WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (February 19, 2019) –
The City of West Palm Beach’s newly launched Vision Zero West Palm Beach
initiative is getting some attention. The program, which aims to reduce and ultimately eliminate fatalities and serious injuries on city roads, just received a $40,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The grant was awarded to the West Palm Beach Police Department
for pedestrian and bicycle enforcement. The goal is to increase awareness of and compliance with traffic laws that protect the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, who tend to be the most vulnerable in traffic-related crashes. Enforcement efforts will focus primarily on education to drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.
“We are grateful to the West Palm Beach Police Department for its collaborative efforts to ensure we reach our Vision Zero goal,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. “This grant will help to support its ‘e’ – enforcement – but by way of another ‘e’ – education. It is important that all road users – drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists – know the rules of the road so they can protect themselves and others. We are also grateful to the Florida Department of Transportation for its continued partnership to help make our streets safer.”
The City of West Palm Beach was eligible to participate in the program since the city accounts for approximately 12 percent of pedestrian and bicycle crashes in the county. Officers who plan to participate will need to attend a training later this month. Efforts to educate the public are expected to ramp up in early March and the grant is earmarked to wrap in mid-May. While education is the primary means of curbing traffic incidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists, violations may also result in warnings and citations, depending on the circumstances. Through research, the Department has identified the intersections with the most concern and efforts will be targeted to those areas.
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.
“We are proud of the success Vision Zero West Palm Beach is already showing,” said Tara Applebaum, Vision Zero Coordinator for the City of West Palm Beach. “Recent data shows a more than 20 percent decline for crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists from 2017 – 2018, which may be attributed to our efforts. Through this grant, we know we can increase that percentage even more. We look forward to working alongside the West Palm Beach Police Department to achieve this mutual goal.”
“We are excited to have already seen some early success with Vision Zero,” said West Palm Beach Police Department Chief Sarah Mooney. “We look forward to interacting with the communities we patrol to raise awareness of proper traffic laws. While enforcement is a component of our strategy, it is always a last resort. So, if you see us on your street, come talk to us – it just might save your life.”
Another notable recognition came last week when the City of West Palm Beach was officially added to the national Vision Zero Network map, which provides free resources and keeps track of the cities that are joining the initiative nationwide. In Florida, West Palm Beach is joined by Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Hillsborough County. Outside of the state, notable participants include New York City, Washington D.C., and Seattle, among others.
For more information on Vision Zero West Palm Beach, visit www.wpb.org/visionzero, call 561-822-2222, or email Tara Applebaum at email@example.com. 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.