Early in 2016, Mark Gorton, founder and publisher of Streetsblog, asked me to meet with a San Francisco-based traffic safety pioneer from the private sector who he had met at the Vision Zero Cities conference. “Interesting,” I thought, “how does the business world plan to make a buck trying to save life and limb on our streets?” After working for years to introduce Vision Zero to the U.S. and helping New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio develop the first Vision Zero policy in the country, I was well-versed in the extreme challenges we face when executing policies that actually change the way we live.
But, since I started the Vision Zero conference in 2014, I thought it wise to learn about the latest innovations it inspired, so I set up a meeting with Zendrive co-founder and CEO Jonathan Matus. The first pleasant surprise was that Zendrive had sponsored the event after I left Transportation Alternatives and moved to California. Then, after I met with Jonathan, it was clear why Mark was inspired to introduce us: Zendrive isn’t doing this work to “make a buck;” the team’s moral compass is pointed straight at transforming people’s lives around the world. They do this by reducing the million preventable deaths that happen on our roads every year.
Zendrive did a lot to help people stay alive in 2016:
We supported the City of San Francisco’s Vision Zero efforts and released a comprehensive analysis of the City’s Safer Market Street project. This was a first-of-its-kind analysis: We used anonymized driver behavior data to conduct the type of before-and-after project analysis that transportation professionals typically do with just vehicle counts. One interesting finding that our data and analytics revealed was that the city’s changes on Market Street reduced people speeding and slamming on their brakes on Market Street and on adjacent Mission Street. You can download the study here.
We were selected by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission to participate in the City’s Vehicle Safety Technology pilot, a key part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Action Plan. We’re working to improve the safety of for-hire drivers in the city that never sleeps. These hard-working professionals set the pace on city streets, so when they drive safe, others drive safe.
We were honored to support public policy innovation across the country and around the world. Zendrive joined the US DOT and National Safety Council’s Road to Zero coalition, which is working to eliminate traffic deaths in the U.S in the next 30 years. We were inspired in joining fellow leaders in road safety to speak at Transportation Alternatives’ 2nd Vision Zero Cities conference, the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ Designing Cities conference and the International Association of Transportation Regulators conference. Zendrive was on the frontline of innovation, presenting about autonomous vehicles with our colleagues from Mapbox, and delivering a keynote on the future of smart cities at the Viva Technology conference in Paris.
While Zendrive thinks globally, our staff was heartened to act locally. We were a proud sponsor of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition‘s Golden Wheel Awards, and our staff was psyched to volunteer their time to support WalkSF in their work to make San Francisco a more livable, walkable city.
I’m happy to report that Mark has since joined Zendrive’s Safety Advisory Board. He’s joined by experts like Gabe Klein, the former head of transportation for Washington, D.C., and the City of Chicago.
“Zendrive is at the confluence of Vision Zero, shared mobility and connected vehicles, and because they work with professional drivers and ‘civilians,’ their dataset is very robust in terms of size, detail and growth,” Gabe told me. “Zendrive’s ability to connect the dots between mobility and safety could help transform cities.”
In 2017, Zendrive’s growing data set will feed into groundbreaking research on local transportation projects and fuel our mission of using data and analytics to make roads safe by helping people make safe choices behind the wheel. I hope you’ll join us or follow our journey in this lifesaving work.
Also published on Medium.