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Coming Together to Create a Future of Improved Mobility for All

NACTO's Designing Cities conference reminds us we will not get to zero traffic deaths by the actions of only one organization.

Heidi Simon
September 26, 2022

In times of crisis, we need each other. This sentiment helped kick off NACTO’s Designing Cities conference this month and referred primarily to the nimble response of transportation officials in the advent of COVID-19. It was on display as people cheerfully greeted one another after being virtual for so long and as we heard from cities on the innovation, passion and tenacity they have relied on to tackle mobility safety. It resonated with us not only because of its unquestionable truth, but because as NSC works to improve the roadway safety crisis, it is clear we will not get to zero traffic deaths by the actions of only one organization.

And the environment at Designing Cities was one of action – practitioners sharing what worked and what didn’t, opportunities to get outside and see in-progress projects, and many discussions about what to do next. But these actions, while perhaps done by individual cities or practitioners, are focused around a collective goal of multi-modal safety and accessibility, and their success is shared as a community. NSC strongly believes in this community approach to traffic safety. As the managing organization of the Road to Zero Coalition, NSC has witnessed the strength of collective action and communications, and with the new Mobility Safety Advisory Group, NSC hopes to continue work with the key communities of practitioners like NACTO to inform how we engage with mobility safety.

To be clear, no one at the conference was blind to the challenges of improving mobility. The rise in traffic fatalities was a common theme, as was the frustration at the unprecedented and disproportionate rise in deaths of those walking and biking. Having to work within a status quo that too often resists confronting the car-first, driver-as-king narrative within the U.S. presents obstacles for practitioners and advocates alike. But within a discussion of the challenges was a sense that those at the conference were not afraid of the work left to be done. In fact, there seemed a sense that we shouldn’t shy away from the difficult choices or the hard work that come in creating a future where all can move as they wish safely. It served as a call to action for us at NSC to echo this leadership, innovation and willingness to be part of the solution.  

Among NACTO members and partners, it reminded us of the powerful voice that the organization brings to traffic safety as a tireless advocate not only for mobility safety but also the hardworking individuals on the ground in cities across the nation who are creating change. We are in a time of crisis when it comes to mobility safety in the U.S., but in tackling that crisis we can choose to create a future where people can have safe, accessible and reliable mobility options. We are so excited to have NACTO and its network join us in efforts to create this future through the new chapter of roadway safety at NSC through the Mobility Safety Advisory Group, and we look forward to many more Designing Cities conferences.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Heidi Simon

Heidi Simon is senior program manager III, mobility safety strategy, at the National Safety Council.

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