Vision Zero in Norfolk
Norfolk is no exception when it comes to road safety issues. Each year in Norfolk, there is a steady number of fatal and non-fatal pedestrian and bicycle crashes along all types of roads. For example, in 2018, 15 people were killed in traffic crashes on Norfolk’s streets, and eight of them were pedestrians. These crash statistics used by the city highlight the need for a safer approach to transportation as well as better street design to boost the safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
As a push to address the problem, Norfolk City Council adopted a Vision Zero policy in November 2019 as a long-term strategy to eliminate all pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and injuries and to make the city’s streets safer for all users.
Multimodal Transportation Master Plan
Vision Zero initiatives are also a significant factor in the planning and development of the City’s first Multimodal Transportation Master Plan. To grow and thrive, Norfolk needs improved options for getting around that do not rely on driving a car. Modes such as walking, biking, taking a scooter, and riding the bus are the focus of the Master Plan as well as looking at the needs of seniors and those using wheelchairs or other mobility devices. These modes have historically been underrepresented in other planning processes, and they are the modes most likely to be injured or killed in crashes. Therefore, ensuring the safety of these alternative modes is a key goal of this Master Plan and directly aligns with the City’s Vision Zero policy, which has a special emphasis on pedestrians and bicyclists, the most vulnerable road users.
Transportation networks that prioritize vehicle speed and capacity over safe and convenient travel for people outside of cars can have dangerous and life-threatening consequences. Incorporating these Vision Zero initiatives into the planning process is crucial as the Multimodal Plan takes a comprehensive look at Norfolk’s transportation network and identifies ways to expand travel choices in a safe and convenient way for bicyclists, scooter users, bus riders, and pedestrians, including seniors and those with disabilities.
Vision Zero Strategies
The City is in the process of developing a draft list of strategies in coordination with the Norfolk Bicycling and Pedestrian Trails Commission. Three overarching themes have been identified – Improve data collection & evaluation, Create safe streets for all users, and Foster a culture of safety. Each theme lists subsequent action items, which are the specific implementation strategies that the City will undertake to improve road safety and to help raise awareness of Vision Zero in Norfolk. Having a list of actionable strategies will help guide local actions and decisions and is fundamental to achieving the Vision Zero goal of eliminating all pedestrian and bicycle injuries and fatalities. *Note: Some of the strategies listed will depend on funding availability.
Goal, Themes & Strategies
Zero is the Goal
The City of Norfolk is dedicated to taking a safe systems and data-driven approach to improve road safety and to reduce traffic crashes and eliminate all pedestrian and bicycle injuries and fatalities. The City has begun to take steps towards its Vision Zero goals by identifying areas in need of safety treatments such as reducing speeds and installing better pedestrian accommodations. Additionally, the City plans to utilize data and educational tools as further support for street safety improvements (more specifics can be found on the Data: How are we doing? and Educational Resources pages).
Here is what the city is currently doing:
- Introducing a Neighborhood Speed Reduction Program – a comprehensive approach to address speeding and to slow all neighborhood streets to 20 mph with a desire to create safe streets for all users. Visit the Neighborhood Speed Reduction Program webpage
- Preparing for a pilot speed study with the DMV – more details to come later this year (anticipated start date Winter 2022)
- Installing more pedestrian accommodations and countdown signals – Visit the Pedestrian Accommodation & Countdown Signal project webpage
- Upgrading and installing ADA ramps citywide
- Identifying locations for sidewalk infrastructure improvements – Visit the Citywide Sidewalk Infrastructure project webpage
- Supporting educational outreach
- Bike safety videos – Bike Norfolk: Street Smarts & Bike Smart - Know Your Role on the Streets
- Vision Zero PSA videos – Vision Zero, Slow Down, Stay Alert, & Share the Road
- Safety tips for pedestrians, bicycles, scooters, and drivers. View shareVAroads (PDF) for a complete safety overview.
- Bike Month activities – 2022 Bike Month Calendar
- Promoting the Safe Routes to School Program – a federal initiative designed to promote walking and biking to school as an alternative transportation option to increase student activity levels and reduce fuel emissions. The SRTS program in Virginia also supports activities designed to get students moving before, during, and after the school day.
Looking to the future
Action Plans are action-driven implementation plans that lay the groundwork for communities to move from vision to action while being responsive to the context and needs of the community. Developing such a plan provides a coordinated approach across city departments and ensures that all members of the community work to achieve the goal of zero traffic deaths and serious injuries.