At a presentation at the Danish Embassy, Will Norman reiterated that Vision Zero will be a guiding principle of the new Mayor’s Transport Strategy.
However he mentioned a term which seems to become a meme among TfL staff: Zero as an “aspiration”. In other words, Zero KSI is a target which is not achievable but TfL will aspire to get close to it. This is similar to the standard TfL line after a fatality on the road: “Every death is a death too many”.
I see it differently: Vision Zero is not focused on targets but on processes: the vision is Mobility for everyone, without fear (real or perceived) of being severely injured or killed.
Vision Zero is the journey not the destination. It is a journey of constant learning and improvement; of experimentation and transparency; moving away from easy blaming and fatalism, towards humane understanding of causes and consequences of failures.
The benefits of Vision Zero go far beyond the headline figures of reductions in fatalities: everyone will benefit from streets which are designed for active travel of citizens of all ages.
The Healthy Street strategy document is certainly congruent with Vision Zero.
We still have to see how it will be implemented. The key hurdle of course is that most of the interventions outlined need to be implemented by local Councils. Transport for London is fond of saying that they control only 5% of London roads. It is vital therefore that they provide leadership by example, as the previous administration (after years of reluctant fudge) finally demonstrated with bold interventions on the Embankment and some bridges.
The present administration (very quick in blaming others, very slow in concrete action) has so far shown nothing on the ground and it is unsurprising that the efforts by local authorities have been of very poor quality.
P.S. The image chosen as cover of the Healthy Street document has very little of a healthy street and it fails in at least six Indicators; for example:
a. Poles in the middle of the pavement, a danger for people with poor sight
b. No cycle tracks
c. Street has high pollution levels