Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 3rd, 2013 at 11:56 am
The Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division has sent a clear message to people how are driving fast and dangerously around the closure of SE Cesar Chavez Blvd: slow down and follow the laws. A statement issued by the transportation bureau this morning says they've written 80 citations so far in a "stepped-up" enforcement effort aimed at preventing people from cutting through residential streets — some of which are important arteries in the bike route network.
After we posted a story about this closure last week we immediately heard feedback from readers both via Twitter and in the comments about people who were driving too fast on neighborhood streets. SE 41st in particular, which is a popular street for biking, had become a thoroughfare for high-speed, inconsiderate drivers. Reader Pat Franz, who lives in the area, shared via a comment that, "we're definitely getting more traffic- probably 3X normal. And more fast traffic."
Here's more from Franz:
"When I was on 41st the other day, they had "No Through Traffic Local Traffic Only" signs staged at 41st and Hawthorne, apparently people blow right by them... Here's hoping the three weeks goes by quickly!"
Well, judging from the response by PBOT and the PPB, it looks like they weren't comfortable waiting. "Police crack down on speeding, other violations near SE Portland construction zone... to ensure motorists follow detour and construction signs" reads a PBOT press statement I just read. PBOT, the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and the PPB all appear to be taking this issue very seriously. This is a great sign, given that there are several of major road closures coming to southeast Portland this summer.
PBOT also released a short snippet of Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick at a press conference to drive their point home. "Don’t drive fast through the neighborhood streets," Novick warns, "and know that the police are going to be doing some targeted enforcement... to catch people if they are speeding."
Traffic Division Lt. Chris Davis said they've heard loud and clear from citizens that there are rampant speeding and stop sign violations in the area around Cesar Chavez. Lt. Davis is urging drivers to stay on major streets like 30th and 50th instead of creating safety problems for other road users and residents on side streets.
This reaction by the City to this important traffic safety issue is very encouraging to see. Especially on a day when our friends in New York City are lamenting their police bureau's continued crackdown on people riding bikes.