Humboldt County Association of Governments plans new safety measures

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Vision Zero 2030 is a plan by the seven towns in Humboldt County to reduce fatalities on our roads to ‘zero’ by 2030.

“We’re working towards a better picture of what our transportation system can be, and make sure that all users are safe”, says Beth Burks, executive director of the Humboldt Association of Governments (HCAOG) 

Burks is talking about safety for pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, or anyone who uses our roads. 

On the south side of Broadway, we see a disproportionate amount of traffic fatalities. Broadway is in the 99th percent percentile for all highway fatalities in California. 

“It’s a bit of an anomaly in that we see far outsized impact in rural areas when it comes to those fatalities. And it has to do with some of our roadway designs and some of the issues with having, for example, highways be our main streets, is a primary reason that those conflicts happen in predominantly rural areas”, she says. 

Traffic calming measures will  be the primary goal for reducing traffic related deaths.

“One thing to keep in mind is we really want to adopt a complete street philosophy. And a complete street is a street that’s safe for everyone to get around. So it’s not just about cars getting quickly where they need to go, but that every user can feel safe”, says Burks. 

Complete streets include bike lanes, sidewalks with crosswalks, crosswalk buttons, and bump out curbs so pedestrians can be seen when trying to cross the street.

“That’s pedestrians. also motorists. We don’t want to see any more people dying on our roadways. And it’s really a very high bar, but it’s really the only acceptable bar to have because it’s become a little bit too routine to think of people dying, you know, whether it be in, you know, as motorists in the vehicles or pedestrians, just kind of an everyday thing”, she says. 

Each of the seven cities or towns in Humboldt has their own versions of complete street projects and will be contracting further depending on their jurisdiction. 

“One thing we’re working on is a Vision Zero action plan for the entire region. A Vision Zero approach is all about saying that there’s zero deaths that are acceptable on our roadways. I mean, 2030 would be great. We’ll be working at it until we achieve it”, says Burks. 

Story by Tucker Caraway