Vision Zero Denton

Vision Zero Denton

Safety is the number one transportation priority for the City of Denton.

And while the City continues to address safety through existing policies and projects, we also recognize the need to review and re-think Denton’s current safety practices and identify opportunities to decrease severe crashes and ultimately get to a day with zero fatalities. The first step toward zero fatalities is preparation of a Vision Zero Plan.

A drone view of Hickory Street in Downtown Denton

What is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero  asserts that no one should be killed or suffer lifelong injuries because of a roadway crash. In 2022, the United States Department of Transportation released their National Roadway Safety Strategy , which endorsed zero fatalities as the national goal. Underlying Vision Zero is the Safe System Approach : To get to zero, transportation and safety professionals must work together to achieve intentional solutions for safer roads, safer road users, safer speeds, safer vehicles, and post-crash care.

The success of a Vision Zero program is built around three pillars:

Leadership and Commitment

A commitment by local officials and stakeholders to achieve zero traffic fatalities and severe injuries among all road users within a set timeframe. Requires meaningful engagement and buy-in from the public.

Safe Roads and Safe Speed

A commitment to utilize data and engagement to prioritize solutions related to road design, lowering and/or evaluating speed limits, enforcement of traffic laws, and education.

Data Driven Approach, Transparency, and Accountability

A commitment to gather, analyze, utilize, and share data to understand safety issues and prioritize resources based on evidence of the greatest needs and impact. Must include transparency with the results.

Vision Zero Assessment (Phase 1)

Kicking off Denton’s Vision Zero planning process was an assessment of the City’s safety programs across departments to identify opportunities for alignment with the Vision Zero framework. This assessment clarifies and prioritizes safety throughout the City, allowing us to “hit the ground running” as we implement safety projects in the future.

Achieving Vision Zero is complex, but best practices organize the program into the Ten Core Elements for Vision Zero Communities. These core elements were discussed at length with Denton’s stakeholders during a series of meetings, workshops, and surveys. The input gathered resulted in useful actions to establish City policies, programs, and projects to truly impact severe crashes. The process and end result of this effort can be found below.  

Getting Stakeholder Input

To move closer to a day without severe crashes, behavioral interventions (education); engineering and design solutions; laws, policies, and enforcement; vehicle safety and technology; and emergency response all need to be considered and addressed. Several different agencies and organizations within the City of Denton execute these roles. To make a sizeable impact on severe crashes, coordination across City staff and these stakeholders is essential. Close to 80 stakeholders were invited to participate in this Assessment and were engaged in three ways – an Introductory Webinar, a Survey, and a Workshop.

Stakeholders

The following agencies provided their perspectives throughout the Vision Zero Assessment to ensure the range of institutional challenges and successes were captured.

  • City of Denton 
  • Denton Fire Department
  • Denton Police Department
  • Denton Economic Development Partnership Board
  • Denton Independent School District 
  • Denton Main Street Association
  • Denton Chamber of Commerce
  • Denton County
  • Denton County Sheriff's Office 
  • Texas Department of Transportation
  • Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton
  • Medical City Denton
  • Our Daily Bread
  • North Central Texas College
  • North Central Texas Council of Governments
  • Texas Woman's University 
  • University of North Texas
  • REACH of Denton
  • Bike Denton


Webinar

In May 2022, all stakeholders were invited to kick off the Vision Zero Assessment: approximately 30 participated. A goal of this project was to further educate stakeholders on the importance of safety and opportunities to address it as part of their job functions and at their agencies. 

See presentation here

Survey

In June 2022, stakeholders were asked to respond to an online survey. The questions were used to obtain a baseline understanding of current safety practices, successes, and gaps. The results provided initial feedback on the extent to which the core elements of a Vision Zero program were being executed. 

  1. Leadership and Commitment
  2. Safe Roads and Safe Speed
  3. Data Driven Approach, Transparency, and Accountability

Survey Results: Leadership and Commitment

  • Not everyone agreed transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries were preventable.
  • Most respondents thought leadership supported safety initiatives.
  • Half of the respondents felt resistance to safety initiatives from the community.
  • Most respondents did not know the role of the City’s Traffic Safety Commission.
  • Most respondents thought the City consistently or usually engages with people who live in Denton. However, less so with some groups, like the health community, and more so with enforcement, emergency responders, and engineers.

Bar Chart depicting survey results pertaining to Leadership and Commitment

Workshops

In September 2022, two workshops were held – one in-person and one virtual. Drawing from the results of the survey, the team developed a benchmarking matrix (example here) which identified the strengths and areas of improvement for the City related to executing the core elements of Vision Zero. Over 40 stakeholders participated in the workshops. 

Workshop outcomes:

  • Confirm the benchmarking results for the City, organized by the three Vision Zero pillars, were accurate.
  • Identify missing safety practices, opportunities, and challenges not captured in the survey or by internal conversations with City staff.
  • Prioritize elements of the safety program to continue to build upon and critical areas, where more work could be accomplished.

Interviews

Progress toward zero fatalities takes input and commitment from several agencies. While over 40 stakeholders participated in the workshops – some critical voices were not available on those days to share their perspectives. Three separate interviews were held to ensure comprehensive input was received from the engineering, emergency response, and enforcement agencies. 

Benchmarking

Input from all stakeholders and City staff led to a holistic understanding of how Denton conducts its safety practices. To understand how these practices compare to the Vision Zero core elements, benchmarks were developed for each category. For each benchmark, a determination was made as to whether it was an institutional practice, an occasional practice, or not a current practice. 

  1. Safe Roads and Safe Speed
  2. Data Driven Approach, Transparency, and Accountability
  3. Leadership and Commitment

Benchmarking: Safe Roads and Safe Speed

Text graphic depicting VZD Benchmark Safe Roads

Followup Actions

Based on the benchmarking effort and findings, the city team has developed an action plan, identifying the benchmarks, actions and next steps.  The actions have been identified relative to their complexity and level of effort. 

Leadership and Commitment

Actions

  • Identify funding to support development of 2023 VZ Plan
  • Develop public statement committing council to upcoming VZ plan and continued implementation
  • Provide regular updates to council on VZ and related safety initiatives
  • Summarize VZ Assessment to stakeholder group
  • Ask VZ Assessment stakeholders to share progress and announce commitment to upcoming VZ plan development
  • Review & Revise current list of VZ stakeholders to be inclusive of all communities; perform outreach for engagement in 2023 VZ Plan. Include elected official representation.
  • Summarize VZ Assessment to TSC, utilize VZ stakeholder group as mechanism to engage TSC in VZ Plan and discuss how to improve collaboration with other internal departments, committees, and stakeholders

Next Steps for Staff & Timeline

Can/should be done in the near term

Draft VZ RFQ and share with council

Draft resolution or external promotion committing to VZ implementation

Schedule a discussion on the role of TSC in VZ plan and ongoing safety updates

Develop template and cadence for safety-related updates to public & council

Consultant team to develop content for presentation to stakeholders

Prepare draft social share for stakeholders and send request to share

Complete as part of the VZ Plan

Discuss approach to augmenting stakeholder group and formalize for VZ plan

Discuss approach to formalizing interdepartmental VZ working group
Longer-term consideration
Safe Roadways and Safe Speeds

Actions

  • Consider development of Complete Streets Policy in VZ planning process.
  • Prioritize projects (CIP or otherwise) that integrate the safety of the City’s most vulnerable road users

Next Steps for Staff & Timeline

Can/should be done in the near term

Complete as part of the VZ Plan

In VZ Plan, examine need for Complete Streets policy; if so establish next steps

Augment Denton Mobility Plan with performance measures, a framework for prioritizing modes, and a more detailed analysis of transit, bike and pedestrian circulation

Longer-term consideration




Data Driven Approach, Transparency, and Accountability

Actions

  • Establish best practices for addressing equity in safety performance metrics; incorporate into scoring rubric for transportation project prioritization
  • Incorporate equity-based and demographic analysis into VZ planning process; include feedback from historically underserved populations into methodology
  • Identify policies in VZ plan that can address safety goals while minimizing disproportionate impacts to low-income individuals

Next Steps for Staff & Timeline

Can/should be done in the near term

Complete as part of the VZ Plan

Develop equity-based and demographic analysis in VZ plan

Identify policies in VZ plan that can minimize impacts to financially vulnerable road users

Longer-term consideration

Incorporate equity metrics on City safety dashboard

Task lead agency with implementation of policies

COMING SOON: Vision Zero Plan (Phase 2)

The City of Denton anticipates beginning Phase 2 of Vision Zero Denton by Summer 2023. This phase includes the issuance of a Request for Qualifications to create a Vision Zero Action Plan.  

Stay Informed

For more information about the City of Denton’s Vision Zero initiative and/or how to stay informed, please contact: