21 of the 32 actions outlined in the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Vision Zero Action Plan should be completed within two years and all of them should be done by 2021.
Those are the marching orders given to PBOT from City Council after four commissioners (Mayor Charlie Hales was in Mexico at a climate change conference) voted unanimously yesterday to pass the plan (PDF), a 35-page document developed over six months of task force meetings, data-crunching, and public outreach.
The vote comes six months after City Council passed the Vision Zero resolution that says, “No loss of life is acceptable on our city streets.”
The plan of actions to reach a goal of zero fatalities by 2025 (just nine years from now) are broken down into five categories: street design, impairment, speed, dangerous behaviors, and engagement and accountability. They include things like: breaking ground on new capital projects on high crash corridors, increasing police training, gaining local authority to set speed limits, expanding the red light safety camera program, and more.
“If someone is repeatedly putting someone else at risk, why the hell are they still driving a car?!”
— Nick Fish, City Commissioner
Before hearing presentations from PBOT staff and public testimony, outgoing PBOT Commissioner Steve Novick said, “We know this work won’t hapen overnight.” Novick warned that the success of this initiative depends on partnerships with other agencies and organizations and funds to implement the plan. He also referenced the grim reality of the “particularly deadly” statistical trend of 2016. “We’re swimming against the current,” he said, “And the fact that we’re part of a national trend [of increased traffic deaths] is no comfort to the parents of children, siblings, and friends that we’ve lost.”
PBOT Director Leah Treat, who has made Vision Zero a priority since her first months on the job (in 2014 she said, “Every death on our roadways is a failure of government”), told City Council that the plan is the result of an “unprecedented level of collaboration” among sister agencies and stakeholders. Treat also said equity was the guiding principle of the Action Plan. She assured Council that traffic enforcement would not lead to racial profiling and that low-income and underserved neighborhoods would get priority when it comes to safety project investments.
In a good sign for the work ahead, all four commissioners on hand at yesterday’s hearing were engaged with the topic.
Commissioner Nick Fish said he and his colleagues are forced to make hard decisions come budget time, so he challenged PBOT Director Treat to tell them what the single highest priority is. “I would recommend to council that our investments focus on road diets and re-engineering roadways,” Treat responded, “That will have the most impact on slowing people down.”
Enforcement was on nearly everyone’s mind yesterday — despite the fact that the City’s Vision Zero Task Force recommended de-emphasizing it due to concerns of how it can disproportionately impact people of color (a topic that wasn’t talked about yesterday).
Fish said he was shocked to learn that 56 percent of all fatal crashes involve drugs or alcohol. He asked whether Council should support new laws to address it. PBOT Director Treat warned against that, saying the alcoholism and drug addiction problems in our society are on such a large scale they should be dealt with by social service agencies. Fish expressed outright frustration about repeat offenders with dozens of DUIs and violations who continue to drive and crash into other roads users. “If someone is repeatedly putting someone else at risk,” he said, “Why the hell are they still driving a car?!” Treat answered by saying the police are simply out of room in jails and are “forced to do triage.” “They let repeat offenders back out onto our streets,” she said, “Until they cause harm to others.”
Commissioner Novick said if he was re-elected he would have tried to raise the price of alcohol in hopes of making it less popular.
“I think it’s terrible someone can get their license in Oregon and drive for 60-70 years without ever having to get an education about all the new laws.”— Steve Todd, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge
Despite voting to adopt a plan that specifically de-emphasizes enforcement and having a bureau director who feels enforcement isn’t the silver bullet to solving safety problems, Commissioner Saltzman said he prefers, “Hardcore enforcement.” “We’ve become complacement and we are desensitized to the fact that people have 34 prior violations yet we still support people’s right to drive because they ‘have to get to work’… We can’t afford to do that… I think we need strong enforcement and more overtime patrols.”
Saltzman also asked whether the city could ticket people caught using cell phones on speed radar camera photos. PBOT Division Manager Margi Bradway said they see quite a few people talking on phones in those images but they don’t have the authority to cite them for it.
Steve Todd, a Multnomah County Circuit Judge who has worked with the City on traffic safety issues for many years, said in testimony that he feels laws and police enforcement are not enough. “We need other solutions,” he said. “New laws aren’t going to work if they are hard to enforce and if no one knows about them. I think it’s terrible someone can get their license in Oregon and drive for 60-70 years without ever having to get an education about all the new laws.”
(Note: The Action Plan includes directives aimed at improving road user education including: Action D.4, “Increase access and expand referrals to traffic schools and other forms of traffic safety education for all road users”; and Action D.6, “Support legislation to increase funding for and access to driver education, frequency of testing, and inclusion of urban transportation safety in test materials.”)
Several community members testified in support of the plan (there was only one critic of it at the hearing, a man named Terry Parker who is well-known for his vehemently anti-bike opinions).
BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky said in order for Vision Zero to succeed, PBOT needs stronger commitments from Multnomah County and the Oregon Department of Transportation (neither of whom were at the hearing yesterday). He also said PBOT needs to “take back some streets” from ODOT like Powell, Barbur, 82nd and Columbia, “so we can truly make a difference.”
“If I’m a pedestrian who’s jaywalking, I’m just as culpable as the person who might hit me.”
— Amanda Fritz, City Commissioner
Two well-known transportation reform activists, Doug Klotz and Soren Impey said the City’s plan lacks teeth and doesn’t go nearly far enough. Another activist, Corey Poole, said he fears it will just sit on a shelf.
Klotz criticized the plan for being too vague and not having any funding attached to it. The plan also, “doesn’t represent a major shift in the city’s priorities,” he said. “I fear some of these goals may not be met because other factors besides safety will be given equal or greater weight. I hope I’m wrong.” Impey also criticized the plan’s lack of detail and funding and said, “It reminds me of the bike plan.” “I don’t believe this plan is anywhere near bold enough,” he added. Poole, who represents skateboarders, said “We need this to be more than a report on a shelf and we need to be willing to put human lives ahead of parking spaces and a slightly faster commute time.”
Before casting her “yes” vote, Commissioner Amanda Fritz (who admitted she has been caught on one of the city’s new red light cameras) referenced a letter of testimony from Bike Loud PDX where she took issue with their request for less enforcement on bikers and walkers and for the city to stop suggesting that dark clothing makes vulnerable users responsible for crashes. “If I’m a pedestrian who’s jaywalking, I’m just as culpable as the person who might hit me,” Fritz said. “The fact is we’re all responsible.” When it comes to allegations that mentioning dark clothing is victim-blaming, Fritz said, “Actually, it’s my responsibility as a pedestrian to wear something bright or carry a flashlight in my pocket… It’s a matter of life and death.”*
Fritz also introduced an amendment to clarify that a portion of funds raised from a recently passed marijuana tax (estimated to be $3 million a year) would be spent on road safety projects as part of the City’s Vision Zero effort. The amendment passed. She also wanted to make sure the plan ordinance passed as an emergency so that work could begin immediately.
Yesterday’s hearing made it clear there’s broad support for PBOT’s Vision Zero efforts. It’ll take all that and a lot more if we want to reach zero deaths by 2025.
(*Note: Because many people have asked about her comments. Here’s the full context, which you can also watch in this video:
I wanted to address a few of the issues Bike Loud Portland sent in a very informative letter, and I’m happy to say I agree with everything on the front page. Then they started talking about supporting infractions most likely to result in injury or death. They said because people walking or cycling rarely result in injury or death the draft Vision Zero Action Plan should contain language that de-emphasizes infractions by vulnerable traffic that do not pose risk to others. The thing is, if I’m a pedestrian and jaywalking and not crossing where I should be crossing, or not waiting for the light, I’m just as culpable as the person who might hit me.
Before I got on the Council I was yelled at by a police officer for jaywalking downtown. He stopped me and we had a nice conversation. I said, ‘Why? There’s nothing coming,’ and he said, ‘There’s children who might be watching you or there might be blind people who might sense you moving. It might be safe for you, but it’s not safe for them.’ Having had that conversation I almost never jaywalk anymore.
Again, it’s just embracing the fact that we’re all responsible. Again, Bike Loud PDX said that people walking or biking should not be blamed because they were wearing supposedly inapproproate or dark clothing. No, actually, it’s my responsibility as a pedestrian to wear something bright or carry a falshlight in my pocket so I don’t have to remember it’s there and I can turn it on when I get off the bus. So it’s all of us. There’s nobody who’s immune to this. It’s a matter of life and death, literally.
I know that this particular hearing is going to continue to be kind of like the holocaust victims reading in that it’s immensely painful to be thinking about traffic crashes and deaths and yet it’s absolutely essential that we continue to do so.”
Download the Vision Zero Action Plan here (PDF) .
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – email@example.com
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Kudos to the Council. That map is a powerful document. As an aside, the comment about Novick and alcohol is so classic for him. His response to absolutely everything during the last 4 years: MORE TAXES.
“Commissioner Novick said if he was re-elected he would have tried to raise the price of alcohol in hopes of making it less popular.”
Good riddance Steve.
FWIW he specifically said that state law prohibits Portland from a tax on alcohol… So to get around that, his idea would have been to mandate a higher price. a distinction w/o a difference perhaps.
I know it’s a moot point, but how exactly did Emperor Steve plan to “mandate” a higher price as a City Councilor? He will not be missed.
So the mayor is in Mexico at a AGW conference. This is a ludicrous waste of taxpayer money. Whether you believe in AGW or not, the mayor of any city has no business spending money in this way. Portland can do nothing on their own to change he AGW situation. This is an example of the big business (really, it’s a religion) that AGW has become.
I agree that it is unseemly to send the mayor to Mexico on the public dime, however, I see AGW as the issue of our time. Leadership has to come from all levels, especially now, as time to address the issue grows short and national leadership seems so hostile to the idea of taking even common-sense steps towards reducing the threat.
AGW is not something to “believe in”, at least no more than evolution or gravity. It’s a well establish fact. I’ll accept the mayor going to Mexico if it advances the cause of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, even a little.
Should have sent the mayor-elect.
Thanks for posting this famous anti climate change propaganda nonsense, Mr, “I voted for Trump”. Using this forum for right wing political trolling should at least come with disclaimer.
Oh Fritz, I really dislike your opinions.
car culture out loud is really jarring to hear. ugh ugh ugh
You mean her amendment to provide a clear source of funding for the project, or treating the situation as an emergency so work could start immediately?
Her positions are not black and white, and she’s on the right side of a lot of issues.
I think it might have been her blatant victim blaming concerning pedestrian responsibility to not get hit by people driving cars.
Like I said, her positions are not black and white. Reactions should reflect that.
Oh Fritz, I really dislike many of your opinions. I hope someday somebody steps up to take your job.
When I say I don’t like Fritz I mean her constant victim blaming, as well as her anti ADU stance, and her general long standing NIMBY attitude.
Fritz is the worst.
“Oh Fritz, I really dislike your opinions.” dan
What specifically it is about those opinions you don’t like?
I’ve got to give credit to Fritz on a couple points:
One…she apparently carefully read and studied the areas of concern raised in the letter sent to her by local activist group BikeLoud.
Second, the commissioner was respectful of that group’s concerns, to the extent that publicly, before city council, she noted issues raised in the letter and was interested in them enough to offer her own viewpoint and opinions on them.
There are worthy objectives to try attain by way of the Vision Zero concept. Part of the means to success in attaining those objectives, will likely be for all road users… not just a percent of them defined by their particular mode of travel at any given time, and assigned exclusively to just one mode of travel: by motor vehicle …to embrace their respective personal responsibility for using various basic visibility measures that can help them reduce likelihood there may be, of them becoming a casualty or fatality in their use of the road.
“…Again, it’s just embracing the fact that we’re all responsible. Again, Bike Loud PDX said that people walking or biking should not be blamed because they were wearing supposedly inappropriate or dark clothing. No, actually, it’s my responsibility as a pedestrian to wear something bright or carry a falshlight in my pocket so I don’t have to remember it’s there and I can turn it on when I get off the bus. So it’s all of us. There’s nobody who’s immune to this. It’s a matter of life and death, literally. …” Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.
There is nothing equal about the destructive capability of cars and shoes. Trying to make them equally responsible is what got us into this mess in the first place.
Fritz didn’t say “equal;” she said “both responsible.” I think that is actually true (both user groups are responsible, to different degrees). I think the problem with her perspective is more nuanced, having to do with the proper role of government, and the current state of our culture around transportation.
She said, “just as culpable”, i.e. “equally culpable”.
Oh, yep. You are right. Serves me right for trying to find a bright spot concerning Amanda Fritz and biking or walking.
Well, I do like her amendment to secure funds from the MJ tax for road safety projects. So there’s that.
That’s true. Thanks for pointing that out! I didn’t see that in my initial scan of the article. It’s so easy to get emotional and angry about this issue. I think I would do well to study the mental/spiritual techniques of activists fighting other unjust systems to improve my activism. I get angry, whiny, and confrontational far too easily, and I think it impacts my effectiveness (as well as my mental health).
I didn’t know I can crash into a brick building while walking and cause extensive damage..
I was almost hit this morning by a driver running a stop sign.
It wasn’t a California stop either, he had to have been doing every bit of 20 mph; In fact, I’m certain the he sped up in order to make it to the intersection before my wife and I got to the cross walk.
Incidentally, the likelihood of the operator of the vehicle at 6:00am being DWI is slim. I object in the strongest possible terms (I’d use a profanity if this weren’t a family blog) to the idea of taxing alcohol in order to make it less popular.
Just so we can understand the context of Fritz’s quotes about jaywalking (and also the holocaust), here’s the full passage (you can also watch in this video):
It is absolutely inappropriate, offensive, and frankly quite disgusting for an elected official to be using the Holocaust as a comparison to traffic safety. The two things are not even close to being equal.
Thanks. But you should be telling her that as well.
I tried, but she blocked me on Twitter. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I did send her an email, however:
I’m not a fan of many of Fritz’s positions on transportation- but as someone who sat through the entire council hearing yesterday there is even more context to the Holocaust statement than the text here.
Fritz brought up the Holocaust initially because she was commending the Vision Zero plan for bringing focus back to the lives of victims of traffic violence. In particular, the Vision Zero map that lays the names of victims over the city map where they were killed. She said that remember the names and people that are impacted is important to grounding the work, even though it is difficult for families to revisit these tragedies. She compared it to a tradition where she goes down to Pioneer Square and reads the names of Holocaust victims every year even though it’s very difficult. The idea is that we shouldn’t lose sight of the traegdy of every person when victims are in multitudes.
So in the quoted statement above, she is referencing her earlier comments that it was an emotional hearing (we heard from Kristi about the death of her son, and another woman about the death of her mother) but that it was important to talk through it all because it’s life and death matter.
I can’t believe i just spent this much time typing to defend Amanda Fritz on a bike blog. But I also think sending her emails about her testimony when you haven’t spent the time to watch or read it in full is not super fair either. For the record, I do not agree with her that peds should feel the need to carry flashlights with them. etc.
Sure, I understand the context. I’ve even participated in name readings myself (though not in Portland; I wonder if protesters show up at name readings here too). Sure, the one thing in common they have is a list of names, but she is still equating two things which are not equal. She could have instead made a comparison to people affected by heart disease or something similar. It’s the comparison to genocide I have a problem with. It’s still inappropriate, given the context.
That’s great that you understand the context. In your earlier comments you are stating that she is directly comparing traffic safety to the Holocaust and are outraged. I just came by to clarify that was not the context of her statement. She was equating the emotional process of reliving the tragic loss of an individual, fully formed person to not lose sight of deaths on large-scale. That’s fine it that outrages you, but let’s not misrepresent the arc of the conversation. There is plenty of other stuff she says we can push back on.
Your thinking seems keen to me as to why Fritz would reference the holocaust in expressing the concern she has about the subject of the hearing, being about traffic collisions and resulting casualties.
It’s a sensitive reference to have used, but it seems to me her intent was to express empathy with people who’ve experienced losses in various ways through shortcomings of today’s road and street infrastructure, and the manner in which some people use that infrastructure.
re; visibility of people using the street on foot: I would be interested in hearing whether you feel vulnerable road users, specifically people using the road on foot…have any responsibility to aid visibility of themselves to people driving…and what forms that aid should perhaps take.
Commissioner Fritz responded to my email:
You feel better, now?
She’s responding to email now?
That’s a nice note. I have been frustrated with Fritz but feel terrible for her over the loss of her husband.
I think you missed her point entirely. While it may have been awkward, she was referring to discussing traffic DEATHS, not safety. Since her husband died in a car accident, you might cur her some slack.
Comparing traffic deaths to genocide is in extremely poor taste.
Except… that’s not what she did.
Agreed. But that’s not what she did.
Some of us know people that have been hit and injured and/or killed by cars while legally crossing the street. For her to say that we have a responsibility to wear bright clothing as pedestrians is just like me telling her that her husband is dead because he bought an unsafe car. It’s callous, offensive, and completely unacceptable.
I wouldn’t have gone there, but I think you’re misrepresenting her “comparison.” She didn’t say traffic violence is like the holocaust. She said very specifically that the similarity between the “hearing” and the victim “reading” is that it’s painful but essential.
Same difference. If she was saying that talking about traffic violence is the same as talking about genocide, she is still equating the two. She could have just said “this hearing is difficult, but necessary to move forward” without referencing the Shoah.
She was equating her pain. I don’t know why you feel you have the right to say what she should or should not feel.
Equating the pain felt from losing a loved one in a car crash to the pain of the systemic extermination of 11M people? I think I’m allowed to have a say in that comparison.
The immediate loss of a loved one may well feel more immediate and painful than the extermination of millions on another continent 75 years ago. Would you grieve the loss of your wife more or less than the death of 800,000 in Rwanda/Burundi? Actually, don’t answer… it’s a disgusting question.
You have no right to tell Jewish people that they shouldn’t be offended by Holocaust comments.
There weren’t any Holocaust comments. Perhaps you should re-read what Fritz actually said, and think about what her comments meant.
And no, you have no say in that comparison.
The reason this bothers me so much is that nobody built Holocaust memorials until after the war. We are still losing 30,000 lives a year and the rate in Oregon is on the rise. The fact that Fritz will simultaneously victim blame, oppose anti-car-culture policies, and compare traffic violence to genocide leaves me with a bitter taste.
I hear you Alan.
She also said yesterday that she supports more enforcement of the parking law that says you can’t park within a certain distance of a corner.
Elected officials should not make comparisons to the Holocaust unless they are talking about actual genocide.
Listen again. She said she’s support that so people could “consider parking somewhere else”. I would not be surprised if “somewhere else” means building more off-street parking.
First they would have to remove the parking spaces.
***mean comment deleted by Jonathan***
Would she think it appropriate if a city councilor said: “People who drive cars have the responsibility to buy a newer car with a good crash rating and lots of airbags. It is completely irresponsible to drive around in a 1993 sentra that is painted in neutral colors like black and white rather than a newer car painted in a bright color scheme and with better safety features. If someone driving an antique car like this gets hit it is clear that they are just as culpable as the person who hit them for not taking measures to make themselves safer. One might almost say they were asking to be hurt through their irresponsible choices in what kind of car they drove.”
I think it would be kind of inconsiderate for a city councilor to say such a thing, but then I am not a politician so what do I know?
Perhaps they should also be expected to have a five point harness, flame-proof suit and wear a helmet. Otherwise, we should certainly blame motorists for their own deaths when some other motorist plows into them.
If you drive a compact car instead of a monster truck, you’re just as responsible for dying as the person who ran you over in the monster truck is.
This is asinine. The problem isn’t drunk people it’s drunk drivers. So make driving harder, not drinking. Why punish people who walk or take the bus to the bars just the same as those who drive drunk?
Saltzman calling for “hardcore enforcement” sounds like a police state to me. Given the recent behaviors of the Portland Police, and our current political climate, I find this notion absolutely terrifying. Don’t give police more reasons to stop people. They already ignore your constitutional rights.
Fritz’ comments were expected, but still discouraging. “We’re all responsible for traffic safety” is like saying “all lives matter”. The claim is not based in reality since the vast majority of people causing the problems are drivers. I’ll be damned if I’m going to carry a Pedestrian Safety Flashlight™ every time I leave the house. And what was with her comparison to the Holocaust? That was a wildly inappropriate and offensive claim. I’m not even 100% sure what the message she was trying to convey with her comparison was, but I was frankly disgusted by it.
I don’t have much faith this plan will be properly executed given out current city leadership. Here’s hoping Mayor-elect Wheeler will take a bolder approach.
How do you stop drunk driving without enforcement? The various technology remedies don’t seem to work at all. Since this is the major cause of deaths on the roads, we need more enforcement, not less.
Apparently we are more interested in slowing down the drunk drivers than getting off the road.
There was actually an interesting tangent about this. We can increase enforcement and so on, but there is no capacity in the jails to hold the drunk drivers so they just get released again. Commissioners and Treat noted that until the justice system can handle holding and processing (let alone have the officers to enforce), road diets and redesign will have a bigger impact in slowing down reckless driving and lessening devastation. I thought that was pretty clear-eyed and has the benefit of slowing all drivers, not just the impaired ones.
Just to play that out, we have a building that’s been sitting empty for years called Wapato that was specifically designed to be a jail. It cost something like $40 million and sits empty. No money to use for that apparently. You can only laugh.
I stand corrected. We have spent more than $90 MILLION on a jail that sits empty.
Good. Leave it empty. In fact, why not empty out the other jails too? Oregon systemically locks up minorities and people of color for minor infractions. It’s modern form of slavery. End the prison-industrial complex.
“56 percent of all fatal crashes involve drugs or alcohol.”
Vision Zero ain’t happening with so many repeat offenders out there. Clearly a conflict with your laudable goal.
Jails should only be for dangerous drivers and bike thieves. All others should walk free.
Dude, I don’t even know how you get out your front door with all the troubles in the world weighing on your shoulders. You seem like the type of person who could look at a sunset and think of all the poor children about to get a sun burn. Chill out
If no one gets fired up about injustice, this simply allows the injustice to continue.
If you get all fired up over every Injustice, whether it exists or not, you lose credibility when you try to fight for one that really matters.
Keep your powder dry and fire judiciously.
Who are you to decide what injustices matter to me?
I would never do that.
And we can start confiscating and crushing cars. Did anybody say that?
There are some really simple things that would put a serious dent in the problem.
For example, it stands to reason that someone who proves they can’t handle a responsibility (like drinking) should be able to lose it. For example, if someone gets convicted of driving drunk, their license (or having lost that, their ID) could be clearly marked in a way that prohibits them from buying alcohol.
This would require carding to be more universal and their friends might buy for them, but they would be subject to the same penalties as someone who bought for underage drinkers and the drinkers would likewise incur similar sanctions. Even with significant slippage, this would still make a huge difference.
As things are now, if someone is convicted of drunk driving, they can lose their license as well as their job if they can’t figure out another way to work. In one of the great ironies, one of the few things that you have a total right to do after killing someone after driving drunk is to continue to get drunk.
Maybe not so much more enforcement as more effective enforcement. Citizens like to scream en mass about the radicalist who snapped who was at one point in time a speck on the FBI’s huge list of people who could be of concern (which they are of course often criticized for even having). But when you read an article about a pedestrian killed by a driver with a suspended license due to N previous DUIs, it’s perfectly acceptable to respond with “Oh, that poor guy’s family… what was he wearing?”.
And even DUI itself seems the only amplifier… if the person had N previous speeding tickets, that’s barely (or rarely) reported. (I mean, who doesn’t have speeding tickets?).
Your post is so full of hyperbole… but let me just ask who proposed punishing people walking or taking the bus after drinking the same as people driving drunk?
Novick proposed charging everyone more for beer, regardless of how they arrived to the bar. I don’t drive, so why should I pay more for beer because some moron decided to drive to the bar and drink too much? I am not opposed to a tax to combat drunk driving, but charging more for alcohol is not the right approach. It’s almost as if Novick assumes everyone drives to the bar.
Well, since everyone would be paying more for beer regardless of how they arrived at the bar, I see that as a punishment on people who don’t drive.
A tax is not a punishment. Jail time, fines, loss of license… those are punishments.
I should be taxed for bourbon I drink at home to reduce the chance of somebody else driving drunk? That’s an odd plan.
It’s the plan implemented in everyone’s favorite city: Copenhagen.
Semantics. I’m still paying more for something because of another’s poor actions. It’s collective punishment through increased costs. The driving portion of “drunk driving” should be targeted, not the drunk part.
What did pot smokers do to deserve the 3% punishment voters just imposed? Injustice!
Just another case of a few bad actors ruining it for the rest of us.
Yep. What if someone was proposing taxing cyclists because a few of them ran red lights?
That would be as silly as taxing alcohol as a punishment for drunk driving would be. If that ever happened.
What, you didn’t sign up for our new post-truth world?
What about my post specifically do you find issue with?
Personally, I have a hard time deciding if it’s the exaggeration or the misrepresentation.
Which part is an exaggeration. Which part is a mis-representation?
Legend: [M] Misrepresentation [E] Exaggeration
This is asinine. The problem isn’t drunk people it’s drunk drivers. So make driving harder, not drinking. Why punish people who walk or take the bus to the bars just the same as those who drive drunk? ([M] adjusting alcohol taxes is not a punishment.)
Saltzman calling for “hardcore enforcement” sounds like a police state to me. Given the recent behaviors of the Portland Police, and our current political climate, I find this notion absolutely terrifying. Don’t give police more reasons to stop people. They already ignore your constitutional rights. ([E] Police generally do not ignore your constitutional rights.)
Fritz’ comments were expected, but still discouraging. “We’re all responsible for traffic safety” is like saying “all lives matter”. ([M] No it’s not.) The claim is not based in reality since the vast majority of people causing the problems are drivers. I’ll be damned if I’m going to carry a Pedestrian Safety Flashlight™ every time I leave the house ([M] No you won’t. God doesn’t care.) And what was with her comparison to the Holocaust? ([M] She was referring to her own grief, not equating traffic deaths with the holocaust.) That was a wildly inappropriate and offensive claim. ([M] She didn’t make this claim.) I’m not even 100% sure what the message she was trying to convey with her comparison was (You’re actaully spot on with this comment!), but I was frankly disgusted by it.
I don’t have much faith this plan will be properly executed given out current city leadership. Here’s hoping Mayor-elect Wheeler will take a bolder approach.
Based on my analysis above, I guess it’s clear that it’s the misrepresentation.
Without increased enforcement, the Vision Zero effort is doomed to fail.
The very expensive infrastructure changes will produce some benefits, but they are unlikely to produce any statistically significant reductions in fatalities.
The whole effort is simply a way to say we’re doing something and pat ourselves on the back for recognizing the existence of a problem.
“Added enforcement of impaired driving is not included as an action at this time due to concerns about potential disparate impacts on people of color.”
We’re beyond the looking glass, people!
This is less about “people of color should be allowed to drive drunk” and more about “police will kill more people of color if they are given more interactions with them”.
No, it’s about the city using a ridiculous excuse to not do their job. It’s even worse than “we’ll do something when we receive enough complaints.” You should consider resuming one of your many other debates on this thread – I’m not interested!
Don’t “communities of color” deserve protection against drunk drivers?
Even if I accept that Portland police will kill more people of color if they interact with them more by actually enforcing the traffic laws, the key question is whether that increase will be greater or less than the number of lives of people of color saved by enforcing those laws.
Perhaps I’m misinformed as to just how rogue our cops are, but we are looking at some 500 roadway deaths statewide this year, all of them preventable if traffic laws were enforced to such an extent that motorists drove lawfully. How many people of color have police statewide killed? One percent of that 500? How many of those 500 were people of color?
This “cops will kill people of color if they enforce traffic laws” rings like “think of the children” in so many other contexts. Neither one are legitimate and turn us away from reason and towards emotion.
You’re thinking from a pure economic standpoint. However, Vision Zero has a goal of zero traffic deaths. If enforcing traffic laws results in more killings by police, then it’s not Vision Zero. Obviously, the solution is to fix the police, but that’s not exactly trivial. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, but it is a bit outside the scope of PBOT’s ability to affect traffic safety, and thus the only logical conclusion for PBOT to take is to distrust the effectiveness of police enforcement.
No, I’m not talking economics, I’m talking quantitation. Vision Zero is about moving towards zero traffic deaths, not doing it in one fell swoop (sorry). If risking some unknown number of hypothetical racially motivated killings by police is a possible consequence of enforcing our traffic laws so as to dramatically reduce the number of traffic deaths, then we should, as a matter of equity, make darn sure that the decrease from enforcement is going to be greater than the increase from killer cops. I think it is obvious from past experience that this is the case, thus increasing enforcement is a legitimate tool in the Vision Zero quest.
Also, VZ is a city-wide (actually wider still, but this installment is only about the Portland city policy) policy, not a PBoT policy. It is certainly appropriate to consider all bureaus and not just one that appears to be nearly impotent in reducing, or even stopping an increase in, traffic deaths.
Adam – you are making excellent points, that need to keep being made. More enforcement will definitely have a negative impact of communities of color. Oregon criminal justice has an outrageously high percentage of non-whites in the system. Every level of our criminal justice system here has higher percentages of brown and black people represented, from traffic stops all the way to how high a bail is set. There are minority run organizations screaming about the injustices, while the white moderates are saying they want more enforcement. Black people know exactly what that means to them. More harassment. Until Portland really starts listening to what the minority communities are saying, progress will be reserved for the white people. None of us are truly free until we are all free. It sounds like Leah Treat has been listening to minority communities. Our council is full of unchecked white privilege.
What do you tell crime victims in communities of color? “Sorry, we’ve reduced enforcement”? I don’t think reducing law enforcement is a satisfactory solution to bad policing.
In many communities of color, the police exhibit far more heavy-handed policing and targeted discrimination compared to white neighborhoods. Less police would only help these neighborhoods, not hurt them.
I understand that. But some of those communities are also facing severe crime and violence problems. Withdrawing the police is not the right answer. Perhaps giving communities more of a say in how they are policed might help.
Are they though? Violent crime is down city-wide.
I was thinking more at national level. I’m not current on crime stats around the city. I’d still be happy to give communities more input on policing strategies, policies, and priorities. If they want fewer police, that’s great; there’s plenty of places that people want more.
I still think the better solution is to address the underlying issues of bias in policing so no one would suggest reducing law enforcement.
Violent crime is down nation-wide as well.
Yes, Treat sounds like she’s fully on-board with the cynicism of low expectations, like many here.
Are so many in this town really incapable of taking care of themselves and doing the right thing, or do some just really want to believe it to be the case.
I suppose this is due to the fact that no one in PDX has ever lived where traffic laws are actually enforced, but it isn’t onerous and the fines don’t have to be “excessive” in order for it to change the driving culture. From both experience and game theory, the key is the perception on the part of the driver that s/he will be caught, not the penalty for being caught.
Portland could probably get very close to zero traffic deaths by simply:
1. making traffic enforcement job one for the PPB, with only crimes in progress and investigations of (other) crimes of violence getting higher priority.
1a. No warnings and no exceptions. Enforce with zero tolerance. I guess there’s one sort-of exception: look the other way for trivial crimes (drug possession and such) that show up as a result of the traffic stop. Focus on the moving violation.
2. Impounding the cars of all drunk drivers and unlicensed drivers. The impound yard should only be open once per week and the fees should be attention getting but not onerous.
Meh. You cannot expect the police to enforce traffic. They are busy trying to scoop up homeless and peppering spraying students.
and kicking unarmed people to death.
And holding a young black man on a $250,000 bail for vandalizing during a demonstration. A bail higher than most bails for killing someone with a car.
You’re not allowed to protest if you’re black in America.
I don’t remember who it was now, but someone during the hearing specifically said that immediate and consistent consequences are more effective than extreme consequences.
We really should have a traffic court that runs 24/7/365 and works via remote video conferencing, so motorists can be assessed their fines during the traffic stop. Alternatively, motorists who are cited should get one hour to show up at court and dispute the charge or pay the fine.
Time to enter the 21st century.
We could more realistically create the same situation by having automated speed and traffic control device enforcement (every stop sign could be self-enforcing). This could be equipped with either a visible flash, or a directed audio announcement to alert the driver that they had been fined. To make it more effective, we should change the traffic laws to make both the driver and the owner of a vehicle culpable for any violations. Finally, the fines need to be proportional to income/wealth.
“2. Impounding the cars of all drunk drivers and unlicensed drivers. The impound yard should only be open once per week and the fees should be attention getting but not onerous.”
I would say, “2. crushing the cars…”
Or perhaps sell them at auction, if that nets more enforcement $$.
Also, I would limit the severe consequences to revoked drivers, as in “had a license and lost it for cause”, rather than someone who has never had a license in the first place. But DUII should result in immediate suspension, driving while suspended should result in immediate revocation, and driving while revoked should result in car crushing (or auctioning). Certain egregious offenses, e.g., reckless driving resulting in death, should go directly to crushing. Auctioned cars should not be sold to the original offender or anyone with any relationship to them.
Right, driving with a suspended/revoked license is essentially going against a judge’s orders. I liken it to violating parole. The consequences should be severe.
Amanda Fritz invokes Godwin’s Law, then explains that we should be carrying flashlights (my keys, phone, wallet, and glasses are quite enough).
Anyone else hear circus music?
Not even close to Godwin’s Law. Not even close.
If what she said isn’t Reductio Ad Hitlerum, I don’t know what is.
Apparently you don’t.
>>> Reductio ad Hitlerum (pseudo-Latin for “reduction to Hitler”; sometimes argumentum ad Hitlerum, “argument to Hitler”, or ad Nazium, “to Nazism”) is the attempt to invalidate someone else’s position on the basis that the same view was held by Adolf Hitler or the Nazi Party, for example: “Hitler believed in eugenics, X believes in eugenics, therefore X is a Nazi”. <<<
This bears not even a vague and passing resemblance to anything Fritz said.
Your statement is absurd.
No one would have to jaywalk if the city would install more crosswalks and pedestrian infrastructure where people naturally WANT TO CROSS.
Assuming you don’t want to cross at the corner (in which case it isn’t jaywalking)… I think crossing mid-block can often be safer than at a corner, but I think marked crosswalks in those locations can be more dangerous. (I’m thinking of urban locations — crossings out in the sticks are a different issue altogether.)
I, for one, would like to see “safe jaywalking” become a non-offence. There’d probably need to be a bit more definition around that, but there are plenty of occasions where it is perfectly safe and undisruptive.
Except that, according to Fritz, if you’re jaywalking you’re JUST AS CULPABLE as the driver who runs you over.
Part of how we make traffic systems safe is that everyone follows a common set of rules.
Sure, but I don’t put the blame at 50/50. Saying ‘everyone is responsible’ when a driver runs over a jaywalker implies 50/50. Drivers in an urban environment are responsible for operating a dangerous machine in unpredictable conditions, and should be expected to plan for jaywalkers by driving cautiously and scanning the sides of the road too. I’m talking about crossing mid-block, not ‘suddenly jumping out in front of a car’.
I agree it’s facts and circumstances.
So do we all agree that blanket statements about who is responsible for any particular crash should wait for some actual facts?
Assuming we would EVER get a news report that includes all of the relevant facts, which we won’t.
What are these “facts” you speak of?
Anyone who knows the real history of jaywalking laws knows this is a red herring, hyperbole and just plain BS.
just one of many sources:
jaywalking* and jaybiking# are legal (to some extent) neighboring states and have been for decades. imo, oregon’s jaywalking and jaybiking laws are not intended to promote safety, but rather to paint active transportation as abnormal and unsafe. moreover, by putting the safety onus on vulnerable traffic these laws encourage a callous societal attitude.
*jaywalking is legal in california and idaho and drivers must yield. jaywalking is legal in washington but pedestrians must yield.
#idaho allows people cycling to run stop signs and yield signals. idaho, washington, and california do not have a mandatory sidepath law.
A friend sat in court one fine day as a judge verbally ripped a new orifice in a cop who had given someone a jaywalking citation in CA a couple of decades ago. At the time, jaywalking was legal but the pedestrian had to yield. Since there was no traffic to yield to, there was no violation and the judge was very unhappy the cop wrote the citation. Methinks that judge walked a bit.
Besides the radical lameness of bringing up the Holocaust in this context, Fritz’ comment makes no sense. Either there were about five words missing or it was a fractured thought. Is the p-e running around biting people?
We have enough traffic laws if they were enforced and actually prosecuted. The VRU law only seems to come up if a person has died in a car vs. _______ crash. Careless and imprudent driving? It’s rife.
Hear, hear. I certainly hope Commissioner Saltzman was being facetious when he referred to the “right” to drive. If not, even this statement in favor of more vigorous enforcement mis-characterizes the driving privilege as a de facto “right”. Plus, why would we want a city where paying to own and operate a car is a prerequisite for having a job? Shouldn’t we be able to “get to work” in a timely fashion without a car?
Crush the car. Revoke the license. Make crushing the car the penalty for driving with a revoked license. Buy another car? Fine, we’ll crush that one, too.
We might be out of room in jails, but I haven’t yet heard we’re running out of space in junkyards.
This is deplorable. It might be in your own best interest to take goofy measures to protect yourself from drivers that, I guess, we just now assume are going to speed and not pay attention—and continue to do so with no consequences—but it is not a pedestrian’s responsibility to society to dress in reflective garb and buy a “jacket flashlight” to keep in their walking coat so it is available at all times should they find themselves needing to cross a street. I don’t know about other folks, but I usually hang up my “walking coat” about May; what will I do for the rest of the Spring and Summer? Be home by 9 so I don’t have to cross a street after dark? I know, I’ll just keep a flashlight in my “walking cargo shorts”. Hope I don’t go anywhere fancy…
It’s only a “matter of life and death” because of speeding and incompetent drivers.
Driving has most of the hallmarks of a right. Yes, we require a license, but the state has no discretion over granting one. It would probably be most accurately described as a quasi-right.
Well, I suppose one has just as much right to drive as one has to practice medicine or law. If only we required one to obtain a driving school diploma before being admitted to the Society of American Drivers. Then if we had stiffer penalties for driving without a license—it’s at least as deadly as practicing medicine without a license—we’d be golden, right?
I’m not defending the system, just reporting on what it is. I am definitely in favor of impounding vehicles of people driving without insurance or a valid license. I don’t see how the police can let someone drive home who isn’t a legal driver.
It happens all the time. The girlfriend of a neighbor got cited four times for driving without a license. When one of the cops had finally had enough, he allowed her to drive to his home and spend an hour unloading all her possessions from the van she was driving and only then did he finally impound the nearly worthless van.
Of course she felt she had been treated unfairly and ranted about it for months.
Sorry, I didn’t think you were defending anything; plus, you’re correct. We do treat driving as a “right”. I was merely attempting to compare to some other things that require licenses and alluding to how much more strict we are with some license-holders.
Another example is my license to ill.
And don’t forget to fight for your right to party.
What’s that noise?
When I met her at a government function, I suggested that parking should not be free. She literally laughed in my face.
“Fish said he was shocked to learn that 56 percent of all fatal crashes involve drugs or alcohol. He asked whether Council should support new laws to address it. PBOT Director Treat warned against that, saying the alcoholism and drug addiction problems in our society are on such a large scale they should be dealt with by social service agencies.”
I’m sure I’m missing some context, here, but I find this exchange a bit unsettling. I wouldn’t think Comm. Fish would be suggesting “new laws” that would encroach onto the domain of social services, but rather “new laws” that would help curtail driving by those affected by addictions that make their driving extremely dangerous. I would also think Ms. Treat should be fully supportive of Council’s support for any such “new laws”, rather than “warning against it”.
Also, I want to be sensitive to our current concerns about unequal enforcement among our different racial/ethnic/income-level populations, but it seems to me that if we target enforcement at areas where we know higher numbers of crashes or traffic violations happen, it shouldn’t matter what neighborhood it’s in. Cameras especially aren’t going to stop you for a broken tail light and try to search your car—they’d only take your picture if you’re speeding or running a red light. I would love to see more automated enforcement in locations selected by actual crash or violation data. I would also support lower “presumptive fines” for violations caught by cameras; as I and others have noted here and in the past, consistent enforcement/penalty is more effective than random, extreme penalties.
You don’t actually know if the cameras only record miscreants, or if they have other, less publicized functions, like feeding data into police license plate databases. I would really like to see some clear legislation on this front.
As would I, but I suspect we want different legislation. I would like for all cars’ locations to be recorded at all times so as to make getting away with hit-and-run nearly impossible. I would also like all cars to require some sort of log-in so identifying the car is sufficient for identification of the driver.
Don’t want to be tracked while driving? Then don’t drive, or at least don’t drive into people in such a way that someone has to pull up the data on where/when your car was.
Surveillance state? No thank you.
You think those same cameras can’t track pedestrians out cyclists? It’s done today in the UK.
It doesn’t have to be cameras. I said the cars should be tracked, not that they should be put on video. Your phone can be tracked without recording any pictures of you or your phone.
Tracking =/= surveillance.
Tracking where everyone goes, and when most certainly is surveillance.
I agree we need to combat dangerous driving and hit-and-runs, but we should not sacrifice people’s privacy to do so. Tracking everyone because a few of them could be criminals are the actions of an authoritarian surveillance state.
Jaywalkers should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I have witnessed several accidents outside my window at work, in the middle of a block with a marked crosswalk at one end and a stoplight at the other, where some driver slams on their brakes for a jaywalker and gets rear ended because some fool was too lazy to walk 15 more feet to the designated crossing area.
The holier than thou, we can do no wrong, Bike Loud pdx attitude kinda makes the whole bike “community” off putting. Screaming “every intersection is a crosswalk” while ignoring “every stop sign means stop” is just as hypocritical as “christians” who pick and choose which parts of the bible they think everyone around them has to follow.
angry personal anecdotes (e.g. “holier than thou”) are not evidence.
to my knowledge, there is no direct evidence that jaywalking increases risk. however, a recent vision zero study in NYC indirectly suggests that jaywalking may be safer than crossing at legal crosswalks.
i think a direct comparison between portland (jaywalking essentially illegal) and san francisco (jaywalking legal) would be very interesting. (san francisco is, in general, a safer city for pedestrians but this may be due to other variables.)
running stop signs and yielding signals (e.g. jaybiking) has been legal in idaho for 30+ years. the only two studies conducted suggest that this law improves safety with one reporting a ~14% decline in serious crashes and another finding statistically significant reductions in intersection crashes (but not other types of crashes).
Jaywalking (which is a derogatory slur for pedestrians who cross midblock) isn’t illegal in Oregon so they already are being prosecuted to the full extent of the law which is to say no penalty.
I think “jay” has lost some of its sting. It feels neither derogatory nor particularly slurlike.
“Bumpkinwalking” or “Redneckwalking” don’t quite have the right ring, either…
jaywalking is almost always illegal in portland. the law allows legal midblock crossings when someone is 150 feet from a legal crosswalk or signalized intersection. most of portland’s city blocks are 200 feet.
It is the driver’s responsibility not to tailgate so as not to rear end anyone. If the road is icy you’ve got to give lots of distance to the person driving in front of you, or just not drive. The streets aren’t a NASCAR race. It doesn’t matter what stupid crap anyone else is doing- don’t tailgate and you won’t rear end anyone.
Do you think the results would be any different crossing at a crosswalk? Half the time anyone stops for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, they nearly get rear-ended. We also have to make a distinction between “jaywalking”, as in, “not crossing at a crosswalk”, and “suddenly leaving the curb or a place of safety and moving into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard”. Of course pedestrians have a responsibility not to jump onto moving cars, but merely crossing mid-block when no traffic is “so close” should not be an offense at all. In fact, according to the State of Oregon, it isn’t. You only get fined for jaywalking in the City of Portland (and any other city that has such an ordinance).
Jaywalking is the safest way across a street, no question, especially at mid block where one has to be aware of just two directions. At corners it is much safer to go when the coast is clear than to trust a Walk signal, that some motorist will turn thru and take your life or limb.
Fitz makes the fatal mistake of equating a person on foot with one powering a 3K pound cage…not a fair fight at all. Jaywalk and live!
One of the more disturbing aspects of her comments is that she sees walking as a planned recreational activity.
In her neighborhood, it likely is. Commissioner Fritz lives two blocks from the Lake Oswego border, her street lacks sidewalks, and I imagine is quite dark at night. There is not much to walk to, save for a few parks and PCC. So for her, walking is a deliberate action, and not simply how one gets places. Though, she is within walking distance of a few bus lines, so one wonders if she had ever considered bus-commuting to work.
You would think that being on the city council would expand her perspective. Unfortunately, it seems like she is constantly making an effort to maintain and base policy on her very narrow view.
Yes and no.
Your point that some locations are not really walkable is valid. That said, the choice to live in such a location is an intentional one. The decision to live there typically shows, at the very least, that walkability was not very high on the priority list of the person.
There are a few exceptions, but her public comments make it pretty clear that she is not one of them. The quotes above are very much in line with all of her previous ones.
For people wealthy enough to choose where they want to live — Fritz is likely one of them — I agree with your statement.
Ain’t that the truth. I’d like to see only the license plates of offenders entered into any kind of “system”, and again, have cameras only placed (or placed with first priority) at locations that are demonstrably “high-incident”. Although, if someone is caught in a violation by a camera, I’d like law enforcement to have some ability to tack on fines for secondary offenses like using a phone, if it can be clearly seen happening.
Rats. Lost the reply thread. The above is a response to Hello, Kitty above.
Impound and crush the phone.
Well, it was obsolete anyway, and all my data’s in the cloud, so….
Portland Adopts Plan To End Traffic Fatalities — But Doesn’t Fund It
Here’s my question: Does anybody believe that this plan will result in a major, say order of magnitude, reduction in fatalities?
Not me. People who drink and drive will continue to get drunk and get behind the wheel. Same for stoners, and the don’t-give-a-damn people with suspended licenses, and people who just go as fast as they want without caring if they hit or kill somebody.
As for increased enforcement, as long as the understaffed police are working heaps of overtime trying to keep the protest-riots under control, they won’t have much time for traffic-law enforcement.
I’d love to make a small wager with Leah Treat. If PDX can knock its road violence down by 10% more than the nation’s falls over the next five years (or 10% below current levels, whichever is lower), I’ll buy her family dinner at their favorite restaurant. If it drops by less or fails to drop (I suspect it will continue to increase), she buys Jonathan’s family dinner at his favorite restaurant.
Now, if she seriously believed that this plan will make much difference, she’d place her career on the line such that if it fails, she hits the unemployment line along with all of PBoT’s senior staff. I don’t think they believe in this plan, so I don’t expect this.
“Commissioner Nick Fish said he and his colleagues are forced to make hard decisions come budget time, so he challenged PBOT Director Treat to tell them what the single highest priority is. “I would recommend to council that our investments focus on road diets and re-engineering roadways,” Treat responded, “That will have the most impact on slowing people down.”
I am surprised that the 160 plus comments above did not mention Director Treat’s response. I personally support PBOT’s priority on road reorganizations of the 4 lane arterials that are the high crash corridors.
Road diets have multiple benefits – slowing traffic, reducing turning conflicts, improving access management for businesses, creating the space in the right of way for protected bike ways, providing opportunities for safer crossings, better access to transit and a more comfortable walking environment.
As we saw from the Foster Road planning effort, road reorganizations are a a heavy lift and PBOT will need a lot of support from the Active Transportation community.
Disclosure: I served on the Vision Zero Task Force, as a volunteer, representing Portland’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Unfortunately my day job prevented me from attending the Council Hearing on Thursday. I watched the entire video (thanks to Jonathan for posting the link).
“Enforcement was on nearly everyone’s mind yesterday — despite the fact that the City’s Vision Zero Task Force recommended de-emphasizing it due to concerns of how it can disproportionately impact people of color.”
Illegal driving disproportionately impacts people of color. How does not enforcing laws protect the social justice of minority children being disproportionately killed by drivers.
Minorities get tickets more often because of increased police activity in minority neighborhoods. The police are there because families request increased patrols and protection in their neighborhoods.
What really bothers me about this whole situation is that PBOT did the work to make sure all communities were involved in coming up with this plan; and after 18 months of listening to minority, POC, and other marginalized groups, determined that increased police enforcement is not the right approach. Then, with one fell swoop, our overtly privileged, all-white City Council decided to ignore all that research by stating “but enforcement”. It’s incredibly disrespectful to all the work that PBOT put into this plan and unbelievably dismissive of our communities that are most affected by police brutality. City Council should be listening to their constituents, rather than just saying whatever comes to their mind in these hearings! It’s beyond infuriating.
I just realized that parsing “Vision Zero Action” must be done carefully…
I was on Maui and missed the whole thing.