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Oregon just adopted a new transportation safety plan: Here’s what’s in it

Oregon just adopted a new transportation safety plan: Here’s what’s in it

odot-tsapcover

About 400 people have died every year on Oregon roads for each of the past 20 years. Now a new plan adopted by the Oregon Transportation Commission on October 15th says the state has 20 years to bring that number down to zero.

Facing a second consecutive year of a double-digit increase in road fatalities, the the 177-page Transportation Safety Action Plan lays out a path to tackle the problem.

It’s the fourth Transportation Safety Action Plan adopted by Oregon since 1995. The previous plan was adopted in 2011. Beyond a useful roadmap to safer streets for policymakers and citizens, the plan also fulfills a requirement of the Federal Highway Administration. If Oregon wants to tap into federal safety funds, they must have a plan like this on file.

But it’d be a shame if the plan got stuffed into a file to just gather dust because the data and directives in the plan are essential knowledge.

For instance, the more than 230,000 traffic crashes that happened in Oregon between 2009 and 2013 had a total societal cost of $15.6 billion — about $785 per year for every Oregon resident. In that same time period 1,675 people were killed and over 7,000 people were seriously injured using our roads.

One of the many charts in the plan.

One of the many charts in the plan.

Overall we’re pleased at some of the language in the plan. It includes the most firm commitment the State of Oregon has ever made to achieving zero traffic fatalities. The plan never refers specifically to “vision zero” — the moniker adopted by 21 cities nationwide (including Portland) — but it unequivocally states that the Oregon Department of Transportation will work toward zero deaths by 2035.

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This is a significant shift since 2011. The new plan mentions “zero” in regard to fatalities and injuries over 30 times. The 2011 plan mentioned it only twice.

“Transportation crashes and resulting injuries have historically been considered by many as an inevitable consequence of mobility,” reads the executive summary. “However, more recently this idea has been challenged as countries, states, and cities across the world seek to change safety culture and eliminate traffic fatalities and life-changing injuries entirely. The idea may be difficult to grasp initially, but when people are asked how many traffic fatalities are acceptable for their friends and family, the universal response is: ‘zero’.”

And in the section that describes “strategic investments” (Goal 6 in the plan), it states,

Oregon is committed to zero transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries. To make progress and improve traffic safety, stakeholders and partners are tasked with coordinating priorities, leveraging joint resources where possible, and utilizing quantitative data-driven tools (e.g., benefit-cost analysis). Funds are limited, therefore projects, programs, and policies will need to be prioritized to focus on those treatments which will have the greatest benefit toward achieving the vision of zero fatalities and serious injuries.







Compare the excerpt above with the 2011 version (notice how much weaker the “zero” language is):

The Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan envisions a future where oregon’s transportation-related death and injury rate continues to decline. We envision a day when days, then weeks and months pass with not a single fatal or debilitating injury occurs. someday, we see a level of zero annual fatalities and few injuries as the norm.

Unless we design our roads for the speeds that are appropriate within the land use and geographic contexts and the types of users expected, crashes will also continue as before.
— Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan, page 37

We also like the urgency in statements like this: “The development of the [plan] is an important step toward continuously changing the traffic safety culture in Oregon. It comes at a pivotal time as it is imperative to counteract the recent fatality increase.” It’s encouraging to see that ODOT is not ignoring the sobering spike in fatalities.

The plan also includes an entire section on the human impact of crashes with some frank language about the impact of road design on safety outcomes. “Unless we design our roads for the speeds that are appropriate within the land use and geographic contexts and the types of users expected, crashes will also continue as before.”

The plan outlines six specific “goal areas” with related actions that must be taken to meet the 2035 zero fatality goal: safety culture; infrastructure; healthy, livable communities; technology; collaborate and communicate; and strategic investments. To us, that feels like a great balance of soft (culture change) and hard measures (infrastructure).

The state’s goal is to create a safety culture, “where safety is integrated into everyday decision-making.” When it comes to infrastructure, the plan says roads should be designed in such a way that, “small user mistakes will not result in serious injuries.” Severity of crashes can be limited, the plan advises, “By creating environments that minimize potential conflicts… and implementing countermeasures with known or high potential to minimize crash severity and frequency.”

One of the six goal areas (Goal 5) speaks to the importance of working collaboratively with other agencies — something ODOT must improve on if we are ever going to complete a jurisdictional transfer and/or improve deadly arterials like 82nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard.

People who ride bicycles are addressed in a section of the plan that outlines four broad “emphasis areas”. Under the heading of “vulnerable users” the plan includes a section on “bicyclists”:

Bicycle fatalities and serious injuries can be caused by inattentive drivers or inattentive bicyclists.

Regardless of who is at fault, crashes involving a bicyclist tend to be more serious because bicyclists are completely exposed when using the transportation system. Nationally, as well as in Oregon, urban areas are developing transportation systems and land use policies to promote healthy communities and lifestyles. Alternative transportation infrastructure, including bike lanes, bike-specific traffic signals, and bike racks, are being implemented to encourage residents to bike to work, run errands, or for recreation. In the City of Portland, 7.2 percent of commuters go by bike, which is the highest percentage of commuters for a large American city. As bicycling environments improve and more people ride bikes, there are more chances for bicycle-vehicle conflicts. In

Problem Identification

Between 2009 and 2013, crashes involving bicyclists (pedalcyclists) accounted for 4 percent of all the fatal and serious injury crashes in Oregon and contributed to 42 fatalities and 293 serious injuries. About 86 percent of these crashes occurred in an urban environment, where there are more bicyclists and bicycle infrastructure. A number of bicycle-related fatal and serious injury crashes result from young driver crashes. Older driver crashes and crashes when aggressive driving is involved are also strongly correlated to bicycle crashes.

Unfortunately, the list of “Bicyclist actions” on page 84 is pretty weak:
tsap-bicyclistactions

The plan is also a treasure trove of data and charts that should be put to use by citizen activists, policymakers and professional advocates. We can’t get where we need to go if we don’t know where we’ve been and where we stand today.

Here’s the overall fatality trend over time:

odot-tsap-fatalitytrend

The chart below shows where the bad things happen:

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Take a closer look at the plan for yourself and keep it nearby for future activism work. If you have takeaways, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post Oregon just adopted a new transportation safety plan: Here’s what’s in it appeared first on BikePortland.org.

City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades

City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades

Hales at council this morning.

Hales at council this morning.

What started as a vision of a few tactical urbanists is now officially ensconced in City of Portland policy.

A few minutes ago Portland City Council unanimously agreed to to pass the fall supplemental budget package that included $350,000 for a seasonal version of the Better Naito project. The budget also includes $1 million for upgrades to outer Northeast Halsey Street — funding that will trigger a $1 million match in funds from the Bureau of Transportation to complete the project.

As we reported earlier this week, these two projects emerged from a list of six requests made by the Bureau of Transportation in an attempt to get a piece of a $4 million piece of the General Fund that was up for grabs.

“We’ve killed 34 of our fellow citizens with cars [this year], and that’s the #1 threat to public safety in our city.”
— Charlie Hales, Mayor

It was the last budget-related act for outgoing Mayor Charlie Hales, and he was motivated to make good on promises about making cycling on Naito Parkway easier and safer. During his pre-vote remarks in City Hall this morning Hales has strong words of support for both the projects. He spoke directly about hearing from many Portlanders who supported the Naito project.

Hales rode a bike on Naito’s temporary protected lane in July and implored advocates to get loud if they wanted the city to fund it.

“I’m very happy about Better Naito,” he said this morning, “And in terms of community involvement, I want to thank the hundreds of people who let us know it was a priority for them. It really helped us make the case that having more safe places to bike, and expanding the public realm for bicycles in this city, and is something we’re still committed too.”

And perhaps alluding to permanent, year-round changes to Naito, Hales added, “This is a step in the right direction.”

The seasonal version of Better Naito will reconfigure the lanes on the east side of the street during the busy summer festival season in Waterfront Park. For the next five years, city crews will screw in flexible plastic bollards to protect a wide space for walking and biking in both directions. The project also institutionalizes the tactical urbanism approach to street management popularized by Better Block PDX, the nonprofit group who first deployed the project in 2015. This more nimble, flexible, and cheaper approach to re-imagining streets bodes very well for the city’s new Livable Streets Strategy initiative.







Better Naito kickoff-12.jpg

Coming back this summer!
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“People should have an absolute right to the safe use of our streets and it’s a goal we’ll get closer to if we make these types of investments.”
— Nick Fish, Commissioner

Hales also spoke forcefully today about the need for safety upgrades on Halsey, a project that lines up with the city’s vision zero committment and its need to invest in safety upgrades east of I-205. “Gang violence is still a serious problem in this city, we’ve had 15 homicides so far this year,” he said. “But we’ve killed 34 of our fellow citizens with cars, and that’s the #1 threat to public safety in our city.” Hales also mentioned testimony he heard last month from the mother of Fallon Smart, the 15-year-old killed by a reckless driver while walking across Hawthorne Blvd earlier this year. “We had Fawn Lengvenis here, talking about the hole in her heart from her daughter’s death… So vision zero is real and it’s human and it matters… Budgets are how you put values into action, and this is good action and I’m very proud of it.”

Commissioner Nick Fish also voiced strong support for both projects. Back in July, Fish decried Better Naito because it made it harder for him to drive on the street. “When I am in a car and trying to get from point a to point b,” he said during a Council meeting on July 29th. “There are huge consequences when we take a lane out of Naito or we close a street, and effectively what it means is that you just can’t get from here to there.”

Thankfully Fish has changed his tune. “Thanks to everyone who educated me about the benefits of Better Naito,” he said, before voting “aye” this morning. And about the Halsey vision zero project, Fish said, “Vision zero has to be at the center of what we do as a city. People should have an absolute right to the safe use of our streets and it’s a goal we’ll get closer to if we make these types of investments.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades appeared first on BikePortland.org.

City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades

City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades

Hales at council this morning.

Hales at council this morning.

What started as a vision of a few tactical urbanists is now officially ensconced in City of Portland policy.

A few minutes ago Portland City Council unanimously agreed to to pass the fall supplemental budget package that included $350,000 for a seasonal version of the Better Naito project. The budget also includes $1 million for upgrades to outer Northeast Halsey Street — funding that will trigger a $1 million match in funds from the Bureau of Transportation to complete the project.

As we reported earlier this week, these two projects emerged from a list of six requests made by the Bureau of Transportation in an attempt to get a piece of a $4 million piece of the General Fund that was up for grabs.

“We’ve killed 34 of our fellow citizens with cars [this year], and that’s the #1 threat to public safety in our city.”
— Charlie Hales, Mayor

It was the last budget-related act for outgoing Mayor Charlie Hales, and he was motivated to make good on promises about making cycling on Naito Parkway easier and safer. During his pre-vote remarks in City Hall this morning Hales has strong words of support for both the projects. He spoke directly about hearing from many Portlanders who supported the Naito project.

Hales rode a bike on Naito’s temporary protected lane in July and implored advocates to get loud if they wanted the city to fund it.

“I’m very happy about Better Naito,” he said this morning, “And in terms of community involvement, I want to thank the hundreds of people who let us know it was a priority for them. It really helped us make the case that having more safe places to bike, and expanding the public realm for bicycles in this city, and is something we’re still committed too.”

And perhaps alluding to permanent, year-round changes to Naito, Hales added, “This is a step in the right direction.”

The seasonal version of Better Naito will reconfigure the lanes on the east side of the street during the busy summer festival season in Waterfront Park. For the next five years, city crews will screw in flexible plastic bollards to protect a wide space for walking and biking in both directions. The project also institutionalizes the tactical urbanism approach to street management popularized by Better Block PDX, the nonprofit group who first deployed the project in 2015. This more nimble, flexible, and cheaper approach to re-imagining streets bodes very well for the city’s new Livable Streets Strategy initiative.







Better Naito kickoff-12.jpg

Coming back this summer!
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“People should have an absolute right to the safe use of our streets and it’s a goal we’ll get closer to if we make these types of investments.”
— Nick Fish, Commissioner

Hales also spoke forcefully today about the need for safety upgrades on Halsey, a project that lines up with the city’s vision zero committment and its need to invest in safety upgrades east of I-205. “Gang violence is still a serious problem in this city, we’ve had 15 homicides so far this year,” he said. “But we’ve killed 34 of our fellow citizens with cars, and that’s the #1 threat to public safety in our city.” Hales also mentioned testimony he heard last month from the mother of Fallon Smart, the 15-year-old killed by a reckless driver while walking across Hawthorne Blvd earlier this year. “We had Fawn Lengvenis here, talking about the hole in her heart from her daughter’s death… So vision zero is real and it’s human and it matters… Budgets are how you put values into action, and this is good action and I’m very proud of it.”

Commissioner Nick Fish also voiced strong support for both projects. Back in July, Fish decried Better Naito because it made it harder for him to drive on the street. “When I am in a car and trying to get from point a to point b,” he said during a Council meeting on July 29th. “There are huge consequences when we take a lane out of Naito or we close a street, and effectively what it means is that you just can’t get from here to there.”

Thankfully Fish has changed his tune. “Thanks to everyone who educated me about the benefits of Better Naito,” he said, before voting “aye” this morning. And about the Halsey vision zero project, Fish said, “Vision zero has to be at the center of what we do as a city. People should have an absolute right to the safe use of our streets and it’s a goal we’ll get closer to if we make these types of investments.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Sheriff’s office blames deceased victim in early morning collision near Stayton

Sheriff’s office blames deceased victim in early morning collision near Stayton

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.(Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.
(Photo: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

A person was killed this morning while bicycling on a rural road just east of Stayton, a small town about sixty miles south of Portland.

We don’t always cover fatal bicycle collisions so far away from the Portland metro area; but the statement about this one just released by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office deserves a closer look. The language used in the statement shows how far Oregon law enforcement agencies have to go to create a culture around traffic deaths that is in line with Vision Zero principles.

According to the Marion County Sheriff’s office, the collision occurred when someone driving a motor vehicle hit a bicycle rider from behind. Read their official statement (released just two and-a-half hours after the collision) and think about how the language paints the relative culpability of each party:

Around 6:30 a.m., this morning, deputies with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office were called to a vehicle versus bicyclist crash on Shaff Road SE near Rainwater Road SE near Stayton. When deputies arrived they found a single vehicle had struck a bicyclist killing the cyclist instantly.

Early indications show that the cyclist was traveling east on Shaff Road when an eastbound minivan struck the bicycle. The area the crash took place has very little shoulder and no lighting. At the time of the crash it was dark, rainy and the cyclist was wearing dark clothing and no light on the bicycle.

The driver of the vehicle remained on the scene and is cooperating with investigators. Identities of the involved will be released once the appropriate notifications have been made. Shaff Road was closed for 2 hours while investigators processed the scene, Shaff Road has now reopened for regular traffic.

When this information is absorbed by the public via the local media — most of whom simply reprint these statements verbatim without telling the audience they’re doing so — what do you think the takeaways are?

The Sheriff’s Office statement goes out of its way to make excuses for the auto user and creates the perception that the bicycle user was acting irresponsibly. A culture where driving is the dominant paradigm interprets a statement like this as something like, “Well, that bicyclist had it coming. They really ought to stay off those dangerous roads.”







Let’s be clear: There is no Oregon law against riding in the dark, riding in the rain, riding to the left of the fog line (especially when there’s no shoulder to ride in), or wearing dark clothing. Oregon law also says you don’t need a rear light (only a rear reflector). Despite the fact that the bicycle rider appears to have been operating legally on the roadway, this statement unfairly creates an aura of guilt around one party while creating sympathy for the other.

This orientation of supportive language around the person operating the motor vehicle, combined with the tone of blame used to describe the actions of a potentially innocent bicycle user who can no longer speak for themselves, is all too common.

Meanwhile, the person who was operating their vehicle in such a way that it collided with another road user and caused their death, is portrayed as being a good citizen who, “remained at on the scene and is cooperating” — actions that are not only required by Oregon law but are potentially felony criminal offenses if not obeyed. Furthermore, in this case the person driving the car had much more legal responsibility to begin with because they decided to overtake a vulnerable road user, not to mention the greater moral responsibility that comes with operating a vehicle that’s so easily capable of killing another person.

Given all that, why does the Sheriff’s statement not mention whether or not the auto user was distracted? Or whether or not their windshield wipers were turned on and working effectively? And why no mention of Oregon’s safe passing law that requires people to give bicycle riders plenty of space when overtaking them? Why no language about whether or not the auto user was going a safe speed given that it was dark, rainy, and there was no shoulder for a bicycle rider to use? Was the driver using the car’s headlights?

If Oregon is serious about vision zero, law enforcement agencies need to get a lot more perspective and sensitivity around these issues. Language is powerful and it shapes our culture — the same culture that informs the behaviors of road users and the people who design and patrol them. Police agencies must stop assigning blame in media statements. Stick to the facts known and leave other speculative assumptions out of it — especially when those assumptions are the result of inherent bias in favor of one type of road user and against another.

This is the 379th person to die while using Oregon roads so far this year, a total that’s nearly nine percent higher than the 348 people who had died by this date in 2015.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post Sheriff’s office blames deceased victim in early morning collision near Stayton appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Portland’s new chamber of commerce wants more business support for Vision Zero

Portland’s new chamber of commerce wants more business support for Vision Zero

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The Portland Independent Chamber of Commerce (PICOC) has turned their influential attention to an issue near and dear to our hearts: the struggle for safer streets.

Launched early this year by a relatively young cadre of tech industry leaders as an antidote to the Portland Business Alliance, PICOC wants more Portland businesses to step up and support “the Vision Zero movement.”

Their latest campaign hit inboxes and social media feeds today. It’s timed to influence City Council’s upcoming vote on the Vision Zero Action Plan released by the Portland Bureau of Transportation earlier this month. Council is slated to formally adopt the plan on October 12th.

Here’s the full text of the message they want businesses to sign onto:

There’s a disturbing trend in Portland. Over the past 25 years the city has steadily been lowering traffic deaths, but the past two years this progress has reversed. In 2015, 37 people died, the highest count for the past 12 years. This year has been even more grim: as of September 18th, 32 people have died [note: the actual number is 35], including 9 [10] pedestrians and four cyclists. If the current trend holds traffic deaths will be back at 1990’s levels.

These traffic deaths represent an equity crisis. They disproportionately occur in neighborhoods with larger minority and low-income populations. Residents of low-income neighborhoods in Multnomah County are 2.3 times more likely to be killed walking. Oregonians aged 65 or older are four times more likely to be killed while walking. We are failing to protect our most vulnerable citizens, and in doing so we are failing to uphold our values as Portlanders.

Portland has long had a reputation for being a walkable, bikeable city with great public transportation. However, this reputation is only deserved by our close-in neighborhoods. These inner neighborhoods have seen marked increases in rents and home prices. Portland’s remaining affordable neighborhoods lack basic amenities like sidewalks, bike lanes and frequent bus service. Without safe alternatives, residents of these outer neighborhoods are being pushed into auto dependence.







Portland has a vision to fix this. Last year, our City Council formally adopted an audacious goal to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries. This policy, called Vision Zero, states that all traffic deaths are preventable, and that no traffic deaths are acceptable. The idea started in Sweden and has spread around the world. Vision Zero has been endorsed by Portland’s current and incoming mayors, our transportation commission and the head of the Bureau of Transportation.

Despite official support achieving Vision Zero will be difficult. We need the courage to pursue policies and projects that decrease our auto dependence and reach our goal of a sustainable, low-carbon city. We must make biking and walking safe throughout Portland. We must continue to aggressively invest in our transit infrastructure. We must move towards a downtown where few ever feel the need to drive.

Portland has a reputation for being a city that is affordable, sustainable, and equitable. If we fail to eliminate traffic deaths, we fail to uphold these values. Failing would mean more high-traffic roads, fewer walkable neighborhoods, and no affordable neighborhoods where biking is safe and family-friendly. It would mean a Portland that is increasingly divided.

PICOC encourages all Portland businesses to join us in supporting the Vision Zero movement. Let’s remember why we started our businesses here, why we can attract top talent to live here, and how our businesses benefit from the halo of Portland’s reputation as a great American city. Let’s remind elected leaders of their commitment to decreasing auto dependence, and support them when progress inevitably leads to controversy.

Our City Council votes on October 12th on whether to adopt an action plan to pursue Vision Zero. We are calling on members of the business community to sign this testimony urging City Council to adopt the Vision Zero action plan.

The testimony is signed by local investor Alex Payne, an early employee of Twitter and co-founder of Simple, an online bank; Glenn Fee, Vice President of Gateway to College; Lennon Day-Reynolds, an investor and tavern owner; Mara Zepeda, CEO of Switchboard; Marcus Estes, CEO of Chroma; and William Henderson, CEO of Knock Software. (You might recall Henderson from our profile of his bike-related projects last year. Henderson is also a new member of the PBOT Bureau and Budget Advisory Committee.)

This is PICOC’s first foray into transportation advocacy. They’ve previously helped raise awareness and funding for a variety of causes including black entrepreneurs, a nonprofit community publishing organization, a nonprofit newspaper, open city government data, and more.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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Seattle just passed a citywide 20 mph speed limit, and Portland could be next

Seattle just passed a citywide 20 mph speed limit, and Portland could be next

Seattle-area activists were key in pushing for this change.(Photo: Seattle Neighborhood Greenways)

Seattle-area activists were key in pushing for this change.
(Photo: Seattle Neighborhood Greenways)

Seattle transportation reform advocates are celebrating a major milestone this morning: last night Seattle City Council unanimously approved a measure that sets a default speed limit on some central city arterials of 25 miles per hour (instead of 30) and 20 miles per hour on all residential streets (instead of 25).

This is a big deal. Joshua Cohen reports on Next City that the new policy will effect a whopping 2,400 miles of neighborhood streets.

Portland’s biggest speed limit victory came in 2011 (and the 20 mph signs went up two years later) when the City and advocates successfully lobbied Salem legislators to pass a bill that gave the transportation bureau the authority to lower the speed limit five miles per hour (from 25 to 20) — but it only applies to streets designated as “neighborhood greenways”.







Sources in Seatte say their new policy came about for two key reasons: A change in state law in 2013 that made it easier for the city to set speed limits and advocacy groups who pushed city council to live up to their Vision Zero rhetoric.

The crew from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Seattle Neighborhood Greenway advocates Phyllis Porter (left), Cathy Tuttle (middle), and Sally Bagshaw during a visit to Portland in 2014.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Seattle Bike Blog editor Tom Fucoloro told us via email last night that, “Originally, the city wanted to go street-by-street in implementing it, but they changed their tune in recent months after urging by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.”

The nonprofit Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (with the help of other groups and Cascade Bicycle Club) worked for years on a “20 is plenty” campaign. SNG Executive Directory Cathy Tuttle told Next City that the law is a “giant step forward.”

Fucoloro was also quick to point out that lower speed limits “aren’t worth much” without street designs that force people to drive more slowly.

Interestingly, he also said last night’s unanimous council vote was long overdue given that a state law passed in 2013 all but paved the way. That law, dubbed the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill, relieved municipalities of the burden of costly and time-consuming traffic studies previously required to earn a speed limit reduction from the state.

If that sounds familiar, you’ve been paying attention.

Cities and towns in Oregon must also go through an onerous process to request a speed limit reduction (on a case-by-base basis) from the State of Oregon. Similar to what Washington did in 2013, the City of Portland is trying to do now. As we reported last month our bureau of transportation has asked ODOT to sign off on an alternate methodology for setting speed limits.

PBOT spokesman John Brady told us this morning that PBOT traffic engineers recently met with ODOT and cleared up all the remaining issues and that, “We expect to receive the formal go-ahead soon.” Once the new methodology is in place, PBOT will be able to use it for a four-year period.

While far from a silver bullet given the state of enforcement limitations and auto-centric road designs; the power of passing lower speed limit policies is in what they do to traffic culture: They send a signal to road users about what type of behavior is acceptable and expected.

In a society where deviant and extreme driving behaviors are mainstream, safe driving messages — and policies to back them up — are essential ingredients for change.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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City releases draft of Vision Zero Action Plan

City releases draft of Vision Zero Action Plan

image

Redesigning big streets is a major thrust of the plan.

Over one year after Portland City Council unanimously supported a commitment to Vision Zero, the task force assembled to help lead us there has released its action plan.

The 36-page document (PDF), still in draft form, contains the highest level of details ever shared by the Portland Bureau of Transportation about how they’ll completely eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our streets by 2025.

The main thrusts of the plan are equitable implementation, using data to drive decision-making, and holding the city accountable for its progress (or lack thereof).

One thing not prominently featured in the plan is the thing many people think should be the highest priority: more police enforcement.

PBOT is not hiding from this decision to de-emphasize enforcement. Here’s how they address it:

The enforcement action in this plan are limited in order to reduce the possibility of racial profiling and disparate economic impacts.

That statement follows a major shift in thinking about enforcement from national Vision Zero experts and racial justice activists. They make the case that the idea of “more police presence” can mean safety to some communities and fear and discrimination in others.

image

This reduction of prominence for enforcement comes despite the fact that of all the deadly traffic crashes between 2004 and 2013, 91 percent of them were due to speed, impairment or dangerous behaviors.

Where bike crashes happen.

Where bike crashes happen.

PBOT is also tying the need for safer street designs directly to “communities of concern” — that is, places with a higher rate of low income residents, seniors, people of color, people who are disabled, and so on.

Map of "communities of concern" based on TriMet's equity index.

Map of “communities of concern” based on TriMet’s equity index.

The action plan contains some strong words about the need for better street designs:

Streets should discourage dangerous driving by design… In areas of Portland where streets were built to move cars efficiently, they must be redesigned to move people safely.

All the actions in the plan regarding safer designs are focused on the city’s high crash corridor network — big and fast streets that have higher than average rates of deaths and injuries. 50 percent of Portland’s fatal crashes occur on just 7 percent of our streets.

When it comes to specific actions to address dangerous street designs, PBOT says they’ll begin capital projects on two sections and five intersections on high crash streets every year.

Where the money for these projects will come from remains to be seen. The action plan includes no budget or funding commitment.

PBOT also says they’re going to create a multi-agency fatal response team that will analyze how crashes happened and how to prevent them.

PBOT feels this plan will guide them toward our 2025 Vision Zero goal. “All too often,” reads one passage, “we as a community have accepted this [more traffic deaths than homicides each year] as an unfortunate but inevitable cost of moving around the city. Vision Zero rejects that assumption. With this action plan, Portland makes a clear statement that the cost is too high — and directs attention, commitment and resources to ending traffic violence in the city.”

The next step for the plan is to draft a final version and then get it passed by City Council sometime next month.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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City’s Vision Zero survey says distracted driving, speeding are top concerns

City’s Vision Zero survey says distracted driving, speeding are top concerns

Results from a street safety survey conducted by PBOT show extent of traffic crash epidemic.

Results from a street safety survey conducted by PBOT show extent of traffic crash epidemic.

We hear a lot of debates about our roads: Who pays for them, who’s at fault when vehicles and people collide, and so on. But there one thing that’s relatively clear. The reason people fear traffic is because too many of us drive distracted, drive too fast, and simply don’t follow the rules.

Those are some of the key findings from a survey conducted by the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation that was released on Thursday. Done as part of their Vision Zero program, PBOT gathered 848 responses to a 19-question survey taken between April and August of this year.

If you ride a bike or walk on a regular basis the survey findings will likely validate many of your frustrations and fears. Take this one for instance: 79 percent of respondents said they felt threatened by auto users when whey were walking in a crosswalk. 79 percent!

The rude and dangerous behavior of inching into crosswalks — and often blocking them completely even when human beings are present — is rampant in our sick street culture. A great example of this happens on the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge every single day. Portland activist Josh Chernoff has recently taken to Twitter to document the issue.

When asked how those crosswalk violators should be punished, over 50 percent of respondents think jail time would be appropriate.





And lest you think the survey was skewed by the mode choice of respondents, nearly 70 percent of them identified themselves as drivers. Another notable statistic about who filled out the survey: a whopping 86 percent where white.

Another finding that jumped out at me was that a majority of respondents said they know someone who has been seriously injured or killed in a traffic crash in Portland. 16 percent of the survey-takers themselves had been injured in a crash.

The open-ended questions and comments are also illuminating. When asked who they thought was responsibile for street safety, over 750 people answered. Most of them said either PBOT or “everyone who uses the streets.” Another question that recent many interesting comments was the “other” category of how a crash was caused.

You can read all the responses here.

It’s been over a year since Portland officially adopted a Vision Zero resolution and formed a special Task Force to help get us there. Now the plan they’ve created is almost ready for prime-time. It’s expected to be released soon after the final Task Force meeting on September 8th and will be in front of City Council in October.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The post City’s Vision Zero survey says distracted driving, speeding are top concerns appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Transportation bureau asking Cully neighborhood what safe streets look like

Transportation bureau asking Cully neighborhood what safe streets look like

Scene of Ryan Egge collision-13

Is this section of NE Cully Blvd what a safe street
looks like? You won’t know unless you ask.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

There’s a lot of talk about equity in the transportation planning world these days.

Here’s an example of how the City of Portland is handling geographic equity in the roll-out of a major initiative:

Vision Zero is one of the largest efforts the Portland Bureau of Transportation is currently involved in. In fact, along with bike share, Vision Zero is probably the highest priority project for PBOT Director Leah Treat. She is throwing a lot (relatively) of her agency’s capacity and resources toward the planning and policies it will take to make Vision Zero a real thing and not just another buzzword.

Will the Vision Zero campaign be successful in Portland? Will we really eliminate serious injuries and deaths by 2025? That remains to be seen. There’s a long way to go. But so far PBOT is at least talking to the right people. And by that I mean people who don’t have easy access to the central city or City Hall itself. And people who bear an undue amount of those injuries and deaths.

On Monday the city is bringing Vision Zero to the Cully neighborhood in outer northeast Portland. They’re hosting a Safe Streets Fair at the Living Cully Plaza on the corner of NE Killingsworth and Cully. The event welcomes everyone in the community with free food, a Spanish interpreter (and other languages if needed), childcare and prizes.

The goal? To hear what safe streets mean to people who live in Cully.







This is from the event invite:

– Engage in transportation safety activities
– Share your vision for safe streets in Portland
– Provide feedback on problem areas
– Learn about Portland’s Vision Zero plans

And here’s the impressive list of partner organizations (note that many of them aren’t the ones we usually see on transportation initiatives):

Partners working with PBOT on this event.

We’re nearly one year into Portland’s Vision Zero effort and this isn’t the first time PBOT has left the comfy confines of downtown. You might recall that the kickoff event was held at a community space on SE Division at 82nd that’s run by the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon.

Equity has played a central role in PBOT’s Vision Zero efforts not because it’s a buzzword, but because the places in our city where people are most negatively impacted by traffic violence are also the places where people tend to have lower incomes, fewer English speakers, and less access to the institutional power that often leads directly to safer streets many Portlanders take for granted.

If you live, ride, or work in the Cully neighborhood, stop by the Living Cully Plaza (6723 NE Killingsworth) on Monday (June 6th) between 6:00 and 7:30 pm and tell PBOT what safe streets look like to you. More info at PortlandOregon.gov.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post Transportation bureau asking Cully neighborhood what safe streets look like appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Transportation bureau asking Cully neighborhood what safe streets look like

Transportation bureau asking Cully neighborhood what safe streets look like

Scene of Ryan Egge collision-13

Is this section of NE Cully Blvd what a safe street
looks like? You won’t know unless you ask.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

There’s a lot of talk about equity in the transportation planning world these days.

Here’s an example of how the City of Portland is handling geographic equity in the roll-out of a major initiative:

Vision Zero is one of the largest efforts the Portland Bureau of Transportation is currently involved in. In fact, along with bike share, Vision Zero is probably the highest priority project for PBOT Director Leah Treat. She is throwing a lot (relatively) of her agency’s capacity and resources toward the planning and policies it will take to make Vision Zero a real thing and not just another buzzword.

Will the Vision Zero campaign be successful in Portland? Will we really eliminate serious injuries and deaths by 2025? That remains to be seen. There’s a long way to go. But so far PBOT is at least talking to the right people. And by that I mean people who don’t have easy access to the central city or City Hall itself. And people who bear an undue amount of those injuries and deaths.

On Monday the city is bringing Vision Zero to the Cully neighborhood in outer northeast Portland. They’re hosting a Safe Streets Fair at the Living Cully Plaza on the corner of NE Killingsworth and Cully. The event welcomes everyone in the community with free food, a Spanish interpreter (and other languages if needed), childcare and prizes.

The goal? To hear what safe streets mean to people who live in Cully.







PBOT map showing "communities of concern." We've pointed out location of Living Cully.

PBOT map showing “communities of concern.” We’ve pointed out location of Living Cully.

This is from the event invite:

– Engage in transportation safety activities
– Share your vision for safe streets in Portland
– Provide feedback on problem areas
– Learn about Portland’s Vision Zero plans

And here’s the impressive list of partner organizations (note that many of them aren’t the ones we usually see on transportation initiatives):

Partners working with PBOT on this event.

We’re nearly one year into Portland’s Vision Zero effort and this isn’t the first time PBOT has left the comfy confines of downtown. You might recall that the kickoff event was held at a community space on SE Division at 82nd that’s run by the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon.

Equity has played a central role in PBOT’s Vision Zero efforts not because it’s a buzzword, but because the places in our city where people are most negatively impacted by traffic violence are also the places where people tend to have lower incomes, fewer English speakers, and less access to the institutional power that often leads directly to safer streets many Portlanders take for granted.

If you live, ride, or work in the Cully neighborhood, stop by the Living Cully Plaza (6723 NE Killingsworth) on Monday (June 6th) between 6:00 and 7:30 pm and tell PBOT what safe streets look like to you. More info at PortlandOregon.gov.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post Transportation bureau asking Cully neighborhood what safe streets look like appeared first on BikePortland.org.