Harvest Century September 22nd

City’s Vision Zero survey says distracted driving, speeding are top concerns

Posted by on August 19th, 2016 at 9:13 am

Results from a street safety survey conducted by PBOT show extent of traffic crash epidemic.

Results from a street safety survey conducted by PBOT show extent of traffic crash epidemic.

We hear a lot of debates about our roads: Who pays for them, who’s at fault when vehicles and people collide, and so on. But there one thing that’s relatively clear. The reason people fear traffic is because too many of us drive distracted, drive too fast, and simply don’t follow the rules.

Those are some of the key findings from a survey conducted by the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation that was released on Thursday. Done as part of their Vision Zero program, PBOT gathered 848 responses to a 19-question survey taken between April and August of this year.

If you ride a bike or walk on a regular basis the survey findings will likely validate many of your frustrations and fears. Take this one for instance: 79 percent of respondents said they felt threatened by auto users when whey were walking in a crosswalk. 79 percent!

The rude and dangerous behavior of inching into crosswalks — and often blocking them completely even when human beings are present — is rampant in our sick street culture. A great example of this happens on the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge every single day. Portland activist Josh Chernoff has recently taken to Twitter to document the issue.

When asked how those crosswalk violators should be punished, over 50 percent of respondents think jail time would be appropriate.

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And lest you think the survey was skewed by the mode choice of respondents, nearly 70 percent of them identified themselves as drivers. Another notable statistic about who filled out the survey: a whopping 86 percent where white.

Another finding that jumped out at me was that a majority of respondents said they know someone who has been seriously injured or killed in a traffic crash in Portland. 16 percent of the survey-takers themselves had been injured in a crash.

The open-ended questions and comments are also illuminating. When asked who they thought was responsibile for street safety, over 750 people answered. Most of them said either PBOT or “everyone who uses the streets.” Another question that recent many interesting comments was the “other” category of how a crash was caused.

You can read all the responses here.

It’s been over a year since Portland officially adopted a Vision Zero resolution and formed a special Task Force to help get us there. Now the plan they’ve created is almost ready for prime-time. It’s expected to be released soon after the final Task Force meeting on September 8th and will be in front of City Council in October.

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

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39 Comments
  • Avatar
    rick August 19, 2016 at 9:46 am

    I don’t understand why SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway doesn’t have a Washington County-matching 35 mph speed limit. The Portland side just got the first apartment built adjacent the highway in over ten years. More real-world, on-the-street investigation is needed like what Josh has just shown. That bridge needs a bridge diet.

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    Josh Chernoff August 19, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Thank you for highlighting the issues of the lack of responsibility from drivers to observe traffic devices. I mostly focused on this spot due to the volume of rebuttals I hear on a daily basis about how “I see cyclists breaking X law all the time” as if that some how expunges their responsibilities as a driver. I go for just one hour after work and in that time I could say that I record up to 30 people who try and use the crosswalk only to have a vehicle in the crosswalk even though there are signs posted that state “don’t block crosswalk” as seen here. https://twitter.com/JoshChernoff/status/762833737356718080

    Whats worse is the general aggression I also observe that is not well shown in the photos. People fly right up to the line without even stopping at the crosswalk most the time.

    Just look at the volume of photos in the last few days. Again this is an observation over an hour each day, I have a day life I cant spend all day doing this. So whats that say when in an hour sample I can produces such numbers? Thats beyond “I see drivers breaking X law all the time”. At some point the city should also be liable for this.

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      Dan Anderson August 19, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      The scariest crosswalk I’m aware of is on Skyline where the Hwy 26 MUP crosses it. I regularly see drivers stop ~10 feet past the crosswalk before even looking left or right. Anybody know whose jurisdiction this is?

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) August 28, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      The Hawthorne crosswalk is especially egregious because bike traffic is funneled into it (with curbing on both sides), and the ramp is necessary to get onto the MUP.

      While not right, at other crosswalks a response might be “well, they had to just curve around the car”.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. August 19, 2016 at 10:03 am

    This is good news, but I hope that PBOT and PPB’s solution isn’t simply to up enforcement. Upping police enforcement often results in an increase in profiling of black, latino, and other minorities. Many of the unarmed black men that are killed by police were stopped for minor traffic offenses. We should not be giving officers more opportunities for these deadly interactions.

    There are better way to address speeding and distracted driving that don’t involve police. The infrastructure can be designed to encourage the behavior you want – no officer needed. Raised crosswalks, separated cycleways, concrete turning islands, and lane width reductions are all ways to get drivers to behave. Use automated enforcement that take the cop interaction of of the situation, such as red light and speed cameras, to supplement the infrastructure.

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      Josh Chernoff August 19, 2016 at 10:10 am

      I think a simple camera could generate some big $$$

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. August 19, 2016 at 10:23 am

        You can’t make speed or red light cameras about generating revenue. Otherwise, drivers will just call it a “cash grab” by the city. It doesn’t even matter that the drivers are about this, because they’re still breaking the law and deserve the fine. Additionally, as people get used to the camera, revenues from it will decline. Ideally, a speed or red light camera would generate zero revenue.

        A way to get around this is by earmarking all generated revenue for safety enhancement projects. That way, the city isn’t seen as profiting of drivers’ mistakes (even though they totally should be).

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          BB August 19, 2016 at 11:45 am

          Cash grab or voluntary taxation? Traffic cams at every intersection combined with rfid technology in automobiles and drivers licenses would go a long way towards increasing safety. Tech to keep cars from starting except when a sober licensed and insured driver is behind the wheel isn’t that complicated. Same for a citywide grid of cameras that can utilize the information gathered from the car about its driver. Some say it would be a step too far, but I think we’ve already gone over the cliff.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty August 19, 2016 at 1:36 pm

            For me to be comfortable with something like this, I’d want to have very clear and strict laws about retention and use of data collected about non-violators. As in none should be collected or retained. The privacy implications of universal traffic monitoring are potentially quite dire.

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              BB August 19, 2016 at 2:22 pm

              I’m not sure it’s that important for anyone to be “comfortable” with something like this. I’m not “comfortable” with the fact that people are literally getting away with murder just because they’re behind the wheel of a car, but it’s reality. I would prefer a system in which there is a passive potential for privacy violations that would likely not be realized, over a system in which there is no real rule of law and people are actively losing their lives.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 19, 2016 at 6:38 pm

                I am among those who value basic core human rights (including the right not to be surveilled) higher than tracking down traffic scofflaws, and I say that without qualification. I’m not sure where you’ve been in the past couple of years where there has only been a “passive potential” for privacy violations that would “likely not be realized,” but it certainly hasn’t been in this country.

                In any event, they’re not “getting away with murder” because in almost all cases of traffic fatalities, murder is not a factor, even if it does make for a nice bit of rhetoric.

                Designing a speed camera that would not violate our privacy rights is probably easier than making one that does, so a requirement to do so should pose exactly zero hurdle to implementation.

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                q August 21, 2016 at 1:09 pm

                From a pragmatic standpoint, if people aren’t “comfortable” with the privacy issues, it’s not going to happen. So people’s comfort with it is important just for that reason alone.

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      B. Carfree August 19, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      We have the technology to automate traffic law enforcement tremendously, if only our elected officials, all primarily motorists, would let it happen. That would certainly reduce the probability that a rogue cop would kill during a traffic stop.

      However, we’re not there yet. We’re also not going to build tremendous separated infrastructure everywhere any time soon, even if it could function as you hope. Where we are is having death and carnage on our streets due to a complete lack of motorist training and law enforcement.

      Which is likely to lead to more deaths, business as usual or ramping up traffic law enforcement? I suggest it’s pretty obvious that we will see far fewer deaths if we vigorously enforce our traffic laws (and simultaneously work to improve both recruitment of good cops and prosecution of bad cops, especially the ones who form the blue wall).

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 19, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      Why not hire more minority police officers?

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. August 19, 2016 at 1:21 pm

        It’s far more complicated than that. Shaun King has a great 25-part series on solutions.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 19, 2016 at 1:42 pm

          I’m not going to read a 25-part series right now, but I did scan the headlines, and most seem like good ideas.

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    Eric Leifsdad August 19, 2016 at 11:42 am

    20 is plenty http://www.20splenty.org/

    But “the state” controls speed limits. (It doesn’t control which roads/intersections are open to motor vehicle traffic.)

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    Spiffy August 19, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Josh is a man after my own heart… I too sometimes wish I didn’t have a steady job so that I could spend my time writing citizen citations to people I catch on video…

    this spot is especially telling because it’s not the “bike lobby” pointing out some slight to cyclists, but rather one person pointing out the blatant illegal behavior of many (majority?) drivers nullifying the protections put in for all vulnerable road users…

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      Josh Chernoff August 19, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      Thank you. Why is there even a crosswalk at all. It would be safer without it at this point. At least without it we will stop lying to our peds/cyclists that they have some right away when they really don’t.

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    soren August 19, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    All of the improvements described above cost money. Without a significant increase in funding Vision Zero could end up being another example of Portland’s feel-good planning hypocrisy. I’m fed up with listening to elected officials proclaim that safety is their first priority while cutting safety funding that would save lives. The commitment of the Mayor and Commissioners to Vision Zero will be evident not by passing another plan but by putting money where their mouths are.

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      Eric Leifsdad August 19, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      We need to default to a position of cheaply minimizing risk to vulnerable users rather than the current one where most people have been thoroughly scared into a car so that all of this “due care” and “following the law” stuff won’t be required of every driver.

      No money for the fancy plan? Just take control of the big heavy things. Barriers, barrels, bollards, boulders, etc. Lots of “except bicycles” signs or whatever it takes. You drive your car through an 8ft gap to get into your garage, you can do the same to get to your street. “But, but… big trucks!” Big deal! There are ways to accommodate the rare event (even emergency) without making every street a freeway.

      The freeways are the safest and most efficient way to move cars across town. Let’s use them!

      Say we just decided to be a great place and made every street safe within the next year: Some places in the network will generate lots of complaints about how inconvenient they are for driving, and we’ll build the grade-separated roundabout there or whatever. The neighborhoods though, most of them will be done with a boulder or two and some new speed limit signs.

      So far this year in Portland, 30 people killed in traffic and 12 not.

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    Josh Chernoff August 19, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Its super frustrating that when showing people the photos of cars blocking traffic in the volume that I have I get replies like.

    “I see lots of cyclists not getting hurt in your tweets.”
    – Some self proclaimed cyclist.

    “we hear you but a little unclear what you’re trying to do. want more enforcement, a redesign?”
    – Bike Loud

    “sorry to be dense. What are you referring to specifically? Not clear from the link. Thx.”
    – Ted Wheeler

    “…”
    – Portland Department of transportation

    “…”
    – BTA

    “…”
    Portland Police.

    So far only Bikeportland has not once asked me what I’m doing or what should be done about this. Thank you Jonathan for getting it!.

    Give me a break people. If theres no money to do something about this then whos getting a pay check to sit on their asses? In addition why do I have to provide solutions or explain the problem when its so painfully clear.

    All of this amounts to just how complacent we have all become to the abuse we get from others when they drive their car.

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      Stephan Lindner August 19, 2016 at 10:10 pm

      Josh, thank you for making this flawed design and the danger it creates. To be fair to Ted Wheeler, he then acknowledged that it is a dangerous crossings. Hopefully he will bring some change here.

      To me, this is one, albeit an egregious, example of creating a bike “infrastructure” that signals that there is a safe route without providing a safe design. In that sense this type of infrastructure is actually anti-vision zero because it creates the illusion of safety without providing it.

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      rachel b August 21, 2016 at 11:31 pm

      Thanks, Josh. 🙂

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    bikeninja August 19, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Massive crew of volunteer deputized traffic enforcers ( they do it in Salem for handicap parking ) with Special certified cameras to document all traffic law violations. Mail tickets to scoflaws. Take license of repeat offenders. Crush cars of no license drivers. Goal: Get 25% of the drivers off the street. Time to get tough with this army of dangerous auto zombies.

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      B. Carfree August 19, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      I just love the notion of crushing the cars of unlicensed motorists. Heck, I’d love to extend this to scofflaw motorists in general. No citation, just a quick crush.

      Fortunately for most, I’m not likely to be running the world any time soon. 🙂

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    NM August 19, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    I think the comment that 50% of respondents believe crosswalk violations should result in jail time in this article is misconstruing the survey data. 50% of respondents said if a person KILLS someone in a crosswalk they should go to jail.

    Also, 23% of respondents make over $100k/year?!?!? That is the largest income group of survey respondents. Interesting.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 19, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      Either this was a self-selected group of people responding to an internet survey, which makes the “data” all but meaningless, or incomes in Portland have risen faster than I thought.

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        lop August 21, 2016 at 11:56 pm

        I’m pretty sure it’s both.

        Census survey says 23.3% of households in Portland have incomes greater than $100k.

        http://i.imgur.com/HTheOhb.png

        And I don’t think >9% of the city’s residents have been seriously injured in a traffic crash in Portland while biking.

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    Josh Chernoff August 19, 2016 at 4:42 pm
    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 19, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      Awful.

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    Dan A August 19, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    Per KATU: “Witnesses said one car stopped to let the girl cross and then a second car went around the car that was yielding to the teenager. Witnesses said the second car hit the girl.”

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 20, 2016 at 10:24 am

      We all know that two travel lanes creates a danger. Maybe we can get PBOT to reduce the street to a single travel lane in each direction.

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        Dan A August 20, 2016 at 3:45 pm

        There are only two travel lanes.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. August 20, 2016 at 5:20 pm

        Hawthorne only has a single travel lane in each direction here, but these is a center tun lane, which the driver used to get around the other driver who stopped. This is why I think the center turn lane slated to go in for the Foster road diet is a bad idea. No street in Portland should have more than two lanes, including turn lanes.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 20, 2016 at 10:09 pm

          You are right… I looked at the wrong stretch on Google Maps. The problem here is that the driver was a maniac — suspended license, 50+MPH, passing in the turn lane. There is a concrete median island a few blocks east of the incident, which would have completely prevented the situation.

          Hawthorne is 4 travel lanes further west, and that configuration is dangerous even when drivers aren’t going berserk.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. August 20, 2016 at 10:12 pm

            Yes, the primary problem here is that the driver was completely irresponsible and reckless. However, that does not mean that there aren’t fixes that can be made to fix Hawthorne, which most of us seem to agree is not as safe and people-friendly as it could be.

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    buildwithjoe August 19, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Blame Transportation Commissioner Novick. He said said vote him out if we don’t like his agenda. Literally. I say Vote Chole Eudaly in Nov.

    Novick is to blame for all talk and very little action. Me and activists gave him 5 zero cost action items at a rally with 100 people and 900 postcards. That was June 2015.

    This teen was killed in a crosswalk by a deadly street design and a driver who broke many laws a) failed to maintain lane b) illegal passing c) failure to stop for pedestrian and D) most important the general speed rule of too fast for conditions.

    City staff deny speed is a problem. Video! People know this is a lie in the survey. See the end the video below. Novick and Hales say they lack funding for safety. The truth is that safety is just about moving money focus to safety, and away from faster trip times. Faster trip times is an endless and deadly rabbit hole.

    Note that a bike PAC endorsed Novick who supported an affordable CRC. That PAC is a few people vote behind closed doors, They act like it’s a member driven organization. They exclude people who don’t agree with them.

    video links:

    http://koin.com/2015/06/24/hales-to-cyclists-get-transportation-bill-funded/

    video link above and below.

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