Vision Zero Safety Program

Councillor Jeff Leiper is requesting our support to implement a Vision Zero Program in Ottawa, to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries.

Two motions are attached, that Councillor Leiper proposes to present to Council. One is for a comprehensive Vision Zero strategy. The other is a proposal to use the Federal Government’s one time increase in the share of the gas tax, which is being rebated to Municipalities, to implement safe cycling infrastructure. Jeff encourages residents to write to the Mayor and Councillors to support these motions, which will be debated by City Council.

Contact information for the Mayor and Councillors is here:

Jeff will be providing information in his newsletter this weekend, but here is some background in advance.

Vision Zero began in Sweden in 1997. This country now has the lowest rate of traffic fatalities in the world. More recently, Vision Zero has been adopted by those considered to be leaders in traffic safety, including countries such as Australia and England, and numerous major cities in the United States. In January 2016, Canada adopted Vision Zero as a Federal strategy.

Edmonton and Toronto already have Vision Zero programs in place:

Two terms are used in the Vision Zero motion that may not be familiar to everyone, though everyone likely is familiar with the functions.

  • “revert reds”: Programmed traffic lights that go green for a second, making you think it’s safe to cross or turn onto a street, then immediately revert to red. This happens when a car or bike inadvertently moves off the sensor strip at an intersection. The program registers that a car or bike was present, but now isn’t. The light briefly flashes green and the driver/cyclist enters the intersection. The light suddenly turns red for the driver/cyclist and green for the cross traffic, before the driver/cyclist has had a chance to clear the intersection. (Carleton / Scott is programmed to do this.) Revert Reds create a safety hazard.
  • “beg buttons”: Pedestrians waiting to cross some fully signalised streets must press a button to get a walk signal. There is no way of knowing which intersections will have this unnecessary feature (east/west bound Scott at IPD has this programming, as does Carleton/Scott). People often end up crossing on the green traffic light / don’t walk signal, rather than pressing the button and waiting another full cycle for the walk signal. Beg buttons create a safety hazard.

Heather Pearl