City aims to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries; seeks public input

Related Story

COLUMBIA - Columbia is looking to the community to help eliminate all traffic deaths and injuries over the next 13 years through the Vision Zero Policy.

The policy aims to improve community safety by getting the number of traffic fatalities down to zero by 2030. It will focus on three main areas: education, enforcement and engineering.

"It's basically a philosophy of transportation planning and operations that asserts that safety is the number one factor when we design our streets and that traffic fatalities and serious injuries are preventable and therefore unacceptable," Vision Zero Project Manager Heather Cole said.

Cole said the city needs help in developing the best action plan possible. It is hosting the first of three public input meetings Tuesday for community members to share their thoughts on the policy.

"We'll take a deeper dive on how we can fund those things and who might our possible partners be," Cole said.

Each meeting will focus on one of the three main areas of improvement under the Vision Zero Policy. Tuesday's meeting will be about education.

Cole said, in the past 10 years, Columbia has seen about 68 traffic deaths and 454 serious injuries. Columbia is the 22nd city in the country to adopt the Vision Zero Policy.

"It's a big bite to chew, but I think other communities have done it successfully and they've at least seen their trends go down," Cole said. "So if that's the result of the action plan is that every year our fatalities and serious injuries go down, that's a win."

Some of the city's partners for the policy include PedNet Coalition, Columbia Housing Authority, Central Missouri Community Action, Columbia Public Schools and MoDOT.

City Engineering Manager Richard Stone will be working closely with the city to ensure the protection of both pedestrians and drivers.

"Our goal currently is safety," Stone said. "It's a home base for us."

Stone said all people need to buy into the program for it to succeed.

"It is gonna require citizens to be engaged and very much a part of this," he said. "Most collisions involve some form of human error."

City Manager Mike Matthes will submit an action plan to city council by April 30. The next Vision Zero public input meetings will be March 8 and March 13 from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Those who can't attend the meetings can complete a survey on the city's website to provide input on shaping the Vision Zero Policy.