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National org chooses Portland as one of ten “Vision Zero Focus Cities”

Posted by on January 26th, 2016 at 2:39 pm

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PBOT’s Vision Zero Technical Advisory Committee
in a meeting earlier this month.
(Photo: PBOT)

The Vision Zero Network, a national non-profit on a campaign to help communities eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries, has just launched their “Focus Cities” program and Portland has been chosen as one of the ten cities to take part. The other cities are Austin, Boston, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C..

Vision Zero Network Director Leah Shahum said in a statement that, “These cities are the pioneers who will save lives by modernizing our approach to traffic safety.” “For too long, communities have accepted traffic fatalities and injuries as normal. The Vision Zero Focus Cities are standing up to challenge ‘business as usual’ and to show cities around the world that these tragedies are unacceptable and preventable.”

Shahum said the ten cities were selected based on their commitment to Vision Zero. Portland has indeed taken the ambitious concept seriously by unanimously adopting it at City Council and launching a task force to tackle the long-range and multi-jurisdictional effort it will take to achieve it.

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Two weeks ago an elderly woman was hit and killed while trying to cross SE 156th and Division, the third person to die at that intersection since 2012. Three days later the Portland Bureau of Transportation was out on the scene to begin installation of a flashing beacon (the work continues today). That response, the bureau said, came because “We believe the death or serious injury of even one person on Portland roadways is one too many.”

In addition to a Task Force made up of advocates and other interested parties, PBOT’s Vision Zero effort includes a Technical Advisory Committee that has been meeting monthly. This group is made up primarily of transportation agency staff and aims to provide expertise around policy language, community outreach, engineering, maintenance, enforcement, education, and data collection. At their meeting on January 14th they reviewed 40 draft action items that included, “instituting a multi-agency fatal crash rapid response team, tackling DUIIs at the source through strategic partnerships with bars and lowering and better enforcing posted speed limits on High Crash Corridors.” PBOT’s effort also includes some of their most detailed work ever in terms of learning more about where crashes happen. They’re going beyond Oregon Department of Transportation data (which tends to vastly underreport biking and walking crashes) to learn more about where vulnerable roadway users are most often being hurt and killed.

“We’re hopeful this will lead to specific tools to fix specific probelms,” PBOT Program Manager Gabriel Graff shared in a recent interview.

As a Focus City, Portland will join a collaborative network of representatives from other cities that will share data, best practices, and have regular communications with each other — all of which will be facilitated by the Vision Zero Network.

Think of it like the Green Lane Project, but for safety.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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J_R
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J_R

When the first annual report comes out in a year or two, maybe the sad performance of Portland in comparison to the other cities will jolt the city into action. Thus far I’ve seen nothing to indicate that Portland is actually DOING anything to achieve Vision Zero. Meetings and goals are fine, but DOING is what we need.

alankessler
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alankessler

“We believe the death or serious injury of even one person on Portland roadways is one too many.”

A flashing beacon will reduce deaths, but it will not eliminate deaths. If they honestly believed in preventing all death or loss of limb, they would be changing the design speed of that stroad. Right now I just seem them installing an expensive box to politely suggest that drivers not run down pedestrians in a particular crosswalk.

Granpa
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Granpa

Oohhh a focus group. Hopefully they can generate synergy. A public involvement meeting to impose consensus some summary memos and updated resumes and the problem will be solved.

EricIvy
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“We’re number 10! We’re number 10! We’re number 10”

9watts
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9watts

Although Sweden has not taken this tack, it would be interesting to explore what making driving more difficult, expensive, frustrating and actively encouraging, rewarding, prioritizing all other modes (walking, bicycling, skateboarding, taking public transport) could do for the # of deaths. As some of us have observed here for years, these deaths are nearly all the result of someone in a car smashing into someone or something. Take the cars out of the picture and you’re very nearly there (achieving Vision Zero ahead of schedule).

It is no surprise that this is not the route taken (=Car Head), but I think we should be considering lessons from this thought experiment as we proceed.

Jim Lee
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Jim Lee

Zero is the asymptote of an exponential decline that never can be reached.

A realistic approach would be to prescribe half-lives: reduction by half in 10 years, by another half the next 10 years…and so on…but never will the function get to zero.

I wish that people proposing programs first would learn to do the basic math.

Tom Hardy
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Tom Hardy

Looks like one more reason for Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington is looking to suceed from their respective states and join Idaho.

Hello, Kitty
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Hello, Kitty

Judging from the photo in the article, they do it by giving each driver their own lane.

With somewhere around 110,000 people, most of whom do not drink and tend to follow rules, I’m not surprised they had a single calendar year (in a 5 year span) with no fatalities. I believe it is not possible in a city the size of Portland (as, I am sure, you do too), however, I also think it is worth trying, because progress or a partial success is really success in itself.

The real question is what lessons can we draw from Provo?

Dave
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Dave

Until there is granite-fisted enforcement of MOTORIST behavior with heavy fines and no regard for motorist hardship, and until there is a $2.50/gallon state gas hike dedicated to bike/ped projects, it’s all BS.

wsbob
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wsbob

Maus…why do you allow some of your readers that post comments here, to persist with the notion that pedestrian activated flashing yellow beacons, are merely a suggestion to people operating vehicles, that they must stop and allow people to cross streets so equipped?

From oregonlaws.org, here is the relevant law: 811.260
Appropriate driver responses to traffic control devices

http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.260

Its text includes a list of sixteen different lights and signs, including “Flashing circular yellow signal.” at (12), but no listing yet for a pedestrian activated flashing yellow crosswalk beacon.

While for clarification, the law possibly should be revised to reflect the relatively recent introduction of this newly used light, I believe existing, common sense based laws about basic traffic controls, and yielding to pedestrians, clearly establish that these lights are not mere suggestions or “beg buttons”, as some of your readers choose to sarcastically dismiss the lights requirement of road users.

Activated by someone wishing to cross the street, people operating vehicles on the road, must stop and wait for the person crossing to pass safely by. The beauty of these lights compared to red lights, is that once the person has passed by the waiting vehicle, the vehicle may proceed.

If you don’t want to release from moderation, comments I’ve offered on this subject, that’s fine…but please don’t allow the notion to be perpetuated that compliance with these lights are optional. Or, since this story is about VZ, that the lights do help in some way to support achieving safer road use objectives outlined in in Vision Zero. ….wsbob

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Which of the signals described by 811.260 are the rapid flash beacons?