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In 1934, The Oregonian’s ‘Let’s Quit Killing’ campaign declared a war on traffic deaths

Friday, April 17th, 2015
drive safely
The citywide campaign, which asked residents to pledge to drive safely and recruited citizens to report illegal driving behavior to the police, was created by The Oregonian and the Oregon State Motor association.
(Newspaper images: Oregonian archives at Multnomah County Library)

Slow-moving, prosperous and desirable arterial streets are nothing new; they’re just a return to the traditional ideas of our great-grandparents.

And here in Portland, a citywide goal to take public responsibility for traffic fatalities isn’t new, either. In the 1930s, as they felt their city changing fast, our great-grandparents’ generation responded with what became a nationally-known campaign that was strikingly similar to Vision Zero or the Dutch Stop de Kindermoord movement of the 1970s.

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Comment of the Week: Does Vision Zero require gravel freeways?

Friday, April 3rd, 2015
speed of light
A freeway outside Delft, Netherlands.
(Photo: Edwin van Buuringen)

The most important concept in American streets advocacy right now seems to suggest that all rapid car travel should be abolished.

That’s the perspective of BikePortland reader Tait, who argued semi-satirically this week that if preventing one person’s death is truly more important than fulfilling everyone else’s desires, maybe we should cut freeway speeds to 35 mph, or even lower.

In a comment beneath our post Tuesday about some Oregon legislators’ effort to raise cars’ freeway speed limit from 65 to 75 mph, Tait had this to say:

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Bike/walk advocates unveil plan for Oregon to zero out road deaths

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
vz cover
The cover of the new report.

Two Portland-based advocacy organizations have released Oregon’s first detailed proposal for a “Vision Zero” policy that they say could completely eliminate road deaths and serious injuries.

The plan from Oregon Walks and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance describes itself as “A Unifying Vision for Street Safety for Oregon.”

The two groups assembled the report with input from officials at various government agencies, including the City of Portland and Oregon Department of Transportation. It’s the first big component of a coordinated campaign by the two organizations, part of a national effort to spread the Vision Zero concept.

What’s inside? Maybe the most significant ingredient here is the five-page list of specific recommendations at the end. Here are nine particularly interesting selections from that list.

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Q&A: NYC’s top biking advocate wants you to talk more about death

Friday, March 27th, 2015
paulswhite
Paul Steely White at the 2010
National Bike Summit.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Talking about “livable streets” is out; talking about “safe streets” is in.

That’s the advice from Paul Steely White, executive director of the country’s largest local transportation advocacy group. The executive director of New York City-based Transportation Alternatives since 2004, White was a major force behind the city’s emergence as a national leader in reimagining streets as pleasant public spaces.

But as he heads to Portland for a keynote address Monday to the Oregon Active Transportation Summit, White is urging his fellow believers in livable streets to readjust their message when talking to politicians and the public. We spoke by phone on Thursday about why and how his organization has put Vision Zero, the campaign to completely eliminate road deaths, at the middle of their message.

Are you on a national Vision Zero tour, or is this a one-off thing?

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Two perfect examples of the attitude Vision Zero is supposed to change

Thursday, March 19th, 2015
jon cox
AASHTO President Jon Cox before a congressional
committee Tuesday.
(Screen capture via Rep. Rick Larsen)

Vision Zero is maybe the hottest subject in American street advocacy right now, but there’s still quite a lot of disagreement about what exactly it means.

As Portland adopts an official policy to prevent all road deaths and safety advocates begin a push for state and other local governments to follow that lead, we’ve just gotten a couple very clear examples of what Vision Zero doesn’t mean.

One comes from a hearing Tuesday in Washington D.C. The other comes from a state engineer quoted yesterday in The Oregonian.

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Congressmen Blumenauer and Buchanan introduce $30 million ‘vision zero’ grant programs

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015
My ride with Earl Blumenauer-1.jpg
Blumenauer would like to be safer on the road.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

On the same week that the nation’s bike advocates roll onto Capitol Hill for the National Bike Summit, U.S. House Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) have introduced the Vision Zero Act of 2015 (H.R. 1274).

The bill would set aside grants worth $30 million for cities to plan and implement road safety projects.

In a statement, Blumenauer’s office said the bill is a recognition that “communities across the country are recognizing that there is only one number of acceptable deaths on our streets: zero.” The goal of the legislation is ambitious: “eliminating all transportation-related fatalities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists and passengers.”

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A single question that can sell anyone on Vision Zero

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

The notion that 100 percent of traffic deaths are preventable is difficult for many of us (including me) to embrace. But as our local safety advocates kick off a campaign to make the concept state and local policy, this simple four-minute video by the state-funded Zero Fatalities Nevada is a powerful lesson for how to get the idea across.

If you’re interested in the ways that people’s opinions change, it’s definitely worth your time.

But you have to watch it all the way to the end.

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Oregon road deaths tick upward after long-run decline

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
traffic deaths
(Source: ODOT. Chart: BikePortland.)

One year after Oregon saw its best year for traffic safety since World War II, it seems to have backslid somewhat.

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Vision Zero coming into focus in Portland

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
BTA Annual meeting-2
BTA’s Rob Sadowsky sees a bright future for
Vision Zero in Portland.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Vision Zero (also known as Towards Zero Deaths) is a bold goal that’s also the name of a growing national movement to end the acceptance of fatalities and injuries on our roads as mere “accidents.” Advocates instead want to completely change our approach to street design and policy so that no one is hurt or killed while using them.

We’ve been talking about Vision Zero for years here in Portland, but there seems to finally be some tangible movement forward.

Tomorrow in New York City is the opening day of the Vision Zero for Cities Symposium and there will be several Portlanders making the trip. Rob Sadowsky, the leader of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Aaron Brown, a board member with Oregon Walks will be there. The City will send Gabriel Graff, the operations manager of the Active Transportation Division at the Portland Bureau of Transportation. (We’ve also heard that PPB Traffic Division Capt. Kelli Sheffer will also be at the symposium, but we’ve been unable to confirm her attendance.)
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Vision 0.08: Why any major safe-streets effort must tackle alcohol

Friday, October 31st, 2014
Scene of fatal crash on SW Barbur Blvd-6
SW Barbur Boulevard: a bad street to
be drunk on by any mode.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

This is a guest opinion piece by A.J. Zelada, a longtime biking and walking advocate who chaired the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee from 2011 to 2013.

Intoxicating amounts of alcohol are at the death scene of 36 percent of walking fatalities and 32 percent of biking deaths.

So why does today’s street safety movement seem to trivialize it?

Last year, I listened to Oregon’s Safe Routes to School manager proclaim new safety issues to protect pedestrians. The ideas were great, but one was missing: She did not mention alcohol at death scenes. Vision Zero is being considered by many cities, including Portland and New York City, as a backbone policy for reducing road deaths. New York City’s new Vision Zero policy has one paragraph about alcohol.

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