Phoenix To Consider New Traffic Policy To Protect Pedestrians

By Bret Jaspers
Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 7:30am

7th and Camelback in Phoenix
Christina Estes/KJZZ
The intersection of 7th Street and Camelback road in Phoenix.

In the past decade, pedestrian deaths in the City of Phoenix have more than doubled, according to a policy memo from city staff.

The memo previewed Tuesday’s Policy Session at the Phoenix City Council, where council members will consider joining “Vision Zero.” Vision Zero is a national network of cities that want to end traffic fatalities and serious injuries within their borders.

Tempe joined the network in 2018.

“It’s really just, really, 100 percent committing to the idea that people should be able to use the transportation system — all users, bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users, drivers — to get home safely without having to worry about being seriously injured or dying on that network” said Julian Dresang, traffic engineer for the City of Tempe.

Although some Vision Zero cities like Boston have set "default" speed limits (although there is still some variation depending on how a road is used), Dresang said becoming a Vision Zero city does not require low, uniform speed limits.

“It’s likely that in certain locations there would be value to [a reduced speed limit] in potentially reducing the severity of crashes, but to focus only on speed limits I think is short-sighted,” he said. “There’s a lot more to it.”

Still, some members of the Phoenix City Council have already voiced opposition to joining Vision Zero.

Councilwoman Thelda Williams sent out a statement on Monday discouraging Vision Zero and urging people to contact their representative on the council.

“Our efforts should be focused on data; enforcement, such as ticketing speeders and jaywalkers; increasing public education and using resources effectively,” she said. “No matter how much a vehicle is slowed, factors such as impairment, distracted driving, and distracted pedestrians are critical to everyone's safety.”

The council is set to meet at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

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