Turner announces Houston’s plan to end traffic deaths

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks at a news conference at City Hall on Dec. 7, 2020. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday announced the city’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

The mayor is launching the Vision Zero Action Plan, which will focus on data, community input and priority actions that will improve street safety and equity for road users of all ages, abilities and modes of transportation.

“Today, traveling on our roads results in over 200 deaths and 1,000 serious injuries every year. That is unacceptable,” Turner said. “That is why I’m announcing Houston’s first-ever Vision Zero Action Plan.”

He said the plan’s strategy draws input from planning, Houston Public Works, health, police department, fire department, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Harris County, METRO, TxDOT, social justice and multimodal transportation advocates. Turner said his office has received more than 2,000 comments about street safety being a priority. He said most comments stated that speeding in the community was their biggest concern.

Turner said most comments said that creating a connected network of sidewalks and crosswalks should be the city’s first priority to help make the streets safer.

“They told us to rethink the way we talk about traffic crashes. We need to call a crash a crash and stop calling them accidents. Crashes are preventable,” Turner said.

Data shows that 52% of High Injury Network streets are in vulnerable and low-income communities, impacting many of whom rely on walking or public transit because they don’t own a vehicle.

The city’s goals are to “create a safe, equitable and accessible network of streets,” Turner said.

He said the goal is to make walking, rolling and biking safe, connecting to transit safely and make driving safe.

The plan is to start implementing the 13 priority actions identified in the Vision Zero plan, such as constructing at least 50 miles of sidewalks and 25 miles of high comfort bikeways each year, Turner said.

The city will redesign 10 locations on the High Injury Network every two years and implement reconstruction the following year.

“The city believes in safe streets and we hold ourselves accountable for implementing this plan,” Turner said.

COVID-19 update

Turner also gave an update on the city’s response to COVID-19.

The Houston Health Department reports 1,514 new cases and three new deaths as of Wednesday. Turner said the city’s positivity rate is now 10.5% compared to 8.8% last week.

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