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Opinion: Another death on Barbur

Posted by on October 15th, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Another person died early this morning while traveling on SW Barbur Blvd.

According to the Portland Police, a 27-year-old man was driving at a “very high rate of speed” when he lost control of his car (a Prius), crossed the centerline, demolished a bus shelter on the opposite sidewalk, hit a building, then smashed into a car parked in a lot. (More coverage from KGW and KATU).

This has become a depressingly regular occurrence on Barbur, a road that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) insists on managing like a freeway, even though it’s a neighborhood main street for many business owners and residents who walk, bike, and drive on it every day.

— Back in August, 20-year-old Henry Schmidt was seriously injured after a woman hit him while he walked on the shoulder of Barbur Blvd.

— In May of this year, just a mile or so north of this morning’s fatality, 45-year-old Lance Marcus died after losing control of his car. He too was traveling at a “high rate of speed.”

— In October 2011, 25-year-old Nisha Rana died in a single-vehicle traffic crash just a few blocks away from the Marcus fatality. Police again said she lost control of her car after driving “at a very high rate of speed.”

— And who can forget December 2010 when Angela Burke was hit and killed while walking her bike across Barbur by a young man who was, you guessed it, driving way too fast.

Yet despite this continued carnage, our elected leaders at City Hall have delayed action on a solution that is guaranteed to save lives. It’s just basic common sense that roadway design has a major impact on how people drive. Wide, multi-lane roads with few traffic signals or other reasons to slow down practically beg for high-risk behavior. In the case of Barbur, there’s an idea on the table to reconfigure the lanes in a way that would encourage safer driving. All that’s missing is the political urgency to move it forward.

How long will Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, Mayor Charlies Hales, and other members of City Council wait until they take clear steps to move forward on a re-design of Barbur Blvd?

So far, Novick has made it very clear that he doesn’t want to offend his “regional partners” or local freight interests — both of whom fear even the mere suggestion that they might have to slow down a few miles per hour for a few minutes of their day.

All Novick has committed to so far is to allow PBOT staff to work on a Barbur traffic study as part of an ODOT-led project that’s not scheduled to begin until early 2014. Not only will that study take place during a major construction project (far from real-world conditions), but why should we trust ODOT, an agency that has repeatedly dismissed calls for change on Barbur and who has played fast-and-loose with existing data?

The design of Barbur Blvd is a ticking time bomb. It’s an embarrassment to everyone who cares about a livable city and it’s partly responsible for the death and serious injury of far too many Portlanders. There seems to be no reason other than politics and power struggles to explain why PBOT won’t initiate a traffic study immediately. They do traffic studies all the time and they’re only as controversial as we allow them to be.

What makes this lack of urgency even harder to understand is that three of five members of our City Council live in southwest Portland: Commissioner Dan Saltzman (who lives just one block off of Barbur), Commissioner Novick, and Commissioner Amanda Fritz. This is their neighborhood street.

Perhaps, since no one on City Council has been on a bicycle on Barbur Blvd, they don’t fully appreciate the sense of urgency shared by many neighborhood and transportation advocates. On that note, Novick made some interesting remarks at the Council hearing last week (emphases mine):

“As southwest resident, I constantly need to be reminded that there are transportation problems in southwest because I live a four block walk from Multnomah Village town center and there’s one bus that runs one block from my house and another bus five blocks away. So to me, transportation in southwest is just all perfectly fine. So I appreciate frequent reminders from other people that aren’t quite so lucky.”

I’m sure another death wasn’t the frequent reminder Novick had in mind; but all too often in Portland it takes the loss of life for City Council to swing into action. Novick and Hales showed up with immediate solutions when a young girl died in East Portland due (in part) to a notoriously dangerous road design issue. And we all saw how quickly Novick responded with suicide barriers when he couldn’t stand any more death on the Vista Bridge.

The uncomfortable truth is that many Portlanders who use Barbur every day aren’t as lucky as Commissioner Novick. The question is, when will the next person’s luck run out and how long will we gamble with their lives?

— You can contact Commissioner Novick via his website. Read more of our Barbur Blvd coverage here.

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Comments
  • maxadders October 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Yes, we should reengineer all our roads so that one can safely drive a Prius into a building at 100mph and live to tell the tale.

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    • Nick October 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      The point is that on a correctly engineered road, far fewer people are tempted to drive over the speed limit.

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      • maxadders October 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm

        Good luck with that.

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        • Cold Worker October 15, 2013 at 3:14 pm

          Yeah, why bother? Right? I’m with maxadders here, you guys suck and your efforts are misguided.

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        • tonyt October 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm

          Are you suggesting that engineering/design makes no difference in driver behavior? If so there is plenty of data to suggest otherwise. A fairly simple example would be a road diet, which just so happens is one of the proposals for Barbur. Examples of road diets abound in Portland. An unintentional one would be Holgate east of 28th. The posted speed limit is the same, but actual driving speed is markedly different largely because of the additional lane west of 28th. Or look at Rosa Parks near Peninsula Park. Since the addition of bike lanes and the elimination of extra driving lanes, speeds have dropped and it’s MUCH easier for peds to cross.

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      • whyat October 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm

        Got to agree- this crash sounds like a ‘person’ issue vs a road design issue. The best road in the world can’t prevent idiots from hurting themselves.

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        • davemess October 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm

          I don’t think you guys are getting it. Yes there was individual error in all these deaths/crashes. But the road itself is set up in an incredibly poor way that encourages speeding and unsafe driving. Have you been on Barbur. It looks like a highway plain and simple. Thus we have people that are killing themselves an others acting like it is a highway.

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          • maxadders October 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm

            “It looks like a highway” isn’t enough. Why was the driver doing 100mph? That’s almost twice legal “highway” speed– it’s just plain reckless. Wouldn’t be surprised if the driver, now deceased, was intoxicated. Where do we draw the line between relevant incidents and stuff that is just barely relevant? I’m a fan of safe streets– especially for vulnerable roadway users, but BikePortland is grasping at straws trying to tie this into their “road diet for Barbur” PR blitz. My patience is beginning to wear a little thin.

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            • Chris Anderson October 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm

              I used to drive my red sports car fast here, it’s that kind of road.

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              • maxadders October 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm

                So it’s the road’s fault that you chose to use it recklessly? Tell that to a cop writing up a speeding ticket and see how far you get.

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                • 9watts October 15, 2013 at 8:48 pm

                  Ah, are you one of those ‘guns don’t kill people’ folks.

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                • Mike October 16, 2013 at 9:59 am

                  It is very rare when a gun will fire with out human assistance. Even more rare that the gun will aim itself at a human before firing without any human assistance.

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                • spare_wheel October 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm

                  It is very rare when a car will move without human assistance. Even more rare that the car will aim itself at a human before killing them without any human assistance.

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                • Mike October 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm

                  And that is precisely why I am for educating drivers, not outlawing cars.

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                • spare_wheel October 16, 2013 at 6:34 pm

                  A road diet does not “outlaw cars”. It might not even cause additional delays…

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                • 9watts October 16, 2013 at 11:21 pm

                  maxadders,

                  I grew up in Germany where the freeways are engineered for unbelievable speeds. If you think our freeway curves are banked, think again. Anyway, when I was a kid it was a regular occurrence to hear about 300-car pileups on said freeways because people were in the habit of driving at breakneck speed only to suddenly find themselves in a fog bank. You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that the design of the road isn’t a factor here.

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                • Mike October 17, 2013 at 9:33 am

                  @ Sparewheel – you are losing me.

                  I did not suggest that a road diet is akin to outlawing automobiles. As a matter of fact, I suggested that education is a better tool for preventing tragedies (be them automotive or firearm based).

                  Cars do not kill people any more than guns do, pools without lifeguards or any other inanimate object.

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              • grumpcyclist October 16, 2013 at 10:29 am

                It’s no safer to drive a car 100mph through the Terwilliger curves, but I-5 is engineered such that people can do it. Should we engineer I-5 to prevent 100mph speeds?

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                • Mike October 16, 2013 at 4:03 pm

                  That has no place here. People don’t ride bikes on I-5, so it is of little concern.

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            • davemess October 16, 2013 at 12:55 pm

              Max how often do we have people doing 100, and dying after they crash their cars on 39th? On 82nd? On Hawthorne? On Division? Heck even on Sandy? Those streets look like city roads, Barbur isn’t even close to looking like a city street. It looks like a highway, and thus people treat it like one.

              Personal responsibility is great, but as a society we have a duty/responsibility to fix things that clearly are broken and encourage the wrong behavior (esp. when that behavior kills people).

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          • whyat October 16, 2013 at 10:36 am

            Oh- I get it, and I ride on Barbur a lot. Someone could drive 40mph down going and kill a rider there. Once again, the best designed road won’t prevent irresponsible people from killing each other. Could Barbur be designed better? Sure, but that wouldn’t prevent people like this driver from doing stupid things.

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            • davemess October 16, 2013 at 12:51 pm

              Of course it will never 100% stop deaths. But the solution is to just do nothing? This line of logic, “well it won’t work 100% of the time, so we shouldn’t bother” is just lazy and dangerous.
              If we can prevent half the deaths on Barbur by redesigning it, isn’t that worth it?

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          • Plinssen October 16, 2013 at 11:13 am

            It was a highway. My business is on Barbur, and all day long cars speed, cops speed… It is not well designed but drunk people being stupid and irresponsible is a whole other issue.

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            • davemess October 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm

              Yes, but it’s not a highway anymore. So let’s stop allowing it to look as one.

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        • q`Tzal October 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm

          This is the responsibility of the DMV & Police.

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  • Hart Noecker October 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    For all the praise liberal Portland heaps upon Novick, he panders like any politician while serving his real monied masters. The guy won’t even oppose coal exports through our backyard.

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    • wsbob October 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      First, see if you can elected…then see how successful you are at trying to ramrod some idea that garners very little support, except from a tiny minority of the people you’ve been elected to represent.

      The guy doesn’t seem to be a wallflower or pansy. I think if Novick thought there was a practical way to bring ODOT around, different than what he’s presently doing, he’d do it.

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    • dave October 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      Right, because hardline ideologues are serving us so well in other parts of government.

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      • Hart Noecker October 15, 2013 at 3:05 pm

        The hardline ideologues addicted to profiting from fossil fuels and building more freeways? I’d say they’re doing pretty well. I’d like to see actual progressive politicians stand up to these terminal systems.

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  • VTRC October 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Would the proposed road diet even have helped there? It’s well South of Terwilliger. Even in the road diet area Barbur’s a lonely straight shot from downtown Portland, it’s practically designed to encourage people to go way too fast. Finally, if we can’t get a diet, why don’t we park a police car on it every night and fund our own space program through the tickets?

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  • Alex October 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Won’t somebody please think of the freight?

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  • wsbob October 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    “…This morning, Tuesday October 15, 2013, at 2:42 a.m., Central Precinct officers responded to the report of a single vehicle crash in the 9000 block of Southwest Barbur Boulevard. …” PPB http://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/news/read.cfm?id=4481&ec=1

    I’m wondering how people may be figuring that a road diet can effectively reduce or eliminate these kinds of late night, early morning high speed collisions.

    Taking the example of a person out for thrill driving late at night or very early morning…lower speed limits and a single lane rather than two lanes of same direction to travel in, doesn’t sound like something that would be likely to slow these people down.

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    • GlowBoy October 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      I disagree. If they were going 100mph on the current wide-open Barbur, they might only have gone 60-80mph on a slimmed-down Barbur. Still unacceptable, reckless and insane, but with a substantially higher likelihood of survival.

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      • Plinssen October 16, 2013 at 11:15 am

        A slimmed down Barbur would not handle the traffic flow need when I5 is stopped. It is gridlock one direction or the other at peak traffic times as it is.

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        • spare_wheel October 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm

          “It is gridlock one direction or the other at peak traffic times as it is.”

          Good.

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        • davemess October 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm

          Can you back this up with so stats? As we’ve already seen studies showing a long decline in traffic on Barbur.

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          • Plinssen October 17, 2013 at 9:51 am

            My business has been on Barbur for 15 years. I am very aware of the traffic flow of both bicycles and cars and I participate in both myself.

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            • davemess October 17, 2013 at 12:22 pm

              so, no?

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              • Plinssen October 18, 2013 at 9:08 am

                You will see that my my empirical knowledge is correct by the decisions that are made in the end. There will be more money wasted on “studies”.

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        • GlowBoy October 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm

          “A slimmed down Barbur would not handle the traffic flow need when I5 is stopped.” Yes Barbur does back up on occasion, when there is a major I-5 incident … but even with only one lane in each direction, the section being proposed for a road diet would have MORE vehicle capacity per hour than the intersections (Terwilliger, Hamilton) at each END of the stretch.

          The intersections would continue to be the bottlenecks, and a road diet between them would not likely increase congestion. Basic traffic engineering principles here, folks.

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          • wsbob October 16, 2013 at 11:21 pm

            “…The intersections would continue to be the bottlenecks, and a road diet between them would not likely increase congestion. …” GlowBoy

            The signal times for those intersections could be adjusted to provide for greater vehicle per hour flow on Barbur during peak hours, overflow from I-5 incidents, and perhaps other reasons. While in turn, that could result in longer ques on side street traffic waiting to cross or enter Barbur, and for people waiting to exit Barbur, I think that is the kind of thing transportation engineers include among options as means to deal with traffic needs.

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          • Plinssen October 17, 2013 at 10:07 am

            The intersection at Hamilton backs up minimally and only in the right lane due to right turns down Hamilton. The other two lanes flow freely. The intersection at Terwilleger only backs up northbound and only at very peak hours due to traffic coming off the freeway and trying to turn right on to Terwilleger which is backed up, and cars trying to cross three lanes of traffic into a backed up left turn lane.

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            • GlowBoy October 17, 2013 at 4:07 pm

              You’re right, on normal days the intersections at Hamilton and Terwilliger don’t back up very much. But this discussion isn’t about normal days; it’s about major-I-5-incident days, when Barbur does indeed get jammed up. My point is that the capacity constraint when it gets jammed up is still at the intersections, and would not be the open stretch in between, even with a road diet.

              Wsbob, you’re right that engineers do have the ability to set up intersections with special timing programs for congested times. That would allow more capacity when there is a major incident, but the bottlenecks will still be at the intersections, due to the friction of turning vehicles, the fact that you still can’t give through traffic a green phase 100% of the time (even with a very long cycle it would be difficult to get above 60-70%, I’d bet) and the delays involved with getting the queue moving again at the beginning of a green. Even during a special congestion-oriented cycle, the actual vehicle throughput would probably not be much more than 50% of what you’d have if Barbur had exclusive ROW over the intersecting streets and those streets had stop signs.

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              • wsbob October 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm

                GlowBoy…50 percent increase in flow achieved by way of a special congestion-oriented cycle wouldn’t be too bad, but at some point, it may not be enough…and I think that’s a reason some people are reluctant to go with the idea of a road diet. Nobody can be really certain that the number of people needing to drive the road, will drop in years to come, or increase, and what that will mean as to regulating the road’s ability to handle volume of motor vehicles.

                I’m wondering if Hwy 217 between Hw26 and the Hall Blvd/Wash Sq exit, or the 99w/Tigard exit offers some relevant comparison to Barbur. Overpasses could eventually be a something some people will start thinking about as a possible answer to traffic flow and congestion reduction objectives.

                The section of Hwy 217 I’ve described, already has the overpasses and exits, and yet everyday during rush hour, it’s stop and go traffic or moving at a crawl during rush hour. And of course, late at night-early morning, it presents a situation for somewhat of the crazy driver pedal to the metal potential Barbur does.

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    • 9watts October 15, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Do we hear of people driving those speeds and killing themselves on roads that are less like freeways? I suspect less often. People don’t do 100mph on Hawthorne Blvd.

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    • Adam October 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      The argument for a road diet on Barbur has been primarily to enable space for bike lanes, and to reduce the number of lanes, thus reducing stop-gap crossing times and distance for pedestrians.

      However, a secondary effect of road diets is that by virtue of constraining the roadwidth, they almost always inadvertently lower traffic speeds, because most people who are NOT driving impaired, tend to drive at lower speeds when the street is narrower and more constrained.

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      • wsbob October 16, 2013 at 12:21 am

        Reducing Barbur’s two lanes of travel each direction, to one, will still leave this road very much like a highway with the potential for very high speeds during hours when road use is low. It doesn’t have intersections consistently spaced along its length. It doesn’t have curb side parking. A single, standard width lane of 12′-14′, with Barbur’s long, sinuous curves will still be an opportunity for high speed drivers.

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        • Adam October 16, 2013 at 7:23 am

          Agreed. But there is no denying a narrower roadway in the form of a road diet has its benefits… it all but eliminates aggressive lane-changing (the bane of traffic safety planners’ existences on two-lane arterials); reduces distance required to cross for pedestrians; enables space for other uses (bike lanes, on-street parking etc) and has been shown to reduce vehicle speeds. A road diet is by no means a panacea, but it has its very real benefits. And given the very limited funding available for road projects these days, it is an incredibly, incredibly cost-effective way.

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          • wsbob October 16, 2013 at 6:36 pm

            Give your idea, in dollar numbers, of what the cost will be to install the road diet configurations proposed, and remove them if they don’t work out.

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  • Slammy October 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    i just google maps’d this… I cannot comprehend how this happened. he must have been going 100+ easily. that median is way north of the bus shelter. i’ll pass it later today so i’ll check it out.

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  • Todd Hudson October 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    It’s rather disingenuous to include this incident as part of the “continued carnage on Barbur”. A road diet wouldn’t have stopped this reckless individual from driving 100 mph in the middle of the night.

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    • maxadders October 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      If the narrative fits…

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    • spare_wheel October 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm

      I’m trying to remember the last time I read about someone doing 100 on a one lane (each way) traffic-calmed road. Highways with ramped exits on the other hand…

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    • tonyt October 15, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      Stopped him? No, not if you think of a road diet as the hand of Zeus swooping down to smite speeders. But there’s a reason this idiot choose Barbur as the place to drive this fast. It’s because its design encourages this sort of driving.

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      • maxadders October 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm

        Oh, so you were there in the car with the deceased?

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  • lyle w. October 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Barbarian Boulevard strikes again.

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  • Dave October 15, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Can’t anybody in this town spell two little words–”speed trap?”

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    • spare_wheel October 15, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      Fully automated speed traps are illegal in OR. Anything else is a meaningless band aid.

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      • Chris I October 16, 2013 at 10:19 am

        “Speed Trap” is a loaded term. When the cops arrest people for murder is it called a “murder trap”? We should call it “law enforcement”.

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        • Austin October 16, 2013 at 11:12 am

          I guess it kind of depends on the situation, like when it has nothing to do with safety and all to do with revenue. The “speed traps” in my neighborhood involve a police-van hiding in someone’s driveway, with the digital speed readout hidden away from the traffic, taking photos of people going 5mph over the limit. Most people don’t even know they are there, or that their photo was taken until they get a ticket in the mail weeks later. If it was about safety, they’d do what they could to make themselves seen.

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  • Pliny October 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    While I share your anger, we should remember that it’s specifically ODOT Region 1 that has turned a blind eye to safety on Barbur.

    Blaming the entire agency isn’t just a good way to turn off any friends we might have inside it – it’s also a missed opportunity to push them to be more like their shoulder-fixing siblings.

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    • Kevin Wagoner October 15, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      Decent point. I tend to think it is a lack of leadership at a lot of levels, specifically City Council, our Governor, Our City, etc…but your focus on the group that has the most accountability might be right.

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  • GlowBoy October 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    No, a road diet might not have prevented this particular crash, but even the specific road diet in question might have reduced the likelihood of some of the other recent high-speed incidents we’ve had on Barbur.

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  • David October 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Great quote from the KGW article:

    “We gotta slow people down on Barbur,” Sgt. Todd Davis told KGW. “I mean just off the top of my head, this is the second or third one I’ve taken on Barbur this year or close to it. We gotta slow people down.”

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  • Kristen October 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    My most favorite quote from the KGW story:

    “We gotta slow people down on Barbur,” Sgt. Todd Davis told KGW. “I mean just off the top of my head, this is the second or third one I’ve taken on Barbur this year or close to it. We gotta slow people down.”

    Maybe the BTA needs to get the PPB to help lobby for the road diet.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Does the BTA or anyone know of a business along the corridor with an old school blade ad sign (typically at churches and auto shops) that a text message promoting safety and the right sizing design can be added?

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  • Ken Wetherell October 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I agree with the logic proposed by others: Assign more police to this stretch of road and issue more speeding tickets. I am amazed at how speeding appears to be the rule, rather than the exception, on so many roads and freeways. Without enforcement, speed limits have no teeth and more injuries and fatalities will occur.

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    • Skid October 16, 2013 at 10:41 am

      If the PPB can afford to do bicycle STOP sign stings in Ladd’s circle, they can afford more speeding enforcement on Barbur Blvd. Just a matter of what is a priority, “saving” us from ourselves or saving us from being run over by a careless driver.

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  • SAM October 15, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Todd’s comment reminds me of signs by the sides of roads I’ve seen in another country (where driving behavior is terrible). The signs – in pretty big lettering – track the number of fatalities on the road due to bad driving. It certainly caught my eye. The signs were simple and straightforward: “15 people /have died on this road / Drive Safely”

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    • Kristi Finney-Dunn October 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm

      I have wondered if it would make any impact at all to have a day where people stood at the site of a fatality with a cut out black silhouette or something similar to show that a man, woman, or child died there? My son died on Division as have many others. What would it be like for drivers to go from downtown to Gresham or wherever and see the likenesses of so many dead people? Just a thought.

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      • Skid October 16, 2013 at 10:43 am

        Sort of like a “ghost bike” perhaps?

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      • spare_wheel October 16, 2013 at 12:45 pm

        I like this idea. A ghost bike is hard to see and de-emphasizes the human.

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  • Hillsons October 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    “We gotta slow people down on Barbur” ………so slow people down then Todd. Talk is cheap.

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  • kww October 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    I think ODOT has some explaining to do. In 2013, the Federal DOT has revised their VSL (value of statistical life) figure to $9.1 million – In other words, it is the benefit to reducing risks through roadway improvements, regulations or otherwise.

    Why does appear that ODOT think they are not beholden to Federal DOT VSL’s????

    Why BTA or Novick are not demanding a cost/benefit analysis from ODOT of the risk reduction vs. Value of Time calculations (for commuters and freight traffic) is beyond me.

    It is time to prevent ODOT and other interests from redefining this issue as a non-safety issue. Let them answer to the safety costs and benefits first and foremost.

    http://www.dot.gov/sites/dot.dev/files/docs/VSL%20Guidance%202013.pdf

    http://www.dot.gov/regulations/economic-values-used-in-analysis

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    • BURR October 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      If ODOT receives federal highway funds they should have to be in compliance, yes?

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    • q`Tzal October 15, 2013 at 11:47 pm

      I mean really!
      How much money could it really cost for them to address our realistic safety concerns so we’ll all settle back down in to a quiet acquiescent complacency?

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  • dwainedibbly October 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I’m tired of this. Every person who dies on this road should be assigned to an ODOT employee who has blocked fixing Barbur or for an elected official who is guilty of foot-dragging on getting this fixed. Let’s make a list and start assigning the deceased to their “sponsors”. If I knew web programming I’d get a domain and do it myself. Sometimes shame is the only thing that works.

    Let’s add freight industry folks to the list of sponsors, too, while we’re at it.

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  • AndyC of Linnton October 15, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Perhaps Hales, Novick, and other city council leaders are waiting to hit some magic number we don’t know of. I bet there’s some sort of algorithm out there; Death andinjury divided by freight and business interests…multiplied by some more studies…move the decimal…carry the one….seventeen more injuries and 5 more deaths?

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  • Kenji October 15, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    A couple quotes from a friend’s facebook post and comments yesterday:

    just watched a gal on a bicycle get knocked over on barbur
    be careful out there folks

    By a motor vehicle?

    Yeesh, think its time to avoid Barbur.

    Yeah, the motorist didnt even stop. i felt like chasing him down and giving him rusty’s wrath

    Kenji, it was the intersection of Barbur and Terwilliger. 911 was not called. We stopped to ask the cyclist if she was okay. She was already up and was fine. The driver of the vehicle sped off too quickly for us to get a licence plate. It was a beige SUV, but that’s all that we could tell. The woman had flashing front and rear lights.

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    • Kristi Finney-Dunn October 15, 2013 at 10:08 pm

      This just totally infuriates me! …. I’m so glad she was okay. If she abs her bike really were.

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  • q`Tzal October 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Speed bumps: starting as low as $49.50
    Adhesive : exterior grade carpet epoxy for use on concrete and asphalt – $55.09

    A kickstarter campaign and a slogan like “never again”.

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    • maxadders October 16, 2013 at 9:04 am

      Net effect at stopping intoxicated / suicidal drivers going 3x the speed limit at bar time and flipping over the median into buildings: zero

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      • q`Tzal October 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

        Yes but if you put in the correct shape of speed bump you can shape the outcome of the crashes those dangerous drivers are involved in.
        For example: I learned to drive in the Deep South backwoods from a man whose weakest vehicle was 350hp in a 2 seat coupe w/ manual transmission. Needless to say I learned to drive fast.
        There are road textures(washboard, cobblestone, lateral wavy) that make even the worst driver slow down OR wipe out at a slower speed.

        This is what properly applied speed bumps can do: move the entire crash profile to lower speeds.

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        • Skid October 16, 2013 at 10:52 am

          Why should people who don’t speed have to have their suspension beaten up or their car vibrated because of those who break the law? “Traffic calming” devices like this effect everyone, not just the law-breakers.

          I hate speed bumps, especially ones that the paint has worn off of. A speed bump (on a curve, downhill) on a dimly-lit road is what caused me to crash my bike, break my helmet and separate my shoulder.

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          • q`Tzal October 16, 2013 at 11:18 am

            Again: this can be tuned allow certain speeds. Not as precisely with plastic aftermarket speed bumps but with gradual ramps and drop offs speeds over 45mph can be made very uncomfortable and damaging to vehicle suspension while below at worst increasing incidents of car sickness as vehicles would be going up and down repeatedly

            I could dig up some FWHA/USDOT studies supporting my conclusion but I defer to the more technical scientific documentation, top level tl;dr stuff.

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  • Adam October 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Jonathan – have you considered having a “Policymakers Barbur Blvd Ride” – in the same sort of way there was recently a Policymakers Gorge Ride?

    I think getting the people that make these decisions out on bikes to experience firsthand the conditions could be a big first-step in this uphill process to change the current insanity of this roadway.

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    • Peter W October 15, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      > Jonathan – have you considered having a “Policymakers Barbur Blvd Ride”

      ODOT says Barbur is safe, so here’s an idea: an ‘ODOT friends and family’ ride. Would love to see high level ODOT staff explain to their partners that the street is safe to take the kids on.

      Stories like this are so sad regardless of the situation, and my heart goes out to the family of the young man who died.

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    • q`Tzal October 15, 2013 at 11:39 pm

      No extra police enforcement or traffic warnings: that would be cheating.

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  • jim October 16, 2013 at 12:44 am

    When I was a teenager we would drag race on 2 lane roads. We didn’t drive fast as much on wide 4 lane roads because it felt too open and we didn’t want to get caught. It was probably a lot more dangerous on those 2 lane roads as someone might have been pulling out of their driveway.

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  • voline October 16, 2013 at 5:33 am

    maxadders
    My patience is beginning to wear a little thin.

    Internet tough-guy alert.

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    • maxadders October 16, 2013 at 9:03 am

      If calling out bullshit makes me a tough-guy, then so be it. A man drove his car into a building at 100mph. Not relevant to improving Barbur for bikes / peds, period, and claiming that it does only serves to discredit any efforts to improve safety on this road. All the “road diets” in the world won’t keep a reckless, possibly suicidal or intoxicated person from doing unsafe stuff. To claim that the road’s design encouraged him to drive 100mph at 2:45am until he lost control and killed himself is complete fantasy. But hey, if it fits the message BikePortland’s pushing, why not use it? Because it’s intellectually lazy and just plain bad reporting.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 16, 2013 at 9:44 am

        maxadders wrote:

        A man drove his car into a building at 100mph. Not relevant to improving Barbur for bikes / peds, period, and claiming that it does only serves to discredit any efforts to improve safety on this road. All the “road diets” in the world won’t keep a reckless, possibly suicidal or intoxicated person from doing unsafe stuff.

        I disagree with you (and others) on this point.

        I strongly believe that road design plays a big role on how people use roads. Obviously a drunk and reckless driver will be drunk and reckless on any road to some degree… But the design of Barbur makes it far too easy for that behavior to rise to these insanely dangerous levels.

        But hey, if it fits the message BikePortland’s pushing, why not use it? Because it’s intellectually lazy and just plain bad reporting.

        FWIW I find your “intellectually lazy” comment to be an unfair insult. And just FYI, this post isn’t “reporting” it’s my opinion. That’s why I labeled it as such. Thanks for comments.

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        • maxadders October 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm

          Thanks for the insult? You sure about that?

          BikePortland is a media outlet and I’m criticizing your characterization of this most recent traffic accident. I find it manipulative that it’s presented as something that “traffic calming” would have prevented, when you have so many more compelling examples– yet you can’t help but throw this one into the mix too, to capitalize on the local news coverage of the crash.

          If you can’t handle my opinion, you might as well not bother expressing your own.

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          • Slammy October 16, 2013 at 4:56 pm

            LOL, you’re sure fired up about this. Can I have a link to your blog?
            I think if there was a median strip every 50 yards or so with some potted plants in it, people would drive slower… something about visual cues that helps the brain say, “you’re going too fast”. I think this was from a study in LA about a stretch of road very similar to this.

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        • wsbob October 16, 2013 at 7:00 pm

          “…Obviously a drunk and reckless driver will be drunk and reckless on any road to some degree… But the design of Barbur makes it far too easy for that behavior to rise to these insanely dangerous levels …” maus/bikeportland

          The road diet main lane reduction of four main lanes, to three, or two, plus the addition of bike lanes, isn’t likely to be a design change that will make it less easy for late night-early morning speeders to put the pedal to the metal.

          If there’s a design change to the road that people would accept, and that could reduce significantly or eliminate this behavior…let’s hear it.

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      • Chris I October 16, 2013 at 10:27 am

        Do you know of any 100mph+ crashes on streets like Hawthorne, Glisan, or Fremont (just to pick a few examples). Street design is critical to the sensation of speed. A wide open street like Barbur will make 100mph feel less dangerous than a street like hawthorne. By narrowing Barbur, reducing lane width or the number of lanes, and adding more medians, bulb-outs, etc, the average speed will drop, as will incidents like this.

        Ironically, it was a pedestrian safety island that this guy hit. I’ll call that a win for active transportation infrastructure.

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        • q`Tzal October 16, 2013 at 11:20 am

          Chris I
          Ironically, it was a pedestrian safety island that this guy hit. I’ll call that a win for active transportation infrastructure.

          I don’t know… how’d the pedestrian island fair in this inertial exchange?

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        • davemess October 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm

          Sorry I didn’t see your post before I posted above.
          I had the exact same thought regarding lack of 100mph crashes on other streets.

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      • wsbob October 16, 2013 at 11:40 pm

        “…But the design of Barbur makes it far too easy for that behavior to rise to these insanely dangerous levels. …” maus/bikeportland

        No mention of what it is about Barbur’s design, that could stand a chance of being a viable option for change that would effectively confront the problem of late night-early morning “insanely dangerous” speeders. No suggestion about what form such a change should take. I recall someone commenting that the collision took place in the 6000 block, not even in the section of Barbur some are seeking to transform with a road diet.

        Anyone with suggestions about how Barbur’s design could and should be altered to address the problem of the type of driving characterized by this most recent collision, and other similar to it, share them here.

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        • 9watts October 16, 2013 at 11:43 pm

          Eliminate enough lanes & the traffic that is left won’t permit anyone going that fast; they’ll just be no room to wind up to that kind of speed. Ha ha.

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          • wsbob October 17, 2013 at 1:10 am

            During late night-early morning hours, there may be very little traffic on Barbur. Assuming the present road configuration was altered to one main travel lane in each direction with bike lanes, depending on the specific design, it’s possible that high speed drivers would pass cars they approach, by crossing over into the opposing lane of travel.

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            • davemess October 17, 2013 at 12:27 pm

              Again Bob, you’re pulling out the “well we can’t stop 100% of the crashes so we should do nothing” line of reasoning. Yes there will ALWAYS be problems you can find with ANY solution.

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              • wsbob October 17, 2013 at 2:11 pm

                davemess
                Again Bob, you’re pulling out the “well we can’t stop 100% of the crashes so we should do nothing” line of reasoning. Yes there will ALWAYS be problems you can find with ANY solution.
                Recommended 0

                Dave…I’m not at all saying “…we should do nothing…”. What I am saying is, ‘Offer some viable design related suggestions for responding to this type of problem that will work’.

                Repeated wringing of hands over problem situations, without making efforts to devise design modifications and/or adjustments that stand a chance of helping resolve the problems, don’t accomplish much.

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                • davemess October 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm

                  Have most of us not been suggesting a lane reduction on portions of the road?

                  (I find this especially ironic coming from you, who rarely gives your own suggestions and just seems to continuously antagonize just for argument’s sake)

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                • wsbob October 17, 2013 at 8:43 pm

                  “Have most of us not been suggesting a lane reduction on portions of the road?

                  (I find this especially ironic coming from you, who rarely gives your own suggestions and just seems to continuously antagonize just for argument’s sake)” Daveness

                  Otherwise known as a ‘road diet’, which wouldn’t likely be much of a deterrent to late night-early morning high speed drivers, the problem of which, bikeportland’s editor-publisher most recently lamented, and laid responsibility for, to some undescribed character of Barbur Blvd’s road design.

                  If you really have been reading all my comments to bikeportland stories, you should have noticed that I have indeed offered a number of observations about Barbur’s road design and traffic control equipment that as suggestions, may be options for bringing the road around to being more of a user friendly road for a more valid range of road users than late night-early morning high speed drivers.

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  • Brian E October 16, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Beaverton uses a photo radar van at various places/various times of day. I can think of 3 of them that are similar to Barbur in design.
    Upper Canyon Rd.
    Cedar Hills Blvd.
    West end of Scholls Ferry Rd.

    But, rarely do you see a patrol car ticketing anyone.

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  • esther c October 16, 2013 at 9:31 am

    “local freight interests”. That is my pet peeve. Why are they using our surface streets. Get the semi’s off our surface streets. If we’re engineering our surface streets for tractor trailer trucks that is the problem. Make them unload their crap into smaller trucks and drive on our streets in cab forward box trucks.

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    • Skid October 16, 2013 at 11:02 am

      They are on surface streets because the freeways have so few exits. But hey you don’t want to improve freeway access, that will just encourage people to drive more.

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    • q`Tzal October 16, 2013 at 11:39 am

      This is a great idea, big trucks to smaller trucks, for freight movement in tight urban streets.
      There are some interesting consequences:
      () more traffic as in more vehicles
      () more road space used by these plural vehicles rather than singular vehicles
      () skill or lack thereof. CMV drivers have much higher standards imposed by the government and employers; small box truck drivers only need a driver’s license for passenger vehicles to be allowed to drive these outsized mini-big rigs. These little trucks seem safer but they have a lot of the same handling issues as 18 wheelers without as much government scrutiny nor as many integrated safely measures.

      As a big truck driver I am currently sitting in Compton (LA) off loading freight so that this location can deliver it in smaller trucks. So what it drives up costs for shipping and handling; pass it on to the customer like is always done. And while a drivers are prone to mistakes these box truck drivers are statistically the worst. Least amount of experience driving the most dangerous thing allowed by law with little to no experience.

      All that said: we really don’t need enough motor vehicle width on Barbur to roll out mobile nuclear launch platforms. How many extra wide loads go through here daily (mobile homes, construction equipment, prefab buildings)? There needs to be a precedent for temporarily allowing over width truck loads to overhang in to bike lanes when needed. The rest of the time it is narrow width (11′-12′) lanes and full bicycle accommodation but when needed we can share to road back to the freight interests. Otherwise this is a zero sum game and someone has to lose.

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  • El Biciclero October 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Who knew a Prius could travel at a “very high rate of speed”?

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    • maxadders October 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      It’s clear: we must revise this dangerous vehicle before it kills again. With your help, we can enact a “Speed Diet” for Priuses. As built today, they encourage drivers to break the law. Until we make it impossible to break the law, the law breaking will continue!

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      • Mike October 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm

        Exactly! Why not govern all automobiles to a max speed of 75?
        Better yet, use the same technology that many truckers are subjected to – it sets the governors to the speed limits of the streets they are on?
        There are many tools out there that can make speeding very very expensive or virtually impossible in properly equipped vehicles.

        We could have such a nanny state! I can imagine it now – personal codes required to turn on you GPS tracked automobile. A whole new traffic division dedicated to tracking the vehicles – think of the jobs and revenue it would create!

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        • Slammy October 16, 2013 at 4:57 pm

          I think people just think it’s sad and don’t like to hear about people dying, so they offer their opinions on what might lead to fewer deaths.

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        • q`Tzal October 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm

          Would the same techniques be acceptable if the government wasn’t doing it but was an OPT-IN program from your automobile insurance provider?
          You don’t have to be tracked but trustworthiness is a tricky and costly business; look at our credit rating industry.

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    • GlowBoy October 16, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      Well, of course Prius can go at a “very high rate of speed”: it’s a CAR! Pretty much ANY car in production today is capable of well over 100mph, and so is the Prius.

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  • Jeff M October 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Thank you for continuing to bring attention to this issue, Jonathan.

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