The Santa Cruz County Community Traffic Safety Coalition (CTSC) recently voted to work towards a Vision Zero policy.
In 2013, 200 collisions involving cyclists in Santa Cruz County injured 194 cyclists and killed three. Six pedestrians were also injured in bike/pedestrian collisions. On a population basis, this places Santa Cruz second in the state for bicycle collisions, with Yolo County (home of UC-Davis) in first place. The city of Santa Cruz ranks in first place statewide in bicyclist injury collisions with 121 injured cyclists. It’s worth noting that both Santa Cruz County and Yolo County have ten times the rate of cycling as the state of California overall.
Santa Cruz County ranks 12th in the state out of 38 counties for pedestrian injury collisions. For children under age 15, the county is fourth from the worst. In terms of all traffic fatalities and injuries, the county ranks about a third of the way from the worst at 21.
To address this epidemic, the CTSC began working late last year towards a Vision Zero policy. After the CTSC engages stakeholders and formulates goals for Santa Cruz County, the eventual hope is to encourage the county and city governments to adopt a Vision Zero policy countywide.
The CTSC is a collaborative partnership of government agencies, community organizations, businesses and individuals representing public health, transportation, law enforcement, retailers, schools and various advocacy groups in Santa Cruz County. They’ve worked since 1992 to reduce traffic related injuries, and recognize that reducing vehicle miles traveled is a key to reducing the overall community’s exposure to traffic collisions.
“The CTSC is very excited to create their new work plan based on the Vision Zero philosophy. We are in the very beginning stage of introducing this concept into our work as a coalition,” says Theresia Rogerson of the Santa Cruz County Department of Health Services. “Our hope is that local elected officials do see a need for Vision Zero. In looking at some of the data we have already, there seems to be a clear indication that something different is needed to prevent the losses we see here in our community.”
Amelia Conlen, director for Bike Santa Cruz County, says, “Santa Cruz County has unacceptably high levels of cyclist injuries and fatalities, and we look forward to working with the CTSC to get our elected officials on board with Vision Zero and build safer streets for everyone.”
Steve Piercy, a mid-county resident who has worked for cycling safety as an individual and long-time member of the People Power Santa Cruz Steering Committee, began advocating for Vision Zero in 2014. He explains “Vision Zero is a policy that adopts the view that all traffic fatalities and injuries are preventable. I am overjoyed that the CTSC is the first entity in Santa Cruz County to seriously consider the adoption of a Vision Zero policy.”
Piercy has expressed frustration at the lack of action among advocacy groups and public agencies in Santa Cruz County. “All of our transportation and public works agencies — from city, to county, and up to regional levels — have avoided adopting the goals of Vision Zero,” Piercy says. “Instead, if they do anything along this line, they adopt weaker goals of a 50% reduction in deaths and fatalities by 2035. This means that they accept death and injury as a part of our transportation systems.”
“The CTSC is taking a leadership position on Vision Zero, and I hope these other organizations and agencies will come around before many more people are killed and injured.”
To learn more about Vision Zero, visit The Vision Zero Network. To learn more about the Community Traffic Safety Coalition and their programs, visit the CTSC website. CTSC programs include a bicycle traffic safety school, the Neighborhood Pace Car, traffic calming trash can stickers, and more.