Vision Zero Fail: Austin PD Wants to Ban People From Lingering By Busy Roads

The Austin Police Department doesn’t seem to understand what Vision Zero is about. Instead of making roads safer by enforcing pedestrians’ right of way or ticketing speeders, police are proposing to ban people from standing by dangerous, high-speed roads.

hanging around on sidewalks by dangerous roads could soon be illegal in Austin. Photo: Kellie CA via Flickr
Austin police want to make it illegal to hang out on certain streets. Photo: Kellie CA via Flickr

As if being next to roaring, dangerous traffic weren’t deterrent enough, Austin police want to fine people who stay too long on these sidewalks, according to the local CBS affiliate. Pedestrian safety problem solved!

Blake Johnson with the Austin Police Department insisted to KXAN that it’s not just an excuse to target homeless people. But it is, in fact, an excuse to sweep up anyone standing next to a road that clearly wasn’t designed with their interests at heart.

The City Council, which formed Austin’s Vision Zero task force last year, hasn’t yet taken up the measure, KXAN reports. Police spokesperson Blake Johnson said that could take a few months. (Or, hopefully, forever.)

In 2015, a record 102 people were killed on Austin streets. The city was recently chosen as a Vision Zero “focus city” to model how traffic deaths can be eliminated. In a press release from the Vision Zero Network celebrating the announcement, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said, “We have way too many traffic fatalities in Austin, but the goal isn’t fewer, it’s zero.”

Meanwhile, the police department’s traffic enforcement efforts have twice drawn national attention for all the wrong reasons, aggressively arresting “jaywalkers.”

Now Austin police want the power to arbitrarily ticket people who don’t even set foot on the roadway. What could go wrong?

Correction 4:58 pm 2/26/2016: 102 total people were killed on Austin streets in 2015. Original version said 102 pedestrians.

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