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Recent City stats and data from the Florida Department of Transportation both show decline in major traffic injuries and fatalities.
(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) – Recent data from the City of West Palm Beach shows a more than 20 percent decline for crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists - 23 percent and 26.7 percent, respectively - from 2017 to 2018, which may be attributed to the City’s newly launched Vision Zero initiative. The road safety initiative has proven to save lives in municipalities around the world and the City’s goal is to reduce and ultimately eliminate serious injuries and fatalities on City roads. Separately, according to data released in December from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the City of West Palm Beach ranks better than other similar-sized cities with respect to serious traffic injuries and fatalities, as measured between 2013 – 2017. The category is for cities with a population of 75,000 or more and includes Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, which all rank in the highest 25 percent for injuries and fatalities.
“We are encouraged by the data from the Florida Department of Transportation,” said
West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. “It shows that the City of West Palm Beach is safer than many other cities in our state. We were already headed in the right direction, and with the adoption of Vision Zero late last summer, which is already showing measurable effects, we know we can achieve our goals to minimize – and eventually eliminate - major injuries and fatalities on our City roads.”
A Vision Zero approach involves a wide variety of methodologies to reduce the troubling traffic fatalities and serious injuries produced on roads daily. The method has been adopted in 34 cities in the United States, with many more abroad. Locally, Vision Zero West Palm Beach is a collaborative effort between internal and external community stakeholders. The City of West Palm Beach acts as connector to resources and experts, advancing a shared goal to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries on the streets of West Palm Beach. The City looks to achieve its goal through the “three Es” – engineering, whereby the City commits to design better streets; education, including public fairs and targeted outreach programs; and enforcement, which includes enforcement of traffic laws and review of policy changes.
“Vision Zero is already working,” said Tara Applebaum, Vision Zero Coordinator for the City of West Palm Beach. “We have short-term and long-term goals to help improve the safety for all City of West Palm Beach road users and we can already tell that our actions are making an impact. Bicycle crashes decreased 26.7 percent from 2017 to 2018. Simultaneously, crashes involving pedestrians are also on the decline – 23 percent year-over-year. These are just two trends we are seeing go in the right direction. We continue to use data to identify the highest crash intersections and most problematic streets. Once identified, we are then engineering solutions to improve the street for all users, including where we are standing today, on the corner of 49th Street and Broadway Avenue.”
The City has identified two corridors with the highest crash rates: Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. and North Broadway corridors. The City has initiated a planning study to determine the appropriate safety improvements. Other intersections are also under review, and short-term options to improve road safety include safety signage, rumble strips and examination of limiting right on red turns.
“We are excited for residents and visitors to adopt more positive road safety practices by way of engineering, where the City designs safer streets, and education, where we share information with the public on how they can be safer in their driving habits,” said City Traffic Engineer Uyen Dang. “Through these changes, we know we can limit the need for the third ‘e,’ enforcement.”
As part of its work, Vision Zero does community outreach to engage members of the public of all ages, including going out to schools to talk to children and teens and hosting older adult workshops. On Saturday, February 9, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. the City is hosting the first public Vision Zero event, the Vision Zero Community Safety Fair. The FREE, interactive workshop will take place along Flagler Drive - north and south traffic lanes will be closed to vehicle traffic from Fern St. to Banyan Blvd. – and include free helmet fittings and helmet giveaways (while supplies last), a bicycle rodeo, driver safety tips, a rollover crash demonstration, a West Palm Beach Fire Rescue truck for exploration, and more. In addition to the activities, Vision Zero West Palm Beach, the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, the Downtown Development Authority, the Transportation Planning Agency, SkyBike and St. Mary's Medical Center will have booths with games and related giveaways, such as reflectors and bike lights.
The timing of this event overlaps with the popular West Palm Beach GreenMarket, which will be celebrating its annual Strawberry Jam. The Strawberry Jam is an annual bake sale of strawberry shortcakes, courtesy of Chef Carlino of Cider Doughnuts and SWFL Produce. The cakes are available while supplies last for $5 each, and proceeds benefit Hospice of Palm Beach County.
Parking for both events is available in two City garages, both just blocks from the waterfront. Parking is FREE in the Evernia/Olive garage during market hours and there is a flat fee of $5 in the Banyan/Olive garage before 1 p.m. Those interested in arriving by boat can take advantage of the City's free public docks, and those arriving by bike can take advantage of bike valet parking. Locals and visitors are also encouraged to arrive the sustainable way – on the City’s FREE and fun trolley. The incredibly popular transport system cuts down on CO2 emissions by eliminating car trips and has several routes, including the Yellow Line, which has several stops near the GreenMarket.
For more information on Vision Zero Community Safety Fair and Vision Zero West Palm Beach, visit www.wpb.org/visionzero, call 561-822-2222, or email Tara Applebaum at tapplebaum@wpb.org. For all City of West Palm Beach news and updates, follow the City of West Palm Beach on Facebook @CityofWPB and on Twitter and Instagram @westpalmbch.