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Mayor Adams launches traffic safety campaign near SE Foster ‘freeway’

Posted by on November 19th, 2010 at 10:50 am

High Crash Corridors campaign launch-8

Adams and the banner at this
morning’s event.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Portland Mayor Sam Adams led a press conference today to officially launch the Bureau of Transportation’s new High Crash Corridor Safety campaign. Standing under a newly unveiled banner that stretches all the way across SE Foster Road (one of the city’s most dangerous), Adams said, “This street functions in many ways like a freeway, but it’s not.”

The new “See Kids” banner, with the eyes of a small child staring down on traffic, is PBOT’s educational component of the new safety campaign that focuses on high speed arterials where there are a higher than average rate of fatal and injury crashes. “There are reasons why businesses use banners on busy streets like this,” Adams told the crowd, “Because it draws attention… and it works.”

High Crash Corridors campaign launch-10

The banner strung over SE Foster Road near 108th.

Adams said the goal of the campaign is to reign in some of the freeway-like driving that occurs on roads like Foster. “We want people to slow down and remember that there are schools and senior centers nearby.”

High Crash Corridors campaign launch-5

ODOT Region 1 Manager Jason Tell.

Jason Tell, ODOT’s Regional 1 manager, announced that they’ve committed $14 million over the next 3-4 years specifically focused on high crash corridors. Adams added that PBOT is upping their investment in improvements that make biking and walking safer, saying that over the next three years, he’ll allocate $20 million to infrastructure improvements and other programs.

High Crash Corridors campaign launch-7

Captain Wyatt

To show that enforcement is a big piece of the safety puzzle, Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Captain Todd Wyatt also spoke at the event. He showed a bit of passion and told the crowd, “Two people were killed this week on Portland’s roads… And that’s two too many!” He shared the story of two kids walking to school in North Portland this month who were hit by a motor vehicle operator while crossing NE 15th at Rosa Parks.

“That driver isn’t a bad person,” Wyatt said, “But the driver has room for improvement and that’s what we’re here to talk about.”

“This is the kind of thing we need out here… It makes people more aware of the crisis.”
— Nick Christensen, neighborhood resident

During a Q & A session that followed the formal remarks, I asked ODOT’s Jason Tell if his agency plans a policy or programmatic response to the dramatic uptick in fatal crashes involving people walking on Oregon roads this year (up 80% over 2009). Tell said that “Everyone should be concerned” about those statistics and added that they are “obviously tragic and avoidable.”

Tell referenced the $14 million ODOT will invest in intersections and pedestrian crossings. But, Tell said, the “educational aspects” of the effort might be even more important:

“We are doing a lot We really are pleading with the public and those who use the system — and that means everybody, whether you’re in a car, on your bike, or walking — everyone has to pay attention and be seen and look out for each other. We’re really going to be on that message as much as we can, but in the end we really need the people who are using the transportation system to do their part as well.”

As for specific things ODOT plans to do in response to the pedestrian fatality uptick, Tell told me they still need to get back all the crash analysis and investigations to see how the fatalities occurred and who/what was at fault before they can put together a targeted response in terms of investments and programs.

Lents Neighborhood activist Nick Christensen also came out this morning. He was excited to see this happening in his neighborhood. “This is the kind of thing we need out here… It makes people more aware of the crisis. And it is a crisis. 33,000 people dying [in traffic crashes in America], that’s a crisis! And people are dying unnecessarily.”

PBOT plans to install a total of 10 banners on roads they’ve identified as the most dangerous corridors. The total cost of the banner program is $75,000 over two years.

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MeghanH
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MeghanH

Wish they could use our handmade banner from a previous Foster pedestrian safety awareness action last year: it fits with the Mayor’s message perfectly. http://www.portlandmercury.com/images/blogimages/2010/05/03/1272923600-1257914683-dscn0713.jpg

West Cougar
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West Cougar

“That driver isn’t a bad person,” Wyatt said, “But the driver has room for improvement and that’s what we’re here to talk about.”

This is a crock! If we can’t even muster a little social opprobrium, then let’s not even bother.

Say it like it is:
“The driver isn’t an evil person, but he is a bad person. And those closest to him that did nothing to stop him from driving well past his faculties’ prime are equally culpable. Our culture needs to change, and that change starts today!”

Now that statement would send a message. An expensive banner campaign funded with other people’s money, not so much.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

if you’re not familiar with Foster it’s full of power/telephone poles, street lights, traffic signals, and lots of signs…

a banner is just taking people’s eyes off the road when they need to be paying attention to their driving…

I can’t see how this banner program could be effective at all…

if they were serious about calming the streets they would lower the speed limit to 25 and put in speed bumps… or instead of bumps they could redesign the street so that is goes in a gentle curve back and forth instead of straight…

people are not going to pay attention and slow down by choice… you have to force them…

Martha R
Guest
Martha R

What about those of us who are no longer kids? I’m so sick and tired of road safety campaigns that tell drivers to “see kids” or slow down “for kids’ sake.” What about us ADULTS who are walking and biking? Why aren’t people of ALL ages worthy of attention?

The “I brake for humans” campaign a couple of years back was so much more compassionate and on-target that it gave me hope for future awareness campaigns. But now it’s back to puppy dogs and babies ’cause they’re so much cuter than I am.

Putting a message like this on a busy street makes me wonder whether it’ll have any effect at times when kids aren’t normally around (like when school’s in session or well after dark). Yep, drivers, pay attention when you might expect to see kids around, but feel free to give in to distractions at all other times. And we wonder why there are so many deaths on our roads.

jram
Guest
jram

i am definitely glad the powers that be are acting on this, but how do we get 10 banners for $75K? I really hope there is a lot more to the program than just the banners for that price tag.

mabsf
Guest
mabsf

Too bad that creators of the banner don’t do as they preach… I have the suspicion it will be literally invisible after dusk…

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

Let’s be fair, Foster isn’t unsafe for pedestrians entirely because people aren’t paying attention (though they could do better). Foster serves a lot of traffic from both 205 and people coming into and out of downtown from their homes in deeper SE. Since the Mt Hood freeway was never built (not that it should’ve been) the city did not provide an alternate route or method of transportation for the people who live there to move around, so Powell, Foster and 82nd become their defacto highways. RYG signals and pedestrian overpasses would help keep pedestrians safe, but since the city doesn’t have that kind of money to spend, they will put up a few pretty banners and pat themselves on the back for the educational words they speak. Don’t get me wrong, education and PR are important to road safety (just as important as infrastructure) but this is really just a tool to try making Adams look good than effect any real change. $75k is a pretty cheap price to pay to be able to say “we did something” rather than doing anything that actually _helps_.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

A banner? this is the best they can come up with?
How ’bout lowering traffic speed limits (with enforcement), installing islands, traffic calming devices, and well indicated cross walk signals? A bit more like MLK. Businesses would be attracted, people will feel safer. Safety fail.

Nick V
Guest

Designing signage is one of the things I do for a living, yet I’d like to take this opportunity to say that the banner(s) won’t do squat. In one eye and out the other, so to speak, for drivers who are listening to radios, talking on cell phones (ahem), eating sandwiches, or whatever.

It’s a shame that Oregon doesn’t have the money or the courage to simply increase the penalties for irresponsible driving.

Jessica Roberts
Guest
Jessica Roberts

Researchers found that a poster of eyes made people more honest. I wonder if we could hope for it to make them less likely to exceed the speed limit?

Ely
Guest
Ely

A few well-placed crosswalk stings, the city could make back its $75k in a day or two. AND have a larger impact on actual behavior.

VIE
Guest
VIE

What a waste of effort. Typical ineffectual, feel-good BS from the City and Adams. Just enforce the damn speed limit and pedestrian laws.

John Mulvey
Guest
John Mulvey

Only two months ago many of us in the neighborhood organized something called the Foster Summit, which was a neighborhood town hall dedicated to creating a dialogue about traffic safety in the Foster corridor. It was attended by the Mayor and various other electeds.

At that time, Nick Christenson spoke in favor of maintaining high speeds on Foster because he claimed that economic development in the area required it.

Which is it, Nick?

Fred
Guest
Fred

I saw the new banner while riding through Hillsdale this morning. The colors are so dark that I had a hard time making out the picture of the eyes.

lothar
Guest
lothar

Not too sure about the fatalities in this area but isn’t the most occurrences of injuries or death on Foster between Powell and 82nd? Did they put this banner here because just a few blocks down is where the Springwater Trail crosses Foster?

Whyat
Guest
Whyat

How about some motorcycle officers handing out citations 2 random days a week? I lived in FoPo for four years and never once saw speed enforcement on Foster.

mabsf
Guest
mabsf

In general I am surprised that the police is not all behind the added revenue of ‘sting’ operations and perhaps some warnings would do it without pissing drivers utterly off…

BURR
Guest
BURR

On the positive side, this is an educational program, rather than an engineering one.

On the other hand, it seems PBOT applies the same low standards to their educational efforts as they do on their engineering efforts.

Do it better, PBOT!

mmann
Guest

They’re correct about many drivers treating Foster like a Freeway. I cross it every day on the Springwater. There’s a traffic signal that is tripped automatically or manually. Drivers are often resentful, and in the last 2 weeks I’ve seen three people blow the signal here or nearby where the trail crosses 122nd. The one who almost hit me Tuesday night had come to a stop first, then decided to go. The banners are a start, but I’m all for traffic stings and some kind of permanent traffic calming – maybe am ODOT re-designation of Foster? – that sends a more serious message to slow down and share.

suburban
Guest
suburban

Lipstick.

david...no the other one!
Guest
david...no the other one!

I drove through here this morning, sorry driving is my job now. Traffic closest to the curb lane was merging into the inside lane due to the crowd and news crews. I was to busy looking out for the traffic to notice what the banner said. Leaving work, going through a school zone I did notice one installed there though. Although in the school zone they have auto flashing lights to warn drivers to reduce their speed to twenty. I don’t know how much those cost, and to install and also study, but what do we feel a life is worth?

Tony Columbo
Guest
Tony Columbo

Banner has already caused one accident.

Duncan
Guest
Duncan

I agree that the city could make pretty steady money by enforcing the speed limit on foster and powell. I try and drive the speed limit (or within a few miles of it anyway) and always have to speed up to 40-45 to get in the left lane to make a left turn.

Also I have seen the photo radar guys there in front of Morland Plumbing but not in awhile.

The ceapest solution is to time the traffic lights so traffic is limited to 30MPH.

Stig10
Guest
Stig10

Imagine crossing Foster on the Springwater with just those ridiculous flashing yellow warning lights that the city has been obsessed with recently.

Merckxrider
Guest
Merckxrider

Mayor Sam should keep his mouth shut about it and just saturate high-hazard streets with cops, and set up some good old-fashioned speed traps. Crank up the enfocement and raise the fines to a painful level.

Duncan
Guest
Duncan

I think that this is a bigger safety issue than Bikes in Ladds Addition for sure.

eenie
Guest
eenie

I drive frequently, and ride occasionally, from inner SE to Foster/122nd. If I ride I’m usually only on Foster from 112th to 122nd, and while I’m generally very comfortable riding I don’t feel safe on that stretch of Foster.

The banner on Foster has folded itself in half and gotten stuck. Until I read this I had no idea what it said.

I regularly see drivers blow through the blinky crosswalk on Foster by the Fred Meyer just west of 82nd. I’ve done it at least once myself–there’s so much going on in that spot that it can be hard to focus on the crosswalk signal if traffic’s not already slowing down. I’ve seen people blow the red light where the Springwater crosses Foster, too, but at least the signal there is easier to see.

It would be great to see more enforcement. I drove up to Seattle a couple of weeks ago and I felt like I was seeing speed traps all over the place, on and off I-5–it made me realize how rarely I see them here.

Hot Rod
Guest
Hot Rod

When I’m driving a car, many times there are so many signs that it distracts me – finally you tune them out so you can pay attention – and that includes signs that you SHOULD read.

Fewer signs please; fewer distractions for drivers – we’ve got enough to do without frivilous crap.

jim
Guest
jim

It would really suck if someone hit a kid because they were looking up in the air at a banner