Harvest Century September 22nd

Portland transportation bureau staffer receives national traffic safety award

Posted by on April 5th, 2016 at 10:23 am

raisman-lead

Winners of the 2016 NHTSA Public Service Award. PBOT employee Greg Raisman is 2nd from left in the grey suit.
(Photo: NHTSA)

Portland Bureau of Transportation employee Greg Raisman has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation for his dedication to safer streets.

Raisman is one of 16 people from around the country who were toasted at a gala event last night at the annual Lifesavers Conference that wraps up in Long Beach, California today. Over 2,500 people and 90 exhibitors attended this year’s conference which is in its 34th year and bills itself as, “a forum for the presentation of proven countermeasures and initiatives that address today’s critical highway safety problems.” The event is run by a nonprofit and gets most of its funding from the auto industry and insurance companies.

A traffic safety programs specialist at PBOT, Raisman was recognized for his work on Portland’s neighborhood greenways — the residential streets where cycling and walking are prioritzed over auto use. He was honored with a Public Service Award from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The inscription on the plaque he received reads: “In recognition of working to reshape roadways into safer, more equitable, and comfortable streets for pedestrians and bicyclists through community engagement across Portland and Seattle.”

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Raisman (probably on his own free time) presenting about bike safety at the Pedal Nation Bike Show in 2011.

Many of you who read BikePortland and/or work in street activism in this region are probably well aware of Raisman. He’s been the subject of numerous articles here on the front page over the past decade including an interview in 2008. He’s been at the front lines of this fight for many years, spurred in part by the death of his roommate who was killed in a crash while cycling a few blocks from his home in 1998.

Raisman is the consummate advocrat — someone who deftly walks the line between passionate advocate and agency employee. His work has led to many things you probably take for granted today: bike parking corrals, intersection paintings, the NE Holman “pocket park,” and much more.

At the city’s 2012 Transportation Safety Summit (what used to be an annual event under former Mayor Sam Adams) Raisman made the case for neighborhood greenways after someone in the audience questioned whether investing in them was a wise use of city funds. Here’s how he responded:

“What we’re doing with this strategy and effort is to say, we’re going to have a neighborhood greenway system that will basically be like our bus system for walking and biking. It will be a basic level of service that serves the whole city. Everybody in the whole city should be able to have a basic level of active transportation that’s safe and accessible to them in their home… We’re going to plant trees, we’re going to manage stormwater, we’re going to make it safe, we’re going to make it comfortable and we’re not going to just make it comfortable for the young, fit person, we’re really looking to make it comfortable and safe for everybody that lives in our city, and that’s why I’m excited.

In terms of the money side… We’re averaging about $141,000 a mile. To give you a sense of that, $250,000 buys one traffic signal. Building this network is a great value and when we leverage that on our busy streets that support local business and bring more money and people to those streets, making those major investments on those busy streets like Broadway and all these others are really important and that’s why people will continue to support it.”

On a more somber note, following a spate of tragic crashes in late 2007 Raisman wrote a guest essay for us titled, From sadness to action. In it, he urged the community to turn grief into action: “Speaking from experience, I can tell you that you can do something to make our streets safer. Volunteer. Start your own effort. Support funding efforts that provide the necessary resources. Attend every street project meeting you can. Join the huge network of people who are working hard to make Portland or the streets where you live safe and pleasant. Remember that as we increase safety for the most vulnerable roadway users, we increase safety for everyone. Be the change.”

Thanks for being the change Greg! I hate to think where we’d be today in Portland without your work, support of the grassroots, and personal advocacy all these years!

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

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25 Comments
  • Go By Bike
    Go By Bike April 5, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Well deserved! I would start a petition for Greg to have keys to the city but he already know everyone in the city and doesn’t need any keys 🙂

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    Peejay April 5, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Good job, Greg! Keep it up!

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    Gregg Lavender April 5, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Way to go Greg! And well deserved!

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. April 5, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Contrats on the award!

    Greenways were a good way to get bike infra for cheap, but it’s time to retire them. Traffic-calmed corridors are becoming less and less effective as a tool – especially when PBOT skimps on diversion. We need to be looking at more holistic, neighborhood-based traffic calming measures. PBOT should be picking specific neighborhoods, deciding where diversion is needed in the grid, and implementing road diets where needed (mainly arterials).

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 5, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Hi Adam,

      Your comment bugs me because I think Greg deserves time and space to enjoy this recognition and I do not want this thread to devolve into a long back-forth about the merits of greenways. I hope you (and others!) understand. There are and will be plenty of times and places for that conversation. Thanks.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. April 5, 2016 at 11:30 am

        Sorry about that. I intended it as more of a thanks for all the hard work you put in, now it’s time to look forward. I didn’t intend to understate the importance of his award.

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        David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC April 5, 2016 at 1:17 pm

        Greg’s importance isn’t just about making better bike infrastructure happen, but also working with others to make bike advocate voices be heard by elected officials and by other bureaucrats, to be articulated in a way that decision-makers can work with, rather than the pointless whining about some particular solution being better than another that you often see on this blog (we all do it, I’m not trying to pick on anyone). He has had a huge impact in Portland in shepherding bike advocate efforts into effective change.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. April 5, 2016 at 1:29 pm

          I am not familiar with Greg’s work, but it sounds like he has done a lot for bike advocacy. Especially for advocates like myself who clearly lack the effective communication skills to work within city government.

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      Steve B. April 5, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      “Greenways were a good way to get bike infra for cheap, but it’s time to retire them.”

      No thanks. I love riding and strolling on our Neighborhood Greenways. More please!

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      MaxD April 5, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      fI know we are not supposed to debate teh merits of greenways, but I will say that, although I do not think they are be all/end all of a bike network, they contribute HUGELY to getting around town comfortably, and equally important, they are great neighborhood amenities. When I ride greenways, esp. Willamette and Going, I am sharing the street with joggers, parents with strollers, dogwalkers, skateboarders, rollerbladers, etc. That is a huge contribution to the livability of Portland, so , thanks Greg!

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    Rebecca April 5, 2016 at 11:14 am

    Greg! Greg! Greg! Greg!

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    Bill Stites April 5, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Great to see Greg recognized for his many contributions. Congrats Greg!!

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    Greg Raisman April 5, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Thank you so much for the super kind words, Jonathan. It feels really great to be recognized for a lot of hard work. BUT, there’s still tons of work to get done. I feel lucky to be a part of the Portland community and can’t wait to keep moving forward together!

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      Kristi Finney Dunn April 5, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      I am so proud, honored, and thankful to know you. Thankful (for one reason) because you are the one who pointed me to Families For Safe Streets in NYC and now we have our own local group! Thanks to THAT, I’m a member of the Vision Zero Task Force. I like to think I’m doing what you said to do in that article (which I’d never read) and much of it has to do with your lead, inspiration, and support. I’ll continue to look to you as the way-shower that you are! CONGRATULATIONS!

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    Joe Adamski April 5, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Dang Greg! A suit… whoodathunk we’d see that! Congratulations, and thanks for carrying the torch.

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    hopeful April 5, 2016 at 11:48 am

    When you say that “There’s still tons of work to get done” what specifically are you looking at? I’d love to read an interview. I want to know your vision (In the short term and the not so short term.) Any large projects that you would like to see happen? Maybe a bike/ ped bridge over I-84 at 7th or 9th? Maybe a separated Cycletrack from Hollywood to the Broadway Bridge to PSU? Or a Cycletrack on 82nd or MLK?

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    David Sweet April 5, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Congratulations Greg on this well-deserved recognition. I’m very grateful that you are here doing this work for Portland.

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    Steve B. April 5, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Way to go Greg and thank you for the leadership!

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    mh April 5, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Recognition is nice.

    Have a good beer on me, Greg. You know where, just say when.

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    Robert Ping April 5, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Congratulations, Greg! You earned this!!!

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    Todd Boulanger April 5, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Congrats Greg. (And to see Greg in a suit too!)

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    Betsy Reese April 5, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Just to mention one of many stories that can be told about Greg:

    About 7 or 8 years ago Greg was interviewed by a local TV program about bike safety in Portland. At the end of the interview, he was asked, “What is your biggest fear?” Greg said, “My biggest fear is that a bicyclist will be killed at N. Broadway/Flint/Wheeler.”

    The odds of that happening have diminished since then, and when the big ODOT/PBOT project at that location is finished this year, they will have diminished considerably further. Greg Raisman had a very big hand in that.

    Of course when a fatality is prevented, we never know whose family and friends have been spared that grief. As unthinkable as it is, it could be yours, or it could be mine. It’s appropriate that Greg has received a lifesaver award.

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    K'Tesh April 5, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Congrats!

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    Spencer Boomhower April 7, 2016 at 1:40 am

    Nice work, Greg! Well-deserved.

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    Ted Buehler April 8, 2016 at 12:10 am

    Thanks for all your efforts, Greg!

    Ted Buehler

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