The City of Portland’s Bureau of Maintenance is pushing forward to improve bike/truck safety.
of Maintenance spoke about their
efforts to improve bike safety.
(Photos © J. Maus)
At PDOT’s monthly Bicycle Brown Bag Discussion Series yesterday, veteran Bureau of Maintenance staffer Raymond Gawthorne outlined several measures his department is spearheading to improve bike/truck safety in Portland.
Following the lead of the Water Bureau, Gawthorne (he’s also Vice-Chair of the Bureau’s Safety Committee) said he has the backing of “100%” of his co-workers and bosses and they plan to make, “commuting on the roads as safe as possible”. He has reason to be sincere; both of his daughters are not only heavy equipment operators like their dad, they are also daily bike commuters.
“A bicycle in my mirror is a blink.”
–City of Portland truck and equipment operator Raymond Gawthorne.
With his straight-talking demeanor, Gawthorne told the crowd of about 50 (most of them cyclists) that, “A bicycle in my mirror is a blink.”
On that note, he said the Bureau of Maintenance plans to notify all drivers to avoid streets that have a high volume of bike use. Gawthorne said they will try to completely avoid intersections that have bike boxes and he plans to put laminated cards with bike box locations on the dash of all trucks and heavy equipment in the bureau.
Gawthorne’s philosophy is to try and steer clear of bikes whenever possible, and when it’s not, he hopes to raise awareness with other drivers about the importance of communicating with cyclists on the road. Gawthorne said when he comes to an intersection with a bike, “I get eye contact with them, or I stick my head out the window and ask what their intentions are.”
working to place stickers like these
on the back and side of every
truck in their fleet.
“We think the best way to stop these accidents is by eye or voice contact.”
In addition to working internally at the Bureau of Maintenance, Gawthorne said they plan to attend many bike events over the summer. They’ll offer cyclists a chance to climb aboard street sweepers, trucks and other equipment to see what it’s like from a their perspective.
They’re also working on a new decal that will be placed on the rear (and possibly on the right-side door) of all trucks and equipment in the City’s fleet (see preliminary design at right).
Gawthorne was clearly sincere about doing more to make bike safety a priority in his Bureau, saying that “We want to be the forerunners of all this.”
While it’s great to have the City of Portland’s truckers on board with bike safety, the real test will be getting private trucking companies (like the ones that employed the drivers in the deaths of Tracey Sparling and Brett Jarolimek in October) to do so as well.
Gawthorne hinted that they’re aware of this and that they’re working beyond the City of Portland. He said, “We also have the trucking industry behind us…this is going to snowball, corporations will start adopting these measures too.”