2015 Rise in Traffic Deaths Underscores Need for Quick Action
Jaime Leonen was one of 23 people who died while walking in San Diego last year, and one of 54 people who died in traffic crashes. Circulate San Diego and Vision Zero Coalition partners BikeSD and AARP honored these lives in a press conference Tuesday, February 2 by placing 54 pairs of shoes on the steps of Civic Plaza. The numbers for 2015 represent a 17% increase in deaths for all modes, and a particularly alarming increase of 42% in serious injuries for pedestrians.We were honored to have the City Council adopt a resolution last October to support the goal of zero traffic deaths in San Diego by 2025. Since then, Circulate SD has worked with Mayor Faulconer's office and City staff to form a Vision Zero Task Force. Membership on the Task Force involves health professionals, community representatives, business representatives, San Diego Police Department, Transportation and Stormwater staff, and advocates for bicycling and pedestrian safety. The first meeting was convened in January, and the group is creating a 1-year strategy to implement Vision Zero in San Diego.A draft of the strategy is expected to be completed in April and is organized around engineering of safe streets, education and enforcement.The timing of this effort is intentional - to coincide with the City's budget cycle to ensure that funds are allocated in the FY2017 budget to implement safety measures that will help save lives in the City.The increase in death and serious injury on our streets last year shines a light on the need for action. Friends of Jaime's - present at the press conference - remind us that behind every statistic cited, there is a real person with family and friends who suffer loss.
San Diego Regional Walk Scorecard – 2015
Like many Americans, San Diegans increasingly demand safe, walkable neighborhoods. From City Heights to Carmel Valley, El Cajon to Solana Beach, Lemon Grove to Escondido, families contact our office to learn how to make their streets more walkable.
The San Diego Regional Walk Scorecard measures what cities in the region are doing to answer the call for improved walkability. Circulate San Diego’s predecessor organization WalkSanDiego created the Scorecard in 2012 to raise awareness of the actions that can improve walkability, and to foster healthy competition among cities in the San Diego region to champion walk-friendly policies and projects. This 2015 report is the third scorecard to be released.
Through the production of three scorecards, the methodology used to determine city scores has largely stayed the same. However, based on soliciting input on the Scorecard’s rubric and best practices in improving walkability, some of the individual scoring categories have been modified. These modifications have resulted in changes among the city rankings. The 2015 Scorecard is being released at the time the Vision Zero movement is sweeping across the country to combine Engineering, Education and Enforcement to prevent traffic deaths. This year’s Scorecard has been modified to reflect the best practices inherent to Vision Zero.
National City emerged as the top scoring city for several reasons. The city continues to vigorously add pedestrian-friendly infrastructure - especially near schools and civic buildings. The city comprehensively plans for improvements, and provides robust education to students and families on safe walkability. National City has the highest pedestrian collision rate in the region but has consistently taken steps to improve safety. This city’s work provides a model for other cities in the region.
Solana Beach came in a close second and moved up from fourth place in the last published Scorecard. This city has completed significant walk friendly improvements on the highly visible Coast Highway 101 corridor, as well as along a number of neighborhood streets. Its recently updated General Plan and Community Active Transportation Strategy outline policies that can be emulated by other regional cities. The city also has a high rate of walking while keeping the number of collisions low.
Encinitas ranked third and is in the top three for the first time. The city has implemented numerous traffic calming projects, completed a citywide pedestrian education program, and recently adopted a comprehensive Safe Routes to School Plan. In addition, the city’s downtown grid network and access to transit helps maintain a high rate of walking.
The Scoring Framework
The Walk Scorecard is comprised of four primary scoring categories:
- Status of Walking Index – This category combines:
- how many people choose walking to get around, and
- how safe they are when they walk. In general, cities that ranked high in this category tend to have a higher rate of walking, and higher percentage of mixed land uses. Other cities that ranked high have generally fewer people walking and a lower rate of pedestrian vehicle collisions.
- Implementation – This category examines data on existing and new infrastructure that enhances walkability, methods used to evaluate safety, and coordination with police to encourage safe and deter unsafe behavior. Examples of categories rated include the presence of a robust network of crosswalks and sidewalks, traffic calming projects (especially around schools), implementation of pedestrian education programs, and the percentage of homes and employment located within a ½ mile of high frequency transit.
- Policies – This category reviews various policies that promote walkability in the long term such as Active Transportation or Safe Routes to School Plans, Complete Streets policies, parking policies, and ongoing funding commitments. Both implementation and policies were studied to strike a balance between cities’ established big-picture goals and on-the-ground projects, recognizing that written policies are not always implemented.
- BestWalk Field Data – This category relates data collected by volunteers across the region rating the walkability of neighborhood streets via BestWALK, a smartphone application developed by Circulate San Diego.
Times of San Diego,
November 20, 2015
- Status of Walking Index – This category combines:
Zero traffic deaths in San Diego
- Learn about our Crash Not Accident campaign.
- Read our groundbreaking report on Vision Zero in San Diego (2015).
- Read our sub-regional report on Vision Zero in South County (2019).
- Read our sub-regional report on Vision Zero in East County (2019).
- Read our sub-regional report on Vision Zero in North County (2019).
- Read our 5 year update, "Hope for Vision Zero" for Vision Zero in San Diego (2021).
Our streets should be safe, no matter where we go or how we get there.
On average, one person is injured every day in San Diego while driving, walking or bicycling. Traffic violence is now on par and exceeding the homicide rate in San Diego, and traffic collisions are the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 0 to 13 in the City. In 2016, 2,155 were injured and 107 people were killed walking and biking on our roads in San Diego County.
Vision Zero is a data-driven approach to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries on our roadways, within a specific time frame, by increasing safe, healthy, and equitable mobility.
Vision Zero strategies focus on:
- Reducing speed limits and prioritizing the most vulnerable road users
- Redesigning streets to make them accessible for people of all ages and abilities
- Raising awareness and providing education about unsafe behaviors on the road
No loss of life is acceptable.
Vision Zero will prevent injuries and save lives.
Growing List of Supporters
Circulate is fortunate to have the support of the following organizations for Vision Zero:
Twelve Too Many: The Toll of Unsafe Streets in San Diego, 2015
On Wednesday, San Diego's 12th pedestrian was killed in 2015, the 2nd in four days. We know very little about this most recent victim, a woman who died after a Nissan Altima collided with her at an intersection on Ingraham Street around 9:30pm in Mission Bay Park. Two days earlier, San Diego's 11th pedestrian fatality occurred in front of the Convention Center downtown, this time a woman between 40 and 50 years old. The driver of a small silver Ford traveling westbound on Harbor Drive hit her and fled the scene; the suspect is still on the loose.
Collisions Involving Bicyclists and Pedestrians Resulting in an Injury (San Diego Police Department, June 2015)
Injuries on the Rise
Recent data from the Police Department shows that collisions for people walking and biking in the City have increased almost 30%. Collisions resulting in injury have increase 32%.
These deaths and injuries are preventable. In June, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Mayor Pro Tem Marti Emerald, Councilmember Mark Kersey, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, and others announced their support for Vision Zero. At the heart of Vision Zero is the belief that death and injury on city streets is unacceptable, and more importantly, is preventable.
The support of San Diego's civic leaders is an important first step: this work could not be done without the leadership and support that Mayor Faulconer and Councilmembers Emerald, Kersey, and others have shown. However, without action their support will not stop the daily carnage on our streets.
As detailed in our Vision Zero white paper, one person is seriously injured or killed while walking, biking, or driving in the City of San Diego. That means on average, 25 people have died or been seriously injured getting from point A to B in San Diego since our leadership voiced their support for ending all traffic deaths.
After an August recess, the City's Infrastructure Committee will review a Vision Zero resolution in their September meeting. The resolution will recognize the problem of traffic deaths and form an advisory committee to create a strategy to eliminate traffic deaths in 10 years. Getting the resolution passed from the Infrastructure Committee to the City Council is the crucial next step to make Vision Zero a reality.