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Portland Commissioner: We won’t use Oregon Rep’s traffic safety PSA; supports efforts to end campaign

Posted by on August 14th, 2017 at 3:48 pm

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

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.

Saltzman joins BikePortland and The Street Trust in calling for the campaign to be taken down.

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.

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

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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • rick August 14, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    ‘Bout time.

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    • bikeninja August 14, 2017 at 5:29 pm

      Bike Portland and Friends dispense justice to the deserving.

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  • Chris Anderson August 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    The worst thing about this is that the raw footage is slated to be used as teaching material for Clackamas Community College. Imagine the poor taste edits the professors will have to suppress or condone. I am afraid to be on the road with the kids coming out of that classroom. Taking down the site is not enough, the raw footage must be deleted.

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    • buildwithjoe August 14, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      Chris, thanks for posting that a primary goal of Reardon is to get the hours of raw footage used as lesson plans at Clackamas Community College.

      Please call (503)594-3110
      or email

      I’m waiting for their office to give a formal reply. One person answered but said they could not speak for the college. Their personal thought was that the footage would not be allowed, and that others have called. The film lists “Sue Geoff” in the credits, so goes to show yet another flaw in the sinking ship.

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  • Mike Sanders August 14, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Gotta ask Reardon why he thinks this approach is correct, and why he refuses to take the clip down. To me the spot sends the message: Peds don’t matter, cars do. Which is the totally wrong thing to say.

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  • Tony Jordan (Contributor) August 14, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Reardon is deleting critical comments and banning people from posting on his facebook page. He or his staff are really messing up with this.

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  • Mossby Pomegranate August 14, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    As usual, public money well spent.

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  • TonyT
    TonyT August 14, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Hitting pause is not enough. The delete button must be used.

    This video represents quite well how sociopathic drivers think. They drive however they want, confident that the fear that they inspire will clear the road for them. This video gives that twisted mindset legitimacy.

    Can you imagine a PSA mocking a driver who had the gaul to just drive through a green light without cowering like a mouse and then got killed for it?

    That Reardon continues to support it tells me that he really does think that this is the way things should work for vulnerable road users.

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    • Eric Leifsdad August 15, 2017 at 4:48 am

      Drivers need to be confronted with equal danger when they choose to threaten their way through a crosswalk. Sadly, most will react to threats to their car’s paint as if they had skin in the game.

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      • TonyT
        TonyT August 15, 2017 at 9:03 am

        I’ve often proposed that pedestrians cross streets wielding baseball bats at the cars of non-yielding drivers. I suggest this as a way to highlight the societal and police bias in favor of drivers. Drivers essentially threaten pedestrians into compliance all day long. And that threat is aimed at pedestrians’ lives. Pedestrians threatening drivers’ property would be quickly gathered up and taken to jail.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy August 15, 2017 at 9:42 am

          Well at least they’d have to be paying attention that way.

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        • billyjo August 15, 2017 at 9:51 am

          I’ve had drivers all but jump out and attack me because I had the nerve to knock on their car to get their attention when they were ignoring me in a crosswalk that I had the light.

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  • Joe Hand August 14, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Great work and props to the Commissioner. However, the video source on Vimeo (which the website embeds) still has PBOT listed in the title:

    Also, the video is in violation of Vimeo’s terms of service: “Depicts unlawful acts or extreme violence;”. I’d encourage users to login/create a Vimeo account and flag it (you must be logged in to flag).

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  • Tim August 14, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Maybe they could support a PSA campaign that goes after the legal and moral reason why drivers feel entitled to kill 40,000 Americans a year by the behaviors shown in the PSA. I would call it “Whats You Excuse”.

    Slogans would be chosen to point out the selfishness of drives choices that kill and maim our friends, family and neighbors.

    “Sorry about killing you kid, but I had an important text”.
    “Too bad about your dead mom, but you can’t expect someone as important as me to slow down”.
    “Sorry about your grandma, but I am way to cool to stop for pedestrians”
    “I am sorry my dad can’t be at my wedding, but I know how important having a few drinks was to him before driving home”.

    No people don’t talk this way after they have killed someone, but the second part of the sentence is the excuse they were using before they killed someone.

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    • billyjo August 15, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Years ago San Francisco did this. “Sorry I killed your grandma” “I didn’t want to spill my latte”

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  • bikeninja August 14, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Can we ban these 3/thirds characters from getting any more public money to help produce tasteless PSA’s. Our tax dollars should be carefully directed so they only benefit non profits and business’s that have the best interests of the public in mind.

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  • J_R August 14, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    I’m thinking that someone should lose his/her job over the misdirection of $12,000 into creation of a PSA that is completely contrary to PBOT’s supposed Vision Zero goals.

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    • Eric Leifsdad August 15, 2017 at 4:53 am

      Saltzman has the job you get to vote on.

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  • 9watts August 14, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Excellent work, Jonathan, in raising this issue and continuing to dog those who need to be held accountable!

    Fascinating also to read the small number of commenters in the other recent threads on this who are digging in their heels and defending the video.

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  • encephalopath August 14, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    I’m not sure I quite get the mindset behind that patronizing line of, “Bicyclists need to understand they always lose because…. physics.” Like there’s ever a moment that isn’t in the forefront of every riders mind when around motor vehicles. We understand that very well, thank you.

    But clearly they don’t actually believe that kind of reasoning. “A cement mixer crushed your SUV and killed your family. Guess you should have gotten a bigger truck because physics.” That would never be accepted as an explanation for a motor vehicle road death. But they want to use that sort of reasoning to off-load all responsibility onto people not in motor vehicles.

    I can’t ever see it as anything other than a thinly veiled threat. “I’m the dominant road user and the rightful owner of this space. Get out of my way or else.”

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    • Chris I August 14, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Bingo. The people who say this are outraged that some hipster on a bike isn’t respecting their giant SUV/truck that they went $40k into debt to acquire.

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    • B. Carfree August 14, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      If I’m using the public roads and I’m not on foot or a bike, I’m usually behind the wheel of a big rig. When I encounter folks who say peds shouldn’t exercise their right of way or people shouldn’t ride bikes on the road because of “physics”, I always ask if they would be comfortable with me using that same “physics” against all those annoying cars/SUV’s/Pick-ups. Sadly, most of them simply cannot see the relationship.

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      • Chris I August 15, 2017 at 5:54 am

        And these are probably the same people that quickly change lanes in front of you when you are leaving about 2 car lengths of space. I’m always amazed when I see this happen at freeway speeds.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy August 15, 2017 at 9:43 am

        I use the same argument also. They just don’t get it…which tells me that is not really the issue at all in the first place. Just a handy argument that seems valid on the surface.

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  • grrlpup August 14, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    “the good intentions of well-meaning students”

    Tacky– quit scapegoating the students! They didn’t write this and weren’t the project leaders. That’s all on the pros.

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  • Kyle Banerjee August 14, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Under normal circumstances, that video wouldn’t have been noticed. Because a bunch of people raised a stink about it and KATU picked up the story, the number of people that watched it (and maybe even pay attention) probably skyrocketed.

    We now have public figures labeling it offensive/inappropriate with everyone wanting to pull it down — if that doesn’t get more people watching it, I’m not sure what will…

    Well played… 😉

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    • Pete August 14, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      Good point. I didn’t see any ‘like’ or ‘thumb down’ button, but I did point it out to several of my voting friends in Happy Valley and let the video stand on its own.

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    • 9watts August 14, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      “Under normal circumstances, that video wouldn’t have been noticed. ”

      I think it is all to the good that it was noticed and has been subject to loud criticism. This is an opportunity to (a) recognize the kind of dangerous misconceptions and downright meanness that exist out there, and (b) learn from these missteps. Calling out this sort of thing can be eye-opening and immensely useful as we strive to overcome our darker impulses.

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      • q August 15, 2017 at 1:52 pm

        Exactly. It would be dumb to create a stir if the goal was to censor something you didn’t want anyone to see or know existed (look up “Streisand Effect”).

        In this case yes, the criticism will mean more people will notice the video. But they’ll see it along with the criticism. Even if they didn’t see the criticism, and even if they’re not particularly pedestrian-friendly, I’d guess the majority will still dislike it as a waste of public money.

        The end result of more people seeing it will be more people critical of its message and cost, which is a good outcome.

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    • TonyT
      TonyT August 15, 2017 at 9:05 am

      Yes, let’s ignore the normalizing of sociopathic drivers. I’m sure that’ll make it go away.

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      • Kyle Banerjee August 15, 2017 at 9:35 am

        Very few people will interpret the video as legitimizing this sort of behavior nor do I think the outcry is perceived in the general public the way people here seem to think — the overwhelming reaction of friends who are much more active/public transit friendly than the general population and know I waste time here can be summed up as, “Good Lord, they’re still going on about that? Don’t they have anything better to do?”

        Nor is there any connection with Charlottesville. Comparing pedestrians and cyclists to marginalized groups victimized by organized terrorist hatred requires mental gymnastics that diminishes and insult these groups.

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        • Dan A August 15, 2017 at 9:52 am

          “Good Lord, they’re still going on about that? Don’t they have anything better to do?”

          …he said in comment #39.

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          • Kyle Banerjee August 15, 2017 at 10:42 am

            I don’t keep track. Thankfully, I sleep soundly at night knowing the astute readers of BP will.

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          • Kyle Banerjee August 15, 2017 at 10:45 am

            And BTW, I’m still in the same room 16 hrs/day which I leave only briefly for bio breaks. I really do have the time.

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  • buildwithjoe August 14, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    One one side, Demanding removal of website and video
    Street Trust Executive Director
    Oregon Walks Executive Director
    Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets, Kristy Finney, Kim Stone
    Bike Portland Editor Jonathan Maus and voters in Oregon
    Portland Bureau of Transportation and Commissioner Dan Saltzman
    (hopefully on this side) Department of Art/Film Clackamas Community College

    On the other side:
    Rep Jeff Reardon
    Oregon Media Production Association and Janice Shokrian (Director)

    If Rep Jeff Reardon will not listen or reply to voters what’s next?

    …………..The next route would be a battle of the boards!!!…………….

    One key player here is the non profit OMPA and Executive Director Janice Shokrian, I called her because she’s in the credits. Janice refused to answer questions and say anything negative about the Video.

    (503)288-8822 Janice Shokrian

    It helps to note this is a Film project shaming a black “social justice” pedestrian. “OMPA is the champion of Oregon’s film, television and digital storytelling industry. Our members are the core of our state’s production resources. ”
    The board photo gallery reminds me of Oscars So White

    SNL on White Film Producers

    Chris Rock on White Film Producers

    Profit and Ethics kind of speaks very loud here…And last but not least. Here is a google doc with a timeline of who’s opposed to this and who’s defending the offensive video

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  • Ted Buehler August 15, 2017 at 1:20 am

    Do you like this response? Send Commissioner Saltzman a thank you note.

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    • mh August 15, 2017 at 9:20 am

      I am unsatisfied with this response. Do you see the problem with “our Vision Zero philosophy to reduce traffic deaths”? Reduce them by what, 10%? Vision Zero is _eliminating_ traffic deaths and serious injuries. With such a limited goal, I consider the response to be close to meaningless. Vision Zero’s goal is to reduce them by 100%; anything less is not Vision Zero.


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