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Cleveland Launches Project to Reduce Traffic Deaths to Zero

The city has launched Vision Zero Action Plan, a yearlong, $110,000 effort to collect and disseminate data on crashes, lower speed limits and redesign streets to calm traffic. Last year, 74 people died from car crashes.

(TNS) — Scores of Clevelanders are dying every year in car crashes that could be prevented through better street design, education, and enforcement, safety advocates say.

Now, after several years of preliminary work interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Cleveland is finally gearing up a project that aims to reduce the number of traffic deaths and injuries to zero.

The city and partners including the nonprofit Bike Cleveland are launching a yearlong, $110,000 planning effort to develop a Vision Zero Action Plan.

“Every two weeks, 13 people on average are seriously injured or killed on Cleveland roadways,’' said Jacob VanSickle, Bike Cleveland’s executive director since 2011. “This is unacceptable.”

The Vision Zero project is the local manifestation of a global traffic safety movement launched in Sweden in 1997 aimed at eliminating serious injuries or fatal crashes along roadways.

Among other things, the Vision Zero movement promotes the collection and dissemination of data on crashes, the establishment of lower speed limits, and the design of designing safer streets that naturally “calm” traffic.

Traffic calming can include widening sidewalks, creating protected bike lanes, and narrowing traffic lanes, and turning radii at intersections.

An online kickoff meeting Tuesday for Vision Zero Cleveland will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Attendees can register via the website.

Karin Korb, a retired U.S. wheelchair tennis champion who consults in issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and who served until April as public policy coordinator for the Lakeshore Foundation Olympic and Paralympic Training Site in Birmingham, Alabama, was scheduled as the keynote speaker.

The kickoff will be followed by at least six, in-person, outdoor meetings where residents can speak from personal experience about where they’d like to see safety improvements along city streets.

The gatherings are designed to collect information about specific road conditions across the city.

“We really want to get people out to these meetings to talk about their lived experiences on these corridors so the [Vision Zero] consultant recommendations are based on what people are experiencing on the roadway,’’ VanSickle said.

The meetings and their locations and dates are:

- Wednesday, 5:30 – 7 p.m., Zone Recreation Park, 6301 Lorain Ave.

- Thursday, 5:30-7 p.m., Luke Easter Park, 3090 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive,

- Saturday, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Paul’s Serv-Rite Market, 4621 Central Ave.

- Tuesday, Oct. 12, 5:30-7 p.m., Halloran Park, 3550 W. 117th St.

- Saturday, Oct. 16, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Roberto Clemente Park, 3690 Seymour Ave.

- Saturday, Oct. 23, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Gardenview Hill Park, 8700 St. Clair Ave

Additional meetings will be announced at

“Any serious injury or fatal crash is one too many,’’ VanSickle said. “It’s important to get this right and make our roadways safe in our communities.’’

As of Sept. 26, car crashes in Cleveland had claimed 55 lives, VanSickle said. In all of 2020, crashes killed 74, according to

The majority of crashes occur on the city’s East Side, where a higher proportion of residents don’t have access to a car, he said.

“It’s important to get this right and make our roadways safe in our communities,’’ he said.

The city’s Vision Zero task force includes partners such as the administration of Mayor Frank Jackson, City Council, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, the Ohio Department of Transportation, LAND Studio, and the Cleveland Foundation.

The task force is co-chaired by Darnell Brown, the city’s chief operating officer, and Ward 3 Councilman Kerry McCormack.

The consultant team working on the project includes the Cleveland office of the engineering firm of Nelson Nygaard, along with Cleveland-based Seventh Hill, an urban design firm, and Bongiorno Consulting, also of Cleveland.

The mayor’s office said that $50,000 in funding for the plan is coming from the City of Cleveland, $10,000 from the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, $20,000 from the Cleveland Foundation, $15,000 from the Cuyahoga County Office of Sustainability, and $15,000 from Cleveland City Council.

Since 1997, Vision Zero plans or policies have been adopted by Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand, according to the website

As of August, 51 U.S. cities including Chicago, Denver, New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia have adopted Vision Zero plans, according to visionzeronetwork.og. Cleveland would be the first Vision Zero city between Chicago and Harrisburg, PA, if it developed and adopted such a plan.

The Cleveland task force has gathered information on high-crash locations across the city, and will devise specific recommendations for those areas, VanSickle said. But the project will also develop recommendations that could be implemented citywide.

“I would love to see the adoption of a citywide traffic calming policy,’’ he said. Such a policy would automatically improve conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.

“If you’re doing things to make the roadway safer to prevent motor vehicle crashes, largely you’re also making it safer for people walking or biking too because it includes things like traffic calming,’’ he said.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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