Making Street Safety a Priority in Greensboro

April 6, 2022 - (4 min read)

The City of Greensboro has joined with other cities across the nation in making transportation safety a top priority to end crashes resulting in serious injuries and loss of life. The City had experienced its highest number of traffic crash deaths in 2017, when 42 people were killed. This prompted the Greensboro Department of Transportation (GDOT) to initiate Vision Zero Greensboro.

Starting with Outreach and an Action Plan

The city’s safety initiative began with a focus on stakeholder engagement, including representatives from public safety, public health, other governmental agencies and local businesses. This engagement led to a Vision Zero Greensboro stakeholder group representing over 50 governmental, private, and non-profit representatives.

The stakeholder group, with the assistance of a consulting firm, developed the Vision Zero Greensboro Action Plan. The plan, adopted by the Greensboro City Council in May 2019, identified three emphasis areas:

  1. speed and keeping drivers alert,
  2. running off the road,
  3. and protecting all users, including vulnerable users.

The development of the plan included public outreach resulting in more than  1,000 survey responses and culminated with the inclusion of 17 objectives and 43 action plan strategies.

Since the approval of the Action Plan, GDOT has focused extensively on education and encouragement. In 2020, the department launched the “What’s Your Safe” campaign. The campaign supported Action Plan objectives to develop outreach materials to educate the public on Vision Zero Greensboro and deploy effective community engagement efforts to create a culture of safety.

Creating Community Engagement

The campaign focused on the key factors contributing to the crashes –speed, impairment, and seat belt usage. Two initiatives were rolled out under the campaign:

“Not One More Death” Display – The display was developed to raise awareness of the human toll traffic crashes had in the city in 2019 and was installed at a local mall from March to late August 2020. The exhibit included the date of the life lost on donated blue jeans and key factors contributing to the crashes through infographic display boards. A total of 32 lives were lost in 2019.

Transportation Safety Summer Art and Essay Contest – Rising elementary, middle, and high school students were asked to help promote transportation safety – in a short essay or through visual arts – by showing how to stay safe when riding in a car or on a bike, or walking. Cash prizes were awarded by a local insurance agency to the nine contestant winners. Their artwork was showcased on the City’s social media channels over several months.

Leadership’s Support

The support of the City Manager’s Office and Council has been crucial to our advancing and promoting the initiative, as has the support of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Council Member Marikay Abuzuaiter, who chairs the MPO Policy Board, has been our champion on the Council, in the community, and in the regional transportation planning process.

“After several years of worsening trends, Greensboro suffered a record 52 traffic fatalities in 2021. It’s imperative at this point that we work together to implement an equity focused Safe Systems approach.  Nothing less will be sufficient for making significant traffic safety gains. Thankfully, the Bipartisan Infrastructure law (IIJA) creates unprecedented opportunities and promises a high level of support for our efforts.”

Council Member Marikay Abuzuaiter

Next Steps

Greensboro is excited to join cities across the nation in the National League of Cities’ Safety First Challenge for Safer Streets in sharing our work and encouraging other cities to join this movement. The next steps for Vision Zero Greensboro include an increasing focus on engineering efforts including reviewing roadway design policies and the development of a safety project pipeline, hiring staff to fully support the implementation of the program, and increased community engagement during project development, especially in the city’s minority low-income areas. Vision Zero Greensboro will also participate in the second annual NC Vision Zero Leadership Team Institute sponsored by the NC Governor’s Highway Safety Program and UNC Chapel Hill’s Highway Safety Research Center.

Learn more about our new coalition.

About the Author:

Lydia M. McIntyre is a Sr. Transportation Planning Engineering with the Greensboro Department of Transportation.

About the Authors