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Vision Zero Was Already Far Behind Goals -- Now It Faces Millions In Cuts

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Vision Zerois the street safety initiative launched by Mayor Garcetti in 2015 to eliminate traffic deaths -- which many city leaders and community advocates have described as an epidemic in recent years.

The program identifies streets and intersections where pedestrians are seriously injured and killed at higher rates -- known as the High-Injury Network -- and makes improvements like high-visibility crosswalks, speed bumps and protected bike lanes. The program also includes ramped up traffic enforcement and community outreach campaigns.

For the current fiscal year budget, Vision Zero received about $51.4 million -- the most since its inception in 2015. But officials from the mayor's office say the program will be cut 5% in the next fiscal year to $48 million amid the impending financial crisis brought about by the pandemic.

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In total, funding for infrastructure improvements will be reduced 10%, from $888 million down to $795 million.

That means less money for safety improvements like sidewalk repairs, pedestrian plazas and more.

Vision Zero is managed by the city's Department of Transportation. Spokesman Colin Sweeney told me LADOT will have more details about how the department and the program will be affected after they've had time to analyze the budget, but said Vision Zero funding will remain largely intact.

After Garcetti's proposed budget was released Monday Sweeney said:

"The small reduction to Vision Zero funding largely reflects the furloughs the Mayor proposed in his state of the city. We do not anticipate these reductions to have any significant impact on Vision Zero programs, which reflected the Mayor's continued commitment to street safety."

2020 marks the halfway point for the program, which has a goal of eliminating all traffic deaths in the city by 2025. That's clearly not going well. An estimated 134 people were killed by drivers while walking in L.A. last year, an increase of about 52% from 2015 -- the year Vision Zero was launched.

That said, the recent stay-at-home orders have greatly reduced vehicle and other trips across the city.