PDOT to launch pedestrian safety campaign

Posted by on October 15th, 2007 at 5:02 pm

New campaign hopes to
improve crossing safety.
(File photo © Jonathan Maus)

Next Monday, the Oregon Department of Transportation and the City of Portland Office of Transportation, with help from TriMet, are set to launch a media campaign to improve pedestrian safety.

The campaign — which has an emphasis on 82nd Ave — is called “I Brake for People” and it will include ads on TriMet buses, benches and shelters along with drive-time radio blurbs and of course what campaign would be complete without a bumper sticker…

Showing up on TriMet buses and bumper stickers soon.

The outreach effort will focus on educating motorists that Oregon law states they must stop at all intersections (not just marked crosswalks) when pedestrians are trying to cross.

PDOT reports that in downtown Portland, 72% of pedestrian collisions are a result of driver error and that citywide, 49% of pedestrian injuries happen in a crosswalk. Stats also show that from 1985-2000, one out of three traffic fatalities was a pedestrian or a bicyclist.

A kickoff event is planned for Monday, October 22nd at Vestal Elementary School on NE 82nd Ave. Slated to appear at the event are PDOT Director Sue Keil, ODOT’s Jason Tell, and other notables.

The event will also feature a “living billboard” that will include a black backdrop, large white letters that say “I brake for people.”, and 7
individuals that are painted head to toe in bright neon colors.

Now that’s a way to get some attention.

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  • Jeff October 15, 2007 at 5:16 pm


    Thanks for helping raise awareness of pedestrian safety issues. I walk AND ride a lot and quite frankly, I feel safer many days as a cyclist than I do as a pedestrian!

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  • Joe October 15, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    coming from Las Vegas, seeing this type of support really makes me happy, I walk
    my kids to school everyday or ride them.
    seems some SUV\’s in my area get all worked up.. cars need to give kids the right away i feel.. tring to teach my girls to watch for everything. since autos seem to feel they rule the road..

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  • Dan (teknotus) October 15, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Will there be a bike fender sized sticker? Most of the time when I stop for pedestrians they are dazzled with surprize that a cyclist would stop for them. They usually both tell me this, and thank me. I really don\’t want pedestrians to think of cyclists as being as bad as cars.

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  • toddistic October 15, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Personally I enjoy taking the lane to stop at crosswalks to let women with children walk across the street. It\’s a way of saying \”hey! we are on the same team! these guys behind me (the cars) don\’t pay attention to me or you!\”

    It\’s like I\’ve formed an holy alliance with my pedestrian friends.

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  • heather andrews October 15, 2007 at 8:19 pm


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  • Lynn LS October 15, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    It is great to see all the pedestrian advocates posting!! PDOT has invited Willamette Pedestrian Coalition to participate. As the new director, and member of the 82nd Ave of Roses Citizens Advisory Council, I am hopeful that this campaign will raise awareness of pedestrian safety.

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  • Graham October 16, 2007 at 1:54 am

    I wonder how many people, when walking in the Pearl, do like I do and make it a point to cross the street mid-block. I do not feel safe in crosswalks with the way right-turn-on-red drivers treat the stop sign as a yield, and with the speed at which drivers generally take corners. When you J-walk mid-block you can see them coming at least.

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  • gwadzilla October 16, 2007 at 5:04 am

    the whole sign concept is amazing…

    adults are like children who have to always be reminded how to behave

    to make the signs more effective

    we should remove all the signs and then put them up again

    because it is clear that no one is paying attention to the old ones

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  • gwadzilla October 16, 2007 at 5:07 am

    here is an ancient post where I modified the pedestrian crossing to try and gather more attention than the round headed inhuman pedestrian


    oh… jonathan

    what is the local response to Portland 97210 aka thebicyclist.tv?

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  • gwadzilla October 16, 2007 at 5:12 am
  • brian October 16, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Thanks for focusing on this issue. Pedestrian safety is an important issue to me.

    I wish signs and good intentions could change the way people drive. But they won\’t

    Most of the dangerous drivers out there don\’t care about the law or other people. Signs are not going to change that. An aggressive driver who sees a sign on a bus, is not going to change his ways. I\’m not sure most drivers can even read.

    We need effective, broad, consistent, law enforcement. If people think they are going to have to pay for bad behavior they WILL change that behavior.

    We need practical enforcable laws (which we don\’t have), we need law enforcement willing and able to give lots of tickets (which we don\’t have), and we need courts who don\’t forgive tickets (which we don\’t have).

    Signs on buses are not going to fix pedestrian safety.

    If PDOT reall wants to put signs on buses the signs should lay out the pedistrian injury/fatality stats that you lay out above. This may get pedestrians to be more defensive, and this may improve stats. But not because the roads are any safer.

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  • Matthew October 16, 2007 at 10:50 am

    I disagree to a point, Brian.

    Enforcement is worth its weight in gold, for sure, and I agree with you there.

    But you can\’t enforce a law that people are not aware of to begin with. That\’s where education plays such an important role.

    Education and enforcement need to work together to create long-lasting change.

    I love the design of these bumper stickers! They are very modern and very eyecatching, and will hopefully grab people\’s attention and awareness.

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  • naess October 16, 2007 at 10:59 am

    i second the request for a fender sized version of the sticker.

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  • el timito October 16, 2007 at 11:36 am

    RE: enforcement vs. education…
    We need both. And we need engineering. 3 E\’s are better than 1 !
    I see this campaign as being a good step in the path to change our culture\’s assumptions. As many here have noted, some motorists act as if \”they own the road.\” There are lots of cues out there to give drivers the impression that they have priority, and pedestrians (and perhaps cyclists) should stick to the sidewalks – the margins.
    Copmpare this with the assumption in many European countries that motorized vehicles bear the heaviest responsibility for traffic safety.
    I don\’t believe there is a magic bullet – you\’re never going to have enough enforcement to catch every speeding, non-yielding, or distracted driver. Nor do I believe that the only currently-dangerous drivers are those who are callous and unreachable.
    We need to constantly chip away at the concept that \”roads are for cars\” and replace it with the idea that roads are our collective commons, that different people will use them in different ways, and that life and safety trump speed and convenience.

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  • Matthew October 16, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    I really like the idea of roads being our collective commons, being used by a whole variety of modes. What a great way to put it :-)

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  • Chri October 16, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    One warning I have for cyclists stopping for pedestrians in cross walks (not at a traffic light cross walk): I was riding down Front St. descending at a pretty good clip when a person wanted to cross at the cross walk near where the light rail crosses. This cross walk is not at an intersection. I braked to let the person go, and was nearly rear ended by a car that didn\’t know I was stopping so quickly for a pedestrian. It was poor judgment on my part and a mistake that fortunately didn\’t end in me being hit. I have since learned to check behind me before doing the same thing.

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  • Shana October 16, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Education is important. Reeducation is key. Can we really expect people to be knowledgeable drivers when we only test them once as a teenager? There are lots of tests I took at 16 that I\’m sure I wouldn\’t pass now.

    Add to that the changing laws and decades of bad driving habits…it\’s no wonder the roads are unsafe.

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  • Martha R October 16, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Chri (#16) — when I (on my bike) stop for pedestrians and there are approaching cars, I hold my left arm out and down a bit (straight arm, open palm facing back). It\’s a modification of the official \”I\’m stopping\” signal (arm bent, forearm perpendicular to the ground), more of an \”I\’m stopping, and you should too\” signal. It takes some forethought since it\’s harder to brake with only one hand, but it seems to convey the message effectively.

    I\’m looking forward to the \”I brake for people\” signs on the buses. I\’m so tired of doing things \”for kids\’ sake\” when we really should be doing them for humanity\’s sake. Glad the more inclusive message is going to get out there.

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  • BURR October 16, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    1. what I don\’t get is why there isn\’t a bicyclist on the poster also. Reminds me of one of ODOT\’s older \’Share the Road\’ campaigns, not a bicyclist in sight on their promo literature.

    2. while I agree that the 3e\’s are all important, it seems like Portland is having some trouble getting up to speed on the education part. Right now the only education available is the \’share the road\’ safety class, which you only have an option to attend after you\’ve received a ticket. I think that education should be more proactive than that.

    3. The engineering part needs some work, too. Curb extensions may benefit pedestrians, but often can conflict with cyclists safety. Simiarly, there are a lot of badly engineered bike lanes throughout town that place cyclists to the right of right turning traffic. Sometime no engineering is better than bad engineering.

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  • BURR October 16, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    other badly engineered bike lanes place cyclists directly in the door zone.

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  • beth h October 17, 2007 at 8:45 am

    A good idea. Make it bigger, more widespread.
    A gigantic media blitz is what\’s in order.

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