Phoenix City Council Stalls Next Steps For ‘Vision Zero’ Pedestrian Safety Plan

By Casey Kuhn, Mark Brodie
Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 9:01pm
Updated: Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - 11:52am
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The Phoenix City Council deadlocked Tuesday on a plan to enhance pedestrian safety through infrastructure design changes. The action stalled due, in part, to concerns about city resources.

In 2017, 92 people died while walking on Phoenix streets.

One plan to address that is called "Vision Zero," a traffic safety strategy adopted by a network of countries and cities, including neighboring Tempe. But the Phoenix council deadlocked 4-4 on a proposal that would have instructed staff to begin considering components of Vision Zero.

Mayor Kate Gallego said in the meeting a dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths needs to be addressed, and she voted in favor.

“To me, today is about, do we want to make a statement that this is a top priority, that we’re taking this very seriously? We’ve seen, since the time I was running for council, to today, a doubling of pedestrian fatalities,” Gallego said.

More than a dozen community members spoke, both for and against the proposal, with a majority speaking for.

Council members Debra Stark, Laura Pastor and Vania Guevara joined Gallego in voting for the proposal. Michael Nowakowski, Felicita Mendoza, Jim Waring and Sal DiCiccio voted against the proposal.

The action plan still needed to be written, but it could have included narrowing streets to discourage drivers from speeding.

Nowakowski said he was concerned that if the plan included more enforcement on jaywalking, it could impact a part of Phoenix that’s heavily minority.

”My number one concern too, would be, enforcement means different things for different people," Nowakowski said. "So in south Phoenix and Maryvale, when you start to enforce traffic, and pedestrian walking and all that, that’s a whole different can of worms than it would be in the downtown area.”

The number of pedestrian deaths in Phoenix has risen 125 percent in the past decade.

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