Omaha City Council unanimously approves Vision Zero traffic safety plan

The Omaha City Council voted to approve the city's proposed Vision Zero traffic plan.
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 4:30 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Omaha City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a traffic safety plan for the city that has been years in the making.

The Vision Zero Omaha action plan prioritizes traffic safety — for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists — with an overall goal of eliminating all deadly and serious-injury crashes.

It calls for reconfiguring lanes and using speed management plans to lower speeds, bolstering police enforcement and traffic safety education to make it safer for drivers and pedestrians, and road designs to make the streets themselves safer.

Spearheaded in Omaha by Mayor Jean Stothert over the past several years, Vision Zero is based on a model adopted in Sweden in the 1990s and is now embraced in roughly 50 U.S. cities, including biggies like New York and Chicago.

The city council heard testimony overwhelmingly in favor of the Vision Zero Action Plan.

However, one supporter warns that an action plan is only as good as the amount of support it gets in implementing it.

“Many cities have seen their efforts fail due to lack of funding, lack of political leadership, and lack of thoughtful oversight,” Vision Zero Technical Advisory Board member Trilety Wade said.  “But from what i’ve seen as a member of the technical advisory committee and what i hope to see today, we do believe we have the supportive leaders and city departments, and the plan already includes mechanisms for oversight.”

Only one person testified in opposition of the action plan, saying the city can’t regulate common sense or people’s behaviors.

“You can’t regulate everything,” Larry Store said. “So please stop spending my tax dollars and driving me out of Omaha because of that.”

The Omaha Vision Zero efforts are outlined through a website that also includes a City of Omaha fatal crash dashboard.

Austin Rowser, assistant director of Omaha Public Works, told 6 News in August that Omaha had been utilizing Vision Zero traffic concepts for several years, working to humanize the approach to traffic safety and engineering. He said the city had already implemented traffic signal timing that favors pedestrian safety and was working to make sure there are safe paths for walking or cycling to and from transit stops and destinations.

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News for updates.