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Portland Police now making Vision Zero part of standard procedure

Posted by on August 19th, 2015 at 12:32 pm


Just two days after the Chief of the Police Bureau spoke at the kickoff of Portland’s Vision Zero Task Force, we just noticed one small — yet important — change in how they operate.

Early this morning there was a fatal traffic incident in northeast Portland. Someone driving a car crashed into a garbage truck at 49th and Prescott and did not survive the collision. As they always do following one of these tragic episodes, the Police Bureau’s public information officer broadcasted a press release with the details.

I always scan these releases whether they include a bicycle operator or not. This morning as I read I noticed something new at the end of the release:

The Portland Police Bureau is committed to working with our partners in government and the community to create safer streets and work towards reducing, and eventually eliminating, traffic fatalities as part of Vision Zero.

To learn more about the City of Portland’s Vision Zero effort, please visit:


The verbal commitment to Vision Zero and link to more information was included as general boilerplate copy at the end of the release in the same way they’d include a blurb about water safety if someone had drowned. This is new for the PPB and they were under no obligation to do it. As far as I know, they did it on their own accord, without prodding from advocates or electeds.

I hope we see this on every press release about a traffic incident from here on out. The local news media uses these statements a lot which makes the Vision Zero shout-out that much more impactful.

I know we’ve had a discussion on Twitter and in the comments recently about how much faith we should put in rhetoric and promises whether they’re written or spoken. I plan on sharing more thoughts on that in a separate post. But I felt this small yet thoughtful step by the PPB warranted attention. If you believe (like I do) that Vision Zero is powerful as a marketing tool that provides leverage to get tangible things done, this mention of it by the PPB in this context is pretty brilliant.

And it should go without saying that if Portland is serious about Vision Zero, we’ll need every ounce of attention and action the PPB can give us.

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  • 9watts August 19, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    “if Portland is serious about Vision Zero, we’ll need every ounce of attention and action the PPB can give us.”

    Yes. Getting to Zero is by definition a process, an evolution, a getting used to thinking in these, new, ways.

    “The Portland Police Bureau is committed to working with our partners in government and the community to create safer streets and work towards reducing, and eventually eliminating, traffic fatalities as part of Vision Zero.”

    I look forward to the next seven steps to getting from this to on-the-ground changes in priorities by PPB.

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  • Lester Burnham August 19, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    The guy that hit the truck at 3:30 AM was travelling at a very high rate of speed and more than likely high or drunk or a combination of both. Grateful he took himself out and not somebody else’s loved one(s).

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    • CaptainKarma August 19, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      I am grateful he didn’t take anyone else out. I am not grateful he died.

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      • Chris I August 19, 2015 at 2:06 pm

        Really? There is a chance that had he survived, he would be back behind the wheel, continuing to drive recklessly, and could maim or kill an innocent person.

        The earth has plenty of dangerous, selfish people. We now have one less.

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        • WAR August 19, 2015 at 2:44 pm

          It says in the driving manual something to the effect that in order to operate Machinery one must be in a stable mental state as well as not being on any substances. All crashes are a result of human error that can be effected by the stated conditions.

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        • Lester Burnham August 20, 2015 at 8:29 am

          Exactly…someone like that has zero conscience. And I doubt there would have been much remorse from him had he killed someone. He has done us all a huge favor by self destructing.

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  • Adam H. August 19, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    I’ve been happy with the changes that Chief O’Dea has been pushing for regarding bike theft and Vision Zero. PPB plays a vital role in Vision Zero on the enforcement front. We need better enforcement of dangerous driving behaviors on our bikeways.

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  • Kevin Coughlin August 19, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Good perhaps now the police will start to enforce the hands free cell phone rules for the state. I’m going to kill the next person I see texting and driving.

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    • Matt August 19, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      Nay sir. They are going to kill you.

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  • WAR August 19, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    The only way to stop traffic fatalities is a street fee. *tax the people*

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    • 9watts August 19, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      “The only way to stop traffic fatalities is a street fee.”

      That’s a pretty curious statement, WAR. Would you care to explain your thinking?

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  • WAR August 19, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Someone crashed into a trash truck? Vision Zero infrastructure/spending can’t fix stupid.

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    • paikiala August 19, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      True, but it can dampen the resulting outcome of poor decisions.

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    • Adam H. August 19, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Part of Vision Zero is acknowledging that crashes do happen and ensure that they don’t result in a death or serious injury.

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    • Chris I August 20, 2015 at 7:48 am

      If we had speed cameras every few blocks on every major street, would he have been speeding? He would have racked up 10+ speeding tickets while driving down Prescott alone. If speed cameras became the norm all over the city, speeding like this would not happen, because everyone would know that they would be heavily penalized for driving this fast. There are ways.

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      • paikiala August 20, 2015 at 8:42 am

        We would need to know more about the driver’s level of impairment, I think.

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  • soren August 19, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    If the PPB is serious about vision zero they will focus on enforcement that saves lives and bodies and de-emphasize enforcement of trivial violations by pedestrians and cyclists.

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  • Kristi Finney-Dunn August 19, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I think I will let PPB know how much I appreciate that.

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  • wsbob August 20, 2015 at 8:14 am

    It’s nice that in the form of a public service campaign, city hall expresses some commitment to making the streets safer for people to use, and that the police department confirms in press releases that they are in line with city hall on this…but what actually do they intend to do that they haven’t already done or have been doing already, before this particular (Vision Zero) branding strategy came to for?

    While anytime the city and the police are willing to reinforce their commitment to ‘try harder’ to make the streets safer for travel, is worth supporting, it seems that if the Vision Zero idea really is anything more than a couple words strung together in hopes of creating a catchy phrase, then the people pitching it really ought to do something specific besides simply repeating those words…to demonstrate what this campaign actually has them doing that they’ve not done in past.

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