February 5th, 2021
The Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, at this time, has declined to sign onto a letter encouraging President Biden and Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to commit to zero roadway fatalities nationally. While we understand the sense of urgency and desire to see more leadership from the federal government on the issue of roadway fatalities, we also know too well the pitfalls of asking for a commitment without being explicit about the actions and resources required to get there.
Cities, towns and agencies across the country continue to be overly, and often exclusively, reliant on police enforcement to make streets “safer.” A national call to eliminate traffic fatalities without explicit acknowledgement that police presence is often dangerous and harmful in communities of color runs the risk of compounding current inequities.
Vision Zero necessitates an approach that centers on equity and racial justice, which remains absent from the traditionally-prescribed safe systems approach. We will not reach zero roadway fatalities until we meaningfully address the intersectionality of traffic violence with racial violence and police violence.
Ultimately, we are concerned that while this letter is well intentioned and elevates an issue of critical importance, it does not specifically address transportation justice nor does it provide clear guidance on how to move forward in a way that addresses traffic violence without increasing policing or causing further harm in BIPOC communities.
We look forward to working with our national partners and the Biden Administration to ensure racial justice in transportation is a priority for the U.S. Department of Transportation and that an equitable and intersectional federal Vision Zero action plan is developed, resourced, and implemented.