Read the Reports

Keep tabs on Vision Zero's progress

As a voter and citizen of Philadelphia who’s passionate about making our streets safer, it’s important to keep tabs on the the promises and progress of Vision Zero. Start here:

Here’s the Vision Zero 2025 action plan, which lays out ways to reduce pedestrian deaths by half in less than five years.

The City lays out the infrastructure projects that it hopes will help reduce pedestrian deaths in high-trafficked areas in its Vision Zero Capital Plan.

And finally, here’s the report for 2021, which details the number of pedestrian deaths last year, and how the City intends to get ahead of that number to accomplish its 2025 goal.


Get Involved

Work with Vision Zero to develop a traffic-calming plan in your neighborhood

Vision Zero offers a handful of unique ways to do your part to reduce traffic-related deaths in Philadelphia.

One is applying for the Neighborhood Slow Zone Program, where you can take the lead in rallying your neighbors to come up with smart ways  to make streets safer in your community. This could include lowering the speed limits on your street, installing speed cushions, erecting a “Slow Children at Play” sign and more.

Vision Zero invites you to “tell us where you feel safe and unsafe while walking, biking, and driving on Philadelphia streets” by reporting transportation hazards and dangerous traffic patterns in your neighborhood.

Use Your Vote

It's one of the most effective ways to make change in our city

Our general election is coming up—in fact, you can vote now if you signed up to receive a mail-in ballot. Among other things, Philadelphians will be deciding on district attorney, city controller, and a slew of judges running for seats in state and local courts. There are also four ballot questions concerning changes in our city charter—including one vote on cannabis legalization.

For more on the candidates and ballot questions, check out our voter guide. And keep in mind these important dates:

Register by October 18, 2021

Request a mail-in ballot by October 26 

Voting in person? Polls will be open on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, from 7am to 8pm.

Why Can’t Philly Stop Pedestrian Deaths?

More Philly walkers were hit by cars in 2020 than any other recent year. Blame for the City’s Vision Zero failure lies with a familiar culprit: councilmanic prerogative, says Philly 3.0’s engagement director

Why Can’t Philly Stop Pedestrian Deaths?

More Philly walkers were hit by cars in 2020 than any other recent year. Blame for the City’s Vision Zero failure lies with a familiar culprit: councilmanic prerogative, says Philly 3.0’s engagement director

Mayor Kenney in his 2015 campaign made an audacious pledge that many mayors were making around that time: to reduce pedestrian deaths and serious traffic-related injuries to zero, starting by cutting the number in half by 2026.

This concept — branded as Vision Zero — had begun to be popularized in the United States, starting in the 2013 New York City mayoral race, and was envisioned to be a whole-of-government effort by elected officials, streets and public works staff, transportation officials, police, public health agencies, and others to address every contributing aspect of these serious crashes.

RELATED: New art project aims to curb traffic accidents near a school in South Philly

The strategies for this typically fall into three buckets: engineering, education, and enforcement—with an emphasis on street reengineering as the most important medium to long-term strategy. But that’s been the area where the Kenney administration has arguably been lagging the most.

This week the City released its latest progress report on this goal, and the results are super dismal. It’s been reported already: 2020 was the worst year in recent history for crashes. The news can partly be blamed on the pandemic, but the trend line was headed in the wrong direction even before 2020—and it’s been clear for a while that the City’s efforts weren’t going to be sufficient to meet Candidate Kenney’s ambitious goal.

There are several reasons why this is the case—low city spending per-capita on streets, for one thing—but the bigger issue is about a governance failure on the streets reengineering front.

One of the iron laws of Philadelphia politics is that if you want to have less of something, put it under the control of the councilmanic prerogative system. Whether it’s housing, outdoor dining, bus lanes, bike lanes—you name it—once it’s under the sway of District Councilmembers, you are practically guaranteed to see less of that thing.

And that is exactly what happened to street design almost 10 years ago, in 2012, when under the initiative of then-Councilperson Bill Greenlee, City Council took over the power to approve lane alterations, like when a travel lane or a lane of parking is converted to a bus or bike lane. After that, the mileage of bike lane-striping per year fell off a cliff, and has plodded along at a sluggish pace ever since. That’s obviously inadequate to achieve the mayor’s stated goals.

Councilmanic prerogative over streets has created three basic problems. One is that the members pretty straightforwardly awarded themselves this power in order to never use it, or at least to use it less often than the Mayor’s Office would, if unencumbered by the Council ordinance requirement.

One of the iron laws of Philadelphia politics is that if you want to have less of something, put it under the control of the councilmanic prerogative system.

The less visible, but more damaging problem is that the Council-approval requirement puts a big damper on the quantity and ambition of projects that get dreamed up by the administration in the first place, because the administration is constrained by the political realities of what may be possible to get through City Council—by design, the more parochial of the city’s governing institutions. That damage is measured by the number of viable projects that never get proposed at all, which of course is unknowable.

And the third and most invisible problem of all is the impact of the 2012 governance change on the projects that are fully within the mayor’s power to do. There are still some street safety projects—like Washington Avenue for example—that the mayoral administration is allowed to do that do not involve repurposing travel or parking lanes.

But the mayor’s office doing anything even remotely controversial as a unilateral move comes with a big risk that Council could go even further in curtailing the mayor’s power, so there’s an incentive for the administration not to rock the boat too much. That’s had a chilling effect of essentially imposing councilmanic prerogative-type political dynamics even in situations where no Council sign-off is technically required, and this has all really trimmed the administration’s sails.

RELATED: What is councilmanic prerogative in Philadelphia? 

Given these governance dynamics, it’s easy to see how Philadelphia’s political system could drastically under-produce the kinds of life-saving street alterations needed to meet Mayor Kenney’s ambitious goals, and fail to counter these disturbing pedestrian fatality trends. And zooming out, you can also see very similar political incentives at play with all of the issues that tend to live in the councilmanic prerogative basket, with similar poor outcomes.

For better results, the laws and governing structure need to change so the right decisions can be made at the right levels of government.

Jon Geeting is the director of engagement at Philadelphia 3.0, a political action committee that supports efforts to reform and modernize City Hall. This is part of a series of articles running on both The Citizen and 3.0’s blog.


Guest Commentary: Protect pedestrians. It’s Good for the Earth

Bringing back the ‘Jay Driver’

Why Philly Must Win the Transit War

Guest Commentary: Ditch the car

Photo by Justin Wolfe / Flickr

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil comments. If your post is offensive, not only will we not publish it, we'll laugh at you while hitting delete.

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story

Advertising Terms

We do not accept political ads, issue advocacy ads, ads containing expletives, ads featuring photos of children without documented right of use, ads paid for by PACs, and other content deemed to be partisan or misaligned with our mission. The Philadelphia Citizen is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and all affiliate content will be nonpartisan in nature. Advertisements are approved fully at The Citizen's discretion. Advertisements and sponsorships have different tax-deductible eligibility. For questions or clarification on these conditions, please contact Director of Sales & Philanthropy Kristin Long at [email protected] or call (609)-602-0145.