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Smile speeders! Photo radar bill headed to Governor’s desk for signing

Posted by on July 6th, 2015 at 12:33 pm

SW Barbur Blvd observations-14

Speeding on SW Barbur Blvd.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

After many people had already begun their holiday weekend, the Portland Bureau of Transportation chalked up a major legislative victory.

HB 2621, which will allow PBOT to operate fixed photo radar cameras on Portland’s deadliest major streets, passed the Oregon Senate on Friday afternoon by a vote of 17-12. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Kate Brown for signing.

PBOT Director Leah Treat said via email today that she’s “very happy” the bill passed. “As the City is implementing Vision Zero,” she wrote, “automated speed enforcement should prove a critical tool in getting drivers to slow down.”

Friday’s vote capped a dizzying week of activity for the bill. On Monday morning it hadn’t even pass out of committee in the House.

The bill allows the City of Portland to install photo radar camera units (a pair of cameras, one for each direction) only on High Crash Corridors. Here’s how the bill defines them:

“urban high crash corridor” means a segment of highway that has an incidence rate of reported traffic crashes resulting in fatalities or serious injuries that is at least 25 percent higher than the rate for highways with the same speed limit or designated speed within the jurisdiction on average between January 1, 2006, and January 1, 2016, and for which the governing body of the city makes a finding that speeding has had a negative impact on traffic safety.


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Treat says the first cameras won’t go live until July 2016. By 2018 PBOT plans to install a total of 20 sets of cameras.

photo1

Slide from a presentation given to the legislature by a PBOT lobbyist.

We haven’t yet received a list of the specific intersections where the first cameras will go; but a PBOT presentation given to a legislative committee included these locations:

  • SW Barbur Blvd. at SW Miles St.
  • SE Division at 148th
  • SE Division at 156th
  • SE 122nd at Stark
  • NE 82nd and Davis St. (Vestal Elementary School)

Other streets on PBOT’s High Crash Corridor list include; SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, Burnside, Sandy Blvd, SE Powell, SE Foster, and NE Marine Drive.

Once all 20 cameras are operational, official estimates say the program is likely to reduce speeding by 61 percent. At that rate, PBOT says they’ll save 16 lives and prevent 1,800 injuries over the next six years.

The revenue from citations issued by the new cameras is estimated to be $22.6 million in the first biennium and nearly $50 million per year by 2021. The bill states that this new revenue can only be used for operating and maintaining the cameras, “and for improving traffic safety for all modes of transportation.”

HB 2621 was PBOT’s top legislative priority this session. As pressure to make streets safer reached a boiling point in the community over the past few months, city leaders — including PBOT Director Treat, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, and Mayor Charlie Hales — repeatedly encouraged activists to contact lawmakers and tell them to support the bill.

Treat has said the ability to use photo radar cameras is one of the initiatives that, “can make the most immediate impact” on achieving Vision Zero. In addition to catching speeders, she also hopes the cameras will deter aggressive driving.

Stay tuned for more coverage.

— Learn more about this bill in our archives and read the full text here.

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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Evan Manvel
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Evan Manvel

This made my day. Congrats to the leadership at the City (Mayor Hales, Commissioner Novick, Director Treat and PBOT, and the city’s legislative staff), and to all who wrote their legislators to get this billed passed.

Here’s to safer roads!

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

This is great news! I look forward to seeing a reduction in speeding and “improving traffic safety for all modes of transportation”. Hopefully, this includes safe bike infra.

Fourknees
Guest
Fourknees

Why not put the cameras on SW Barbur at the BH overpass? Seems like that would have a higher impact, especially for those riding bikes over the two bridges with no bike lanes.

Lester Burnham
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Lester Burnham

Now if only we could get aggressive drivers off the neighborhood bikeways.

Doug Klotz
Guest
Doug Klotz

Isn’t this law just for speed enforcement, not red-light running,where fixed cameras are already allowed? The photo of the sign would seem tbe the wrong one.

Alan Kessler
Guest
Alan Kessler

Doug, that’s correct.

SECTION 2. (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the jurisdiction operating
a fixed photo radar system under section 1 of this 2015 Act:
(a) A citation for ***speeding*** may be issued on the basis of fixed photo radar if: [blah blah blah]

TJ
Guest
TJ

I understand the focus on high crash corridors, but why not put the cameras everywhere? Speeding is a livability issue in both comfort level and noise pollution.

Kristi Finney-Dunn
Guest
Kristi Finney-Dunn

So happy about this! I like to think my testimony in person to the Legislature about my son Dustin’s death helped. Although he was killed by a drunk driver, evidence suggests that the driver was speeding as well as traveling outside his lane. I hope hope hope this will reduce the number of other family tragedies like ours. Thanks to PBOT and Novick especially for their hard work on this bill, including getting several speakers to testify.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

If after the cameras are installed the incident of fatalities and injuries drop and are no longer 25% higher than other similar roads will the cameras be removed?

spencer
Guest
spencer

well done everyone! keep the heat turned on high!

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

The revenue from citations issued by the new cameras is estimated to be $22.6 million in the first biennium and nearly $50 million per year by 2021.

are they saying that they expect speeding to get twice as prolific, or that they’ll only be able to prosecute half of the speeders initially?

either way that seems like a bad goal to have… I would want to expect less revenue or I would think the cameras weren’t working…

CaptainKarma
Guest

I’m sure Oregon Live readers are all moving to Canada now.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

Install them on all the greenways.

LC
Guest
LC

How much higher than the posted “limit” does someone have to be going to set one of these things off?

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Good news.

Seems the definition might be broad enough to include other closer in roads if they have a high accident rate.

J_R
Guest
J_R

The reason for focusing on (or restricting the cameras to) the high crash corridors was to alleviate the concerns of all those who fear invasion of privacy and all the associated complaints. If you actually read the bill you’ll see how much effort has gone into giving the motorist the opportunity (excessive reminders) to actually comply with the law.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This is great news. The speeding on major arterials in east Portland is outrageous.

rain waters
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rain waters

Someday these might be built into speed limit signs.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

This is a good start on the single most essential (missing) piece of bike infrastructure: the social infrastructure. In my opinion and experience, the only way to zero road fatalities is zero-tolerance traffic law enforcement. (Yes, I did once live in a small city that did this. It was marvelous.)

This is just one small step. Hopefully it will be a rapid journey to the promised land.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

Now that the bike lobby has done their pr post here how about a little truth.

Speed camera have been about safety.

This push was on I believe two bike vehicle crashes that involved vehicles not seeing the bike rider and turning in front of them. This will never be stopped by a speed camera and no doubt occurred below even the zero vision speed proposed.

How many crashes were really caused by even exceeding the speed limit?

(Not logged in because it was there like a bike rider who runs a light and is hit by a car 3 mph above the limit$

How many were caused by the bike rider (who are no doubt here on a group posting).

Basing “safety” on impact speed ignores the fact that there is much more to accidents than a number. Would you base airline safety on impact speed (they fly at over 120 knot on the ground)?

The city use of this monetary not safety.

http://Www.motorists.org
Ban the cams on Facebook
Camera fraud on Facebook

Triumph
Guest
Triumph

There needs to be some tempering of expectations. It would also help for BikePortland readers to read the text of the bill to understand its limitations.

A) A driver needs to only submit a “certificate of innocence” and, per the law as-written, the citation is then dropped without further pursuit.
B) All photos have to be reviewed by a police officer prior to issuing.
D) Most areas that have/had photo radar have a 5-10 mph tolerance above the posted speed limit before issuing. (i.e. 45 mph on Barbur – still pretty fast.)
E) Most areas that had photo radar stop after a few years due to operating cost. The for-profit company that operates the cameras (ex. Redflex) usually get about 50%, then you need to pay for the police reviewer and the administrative fees. If enough people do not pay or can get out of the ticket (as the Oregon law allows by simply submitting a certificate of innocence), the program goes into the red and is stopped after a few years. This will likely happen here as it has most other places in the US. I lived in Arizona when the photo radar fad came and then died after about two years.

I’m a regular reader and daily bike commuter but felt the need to add some reality to this conversation.

Paul g
Guest
Paul g

Just to make sure you understand what you are advocating.

Speed monitors in all cars, meaning that a government agency is constantly collecting and monitoring your travel.

Speed cameras on every sign — same thing, some government agency will have data on who is traveling where and when.

Perhaps you don’t object to the government vacuuming up information like this and storing it in massive databases that inevitably have other value (your car tags –> drivers license –> all kinds of personal information —> your transportation habits).

I understand and support the desire to cut down on excessive speed, but there are other ways other than instituting massive automated cameras. But if you are comfortable with the UK, where virtually all your public movement is captured collated and stored by the government, then ok.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Don’t mean to hijack this story or discussion, but did want to mention a July 7th Oregonian story about a situation having to do with Cornelius Pass Road that I think is speed related. Here’s the link:

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2015/07/state_approves_money_to_improv.html#incart_river

Long story short: People drive too fast on this road. ODOT and the counties (both Washington and Multnomah…it passes through both counties.), entitle them to drive too fast by way of high posted speed limits. Aside from the obvious livability degrading consequences to areas adjoining the road, of allowing excessive speeds on this road…from time to time, heart wrenching occurrences take place, such as people going way too fast for the road, and losing control of their motor vehicle.

The O heads up their story with a classic photo of a car crashed on the road in May of this year. The story’s lead theme is about funding just approved by the legislature to ‘fix’ the road; among which, is to put in guardrails…so that when people lose control of their vehicles, they don’t plunge down into some of the deep ravines along the road.

I’m sorry if it sounds like I may be assuming the young person driving the crashed car was exceeding the speed limit, or driving way too fast when maybe she wasn’t. Story doesn’t report about speed the vehicle was traveling at time of crash.

Speeds traveled on the road are generally too fast though, and I think this is something commonly known about. With this in mind, I wonder if it’s too much to ask, to consider dropping the posted speed limit, and maybe installing some photo radar cameras along the road…instead of putting up guard rails as a ‘bandaid’ for a known speeding problem on the road.

And how about prioritizing, installation of generously wide bike lanes adjoining the road? That is, prioritizing their installation before the guard rails, curve straitening, and other things promoting higher speeds with motor vehicles on the road. This road is, after all, routed through some of the most beautiful valley and mountain country in the county. Allowing use of the road to gradually rise to the intensity and danger of freeways, is destroying much that this route has to offer.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Yay! A step forward for traffic safety and Vision Zero outcomes.

[Does anyone know if they make anti camera mini license plate covers for bicycles?]

Mike Healey
Guest
Mike Healey

I understand and support the desire to cut down on excessive speed, but there are other ways other than instituting massive automated cameras. But if you are comfortable with the UK, where virtually all your public movement is captured collated and stored by the government, then ok.

I’d be interested in knowing what other ways you suggest. More cops in cars? They would only catch a very small proportion of speeders.

As for the UK government capturing, collating and storing “virtually all your public movement”, this sounds verymuch like a fantasy about government interference in every aspect of our lives. There are 35m registered motor vehicles in the UK and the majority of them are on the roads.

The size of the database and hardware needed to keep track of them all would be beyond their capacity, especially given the propensity of very large govt. computer systems to crash, fail to rn as proposed, go masively over-budget and be eventually abandoned.

I agree that there are a very large number of CCTV cameras on public streets, but storing all the images of drunken people spilling out of pubs and clubs would require the same level of storage. It would, in any case require facial recognition systems of far greater sophistication that we (probably/posibly) have, to identify everyone in every video feed in every camera in the country.

Me, I’d find it impossible to believe that any government in my lifetime could exhibit the level of competence required for any of the above to take place with any degree of efficiency or effectiveness