Peter Jacobsen is the public health expert who published the famous “Safety in Numbers” study in 2003, in which he found that increasing the number of cyclists doesn’t lead to a corresponding increase in traffic fatalities. His project these days is promoting “Vision Zero” — a new traffic safety philosophy that emphasizes human life and health over other benefits.
The traditional approach has been to put a monetary value on human life, and then applying that value in a cost-benefit analysis when creating transportation networks. The Swedish Parliament, though, set a much higher standard with the passage of “Vision Zero” legislation in 1997. They set a goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2020, and all road projects are evaluated on that standard.
Peter Jacobsen is in Portland, OR today to spread the word about Vision Zero. BikePortland interviewed Jacobsen; he said some interesting things. It’s worth the read.