Metro Louisville

Louisville officials will have to come up with a plan to eliminate roadway fatalities by 2050 under an ordinance approved unanimously by Metro Council on Thursday night.

The city is aiming to officially join the Vision Zero Network, an international initiative focused on designing safe streets. Large and mid-sized cities such as Chicago, Charlotte, N.C. and Richmond, Va. are already part of the network. The ordinance, sponsored by Democratic District 21 Council Member Nicole George, requires city agencies like Public Works and Louisville Metro Police to create an action plan for reducing fatal collisions and to provide Metro Council with annual updates.

George recently told WFPL News that the city had collected data showing that 900 people have died from crashes on non-interstate roadways in Louisville since 2014, including 185 pedestrians.

“That’s a significant number of people and that doesn’t even account for the impact of crashes in general,” George said. “Whether it’s other countries or other cities, they’ve moved the needle on this and we have an obligation to do so as well.”

George said she’s seen how unsafe roads in her district, like Preston Highway, had impacted constituents.

The Vision Zero approach to ending roadway fatalities is to assess roadway design rather than blaming individual drivers or pedestrians. It puts the onus on city planners, public health officials and policymakers to prioritize safety when constructing new streets or reconfiguring old ones.

Supporters of the ordinance said its passage formalizes Louisville’s commitment to improving the safety and accessibility of roadways. They say it could also open the door to more federal funding through the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, since participation in a Vision Zero-like initiative is a requirement for some grants.

Vision Zero gives financial support to Louisville Public Media, which WFPL is part of.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL.