What would a future with zero traffic fatalities and better integration of all modes of transport look like? On October 26, 2019, Mayor Victorino presented a Vision Zero Proclamation for the County of Maui with the goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2040. Partner organizations hosted a demonstration of how this might be achieved at the corner of Oneheʻe Avenue and Uhu Street at Kahului Community Center Park.

Complete Streets is an initiative seeking to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. “We started designing our streets for people and not just cars”, said Maui County Public Works engineer Nolly Yagin. “I imagine my family members out walking and ask myself if they would feel safe and comfortable.” The County’s newly updated Street Design Manual supports the type of Complete Streets designs that Nolly and others would like to see as the “veins” of a healthy community, enabling residents to safely reach school, parks, jobs and services.

Many partners collaborated for this event: from host organizations Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization (Maui MPO), County of Maui Department of Public Works, HIPHI’s Healthy Eating + Active Living Coalition (HEAL Coalition), Blue Zones Project Central Maui, and Maui Bicycling League, to community volunteers.

Three Complete Streets elements were demonstrated to show how small changes in the built environment can make a big difference for community safety: angled reverse-in parking on Oneheʻe Ave near the park, bike lanes painted green and bulbouts designed by community artists Ray and Bella Moline, and painted by the Maui high Key Club and Girl Scouts troop 555.

First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero has spread across the world and is gaining momentum in U.S. cities to ensure people have safe options to move through their communities.  The mission of Vision Zero is to, “Eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. Unlike traditional traffic safety approaches, Vision Zero defines traffic collisions as a systemic problem demanding a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive problem-solving approach. As at November 26, Maui County had 21 traffic fatalities in 2019, a large increase from the 15 fatalities Maui County had by the same date in 2018.

A key emphasis for Vision Zero is the need for data-driven strategies to prioritize effective solutions for eliminating fatalities on roadways.  Data from surveys conducted by Maui MPO show that Maui residents worry about fast-moving vehicles and limited facilities for walking and biking. Vision Zero acknowledges that road tragedies are preventable, and the choices we make – particularly at the policy level and related to the built environment – have far greater impacts than traditionally thought. What we have long called “accidents” are most related to policies, systems and environments that can be improved upon with collective action and political will.

For more information on the Vision Zero Advisory Group, or the HEAL Coalition for Maui, Molokai and Lānaʻi, please contact the HEAL Community Coordinator Lauren Loor at lauren@hiphi.org.