By Dave Fidlin
Circulate San Diego, city officials focus on ‘fatal 15’ intersections amid Vision Zero campaign
San Diego’s 3-year-old Vision Zero campaign gained traction this past month as city officials pledged funding and a series of renewed efforts to improve dangerous intersections in highly trafficked areas, the majority located Downtown.
The overtures are music to the ears of organizers behind Circulate San Diego, the independent, nonprofit advocacy group that has worked closely with city officials in seeking solutions to the so-called fatal 15 intersections.
In mid-April, city officials announced $375,000 in municipal funds in the upcoming fiscal year budget will be allocated toward improvements at many of the intersections, which, in their current condition, lack such pedestrian-friendly features as walk signals, audible prompts and countdown clocks before traffic lights change.
Maya Rosas, director of policy for Circulate San Diego, said she is pleased municipal officials are allocating funds to bring design improvements and upgrades to the fatal 15 sites. The group played a pivotal role in singling out each of the intersections.
“We took information and analyzed it,” Rosas said of the determining process. “It was a data-driven approach, based on when people’s lives are most at risk.”
The list of Circulate San Diego’s fatal 15 intersections includes:
- Fourth Avenue and B Street
- Fourth Avenue and Market Street
- Fifth Avenue and B Street
- Sixth Avenue and Broadway
- 10th Avenue and A Street
- 11th Avenue and Broadway
- Broadway and Fifth Avenue
- Coronado and Thermal avenues
- El Cajon Boulevard and 33rd Street
- El Cajon Boulevard and 36th Street
- Euclid Avenue and Naranja Street
- Front and Ash streets
- Market Street and Sixth Avenue
- University and Fourth avenues
- University Avenue and 52nd Street
Fatal 15, however, is a piece of a larger picture designed to address a range of mobility improvements across the city.
According to the most updated statistics, more than 500 pedestrians and bicyclists are injured from vehicle-related collisions per year, on average, resulting in 22 fatalities.
On a broader scale, city officials have announced other overtures designed to increase safety between pedestrians, cyclists and motorists throughout the community.
Lee Friedman, a staffer within Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office, recently went before the City Council’s Audit Committee and discussed the re-emergence of a task force devoted to the Vision Zero initiative.
The group has been dormant this past year, but Friedman, who is the city’s infrastructure policy manager, said the task force is regrouping, with its first organizational meeting of the year set for May 17.
Despite the task force’s dormancy, Friedman at the meeting said improvements have been high on officials’ radar screens within city hall this past year.
“City staff continued to make progress on improving intersections and engaging with the public to promote safe walking and biking and enforcing safe traffic laws to discourage unsafe walking, biking and driving habits,” Friedman said.
He added, “We’ve been doing that all along. But we know that continued engagement is necessary for programs like Vision Zero to thrive.”
In addition to reconvening the task force, Friedman told the city panel a grant-funded study honing in on how to best address intersection deficiencies is nearing completion.
“This will be a complete report, with data that will be used for years,” Friedman said.
Public outreach and engagement also is an effort Friedman said he and other staffers will be focused on in the near future. A tab on Vision Zero within the city’s website is due for an overhaul, Friedman said, in the hopes of more clearly disseminating information to the community.
“Moving forward, we’re probably going to have to look at the best and most effective ways to stay engaged with Vision Zero stakeholders and other community members,” Friedman said.
After the momentum gained this past month, Rosas said she is hopeful greater strides can be made in the years ahead so broader issues beyond intersection improvements can be explored.
“Looking ahead, it would be great to see a strategic plan,” said Rosas, who lives Downtown. “It would be great to move beyond simple advocacy efforts every year.”
— Dave Fidlin is a freelance journalist with a special affinity for San Diego and its people. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.