Updated: Sep 23
You're crossing the street to collect your mail and traffic zooms across your path. Your child is riding her bike down the street and is run off of the road. Someone runs a red light with no regard for pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists. Traffic is one of the things I'm hearing most about as I meet voters. We all deserve to feel safe in our neighborhoods and in my upcoming op-ed in the Journal Gazette, I'll be writing about the intrinsic value of our neighborhoods.
Starting with the good: we're fortunate in the City of Fort Wayne to have a responsive city administration that's willing to listen to and work with residents to address their concerns. Our traffic engineering department is no different, having gone above and beyond the call of programming stoplights and placing traffic signage to really enhance the community.
One of my favorite Traffic Engineering secrets is that this department programs the light colors on the MLK Bridge downtown for local organizations and celebrations. Traffic Engineering's also implemented a community-led traffic calming program allowing citizens to lead change in their neighborhoods.
The Community-led Traffic Calming Program is an excellent way for citizens to activate change in our neighborhoods. Neighbors can initiate traffic calming for any city street location where the speed limit is 35mph or less and where traffic volume is less than 10,000 vehicles a day. The process is laid out here.
The options for traffic calming ideas are vast including:
Lane Narrowing/Road Dieting
Medians & Refuge Islands
Speed Limit Detectors
Pavement Materials for Adding Visual Interest
Traffic Signal Progression
For more click here.
Now for the bad: while the Traffic Engineering department makes it incredibly easy for community members to spark traffic calming initiatives, there's a limitation to the scope of the projects they'll consider. Living on North Anthony Blvd, I'm ineligible for the program because they're too many cars passing through each day. After I moved to North Anthony, I remember speaking with a friend of mine about the speed and noise of the traffic, he quipped that my row of homes was the sound barrier for the neighborhood behind me. While he was joking, I cannot accept that residents in our community are facing safety concerns in the interest of serving as a "sound barrier." Unfortunately, the areas with the highest traffic counts are ultimately the places that need traffic calming the most.
There's hope: our Traffic Engineers are committed to the safety of our community and can be reached at Traffic@cityoffortwayne.org, and they're responsive. If there's a change you need to see in order to feel safe in your neighborhood, but your idea doesn't meet the community-led traffic calming program criteria, you can let them know. Our public servants are dedicated, but they can't drive every street while getting their normal duties done. As citizens we have to act as their eyes-and-ears on the ground, and our feedback is the only way they can make much-needed change.
Things that we can do: We have to advocate with our city administration to become a Vision Zero community. Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero has proven successful across Europe — and is now gaining momentum in major American cities.
So what makes a Vision Zero Community? One that meets the following minimum criteria:
A clear goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries has been set.
The Mayor has publicly, officially committed to Vision Zero.
A Vision Zero plan or strategy is in place, or the Mayor has committed to doing so in clear time frame.
Key departments (including transportation, public health and mayors’ offices) are leading.
Another program that's vital to the safety and
future of our community is the Safe Routes to School program. Safe Routes to School is an approach that promotes walking and bicycling to school through infrastructure improvements, enforcement, tools, safety education, and incentives to encourage walking and bicycling to school.
A commitment to Safe Routes to Schools will mean having our public servants within the city and Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) collaborate. Because of our advocacy, FWCS has re-committed to Safe Routes to Schools, which it hadn't reaffirmed since 2019.
I'd be humbled to earn your support and continue my advocacy in the community. I'll always support programs at the nexus of important infrastructure and public safety measures. Together, we will move Fort Wayne Forward.