Free Talk Series Continues in Long Beach Focusing on Pedestrian and Bicyclist Deaths

Photo by Brian Addison. Graphics by Baktaash Sorkhabi.

When looking at safety on the streets, not all travelers are created equal—and that’s precisely the focus of our discussion on pedestrian and bicyclist deaths as we continue our free talk series, Emphasize, on April 25.

When it comes down to it, Long Beach, this discussion is about everyone having the right to get home alive, safe, and sound.

This free, public forum on Wednesday, April 25, at The Kids Theatre Company in Bixby Knolls, will welcome safety expert and Vision Zero Policy & Communications Director Kathleen Ferrier.

“Each year in the U.S., more than 40,000 people are needlessly killed in traffic crashes,” Ferrier said. “Often referred to as ‘accidents,’ the reality is that we can prevent these tragedies by taking a proactive preventative approach that prioritizes traffic safety as a public health issue.”

The Vision Zero project is simple: to achieve a highway and arterial system with no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. It started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997. Sweden has since cut their traffic fatalities dramatically even as the number of vehicle miles traveled has increased.

Some ways that cities can create Vision Zero policies are by designing streets for all modes, increasing funding for bicycle and transit projects, focus law-enforcement at high-risk activities and high-danger corridors and, perhaps most importantly, finding ways to slow-down car traffic.

“Mobility is only as safe as the street’s most vulnerable user,” Ferrier said. “Streets aren’t safe until everyone on them is safe.”

Longbeachize has been no stranger to inviting Vision Zero U.S. experts to speak in Long Beach, having invited its current Executive Director and Founder Leah Shahum a few years back.

This time, however, it is more than just getting Long Beach to formally adopt Vision Zero policies. It will be an emotional and data-driven conversation that looks how society in culpable in these tragedies and the uneven attention we provide to other sources of tragedies.

For example, we will look into how the priority given to cars in our public spaces provides them power over people on their feet. We will look at media’s role in perpetuating that power, as well as policies which do the same.

Even more, we will be asking why we aren’t paying attention to what is essentially a crisis.

“An average of 115 people die every day in this country using opioids, and leaders have declared a crisis and epidemic,” Ferrier said. “Similarly, an average of 100 people die each day in traffic deaths, but there is no outrage, only complacency. The Vision Zero movement pushes back on this complacency and says we have a moral imperative to keep people safe on our roads and save lives.”

Following the success of our previous Emphasize events, we will continue hosting these face-to-face conversations that invite some of the nation’s leading experts on complex topics to talk to Long Beach one-on-one. Our talk on this issue will precede two more future talks on gentrification and urban design.

The discussion, as with all Emphasize events, are entirely free and open to the public. For more information, click here.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.