City of Albuquerque has hired Valerie Hermanson to serve as its Vision Zero Coordinator. Begun in 2019, the City’s Vision Zero effort was first led by Terra Reed, who moved on from the gig and City some months back. Ms. Hermanson takes on a job properly characterized in its scope and bureaucratic difficulty in the City’s press release on the hire:
Valerie Hermanson, AICP, begins her role as a Public Works Strategic Program Manager for the City of Albuquerque, leading the City’s Vision Zero program to combat pedestrian deaths and reimagine transit systems to make our roads safer for all users.
Tellingly left out and included in this description of the City’s Vision Zero job/program is that:
- It’s not only about pedestrians and transit, for all means of travel are to be addressed if we’re to reduce roadway fatalities; and,
- It’s a “Public Works” job?
The American Public Works Association defines its, uh, work as:
Public works is the combination of physical assets, management practices, policies, and personnel necessary for government to provide and sustain structures and services essential to the welfare and acceptable quality of life for its citizens.
Thus, as a “Public Works Strategic Program Manager,” not to mention Vision Zero Coordinator, Ms. Hermanson has a very, very big job. Or at least two of them. For not only does she have to work within the bureaucracy to impact “physical assets, management, policies…” decisions, she also has to convince and motivate both the public and her fellow bureaucrats that reducing traffic fatalities is integral to an “acceptable quality of life for its citizens.”
While convincing citizens that maybe they should do things like slow the hell down and stop looking at their damn cell phone while driving may be difficult, convincing fellow bureaucrats and city leaders to fundamentally change how our roads are built, rebuilt, and maintained toward saving lives may be the tougher job.
I dunno. It’s pretty much a toss-up of two near impossible gigs in an intra-pandemic milieu of:
- Spiking roadway deaths here and throughout the country;
- Increasingly large/dangerous trucks and SUVs offering selfish protection to those inside the metal box and danger to everyone else on/near the road; and,
- Antiquated roadways built with little-to-no thought of anybody but drivers.
Yet we have to start somewhere, now more than ever, and Better Burque very much welcomes Valerie Hermanson to the position. We recall Ms. Hermanson’s work in growing our bike share program, which was making definite progress pre-pandemic.
It won’t be easy, and it will very likely never be enough to achieve “Vision Zero,” nevertheless the collective we have to do what we can to reverse what seems to be growing acceptance, by both citizens and government bureaucrats, that killing people is just a “cost of doing business” to selfishly get “there” faster.