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City’s first speed camera already having major impact

Posted by on September 23rd, 2016 at 10:22 am

This SUV was caught by Portland's new speed camera going 72 mph in a 40 mph zone.(Photo: (PBOT)

This SUV was caught by Portland’s new speed camera going 72 mph in a 40 mph zone. View a video of it below.
(Photo: (PBOT)

Oregon’s first speed camera has had a very busy first month. And that’s great news for fans of safer streets.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation installed the camera on SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway on August 25th. It’s been issuing only warning since then but the agency announced this morning that as of tomorrow (9/24) the warnings end and the citations begin.

If the first month is any indication, the camera will be a huge success (unless people don’t mind getting tickets). PBOT says the presence of the camera (and associated signage) has already reduced top-end speeding by 93 percent (more stats below).

To go along with their announcement today, PBOT is doing something else that’s very smart. They’re using the media to shame unsafe drivers. As both warning and example of how the camera works, they’ve singled out a person they caught driving a white SUV at 72 mph — in a 40 mph zone. Watch the dangerous driver get caught on film in the video below:

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While anecdotes like that are fun, PBOT is keeping their promise that all their Vision Zero-related work will be based on data. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway (locals call it “BHH”) is part of the city’s High Crash Network and stats show that its dangerous not only for people in cars but that people who walk along or across the road are twice as likely to be struck by another road user than the average city street.

We can sit around and talk about how inherently dangerous streets like BHH are, but these cameras give us a way to add authority and focus to those conversations.

State law requires warnings like this at least 100 yards prior to the camera.(Photo: PBOT)

State law requires warnings like this at least 100 yards prior to the camera.
(Photo: PBOT)

Here are some facts about the BHH camera released by PBOT today:

— Before the cameras were installed, an average 1,417 vehicles a day traveled 51 mph or more over the speed limit faster, according to readings by a pneumatic tube laid across the roadway.

— During the warning period from Aug. 24 to Sept. 18, an average 93 vehicles a day were found traveling 51 mph or faster — a 93.4 percent reduction from the tube count.

— In the first week of the warning period, cameras recorded an average 115 violations a day. Violations dropped to an average 72 a day by the week of Sept. 12 to 18.

PBOT Director Leah Treat, who had to spearhead a change in Oregon law just to be able to install cameras like these, said, “For us to reach our Vision Zero goal of ending traffic fatalities and serious injuries, we need tools like these cameras.”

Thanks to the passage of HB 2621 last year the City of Portland can install speed cameras (PBOT calls them “safety cameras”) only on designated High Crash Corridors within Portland city limits. When someone is caught speeding by one of these cameras, the typical fine is $160. By law, that revenue must be spent to pay for the camera program or to make safety improvements along High Crash Corridors.

Next spring PBOT will roll out cameras on three very notorious streets: SE 122nd Avenue between Foster and Powell, Marine Drive, and Outer SE Division.

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

The sad thing is the SUV doesn’t appear to be going that fast- I assume the other traffic is going well over 40 too.

PNP
Subscriber

This is great news. I’ve always thought it was odd that the law requires a sign giving drivers advance warning of speed enforcement or monitoring.

colton
Guest
colton

is “51 mph or more over the speed limit” really what they meant? I mean that’s 51+35=86 MPH.

Brian
Guest
Brian

There is nobody at the wheel!

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

I don’t think these will hurt but the benefits are clearly overstated in this article. Roads are long, these things have an impact for maybe 1/4 mile in each direction.

Caitlin D
Subscriber

This sounds like a great improvement. More speed cameras, please!

Kate
Guest
Kate

These are an important tool to have in our toolbox, so good on Treat and PBOT for pursing the change in law to enable these on Portland’s streets!

Jonathan- do you know if these are going to be fixed cameras or whether they might move around on different parts of the corridor? That might address Allan’s concerns about people only slowing where they are expecting them.

raphael
Guest
raphael

Barbur please

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

It would be nice to have one on East Burnside. Beyond 60th, even driver becomes Mario Andretti. Thankfully I no longer live on this street.

rick
Guest
rick

It has been much nicer riding along BH Highway since the cameras were installed. Very thankful for justice. These safety cameras are needed on numerous SW Portland roads.

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

This is an example of why I think enforcement really and truly does work. I am truly listening to all the discussion and concerns about equity, but I also think that just enforcing the rules we already have (stop at stop signs, follow the speed limit, don’t pass over a double yellow line) will make daily transportation life much nicer.

rick
Guest
rick

BH Highway needs to be 35 mph in this section. It is 35 in Raleigh Hills and east Beaverton. In fact, it is 30 mph by the Pizzacato at SW 107th Ave.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

I would be curious to know what the threshold for a ticket is going to be.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Is it just me, or was the red car in front of the white car going pretty much just as fast?

The two vehicles behind were going slower, but that was probably only because they witnessed the flash of the speed camera and thought “oh s**t!!!!” to themselves.

I LOVE speed cameras. If we could have them on every block of every street, I would be in heaven.

That said, they seem to be a poor substitute for better roadway design. If you have a roadway that allows a car to drive 70+ mph, you really need to design it better. More stop signs, more traffic lights, and other traffic calming features.

That road is hideous. Try getting out to Blind Date at The Dairy on it. It is fast, wide, and has no safe crossings. There is one crossing at Shattuck, and nothing either side for like a mile. What people who take Trimet on this road are expected to do to cross to their bus stops lord only knows.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Also, how is it ‘traffic shaming’ as PBOT puts it, when the car driver’s face is blocked out, and the car driver’s plates are blocked out?

That’s not my definition of traffic shaming.

Show their licence plate, I say!

RH
Guest
RH

Why don’t we also put ‘speed camera area’ signs all over the city (like other countries do)….even if a speed camera isn’t there? That would maybe help keep drivers on their toes…especially if the city did have a mobile speed camera van, etc..

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

How is this Portland’s first speed camera? PPB has been using speed cameras in vans (aka photo radar) since at least the 90s, and I know I’ve seen speed signs like this a number of places. Or are those all in places like Beaverton, and this is the first permanent installation of a speed camera in the city of Portland?

Adam
Subscriber

Looks like the camera is working. Please install tons more!

Charles Kim
Guest
Charles Kim

Its great the camera ticket system is working for that stretch. However, the camera system is quite obvious and will be effective for that one area. I can see people speeding up as soon as they pass the camera. It seems multiple cameras are needed to prevent speeding much like how speed bumps in neighborhood streets prevent speeding. Its a good start though.

Kristin
Guest
Kristin

Any news on where the cameras will be on Marine Drive? I rode the on-road section between 13th and 33rd on my old commute and the speeding trucks are terrifying, especially with the indifferent maintenance of the bike lane.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

paikiala: Do you know if the cameras collect any data on drivers who are not photographed for enforcement action?

danny
Guest
danny

Four little words: Barbur Blvd. next PLEASE!!!

Pat Franz
Guest
Pat Franz

How about warning letters for anyone more than 10% over, and require them to confirm their insurance? And corresponding notifications to their insurance companies? And go on their record, and the record for the car?

These “small transgressions” can either be occasional or chronic. I don’t see being able to do much about the truly occasional lapses, but the chronic abusers are ticking time bombs. As a society, we need an effective way of letting them know their behavior is not OK, won’t actually be tolerated, and has consequences.

As it is now, a chronic traffic law abuser really only comes to the attention of anyone in government when they cause a serious crash. And all the times they drove dangerously before that are completely invisible. The very big problem of people that regularly cause accidents and are allowed to keep driving (whether or not they have a license) still needs to be solved too, but there are a lot more less crash prone but still chronically dangerous drivers out there. We need to have some way of changing their behavior short of trying to sanction them after they have killed someone.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Wait, if this was the first speed camera, how did my wife get a ticket from this very camera on this highway last year?

GutterBunnyBikes
Guest

Must be a fluke, because as everyone here knows enforcement never works.

(sarcasim btw)

Andy K
Guest

Can you follow up with PBOT on how the first week of real citations went?