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Mayor Hales, Commissioner Novick call ‘urgent meeting’ in wake of collisions

Posted by on May 29th, 2015 at 6:16 pm

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Coming to the table.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and City Commissioner Steve Novick have just announced an “urgent meeting” that will take place next week at City Hall to discuss bike safety following a spate of collisions that has sparked widespread concerns.

Novick is the commissioner in charge of the transportation bureau, which has committed to the concept of “Vision Zero” which is a policy and set of actions that aims to eliminate traffic deaths.

Here’s the official word about the meeting that just came down from Novick’s Transportation Policy Advisor Timur Ender:

With the third collision this month involving a bicycle rider and a motor vehicle operator occurring this afternoon, Mayor Hales and Commissioner Novick are convening an urgent meeting with representatives and stakeholders from all modes of transportation, as well as the Bureau of Transportation and the Police Bureau, to discuss how we can increase awareness as well as prevent future collisions within the city of Portland.

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The meeting is set for Tuesday and about two dozen people have been invited including PBOT and City Hall staffers, advocates, Police Bureau representatives, advocates, and others.

This move reminds me of what former Mayor Sam Adams did in October 2007 during a time of similar turmoil in the community. Back then we were reeling after several major injury collisions and the deaths of Brett Jarolimek and Tracey Sparling that occurred with a few miles of each other in the central city less than two weeks apart.

Adams called a press conference at City Hall that was followed by an emergency, closed-door meeting. That meeting (read my recap here) focused specifically on bike/truck interactions and it led directly to the implementation of bike boxes (a new treatment at the time) at 14 intersections throughout the city.

Adams followed up that meeting by successfully requesting $200,000 from City Council for the bike boxes and other bike safety projects.

Whether Hales puts any money where is mouth is remains to be seen; but calling for this meeting is a good first step. Stay tuned.

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J_R
Guest
J_R

Enforcement!

Prompt citations for at-fault operators!

Stop blaming the victims!

Commissioners: Try riding a bike or being a pedestrian to see what it’s really like out there.

Charley Gee
Guest

Re: “third collision this month…”

This was the third crash this month with serious enough injuries to make the news. There have been many other collisions where the bicycle operator suffered minor or even significant injuries where a police investigation or even a response was not generated.

J_R
Guest
J_R

I’m buying cameras for my bike.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

Give em hell Charlie and Steve.

Indy
Guest
Indy

Reactive government. Just like we, as citizens, asked for.

Roger Averbeck
Guest
Roger Averbeck

Waiting for my invitation to the urgent meeting…

jeff
Guest
jeff

so urgent they’ll get around to it next week…

JMak
Guest
JMak

Wow! An “urgent” meeting you say. Well, looks we’re on our way to resolution…not!

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Thank you! Paint is not enough; we need real separated cycle facilities to prevent more of these crashes.

daisy
Guest
daisy

Real leadership on this will mean calling for an end to the harassment of cyclists — I truly believe that the hate perpetuated by the Oregonian comment section (as one example) makes things much worse for us on the road. Remember a few years ago when Hales said that folks on bikes should smile and wave to people in cars? I hope he’s learned that our attitude is not the problem.

peejay
Guest

Scott H
Separated cycle facilities are not the only solution, stop sounding like a broken record. You are not the only one who deserves safer infrastructure. All road users deserve safer roads.Recommended 1

All road users benefit from separated infrastructure.

Chris Anderson
Guest

There is not a single road in the city that wouldn’t benefit from a 5 mph drop in speed. Neighborhood streets should be 20, collectors 25, big bad streets maybe 30. And if you lowered the Greenways to 15 then the asshole drivers would really stand out. But we should start with the fastest streets first.

Chris Anderson
Guest

There is not a single road in the city that wouldn’t benefit from a 5 mph drop in speed. Neighborhood streets should be 20, collectors 25, big bad streets maybe 30. And if you lowered the Greenways to 15 then the thoughtless speeders would really stand out. But we should start with the fastest streets first.

jesse
Guest
jesse

Chris is right we need to lower all speed limits within city limits! 15 mph for greenways and school zones, 20 mph for neighborhood streets, 25 for collectors and 30 max for the largest streets. Also make it illegal for a motorist to overtake a cyclist on a greenway. Most greenways aren’t very wide and motorists are terrible at judging cyclists speed.
Enforcement of illegal driving is something that Hales can do right now! Not next week not next month after long meetings. The photo radar van needs to be on Clinton street Monday morning at 8am.
Driving is a privilege not a right, that privilege can be taken away at anytime. Cycling is a right that cannot be taken away. We need to take our streets back!

Matt Merritt
Guest
Matt Merritt

Don’t worry, they’re going to repave Ladd’s, so everything will be solved.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

Lately I’ve been doing more walking than biking. (I live downtown, so it’s easy.) Walking home from the PSU farmers market this morning I was almost killed at least twice and got twice as many dirty looks, all from drivers who apparently felt entitled to do whatever they wanted. And this was on the Park Blocks between Market & Jefferson, a pedestrian zone if there ever was one, during a time of the week when the place is flooded with people walking!

Mrs Dibbly wants to carry small beanbags that can be thrown at cars when needed, but I’m not sure that I want to do anything that might escalate a situation.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

I am now on the board of SE uplift, the organization that represents 20 neighborhoods in SE or almost 25% of the Portland population. They they were very timely on the publication of my first cover story for June’s Newsletter.

“World Class Bikeways and the Future of SE Portland”

http://www.seuplift.org/?newsletter=se-portland-bikeways

I emailed all of city council all of city council and PBOT leadership a link to it. It is just my thoughts on where we need to start to fix an build out our system…..what we have is obviously not good enough.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

Terminology: hook or cross? As I understand the terms, three of these recent collisions were left crosses, where oncoming traffic turned across the center line in front of approaching traffic, and the impact point was on the outside of the offending vehicle’s arc. In a hook, the perpetrating vehicle makes a sharp turn (often 90°) immediately in front of a vehicle going the same direction, “hooking” them on the inside of their turn. No big deal, but I see the terms being used incorrectly or interchangeably quite a bit.

Cervelo
Guest
Cervelo

In the 1960s the goobermint committed to the concept of “War on Poverty” which is a policy and set of actions that aims to eliminate poverty. How has that worked out? Ditto war to eliminate drugs, alcohol, crime, terrorism, etc……the main effect is that the country is now bankrupt.

Don’t hold your breath waiting on Vision Zero. Don’t depend on the goobermint for your safety – using your brain is first line of defense and for the near term is the only defense available.

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

If they are not coming to the table with something as “radical” as an immediate de facto 20-25 mph speed limit on all streets within city limits, then they should just stay home. The time for empty rhetoric is over. The cultural madness that gives motorists the impression that they can treat city streets like freeways with lower speed limits has to change.

soren
Guest
soren

The meeting is set for Tuesday and about two dozen people have been invited including PBOT and City Hall staffers, advocates, Police Bureau representatives, advocates, and others.

Who was invited?
What will be discussed?
When and where is the meeting being held?
Is this meeting open to the public?

Andyc of Linnton
Guest
Andyc of Linnton

Whoa! Hope it equals action.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

I appreciate their commitment to a meeting. I’ve seen meetings & talk before. We *DON’T* need to search for, allocute, or spend huge amounts of $$.
Simply making it clear to police officers that it is *their job* to protect the public which includes from auto users would go a long way.
Another suggestion is to create an addit. registration fee which would go towards increasingly frequent/stringent education

SD
Guest
SD

Shockingly, we haven’t heard anything from Rep John Davis.
Has he lost interest in the safety of cyclists?
There is nothing on his Facebook page observing that there has been a series of unsafe events caused by motorists.
What will we do without him? I thought he would protect us.

Lee
Guest
Lee

Biking should be safe for kids.. To me that means it will then be available to most anyone. Maybe the people who have the power to make biking safer should plan assuming THEIR child will be riding on the roads.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

I keep trying to coax politicians to ride on the streets with their kids.
I have been riding greater Portland streets since 1953.
I was a free range kid.
must be a safe rider because I am still alive and in one piece.
I do not ride on sidewalks because they end.
The bike paths, for the most part are where drunks throw their bottles.
Separated bike paths are scairy places, with pedestrians wearing ear pieces texting.
I agree that many narrow bike paths are dangerous and usually take the traffic lane if a bike lane is unsafe.
Typical days in bike paths with parked cars is dodging at least 3 drivers trying to door me as I pass at 15 to 20 MPH. Many of these close their doors again and wait for another rider that is not paying as close attention.
I raised 2 kids and both are middle aged adults. The daughter rides a Harley and the son a Yamaha.

Tomas LaPallela
Guest
Tomas LaPallela

I’m guessing Steve n’ Charlie’s solution will be permutation 3,591 of the Same Old Street Fee Scam. Somehow most of the funds will get diverted to the operat and sym-phony… keep those friends happy, right?

Chris Anderson
Guest

My coherent list of demands:

* Mayor Hales to make a public statement excoriating those who drive aggressively on neighborhood streets.
* PPB to institute a zero tolerance policy for speeding (“even 1 over is too fast”) until speed limits can be lowered so that customary 10mph buffers still result in safer speeds.
* Frequent diverters on Greenways with the intent to make them no longer useful for cut through drivers.

If the Greenways were actually comfortable I bet we’d see a lot less cyclist/driver conflict on our arterials.

MNBikeLuv
Guest
MNBikeLuv

As someone that has done engineering for the 17 years, there are several things happening in cities that make streets like this such death traps.

1) As cities expand outward or property uses change, there is usually no way of converting state and county administered roads to the city. States and counties, by and large, are in the “build a road/highway” mode, not the “build a street” mode. There is a huge difference.
2) Making the “build a road” issue worse is the fact that most states base the state road cross sections (where the actually “design” of street is decided) on the AASHTO standards, which were originally set up to design highways, not city streets. So the state builds their standards off of that and then cities (sadly) do the same. A 12′ wide lane width encourages people to go faster than they should since the human brain views open areas as being safer than than areas with lots of obstructions. (I blame the African Savanna for this; our ancestors could see the lion or leopard in the grass better than in the thick brush.) On top of that, almost all “bike infrastructure” in the USA is just pasted onto these standards. Its not “baked in”, meaning even the best bike infrastructure in the USA is like new siding over a structurally deficient house.
3) Most cities view speeding tickets as funding and revenue issue, not a public safety one. Police certainly do. So long as traffic safety is really about traffic revenue you will have speeding issues.

While many of responses above are great, they still leave these issues above. If you want to impress on the mayor you want real changes, here would be my suggestions:

1) The City of Portland starts a program to take over all non-interstate roads within its municipal boundaries. Aim for X miles a year.
2) DEMAND, not request, that the City of Portland adopt new street cross section standards based on a design standard that is multi-modal from the beginning. In other words, with the bike and walking infrastructure “baked in”. NACTO is obvious answer here. Over time, as roads are worked on, they will be more multi-modal friendly. This will occur as part of the street redesign, it won’t be an issue where someone has to decide whether a street gets “bike/ped treatments”.
3) Police aren’t going to write more tickets till they are told to. DEMAND that any street with a collison rate (between cars or cars and people) above X should become an target enforcement zone. Speeding, talking on the phone, aggressive driving, etc. Anything on the books. Cars have become rolling living rooms and people need a reminder they are in a vehicle, not a Laz-e-Boy with a steering wheel.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I suggest (and have emailed Novick/Hales to suggest) a city wide outreach/education campaign to remind/instruct both drivers and cyclists how to safely share the road.

Travis
Guest
Travis

Glad to see the language is changing for the better:
‘ bicycle rider and a motor vehicle operator’

Josh Chernoff
Guest
Josh Chernoff

We don’t need more bike boxes we need accountability/empathy from the community.

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

Education. Enforcement. Infrastructure. Did I mention education? and enforcement?

I am appalled at how quickly the motoring public becomes enraged when something “gets in their way” and slows them down– even if it’s just slowing them to the speed limit. I wish I had an effective way to remind them that they spend far longer waiting for other things than they do for things like pedestrians crossing, or bicycle operators who for whatever reason (and it doesn’t matter what the reason is) have to take the lane.

I’ve waiting longer for QuickBooks to decide to do something, for my computer to boot up, for my food order to be taken/food delivered to me in a restaurant, for my client to get me the things I need to complete their payroll– yet waiting the same amount of time for traffic, pedestrians, bicycle operators incites a screaming fit of rage/hissy fit of epic toddler melt-down proportions in a lot of motor vehicle operators. It’s baffling.

Meetings are all well and good, but if nothing comes out of them, what’s the point besides placating the public? Isn’t it time for real change to occur, instead of just talking about what can happen or should happen or could be a possibility if the stars and planets align just so?