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Woman killed on NE Sandy Blvd is 20th traffic death while walking this year

Posted by on December 20th, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Looking southwest on Sandy Blvd from NE 79th.

Something is wrong with Portland’s traffic safety efforts. While ostensibility dedicated to a Vision Zero Action Plan with a clear goal of zero traffic deaths by 2025, the fatality statistics are going in the wrong direction.

This morning just after 7:00 am, a woman was killed while walking across NE Sandy Blvd. It happened between NE 78th and 79th Avenues. The Portland Police Bureau hasn’t released details of the crash and is currently doing an investigation.

This woman was the 20th person to die while walking in 2017 — that’s the highest toll in over 20 years. The furthest back our immediately available data goes is 1996. That year 17 people died while walking.

In 2015, 10 walkers died in traffic crashes. Last year the number was 13. This year’s total of 20 fatalities involving people on foot is over eight more than the average annual toll since 1996.

In total, 52 people have died on Portland streets this year. The Portland Bureau of Transportation has officially recorded 47 of those as traffic deaths (*see footnote for explanation) which is the most we’ve had since 2003.

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NE Sandy Blvd has been on PBOT’s radar for safety reasons for many years. It’s on the official High Crash Network and the rate of walking collisions is twice the citywide average. The crossing at 79th was recently upgraded with a push-button activated beacon.

Esther Harlow lives in the area and helped advocate for that crossing treatment. Today on Twitter she wrote, “Cars go really fast on this stretch of Sandy. The next closest ‘safe’ crossings are the intersection at 82nd, and the light at the Neighborhood Greenway at 77th.”

The street profile here is very wide. It’s a 60-foot cross-section with two wide standard lanes in each direction. From a photo taken by KATU News you can see there’s a TriMet bus stop near where the collision occurred.

Another nearby resident, Bjorn Warloe, shared with us via Facebook that the block between 78th and 79th is “too wide and poorly lit at night” and that driving speeds are “far too high for safety.” “It would benefit heavily from reducing through SOV [single-occupancy vehicle] lanes to one in either direction with a center turn lane,” he continued, “which would leave room for a bikeway, or dedicated transit lanes, or just a narrower street generally.”

(*Note: The official death tally recorded by PBOT is 47 because they use national criteria which excludes suicides, deaths that happen in parking lots, incidents that don’t involve a motor vehicle, and deaths that happen over 30 days following the collision. See this link for more details.)

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

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108 Comments
  • Avatar
    Toadslick December 20, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    If a natural disaster killed 52 people in a year in Portland, it would be declared a state of emergency.

    If a different consumer product killed 52 people in a year in Portland, the product would be outlawed and the company sued into bankruptcy.

    If a murderer killed 52 people in a year in Portland, the city would be locked down while a federal manhunt occurred.

    But when drivers in their cars kill 52 people in a year in Portland, the agencies with the power to stop this tragedy hide behind “funding”, “more traffic studies are required”, and “community outreach.”

    Every day I think about the people I love who bike, walk, or take transit to get around the city. I think about them crossing 82nd or Sandy or Powell or Cesar Chavez or MLK, and I fear that they’ll be the next headline, that they’ll be the next body crumpled under an SUV because a driver was texting on their phone or drinking their coffee or grumpy or didn’t feel like yielding at a crosswalk. And it makes my heart ache.

    We live in a time of amazing change, where more and more cities are installing protected bike lanes and car-free streets and sweeping redesigns that prioritize the safety of the most vulnerable road users. And Portland, of all cities, has fallen embarrassingly behind.

    The only study we need, the only community outreach we need, is this: 52 lives were cut tragically, violently short, and PBOT and ODOT could have prevented all of them.

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      paikiala December 21, 2017 at 9:11 am

      Diffusion. Look it up.
      PBOT has no authority it is not granted by the City Council, who answer to the voters.
      PBOT does not enforce laws.
      Your hyperbole dilutes your believability.

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        Middle of the Road Guy December 22, 2017 at 9:21 am

        Thanks for pointing that out. Now, if it was a single driver that killed 52 people, it would be consistent with his/her argument.

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      Andrew Kreps December 21, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      Every day I am a person who walks, bikes or takes transit to get to work. I wish I could say I’m safe while I’m doing so.

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    bikeninja December 20, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Its not just the infrastructure and the enforcement ( those things need improvement too), but the behavior of drivers has deteriorated markedly in the last few years, which corresponds to this tragic increase in pedestrian deaths. Just last week, I witnessed three different motorists drive up three different one way streets on purpose. It is not all distraction by cell phones, it is a kind of mania that has taken over the minds of many of those trapped in congestion on a daily basis, desperate to get where they are going at any cost.

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      Rebecca December 20, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      I completely agree. Traffic volumes are higher, of course, but driver behavior has also gotten noticeably more aggressive and careless. Design is absolutely important, but how do you get a city’s worth of drivers to settle down and pay attention?

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        9watts December 20, 2017 at 6:13 pm

        “how do you get a city’s worth of drivers to settle down and pay attention?”

        Make it clear that you mean business; that the Car Head era has come to an end, that death by car will no longer be tolerated, but will come with real consequences (no more car; no more license; in particularly egregious cases no more freedom, etc. Take steps to enact Strict Liability where the person behind the wheel must prove they took all necessary precautions. The lists are in theory endless since many other jurisdictions have actually taken these steps, made inroads in this problem.

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        Brian December 21, 2017 at 8:01 am

        Implement my marketing idea everywhere: “Slow the f*#k down!”

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          Rebecca Hamilton December 21, 2017 at 9:13 am

          Catchy. I like it.

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            Brian December 21, 2017 at 10:36 am

            Thanks. It began as “Mellow the f*#k out,” and then evolved into it’s current form. Given the edginess, it may take hundreds of us to paint and hang signs in order for it to happen, though. I don’t think PBOT will move forward with it.

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      Middle of the Road Guy December 22, 2017 at 9:22 am

      lack of enforcement. People will do things they should when they have no fear of negative outcomes.

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    9watts December 20, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    That photo of Sandy Blvd is hilariously off – maybe that is what Sandy Blvd looks like during the Super Bowl? but not on a normal day, to be sure. The very thing we’re talking about here is glaringly absent.

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      Esther Harlow December 20, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      Actually…this is not unusual and that’s part of the problem. During rush hour, Sandy is backed up 6-8 blocks from the big intersections at 72nd, 57th, etc. The rest of the time? Traffic is not so high, meaning it’s a clear, open road to floor it. As Todd mentions below, it would be ideal for a road diet.

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      Smarty Pants December 21, 2017 at 12:16 am

      I used to go hiking in the Gorge on SB Sunday. Very few hikers around – had the place to myself. 🙂

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        CaptainKarma December 21, 2017 at 12:10 pm

        I go on relaxed bike rides on those sundays. I don’t buy into manufactured superbowl frenzy.

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          Middle of the Road Guy December 22, 2017 at 9:24 am

          I used to be holier than thou, until I took an arrow to the knee.

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    9watts December 20, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    (1) distracted driving is I think on the rise;
    (2) when people in cars kill someone not in a car the legal consequences for the person typically responsible are laughable;
    (3) I believe that PBOT staff or brass or whoever is championing this would like to do the Vision Zero thing, as much as I believe that they would like to implement the Bicycle Master Plan, but isn’t the problem with the implementation? With chutzpah? With prioritizing funding, staff time, and, of course, making what we all know to be necessary – rein in the automobile and the vast, inherited set of excuses that absolve most anyone behind the wheel from responsibility.

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      Middle of the Road Guy December 22, 2017 at 9:26 am

      While there is a ridiculous amount of entitlement many people feel they have for the privilege (not right) of driving, I think it is simply a facet of a more selfish and self-absorbed culture in general. That, and a lack of enforcement. Nobody wants a police state, but an un-policed state isn’t good either.

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    J_R December 20, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Vision Zero is not a failure. We have a task force, a new logo, and the promise of an annual report. There will also be numerous trips to other places to witness and learn how they do it.

    Sickening.

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      Smarty Pants December 21, 2017 at 12:23 am

      Kind of like in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qypnQkdg89g

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      Doug Klotz December 21, 2017 at 11:04 am

      At the City of Portland, Vision Zero is just another program that has to compete for funds against other programs. At the November Pedestrian Advisory Committee, city staff explained how the city also needs to keep doing those things that the population expects, such as clearing gravel from the streets, etc., so it can’t really devote all it’s funds to Vision Zero projects. The city tries to fund projects that forward Vision Zero goals as well as other goals, but can’t do that all the time.

      When it was introduced, I was under the impression that VZ was the overriding goal of the city, and would be informing all city spending in the future. Alas, this turns out to not be the case.

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    Todd Boulanger December 20, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Perhaps the Portland citizens need a Vision Zero LED billboard sign of ped / bike / vehicular annual deaths in some prominent location…like the National Debt clock.

    Any property owners out there with a permitted sign that could be [regulatory] easily converted?

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      SD December 20, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      Or… “It has been 0 days since someone was killed by a driver in Portland.”

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        Racer X December 21, 2017 at 3:19 pm

        Yep.

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    Todd Boulanger December 20, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    I have not seen the crash report yet – but from the description of the location (press) and Google Streetview – this pedestrian may have been crossing at at the intersection between 58th and 59th, the Failing Street “T” intersection…thus an unmarked crosswalk.

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      Todd Boulanger December 20, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      Oops…meant to type between: “78th and 79th streets”

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    B. Carfree December 20, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    We’re getting to the point where deploying explosive-laden pedestrian robots that go off on contact is beginning to sound reasonable.

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      Smarty Pants December 21, 2017 at 12:27 am

      One of those did just go off a week or so ago in the NYC subway.

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      bikeninja December 21, 2017 at 8:55 am

      No Need for the danger, and political incorrectness of explosive robots, just make them out of cast iron filled with lead shot so they weight 3000 lbs, plenty of incentive to take care in the future when carelessly slamming in to what I would call an,” automated crossing guard.”

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        Middle of the Road Guy December 22, 2017 at 9:27 am

        So activist will complain about the lead leaching into the Columbia.

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    SD December 20, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Wheeler and city council are sitting on their hands. One of the most valuable tools a mayor in a “weak mayor” system has is their voice. It allows them to speak with authority directly to Portlanders. Our last two mayors have been silent and thus ineffective in moving Portland closer to vision zero.

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      Brian December 21, 2017 at 8:06 am

      I may not pay attention to local news as closely as others, but I don’t recall seeing a recent speech given by our mayor. Why not come out and passionately condemn the collective driving behavior in our city? Why not plead with people to treat others with kindness, and encourage us to protect one another rather than compete with one another to save a minute of travel time? Maybe he should sit in some classrooms of high quality teachers to learn how to truly lead.

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    Randy December 20, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Self-Driving Ubers Crossing Bike Lanes ~ https://driverlessratings.com/news/self-driving-ubers-crossing-bike-lanes

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      Smarty Pants December 21, 2017 at 12:43 am

      I wonder how Ubers will do on icy streets? Might be a tough programming problem.

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    Todd Boulanger December 20, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    A question for those who may know better…”How is a healthy pedestrian supposed to safely cross NE Sandy at 79th with the odd overlapping intersections creating ‘super high’ number of vehicle movements / potential conflict points…even with the pedestrian refuge on one leg of the intersection?!”

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      Chris I December 21, 2017 at 12:52 pm

      The obvious answer is to get a car and drive.

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    Todd Boulanger December 20, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    A 2017 PBOT traffic count recorded only 8,790 ADT (motor vehicles) at the 7800 block of NE Sandy for all 4 lanes and …so one must ask the technical / engineering question …

    “WHY NOT A ROAD DIET TO TO SIMPLIFY [and likely make safer] THIS CORRIDOR SEGMENT?! as the volumes support such a conversion since the 2003 traffic counts.

    https://pdx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7ce8d1f5053141f1bc0f5bd7905351e6

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      Bjorn December 20, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      I completely agree Todd. Reducing to one sov lane in each direction with a center turn lane would reduce speeding, make crossing safer, and free up room for better uses. I wonder if the main obstacle here is ODOT, I cant remember if they are still in control of this section of sandy or not.

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        Todd Boulanger December 21, 2017 at 3:24 pm

        Bjorn, I thought ODoT had full responsibility too, but the ODoT annual traffic counts on Sandy stopped well east of this location while PBoTs counts included it (see my prior link).

        Nonetheless, ODoT likely has veto authority over making strict safety design changes that reduce vehicle capacity…versus in Washington the local cities have this authority.

        (Perhaps its time for The Street Trust and WPC etc. to lobby Salem to make this administrative change in authority.)

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          Momo December 22, 2017 at 2:05 pm

          ODOT only owns Sandy east of I-205.

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      David Hampsten December 20, 2017 at 11:15 pm

      The city I live in won’t do a road diet on a 4-lane like Sandy unless both the Average Daily Traffic (ADT) in each direction is below 10,000 cars per day (which Sandy is) AND the street is about to be repaved, The second item is very important. Our city DOT barely has enough money to pay their staff. To do major reconstruction projects, they have to borrow major $,$$$ through bonds, competing with sewer, water, recreation, housing, economic development and other infrastructure projects, or else get the feds and state to pay for them. However, getting $$ to repave our crumbling streets is much easier, except that our city DOT has no control over how much $$ are available each year for repaving (our City Council decides that based upon any surplus and their re-election chances), and they have no control over the city agency doing the repaving and deciding which streets get repaved or not. Our city DOT does however have full control over what pavement markings get put in after the repaving, as they control the the engineering, design, and even the machines that put in the lines of markings. The best part of this process from their point of view, it costs our city DOT nothing at all to do road diets on city streets being repaved – the costs for design, engineering, and markings are borne by the agency do the repaving, as part of the overall project costs.

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        Todd Boulanger December 21, 2017 at 3:14 pm

        David, sorry to hear that…back when I was with the City of Vancouver (USA) we regularly did retrofit road diets on arterial roads (and truck routes up to 20,000 ADT)….

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      Esther Harlow December 20, 2017 at 11:47 pm

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      paikiala December 21, 2017 at 9:12 am

      Roundabout corridor.

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        Doug Klotz December 21, 2017 at 3:31 pm

        “Modern” roundabouts are better for motor traffic flow than a traffic signal, but pose problems for pedestrians, as the inbound and outbound lanes are free-flowing, where there would be crosswalks, but drivers are not that likely to stop. Glisan and Chavez have stop signs on the incoming lanes (with marginal compliance), but none on the outgoing lanes. A sight-impaired walker has a difficult time judging when a circling car will cross their path. They need special bike treatments, too.

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      Momo December 21, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      That’s only in one direction, not both directions! It’s a common misperception. Traffic counts are only ever measured in a single direction. So the actual ADT is 8790 in the two westbound lanes, and 7286 in the two eastbound lanes. Now that we have the facts, let’s see if road diet could potentially be implemented…yep! The answer is still yes. 16,000 ADT is well under the standard 20k threshold, and even farther under Foster Rd which is more like 24k. We have to look at peak-hour volumes as well, though, and that’s trickier on Sandy. 900 per hour in the AM peak is a lot, right on the edge of what can fit in a single lane. Possible, but tough, with potential for diversion effects.

      Overall, I think it’s definitely worth looking at a lane reconfiguration, especially since there is a major safety need. However, a “traditional” road diet may not be the best. Does Sandy need a center turn lane? Would it maybe be better to have bus lanes? Do we need bike lanes? Should we keep parking? No easy answers. Some folks in the neighborhood have been advocating for a corridor plan, which is likely needed here before major changes. That said, if enough people push for a quicker redesign, that could happen as well.

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    Smarty Pants December 20, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    I’ll withhold all judgment until we get some details about the accident. Many appear to be blaming the car driver. That’s not fair to the driver unless you have some facts about exactly what happened in this case. May be 100% the fault of the driver, or of the pedestrian, or it could be a mix of fault among both.

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      John Lascurettes December 20, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      I just read through all these comments and didn’t see a single one (as of 11pm on Wednesday) that called out the specific driver of this collision as being at fault. Not one. What everyone is griping about here is that the infrastructure encourages speeding and is completely VRU hostile — regardless of who’s at fault.

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        Smarty Pants December 21, 2017 at 12:40 am

        You are correct that no one called out the specific driver in this case, but many are blaming “drivers” in general – not just the infrastructure. In this case we have no facts yet.
        My condolences to the families involved.

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          Dan A December 21, 2017 at 9:29 am

          Drivers, in general, are the problem.

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            Rain Waters December 21, 2017 at 1:30 pm

            Do Portland drivers feel squeezed by an expensive engineering paradigm with so far statisticaly proven negative impact on fatalities ? So. . . .what might the next logical and sane step be?

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            Middle of the Road Guy December 22, 2017 at 9:30 am

            I thought it was infrastructure.

            Personally, I agree with you – it’s individual behavior.

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              9watts December 22, 2017 at 9:33 am

              Could it be both?

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                Dan A December 22, 2017 at 12:10 pm

                ‘The infrastructure forced me to drive too fast for conditions!’

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                John Lascurettes December 22, 2017 at 3:06 pm

                Infrastructure can definitely either encourage or discourage bad behavior. Yes, it’s still up to the individual to behave properly — but why encourage it? Wide straight streets encourage people who speed to do exactly that.

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                Dan A December 22, 2017 at 9:28 pm

                I agree that infrastructure encourages bad behavior. It certainly doesn’t excuse it though.

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                X December 24, 2017 at 3:37 pm

                Infrastructure creates an expectation of a certain travel experience. A two-lane road with yellow centerline says: “This is a highway.” At some times of the day, NE Sandy Blvd. is a highway, in the sense of allowing intermittent speeds over 40 MPH. That’s bad for people walking, especially if they are on a 80 foot diagonal crosswalk. At other times traffic is stop-and-go. People whose expectation is to go 47 MPH begin to act out. Engineering choices shape expectations.

                We don’t have the budget for widespread live enforcement and it is an objectionable policy because of known conscious or unconscious bias behavior. Camera enforcement has legal limitations in Oregon. Could we try a system where a detected speed 3 MPH over the speed limit triggers a red light cycle ahead, in the direction of travel? Nope, that’s not going to be popular but it might cut down on people going 50 MPH across the bridges, or on streets like NE Sandy.

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        wsbob December 21, 2017 at 10:16 am

        “I just read through all these comments and didn’t see a single one (as of 11pm on Wednesday) that called out the specific driver of this collision as being at fault. Not one. What everyone is griping about here is that the infrastructure encourages speeding and is completely VRU hostile — regardless of who’s at fault.” Lascurettes

        Sandy could be calmed down some, starting with reducing the speed limit, if it’s currently posted for 35 or 40 mph, down to 25 or 20 mph.

        This road though, is at some times of the day, needed as a high volume motor vehicle route, so I expect that ideas to bring down motor vehicle speeds for constricting motor vehicle traffic to just a single lane of traffic in each direction, won’t go far.

        In response to street traffic and collisions involving vulnerable road users and motor vehicles, some people seem to automatically, with little consideration of the full range of factors that figure into the cause of collisions, jump to condemn driving and people that drive motor vehicles, as the sole cause of collisions. (This is touching on the point Smarty Pants brings up in their comment.).

        While it’s understandable that some people will feel this way, I don’t think their perspective if it were taken as a general view of traffic issues cities face today, would be very effective towards arriving at realistic resolution of traffic situations that commonly pose hazardous conditions for vulnerable road users.

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          Andrew Kreps December 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm

          Well, we still don’t know. The latest report simply says “Police don’t think the driver, who cooperated with investigators, was distracted or impaired.”

          It’s still under investigation.

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    Kittens December 21, 2017 at 3:50 am

    Vision Zero is a make-work program for over educated liberals who pretend to care but are clueless about how to solve the transportation problems facing our city. Putting HAWK signals everywhere, nominally lowering speed limits and an aggressive PR front are turning out to be just as silly and ineffective as the stated goal of VZ.

    Zero deaths is not a realistic goal and is an unproductive answer to the larger problem of how can we move more people more effectively and more safely using our existing networks.

    People these days are so frustrated and angry at traffic congestion that all rational behavior goes out the window. I live on a popular cut-through and during rush hour my street becomes a mini race course for Uber and every Tom Dick and Harry trying to get home or whatever.

    Hint: way to move more people more efficiently in a given amount of space: t r a n s i t. Bikes, walk for shorter distance and in areas of high density. Design around THIS and not childish, feel-good nonsense like VZ and you might do something meaningful.

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      9watts December 21, 2017 at 7:42 am

      Hm.
      Not sure why you (and J_R) save up so much vitriol for Vision Zero. It has a pretty good track record in many countries, actually. In fact I think the reason it was adopted here was precisely because it has been shown to work in a whole variety of ways that I think we’d all recognize.

      As for t r a n s i t, this is not and has never been a perfect substitute for point-to-point travel currently overwhelmingly served by the private automobile. Transit has a place, but we would be fooling ourselves if we thought it could take over a significantly larger share of travel needs in the short or even medium term. Bicycling and walking do offer similar point-to-point convenience but we’ve rarely recognized them as *better* substitutes for the car than transit and so have tended to put our eggs in the wrong basket.

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        J_R December 21, 2017 at 12:18 pm

        Vision Zero does not actually seem to have accomplished anything in Portland. Enforcement doesn’t even seem to be part of the equation. The only thing that Portland seems to have adopted is the name – no enforcement and no actions that seem to have produced any positive results.

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          9watts December 22, 2017 at 9:33 am

          Are you hoping that it still will accomplish something? Or do you have a better approach you’re not telling us about?

          How do you explain that this exact approach actually delivers impressive results in other places? Could it be that you’re being a little too hasty, too eager to slam an admittedly timid city bureau for something that is widely understood to be a complex, culturally bound problem that we’re not going to crumple up and toss in the wastebasket, but need to keep working on the rest of our lives? How about a little constructive criticism?

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            J_R December 22, 2017 at 9:53 am

            E N F O R C E M E N T.

            I’ve commented countless times on this forum about the lack of enforcement. Traffic Division has 50,000 road user interactions per year. 140 per day. Meanwhile, drivers in Portland travel about 10,000,000 miles per day. That works out to one interaction (not necessarily leading to a citation) for every 70,000 miles driven. Basically there is no enforcement of traffic laws.

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              Eric Leifsdad December 23, 2017 at 8:25 pm

              S T U F F I N T H E S T R E E T

              Put some actual obstacles in the street and force drivers to pay attention to something besides an occasional vulnerable person crossing. Give people in crosswalks something to hide behind and even the playing field. Traffic division can come along and write a ticket and a bill for sweeping up the broken bits of car while the driver explains how that bollard “came out of nowhere”. Highway-based “clear zone” engineering is a recipe for faster speeds, making *drivers* safer by keeping anything that might scratch your paint well back on the other side of the sidewalks. If there isn’t enough room for impact attenuation / end treatment due to high speeds, lower the speed limit (PBOT has the authority, we just lack the spine.) DOT Engineers and city officials should have to walk across at least four stroads per day until they figure this out.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 21, 2017 at 8:43 am

      I hear you Kittens.

      I agree that there has been something of a herd mentality in the U.S. around the adoption of Vision Zero. In other words, it has become a buzzword and it has a lot of currency for politicians and bureaucrats. Perhaps it’s time to focus on the idea of “systemic safety” like Peter Furth talks about. That’s what the Dutch do. The Dutch don’t follow “vision zero” specifically.

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        9watts December 21, 2017 at 8:46 am

        I’d be curious to see a side-by-side comparison of statistics for say Sweden and The Netherlands if they are approaching this differently. I’d think the proof would be in the numbers, or that would at least be a good first approximation of the usefulness of different strategies.

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          soren December 21, 2017 at 1:08 pm
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            9watts December 22, 2017 at 9:38 pm

            thanks, soren, but I’m a little unclear on what the first histogram is showing.

            Monetary valuation of the prevention of a fatality accident?
            besides being a mouthful, what exactly is being measured/compared here?

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              X December 24, 2017 at 4:46 pm

              Possibly, the arbitrary value assigned to a human life lost, or saved, for the purpose of making a cost/benefit analysis? In that diagram there seems to be a correlation between a higher value and fewer deaths.

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                9watts December 27, 2017 at 8:27 am

                probably. But that sure is a convoluted and confusing way to put it.

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      Chris I December 21, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Do you think a factory should strive for zero on the job injuries? Do you think a delivery center should strive for zero infant deaths? Why would you make a goal to “only kill x number of people per year” for anything?

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      Middle of the Road Guy December 22, 2017 at 9:50 am

      So how does an educated conservative solve these problems?

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        9watts December 22, 2017 at 9:51 am

        Is that a rhetorical question?

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    Mike Quigley December 21, 2017 at 6:11 am

    Not even Vision Zero will prevent a homeless person dressed in dark clothing, wandering the streets at night, from suddenly stepping out in front of you. It has happened to me.

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      9watts December 21, 2017 at 7:42 am

      And yet you somehow managed to avoid killing him/her.

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      Dan A December 21, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      That single, rare example sure is used to excuse a lot of poor driver behavior.

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        Middle of the Road Guy December 22, 2017 at 9:54 am

        I don’t think it’s that rare.

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          9watts December 22, 2017 at 9:56 am

          It is a trope.

          And interestingly in some other countries fault in situations like that is not automatically assigned to the person who was hit, but rather understood to be distributed: the person driving could/should have recognized the possibility and driven accordingly.

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          Dan A December 22, 2017 at 9:31 pm

          I can’t recall a time in 28 years of driving where someone surprised me by suddenly stepping in front of my car at night.

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            9watts December 22, 2017 at 9:34 pm

            I can’t either. But like the razor blades in the apples on Halloween, this kind of made-up story performs all kinds of useful work.

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    Barbara L December 21, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Enforcement of traffic speed limits is necessary and until it’s uses more people will die or continue to be seriously injured. Doesn’t matter how many safety beacons you install if drivers don’t pay attention to them. It’s common for the drivers in the other lane or approaching at a high speed to just go around the stopped car when it’s 2 lanes in each direction.
    NE Sandy Blvd between 205 & NE 37th is used by WA drivers as their freeway & they drive at very fast speeds all the time. When I come back from 6 am swim pool up NE Sandy these drivers swerve around me as if I’m standing still at 37 mph. Then when traffic backs up 5 blocks from NE 57th to NE 62 or more they cut off into our neighborhood.

    Even though they made “improvement as NE 57th & NE Sandy it’s still very dangerous for pedestrian crossing NE Sandy on the west side of the intersection due to the drivers who turn south onto NE Sandy from NE 57th even on a red ignoring the No Turn On Red at the 3 way intersection.

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    TonyT December 21, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Cue broken record.

    Enforcement in this city is a joke. A cruel, deadly joke. If I were so inclined, I could drive through this city regularly doing 15mph over the speed limit and I would never get busted.

    Enforcement communicates driving culture and here in Portland it is “we’re all talk and the occasional PR enforcement.”

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      oldguyluvs2ride December 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Washington DC has something like 300 speed cameras. Just sayin…..

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        Racer X December 21, 2017 at 3:17 pm

        The DC traffic cameras are likely more for “terrorist” (aka “mucho bad guys”) / crime tracking than traffic safety…if one were to peal back the layers of truth…

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          Oldguyluvstoride December 21, 2017 at 8:37 pm

          I suppose that’s possible although I would like to know if you have any evidence. And, even if that is true, the fact remains that the district generated more than $100,000,000 last year in speeding tickets. One has to believe that has a positive impact on reducing speeding.

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            9watts December 27, 2017 at 5:02 pm

            “the district generated more than $100,000,000 last year in speeding tickets”

            really? got a source?

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          oldguyluvs2ride December 22, 2017 at 7:48 pm

          I don’t know about the terrorist angle to the speed cameras. If you have some evidence, I would love to hear it. That said, you have to believe that all of those cameras issuing speeding tickets has some effect on reducing speeding. I know that I would be even more aware of my speed while driving if we had hundreds of speed camera.

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      J_R December 21, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      The Portland Police Bureau’s annual report indicates the Traffic Division has 50,000 interactions per year, not all of which are citations. That works out to 140 per day. According to Metro, VMT in the region is approaching 20 million miles per day. Portland accounts for about half of that. So, the Traffic Division cops have about one interaction with a road user for every 70,000 miles driven! That’s basically no enforcement.

      I can’t be on the street for 5 minutes without seeing a citable infraction. Every day I see motorists blowing red lights. I regularly see people driving in the on-coming lane to sneak around the queue to get to the left turn lane. Motorists are getting better about yielding to pedestrians in marked crosswalks, but rarely yield to pedestrians even in unmarked crosswalks. When I drive the speed limit, I have people tailgating me.

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        Doug Klotz December 21, 2017 at 3:32 pm

        I think most motorists still think they don’t have to stop at unmarked crosswalks.

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    Michael Whitesel December 21, 2017 at 9:46 am

    I cross regularly on foot at NE 70th and Sandy (adjacent to the Safeway). There is a light just for crossing at that location. It is a cross walk in regular use, so the wait is generally long and when traffic is slow, the way usually clears to cross before the crossing light goes into effect. Also, even with the right of way engaged, one has to watch for cars, as I’ve witnessed many cars just blast on through against the light…

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    TonyT December 21, 2017 at 10:07 am

    And of course Portland decided that the best was to stay out of the news regarding racial profiling isn’t by actually doing something about racial profiling, which is very real. It’s to NOT do more enforcement.

    “The enforcement action in this plan are limited in order to reduce the possibility of racial profiling and disparate economic impacts.”

    https://bikeportland.org/2016/09/14/city-releases-draft-of-vision-zero-action-plan-191456

    That’s right, part of the city’s Vision Zero Action Plan is to specifically limit enforcement.

    Gee, I wonder if the obvious racial disparities present in the War on Drugs™ are causing Ted Wheeler and the PPB to limit the misguided enforcement for other crimes. Who wants to bet that traffic enforcement is somehow, inexplicably, the only enforcement to get this restriction?

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    I wear many hats December 21, 2017 at 11:00 am

    People are so good at commenting on this blog about safety, yet how many actually email the city mayor or commissioners asking for change?

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      soren December 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      I’ve emailed them many times and have seen little evidence that this is an effective way to induce change.

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    Jon December 21, 2017 at 11:44 am

    For 2016 in Multnomah county there were 5,683 deaths. 5,154 were from natural causes, 120 were suicide, 31 homicide, 355 unintended injury, 21 undetermined intent, and 1 legal intervention. I would guess 2017 is not radically different from 2016. I would guess that the 355 number is the one that covers bicycle and pedestrian deaths. So, around 15% of all unintended injury deaths are traffic related (I would have guessed more) and almost 50% of those are pedestrian or bike (I would have guess more would be automobile drivers or passengers).

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    Shoupian December 21, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    If only there was a freeway cutting across Sandy like I-5, PBOT and ODOT then could spend half a billion dollars widening that and also “improve safety” for local streets.
    https://bikeportland.org/2017/10/06/here-are-the-streetscape-changes-the-city-and-state-want-with-an-i-5-expansion-244633

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    Bobcycle December 22, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    I drove Sandy Blvd from 82nd heading west this morning after dropping someone off at the airport. I was surprised how lit up that section was at 5:30 AM. Perhaps it was afoggy morning the day the woman was hit? If not it seems the driver may have been distracted. Side streets I drove after leaving Sandy were very dark and I think it would be difficult to spot pedestrians but Sandy Blvd had very good visibility sight lines that appeared well lit to me.

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      Smarty Pants December 23, 2017 at 12:32 am

      Perhaps the pedestrian stepped in front of the car at the last moment. Will we get more details soon?

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        9watts December 27, 2017 at 8:44 pm

        Perhaps.

        This is certainly a familiar hope emanating from certain quarters.

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    Alan 1.0 December 23, 2017 at 10:22 pm
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    X December 24, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    “Smarty Pants”:
    . . .In this case we have no facts yet. . .

    It’s a fact that a person in charge of a motor vehicle failed to avoid contact between their moving car and a person on foot. I will maintain, as a fact, that another person’s life is not a worthwhile sacrifice for anyone’s pleasure, time or joyful driving experience.

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    X December 24, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    “9watts”:
    . . .As for t r a n s i t, this is not and has never been a perfect substitute for point-to-point travel currently overwhelmingly served by the private automobile. Transit has a place, but we would be fooling ourselves if we thought it could take over a significantly larger share of travel needs. . .

    I would like to see Portland city government put its entire weight of public policy, street design and available budgets behind forwarding transit operation to the highest pitch possible. What if Hawthorne between SE 60th and SW 5th, and Cesar Chavez between I-84 and the Hollywood TC, were pre-emptively optimized for transit with signal cycles and lanes restricted for buses and bikes? As a test?

    This isn’t going to happen because the city just doesn’t have the brass, but if it did: The buses would suddenly start running on time, and TriMet would find that they could, magically, do more with less. There would be induced demand for transit ridership. MV traffic would be calmed, necessarily. Transit connections would be improved (that’s a problem mentioned by most people I talk to about transit in Portland, the bus is fine until you have to change lines.)

    Hawthorne merchants would find that transit passengers and people using bicycles increasingly frequent their stores and spend money. A person on a bus is way more likely to hop off for shopping or entertainment if the bus interval is predictably 7 minutes or less.

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      X December 24, 2017 at 4:37 pm

      –Cesar Chavez between the Hollywood Transit Center and SE Woodstock–

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      9watts December 26, 2017 at 9:25 am

      the thing about transit is that it isn’t as much about funding (what we always assumed) but an inherent limitation.
      Spending to run transit round the clock involves throwing a lot of money chasing a very few night-time passengers; an *inherently* wasteful approach to spending necessarily limited public dollars. Better to spend the money on the modes which *do* offer point-to-point service, like walking and biking.

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        X December 27, 2017 at 7:05 am

        It’s not so much about running around the clock as making it an effective service while it is running. Transit is supposedly higher priority than single passenger motor vehicles in Portland, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at the streets. I advocate for Portland working to make some bus line, somewhere, actually work. It’s my belief that when people see what transit is capable of there will be demand for more change.

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          9watts December 27, 2017 at 8:21 am

          Of course. Transit can be prioritized, better funded, given reserved running, managed well, etc. And these will all pay off in increased ridership, mode share, etc. But even if we did all of that (and plenty of jurisdictions around the world have), we still won’t crowd out the single occupancy vehicle. The math just isn’t there.

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    paikiala December 26, 2017 at 8:19 am

    The conclusion at the beginning of the op ed is inaccurate, at best.
    In 1992 there were 11 fatal pedestrian deaths in Portland, in 1993 there were 20.
    In 1995 there were 8. In 1996, 17. In 1997, 9. In 1999 it was 15, while in 2006 it was 6. (BTW, in 1940 it was 51)
    VZ is no more failing for a commonly variable high number of single year deaths than it could be credited for a single year low number.
    It is the trend that matters in such analysis. The trend has a negative slope (good).

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      9watts December 26, 2017 at 8:23 am

      generally agreeing with your statistics, paiki(k)ala, but I think it is still important for those who are championing Vision Zero to hold themselves publicly accountable, wrestle with these observed deaths in a manner that comes across as sincere.

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