Goal of initiative is to enable all residents to walk and bike safely
Published in the April 25 – May 8, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life
Drivers in Morgan Hill April 18 morning learned quickly that safety is a top priority for the community. During a four-hour period, a total of 33 traffic cops from the Morgan Hill Police Department and throughout Santa Clara County pulled vehicles over and wrote 132 citations as part of the city’s Vision Zero traffic safety improvement program.
“Morgan Hill is a community that values the safety of its residents and visitors,” said Police Chief David Swing. “Ongoing efforts to ensure that all our Morgan Hill roadways are safe for motor vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians have always been a been a focus for the city.”
The commitment to this focus was recently enhanced when city councilmembers adopted Vision Zero Morgan Hill. Vision Zero is a traffic safety improvement initiative that began in Sweden in 1997 to reduce traffic fatalities. It proved so successful that police departments around the world adopted it. The core principles of Vision Zero are building better and safer streets, educating the public on traffic safety, enforcing traffic laws, and adopting policy changes that save lives.
“The city’s commitment to Vision Zero supports the continued development of Morgan Hill as a community for all and encourages ongoing focus on reducing traffic deaths and injuries,” said Mayor Steve Tate. “Vision Zero actions provide forward-thinking and strategic approaches that will provide direction to team members throughout all city departments.”
While these initial actions provide a starting point for work on Vision Zero Morgan Hill, he said, the city staff will continue to provide policy direction for years to come, shifting attitudes and perceptions to align with safety being the highest priority for local roadways.
Vision Zero Morgan Hill supports the city’s goal of Complete Streets and is aligned with the city’s primary planning documents. The City has prioritized alternate transportation means through its adoption of its 2035 General Plan Update, as well as adoption of its 2017 Bikeways, Trails, Parks and Recreation Master Plan.
“All residents will be able to safely walk and bicycle to schools, businesses, transit, and the downtown from their neighborhoods,” Tate said. “It is imperative that residents and visitors can safely travel to these areas via foot and bike.”
Implementation of Vision Zero Morgan Hill will also contribute to the economic prosperity of neighborhoods, answer community priorities, and implement many of the city’s goals already in place.
To reach these goals, actions have been put in motion in motion following the city council’s adoption of Vision Zero Morgan Hill:
- Create a strategy for infrastructure funding that includes safe street design
- Seek out opportunities to provide more balance in the vehicles/bicyclist/pedestrian mix in the downtown.
- Reduce dangerous speeding by including traffic calming and pedestrian safety projects into the Capital Improvement Plan
- Launch education campaigns for safer streets
- Support the Police Department in increasing safe street behavior
- Outreach and collaborate with regional and local partners, including the Morgan Hill Unified School District
Successful implementation of Vision Zero Morgan Hill will require continuous involvement and support from the city council, staff, regional partners, and the community.
“Vision Zero’s goal is to create a culture in our community that prioritizes safety, creates livable streets, and seeks to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries,” Tate said. “The city seeks to engage the entire community in the implementation of Vision Zero principles. With full community support, we will make Morgan Hill safer.”