at the United Nations.
Below is a list of some of the resources I used to research the other side of the issue and concluded to not support this particular measure:
There was another piece to my research that caused me some concern. When I looked at the “What is Vision Zero” website, I saw at the bottom of the page… The Vision Zero Network is a fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives. Naturally, I looked up Community Initiatives. It seemed to be a rather odd site…at least to me. It a very lucrative, influential, global non-profit. Salaries are listed on page 8 of the most recent 990 I could find.
Some folks may label me anti-safety. That’s certainly not true. Rejecting the resolution based on the information my research revealed was the right thing to do. Spending a half a million dollars via a grant from taxpayer earnings, to develop a plan in two years, that will no doubt be driven by more grants with strings attached, and grow the size of government was not something I believed to be in your best interests. We have a most excellent staff that plans and designs our transportation system with safety as their number one concern. The real safety conversation needs to go to our state representatives and address its lax laws on drugs and crime.
Thank you for this opportunity to share.
Grateful for you!