Harvest Century September 22nd

During Vision Zero presentation, Commissioner Hardesty says distracted walkers are ‘huge issue’

Posted by on June 20th, 2019 at 12:02 pm

In the past five years, people walking have accounted for nearly 40% of Portland’s traffic fatalities.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty wants the transportation bureau to do more about distracted walking.

Commissioner Hardesty.
(Photo: City of Portlnd)

During a City Council presentation on the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s two-year update on its Vision Zero efforts last week, Hardesty said the problem of people staring into phones while they use sidewalks and streets needs to be taken more seriously.

Hardesty’s comments set off a notable exchange with Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees PBOT.

The exchange came as PBOT Active Transportation and Safety Division Manager Catherine Ciarlo presented the bureau’s “safe systems” approach to road safety. One of the key tenets of that approach is a shared responsibility for safety that takes into account road design and engineering — as well as individual choices. “Safety is the responsibility of the user of the system; but it is it also the responsibility of the owner of the system, the manager of the system, and the designer of the system,” Ciarlo said.

“So the implication is that it’s the peoples’ fault?” Hardesty asked. “If they acted right, the streets would be safer?”

“If anything, the safe systems approach says it’s not the user’s responsibility because all people make mistakes,” Ciarlo answered. “We’re all going to make mistakes and a safe system designs things, manages things, and educates people in a way that assumes those mistakes will be made and looks to protect against them.”

Then Ciarlo shared PBOT’s four Vision Zero priorities for the next two years. “Protect pedestrians” and “create a culture of shared responsibility” were among them. “And just to be clear, Commissioner Hardesty,” Ciarlo said, “That culture of safety isn’t about assigning blame to people injured by the system, but to create a culture in this city of moving more slowly, of looking out for vulnerable people in the roadway, and of making decisions that result in a safe system.”

At that point Hardesty interjected again:

“I have noticed there are lot of individuals who move through streets and sidewalks never actually looking up. They are on some electronic device that apparently is more important than whether or not they survive crossing the street. To me, I’ve noticed that is a huge issue. Is there any local data on it? I know we’re not talking about blame. But I think we should have the expectation that people actually look where they’re going when they cross the street and not be on their device.”

Advertisement

Big sale at Community Cycling Center

Portland traffic deaths, 2009 – 2018. Source: PBOT.

Ciarlo responded by saying “distracted walking” wasn’t called out as a specific risk factor when the Vision Zero plan was finalized tow years ago. She said the focus has been on things like lowering driving speeds, “Because if people are making that mistake of walking around distracted — which we don’t want them to do — we also don’t want them to get killed doing it.”

“I can tell you from personal anecdotal data there are way, way, way too many people walking with their eyes in their electronic stuff — whether a light is red or green — I’ve observed that over and over again… it scared me when I was driving.”
— Commissioner Hardesty

Then Eudaly chimed in. She called distracted walking, “a chronic problem for sure.” “But in reality,” she added, “With our pedestrian crashes, the majority of people were obeying the law and not doing anything wrong and they were still hit and killed.”

Hardesty then expressed concern that PBOT was collecting data on and enforcing distracted driving, but not distracted walking. “We need a full set of data to not just assume it’s one causation to the outcomes we’re getting,” she said. “Because I can tell you from personal anecdotal data there are way, way, way too many people walking with their eyes in their electronic stuff — whether a light is red or green — I’ve observed that over and over again… it scared me when I was driving.”

With her transportation background, and perhaps a sense that Hardesty’s comments needed a more forceful retort, Eudaly went a bit deeper with her final response. “I share your belief there’s a shared responsibility,” she said to Hardesty. “We have a very auto-centric culture. We tend to blame the victims in these crashes when in fact the stats show they are following the laws. So my pushback on responsibility isn’t a denial that pedestrians or cyclists need to follow laws or be more responsible, it’s more of the false narrative among car advocates who don’t want to take responsibility for their role, who don’t want us to inconvenience them by making our transportation system safer for pedestrians and cyclists
— and despite the fact vehicles have only been on the road 120 years while roads have been here for millennia — think roads should be sole conduits for automobiles.”

This isn’t the first time Hardesty has shared her opinion on this topic. During a candidate forum in April 2018, she responded to a question about traffic safety in east Portland by saying, “I can tell you there are pedestrians that walk out in front of cars because they think they have bumpers and no one will hit them.”

Stay tuned for a closer look at PBOT’s two-year Vision Zero/Safe Systems update.

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

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

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

78 Comments
  • Avatar
    mran1984 June 20, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    Hardesty is right. Your device should never be someone else’s problem. Be present in the world you live in. YOU are responsible for yourself. Don’t stop in the middle of a sidewalk, or aisle, to gaze into your hole.

    Recommended Thumb up 23

    • Avatar
      John Lascurettes June 20, 2019 at 12:50 pm

      Brava Eudaly for those responses and rebuttals. I like Hardesty, but she’s blinded by auotcentrism on this.

      Recommended Thumb up 60

    • Avatar
      SilkySlim June 20, 2019 at 1:07 pm

      Aisle blockers absolutely KILL me. I feel my blood pressure rising just sitting here thinking about folks that are so oblivious to others around them.

      Falling back to my favorite daydream of “If I Was President,” you bet I’d create a Cell Phone Free Holiday that happens at least once a year. We’d expand to quarterly in my second term.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Avatar
      Chris I June 20, 2019 at 1:42 pm

      The discussion pertained to Vision Zero, so no, Hardesty is not right. Distracted walking is not a major factor in pedestrian deaths. Is it annoying? Yes.

      This is such a tired trope, and it’s really sad to see so-called progressives like Hardesty share sentiments that are typically shared by conservative suburbanites.

      Recommended Thumb up 46

      • Avatar
        SERider June 21, 2019 at 8:58 am

        Or maybe “progressives” and “conservatives” are not two monoliths and can actually have different opinions on issues?

        Maybe she worded this a bit crudely for some, but it’s just ridiculous to always assume that cars and drivers are the ONLY problem for safety on our streets (which is predictably what many of the replies here are suggesting).

        Recommended Thumb up 6

        • Avatar
          9watts June 21, 2019 at 9:46 am

          “it’s just ridiculous to always assume that cars and drivers are the ONLY problem for safety on our streets”

          OK, I’ll bite: what are some others?

          Recommended Thumb up 11

          • Avatar
            El Biciclero June 22, 2019 at 11:34 am

            Bears?

            Recommended Thumb up 4

          • Avatar
            9watts July 2, 2019 at 9:52 am

            Crickets.

            Recommended Thumb up 3

        • Avatar
          Chris I June 21, 2019 at 2:30 pm

          You will notice that I stated that distracted walking “is not a major factor”.

          If you are trying to solve a problem, do you attack the thing that causes 90%+ of said problem, or the thing that causes 10% or less of that problem?

          Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Avatar
      Toby Keith June 22, 2019 at 7:38 am

      Thanks Hardesty for being honest and tiptoeing around this. Everybody plays a part in safety.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Avatar
      Toby Keith June 22, 2019 at 7:39 am

      I meant “NOT” tiptoeing around the subject.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    Buzz June 20, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    The only reason pedestrians and not motorists are being called out for this is because pedestrians are more easily visible using their ‘devices’, whereas motorists using ‘devices’ are probably just as plentiful but are hidden within their metal box with tinted windows.

    Recommended Thumb up 95

    • Avatar
      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 20, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      Yes that’s a great point Buzz. And it underlies much of the othering and anecdotal stuff you hear from people who primarily drive. Whether it’s “Bicyclists run stop signs all the time,” or this “distracted walking” stuff… The fact is people not encased in private steel boxes have far less privacy and as such their actions are more visible.

      There’s also the phenomenon of normalization. That is, seeing a walker look at their phone or a bicycle rider break the law is actually so rare, that it sticks out — especially compared to the same behaviors by drivers that are so common and hard to see no one even notices them.

      Recommended Thumb up 51

    • Avatar
      encephalopath June 20, 2019 at 1:40 pm

      Or trying to Captain Kirk their phone conversation thinking no one will notice if the phone isn’t pressed up to their heads.

      Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Avatar
      Chris I June 20, 2019 at 1:44 pm

      Except for the cars where they are literally stuck to the inside of the windshield right in front of the driver’s face. Those are my favorite. Hands free!

      Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Avatar
    idlebytes June 20, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Hardesty]s comments are pretty disappointing. Shared responsibility needs to take into account the danger a person’s mode choice posses as well. It’s ridiculous to worry about distracted pedestrians or spend an ounce of resources on them when it’s distracted, drunk, speeding, red-light running drivers that are killing and harming people. As far as data is concerned she just needs to go as far as the PPB reports on the 11 pedestrians that were killed this year. 9 of them were not a fault. The other 2 we just have the driver’s word they couldn’t stop and were paying attention.

    I mean if being distracted by a mobile device is so dangerous how are people with disabilities supposed to use the roads? Or children? It’s easy to forget you have other senses to detect danger when walking especially from in your car where mostly only your vision is useful.

    Recommended Thumb up 51

    • Avatar
      stephanlindner June 20, 2019 at 5:36 pm

      Exactly. I think there is a hierarchy of responsibility according to the degree of power that road users, managers and designers have. Highest up are those who design and decide about roads, because an adequate road design is most powerful in preventing injuries and death. Next are those who own and operate heavy trucks and buses. Then come people driving cars, followed (with a bit gap) by people riding bikes or scooters. People walking are the group with the least power to create harm.

      There are some very concrete policies that follow from such a hierarchy, for instance:
      – State and local agencies designing roads should be made accountable for traffic deaths due to bad road design, and for the prevention of such deaths due to better design. This could for instance mean that engineers receive bonuses if they re-design a street that leads to a reduction in injuries and deaths (and conversely, get fired for streets they design that have the opposite effect).
      – People designing roads should receive mandatory training on vision zero.
      – We should finally acknowledge the role vehicle weight. To paraphrase the typical police report, speed per se is not the only factor leading to deaths; it is speed*weight. Therefore, people who want to drive trucks, large SUVs or similar vehicles should be required to get a special permit.

      Recommended Thumb up 12

    • Avatar
      Carlin June 20, 2019 at 6:15 pm

      Distracted walking and driving involves being absorbed in an activity that compromises one’s ability to analyze their surroundings and respond to threats or unexpected events. It’s not simply a matter of one’s eyes focusing on a device.

      I guarantee you that someone texting on their phone is less aware than a blind or death person. We already have several studies proving phone use while driving is worse than driving while intoxicated.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    JJJJJJJ June 20, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    pErsOnAl aNeCdOtal dAtA

    Recommended Thumb up 21

    • Avatar
      SilkySlim June 20, 2019 at 1:13 pm

      Oh whatever. Two commutes a day by foot/bike for 12 straight years is at least 5000 trips of data. And I’m not even close to the age of these folks. Don’t discount the fact that individuals can witness things and draw accurate conclusions. I’m so sick of the, “well show me a study” trope.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • Avatar
        idlebytes June 20, 2019 at 1:46 pm

        Confirmation bias is a real thing. People remember the things that confirm what they want to believe. That’s why drivers see bad pedestrians and crazy cyclists everywhere but hardly notice all the terrible drivers. Also people are terrible at recalling details and remembering events mix that in with a desire to confirm your belief and your anecdotal evidence is next to useless.

        Recommended Thumb up 34

      • Avatar
        Chris I June 20, 2019 at 1:46 pm

        Unless her personal experience involved her seeing a distracted pedestrian waltz out into traffic and die, it isn’t worth bringing up during a discussion about Vision Zero.

        Recommended Thumb up 24

  • Avatar
    JeffS June 20, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    So… Eudaly is building strawmen to attack. Got it.

    “So my pushback on responsibility isn’t a denial that pedestrians or cyclists need to follow laws or be more responsible, it’s more of the false narrative among car advocates who don’t want to take responsibility for their role, who don’t want us to inconvenience them by making our transportation system safer for pedestrians and cyclists
    — and despite the fact vehicles have only been on the road 120 years while roads have been here for millennia — think roads should be sole conduits for automobiles.”

    A hundred bucks says this sentence was pre-written by someone else and read in the meeting by Eudaly.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Avatar
      9watts June 20, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      So? It was excellently phrased/written, and if you are correct, I’m glad Eudaly or her staff planned ahead.
      Eudaly 1: Hardesty: 0

      Recommended Thumb up 28

    • Avatar
      Terry D-M June 20, 2019 at 1:31 pm

      Doubt it. Eudaly takes her role at PBOT very seriously and has done her homework. After having multiple conversations with her recently, compared to three years ago, I’m sure she just spoke her mind. Having worked with PBOT since the Adam’s administration, i wouldn’t want anyone else there right now.

      Recommended Thumb up 23

    • Avatar
      nuovorecord June 20, 2019 at 3:05 pm

      “A hundred bucks says this sentence was pre-written by someone else and read in the meeting by Eudaly.”

      I got a million that says she wouldn’t have said it if she didn’t believe it was true.

      Recommended Thumb up 10

  • Avatar
    rick June 20, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Not much like victim-blaming public officials.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Avatar
    Glenn II June 20, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Look I feel disgust and pity for people glued to their phones as much as anybody, but “distracted walking” is not a thing as far as I’m concerned. “Distracted walking” is the “all lives matter” of transportation – true in principle, but too often twisted around and used by members of an entrenched and powerful majority, who are responsible for most of the problems, to minimize and shut down the concerns of the minority.

    Distracted walking collision: “Oh excuse me,” and get on with your day.

    Distracted driving collision: “She is survived by her husband Chad and sons Chad Jr. and Jeremy. Services will be at Johnson’s Funeral Home.”

    So no, f— me very much, I’m not falling for that one.

    Recommended Thumb up 87

    • Avatar
      9watts June 20, 2019 at 1:46 pm

      My nomination for comment of the week.

      Recommended Thumb up 31

    • Avatar
      nuovorecord June 20, 2019 at 3:06 pm

      10 pts. for a Chad and Jeremy reference as well. Nicely said.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Avatar
      jBone June 21, 2019 at 6:11 am

      Can you explain what you mean by “twisted”? It seems pretty straightforward forward to me. Everybody that enters a roadway has a responsibility to be aware and respectful of one another. (Just as all lives truly do matter). I get that we all have experience with bad actors/institutions that chip away at our trust of other humans, but I think the best way forward is to wrestle down cynicism and approach each day, each person, each situation with optimism and goodwill. The snark I’ve seen in these comments of people asserting rights by being intentionally passive/aggressive (bouncing balls through intersections, not making eye contact) is disappointing. All this ‘rights’ claiming and shaming will never bring us together. I get the unfairness of systems of power (I’ve been on the wrong side of that many times), but instead of complaining/resisting incessantly, I’ve found it most effective to keep my head up and keep practicing hope and love. Frankly, this didn’t come naturally or easy, but through intention, largely inspired through psychedelic experiences. Thank goodness these treatments will soon be legal in Oregon; I’d encourage many of you that are angry and disillusioned by the post-modern world to give it a try.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    Chris Anderson June 20, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    I doubt I’m the only person who pretends to be distracted sometimes crossing the street, as it seems to increase crosswalk compliance by drivers.

    Recommended Thumb up 32

    • Avatar
      B. Carfree June 20, 2019 at 3:49 pm

      I never look directly at them and do all I can to convince them that I’m completely unaware of their presence. If they think they have your attention, they will speed up and steal your right of way because it’s a religion that cars first, cars last, cars only, cars always and they can’t conceive of anyone not being a member in good standing of that religion.

      I haven’t actually pulled out my phone and pretended to be engrossed in what’s not happening on its screen, but that may be a twist I apply soon.

      Recommended Thumb up 14

      • Avatar
        jered June 20, 2019 at 4:55 pm

        I’ve had great luck with eye contact and pointing directly at them, then walking extra slow. Oregonians usually just stop dead in their tracks out of fear at the suggestion of any kind of direct interaction. Another fun one is bouncing a ball into the crosswalk and then following it across the street…

        Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Avatar
      jBone June 21, 2019 at 8:04 am

      Chris Anderson and other like minded folks, so you win these ‘battles’ but how does it further the cause? I imagine these behaviors stoke the resentment of drivers and have unintended consequences.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Avatar
    William Henderson June 20, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    I gotta say, the main take away here for me is how awesome it is to have this type of engagement between Commissioner Eudaly and Commissioner Hardesty. My observations:
    1. I was not present but from the account this seems like a very open and civil exchange. There was disagreement, but also a sharing of two meaningful perspectives.
    2. I can’t speak for Commissioner Hardesty, but given her focus on the issue of social and racial inequity in enforcement I can understand how that might translate into a concern about enforcement across modes. As we know, there is a huge discrepancy in who has access to live in walkable neighborhoods. So it is a reasonable concern that targeting enforcement by mode could inadvertently target certain types of people.
    3. It is so, so refreshing to hear any Commissioner talking openly about an ‘auto-centric culture’ and victim-blaming. Seems like there’s a fruitful conversation to be had between the two Commissioners on PPB’s role in this.
    4. This all makes me hopeful that we can finally move away from a conversation that is focused on enforcement (of any mode). Just a couple years ago the Vision Zero conversations in City Hall were largely about enforcement and platitudes that people need to “slow down” and “take responsibility”. Now we are talking about the hard stuff, the stuff Safety Division Manager Ciarlo was talking about: that our street designs are prioritizing speed and convenience over safety and access, and that the responsibility for fixing this rests squarely on “the owner of the system, the manager of the system, and the designer of the system”. What a welcome change!

    Recommended Thumb up 29

  • Avatar
    Joe Fortino June 20, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    distracted walking is almost as bad as distracted driving. life of a cyclist! rant over.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Avatar
    Todd Boulanger June 20, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Yes there are anicdotally more “distracted pedestrians” [or we are more aware of it] but not more enough to generate these more frequent deaths by human operators of motor vehicles. [I thought Catherine C. did a good job reframing it.]

    In Honolulu here, there is also a “chronic” peak killing of pedestrians too (and much lower cyclist mortality rate)…similar to Portland. AND I have been shocked several times at victim blaming* comments [similar to Commissioner Hardesty’s] by the Honolulu Police Department Information officers speaking about pedestrian deaths at public meetings.

    *[After 30+ years of professional experience in transportation planning/ roadway safety audits and hearing similar comments from other professionals…I wonder when “we” as a society will shift away from roadway vulnerable population victim blaming? As “we” have seen such recent shifts from blaming rape victims for what they wore prior to the act of violence against them… so when pedestrians?]

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Avatar
    Champs June 20, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Ms. Hardesty, please miss me with this SaFEtY iS EvErYOnE’S ReSPoNSiBiLItY nonsense. I think it’s reasonable to guess you wouldn’t see it that way if a wayward child stepped in front of PPB fire. Drivers are the only rattlesnakes in this cornfield.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    joan June 20, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    I’m going to give Commissioner Hardesty a pass on this one because she’s doing a lot of great work and because I think she’s a smart woman who does her research, and she’ll figure this out. Also, no joke: I suspect she’s a good driver who doesn’t mess around on her phone while she’s driving, so she might not be as aware as she could be of how terrible this behavior is amongst folks who are driving. Finally, I think she and Commissioner Eudaly are doing good work together, and in a way, maybe it’s for the best that Hardesty is giving a voice to this complaint so Eudaly could address it. I’d love to have an entire council made of up smart, thoughtful, progressive folks like Hardesty and Eudaly.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty June 20, 2019 at 4:44 pm

      Optimism!

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Avatar
        joan June 20, 2019 at 6:31 pm

        More like… recognition that what Hardesty has brought to City Council is so important and is so overdue. Her voice is incredibly important.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    Steve Smith June 20, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Pretty sure Hardesty is dead wrong about any causation related to “distracted pedestrians”. I do wish she would do a little homework before she makes off-the-cuff remarks that are likely to have no basis in reality because now, instead of focusing on the real killer in the public right of way we have to now talk about people walking with cell phones. People driving kill other people driving, people walking and people biking. This year in Portland at a pace of about one per week.

    I wish the Commissioner would look into the 2 ton vehicles and see how many people driving are looking at their phones. That’s the real threat. As is speeding. As is running red lights. As is driving drunk. THOSE ARE THE THINGS KILLING AND MAIMING PEOPLE. Why would Hardesty say something like this?

    Below is some of what a 30-second google search turns up about distracted walking. I could not find any reputable data source indicating that distracted walking is regularly leading to deaths on the roadway.

    https://www.curbed.com/2018/6/21/17477026/distracted-walking-pedestrian-deaths-crosswalk
    https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html
    https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/05/texting-safety-tips-distracted-walking-laws-nyc-vision-zero/589606/
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095756415000689
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022437511000107

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Avatar
    ed June 20, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    Regardless of whether Hardesty is overdoing the issue I must say as a cyclist l’ve noted last several years many more pedestrians walk into the street using only ears, not eyes, to judge feasibility of crossing. They may or may not have their eyes glued to a device, but their sole criteria for crossing is if they hear a vehicle approaching or not. This is actually the PEDESTRIAN being very auto-centric, as their unconscious bias is the only traffic needing to be noted is motor vehicles. I often see people literally not look up or side to side at all stepping into a street. (at an intersection or not) Very common with people exiting cars too. Yes I yield to them when possible, but can’t change the laws of physics if the move is particularly darting and spontaneous. I walk lots and defend ped rights adamantly but there seems a new wave who just don’t seem to think a visual assessment is needed when entering street and it’s quite unnerving.

    Also those who render themselves deaf on MUPS (pod zombies) and dart unpredictably or walk 3 or 4 abreast. Peds get priority yes, but they cannot pretend they’re alone in the universe while doing so. C’mon be honest; if you ride here you’ve had close calls with this behavior.

    I know motorists rag on and stereotype cyclists behavior and you may view this as same thing… but I’m just saying no one user group walks on water here, and being the most vulnerable and abused doesn’t mean they can do no wrong.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

    • Avatar
      Buzz June 20, 2019 at 9:25 pm

      …and that’s what your bell is for, you don’t have to be obnoxious when warning the peds…

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Avatar
        ed June 21, 2019 at 12:09 pm

        “…and that’s what your bell is for, you don’t have to be obnoxious when warning the peds…”

        Yes Buzz , thanks for Bike Use 101. Don’t know about you, but in the world I live and places I ride, a huge percentage of peds render themselves deaf with ear pods so bells are ineffectual. Also, in cases of peds random unanticipated directional changes I can either swerve or ring a bell but not both… which do you do?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    JWL June 20, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Everyday I see people driving while texting or face timing. Scares me.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Avatar
    q June 20, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    It’s sad people have gotten used the idea that if you don’t pay full attention while you’re walking to the store or school or bus stop, you can be killed.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Avatar
    J_R June 20, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    If distracted walking due to a sighted person looking at his/her phone, does Hardesty plan to ban blind people from walking on Portland’s streets? After all, they can see less than the walker with the phone. It’s out and out victim blaming.

    Every day, I see motorists blow through red lights, exceed the speed limit by 15 or 20 mph, and fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Distracted pedestrians are among the least of our problems. I view the criticism as pandering to the motorist-voters.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty June 21, 2019 at 10:46 am

      Uh… a blind person is not someone who is simply too distracted to see.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Avatar
        Chris I June 21, 2019 at 2:59 pm

        Whoosh.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty June 21, 2019 at 4:58 pm

          No, sorry, I “got” it, it just wasn’t enough to respond to on that level.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    Kittens June 21, 2019 at 4:03 am

    I don’t know. Seems like I am seeing a lot of very risky pedestrian behavior lately. Some of it is mental or substance based. But a lot of it is just not being present. Sad but true. We can not eliminate 100% of pedestrian fatalities with design and education alone. There are just tons of messed up and distracted peds roaming the streets. Don’t believe me? Go down to W Burnside or 122nd at 11pm.

    Driver alertness is of great concern as they must react to others in the roadway regardless of mental state or reason. Just don’t think we can design our way out of this.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Avatar
      9watts June 21, 2019 at 8:21 am

      “Just don’t think we can design our way out of this.”

      Not so sure about that, kittens. I think we could easily ‘design’ our way out of this; we just have to have our priorities straight. Cars driven at 30mph in town are not sacrosanct, the natural order of things, impossible to change. When it comes to design, we could throttle vehicle speeds further (twenty is plenty), we could ban cars from cities (Oslo), we could change our laws to look more like the Netherlands (Strict Liability), and the list goes on. There is nothing to be gained from a defeatist Cars will be Cars mentality.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • Avatar
        Brian June 21, 2019 at 8:30 am

        How about “fifteen is fine” in some instances, depending on variables? The idea that the speed limit isn’t always the best idea needs to be drilled into peoples’ heads.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Avatar
      Brian June 21, 2019 at 8:23 am

      It’s the same on some streets in downtown. Drivers (and cyclists) have to travel extra slowly and assume someone is going to walk out at any moment, especially when parking and multiple lanes and hills are in the mix. I am constantly surprised by how many people walk up to a crosswalk looking down at their phone, look up for a split second at the “do not cross” signal, and then confusedly just walk into the street as if looking up for that brief moment of time made them invincible. Crossing a street seems to be a skill we are slowly losing, like reading maps or writing in cursive.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Avatar
      Buzz June 22, 2019 at 1:36 pm

      Agree that we can’t design / engineer our way out of this, behaviors need to be addressed also. Too bad PBOT is basically an engineering organization which generally shies away from attempting education and behavior modification instead of pursuing engineering ‘solutions’.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    meh June 21, 2019 at 6:17 am

    What aboutism. Drivers do it so it’s not a problem for pedestrians. Guess what both can be true. Distracted drivers are dangerous, distracted pedestrians endanger themselves. They are not mutually exclusive. One does not forgive the other.
    If I am driving down the street at 20mph, and a driver pulls out infront of me from between parked cars, giving me only 10 feet to stop they are at fault for the resulting crash. How is that any different if a pedestrian walks out from between parked cars giving me only 10 feet to stop? Both the driver and pedestrian didn’t look before entering the roadway.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Avatar
      9watts June 21, 2019 at 8:11 am

      There are several ways to look at this, and several European countries, whose laws I’ve examined, put more of the responsibility in situstions like this on the motor vehicle operator. Sometimes this is called Strict Liability. The point being that those who operate a motor vehicle can and should be mindful of the fact that these situstions can and will happen, and that they are responsible for driving accordingly. Furthermore all this ostensibly reprehensible behavior by pedestrians really only results in death or injury once you add a car driven at speed into the mix. Consequently it isn’t too much of.a leap to assign the extra measure of care to the operator of that vehicle.

      Just because we here in this country have gotten used to a cowboy mentality when it comes to motor vehicle operstion doesn’t mean this is right or useful or how we should continue to think about how responsibility is divided up. As I have pointed out repeatedly, Vision Zero as approached in other countries *never* starts from the perspective that pedestrians are the problem; they instead recognize what should be obvious: the danger in very nearly 100% of cases comes from the motor vehicles driven by imperfect and yes distracted humans.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

      • Avatar
        meh June 24, 2019 at 6:22 am

        You can artificially assign liability to drivers but that still doesn’t mean they are 100% at fault. Vision zero means infrastructure and rules in place to make everyone safe. If everyone doesn’t follow the rules then it will not succeed. Everyone is going to be inconvenienced in some way as we retro fit infrastructure into an old unsafe design. That includes pedestrians. You want to jay walk and walk against the red then don’t complain when vision zero doesn’t work.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Rob Chapman June 21, 2019 at 6:20 am

    There’s a strange philosophy at work when it comes to driving that I don’t think is present when operating other modes of conveyance. When I operate a boat, the standard is that I’m responsible for that boat and everyone in it. If I’m running in a marked channel at a safe speed and I say…. run over a manatee guess what? The Fish and Wildlife officer is going to say (rightly) that the collision was my fault. I don’t understand for the life of me why we don’t apply that same standard to driving.
    As an aside, say what you will about Eudaly’s landlord/tenant issues, but as a transportation commissioner she seems exponentially better than Novick. Her dedicated bus lane push is a bold step and I wish her and Portland luck.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Avatar
      9watts June 21, 2019 at 8:14 am

      Also sometimes referred to as Car Head.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Avatar
    Steve Scarich June 21, 2019 at 7:36 am

    The reality now is that you have to be an ‘agressive pedestrian’ to survive in the cities of today. I walk everywhere in Bend. I have to be very agressive in letting drivers know that I am about to enter a crosswalk, making sure my actions are clear and that I expect them to stop. That said, I also make sure that I have enough space to jump out the way if they do not respect my legal rights. I peer into car windows (impossible if they are illegally tinted) to make eye contact to make sure they are looking at me. etc etc I still have several close calls every week, and I am playing a bit of a game of Russian Roulette every time I head out the door. I shouldn’t have to think like this, but it is reality. Of course, it is the same when I am on my bike.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Avatar
    SD June 23, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    I DGAF if people are distracted unless they are doing something that can hurt or kill other people. The completely oblivious distracted pedestrian is what vision zero infrastructure should be designed around.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      meh June 24, 2019 at 6:24 am

      So then there should be no liability for drivers when a distracted pedestrian gets themselves injured or killed.
      And it’s more than just infrastructure, it’s the rules of the road, like don’t jay walk, don’t cross on the red. We will never have infrastructure that completely protects everyone. It still requires individual awareness to ensure everyone is safe.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Avatar
        Dan A June 24, 2019 at 6:32 am

        “there should be no liability for drivers when a distracted pedestrian gets themselves injured or killed”

        What makes you think there is? There’s practically no liability for drivers when a non-distracted pedestrian with the right of way gets killed. A ‘failure to yield’ ticket maybe.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 10:09 am

          You think there inevitable lawsuit wouldn’t find got the pedestrian if the driver was at fault?

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 10:10 am

            “for the pedestrian”

            Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        SD June 24, 2019 at 8:06 am

        As others have said, amplifying and focusing on a negligible contribution to a problem interferes with efforts to solve the problem. This is why we have collected all of the data that shows pedestrian distraction is not even close to the effect of driver distraction and speed. It’s a bummer that Hardesty didn’t take the time to learn more about this issue before asserting her position. Her supporters, including myself, should ask her to base her perspective off of data rather than her baseline assumptions and not just give her a pass because they like other things she has done.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    chris June 24, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Sad to see motorbike deaths are the only group not decreasing on the graph. I wonder if it is related to more diverters going in around the city, forcing motorbikes to make more right then left turns on busy roads where they used to be able to go straight across. Getting hit while making left turns is a major cause of death for this group of vulnerable road users.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    hazy June 25, 2019 at 7:51 am

    ***COMMENT DELETED BY MODERATOR AND AUTHOR HAS BEEN PUT ON AUTO-MODERATION LIST***

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      el timito June 25, 2019 at 1:46 pm

      Wow, this comment is really not o.k. Cutesy use of asterisks does not mean you can call a person a slur – and then of course, there is the slur with no asterisks at all.
      Let’s stick to debating the merits or lack of merits of a person’s argument and leave the racist trash out of it.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    drthompsn June 25, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    is a huge issue that same thing as a huge concern? is huge the highest level of concern? how many accidents involve distracted walkers? how do we know they were distracted? is there a formal definition of a distracted walker? are distracted drivers an issue too? are there precedents for making walkers and drivers less distracted in these modern times?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Avatar
    Matt July 9, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    SilkySlim
    Oh whatever. Two commutes a day by foot/bike for 12 straight years is at least 5000 trips of data. And I’m not even close to the age of these folks. Don’t discount the fact that individuals can witness things and draw accurate conclusions. I’m so sick of the, “well show me a study” trope.Recommended 6

    If you can’t deal with using science to guide policy then maybe just get out of the debate entirely. Because the only thing that comes from policy absent science is more dead people.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 9, 2019 at 7:45 pm

      It’s important to remember that absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar