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As traffic deaths spike, ‘Remembrance Day’ reminds us of human toll

Posted by on November 21st, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Despite all the technology; despite all the vigils; despite all the “safety campaigns”; despite all the promises from road agencies and elected officials that “safety is our number one priority” — people continue to die at an alarming rate while using Oregon roads.

To help stem this tragic tide, a small but dedicated group of bereaved family members wants us all to feel their pain — and then use those feelings to change ourselves and our streets. That was the goal of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which was observed yesterday in Portland’s Waterfront Park.

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Kristi Finney.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

“We’re here because the average person is indifferent to this until it happens to them,” said Kristi Finney of Familes for Safe Streets (Facebook) during a ceremony to remember the more than 400 people who died while using Oregon roads so far this year.

The group had to scramble to get enough shoes for the memorial. When they started collecting them on November 3rd, 405 Oregonians had died this year. By November 8th that number was 410. In the past week, 11 more people have died, pushing Oregon’s year-to-date fatality tracker to 421 — an estimated 15 percent increase over the same period last year.

To make sure the humans behind those numbers are not forgotten, Finney and three other members of Families for Safe Streets created a temporary visual memorial under the Morrison Bridge for several hours on Sunday. They held a press conference and stood in front of the shoes along with Legacy Emanuel Hospital Trauma Nurse Mike Morrison, and Portland Fire and Rescue Lieutenant Laurent Picard.

As a first responder to many crashes, Lt. Picard knows the toll of traffic violence all too well.

Picard told several horrible stories yesterday. There was the time when two women were chatting on the corner of Broadway and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd when a drunk driver slammed his car into another drunk driver whose car then careened into the innocent women. They both suffered serious injuries and each had to have a leg amputated. There was also the time he was first on the scene of an elderly woman who was hit and killed while walking across the street near Mt. Tabor Park — by someone driving 60 miles per hour.

“I’ll never forget those moments,” Picard said.

In 2016 Picard said his bureau has responded to over 900 traffic crashes involving people on foot or on bike. He referred to road deaths and injuries as an “epidemic.” “We know these are preventable,” he said, “This is a crisis and it needs to stop now.”

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Portland Fire & Rescue Lieutenant Laurent Picard.
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David Sale’s daughter Danielle was killed when TriMet operator Sandi Day turned her bus into her while she crossed Broadway (at Glisan) in 2010. She was holding her boyfriend’s hand.
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People in our community were saying those exact words in 2007 after Tracey Sparling died while riding her bike on NW 14th Avenue and Burnside. Sparling’s aunt Susan Kubota has spent the last nine years re-living that day in the name of raising awareness for safer streets.

“We are unwilling members of Families for Safe Streets, but we bear witness to this pain and suffering because we all have become complacent to these daily preventable crashes,” Kubota said. “We are united in our demand for change.”

“We bear witness to this pain and suffering because we all have become complacent to these daily preventable crashes. We are united in our demand for change.”
— Susan Kubota, Families for Safe Streets

David Sale recalled the death of his 22-year-old daughter Danielle in 2010 with vivid details. Danielle was one of two people killed in 2010 when TriMet bus operator Sandi Day made an illegal and dangerous left turn and ran them over in a crosswalk on NW Broadway. “These are not accidents,” he said as he fought back tears.

Legacy Emanuel trauma nurse Mike Morrison sees this issue from a different perspective — from the mangled bodies and blood-stained clothing that gets rushed into his hospital rooms. Looking out over the 400 pairs of empty shoes, Morrison said, “We see nearly eight times this many people who are seriously injured every year.” Morrison said the focus should be on changing driving behavior and simply slowing down.

“What changes can we make so we don’t have another 400 shoes to look at?” he asked.

By their own adopted Vision Zero goals, the City of Portland says we can eliminate traffic deaths by 2025. That’s nine years from now — the same amount of time that has passed since Tracey Sparling was crushed to death by a right-turning truck operator who claimed he never even saw her.

How much progress have we made since then? How much progress will we make in the next nine years?

Kristi Finney, who lost her son Dustin in 2011 when he was hit from behind while biking on Division, is sick and tired of business as usual. She struck a defiant tone at yesterday’s event. In a sign that her group has evolved beyond public grieving and press events, Families for Safe Strets released their first-ever policy platform. It focuses on road user education.

The platform includes five focus areas: Highlight personal stories on victim impact panels and in DMV materials; require driver testing for license renewal; combine the Oregon Drivers Manual with the Oregon Bicyclist Manual; require hands-on driver education courses for all Oregonians; and give every Oregon student bicycling and walking education in school.

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Core members of Families for Safe Streets (L to R): Susan Kubota, Kim Stone, David Sale, Kristi Finney)

Finney and Familes for Safe Streets are doing all they can to promote change. Now they want road agencies and elected officials to do their part.

“The government response to all these crashes is often inadequate,” Finney told Sunday’s somber crowd. “If things don’t change, we are going to hold you accountable. This is outrageous.”

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

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75 Comments
  • Avatar
    Noel Mickelberry November 21, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Thank you so much for covering this event, Jonathan.

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    Spiffy November 21, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    there are a lot of illegal turns built into TriMet bus routes… I’ve reported many and I’ve never heard of any action being taken to correct them…

    TriMet encourages their drivers to break the law every day… some of their routes don’t even work unless you break the law…

    how can we expect ordinary citizens to obey the law when one of the most visible transportation companies in the city can’t even be bothered?

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      Paikiala November 21, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      Spiffy,
      Can you identify one of these ‘illegal’ turn locations?

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        Spiffy November 21, 2016 at 4:07 pm

        the #17 turns left from Broadway into the right lane of Burnside… if they didn’t do this illegal turn they’d have to try to turn right across 2 lanes of rush-hour traffic within 2 blocks to reach the next stop…

        same with the #15 turning left from Washington to SW 11th, only it would need to change lanes twice within only 1 block to reach its stop…

        there are similar areas where buses have to impede traffic because they’re trying to get out of a turn-only lane…

        TriMet needs to either correct their routes or work with the city to redo the intersections where they are required to break the law to maintain their bus route…

        breaking the law every day is not the answer…

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          Eric Leifsdad November 21, 2016 at 10:59 pm

          How about driving 35mph in a 25 zone? It would seem that the schedule requires this.

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        Spiffy November 21, 2016 at 4:12 pm

        drivers also often block intersection and crosswalks…

        yesterday I thought a pedestrian was going to get killed because the bus blocked the Powell crosswalk at 36th as the ped was crossing and left them in the middle of the road having to figure out the safest way around the illegally stopped bus…

        the driver almost hit her as they started moving again… I guess the ped mistakenly thought a bus driver would yield to a ped better than the driver behind the bus… probably a bad assumption as the bus driver was breaking the law…

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    Spiffy November 21, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    “on November 3rd, 405 Oregonians had died this year. By November 8th that number was 410. In the past week, 11 more people have died, pushing Oregon’s year-to-date fatality tracker to 421”

    that’s incredibly sad and should be completely unacceptable to the people in charge of roads…

    most occupations have a 0 tolerance policy on deaths happening in and on their facilities… but for some reason if you’re in charge of public roads you get a national limit of 33,000 acceptable deaths…

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 21, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      remember Spiffy, ODOT believes that over 90% of crashes are due to driver error. As long as that’s the perspective they operate from they’re unlikely to feel any urgency to change road design or policies. Also, ODOT has repeatedly and for decades stood up for freight and auto capacity and convenience over the safety of human life — especially vulnerable non-motorized road users. Until those things change and until Governor Brown insists on sweeping changes to the management at ODOT I’m afraid we can expect more of the same.

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        Spiffy November 21, 2016 at 4:16 pm

        if I had all the needed safeguards in place and there were still 15 people a month dying in my facility I think OSHA would still shut me down…

        I’d probably be shut down even sooner if it were the public dying on my land…

        so what is different about ODOT facilities compared to any other facility in that they are allowed these deaths but others are not?

        should we be complaining to an agency like OSHA to have them handle the issue?

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 21, 2016 at 4:23 pm

          what’s different spiffy is that this is about driving. ODOT is irrelevant in the bigger picture. They are just the government agency tasked to oversee the roads… And the roads have been taken over by people who are products of a system that treats driving as a right instead of a privilege, that normalizes extreme driving behaviors like speeding and aggressive driving, and that treats the free flow of motorized traffic as the top priority over everything else — including the life and death of humans.

          So it goes way beyond ODOT. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore there role. Let’s be clear: ODOT is without a doubt the largest barrier to safer streets in Portland and in cities throughout the state. Massive change is needed at that agency or we will continue to see death and destruction on a daily basis. And if anyone ODOT employees are reading this… Keep in mind that I want to give ODOT the benefit of the doubt but I have no reason to do so given the actions (lack thereof), decisions and policies that we are forced to deal with.

          It’s my sincere hope that the legislature and the people who they represent (us) do not endorse any major transportation funding package in the 2017 session unless it comes with real change to the practices, policies and management at ODOT.

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            BB November 21, 2016 at 4:27 pm

            I don’t think this addresses Spiffy’s question at all, in fact just reinforces the idea that we need to have independent safety oversight of facilities that allow motor vehicle traffic.

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              Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 21, 2016 at 4:31 pm

              OK sorry BB.

              So yes, I agree that some sort of independent oversight of roads would be interesting and possibly a good thing. If you think about it, that’s what we have for rail crashes and aviation crashes right? NTSB type of thing. NHTSA is supposed to perform this function I think but they don’t seem to be hugely influential. The only time I hear about NHTSA is for the annual “Lifesavers” award ceremony they do or when they give out really bad safety advice on Twitter.

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            Let's Active November 21, 2016 at 4:46 pm

            What percent of traffic fatalities in Portland are on City streets vs. ODOT highways? Would be interesting to see re: “largest barrier to safer streets” comment. I’m curious how it breaks down.

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            Susan Y Kubota November 21, 2016 at 9:58 pm

            Jonathan, After presenting at the 2016 ODOT traffic safety conference, I can say I personally met and spoke with ODOT staff that are very concerned and have made efforts to; for example: subsidize driver’s trainning classes for new young drivers and outreach for rural area students but hitroadblocks from the legislature. “I can’t make my constituents pay for these private classes (which can run into the $200 even with financial assistance)” Lost in that large initial investment for safety, is the fact that these families will recoup the $200 in reduced auto insurance premiums for the authorized driver’s training certificate. Not all ODOT employees are dinasours.

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              Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 22, 2016 at 7:00 am

              I agree Susan. they have thousands of employees and some are great and trying their best — but they are part of a big machine that is — in my opinion – broken.

              I think it’s important to call out ODOT’s negligent management of roads. Look at the Portland region and our most pressing, most dangerous road safety issues are not being fixed because of ODOT’s reluctance to take action. Barbur, outer Powell, Columbia, Lombard, St. Johns Bridge, and so on.

              I’m not going to let the fact that “they mean well” and “some employees are trying” get in the way of telling people the truth.

              As always I have an open mind and am willing to be convinced otherwise — but right now I’ve had enough of ODOT. They should not be managing any urban arterials that run through neighborhoods. People’s lives are at risk every day. ODOT should focus solely on interstate/rural highways and leave other sections of roads to local jurisdiction.

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                David Hampsten November 26, 2016 at 7:32 pm

                No offense Jonathan, but why are you picking on ODOT, and not PBOT or the Oregon Legislature or Governor? ODOT merely manages what the state government tells it to manage. Any mismanagement on their part is a reflection upon the policies of the Democratically-controlled legislature and Governor’s office. ODOT does what it is told, more or less, by your legislators and governor. Similarly, PBOT does what its told to do (or more likely not to do) by the city commissioners. Blaming staff really gets you nowhere, as you of all people should know by now.

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                Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 28, 2016 at 8:43 am

                Hi David,

                As long as we continue to lack the courage to change the status quo and people continue to die and be injured in record numbers there’s plenty of blame to go around. I’m aware of how these agencies and governments work. Part of my rationale about pointing out flaws and problems in the agencies is so that the government/electeds realize there’s a problem and realize that they must do more to change the agencies. If the Governor thinks ODOT is fine and good then there won’t be any urgency to make any changes. I don’t see this as clear-cut as you. I think that if high-level managers and leaders at the agencies wanted to influence politics they could do it… But we need a few more staffers willing to stick their necks out. It goes both ways.

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              J_R November 22, 2016 at 7:39 am

              Ten percent of Oregon drivers don’t even carry insurance. Reduced insurance costs for those taking driver training doesn’t reduce their costs.

              I find it disgusting that the legislators concern have more concern for costs incurred directly by their constituents rather than costs incurred by society as a whole and for those who are responsible and obey the rules.

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              El Biciclero November 22, 2016 at 12:40 pm

              “I can’t make my constituents pay for these private classes…”

              B frickin’ S. They can make their constituents pay for “private” auto insurance and registration, along with licensing fees, etc. When I was a kid, one did have to pay some tuition, but driver’s ed was offered through my high school. I would bet that if anybody in The Legislature wanted to think about it for an extra nine minutes, they could come up with some way to partner with school districts and provide reduced-cost driver’s education.

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          Paikiala November 21, 2016 at 5:14 pm

          Spiffy,
          If your employees constantly break the rules, you would sanction them.
          Now imagine someone else is responsible for enforcement, another hands out punishment, and a third makes the rules. Even if you design the work space above minimum standards, how would you reduce injuries?

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty November 21, 2016 at 7:00 pm

            By lowering speed limits.

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            Eric Leifsdad November 22, 2016 at 7:36 am

            Minimum standards? Road design standards don’t keep speeds down and don’t keep people safe unless they are in a car. Put some hard obstacles in the road instead of a clear swath of pavement with 12ft per lane. It’s not that complicated.

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            Spiffy November 22, 2016 at 7:46 am

            when another department gives me work that breaks something I stop doing that work…

            ODOT is continuing to break the system… they could simply refuse to do unsafe work…

            I can’t imagine their thought process…

            “We did what we were told and people died.”

            “Too bad, it’s our job so keep doing it.”

            no, no, and no… that’s just not how it works…

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              El Biciclero November 22, 2016 at 12:34 pm

              “…that’s just not how it works…”

              Or…is it?
              It’s unlikely that’s how the right thing gets done, but it does indeed appear that “that’s how it works”.

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        B. Carfree November 21, 2016 at 5:02 pm

        So we have an epidemic of fatal and injury crashes that ODOT maintains is almost exclusively due to driver error. Okay, so when are they going to change the requirements for a license so that our drivers are better trained to avoid making those fatal errors?

        They’re just trying to say it’s someone else’s responsibility when in fact their position puts the blame squarely on ODOT’s shoulders.

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          J_R November 22, 2016 at 8:25 pm

          ODOT can do absolutely nothing to change the driver’s licensing requirements. That is the prerogative of the legislators. You can bet they are not going to do it. Most constituents already think they are paying too much and go through too many requirements to drive.

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      Dan A November 21, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      I WISH we had a limit of 33,000. My guess is we go over 40,000 in 2016.

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        David Hampsten November 26, 2016 at 7:37 pm

        I remember 46,000+/year in the 1970s, back when gas was really cheap and most car versus car crashes were usually fatal. Now pedestrian and bike deaths are proportionally higher.

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    Jim Lee November 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    VZ presentation at City Council 1 December, Thursday afternoon.

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    El Biciclero November 21, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Other potential policy platform planks:

    –Make passing an accredited driver education course mandatory before testing for a license.

    –Make the license test more rigorous and require a higher passing score.

    We have to quit dumbing down the licensing process and treat driving like we would treat operation of any other heavy equipment.

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      B. Carfree November 21, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      Absolutely spot on. Our written test is a joke, and one only needs to be a C- student to pass. We need more questions, the questions need to explicitly deal with real-life scenarios involving vulnerable road users (passing at unmarked crosswalks, safe passing distance for bicycles, basic speed law, cyclists’ right to the road, etc) and a passing grade needs to be more like 90%.

      Didn’t pass? Study up and take it again. Operating deadly machinery is serious business and we can’t entrust such a responsibility to people who are either too lazy or too unintelligent to pass a meaningful knowledge exam every three years. (Yes, I also think we need to shorten the lifespan of licenses.)

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        I voted for Trump! November 22, 2016 at 12:49 am

        Could we also have an intelligence test before registering to vote? ***Portion of this comment has been deleted due to insensitive language.***

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty November 22, 2016 at 10:42 am

          I wish we had had that for this election.

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          El Biciclero November 22, 2016 at 2:13 pm

          What does voting have to do with operating dangerous machines on public ways? The biggest reason we don’t have stricter requirements and more severe punishments for violating driving regulations is because the danger of driving is downplayed to ridiculous levels. More people are injured and die from traffic crashes than from gun violence (or the numbers are close enough to be comparable), yet “gun control” is an urgent issue, but “car control”, not so much. More people die due to cars on or near U.S. roadways than by aircraft plummeting onto U.S. soil, yet aviation regulation and safety is magnitudes more rigorous than auto regulation and safety.

          We’re obviously allowing too many incompetent drivers to operate multi-ton equipment on our public roads, endangering the lives of their fellow citizens. In no other segment of the transportation network would this level of incompetence be tolerated. Not for a single week. Yet year after year, we allow incompetent drivers to kill over 30,000 people—what for? I’m all for freedom, but freedom comes with responsibility, and as my grandpa used to say, “your freedom ends where my rights begin”. What is the very first unalienable right held to be self-evident in the declaration of independence? The right to life. Nobody should have the freedom to endanger my life due to their fool incompetence, and our government shouldn’t be in the business of granting it. Or at the very least, the government should be in the business of protecting its citizens by revoking privileges from those that threaten the lives of others—and not wait until they actually kill someone to do it.

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    rick November 21, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks for the respect. I admire it.

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    J_R November 21, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    E N F O R C E M E N T!

    There is virtually no enforcement and the consequences for blatant violation of the law brings little more than a slap on the wrist for even the most egregious failures on the part of road users (mostly motorists).

    You only have to touch a hot stove once as a child to understand the consequences of that action. But with drivers, one can usually use the get-out-of-jail-free expression: I didn’t see him. He came out of nowhere.

    Some big fines for most traffic infractions, mandatory weekends in jail for first time DUII offenders, making motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians serve as decoy pedestrians in subsequent enforcement actions, and similar measures might make motorist take more responsibility for their actions. It’s worth a try isn’t it? The status quo isn’t working and Vision Zero is not even nudging the needle.

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      mh November 22, 2016 at 10:39 am

      I do like that “decoy as punishment” proposal, but it would probably be considered cruel and unusual punishment (certainly unusual) and not allowed.

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    Caitlin D November 21, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you to the members of Families for Safe Streets for fighting to make a difference and for showing such strength in the face of tragedy. I hope their policy platform is adopted. I think highlighting personal stories in DMV materials is a great approach to making people think more carefully about how they drive.

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    longgone November 21, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    I just would like send out my love to all the family’s connected to this event.

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    Adami November 21, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    The DMV is 100% culpable.

    I took my Oregon driver’s test and it was so easy, a monkey could have passed it.

    Driving is a privilege, not a right. It needs to be learned, then earned.

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      Mike November 22, 2016 at 6:24 am

      The DMV doesn’t make money until it sells a license, just like Fish and Wildlife. If you can pay, you play. Nothing else matters. My 92 year old mother got her license renewal in the mail. She didn’t drive, but could have simply by mailing a check. They didn’t take credit cards at the time. No test. No questions asked other than check a couple of squares on the renewal form.

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        Adam November 22, 2016 at 12:13 pm

        I’m curious whether the fiscal damage done from all of the vehicular crashes negates the money the DMV pulls in?

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          J_R November 23, 2016 at 9:35 am

          The fiscal damage is far greater than the money the DMV takes in! In fact, the fiscal damage from motor vehicle crashes far exceeds the budget for the entire Oregon Department of Transportation.

          According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “In 2010 the total economic cost of motor vehicle crashes in the United States was $242 billion. This represents the present value of lifetime economic costs for 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries, and 24 million damaged vehicles. These figures include both police-reported and unreported crashes. When quality-of-life valuations are considered, the total value of societal harm from motor vehicle crashes in 2010 was $836 billion.”

          Since Oregon represents approximately 1 percent of the US population, we can calculate the total societal harm to be $8.36 billion per year for Oregon. In contrast, the entire ODOT budget for TWO years for 2011-13 was just under $5 billion.

          Cost of motor vehicle crashes in Oregon exceeds the entire ODOT budget by a factor of 3.3 to 1.

          Sources:

          NHTSA report:

          https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812013

          ODOT Budget:

          https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/docs/budgetbooklet_11-13.pdf

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          bottom bracket November 23, 2016 at 4:03 pm

          The damage is not paid by DMV. It’s paid by those involved in the crashes, their insurance companies, and by everyone’s insurance premiums.

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        El Biciclero November 23, 2016 at 8:05 am

        This is why you should pay to take the test. And DMV should get a little som’n to “adjust” your status when your license gets suspended or revoked. make issuing and revoking equally “profitable”, then there is no incentive to favor one over the other. Although collecting revocation fees would probably be harder to do…

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      Mike November 22, 2016 at 6:27 am

      Oregon is desperate for money. It doesn’t make anything off pedestrians and bicyclists. And with Trump in the WH, plus the defeat of 97, and likely recession in the near future, things will get a lot worse.

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        Eric Leifsdad November 22, 2016 at 7:58 am

        Drivers don’t pay full price, so every mile driven costs us more money. People don’t wear out pavement.

        Gravel is the future.

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          B. Carfree November 22, 2016 at 10:49 am

          Texas is already converting roads that were previously paved to gravel to cut maintenance costs. On the bright side, this does tend to slow motorists down.

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        El Biciclero November 23, 2016 at 8:14 am

        It doesn’t “make” anything off of drivers, either. Roads would put us in the hole every year if funds weren’t pulled from non-user-fee sources, some of which do indeed come from pedestrians and bicyclists—at least when those pedestrians and bicyclists leave their cars at home.

        If we’re talking about revenue—or lots of other things, for that matter—does it make more sense to talk about, e.g., “making money from car travel/use”, or “from bicycle travel/use”? At least when it comes to revenue, this sounds less divisive than “drivers” and “bicyclists”. Really, anyone might use any given mode at any given time, and it is the allowed, legal use of that mode that either “pays” or “doesn’t pay”. “Pedestrians” are harder to categorize, though—“shoe use”? “non-vehicular travel”?

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    eddie November 21, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    In the Europe it’s common for a driver’s license to cost thousands of dollars, and the test is HARD. I wonder what the stats are re. automobile related deaths there…

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      Spiffy November 22, 2016 at 7:51 am

      last I knew many years ago they had to take an essay style exam… my friend said it was quite difficult…

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      Greg Spencer November 22, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Europeans are a lot safer when they travel. Looking at the metric ‘road deaths per vehicle kilometre’, the figures for European countries are 40-60 percent lower than the American one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty November 22, 2016 at 10:48 am

      The time I spent in Italy convinced me that the European system produces highly skilled, polite, and safe drivers, who fully understand the inherent risks of driving and therefore drive defensively, conservatively, and with a sober mind appropriate for the gravity of the task at hand. It is something to aspire to.

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        Chris I November 22, 2016 at 12:33 pm

        The irony is that many Americans are afraid to drive over there, because the streets are narrow, and many intersections are uncontrolled. We prefer wide roads and little lights that tell us when to stop and go. Guess which approach is safer?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty November 23, 2016 at 10:58 am

          The problem isn’t the infrastructure.

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    James November 21, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    A lot of respect for the fire department and all first responder types.

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    I voted for Trump! November 22, 2016 at 12:45 am

    What have you personally done to improve your own safety while driving or cycling to help make vision zero a reality?

    Let’s see some testimonials. Me? When cycling I ride with flashing lights front and rear, wear bright yellow tops, wear light colored socks (hoping drivers can see them going up/down/up/down), and wear the usual helmet, gloves, etc. When driving a car, I pay attention to the road trying to see peds, cyclists, etc especially at intersections – I don’t use my phone when driving (I might answer a brief call, but would never try to dial a number) – I turn my lights on even in the day unless I’m out on a rural road where you can see for miles – use my signals – check function of all lights occasionally – never drink and drive (never have) – ignore a$$hole drivers that don’t deserve to be ignored, try to remember to yield to oncoming traffic when turning left with a green ball – basically I try to follow the rules. It’s not easy today – traffic is awful much of the time.

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      Beaverton_Biker November 22, 2016 at 7:52 am

      Thank you for following the rules. It is ridiculous that we need to be recognized and awarded for simply doing what’s safe but that is the state of entitlement on our roads.

      Me personally? I try to smile and wave, always wait for pedestrians, and follow ALL traffic rules while biking (yes, even stopping at silly unnecessary STOP signs). My opinion is that people in cars need to see people on bicycles following the same rules in order to raise kinship and empathy. I have had very few bad experiences here in Cedar Hills and no close calls so I continue to believe 99% of people are polite and considerate, regardless of transportation mode.

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      Spiffy November 22, 2016 at 8:01 am

      walking: assert my right to the road by stepping off the curb aggressively as if I don’t see any cross-traffic, thus forcing drivers to stop because they think I don’t see them and they’ll hit me… always look and not assume an approaching vehicle is making audible noise…

      cycling: stopped wearing a helmet for most local trips, except commuting… stopped using blinking lights… ride in the middle of the lane, or left side of it… stopped wearing hi-viz… this is all to make me look more human-looking and predictable…

      driving: try not to break ANY driving laws… that requires a lot of route planning… always trying to stay under the speed limit… slow down in dense areas… slow down to be able to see pedestrians waiting to cross… slow down in the rain and dark… follow laws rather than be “nice”…

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      soren November 22, 2016 at 9:51 am

      After 40+ years of riding in, through, and between urban traffic without a collision I’m not particularly concerned with improving my safety. I am, however, far more concerned about the safety of other vulnerable road users so my riding style is based on the premise that ignoring car-centric norms leads to safer roads.

      I stop for vulnerable traffic even when I have the right of way.
      I block crosswalks so that vulnerable users can cross.
      I wear black and do not own a single piece of hi-viz clothing.
      I ride without a helmet much of the time.
      I sometimes ride without lights at night (often unintentionally)
      I ride on sidewalks when it’s convenient and/or safer.
      I never “take the lane”.
      I choose to ignore every signal or sign that does not impact my safety or the safety of others.
      I choose to ignore every line of paint that does not impact my safety or the safety of others.

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      Greg Spencer November 22, 2016 at 10:12 am

      Hat’s off for your conscientious travel habits. But if we’re trying to effect a community-wide — or nation-wide — improvement in road safety, it’ll take more than individual action. This is a matter of public policy.

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        bottom bracket November 22, 2016 at 9:11 pm

        So, if everyone suddenly decides to concentrate on driving safely we will not see any improvement?

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      El Biciclero November 23, 2016 at 9:03 am

      For bicycling, my baseline is that since I was a kid, I’ve used lights on my bike at night, and since my rides/commutes have often traversed some pretty pitch-black stretches, I’ve usually worn some reflective accoutrements. I usually wear a helmet, but sometimes don’t, and don’t freak out if I realize I’ve forgotten it.

      More recent changes to riding behavior that have (anecdotally, mind you) resulted in perceptible improvements to my safety have been as follows:
      * Stopped signaling most right turns—signaling only invites following drivers who might also be turning to overtake and crowd while cutting the corner and jamming you into the curb or a parked car. I still signal rights if there are following bicyclists or if there is a driver waiting to pull out of my destination street (just to be helpful).

      * Started riding further left, especially next to parked cars or at driveways/cross streets. I have video of this strategy saving my bacon.

      * Started using a mirror

      * Lowered my tire pressures slightly to favor more traction over less rolling resistance.

      * Become much more focused/educated on bike maintenance to avoid “mechanicals”

      * Bought new glasses with better hydrophobic lens coating for rainy rides

      * Started wearing sunscreen (for face) and sun sleeves for Summertime commutes

      For the safety of others:

      * Constantly scan for pedestrians who might be crossing and yield ROW (almost got rear-ended, and did get scolded by another bicyclist for stopping for a pedestrian who was already in the crosswalk just the other day)

      * Avoid MUPs when possible, and slow for pedestrians on them—especially children.

      * Added a bell to my bike for giving audible signals, although such signals go largely unheard these days due to ear buds/headphones worn by most pedestrians on MUPs

      So for driving, baseline is basic “legal” driving, mostly to avoid getting in crashes or getting tickets. More recent intentional “upgrades”:

      * Intentionally focus on scanning edges of my field of view, especially looking for pedestrians or bicyclists; use the Tri-met-approved “rock and roll” technique to see around A-pillars when necessary.

      * When scanning left-right (or right-left) across a wide field, intentionally focus on several intermittent points to avoid losing things in saccades.

      * Adjusted side mirrors to eliminate most blind spots (this requires a non-intuitive adjustment of the driver’s-side mirror that doesn’t allow one to see the side of one’s car, but provides a continuous view of overtaking vehicles from rear-view mirror to side mirror)

      * Obsessively checking right side mirror and blind spot for bicyclists prior to turning right

      * Stopped using bike lanes as a right turn lane

      * When making a right turn, either at a STOP or on a red light, intentionally stop staring left and really look to the right before proceeding.

      * Increased following distance, generally

      * Slowed down generally, especially in poor or low-visibility conditions, e.g., dark and rainy

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        David Hampsten November 26, 2016 at 7:41 pm

        Question: Where did you get hydrophobic lenses for your glasses? I had no idea they existed.

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          El Biciclero November 28, 2016 at 10:32 am

          Well, really they’re not specifically “hydrophobic”, but the anti-glare coatings available are quite hydrophobic, at least compared to non-anti-glare treated lenses, which my old glasses were.

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        Tacoma November 28, 2016 at 5:18 pm

        Thanks for posting these. Had to check out the “ROCK and ROLL” technique:

        https://trimet.org/pdfs/news/TriMet-Safety-Review-Phase-1-Report.pdf

        Good to know I’d been doing that already plus several other of your suggestions. Really like your list. I’m especially conscious of these:

        * Obsessively checking right side mirror and blind spot for bicyclists prior to turning right

        * Constantly scan for pedestrians who might be crossing and yield ROW

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    rachel b November 22, 2016 at 12:45 am

    Thanks, Kristi Finney, Susan Kubota, Kim Stone, David Sale.

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    Lester Burnham November 22, 2016 at 7:37 am

    Good luck expecting government to perform well at any level. The *only* thing they are good at, excel at actually, is taking your money.

    Your #1 best defense is to be as alert as possible when it comes to your personal safety. And don’t hold your breath expecting any government agency to make things safer for you.

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    Eric Leifsdad November 22, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Individuals need to change just as much as government and agencies. The attitude of otherwise reasonable people (who seem to be concerned about equality, the environment, and against war), when it comes to driving they are selfish, entitled, and pushy. The “you people” sentiments about sharing the road or funding bike infrastructure seem very callous against the externalized costs of death and injury. In the end, we’ll all be dead because people were too afraid or lazy to get out of their cars. An electric bike will do all of the work of transporting you and your cupholders, but you have to bother to dress for the weather and pay some attention to your surroundings. Seems a small price to pay for sustaining life on earth. If you’re not with us, you’re against us (there is no them.)

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    Dave November 22, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Granted, the wireless communication business would fight this seeing as they probably have major money to bribe politicians with but I offer two suggestions: 1. Empower, no, require, police officers to immediately seize and destroy all cell phones they see in the passenger compartment of a car.
    Treat ’em like the open bottles of liquor that they’d pour out on the ground.
    2. Require insurance companies to sell liability coverage on cell/smart phones if the owner is a licensed driver. Yes, it would be expensive. Yes, it’s a handout to a filthy and parasitic industry. But it would drive home how terribly bad an idea it is to multitask while driving.

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    Greg Spencer November 22, 2016 at 10:42 am

    This focus on individual responsibility for everything is so American. Look at any country where road safety is better than in the States, and the explanations are in every case public: lower traffic speeds, higher public transport mode share, stricter driver’s licensing systems, better cycling infrastructure, etc. And then look at countries with WORSE safety records, and you’ll again find public explanations: poorer infrastructure, high road speeds, poor traffic enforcement and so on. It’s not that individual behavior isn’t important. I’m reminding my kids about road safety all the time. But if we want to see change beyond our close circles of friends and family, we have to think as a community.

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    Kate November 22, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Thank you for your continued work and advocacy Kristi. I hope we can continue to honor Dustin and the many others lost to dangerous driving.

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    q'Tzal November 26, 2016 at 1:37 am

    1.5x scale full body concrete stautes of traffic victims… Placed where they died and LEFT in place PERMANENTLY.

    That’ll slow ’em down.

    Dodge this!

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      David Hampsten November 26, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      In Uruguay they intentionally place previously wrecked cars on highway medians and at intersections.

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