New report advocates for North County Vision Zero program

Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear spoke in favor of a North County Vision Zero program.
(Luke Harold)

The nonprofit Circulate San Diego released a report detailing ways North County cities can save lives using strategies from Vision Zero, a global campaign to eliminate traffic fatalities.

At a Sept. 30 news conference at Veterans Memorial Park in Vista to introduce the report, Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said the local streets “should serve everybody.”

“They should serve everybody who’s going in all the ways that people move around,” she said. “In their cars, on bikes, walking, in wheelchairs, scooters, every new technology that comes about. Not just primarily the people who are in cars.”

Citing data in the report from UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System, and the San Diego Association of Governments, Blakespear said there were 14 pedestrian and bicycle deaths in Encinitas from 2008 to 2018, compared to three homicides.

“When you look at what is the public safety threat, it’s very important that we recall how dangerous our streets can be,” she said.

The report highlights strategies for Solana Beach, Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Escondido, Poway, Vista and San Marcos to achieve Vision Zero objectives. Many of them have already made improvements to their streets with the goal of making them safer for cyclists and walkers.

Vision Zero originated in Sweden more than 20 years ago. It expanded across Europe and has been gaining traction in America, where cities including San Diego and Los Angeles have adopted their own Vision Zero plans. Measures to reduce traffic deaths typically include continental crosswalks, lighted pedestrian crossings, lower speed limits and protected bicycle lanes.

In San Diego County last year, there were about 2,000 injuries to walkers and cyclists, and about 100 deaths. Many North County cities already have far fewer traffic fatalities than the bigger cities around the world, and in California, that have adopted Vision Zero.

The Circulate San Diego report says all of them have already taken steps to make their streets safer.

In Del Mar, for example, Mayor Dave Druker said the city’s Complete Streets plan already addresses Vision Zero goals, but he’s “always open to discuss” enhancing those efforts. According to UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System, there were two pedestrian deaths in Del Mar from 2008-2018. The city had no cyclist fatalities in that time span.

“Obviously we don’t want to see any deaths,” Druker said.