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City leaders ready to hear input from public on reducing traffic crashes

Traffic deaths in Columbia have risen to their highest total in six years.

Back in December, city leaders agreed to adopt the Vision Zero policy to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injures by 2030.

Pednet, the Pestestrian and Pedaling Network, will be assisting the city with the policy. According to the coalition, the risk of being killed on a roadway in Columbia is more than double the risk in New York City.

Assistant Director, Lawrence Simonson said that statistic is likely because of the model New York City has adopted after Vision Zero. Adding tools such as cameras, shortening crosswalks, reducing speed limits, and providing more community policing are all steps the city took to help eliminate deaths and injuries, and are things Simonson says Columbia can do too.

For Columbia resident Melissa Muse, speeding on Worley is something she has seen for the past five years.

“The traffic is like a highway out here,” Muse said.

She has seen a couple of close calls with her daughter and children playing in the yard, and said she doesn’t want to see any more.

“People have small children like we do, and it becomes a major concern that our kids are out there with people who are going down the street at 50 to 60 mph,” Muse said.

So she placed a sign on her front yard saying, “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here,” to remind drivers to slow down, but said it didn’t last long. “In the beginning, people slowed down. It was neat but then they’ve ignored it.”

That’s where the city wants to come in, asking residents to provide their input on how to eliminate serious traffic injuries and deaths in Columbia.

Speeding on Worley Street and in other parts of Columbia has been the largest contributor to crashes in Columbia.

“People tend to drive incredibly fast and that’s not necessarily the fault of the individual,” Simonson said. “Our system is designed to encourage speeding a lot of times.”

Columbia became the 22nd city in the country to adopt this type of policy and the first in the state to formally adopt the Vision Zero mindset.

On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., the city will host the first of three public meetings to get input from residents about how to reduce traffic deaths and injuries.

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