British Columbia is spending $575,000 to improve road safety in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.
Vision Zero, a grant program, will provide up to $20,000 per project. Approved projects include traffic calming, speed limit reduction pilots, better lighting and road safety planning, the province said.
“A healthy community is one that offers opportunities for physical fitness, recreation and safety for all residents,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “That’s why we are aware of the challenges associated with vehicle traffic, including access to sidewalks and pathways, and are making an effort to improve visibility and mobility access to neighbourhoods in communities provincewide. I’m proud to see that 73 per cent of organizations that applied for a Vision Zero grant were approved, and for Indigenous communities that applied for a grant, 100 per cent of applicants were approved.”
Vision Zero grants are provided by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) contributed $84,000.
The funding was provided through the regional health authorities to local governments, Indigenous governments and non-government organizations, like school districts and road safety advocacy groups, to help them plan projects that will directly improve the safety of roads in their communities.
37 projects approved
This year, the 37 approved projects are spread throughout every health authority. Of these, 16 are from and in Indigenous communities. Projects can include improvements such as crosswalk infrastructure, closed streets, traffic calming, speed limit reduction pilots, walk signals that give a head start to pedestrians, speed reader boards, mixed use paths, better lighting and signage, and road safety planning.
“Increasing the accessibility to active transportation networks and other green modes of transportation is an important part of B.C.’s Recovery Plan that will help us come back from the pandemic stronger,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “These investments will support road safety improvements and help to create more safe options for walking and cycling that improve travel, particularly for people in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.”
This is the first year Vision Zero grant funding has been provided widely to all health authorities. In the past, grant funding under the Vision Zero program was provided by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health, and implemented in those two authorities in at least one previous fiscal year.
Vision Zero in road safety is an international best practice that originated in the Netherlands and Sweden in the 1990s to eliminate deaths and serious injuries from road transport.
The international organization, DEKRA, has tracked cities with populations of 50,000 and more around the globe that have achieved this goal in at least one calendar year.
Vision Zero is built on safe system theory, which involves road design, community planning, regulation of motor vehicles, speeds, education and awareness.