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While Rep. Reardon defends victim-blaming PSA, police in his district focus on larger threats

Posted by on August 10th, 2017 at 1:25 pm

SE 136th Press Conference-6

Rep. Jeff Reardon.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon House Representative Jeff Reardon thinks the public service ad campaign he created is just a humorous way to deal with a serious problem.

In a statement to BikePortland that he also posted to his Facebook page, Reardon said, “I am pleased that this public service ad has captured people’s attention. It is a tongue-in-cheek approach to the tragic reality of pedestrian injuries and fatalities.”

But as victims of traffic crashes, advocates for vulnerable road users, and experts in the communications and safety fields from all over the country and the world have pointed out to him in the past two days, the much more serious problem is that our roads are dominated by people in large motor vehicles who have no regard for the safety of others.

On Tuesday, the same day Rep. Reardon launched his campaign, police officers in his district actually did something about the problem.

The Happy Valley Police Department just released a statement about a crosswalk enforcement action they completed on August 8th. The mission specifically targeted automobile users at two high-risk intersections. Police say they were spurred into action by citizen complaints that people’s high-speed driving was putting walkers at risk.

Using volunteers as decoys, the officers watched and waited for people who “egregiously” violated Oregon crosswalk laws.

Happy Valley Police Chief Scott Anderson said, “I also acted as decoy for a few minutes, and one car was cited while I tried to cross the road in full uniform.”

Here’s more from the Chief:

“Several citizens on foot thanked us for enforcing the crosswalk laws, saying they’d seen violations in the past. School is about to start, and there will be kids using crosswalks soon. Two pedestrians have been killed this year already in Happy Valley, although not in crosswalks. But of the traffic complaints we get, crosswalk violators are a common subject.”

The mission included four officers total and resulted in 18 crosswalk citations and three written warnings. They also cited three people for driving with a suspended license, one person who was driving without insurance, one person for failing to stop at a stop sign, and one person for using a cell phone while driving.

Responsibility for staying safe on our roads falls upon each and every person that uses them. Everyone with a brain can agree on that. But people in positions of power and leadership like Rep. Reardon need to make good decisions about how to present this issue to the public. A one-sided campaign that blames only one type of road user while normalizing dangerous and illegal behaviors of another will only make Chief Anderson’s job a lot more difficult — and tragic — in the future.

UPDATE, 8/15 at 2:30 pm: Reardon will pull down the campaign.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

21 Comments
  • rick August 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I’ll never forget picking up the road flares on SW Scholls Ferry Road near where Harley Rocher was killed in a hit-and-run. The flares and residue were were for several months close to where I broke my leg after I was hit by a Prius. I’ll never forget the time a lady drove by in an automobile and stopped at the scene of the crime and said, “When are they going to get rid of the memorials and candles?” I was nearly speechless.

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  • Matthew in Portsmouth August 10, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    It is about as humorous as a mortuary full of dead pedestrians.

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    • John Lascurettes August 10, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      As I said in the last post about this story, this is how satire and seriousness can be married in a PSA. Get serious when the serious parts happen. Don’t continue to belittle the victims too:

      It’s hilarious, effective, and sensitive all at the same time (language NSFW): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeVLxcekEsw

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  • Bjorn August 10, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    As someone who has been very seriously injured by a motorist in the past, ***portion of comment deleted – Bjorn, I feel you man. I get the sentiment, but it’s not ok to even make veiled suggestions like that. I hope you understand – Jonathan***. It certainly didn’t make me giggle.

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    • Bjorn August 10, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      I will attempt to phrase it differently then. Reardon’s complete lack of compassion for people who have had their lives permanently altered by careless drivers tells me that he somehow has been lucky enough to not have been impacted personally by a careless driver. If he had I doubt he would find it so hilarious to make light of the deaths and injuries of others.

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      • Matthew in Portsmouth August 10, 2017 at 4:39 pm

        One of the reasons I have never driven while intoxicated (I no longer imbibe at all), why I don’t speed, don’t use my phone while driving, why I maintain my car, and use all my wits to keep my mind focused on the task at hand when driving, is that if I am ever involved in a collision where someone is injured or killed, I don’t want it to be the result of my carelessness or negligence.

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  • Allan Rudwick August 10, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    “in full uniform” That has me laughing… but also sad at the state of affairs

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    • Stephen Keller August 10, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      Usually these events are accompanied by signs informing road users that there is a traffic enforcement event in progress. Tons of people still get ticketed.

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  • John Lascurettes August 10, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Reardon is 100% tone deaf. His response is effectively, “lighten up, it’s just a joke.” No. No it’s not.

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    • encephalopath August 10, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      That’s always the first deflection people make when they get caught using eliminationist rhetoric against a vulnerable minority.

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  • TonyT
    TonyT August 10, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    This is like those situations where someone totally puts their foot in their mouth and then says, “I was just trying to start a conversation.”

    Yes, you’ve captured people’s attention. But car wrecks do that, as do many other ill-conceived ventures. As a politician you should know that not all attention is equal.

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  • Tim August 10, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Maybe Readon can volunteer for the next crosswalk traffic enforcement action – it would be educational.

    It could be the first time he has seen the world from the other side of the windshield.

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  • Brett August 10, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    High Broderism; “The belief that it all sides are equal and must compromise at all times, regardless of the final outcome or the level of understanding or intelligence presented by each side.” Vehicles driving aggressively? Make sure you peds cede your right of way!

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  • mark August 10, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Did the drivers without valid license or insurance have their cars towed on the spot, or were they allowed to continue driving?

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  • mh August 10, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    They only got one driver on cell phone use?

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  • joan August 10, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Brilliant framing of this post, Jonathan! Thanks for keeping on this.

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  • J_R August 10, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Part of the sentence for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk should be serving as a “decoy” for a future crosswalk enforcement action. That would be at least as effective as a $200 fine.

    Serving as a decoy for a crosswalk enforcement action should also be a requirement for running for office.

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    • Matthew in Portsmouth August 10, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      I became a much more bicycle aware driver after I spent a few months as a bicycle commuter. Works wonders.

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  • Dan G August 10, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    This happened within Reardon’s district earlier this summer where construction workers were starting a sidewalk infill project.
    http://www.kgw.com/mb/news/local/fatal-crash-in-happy-valley-kills-construction-worker/442284667
    I travel through that area daily, and I don’t appreciate Reardon’s “light-hearted” take on pedestrian safety.

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  • J Chris Anderson August 10, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Reardon’s voicemail is 503 986-1448

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  • Middle of the Road Guy August 11, 2017 at 9:25 am

    I once owned the same tie as Reardon. It was a nice tie!

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