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Friday, March 23 2018 @ 02:55 AM UTC

Vision Zero is so 20 years ago. It's time for Moving Beyond Zero.

Biking ElsewhereBy Lloyd Alter, Treehugger

In North America, even when cities talk Vision Zero, they don't really mean it. They don't really want to understand it because it goes against what they really care about, which is making the world safe for cars. So they make up their own version.

In true Vision Zero, there is one cardinal rule: “Human life and health are paramount and take priority over mobility and other objectives of the road traffic system.” This differs from North America, where deaths on the road are the cost of doing business.

Vision Zero uses a "safe systems approach" that assumes that people make mistakes on the road, and that if there are crashes, it is a design problem. And one design problem they had in Sweden is that sometimes design solutions that worked with cars made life harder for cyclists.

This is a problem and seeming paradox that should be borne in mind. On the one hand we have the noble goal of zero fatalities, but on the other we have to ensure that a road safety intervention does not act as a barrier to active healthy modes of transport like cycling and walking, even if the road safety intervention is effective.

Study: 90% Of Bike Accidents Preventable By Buying Car Like A Normal Person

One thing that has changed since Vision Zero started is bike technology, and in particular the use of what they call Electric Power Assisted Cycles (EPACs).

EPACs are providing users, including the elderly and disabled, with much-needed daily exercise, extending and increasing their quality of life. It is, however, in the field of commuting that the potential for EPACs is being most realised. Longer distance car journeys can now be substituted by active bicycle use in the form of electrically assisted bikes.

One in four persons in the EU suffers from a mental health condition during their lifetime. Cycling’s contribution to better cardiovascular health delays dementia. Cycling can improve brain function and mental health. It also helps counter cognitive declines including memory, executive function, visuospatial skills, and processing speed in normally aging adults.

Promotion of cycling also improves cities; it gets people out of cars, making the roads better for everyone.

Studies have shown that initiatives that support active transport in urban areas decrease traffic mishaps while improving people movement and encouraging commerce and employment. But cycling investments don't just benefit cyclists. Bus routes can run 10% faster and with greater punctuality, and traffic mishaps can be cut by 45%, as examples from Copenhagen show.

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