How many more deaths are acceptable?

Not one more fatality or serious injury on our streets

In the last week, Andres Hulslander was killed while bicycling in Seattle, four-year-old Hao Chen Xu was struck and killed while walking in a crosswalk in Issaquah and a two-year-old was killed in Redmond near a playground.

We are devastated by the sudden loss of three members of our community. And the worst part? All three deaths were completely preventable.

This has to stop. We must do more to protect our most vulnerable users. We can’t wait any longer to make needed safety improvements on our streets.

As an employee of a bicycle advocacy organization, it’s my job to make getting around our region safe and comfortable; but as a father of a five-year-old, it’s also very personal.

We can do better. We have to do better. Our region must work towards Vision Zero, which sets a goal to eliminate fatal and serious injury collisions on our roads.

In 2013, 436 people were killed on roads in Washington, including 11 people killed while bicycling and 49 people killed while walking.

Seattle, Kirkland, Kenmore, Tacoma and many other cities are showing leadership and moving forward on this effort, but we know more needs to be done.

Leah Shahum, Director of the Vision Zero Network, has been researching the most successful strategies to achieve this goal. While her research is still ongoing, several key lessons have emerged:

We must control speeds and differential in speeds

Lowering speeds on residential streets to 20 mph and arterials to 25 mph will make a huge difference. Street design is key. Streets must be designed to control speeds, create predictable behaviors and separate modes with protected bike lanes and bike signals.

Engineering takes priority

People make mistakes; our streets need to be engineered to be forgiving of mistakes and create the desired behaviors. Lowering speeds is not enough when we have streets that function like highways. Education and enforcement are important, but engineering is paramount in achieving the outcomes we want.

Partnerships are necessary to succeed

Partnerships across our communities — with our elected officials, auto insurers and traffic engineers — are all needed to ensure our citizens’ safety. And this effort requires each of us to be more aware and attentive, regardless of how we get around.

The good news it that all of these lessons are easy to put into practice. And we can start right now.

Cascade is working hard with partners around the region to make this vision a reality. We are part of the Seattle Neighbors for Vision Zero coalition, working to achieve Vision Zero in Seattle.

We hosted a workshop for more than 30 Eastside elected officials, planners and transportation staff on Vision Zero last week in Bellevue, with the goal of getting Vision Zero into their planning and design processes. We are working on a code of conduct for all Cascade members to encourage safe riding.We also work with thousands of kids every year, teaching them to ride safely.

We are committed to working with our partners to achieve this goal of eliminating serious injuries and fatalities in our region and making sure everyone has the opportunity to ride a bike on a safe, comfortable, connected facility regardless of their age or ability.

Join Cascade in letting elected officials know you will not tolerate one more preventable fatality on our streets. We call on our elected officials to commit to Vision Zero, to prioritize lives over vehicle speeds, and design streets that are safe for two-year-olds and for 80-year-olds.