Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 13th, 2017 at 5:39 pm
Portland and the State of Oregon are both coming off a terrible year when it comes to traffic safety.
492 people died while using Oregon roads in 2016. That’s a 10 percent increase over the 2015 total and a whopping 57 percent jump from 2013 (when we lost 313 people to traffic crashes). In Portland 45 people died, marking just the second time since 1998 that we’ve had over 40 deaths in one year.
The combination of those grim statistics and the maturity of Vision Zero as a rallying cry and policy concept could make 2017 a watershed year for traffic safety. Or, it could just be more of the same: a bunch of plans, proclamations, protests and meetings. It’s up to all of us to make sure we move the needle.
This week there are four events that show how activists, a nonprofit organization, the State of Oregon, and lawmakers are responding to this urgent issue.
Tuesday (2/14) – Oregon Transportation Safety Committee Meeting
The Oregon Transporation Safety Committee is a governor-appointed tasked with advising the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon Transportation Commission on all matters regarding traffic safety. They meet monthly in Salem. This month’s agenda includes reports from various ODOT liaisons, a discussion about a new speed program, an update from the head of ODOT’s Traffic Division Division, and the drafting of a proclamation to declare May “Transportation Safety Month”. Take a look at the agenda here (PDF).
Wednesday (2/15) – Hearing for House Bill 2667 (creation of Vision Zero Task Force) and a Vision Zero ride
Vision Zero bill public hearing
The Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) issued an action alert this morning for a bill currently in the legislature that will create an official State of Oregon Vision Zero Task Force. The bill, HB 2667, will receive its first committee hearing at 8:00 am in Hearing Room D in the State Capitol. If the bill passes, it would mandate the creation of a 17-person task force. 12 members will be appointed by Governor Kate Brown (and must include representatives from each major mode of travel) and five others will be appointed by various state agencies.
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According to the text of the bill (read it here) the Task Force, “shall examine strategies to reduce and eliminate traffic crashes, particularly serious injury and fatal crashes and those involving bicycles and pedestrians, by a specific target date; and review the draft policy strategies and actions of the 2016 Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan.” Check out our event page for full details.
Vision Zero Ride
Portland activist group BikeLoudPDX is holding a protest ride following the death of Alan Marsan last week. Marsan was the first bicycle fatality of 2017 and was the victim of a right-hook collision with a large box truck while biking on North Interstate Avenue on February 6th. This ride begins at Dawson Park (N Williams and Morris) at 4:30pm. BikeLoud says right-hooks have plagued City of Portland traffic engineers for decades. They will bike to the location of Marsan’s death to bring attention to, “the city’s inaction” and they will “demand that it fund its commitment to Vizion Zero.” Check out our event page for full details.
Thursday (2/16) – Vision Zero Implementation Task Force
The City of Portland is moving from planning to implementation of their Vision Zero efforts. To reflect that, they have a new Vision Zero Implementation Task Force that will meet for the first time on Thursday in City Hall at 9:30am. With just eight years remaining to reach zero traffic deaths, PBOT and this Task Force have their work cut out. We haven’t seen a detailed agenda yet but will update this post when/if its released. See PBOT’s website for more details.