Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 12, 2020

Vision zero possible

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

I just read the Pete Buttigieg has committed to a national Vision Zero policy if he’s elected president.  While that may not be sufficient to get me on the Buttigieg bandwagon, it reminded me of a piece I read last month about two major metropolitan cities which clocked in no pedestrian fatalities last year.  Zero.

Unsurprisingly, they were not in the United States.  They were Oslo, Norway and Helsinki, Finland.

Oslo’s population of 675K managed this through a combination of deliberate steps to make their city friendly to people not in cars.  From a Streetsblog post:

The road to Vision Zero was paved with a mix of regulations that lowered speed, barring cars from certain areas, expanding its bike network, and added traffic calming measures around schools.

And given that we have had so much attention from the school community, here’s food for thought:

Oslo leaders also sought to tame aggressive drivers in other neighborhoods. They drastically lowered speed limits inside and outside downtown areas, expanded its bike network, and established “Hjertesoners” or “heart zones” where vehicles are not permitted to pick up or drop off children around each primary school.

Helsinki, population around 631K, also managed to eliminate pedestrian deaths on its roads, from a different Streetsblog post:

Of all the steps Helsinki leaders have taken to curb roadway deaths, the most impactful one has also been the most obvious: they slowed cars way, way down.

There’s a graphic on the site which shows how the majority of Helsinki has speed limits of 18.6 mph.

And for those quick to say that only enforcement can get people to slow down, not so:

Helsinki certainly didn’t slow its traffic through the fear of enforcement alone. It also invested heavily in the kind of infrastructure that makes biking, walking and transit truly attractive — and driving a downright inconvenience.

That comprehensive focus on human-scaled design has paid big time dividends for the city’s pedestrians and cyclists. For trips under four miles, the quickest way to get around Helsinki is by foot or bike. 

If cities of that size can eliminate pedestrian deaths on its streets surely a city the size of Alameda with good weather nearly year around and level terrain can manage the same.  Unless we are content to have a few people sacrifice their lives every year so that we drivers don’t have to be inconvenienced by waiting an extra 45 seconds in traffic.


  1. Yesterday I saw racing at the point, speeding all over town, four cars parked on the sidewalk, etc. We need action now. Especially along walk-to-school routes and crossings.

    Comment by Dj — February 12, 2020 @ 6:19 am

  2. You ever driven in Vietnam?

    Comment by Jack — February 12, 2020 @ 8:05 am

  3. Enforcement is the issue. License plate readers, cameras, and speed traps everywhere mean a big increase in fines. Fines are regressive, and impact poorer people more than the rich and surveillance raises 4th Amendment concerns. It is a big problem, but I’d prefer the much cheaper and less intrusive method of lowering the speed limit to 25 mph everywhere in Alameda.

    Comment by Nowyouknow — February 12, 2020 @ 8:15 am

    • From the piece above:

      Helsinki certainly didn’t slow its traffic through the fear of enforcement alone. It also invested heavily in the kind of infrastructure that makes biking, walking and transit truly attractive — and driving a downright inconvenience.

      Want to not have a regressive fine? Change the infrastructure to make it safer for pedestrians. Apparently yesterday a woman was struck by a driver and killed. How many bodies is Alameda’s tipping point to change?

      Comment by Lauren Do — February 12, 2020 @ 1:01 pm

    • A woman was killed in a 25 yesterday. It’s not working.

      Comment by Dj — February 12, 2020 @ 1:51 pm

    • Finland: Finland’s speeding fines are linked to income, with penalties calculated on daily earnings, meaning high earners get hit with bigger penalties for breaking the law. So, when businessman Reima Kuisla was caught doing 103km/h (64mph) in an area where the speed limit is 80km/h (50mph), authorities turned to his 2013 tax return, the Iltalehti newspaper reports. He earned 6.5m euros (£4.72m) that year, so was told to hand over 54,000 euros.

      Comment by BC — February 12, 2020 @ 4:43 pm

    • I just almost got hit twice, in the same intersection, by the same person in a 25. After two people have been killed. It’s totally out of control.

      Comment by Dj — February 22, 2020 @ 8:33 pm

  4. There’s alot to be said about street design. Here’s an interesting article that explains how important street design is in slowing traffic:

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 12, 2020 @ 8:34 am

  5. I concur with Karen, street design, which both Helsinki and Oslo used, is both more effective and requires LESS enforcement. More cycle tracks for bikes and narrower pedestrian and bike friendly streets in neighborhoods for cars. For years I have relied on my bike for trips within Alameda to buy groceries and attend church and meetings ….

    Comment by 2wheelsmith — February 12, 2020 @ 12:26 pm

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