National pedestrian-safety organization Vision Zero Network launches in SF

A San Francisco-based organization hopes to play a role in ending pedestrian deaths across the country.

Launching this week, the Vision Zero Network is a new national organization aiming to create standard best practices in saving lives from speeding hulks of plastic and steel, known as automobiles.

The Vision Zero movement aims to reduce pedestrian collision deaths in cities to zero, which San Francisco has pledged to do by 2024. The movement began in Sweden, but was popularized in New York City when it was adopted by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

And, in an interesting twist, the new organization’s director is Leah Shahum, the recent former Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

“While every city is different, we share such a huge number of the same challenges and opportunities in keeping citizens safe,” Shahum told The San Francisco Examiner. “San Francisco is no different than New York City, or Washington DC or Chicago in seeing growing numbers of people demand safe transportation choices.”

The Vision Zero Network will ensure that “each of our cities is not re-creating the wheel” as they commit to new pedestrian safety practices, Shahum said. The Vision Zero network will pool knowledge between safety advocates, and amplify their voices at the local level with policy makers across the country.

“There is tremendous power at the local – and state – levels to make the changes we need to save lives,” Shahum said.

Last year in San Francisco 17 pedestrians died in car collisions, mostly on streets The City long identified as the most dangerous to walk on. As The Examiner reported Thursday, many projects to re-engineer these streets to be safer have been long delayed, or cancelled outright.

The Vision Zero Network is funded by a three-year grant from the Kaiser Permanente National Community Benefit Fund, at the East Bay Community Foundation.

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