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.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org