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PBOT selects three ‘High Crash Corridors’ for safety improvements, outreach

Posted by on January 25th, 2013 at 9:40 am

People walking - SE Powell at 93rd-1

SE Powell, a wide and intimidating arterial known for its safety problems, is one of the three corridors PBOT will look to tame in 2013.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)


The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is getting ready for the third year of the High Crash Corridor Program. The program (funded to the tune of $472,000 in this year’s budget), launched with a press conference in 2010 headlined by former Mayor Sam Adams, aims to tame traffic, educate the community, and improve safety on Portland’s large arterial streets.

It’s a well-worn truth among planners and advocates that a majority of fatal traffic collisions in our city occur on wide, high-volume, and/or high-speed streets known as arterials. PBOT data shows that just a small portion of the city’s 1,300 miles of arterials account for a majority of all collisions. 66% of Portland’s fatal collisions that involve someone walking and 52% of people who die in bicycle collisions occur on these streets. Despite the human toll, these arterials divide communities, prevent people from walking and biking, and have a host of other harmful impacts.

This year, PBOT has identified three streets to concentrate their safety efforts: W/E Burnside, SE Powell Blvd, and NE Sandy Blvd. These are just three of the top ten high crash corridors the agency identified when the effort launched in 2010. The others are: NE Marine Drive, Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, SW Barbur Blvd, 82nd Ave, 122nd Ave, SE Division, and SE Foster Rd. These streets have the highest serious crash rate per road mile and per mile traveled in the entire Portland metro region. With frequent transit service and lots of destinations, these streets also see a lot of street life (as we noted in a dispatch from SE Foster yesterday).

We reached out to PBOT’s High Crash Corridor program manager Clay Veka to learn more about what’s in store for the three 2013 focus corridors. She says they’ve already planned open houses for each of them:

  • Sandy: 3/6/13, 6:30-8:30pm, Hollywood Senior Center
  • Burnside: 2/27/13, 6:30-8:30pm, Buckman School Cafeteria
  • Powell: targeting Summer 2013, location TBD
High Crash Corridors campaign launch-3

The SE Foster “Freeway”.

The effort will include a variety of activities that fall under the “three Es” of enforcement, engineering, and education. Veka says once they’ve done initial analysis and developed an existing conditions report, they’ll look implement “low-cost, rapid response engineering improvements” (that’s PBOT’s way of saying they have a very limited budget). These will be things like pavement markings, signage, changing signal timing, and so on.

PBOT assigns a “pedestrian educator” to work with the community through training sessions and other outreach activities. To tame auto traffic and to raise awareness about how to walk safely, PBOT will do enforcement actions in partnership with the police. They’ll also do little things like make sure ADA curb ramps are in place and remove graffiti and cut back vegetation from signs if necessary.

Since the budget for this program is small (it’s paid for by ODOT, Metro, and TriMet) (*see note below), at the end of the process, Veka says PBOT will develop a report with recommendations for long-term engineering improvements that will be installed once funding becomes available.

Of course the important question is — does all this actually make a difference? With the program being relatively new, a complete picture still hasn’t come into focus; but preliminary stats from 82nd Ave look very promising. As you can see in the chart below, nearly every crash-type has seen a decrease based on data from 2009-2010 versus data from 1997-2006.

Portland is often heralded as a utopian city and a beacon of livability. But these arterials cut right into that reputation. We must figure out how to make these streets more humane and the High Crash Corridor Program is a great opportunity to begin that process. Learn more via PBOT’s website.

*Note: I made an error in the original story. Funding for this program comes from PBOT’s budget. The total amount allocated for the program in the 2012-23 fiscal year is $472,640.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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NW Biker
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NW Biker

Why do they include pedestrians and not cyclists? Are we counted under the other metrics?

oliver
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oliver

I don’t drive very much in town, and not during commute hours on ‘arterials’ .

That said I really am very much against changing traffic signal timing to ‘break up’ traffic flow. To me, this seems like a great way to increase driver frustration, and increase road rage and other sort of anti-social driving behavior. We should be looking at ways to smooth out traffic flow. If speeds are too high, write speeding tickets.

Elliot
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Elliot

So, is Foster not a High Crash Corridor anymore? Do these programs include any funding for capital improvements? As far as I can tell, the program put one “Hang Up and Drive” banner on Foster out at around 105th a few years ago. Did I miss something else? Where are the curb extensions, new marked crosswalks, and rapid-flash beacons?

Hopefully the selection of Powell will finally get a safe pedestrian crossing installed at 80th… but maybe it will fall off the radar now that Food4Less has closed. How depressing.

Steve Hoyt-McBeth
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Steve Hoyt-McBeth

Nice article Jonathan. BTW, Clay is a she.

Thanks Steve. We have yet to meet. Tell her sorry for me. Fixed. — Jonathan

Tad
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Tad

I live east of 205 along Powell, and the most frustrating part of my commute (I work near Powell & 26th) is connecting to the Woodward/Clinton street bike corridor. All of my options suck: deal with the maniacs on Powell or take the sidewalk until past 82nd, take Division and make a questionable left onto 78th, or take the 205 bike path north to Harrison and climb Mount Tabor, which adds a good 15 minutes to the commute and tires me out like crazy.

I think the best thing PBOT can do for cyclists is to improve the connection for those east of 205 to the well-developed bike corridor network west of 205. Adding bike lanes to Holgate east of 205 only isn’t going to cut it.

Ted Buehler
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Question — does PBOT do any “high-crash intersection” treatments?

Minneapolis did this in the 1980s, they put up distinctive signs at the 10 or so most dangerous intersections that said “Accident reduction location” or something, and do PR that encouraged everyone to follow all the traffic laws and be very careful in these intersections. And as I recall, they posted positive results.

The reason I ask is because the PBOT “corridor” program seems to be spreading itself pretty thin. And there’s lots of problem locations that would benefit from users just being more careful in that particular spot. (Broadway and Williams, Broadway and Flint come to mind).

Taking a corridor like “E/W Burnside” which is 10 miles long from the West Hills to the east city limits, and changes character dramatically about 6 times, seems to be losing focus. It’s going to be difficult to make much of a difference on 10 miles, which is effectively about 6 different streets under the same name. They’d be more effective limiting their approach to 2 mile sections of streets, or individual intersections.

Hence my question — does PBOT ever do intersection-specific “high crash location PR and improvements”

Thanks in advance,
Ted Buehler

Joe
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Joe

I for one watch for roads with fast car traffic and stay clear if its dicey.

Bjorn
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Bjorn

Too bad there hasn’t been an opportunity in recent memory to make changes to the pavement markings on Sandy…Oh wait.

rider
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rider

As a driver I’d love to see more pedestrian crosswalk lights on Powell. Too often my view of pedestrians is blocked by the car in the lane next to me and I don’t see them until it’s too late to stop. In general, crosswalks without a light are pretty worthless on high speed multi-lane streets, and anything less such as pavement markings and signage are kind of a waste of time.

Mistr Solo
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Mistr Solo

Is there a better (higher resolution) crash map than the one posted here —> http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/409282
I haven’t been able to find it on PBOT website.

Dave
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Dave

1. Bring back the old fashioned concept of the “speed trap.”
2. Make tickets expensive enough to be a significant financial hardship.
3. If there are deemed to be too many speeding, hit and run, DUI, etc., during a given year, suspend the PPD auto theft unit until such time as motorist behavior improves–the city should show as little regard for drivers’ property as drivers show for pedestrians’ lives.

Terry D
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Terry D

This is the best news for our neighborhood I have heard since the 50’s greenway was approved and the Davis-Everette sharrows went down.

We have lived ON east Burnside on that hill for almost a decade. That stretch to 60th is a nightmare. Between the lack of crosswalks, the commuters speeding, off-set intersections and that three travel lane system that flips during commute time accidents happen constantly. I have called 911 multiple times due to accidents sending multiple people to the hospital and one friend of ours had his car totaled, he was parked in front of my house…we heard the crash from the living room.

We are going to the open house, make a suggestion map and print out flyers for our neighbors. We are also going to a neighborhood association meeting pertaining to transportation safety improvements on the 12’th to network.

Brandon Van Buskirk
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Brandon Van Buskirk

This is an instance where critical mass being resurrected & following each of these routes could bring a lot of much needed attention.

Spiffy
Guest

time, they are a changin’…

these are all streets that were intentionally made wide and fast back when the car was king… now that people are becoming king again it’s all changing back…

Caleb
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Caleb

I just moved to Portland about 2 weeks ago, but I live right near the intersection of Powell and Foster. I am enjoying the bike boulevard system, but even with the pretty good route marking, I often find myself going off track, hitting a block without on obvious throughway and then getting dumped onto one of these arterials.

I am sure it will get better as I learn the routes and I can often avoid problems if I constantly refer to the excellent free bike maps out there, but Powell in particular is not a pleasant ride experience. Anytime you have 4 lanes with no bike lane or a wide shoulder, things always get dicey. Cars are just not happy getting slowed up and having to change lanes to get past you. It aggravates them all out of proportion to the delay.

While we are on the subject, why is there no convenient bike access across the Ross Island Bridge on Powell?

Joe
Guest
Joe

I’ll believe this when I see it. PBOT (and Planning) tend to do studies that never get implemented. I like the idea of planning, but whats the point when there’s no funding available. Seems like all the politicians and government officials are too afraid of thinking big and coming up with a comprehensive and sustainable way to fund transformative projects that can produce serious safety benefits.

Also, how hard is it to just put some of these streets on a road diet (where it makes sense). East Burnside is way too narrow to support four lanes, especially closer to Mt. Tabor, where the city has striped the parking area for travel lanes in peak hours. No wonder there’s a lot of crashes – it’s confusing for people who aren’t used to the area and it’s confusing even for those that live around there. All of sudden, you’re driving in a lane that suddenly ends with a parked car.

jim
Guest
jim

Perhaps they could put some signs up warning people that these are dangerous places to ride and that they might want to rethink their commute. Or at least give them a chance to write a will first.