(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)
Illegal and dangerous behaviors are rampant on the streets of Portland. Most of us who use the streets are keenly aware of this, but every time the Bureau of Transportation does a crosswalk enforcement action we see the problem even more clearly.
On May 27th, PBOT and the Portland Police Bureau teamed up for an enforcement action at the marked crosswalk that runs across SE Powell Blvd at 24th. Like always, the event was publicized ahead of time both in the media and via signs on the street. What’s interesting about this location is that it’s the same crosswalk that protesters used on May 11th to bring awareness to safety issues on this corridor. At that event, dozens of people took turns using the crosswalk during rush-hour with the explicit intent of making people using Powell stop and wait for them.
When PBOT sent their human decoys out for this latest enforcement action (they’ve been doing them consistently for the past 10 years), police officers issued 60 violations in under four hours (10:00 am to 1:45 pm).
Here’s the breakdown:
- – 18 Failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian
– 14 Operating a vehicle while using a mobile communication device
– 7 Passing a stopped vehicle at a marked crosswalk
– 2 DWS [Driving While Suspended] (violation)
– 1 DWS (Misdemeanor)
– 1 Careless Driving
– 2 Failure to obey a traffic control device,
– 3 No operator’s license
– 1 No proof of insurance
– 4 Driving uninsured
– 1 Failure to drive within lane
– 1 Operating without proper fenders or mudguards
– 1 Expired registration tags, 1 Obstruction of vehicle windows
– 1 Speeding
– 2 Failure to register vehicle
– 2 warnings
If that scary tally doesn’t convince everyone that we are dealing with a public health crisis, I don’t know what will. And for what it’s worth, this is not an aberration. Back in April, the police issued 61 citations in four hours at a similar crosswalk on 82nd Ave.
As the City of Portland and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance ramp up their efforts to implement a vision zero policy (based on the idea that we should not accept any traffic injuries or deaths), I’m glad to know that enforcement will play a key role. At yesterday’s traffic safety meeting, PBOT Director Leah Treat and her boss, Commissioner Steve Novick, both said they are eager to start using fixed speed radar cameras on Portland’s high crash corridors. And the City’s two-year transportation work plan calls for more red light cameras.
But engineering and enforcement will only get us so far. Education and cultural change must happen too.
Mayor Hales began to find his traffic safety education and marketing voice at yesterday’s press conference. He told reporters that, “It’s not OK to put other people at risk for our own convenience… It will take years and millions of dollars to re-engineer the city the way we believe we need to. It will take a huge effort by the police bureau with enforcement to make sure we penalize drivers who don’t do the right thing. But today, this afternoon we can all drive differently. We can all look around, slow down, pay attention, get rid of the telephone and follow the law. That’s common sense. And those are things we can do today.”