Vision Zero, the international movement to reduce and eliminate vehicle-related deaths and injuries, is finally coming to Philadelphia. Councilwoman City Bass of the 8th District representing Northwest Philadelphia will be introducing legislation to not only acknowledge growing consensus on the problem of traffic violence, that this past weekend claimed the lives of two young people on North Broad Street, but to properly fund the effort to build better infrastructure to help prevent these tragedies. Vision Zero is one of The 5th Square's items in our 12 point platform. We are delighted to hear this news.
I spoke with Councilwoman Bass' Legislative Policy Director Shoshana Bricklin today about the forthcoming legislation. Bricklin told me "we've decided to leverage state options to address and fund this issue rather than our original strategy of a non-binding resolution recognizing the problems not being addressed to reduce crashes." The 5th Square has been in contact with the Councilwoman's office for the past few months, but we are pleased to see Councilwoman Bass take this approach. Leveraging a portion of the Act 89 bill that passed the Pennsylvania Legislature in the waning days of the Corbett administration, the bill calls for Philadelphia County to levy a $5 vehicle registration fee on motorists to pay for safety interventions. Bricklin mentioned that once passed, Philadelphia will be one of only a handful of counties in the state that have yet taken advantage of this portion of the Act 89 bill. She added "I believe there are only 3 other counties in the state that have used this option so far."
Ms. Bricklin continued that she is confident the bill will pass quickly. Funds raised by this resolution will then be directed to the Streets Department specifically for traffic safety interventions. Options for traffic calming include lane narrowing, installation of bollards and hitposts to separate car, bike and pedestrian traffic, narrowing crosswalks with curb bump outs and re-engineering problematic intersections like those on North Broad Street or Washington Avenue that have claimed the lives of quite a few Philadelphians these past few years. Bricklin specified that the bill will not include specific requests for how Streets is to spend the money, only that it must go to Vision Zero related items and that if Streets fails to do so, council will ask for tighter oversight of funds spent.
We at The 5th Square welcome Councilwoman Bass' move to not only address Vision Zero by recognizing the problem of traffic violence, but to actually put money where her mouth is on the issue by funding our city agencies to do so as well.