Support BikePortland

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

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

12440373_945902682152507_7482545761926683378_o

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.

Advertisement

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

BikePortland can’t survive without paid subscribers. Please sign up today.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

73
Leave a Reply

avatar
11 Comment threads
62 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
19 Comment authors
9wattsHello, KittyActivewsbobDan A Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
J_R
Guest
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
Subscriber
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.

Adam
Subscriber

Yep. Beg buttons are not Vision Zero.

ethan
Guest
ethan

It’s like it never even occurred to them to make the road more narrow.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

‘make the road more narrow’.
The lanes are 10 to 10.5 feet now. It has a center turn lane with a refuge island and marked and signed crossing. The parking lanes on both sides have bike lanes next to them.
Which part of the road did you imply should be removed?

9watts
Guest
9watts

“A flashing beacon will reduce deaths”

It may not even do that.
Sgt. Sessions of the PPB feels those are not good enough:
http://bikeportland.org/2013/09/19/driving-dangerously-ppb-issues-over-1100-citations-in-back-to-school-mission-94217#comment-4438537

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Sgt. Sessions opinions are not born out by research.

http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/conventional/unsignalized/tech_sum/fhwasa09009/

http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/interim_approval/ia11/stpetersburgrpt/intro.htm

The safety of a pedestrian crossing any road, regardless of the intersection control, can be enhanced in many different ways. Signing and marking the crossing is usually the first step on 2-lane roads. Shortening the crossing distance is another. The safest shortening method is a median that permits pedestrians to cross one direction of traffic at a time (two-phase). This is particularly helpful for the youngest and oldest pedestrians with developing or diminished abilities to judge traffic coming from two directions. Enhanced markings include advance stop bars where any half of the crossing has more than one lane, as well as double white striping to prohibit passing leading up to the crossing. Advance stop bars and double white stripes helps reduce the double-threat collisions on multi-lane crossings (where the first vehicle stops, but the second does not and hits a pedestrian stepping out from behind the first car). Raised crossings slow traffic right were pedestrians cross. If emergency access is a concern, placement of speed cushions in advance of the crossing are a solution. Electronic warnings, like rapid flash beacons, increase motorists’ awareness of pedestrian activity. Hybrid beacons (with a red indication) or full signals are usually reserved for locations with the busiest traffic or pedestrian uses (due to cost). One advantage of beacons is they usually rest in off, so auto traffic is only delayed when pedestrians need the extra help crossing. With a menu of ways to improve crossing safety, choosing the best one depends on local conditions.
However, each of these options is moot if there are not laws in place, or enforced, to clearly identify who has the right of way to begin with.

IMO, traffic enforcement staffing in Portland needs to triple, at least.

soren
Guest
soren

Sessions’ comments focused on speeding. I think there is plenty of evidence that speed increases risk of injury or death.

Granpa
Guest
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.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Have you bothered to visit the web site, or review the data presented?

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

Safe Systems/Vision Zero requires the efforts of all involved, including roadway users.

EricIvy
Subscriber

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

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

That’s not so bad if you’re counting in binary.

9watts
Guest
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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Among the ideas that Sweden has not tried, confiscating all motor vehicles would greatly reduce the number of traffic fatalities and deaths. These and their contents could be sold (to buyers outside city limits, of course) and the proceeds used to reward people using other modes, especially bicyclists.

Of course, some people would object, but what do you expect from Car Heads?

9watts
Guest
9watts

I don’t hear you disagreeing with the salutary consequences for the stated goals of Vizion Zero of my thought experiment.
Got a better suggestion?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

If the goal is to reduce injuries and deaths associated with vehicles, I cannot think of any more effective way than eliminating all the vehicles. So the answer to your question is no.

On the other hand, if we first admit that these vehicles bring some positive benefits, then we can start talking about how can we design our roadways to make them safer. Probably the best way to do this would be to add guardrails down the median of all our two-lane rural highways, as this is where the most deaths occur. Even car heads might find this acceptable.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Since we can’t maximize two variables simultaneously I think this little conversation we’re having is immensely useful. It puts a fine point on this tradeoff we’ve made/are making between the convenience of near universal automobility and the human toll it takes.

Tweaking with the guard rails and speed limits (Sweden) is all to the good, and if we were as conscientious as they have been will probably lead to some impressive results. But at the end of the day we’re likely to still be a good way from our goal.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Since the goal is all but unachievable, I wouldn’t be surprised.

The real tradeoff is between money and safety.

9watts
Guest
9watts

But isn’t saying it is unachievable mostly a reflection of the degree to which we value the package of conveniences we associate with the car over the statistical fact that, currently, 1.25 million people die every year due to this prioritization?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Everything has risk. We can’t realistically eliminate deaths from ladder falls, either. Eliminating ladders would be easier than eliminating motorized vehicles.

The fact that people still choose to drive despite the risks (which fall mostly on themselves) tells us people value the benefits of driving more than they fear the consequences.

We could dramatically reduce the death toll on our roads with some simple, well understood measures. All it would take is money.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“The fact that people still choose to drive despite the risks (which fall mostly on themselves) tells us people value the benefits of driving more than they fear the consequences.”

Overly simplistic. This leaves out economics, sociology, psychology, history, capitalism, etc. that produce situations where driving is habit borne of a thousand contingencies, not the result of a risk analysis, which no one makes anyway.

The whole premise of Vision Zero is that to solve these problems we need to scale up from the flawed, partial, myopic, private choices the individual makes to the collective, public, infrastructural level where other priorities (could/should) hold sway.

Lots of [individuals] buy and keep guns in this country to, or smoke, or speed, or text while driving. That doesn’t change the fact that [we, collectively] would be a whole lot better off if those choices were reined in through some public process.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“We could dramatically reduce the death toll on our roads with some simple, well understood measures. All it would take is money.”

Have we had this conversation before?

I think it takes prioritization more than money. We have the money/don’t really need it; we need the wherewithal to say enough is enough; let’s do the ~13 things we know we need to do to cut the rate of deatsh and serious injuries in half (let’s say):
strict enforcement of traffic laws, lower speed limits, zero tolerance for DUI, loss of license for serious divergence from these principles, changes to road design: prioritizing non-car modes over cars, an end to car-related subsidies (free parking, military misadventures, using general funds to augment the gas tax revenue, etc.)

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

9,

1.25 million people die a year from what?
Annual traffic deaths in the US hover in the low 30,000s.

9watts
Guest
9watts

One and a quarter million people die each year from traffic related smashing – worldwide. As Vision Zero isn’t a US thing I figured the more relevant figure here would be the worldwide number.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Well, I for one am excited to see what kinds of plans Portland can come up with to reduce traffic deaths in India.

Really, the only relevant numbers here are Portland or Oregon numbers, depending on the scope of the VZ program.

9watts
Subscriber

“Really, the only relevant numbers here are Portland or Oregon numbers, depending on the scope of the VZ program.”

Who gets to decide what are the relevant boundaries? The way I understand Vision Zero it has been conceptualized from the beginning as a scalable approach, with the whole world’s traffic death statistics firmly in view:

No fatalities: Vision Zero

Road accidents are responsible for more deaths worldwide than wars and epidemics. Technical advances in vehicle engineering could in future put a stop to these fatalities, but from a global perspective this goal still seems to be a long way off.
http://www.dekra-solutions.com/2015/09/14/vision-zero/?lang=en

9watts
Subscriber

“Well, I for one am excited to see what kinds of plans Portland can come up with to reduce traffic deaths in India.”

Who’s being sarcastic now?

Didn’t the smart engineers at the Swedish Transport Administration come up with ideas that are now saving lives in Melbourne and New York City and Chicago and San Francisco and Blackpool and Edinburgh and soon Portland?

http://www.citylab.com/commute/2014/11/the-swedish-approach-to-road-safety-the-accident-is-not-the-major-problem/382995/

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

My post was sarcastic but not insulting; that’s where I draw the line.

In this case, my response was an attempt to illustrate your attempt to “inflate” the problem of traffic casualties (as if it needed inflating) by citing global totals when discussing a Portland solution to a Portland problem.

Sure we should share ideas and learn from other cities (and hopefully offer something for others to learn from us). But that doesn’t mean that traffic deaths in India are relevant to our attempts to make our local streets safer.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I was not attempting to inflate anything.

The way I understand Vision Zero is it’s an open source platform that applies/could apply to any and all situations, countries, statistics. Citing the worldwide fatalities seemed to me perfectly appropriate since in theory at least all of those fatalities could be (and maybe someday will be) taken seriously by a Vision Zero mindset, as we are now doing here in Portland.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I feel this comment is a wholly appropriate response:

I for one am excited to see what kinds of plans Portland can come up with to reduce traffic deaths in India.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

ODOT thinks that paint is very expensive. On the average they charge the taxpayers nearly $500,000 per gallon of green paint for bicycle path designations or marking.
I think they ought to save money on paint for centerline markings. Think of the millions of dollars each year they could save doing that.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

B******t.
provide a source document we can review. Half a million per gallon? Hyperbole?

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

I ride an awful lot of miles on those so-called rural highways. That’s how I bet between cities in this state. If a median prevented motorists from moving over to safely pass me, I’d be very, very unhappy. Your proposal is more than a little car-centered. Actually, it’s cars exclusively.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Yeah, it was a dumb idea. My main point was that the real safety problem on our roads involves these sorts of highways, and fixing them would be a huge step towards achieving Vision Zero.

Al Dimond
Guest

That’s only because there are so many miles of two-lane rural highway, right? On a per-mile basis, or in terms of individual intersections, the most dangerous locations almost have to be on more heavily traveled urban roads.

Still there’s something important in all those dispersed rural collisions: covering all the miles-driven, and all the collisions, will require an immense amount of work.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

A big part of it is that those two-lane rural highways are inherently dangerous — drivers need to travel in the oncoming lane to pass, and if a driver loses control of their vehicle for whatever reason (sleepy, icy, drunk, deer, etc.), there is nothing to stop a head-on crash. And, of course, drivers in both directions go quite fast.

I don’t know how they stack up mile-per-mile or vehicle-per-vehicle against urban hotspots like 82nd & Division. I do know the nature of the crashes is very different (urban crashes are more likely to involve a pedestrian, are less likely to be fatal due to lower speeds).

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

A new link:

http://openhouse.jla.us.com/tsap#

Rural crashes are mostly run off the road. Region one is more at intersections.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…(=Car Head)…” watts

Resorting to self indulgent use of name calling isn’t likely to engender much effort on the part of people using the roads, to work together towards having roads become safer to use. Do you hope to encourage people that drive, to refer to people prioritizing bike infrastructure, as ‘Bike Heads’? Is doing that really going to prompt wide support from the public for VZ ?

9watts
Subscriber

wsbob,
that term is not mine. You might want to read up on it a bit. To my knowledge the bike-version of the term makes no sense, suggests you don’t understand the lopsided mindset and priorities that gave birth to the original term you are here inverting.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

wsbob is right… resorting to insults won’t advance the dialog.

soren
Guest
soren

nor will sarcasm and mockery.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Agreed, if they are done in an insulting, belittling, or dismissive manner.

9watts
Subscriber

Oh, but piling on will move the dialog ahead, I’m sure of it.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

watts..doesn’t matter who dreamed the term up. The implication left by people using the term, is that they’re doing so as a means of expressing contempt, and refer disparagingly to people that recognize and support the need to provide road infrastructure supporting travel and transport by motor vehicle.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“The implication left by people using the term, is that they’re doing so as a means of expressing contempt, and refer disparagingly to people that recognize and support the need to provide road infrastructure supporting travel and transport by motor vehicle.”

I guess I disagree on multiple levels. Is road funding in your mind so precarious that it can’t take some tough questions, defend itself against a few contemptuous nere do wells?
And it sounds like you maybe read Durning, and since he is pretty clearly not expressing contempt, felt it was better to suggest that his perspective ‘didn’t matter.’

Here’s how I see it:
Ample funding for car infrastructure is today and has been for most of a century considered SOP, not even worth discussing much less debating. As such I don’t really follow this line of thinking whereby someone who offers a critical perspective on this well understood, entrenched, dominant mindset or set of priorities might hurt (and should be more considerate of) ODOT’s (or PBOT’s) feelings.

Recall the context in which I brought up the term in this thread: the to me self-evident relationship between car (over-)use and road deaths, and the fact that seeking to reduce the car-presence as a means of achieving or pursuing Vision Zero is not only not on the menu, but we all know it has zero chance of showing up on the menu.
If you have an explanation for this state of affairs I’d be very interested in hearing it. My interpretation is already well known.

Jim Lee
Guest
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.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Sure. But Vision Half-Life doesn’t have quite the same ring, would you agree? And I’m not sure why it is that important, given that the two (eventually) end up pretty close together.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

That’s why poor Zeno never finished the race.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

There are cities in the US already achieving zero traffic fatalities on an annual basis.

http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/central/provo/provo-achieves-vision-zero-one-of-largest-cities-to-have/article_f639586f-cca6-52de-8cbb-5971d7ea2f7e.html

Forever, maybe not, but for a week, for a month, for a year, yes.

The ‘it’s not achievable, so don’t try’ attitude is part of the problem.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

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

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

succeed: to achieve one’s goals.
secede: to formally withdraw from an alliance.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

suck seed: to uh… suck on a seed

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
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?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Q: What can we do?

Data:
2014 NHTSA Crash Data Key Findings: In 2014 there were 32,675 people killed in motor vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways. An additional 2.3 million people were injured in crashes in 2014. There were 6.1 million police-reported crashes in 2014. Seventy-two percent of these crashes involved only property damage–no one was injured or killed in the crashes.

>Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 31% of total fatalities–9,967 alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in 2014.

>In 2014 there were 9,262 people who died in speeding related crashes (28% of all fatalities).

>Distracted and drowsy driving accounted for 10% and 2.6% of fatalities respectively.

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812219.pdf

A: DUII enforcement; Speed limit reduction and enforcement.

Step 1: triple the staffing of the traffic enforcement section.
Step 2: City-wide maximum speed limit of 30 mph.
Step 3: Enforce the law, focusing on DUII and speeding.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’d get behind all of those ideas. It seems like PBOT can move on the 2nd item (I assume it has an inventory of streets/speed limits already); the 1st and the 3rd will require direction from the mayor.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I’m curious who determines whether or not speed was a factor in a crash for the sake of these statistics. Is it the police?

9watts
Subscriber

What an excellent question.
I know in the case of Frank Bohannon’s killing Kerry Kunsman the police were very quick to assert that “Speed Was Not A Factor” when it seemed pretty clear that that was undeniably A Factor.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Thank you for getting to my point. I’d suggest that for any crash where somebody was driving 1 mph over the speed limit or, and this is a big one, violating the basic speed rule, speed should be considered a factor in the crash.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Even when it wasn’t a factor?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Speed is always a factor in causing a moving object to hit another object. And it’s always a factor in how much damage is caused.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

We should pre-print it on the report so it’s never omitted.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Actually the basic speed rule is somewhat independent of the posted limit. In the Bohannon/Kunsman situation, the circumstances (dusk, blind curve) dictated that Bohannon probalby not drive exactly the posted speed (which I now forget), much less a mile or ten over, but throttle his speed (and attention) according to the conditions, as well as his vehicle’s ability to stop if/when something predictable but unexpected shows up ahead.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Right. I’m saying that if the speed limit is 30 but you really should be driving 20 due to the conditions, and you are driving 25 when you hit someone, speed was a factor.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Yes!

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

If a fatal crash, the police have a special unit that evaluates the crash scene.
If there is a medical transport, the police also fill out a crash report, so it may get captured there.
Otherwise, those involved in a crash are responsible for reporting the events and causes, so the farther your data is from an injury crash, the less reliable the information there is to work with.

Dave
Guest
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
Guest
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?