PDOT, and the BTA pledge to work
together on enforcement.
(Photos © J. Maus)
Back in October, the community was reeling with grief from the loss of two young Portlanders — killed while they rode their bikes on our city’s streets.
When Siobhan Doyle was hit and seriously injured just two weeks later at the exact same spot where one of those fatalities occurred, the situation reached a boiling point; the community coalesced for a rally and press conference on the steps of City Hall, PDOT pledged safety improvements, and the Transportation Commissioner held several emergency meetings.
It was the first time concerns about how the Police Bureau deals with bike crashes (both in the media and in their policies) had risen to a high enough level that Police Chief Rosie Sizer (and Assistant Chief Lynnae Berg) came to the table to listen and learn more about the issues.
It was in that meeting where Chief Sizer first agreed to draft a Community Policing Agreement.
I have been waiting four months to see that document, and yesterday, Traffic Division Captain Larry O’Dea finally sent me a draft.
I can’t publish the document yet (because it’s still a draft), but Capt. O’Dea gave me the green light to discuss the concepts and ideas it contains.
The Agreement (now in its second draft) will include three parties: the Police Bureau, the City of Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT), and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA). The format of the document is an introductory paragraph followed by a long list of actions that each party will commit to.
The opening paragraph talks about how traffic safety is a “shared responsibility” and that “a collaborative teamwork approach” is needed to improve traffic safety issues. It also lays out the goals and desires of each party — which is summed up as being a “fair education and enforcement strategy”. “Balanced approaches” to reaching goals — which include education, enforcement and engineering — are what the Agreement says is needed to improve the safety of all road users.
After the opening paragraph is a list of things each of the three organizations will do. It’s written like this: “The Police Bureau will…, The BTA will…, etc..”
Among the “wills” of the Police Bureau (and realize this is a draft) is some very encouraging language that includes: a willingness to work with PDOT to focus enforcement on high-risk areas; releasing information about crashes in “a neutral way”; having Traffic Division leaders regularly attend (and participate in) meetings that focus on bicycle issues; and making a stronger effort to promote information sharing between the community and the Police Bureau.
Along with reciprocating the responsibilities outlined by the PPB above, the list for PDOT includes: encouraging all road users to follow the laws for safety; sharing information with the PPB; and meeting monthly to check in with Traffic Division leaders.
The BTA responsibilities, as listed in the document, are essentially the same as PDOT’s; they include agreeing to work collaboratively with the other two parties, to support each other, and to share information.
At this point, it’s too early to tell how formal this agreement will be (I should know soon). But regardless of what official form it takes (a binding, City Council resolution perhaps?), I see this is a very important “Code of Conduct” between the community, PDOT and the Police Bureau that will give each of them leverage to make sure the other fulfills their responsibilities.
Once finalized, this document will be a significant step forward for traffic safety in Portland, and it’s yet another silver lining to a tragedy that impacted us all.