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


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

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