Every year dozens of people are injured or killed on El Paso area roadways, with around 40% of them being pedestrians – such as Rodolfo Hernandez (pictured below, photo by Omar Ornelas of the El Paso Times) who was struck by a motorist in downtown El Paso, and left with lasting physical and emotional scars.
But all that could change as City, County and MPO officials are committing to putting an end to these preventable deaths. Over the last several weeks:
- The City of El Paso adopted a Complete Streets plan, adopted a Vision Zero goal “of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries on City of El Paso streets, with an emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable users of our transportation systems,” began recruiting a task force to help develop its Vision Zero Action Plan, and launched a new website.
- The El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) adopted a Vision Zero goal to end traffic deaths region wide by 2050 and announced its intent to develop a regional Vision Zero Action Plan, by applying for Federal Safe Streets 4 All funding.
- The County of El Paso committed $50,000 over the next two years to help fund the development of the El Paso MPO’s regional Vision Zero Action Plan.
This move to adopt Vision Zero was somewhat encouraged by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) passed in 2021, which provides federal grant funds to local governments to develop and implement safety action plans as part of the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) program. By creating Vision Zero action plans, local cities, counties, and/or MPOs can now work alone, or in partnership across a region, to implement traffic safety projects and programs to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries.
Local advocates have been calling for the adoption of Vision Zero and safe streets policies for the past several years, ensuring when the opportunity presented itself (as with the federal funding) local leaders were primed to take advantage of this new funding opportunity.
Speaking in support of the El Paso City Council resolution on Tuesday, our own Farm&City Deputy Director, and Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition board member, Scott White, said “Getting to the point where we are actually going to reach zero traffic deaths … that’s going to mean a great deal to the people of this community.”
Vision Zero policies and advocacy are important not just in terms of safety, but also in the lives they impact, the potential suffering they prevent, as well as in the opportunities they create. The data tells us that the young, the old, the poor and people of color are disproportionately both underserved and harmed by our current approaches to transportation and safety. in fact, El Paso was recently declared the 18th most dangerous city in the nation for pedestrians (with San Antonio, Houston and Austin not far behind). Poor and minority communities suffer more from traffic violence, as well as the lack of access to opportunity resulting from our inequitable transportation system. By rethinking how we use our streets to make them safer, we can also begin to rethink how we can remake our streets so they better benefit us as well.
And the US DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy notes that safer streets make it possible for more of us to walk, to ride bikes or scooters, or even take transit, and that this in turn (as a very fortunate benefit) helps reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
City of El Paso Complete Streets Plan (pdf) (presentation)
City of El Paso Vision Zero resolution (pdf) (presentation)
City of El Paso April resolution to begin Vision Zero Action Plan (presentation)
El Paso County Letter of Support for ELPMPO Safe Streets 4 All application (pdf)
If you want to learn more about Vision Zero Texas, or how to become a Vision Zero advocate in your community, just take a look at our Texans Guide to Vision Zero Advocacy, and feel free to contact us at email@example.com
Also, if your community has, or is considering adopting Vision Zero, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help share that news, or so we can provide key resources and materials to you that you can share with your community leaders.
Let’s make every city and county in Texas a Vision Zero Community!