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Portland will require cab and Uber drivers to take Vision Zero safety training

Posted by on November 5th, 2015 at 8:33 am

Riding Portland's urban highways-8

Eyes on the street?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

At their best, Lyft and Uber are better cab companies, one more piece of a system that enables low-car life.

At their worst, they’re a system for subsidizing an army of people driving around town with their eyes glued to GPS screens.

Portland’s new regulations of for-hire transportation companies, released last week, include an interesting change that’s supposed to target the problem: the city’s first mandatory safety training for drivers of taxis and “transportation network companies” like Uber or Lyft.

“There will be thousands of drivers from both the taxis and TNCs that will undergo this training,” city spokesman John Brady said in an email Wednesday. “We are forecasting that they will give over 3.6 million rides next year. So training them in the basic Vision Zero principles and specifically as they relate to people who walk and people who bike represents the chance to spread the Vision Zero message to a sector that is central to Portland’s transportation system.”

This intriguing detail was first reported by the Mercury. We asked Brady if there are any other details yet.

Not really. It’s not clear whether there will be a written or other test involved, or what exactly will be taught.

“At this time, we don’t have the set content for the Vision Zero training,” Brady said. “This will be defined once the regulations become permanent.”

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Per the new regulations, here’s a summary of the city’s current safety training rules for cab drivers:

Drivers must pass a City-administered knowledge and within 6 months of issuance of a driver’s permit, drivers must certify completion of City-approved driver safety and customer service training. Permits automatically revoked if not successfully completed within 6 months.

And here’s the new language agreed to by a city task force that was convened by Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick.

Drivers must successfully complete trainings administered and/or
approved by PBOT within 30 days in the following subject areas:

  • PFHT Code provisions and rule
  • Vision Zero principles of traffic safety
  • Portland-area attractions
  • Customer service

If this isn’t the first such set of rules in the country that specifically calls out Vision Zero (the concept of systematically finding and eliminating the public factors that contributed to every road death), it’s one of them. Earlier this year in San Francisco, a collision between an Uber driver and a person biking called attention to that city’s stricter safety training requirements for taxi drivers.

The new rules will also apply to pedicab operators.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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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Huey Lewis
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Huey Lewis

Portland should require all drivers to take Vision Zero safety training.
Oregon should require all drivers to take Vision Zero safety training.

Adam
Subscriber

Great idea. Go further by requiring the training yearly.

Kettle
Guest
Kettle

I think that all drivers (cabbies included) should be forced to commute by bike for at least three months prior to getting their license. That will teach them more about safety and what to look for than any training class.

LC
Guest
LC

Why isn’t this mandatory for all motor vehicle operators?

Endo
Guest
Endo

These are bureaucratic checkboxes that won’t actually lead to safer streets because they don’t remove cars from streets. To pretend that we’ll ever reach 0 fatalities so long as cars are allowed free reign is a fantasy.

J_R
Guest
J_R

What a joke! I’ve witnessed City of Portland employees driving recklessly and illegally on more than one occasion. COP can start by cleaning up its own employees’ behavior.

A water bureau dump truck executed a right-turn-on-red after slowing down, almost hitting me on my bike proceeding through a signalize intersection on the green.

A Portland cop using a bike lane to pass a vehicle turning left, even though the cop’s delay would have been a few seconds.

A water bureau pick-up pulling a trailer driving southbound on I-5 at a speed I estimate in excess of 65 mph (I was driving 50).

lahar
Guest
lahar

Get off your damn smart phones while driving. Really how damn self-absorbed can you be? Pull over to respond, do not drive with your eyes off the road, ever!

Alan Kessler
Guest
Alan Kessler

It’s not a bad policy, but I think this is more misdirection. Anything that focuses on human behavior is incidental to Vision Zero. If the goal is to get down to zero road violence, the means need to be material and structural. If you rely on people to follow the rules, expect to be disappointed.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

If the city hasn’t already roughed out some draft of the form the Vision Zero safety course will take, it’s difficult to tell what its chances are of being very effective. If vaguely conceived, this could just turn out to be another token gesture towards working to have streets be safer.

That people choosing to use bikes as their mode of travel in traffic with motor vehicles, are not obliged to take any safety courses or tests to verify their ability to safely ride a bike in traffic, has contributed to the problem of there being on the road, people with little to no idea of how to safely ride in traffic.

If the course material turns out be good and helpful, maybe the city should consider assembling some plan to invite people that bike, to also take the course. Improvements in skills of people riding bikes in traffic, would make for a more comprehensive approach for reaching Vision Zero’s objective of streets safer to use.

SD
Guest
SD

I hope it includes “Do not park or idle in the bike lanes.”

redtech116
Guest
redtech116

How much will this training cost or is it free, will it be instuctor led or online?

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Will the content of the Vision Zero training for taxis / TNC drivers include review by the PBAC? Or having a PBAC member tasked to this process would be an important step.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

It’s is actually kind of redundant. Much of my interest in road safety started in defensive driving classes before I was employed to drive a cab (seeing how people drive with that job only intensified my interest).

It was required at both Broadway and Radio (well almost 20 years ago). I doubt it has changed, if my memory serves me right – it was required of their insurance companies.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Any update on this program? And is there a push to include commercial truck operators under contract with City services (RFPs, delivery permits, construction ,etc.)?

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-25942323