City of Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman says despite investing $12,000 in the creation a traffic safety public service ad campaign, he has advised city staff to not use the video or link to the accompanying website.
The “Look First Walk Second” campaign was created by State Representative Jeff Reardon. It was immediately scorned by safety advocates and traffic crash victims. Agencies listed as partners — including Clackamas Community College, the Clackamas County Commission and the Portland Bureau of Transportation that Saltzman oversees — have distanced themselves from the campaign.
In the past two days pressure has grown on Saltzman to address PBOT’s role in the video. Today his office issued the following statement (emphasis mine):
Saltzman statement on recent pedestrian video
Many active transportation advocates have been asking for the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s and my position on a recent video produced by David Cress and created in conjunction with students at a local college about traffic safety awareness for pedestrians.
The reason attention has been given to PBOT in particular was that the Bureau gave $12,000 a year ago to support a group led by Oregon State Representative Jeff Reardon on pedestrian safety, a way of supporting all the work that Reardon has done at the local and state level to advocate for Portland’s Vision Zero goals for reducing traffic deaths.
PBOT didn’t make the video. They didn’t produce and create the content, and we didn’t get a preview of it before it first launched last week. I have watched it and I understand completely why people are upset, specifically for the ways the video places the primary burden for traffic deaths on the most vulnerable road user: pedestrians. I understand the disagreements about its use of shock value, but many of us can see the wide gap between the good intentions of well-meaning students and this final product. For that reason, Portland does not intend to use the video in any of our Vision Zero efforts or messaging; we have not and will not link to it or promote it in any way.
Furthermore, after the disturbing events of Charlottesville this weekend and because the car in the video looks very similar to the car used as a murder weapon in an act of white supremacist terror on Saturday, I support any effort to hit pause, pull down the video, and focus as a city on what we can do to protect everyone on our city streets. Where PBOT is concerned, that begins and ends with our Vision Zero philosophy to reduce traffic deaths.
So far Rep. Reardon’s response to the serious concerns with his campaign have fallen short. In a statement issued August 9th, he defended the video, saying, “I am pleased that this public service ad has captured people’s attention.”
Despite nearly 50 negative responses to the ad posted on his Facebook page (with none in support), Reardon has not made any comments since and has no plans to end the campaign.
UPDATE, 8/15 at 2:30 pm: Reardon will pull down the campaign.
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