One of the abiding structural issues that mayors and other executives responsible for cities and towns face is that traditional time frames for transportation improvements can be many years, if not decades. A new generation of leaders has refused to accept this as an inevitable problem, however, and has begun to show how to achieve tangible, visible transportation results within a single term of office.
Change-oriented transportation leaders begin their tenures with strategic plans to communicate a vision (often one that demonstrates how transportation projects achieve safety, public health, equity, economic growth, or other city objectives) paired with very specific goals and assignments of responsibility for improvements that can be accomplished within a few years. These plans have emphasized new mobility facilities, like bus and bike lanes, and reclaiming some paved areas as public space. More recently, Vision Zero traffic-safety policies have created additional urgency for change in America’s urban streetscapes. Vision Zero commits cities to continual improvement in safety performance, measured in the basic metrics of traffic fatalities and crashes.