Vision Zero RVA
Public Service Campaign
Vision Zero is a worldwide initiative to stop traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by increasing safety for all modes of transportation. The city of Richmond has been part of the Vision Zero program since March of 2016 and asked us to create a campaign that would raise awareness of the program and help save lives.
Why I Love This Project
This project was an opportunity to make a real difference by saving lives. I’m proud of the way we narrowed the ask to one mode of transportation and the unexpected campaign we produced. The city is exploring what it would take to implement our ideas.
We knew we couldn’t solve all of Richmond’s traffic safety issues with one campaign. When we began to dig into the overall problem, one group stood out.
In 2017, 11 pedestrians died on Richmond’s streets (that’s half of the city’s overall traffic deaths for the year). Of those incidents, 10 took place away from a crosswalk — meaning the pedestrian was likely jaywalking or attempting to cross the street unsafely. We learned from VCU Police that pedestrians were increasingly being found at fault in incidents involving motor vehicles, often because they’re distracted by their phones. Richmond also has the highest pedestrian death rate in all of Virginia, and it’s even higher than that of New York City.
When talked to people about their pedestrian behavior, we were shocked by a lot of what we heard:
“I trust that drivers understand that I’m not in a vehicle and I’m not going to just get dented.”
“Sometimes I feel safer crossing mid-block because I have greater visibility than some of the corners that are blocked by cars.”
“Isn’t that the law? I really thought pedestrians always had the right of way.”
We realized that people weren’t just behaving badly when they crossed the street. They were trusting that drivers wouldn’t want to hurt them, no matter how they behaved. Richmond’s pedestrians were putting their own safety into the hands of complete strangers.
Challenge Richmond’s pedestrians to own their own safety.
We capitalized on Richmond’s love for ghost stories and created the mysterious Edwin, a lonely ghost who was killed while crossing the streets and now attempts to lure the living to the same fate. During the course of an eight-week guerilla-style campaign, Edwin taunts the city, and lashes out at anyone who tries to get in his way.
The campaign kicks off with reverse graffiti scattered throughout the city that is signed by Edwin and calls out bad pedestrian behavior.
Next, a series of posters and flyers is put up all over the city that warns passers-by of Edwin sightings. They include a mysterious website and phone number.
WhoIsEdwin.com appears to be a ghost hunter’s collection of Edwin sightings, but a popup refers visitors to Richmond’s Vision Zero efforts.
People who call 1-800-DON’T-DIE will hear a recording with information about Richmond’s pedestrian death rates and Vision Zero.
But then, Edwin strikes back and vandalizes the posters.
By now, Edwin will be gaining traction on social media, and local authorities will chime in.
We’ll also begin to plant Edwin sighting posts with local businesses.
But once again Edwin strikes back, this time hacking the Richmond Police Twitter account.
By now, everyone should know who Edwin is and that the city has to unite against him to improve pedestrian safety. We’ll distribute special anti-Edwin stickers that local business in areas with heavy foot traffic can place in their windows to show they’re on board with Vision Zero’s efforts.