NewsProject: Drive Safer


New job with City of Milwaukee hopes to tackle reckless driving

The Vision Zero Policy Director “will lead the City’s efforts towards achieving the goal of eliminating all fatalities and serious injuries from traffic violence."
Fond du Lac Avenue Reckless Driving
Posted at 6:17 PM, Jan 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-25 11:05:20-05

MILWAUKEE — As part of the City of Milwaukee’s commitment to Vision Zero, the goal of achieving zero traffic deaths, it is looking for a person to lead this effort.

The Vision Zero Policy Director “will lead the City’s efforts towards achieving the goal of eliminating all fatalities and serious injuries from traffic violence; be the City’s leader in coordinating comprehensive, systems-level approaches to this goal; and work across City departments and with community members and organizations to advance initiatives related to Vision Zero.”

The starting suggested salary is $93,297. It had originally been suggested at $53,957.

Vision Zero Policy Director starting salary
The suggested salary for the Vision Zero Policy Director was increased in an effort to attract a highly qualified candidate.

“We have a huge issue with reckless driving we’ve been working to address,” Mayor Cavalier Johnson said. “So, we need someone who understands that and understands our desire to increase safety on the roadways in Milwaukee. Someone who understands pedestrians, bicyclists, scooter riders, stroller pushers, all of those folks, deserve the same kind of access to roadway usage.”

The city is hoping for highly qualified candidates with a progressive view on how to make a serious impact on the city’s streets.

“The ideal person is someone who understands the challenges we have on the ground in Milwaukee,” Johnson said. “Someone who can create unique service model and delivery to increase safety on the street for all users of the roadway.”

It’s a big ask of the person looking to step in. As part of Vision Zero’s efforts to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injury crashes, the strategies implemented by this person will look to reverse what has been among the worst years for traffic-related deaths in the county’s history.

Milwaukee County Traffic Fatalities
Since the start of the pandemic, Milwaukee County has seen a spike in traffic fatalities, surpassing 100 deaths in 2020 and 2022. Data from Wisconsin Traffic Operations and Safety Laboratory (TOPS).

The last three years have had the highest number of fatalities in the last six years; including two years where there were over 100 traffic deaths. It’s why both the Mayor and Department of Public Works (DPW) Commissioner Jerrel Kruschke say a full-time employee is needed.

“I think the intention here is to have a person focusing on the needs of the community,” Kruschke said. “This is a larger issue and it’s going to continue. So if we don’t put this effort forward, I’m afraid it would get worse.”

Kruschke says a different way of thinking about the issues related to traffic safety is key. He says, traditionally, engineers viewed the need of moving traffic through an urban setting quickly as paramount. However, as things evolve, the theory around urban planning and engineering has shifted. He says colleges in Milwaukee, UW-Milwaukee, Marquette, and Milwaukee School of Engineering, all teach their students to think about how to move all types of transportation; pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles. The Vision Zero Policy Director will need that kind of background.

“I think people are moving through urban settings differently than they used to,” Kruschke said. “The priority was vehicles and I think now, we’re switching to even micro-mobility and scooters, etc., to have all those sorts of different ways to move be incorporated and safely move through.”

Johnson and Kruschke say this person will interact with nearly every governmental agency within the City. From the Department of Public Works to the Department of City Development, Milwaukee Police, and potentially, State officials.

“That’s quite possible,” Johnson said of the Director interacting with State Officials. “We’re working to get [the Department of Transportation] to understand the needs and the unique challenges that we have as the largest, most populated place in the State of Wisconsin. We’re pulling them along, they’re partnering with us.”

The position should be posted on the City of Milwaukee website soon and the City is looking to hire someone as soon as possible. The City of Milwaukee has a full job description and qualifications for the Vision Zero Policy Director position posted on the City's website.

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