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: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/40390
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.