🚥 Towards Zero Traffic Deaths

When I moved from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo, one of the biggest improvements on my quality of life was becoming car-free. I still used a car here and there, to visit in-laws or traveling to the country, but swapping out driving and maintaining a car to a mix of subway and cycling day-to-day was game changing. That's not the norm in São Paulo, but it was a privilege I obtained that became a key factor in enjoying the city.

Fast forward a few years; the new urbanist movement around 15-minute cities growing stronger; climate crisis ever looming and active transportation policy becoming more widely sought-after; I move to Vancouver. If my overall experience as city dweller improved in almost every axis after moving to São Paulo except perhaps for "beach time", the same gains repeat tenfold here plus getting beaches back - on summers at least.

Like any big city, Vancouver is a complex amalgamation of forward and backward policies, culture and infrastructure. On the one hand, I'm as confident as ever that I can live a complete urban life without owning a car due to the decent amount of cycling infrastructure around MetroCore, plus the amount of public-transit-accessible adventures - from turquoise lake hikes to snowboarding mountaintops. On the other hand, progress is sometimes slow, sometimes non-existent, as waves of car-centrism ebb and flow more or less in synchrony with conservatism majorities on the wheels of the public sphere.

Rio, São Paulo, and Vancouver can and should and do more to make car dependency a thing of the past, so becoming car-free becomes not a privilege of the few, but a feasible choice for anyone. Owning a car should be a matter of personal preference as much as its color, not a condition for getting access to work or leisure.

Getting Involved

The biggest barrier to more people cycling on big cities has always been safety. This is for good reason: in Vancouver as of 2023, about 100 people die in traffic every year while trying to get from point A to point B. It's no wonder people wish to have as much metal around them as possible while on the road, but unfortunately that also creates a negative feedback loop where more/bigger SUVs make it even less safe for everyone else - specially for those on any other less protected transportation device: bicycles, skateboards, rollers, or just walking on two legs.

That's where Vision Zero comes in. Conceptually, it's a multi-national effort to zero out traffic related fatalities, started in Sweden in 1997. It's recognized officially as a provincial level program in British Columbia as well as a municipal one in Vancouver. Most importantly, it's also a program that local advocacy groups can do serious work, like the Vision Zero Vancouver which aims to put some momentum towards Vision Zero for the metro region.

Average Crash Counts Sheet



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