Vision Zero's Enforcement Problem: Using community engagement to craft equitable traffic safety strategies
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Vision Zero's Enforcement Problem: Using community engagement to craft equitable traffic safety strategies


Traffic fatalities are increasing in America, and cities are increasingly turning to a traffic safety framework called Vision Zero to combat this problem America Vision Zero plans generally include law enforcement as one strategy, which has drawn criticism from activists concerned about racially biased policing. This report analyzes the relationship between Vision Zero and racial justice, focusing on how cities conduct targeted stakeholder engagement and how this engagement affects the ways in which concerns about racially biased policing are incorporated into Vision Zero plans. Through case studies of four Vision Zero cities I find that 1) resource constraints limit the degree to which both planners and activists can focus on Vision Zero, 2) having multiple stakeholders in a city focused on racial justice is necessary to guide the conversation, 3) the failure of agencies within a city to coordinate can hamper plan implementation, 4) city staff often do not incorporate stakeholders fully enough into the planning process, and 5) the use of traffic cameras has the potential to reduce racial bias, but remains controversial. Based on these findings, I recommend four steps cities can take to improve the Vision Zero planning process: 1) prioritize proactive outreach to a wide array of community stakeholders, 2) center Vision Zero planning and implementation within the mayorís office, 3) provide stable funding to allow for long-range planning and stakeholder compensation, and 4) pair automated enforcement with fine structures that are adjusted for income so as not to disproportionately impact low-income communities. While additional research is needed to fully diagnose the shortcomings of the Vision Zero planning process, these recommendations are important next steps towards enhancing planning efforts to create Vision Zero programs that effectively increase traffic safety while respecting the concerns of communities of color.

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