About Vision Zero

Zero serious injuries and zero deaths on BC roads.

The BC Vision Zero in Road Safety Grant Program provides up to $20,000 per project to make BC roads safer for all.

What is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero means zero serious injuries, disabilities, and deaths on our roads. Everyone should feel safe while traveling in their communities.

Sweden and the Netherlands first adopted this idea in the 1990s. A Vision Zero approach means that we don't just have to live with road-related injuries and deaths—they are preventable. These serious injuries and deaths can be prevented when proper safety measures are put in place. Governments, road designers, and road users need to work together to make our roads safer for all.

Adopting Vision Zero means accepting that human error and other factors can lead to road-related harms. We can address these risks using the "Safe Systems Approach" and build layers of safety into our road systems. This strategy prioritizes solutions that create safe roads, safe speeds, safe vehicles, and safe road users1. This could be as simple as installing flashing lights on hard-to-see crosswalks or creating a separate bike lane. The goal is to design roads where small mistakes by one does not lead to serious consequences for another.

Vision Zero is effective. The first countries, Sweden and the Netherlands, to adopt this approach have seen up to 66% fewer road fatalities2. Seeing their success, other European countries and North American cities have embraced this novel concept3.

Comparison of traditional versus Vision Zero road safety approaches

Traditional Road Safety ApproachVision Zero Approach
Serious injuries, disabilities, and deaths caused by road crashes are inevitable.Serious injuries, disabilities, and deaths on roads are preventable. No one should be harmed while traveling.
Crashes and collisions are due to human error.People make mistakes, but solutions can be proposed to minimize human suffering.
Crashes and collisions have to occur first so we can identify where to make improvements.We can predict unsafe or faulty road designs to prevent others from being harmed.
Making road safety improvements is expensive.Making road safety improvements is cost-effective.

Adapted from Table 2. Comparison of traditional, systematic, and vision zero approaches on road safety based on a scoping review4.

Road Safety in British Columbia

Road safety is a big public health concern in British Columbia (BC). Each year:

  • Over 79,000 British Columbians are injured5,
  • Over 2,500 people are hospitalized6,
  • Almost 250 people die from to road-related crashes7, and
  • Road-related injuries cost BC $639 million in direct and indirect health care expenses8.

Each community faces their own challenges when tackling road problems. Urban centres, like cities, often have better infrastructure and lower speed limits. However, they experience a higher number of non-fatal road collisions. In comparison, roads in rural communities often have higher speed limits and poorer road conditions. Fewer vehicle crashes occur in rural environments but they are more likely to be more deadly9.

Safety of Vulnerable Road Users

Motor vehicle driver and passenger safety are often given priority when it comes to improving policy, infrastructure, and vehicle manufacturing. These safety measures and interventions have been effective: they have led to a decline in motor vehicle occupant deaths. Yet, the number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths in BC has not changed in the last two decades6.

These groups, along with others who travel outside of a motor vehicle, are called vulnerable road users (VRUs). VRUs share the road with large motor vehicles but are not protected like their occupants (seatbelts, airbags, etc.). This puts them at a higher risk of serious injury, disability, or death.

The safety of VRUs need to be prioritized. By 2030, the Province of BC is looking to combat climate change and double the number of active transportation users10. This means more British Columbians will be walking, cycling, or using other types of non-motor vehicle transportation when travelling in their communities. Actions need to be taken now to ensure that these groups have fair and safe access to BC roadways.

Vulnerable road users walk, cycle, and roll to their destinations. These are people who use the roads but are not protected by a motor vehicle: pedestrians; cyclists; people who use e-scooters, e-bikes, e-skateboards, wheelchairs, roadside workers; horse-riders, etc.

British Columbia Vision Zero in Road Safety Grant Program

The goal of the British Columbia Vision Zero in Road Safety for Vulnerable Road Users Program (the ‘Grant Program’) is to improve vulnerable road user safety in the province.

All local governments, Indigenous governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who are looking to solve a road safety issue their community can apply to one of two program streams:

Stream #1 is for the design and installation of low-cost road infrastructure improvements—temporary (pilot) or permanent—that increase the safety of vulnerable road users. It also includes other projects, such as policy changes or other proven or innovative initiatives.

Stream #2 is for Indigenous communities and governments to set and direct their own road safety priorities. This may include infrastructure improvements like in Stream #1, but can also extend to other priorities and goals, such as road safety planning, community consultations, stakeholder engagement, public awareness, a bike-share program, etc.

The funds provided by the Vision Zero in Road Safety Grant Program are a step towards safer and equitable road access throughout the province. When the transportation system is made safer for vulnerable road users, it is made safer for everyone in the community.To learn more about Vision Zero initiatives both in British Columbia and beyond, visit our Resources page

Our Program in Action

First Year's Funded Projects

  • 5 Health Authorities
  • 36 Projects Funded
  • 73% Provincial Success Rate

*Numbers updated September 1, 2022