NewsProject: Drive Safer


Madison's mayor says Vision Zero goals are creating safer streets in state's capital city

"We're not at zero yet, but we are moving in the right direction," said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.
Madison Vision Zero
Posted at 4:53 PM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-13 19:32:24-05

MADISON, Wis. — Milwaukee and Madison are both on a mission to achieve Vision Zero. That's the goal to have zero traffic-related deaths or injuries within the next 15 years.

The initiative was launched in Milwaukee this past summer. It was launched in Madison in 2020.

TMJ4's Ryan Jenkins traveled to Madison to learn about that city's successes and challenges in achieving this goal over the past few years.

"We're not at zero yet, but we are moving in the right direction," said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. She said the city is making significant progress.

"You have to use all the tools in the toolbox," said Rhodes-Conway

Similar to the work happening in Milwaukee, leaders in Madison are focused on three pillars: Education, Enforcement and Engineering.

CREATING SAFER STREETS: Vision Zero aims to eliminate traffic-related deaths and serious injuries in Milwaukee by 2037

On the education front, the mayor says city leaders are focused on making a connection with the public while spreading their Vision Zero message.

"We actually have a series of Vision Zero ads. You can probably most prominently see them on our buses," said Rhodes-Conway.

When it comes to enforcement, the Mayor said the city uses a data-driven approach to find out where increased patrols should happen.

"Our police department has paid special attention to some of the corridors where we see the worst speeding and has written exponentially more tickets than they have in the past," said Rhodes-Conway.

And on the topic of engineering, the work is ongoing.

"We have the flashing pedestrian beacons, we're improving the timing on stoplights and then we're literally changing the concrete," said Rhodes-Conway.

The mayor also said she has noticed a bit of a culture shift since launching Vision Zero two years ago. The commitment to the three pillars is paying off.

"The worst offenders, the cars that are going the fastest are slower than they used to be. The median speed hasn't changed that much but the outliers are not nearly as bad,"

While Mayor Rhodes-Conway calls the beginning of this initiative "successful," she said that one of the biggest challenges continues to be earning buy-in from everyday drivers.

"People do not like to feel like they're not safe. I think with what people struggle with a little bit more is to realize the ways they contribute to the situation not being safe and that's what we try to raise people's awareness on," she said.

So, while the goal of zero traffic-related deaths and injuries is a big one, when it's centered around a combination of short and long-term strategies, Madison is proof that progress can be made over time and can happen relatively quickly.

"It may take us a while to get there, but there are cities around the country that have achieved it and I believe Madison can - I believe Milwaukee can - if we put in the effort to achieve it," said Rhodes-Conway.

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