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Pittsburgh Reaffirms Vision Zero After 21 Traffic Deaths in 2023

A picturesque view of the downtown Pittsburgh skyline, featuring a mix of modern and historic buildings.

Pittsburgh leaders recently convened to promote a citywide initiative to reduce serious car accidents and traffic fatalities. Mayor Ed Gainey, the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, and City Council members gathered to discuss the benefits of measures to minimize traffic incidents, including the installation of speed bumps and traffic circles.

According to Councilor Barb Warwick, a 20% increase in homicides between 2018 and 2020 grabs media attention. However, deadly collisions in Pittsburgh surged by 71% during the same period.

“Those homicide rates are now declining, but traffic conditions are only worsening,” said Warwick.

According to city data, 21 people lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2023, seven of whom were pedestrians. The city remains committed to implementing traffic-calming measures to reduce vehicle speeds and enhance street safety.

How are Pittsburgh officials reaffirming the city's Vision Zero commitment?

Mayor Gainey’s 2024 budget has doubled the city’s investment in these projects.

“You said we needed this and we've invested in it,” said Gainey. “We've done what we said we would do. So now it's time for us to continue to do the work that we need to do to make this the safest city in America.”

Officials call the plan "Vision Zero" because it aims for zero traffic-related deaths. Originally popularized in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero has since been adopted by cities worldwide.

Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) was established in 2017 with a similar goal. Two years earlier, then-Mayor Bill Peduto issued an executive order directing the city to develop a safety plan for city streets using “enhanced enforcement measures to achieve the vision of zero traffic fatalities.”

Kim Lucas, DOMI's director, stated that the city's safety initiative reinforced this ongoing commitment. DOMI reports increasing citywide support for measures such as speed bumps, curb extensions, and protected bike lanes, with requests for these features skyrocketing. About 1,000 open requests have been submitted to slow vehicle traffic on Pittsburgh's city streets.

How is the city upholding its Vision Zero requests?

To accommodate these requests, the city introduced a map highlighting crash sites with injuries or fatalities. The city's "High Injury Network" will receive prioritized investment in traffic signal updates and traffic-calming measures.

The map highlights 122 out of 1,000 miles of roads where most serious collisions occur. Along these 122 miles, 86% of serious injury-causing crashes and 76% of fatal crashes occur. The map indicates that main roads are frequent sites of violent crashes, with hot spots including Frankstown, Baum, Center, Penn, and Liberty avenues, as well as Grant Street.

According to Mayor Gainey, the map indicates where new traffic projects will be implemented.

“We know where these fatal crashes are happening, and we know that we can make our roads more safe,” said Gainey.

Roughly half of the top 10 roads with the highest crash rates are state-owned, according to DOMI. However, municipal traffic engineer Michael Maloch pointed out that the city can still slow vehicular traffic on these roads by intervening with traffic signals and signs.

The city plans to invest $1.4 million in traffic signal upgrades, potentially enhancing signal visibility and improving coordination with pedestrian crossing signals. Over the past year, the city has upgraded 32 downtown crossing signals with audible cues for vision-impaired pedestrians.

According to Maloch, the city plans to implement more signal upgrades soon and consider banning right-on-red turns at more intersections. In addition to financial investments, the city has deployed a team of five engineers dedicated to projects aimed at improving street safety.

Injured in a crash in Pittsburgh? Get legal help from a skilled car accident attorney

A car accident can drastically change your life in the blink of an eye. And even with initiatives like Vision Zero, accidents can still happen. If you or a loved one is injured in a Pittsburgh car crash, understanding your legal rights and seeking legal help from an experienced attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

At Romanow Law Group, our team of skilled car accident lawyers can handle all aspects of your case, from investigating the crash scene and gathering evidence to negotiating with insurance companies and, if necessary, taking your case to trial. Don't let the insurance company push you around after a crash. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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