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PBOT gets council support for Vision Zero, except from Commissioner Hardesty

Posted by on June 21st, 2019 at 8:46 am

Cover of PBOT’s Vision Zero 2-Year Update.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is making steady progress on their march toward safer streets. They’ve queued up an impressive slate of capital projects, worked the legislature to gain authority for speed limits and enforcement cameras, and have passed important plans with the policy backbone that enables them to do things like remove auto parking from corners (a.k.a. “intersection daylighting”), install crossing treatments in more places, and so on.

Last week PBOT brought their annual Vision Zero 2-Year Update (PDF) to city council. They don’t have to get council’s official blessing for reports like this, but PBOT often takes this step to burnish council relationships, lay political groundwork for funding requests, and get explicit support for what might be controversial Vision Zero-related moves down the road.

Things like this usually get unanimous support because PBOT doesn’t bring half-baked ideas to council and they brief each commissioner beforehand to make sure they are up-to-speed with the issues and information. So it was a big surprise when Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty voted no.

“…When every other street has a different speed limit, you’re not changing behavior, you’re making people lose their minds because they don’t know how to legally operate on the street.”
— Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty

Here’s what happened…

City council passed a commitment to Vision Zero in 2015. By the end of 2017 they’d passed an “Action Plan” aimed at achieving it, and by spring of that year Vision Zero had become the bureau’s chief organizing principle.

Last Thursday’s presentation to council was expected to be non-controversial. PBOT Director Chris Warner and his Active Transportation and Safety Division Manager Catherine Ciarlo updated commissioners on planned capital projects (they have eight projects on major streets planned to be completed by 2020), new policy approaches, and near-term actions they’re taking to improve road safety (including the left-turn calming initiative we reported on earlier today).

“I’m very disappointed to hear your concerns with this report. If those are your takeaways — which are virtually unfounded — I don’t think my bureau has done a good enough job briefing you on this program.”
— Commissioner Chloe Eudaly

In one of his first major council appearances since being named PBOT director less than a month ago, Chris Warner spent some of his time explaining why the bureau now erects electronic signs for two weeks at the location where someone was killed in traffic. It’s part of a “culture of shared responsibility,” which is one of PBOT’s Vision Zero priorities. “Sometimes there will be a fatality and a few hours later everything will be cleaned up and people won’t really know what happened,” Warner explained. “So we really want to raise the focus and awareness for Portlanders to know that was a dangerous spot, that someone died there, and for them to really reflect on how they’re driving.”

When cautioned by Commissioner Nick Fish about promising the public such a lofty goal as zero deaths, Warner was unfazed. “Unless we have that goal I don’t think our job is ever complete. And I don’t think we can stop doing what we can to make sure there are no deaths or injuries on our streets,” he said.

Sitting alongside Warner, Ciarlo spoke about PBOT’s commitment to the “Safe Systems” approach. “If Vision Zero is the performance measure, then Safe Systems is the approach that will get us there,” she explained. Ciarlo shared a slide (below) outlining the basic tenets of the approach, which call for (among other things) city staff to be proactive, instead of reactive to problems. It also says road designers and policymakers — not just users of the system — share responsibility for safety outcomes.

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PBOT slide outlines basic tenets of Safe Systems approach.

When it came time to vote and comment on the report, Commissioner Amanda Fritz had effusive praise for Commissioner Eudaly and the Vision Zero program in general. She urged PBOT to move even more quickly in their effort to remove parking at corners and offered tips on how to fund the work. Commissioner Nick Fish also strongly supported it, saying “This is a fine piece of work and I’m proud to support it.” (Mayor Ted Wheeler was absent.)

Commissioner Hardesty at the 6/13 meeting.

Then there was Commissioner Hardesty. As we reported yesterday, she had expressed concerns early in the presentation about the “big issue” of people who walk while using their phones. Turns out that wasn’t her only concern.

Hardesty said in her comments before her vote, “I think it’s a good vision. I just think it could be a better vision.” “It looks like the responsibility we’re putting is primarily on the drivers of automobiles as compared to us taking responsibility for the roads we haven’t built, the sidewalks we haven’t built, the lighting we haven’t put in,” she added. “There are reasons why there are a lot more crashes in east Portland. The primary reason is there’s been a lack of investment in east Portland.”

Hardesty’s comments touched on several issues she’s uncomfortable about.

Hardesty called out PBOT’s speed limit reduction efforts – not because she wants people to drive faster, but because she feels they’ve created a patchwork of different speed limits that make it too hard to follow the law. “You could be going a couple of blocks, and it’s [the speed limit is] up another 10 miles, then you turn to the left and it’s down 20 more miles [an hour], then you turn to the right and it’s up another 10 miles [an hour]. It’s very confusing if your goal is to change behavior, when every other street has a different speed limit,” Hardesty said. “You can imagine how frustrating it is for people who live in the community who are trying to do the right thing and yet there’s no commonality or consistency from one major arterial to the next. I just don’t think that’s a good way to change behavior. You’re not changing behavior, you’re making people lose their minds because they don’t know how to legally operate on the street.”

PBOT’s Ciarlo explained that since the City of Portland doesn’t have control over the speed limit on all streets (ODOT does), they’ve had to go “section by section”.

Then Hardesty said she believes PBOT is focused too much on individual behaviors when the system itself isn’t a level playing field. “I continue to have the concern that we are over-criminalizing one segment of our community and using them as the reason why people are dying rather than the poor conditions of our roads. The lack of lighting, the lack of sidewalks in many places. I think it all works together.”

PBOT slide on enforcement cameras.

Earlier in the meeting there was a discussion about speed reader boards (signs that show speed limit compared to actual driving speed) and automated enforcement cameras. Hardesty expressed discomfort with cameras due to privacy and racial concerns. Despite stats presented by PBOT that show a clear reduction in speeding in locations where cameras have been installed, Hardesty seems to prefer reader boards which don’t have a built-in enforcement and citation mechanism (“90% of people look down and check their speeds when they pass those reader boards,” she said). Hardesty pressed PBOT to share demographic data from the speed and red light camera citations. That data isn’t currently collected and PBOT said it would be challenging to determine people’s race based on the photos taken by the system — not to mention the potential pitfalls of having a staff person make racial determinations based on appearance.

Eudaly said she likes the reader boards too and would welcome more demographic data, but she defended the enforcement cameras as an important tool. “I’m not so interested in being punitive as I am in changing behavior. However, because there’s such inadequate enforcement on the street… If there’s no ultimate consequence I think we lose that effect over time.”

In the end, Hardesty remained skeptical and the presentation didn’t allay her concerns. “I guess until I know whether or not we’re penalizing folks, and whether we’re still using speed readers or whether we’re actually going to start giving people tickets, and what that process will be, I will vote no.”

“I’m very disappointed to hear your concerns with this report,” Eudaly replied. “If those are your takeaways — which are virtually unfounded — I don’t think my bureau has done a good enough job briefing you on this program.” (Note that this tension between Hardesty and Eudaly around enforcement is not new.)

Yesterday I asked Eudaly’s Chief of Staff Marshall Runkell if the two commissioners had spoken since that exchange. He said they’re trying to set up a meeting but haven’t had a chance to debrief in person. “Commissioner Eudaly is sympathetic with Commissioner Hardesty’s concerns about over-policing low-income neighborhoods and the surveillance state, but she did a good job of explaining why PBOT’s approach allayed her concerns from the dais during the hearing.” (I reached out to Hardesty’s office as well but the commissioner and her chief of staff are out until next week.)

While PBOT’s Vision Zero Report and 2-Year Strategy was ultimately adopted 3-1 last week, a renewal of the photographic traffic enforcement contract will return to council on Wednesday, June 26th.

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

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67 Comments
  • Avatar
    Shawn Kolitch June 21, 2019 at 8:59 am

    I live in NE Portland. Please ticket me if I speed through an enforcement camera, regardless of my race.

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    Karstan June 21, 2019 at 9:09 am

    I think she’s making some good points about better infrastructure vs. enforcement. And I agree about the speed limit thing. Let’s make it all 20mph. 🙂

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    • Avatar
      9watts June 21, 2019 at 9:38 am

      I wonder if JoAnn Hardesty is under the misconception that the speed LIMIT is a MINIMUM? Because it is not hard to just drive twenty everywhere, and then the confusion she seems concerned about goes away,

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      • Avatar
        David Hampsten June 21, 2019 at 9:26 pm

        It is hard to just drive 20 if your commute is as long as it is for most East Portlanders. Keep in mind that most East Portland residents do not work in the central city, but commute to industrial jobs in Clark County, Clackamas, Swan Island, the Columbia Corridor, and Gresham/Troutdale, according to the Portland Planning (& Sustainability) Bureau. These are long commutes, for the poorest residents in the city, who are far more likely to be people of color or immigrants earning less than median wages. On top of that, bike routes from East Portland to these job sites are virtually nil within Portland except by the longest routes possible; transit is spotty at best, with few sidewalks either from home to the bus, or from the bus to work; and traffic in between is crowded and congested.

        It’s not just that East Portland lacks basic infrastructure, but more importantly East Portland lacks the active transportation connectivity to jobs, housing, and amenities to other parts of the city and to neighboring cities that inner portland residents demand (and largely get.)

        So these Vision Zero “experiments” in East Portland, such as speed cameras, red light cameras, protected bike lanes on Halsey, and whatnot largely ignore the bigger issues of getting the poorest of city residents to good paying jobs that are usually elsewhere, in a reasonable amount of time, safely and conveniently.

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      9watts June 21, 2019 at 9:44 am

      “It’s very confusing if your goal is to change behavior, when every other street has a different speed.”

      Not if the desired behavior change is to pay close attention to what is going on around you! Vigilance is required…. If we can’t expect people driving cars to read speed limit signs, what hope is there that they will pay enough attention to stop hitting people, buildings, other cars?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty June 21, 2019 at 12:22 pm

        Since people can really only focus on one thing at a time, I’d rather they be looking for pedestrians waiting to cross than looking for signs. Patchwork regulations are bad design.

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        • Avatar
          9watts June 21, 2019 at 12:38 pm

          Sure. If the information is too much, if it is too overwhelming, then just slow down. This solves both concerns:

          You no longer need to worry about speed limit signs as you are driving below the lowest speed limit, and if you do fail to see that pedestrian the chances of you killing her or him are also reduced.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty June 21, 2019 at 12:57 pm

            Or just make the regulations uniform so drivers know the speed limit without signs.

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  • Avatar
    Doug Hecker June 21, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Can we give all the bureaus to Hardesty? PBOT especially would be better served then who currently occupies this bureau.

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    • Avatar
      Ryan June 21, 2019 at 3:10 pm

      Aren’t you normally a proponent of enforcement? One of her sticking points is that she doesn’t want more enforcement. Or are you just a fan of anyone who riles up some of the regular commenters on here?

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    Jon June 21, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Cameras are color blind and cannot profile people breaking the law. We should have them at as many intersections and roads as is feasible. As long as the cameras are equally represented in neighborhoods regardless of the racial or income makeup they are completely fair. Driving is not a constitutional right and there is no right of privacy on public streets. If there are no consequences of reckless driving it will continue and non-car users will continue to be killed. Enforcement clearly changes behavior and reduces injuries. If you don’t want a ticked don’t break the law.

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      9watts June 21, 2019 at 9:58 am

      “Cameras are color blind”

      That is a clever phrase to throw out, but do you know what goes on between the camera and the mailed citation? You may be right, and the speed camera is a racially blind and perfect technological fix for our well documented history of racist profiling, or it may not be. Before we make sweeping claims, maybe we should try to learn what we know about this.

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        9watts June 21, 2019 at 10:01 am

        For instance: https://www.thenewspaper.com/news/65/6501.asp

        “The District collected $115 million in profit from traffic tickets in 2016, 97 percent of which were issued by red light cameras and speed cameras. Neighborhoods where 80 percent or more of residents are black on average paid $322 per capita in automated traffic tickets compared to just $20 per capita in 80 percent white neighborhoods. Residents in black neighborhoods were 17 times more likely to receive a photo ticket.”

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        • Avatar
          Jon June 21, 2019 at 10:11 am

          I said that the cameras have to be equally represented regardless of race or income. The article you linked to says that in this case the cameras are placed “overwhelmingly in minority neighborhoods” which means they were NOT placed equally. If as I proposed the cameras are placed equally the enforcement will be color and income blind. I’m all for tickets based on income level so that wealthy folks feel the same pain as poor but everyone must pay. If you can afford a car and break the law you must be punished regardless of race or income level. A wealthy person’s car will kill a pedestrian just as easily as a poor person’s car.

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          • Avatar
            9watts June 21, 2019 at 10:19 am

            Sure.
            But you see the problem, yes?
            If the folks in D.C. figured out how to use the cameras to profile blacks geographically that tells me we should not just assume that fixing the geographic distribution will automatically mean all is well. The sentiment that led to the problems in D.C. surely aren’t unique to that city or limited to geographic shenanigans. All I am trying to suggest here is that the racist imagination could easily find other ways to use these cameras in ways that are NOT colorblind, and we who find this problematic will have to remain vigilant and not just issue bland statements about their supposed inherent colorblindness.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty June 21, 2019 at 12:44 pm

              The cameras are not there to punish, but to protect, which is why I want them where I walk and bike.

              I agree that it should be colorblind which neighborhoods get the benefit of slower, calmer traffic, and would think the fairest way to site them would be to target the most dangerous areas first.

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        • Avatar
          Andrew June 23, 2019 at 3:43 am

          I’d be curious to know what the road infrastructure looks like around DC. I’ve never been. But think about road infrastructure in portland as it relates to neighborhood demographics. Wealthier areas–Whiter areas, are generally more dense, have narrower streets, more on street parking, more frequent crosswalks and intersections. Poorer areas, areas with more minorities, East Portland, have wider streets, longer distances between intersections, wide streets that by design encourage speeding. If minorities are more likely to live in areas with infrastructure conducive to high speeds, and whites are more likely to live in areas that are *built* to discourage it, doesn’t it stand to reason that POC would receive more tickets for speeding?

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          • Avatar
            Alex Reedin June 25, 2019 at 5:20 pm

            I grew up in the suburbs of D.C. and skimmed the paper (not the thenewspaper.com article, which from what I can tell misrepresented the paper. The map of cameras makes it clear that they were placed more or less equally around D.C. which is the exact opposite of what thenewspaper.com said.)

            So, the question is, why did the cameras in highly Black neighborhoods cite so many more violations?

            My guess is that the difference is traffic engineering. There are zero freeways, parkways, or expressways in the White neighborhoods and three major ones in the Black neighborhoods (50, 295, and Suitland Parkway). And even the non-limited-access roads are way different.

            The roads in the White neighborhoods have on-street parking and many traffic lights. There’s tons of congestion. The idea of speeding on Wisconsin Ave. or Massachusetts Ave. NW (the main arteries there) at most times of day is humorous.

            There are many more roads in the Black neighborhoods engineered as de facto freeways or close to it. Speeding on Suitland Parkway in SE or E Capitol St. would be easier than speeding on any road in NW DC. Even Pennsylvania Ave. in SE, which has no limited access and the same number of travel lanes each way as Wisconsin Ave. (the main artery in NW), would be much easier to feel comfortable speeding on. There’s no on-street parking and fewer lights.

            I came into this wanting to oppose Soren’s view – when travelling around, I often fantasize about speed cameras everywhere. But if I’m right about why the violation levels are so different, the DC example seems to show that speed cameras aren’t necessarily equitable even if they are placed in a colorblind manner. Even though car travel is systemically over-prioritized in infrastructure throughout our transportation system, the over-prioritization is way worse in poor & minority neighborhoods. Just plopping down a ubiquitous network of speed cameras on top of our inequitable infrastructure may help reduce deaths, but it would do it at the cost of systematically fining poor & minority neighborhoods much more than white neighborhoods. That’s not a tradeoff I’m willing to make. Let’s invest in changing our infrastructure first.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty June 25, 2019 at 5:47 pm

              Or approached from a different angle, those neighborhoods are most in need of speed cameras and would get the most benefit from them. People there are most in need of the protection those cameras would afford.

              It’s very interesting that in this context, most people here identify with the speeding driver, and not the VRU whose life they endanger.

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              • Avatar
                dwk June 26, 2019 at 5:56 am

                The constant worry here about car drivers getting tickets is the definition of Car Head and they just don’t seem to realize it…
                I don’t think even the AAA cares as much as car drivers as some folks here seem to.

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  • Avatar
    tyeal June 21, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Traffic law enforcement is absolutely, direly, needed in Portland. As a driver, pedestrian, and cyclist, in the city limits of Portland, I witness ‘blatant’, potentially life-threatening, traffic law violations at least once every day, and that is not an exaggeration. The blatant disregard for traffic law represents a growing lack of social responsibility, and traffic signs aren’t going to fix the problem. Irresponsible people are not going to change their behavior because of a blinking sign. People are dying, suffering injuries, suffering financial ruin, suffering from the lack of feeling safe on the road, because of drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians not obeying traffic laws.

    Concerning privacy and discrimination, find a check and balance solution to compensate for the use of video in traffic enforcement. Automated traffic enforcement is probably the only economical solution that will actually make a statistical improvement in reducing the amount of people that blatantly disregard traffic laws.

    Concerning confusion about speed limits, post speed limit signs to minimize confusion, and workout the ‘confusing areas’ for speed limits by enforcing the speed limits and using the traffic violation statistical data for corrective actions that minimize any confusion.

    Do something now! I actually worry about my loved ones while they are on the roads of Portland, which I find disturbing, due to my general peaceful attitude being shattered by the growing amount of public, irresponsible social behavior.

    Recommended Thumb up 39

  • Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
    Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike) June 21, 2019 at 9:58 am

    I wonder what Commissioner Hardesty would think if ticket amounts were tied to your income. A $100 ticket for someone making a million dollars is not as much a fine as for someone making minimum wage. Does anyone know if this has been tried in Oregon or if it could be done?

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  • Avatar
    HJ June 21, 2019 at 10:08 am

    Hardesty comes across as just another cars only person. Her comments blaming pedestrians make that crystal clear. Let’s be real, when has a person walking while using their phone ever killed someone else? Probably never. It’s also not a significant factor in pedestrian fatalities. Cars however kill scores of people. Yet she wants less responsibility put on them? Hmm.
    Yes, pedestrians glued to their phones are annoying. Heaven knows I deal with that every day during my commute through nw. But are they really a significant safety hazard? No. While they irritate me on principle they really don’t cause any particular problem for me as a driver or cyclist. If they do cause a person a particular problem then that person is probably doing something wrong as a driver.
    Then there’s the thing about speed limits. We all know as children that different roads have different limits and that those limits are clearly posted on signs. It’s really not difficult to just read the signs and obey them, regardless of consistency or lack thereof. Again, this comes across as her trying to stall progress as opposed to really caring about improving the system. Which is something that I see pretty much exclusively from the cars-only crowd.

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    • Avatar
      jonno June 21, 2019 at 10:16 am

      I get the same impression that she’s cars-only right now. It’s surprising and disappointing as I had high hopes for her in other areas. She does seem like someone whose mind can be changed with evidence and persuasion and I hope that’s the case going forward.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty June 21, 2019 at 12:50 pm

      In a dangerous and complex system, everyone needs to pay attention to safety. The notion that all the responsibility falls onto any single party is explicitly contradicted by the Safe Systems approach, which reflects the reality that all people make mistakes. Whether they should or not is less interesting to me than in making sure everyone gets home safely. That means everyone pays attention to safety.

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      • Avatar
        9watts June 21, 2019 at 1:45 pm

        “In a dangerous and complex system…”

        What makes it so dangerous, so complex?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty June 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm

          People, mostly.

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          • Avatar
            9watts June 21, 2019 at 3:24 pm

            Did you mean to write people-inside-metal-boxes-with-four-wheels?

            Because those are the only kind of ‘people’ that strike me as dangerous. I can’t think of the last time that a people outside of one of those boxes struck me as dangerous.

            Nice try though. 😉

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty June 21, 2019 at 4:50 pm

              I can see you are getting confused between safety and politics. I am talking about safety, not blame. Everyone needs to participate. In a warehouse, it’s not just the forklift drivers that need to pay attention — it’s everyone. Why does this proven strategy become so controversial to you when the context shifts?

              People need to pay attention when they drive. They also need to pay attention when they cross the street. We also need safer streets/systems. If we’re talking safety, it’s both-and, not either-or. Assigning blame when something goes wrong is a fundamentally different question. Please don’t conflate the two.

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              • Avatar
                9watts June 21, 2019 at 5:03 pm

                The danger and complexity only arise when we add forklifts and cars to the mix.
                Why make it more complicated than that?

                I agree that everyone should pay attention, but because of the non-zero probability that someone on foot won’t be paying attention I find myself siding with those who came up with Strict Liability: the onus is/should be on the person whose mode choice introduces the element of danger. I think this is also aligned with how Vision Zero is approached the world over. The policy focus is on containing the motorized menace, not on responsibilizing people getting around under their own power.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty June 21, 2019 at 5:34 pm

                No one is “adding” anything — cars are part of the initial condition, and VZ acknowledges this. It’s a practical strategy for reducing injury, not to a system for assigning blame. We agree everyone should pay attention. We can discuss assigning responsibility for bad outcomes elsewhere.

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              • Avatar
                9watts June 21, 2019 at 6:15 pm

                “No one is ‘adding’ anything — cars are part of the initial condition”

                But what if you take them away? Consider Mackinac Island. What would be the meaning, the purpose of Vision Zero on Mackinac where there are people (whom you consider dangerous), but no cars? http://www.mackinac.com/about/history/no-cars

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty June 21, 2019 at 6:24 pm

                Speculating on alternative realities can be interesting, but isn’t really relevant to implementing VZ here in Portland. Feel free to write about that without further rebuttal from me.

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    • Avatar
      Fred June 21, 2019 at 2:02 pm

      My sense of Hardesty so far is that she comes across as wanting to correct social wrongs that have accumulated for hundreds of years, but she hasn’t yet realized that she can’t take on EVERYTHING. She needs to decide which hills to die on, to use an overused metaphor from combat. Until she decides that, she’s going to come across as being AGAINST pretty much everything and not really FOR anything in particular. Her objections to speed cameras seem really petty and not based on actual data – just like her comment to the MVNA about the how many people are moving to Portland, which was WAY off but fit the argument she was making.

      Jo Ann needs to realize that she’s going to damage her credibility over time if she doesn’t get her facts right and pick her battles. Many, many people in Portland want to see her succeed, but they are going to grow weary of a commissioner who is never satisfied and doesn’t move the city in a positive direction, including transportation.

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      joan June 21, 2019 at 2:41 pm

      I disagree that Hardesty comes across as cars-only. I see why her concerns might read that way. But I think rather she’s one of the first people on city council to understand deeply how these systematic problems are harming people of color and poor people above others. It’s true that it’s a lot easier to focus on pedestrians and transit and bicycles when you live in a part of town with better infrastructure. She’s right to point out that improving infrastructure in East Portland needs to be a priority. If her presence on council means that PBOT and other agencies will have to think more deeply about how their projects and proposals disproportionately impact communities of color, then the proposals should be stronger for it.

      I don’t agree with her vote, necessarily, because I do think Vision Zero can be linked to social and racial justice. But I also think Hardesty’s voice is important and we all need to pay attention to the concerns she raises.

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    Catie June 21, 2019 at 10:08 am

    PBOT could likely find out who ends up getting tickets with cameras to allay her (and some of the publics) worries. While they are at it, they could gather some data on how many drivers who killed someone were found at fault, and who actually sees criminal penalties.

    That said, yesterday I met someone who got 4 camera tickets in Beaverton and got a suspended license because of it. Made me feel safer knowing that chronic speeding drivers are actually being taken off the road.

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    Stephen Bartnikowski June 21, 2019 at 10:36 am

    1) “90% of people look down” – is this backed by anything? She doesn’t seem to be providing evidence / support, unless that’s lost in the article.
    2) I’m sympathetic to the socio-economic impact concerns. I would think there’s another creative way to get a sampling of impact other than a racist AI bot processing pictures.

    The whole spat seems based on hypothesis and not facts. I’d like more data.

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    • Avatar
      Chris I June 21, 2019 at 2:27 pm

      Those racist AI bots are the worst.

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    Jim Lee June 21, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    VZ is pure gaslighting.

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    Josh June 21, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    I think there are reasonable rebuttals to some of Commissioner Hardesty’s specific concerns, and those should be addressed. But in doing so I hope we don’t lose sight of the necessity of her perspective — that so many of our current systems, transportation included, have flaws which disproportionately affect historically (and currently) disadvantaged communities. We absolutely need her input, even (especially?) when it runs counter to conventional transportation advocate wisdom.

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    • Avatar
      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 21, 2019 at 2:18 pm

      Hi Josh,

      I don’t think anyone on council disagrees with Hardesty that our transportation system has some inherent unfairness that was especially acute in the past and that still hasn’t been fully rectified. That isn’t a new idea. The lack of equity in our transportation system has been a well-known and oft-debated fact in City Hall for many years now. What worries me is NOT that Hardesty is bringing these things up.. It’s that she seems to be putting a wrench in the works of people and policies that are actually trying to make the system better. Am I missing something here because of my white, male, middle-class privilege? I’m trying to understand… But all I can come up with so far is that Hardesty appears to fear losing her driving privileges and so she’s taking other issues she cares about — social/racial justice, east portland, etc.. — and bending them into her arguments to support a continuation of the driving-centric status quo.

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        Josh June 21, 2019 at 2:57 pm

        To take her varying speed limits as an example: Hardesty is definitely framing her comment from the perspective of an auto driver, and not the vulnerable users who are most impacted by dangerous speeding. But I think she does still highlight a valid concern that people of color in autos are absolutely more likely to be targeted for speeding than white people, and patchwork speed limits could contribute to that. It’s up to advocates like us to take that info and focus on a solution that addresses both concerns — namely, more consistent and *definitely* slower speed limits.

        Regulations can be both a sword and a shield, so to speak. Safety advocates might see something like incrementally implemented speed limit reductions as a shield — having that law helps keep us safe. But it can also be used by law enforcement as a sword — as a justification to act against people of color, whether that bias is conscious or not. That makes a different vulnerable population less safe.

        Do we need to counter auto-centric narratives when we hear them? Absolutely. Do we also need to listen to the perspective of *all* road users at risk of harm from the transportation system, be it from traffic violence or police violence? Absolutely.

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          Josh June 21, 2019 at 3:47 pm

          Lower speeds is an essential component of road safety, for all users. I still think we should lower speed limits where we can, even if that results in an uneven implementation (*shakes fist at ODOT*). But to take Hardesty’s comments to heart and increase safety for as many people as possible, we could be proactively pushing for increased police accountability in tandem with increased driver accountability. We should pull over people who are driving too fast. We should also recognize that seemingly routine traffic stops sometimes end with the death of an unarmed Black person, and do our damnedest to prevent that. At the end of the day it isn’t just about modes — it’s the freedom of mobility without worrying if you’ll make it there alive.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty June 21, 2019 at 2:25 pm

      That particular viewpoint has been well represented, historically.

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    Chris I June 21, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    “Earlier in the meeting there was a discussion about speed reader boards (signs that show speed limit compared to actual driving speed) and automated enforcement cameras. Hardesty expressed discomfort with cameras due to privacy and racial concerns. ”

    We have a city councilor that believes automated enforcement cameras can be racist. This is insane.

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      Doug Hecker June 21, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      Chris I
      “Earlier in the meeting there was a discussion about speed reader boards (signs that show speed limit compared to actual driving speed) and automated enforcement cameras. Hardesty expressed discomfort with cameras due to privacy and racial concerns. ”We have a city councilor that believes automated enforcement cameras can be racist. This is insane.Recommended 1

      You may need to scroll to previous comments to be better informed of your conclusion.

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        Chris I June 22, 2019 at 9:12 pm

        I stand by my comment. Unless she clarifies her statement, it will continue to sound absurd.

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    Toby Keith June 21, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    9watts: 28% of the comments in this thread so far.

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      dwk June 22, 2019 at 6:27 am

      So he can point out that there might be a possibility of some profiling and that is a LOT worse than having a dozen people killed by car drivers just this year.
      But he feels really good about himself for pointing it out in 20 posts….

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        9watts June 22, 2019 at 9:50 am

        You two could be adding something of value here rather than peevishly counting my posts.

        And dwk, you evidently haven’t bothered to read my posts. It is possible to disagree with the thrust of Hardesty’s objections while also acknowledging that speed cameras (a derivative issue in this here conversation) are not ipso facto colorblind.

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    drs June 22, 2019 at 12:24 am

    I think Commissioner Hardesty is totally off base, here. Safe streets save the lives of people, regardless of their ethnicity. Same goes for traffic enforcement cameras.

    We need more of them. Yes, there is a serious infrastructure deficit in East Portland. We need more streets and we need more sidewalk in those neighborhoods. But all the infrastructure in the world will be for naught if the arterial streets are death traps.

    It’s not the pedestrians looking at their phones that are the problem, it’s the people in the cars that are looking at their phones that pose the real danger.

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    Greg Spencer June 22, 2019 at 10:29 am

    Hardesty’s arguments don’t carry water. She blames phone-distracted pedestrians for pedestrian deaths without citing a shred of evidence, in fact, going against the evidence we DO have. She says ‘What about poor infrastructure in Portland?’ What’s her point? I’d like sidewalks in MY NE neighborhood, but I’m not going to hold up other good safety measures until I get them. The race thing is another strawman argument. She cites ZERO evidence. Not impressed with Hardesty. Sounds like another motorist who want everyone else to do the work, make the investments so they can drive fast and carefree with the green wave. Thank Bob she didn’t carry the day.

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    X June 23, 2019 at 7:06 am

    I wouldn’t rush to call Commissioner Hardesty as a “driver”. (I saw her at SW 5th and Taylor walking toward city hall, looking a lot like a person who’d just gotten off the train)

    Maybe she’s just putting down a marker as a person who won’t go along to get along. A yes vote disappears in the chorus, a no vote is a chance to register dissent. Since we’re speculating, how do we know if anyone took time to check in about what issues she wants to address and what her vote might be?

    Vision Zero is a worthy goal, I’d like to die zero times in a car crash, but no doubt it’s going to need some fine tuning as we go along.

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    Mark smith June 23, 2019 at 7:07 am

    Here is what hardesty is getting out. White communities, on average, have it drilled into them on how to drive perfectly. They also know how to avoid suspicious actions on average. Minority communities on average do not and frankly never had that culture. So, by adding automated enforcement, it will rack up more tickets by minorities.

    But you know…so what? Everyone who drives is a potential murderer. People need to shape up no matter their color.

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      X June 24, 2019 at 9:45 am

      Mark smith: “White communities, on average, have it drilled into them on how to drive perfectly. . .”

      –if white people would revert to their perfect driving there goes most of the sorry sad dangerous driving I see.

      “Minority communities on average do not and frankly never had that culture”

      –Your weasel words “on average” just don’t cover the slur on lots of minority parents who work really hard to get across the message that ok isn’t good enough in driving and life in general, and baby keep your hands on the dashboard if you do get pulled over.

      “Everyone who drives is a potential murderer.”

      –I can almost agree with some things you say but murder is a particular thing. Also it seems like you are freely putting words in Commissioner Hardesty’s mouth that I really don’t hear her saying.

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    rain panther June 23, 2019 at 9:35 am

    “White communities, on average, have it drilled into them on how to drive perfectly. ”

    Say what?? I must’ve missed that scholarly article in the Journal of White Communities.

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    Mark smith June 23, 2019 at 10:06 am

    rain panther
    “White communities, on average, have it drilled into them on how to drive perfectly. ”Say what?? I must’ve missed that scholarly article in the Journal of White Communities.Recommended 0

    Figure someone would be triggered…but yeah. Look at which schools got drivers Ed until it was finally disbanded, which race generally gets private drivers Ed. …and which race just wanders into the DMV at 18… I think this council person has a point. However vague. But still…the root issue is cars kill and history has to be dealt with . Now, add in imigrant drivers and the reality is cameras will hit minorities hard. I don’t see that as a problem as long as we know why.

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      X June 24, 2019 at 9:57 am

      “immigrant drivers” know damn well that one toe over the line can put them in a conversation they don’t want and maybe can’t afford to have. Are you going to tell us about the “murderers and rapists” with “calves the size of cantaloupes” next? This is bullshit.

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    Jillian Detweiler June 23, 2019 at 10:49 am

    I represented The Street Trust at the hearing. We urged support for the VZ framework, focus on infrastructure and being clear in priority to protect vulnerable road users in road redesign processes. I also testified that the goal of enforcement is deference. My brief review of literature is that cameras are effective deterrence but episodic enforcement and citations are not. Commissioner Hardesty immediately replied to our request for a meeting following the hearing and we are scheduled to meet in July.

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      jonno June 24, 2019 at 1:02 pm

      That’s good to hear. I’d love to know Commissioner Hardesty’s reaction to your message.

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      soren June 25, 2019 at 8:58 am

      “My brief review of literature is that cameras are effective deterrence ”

      Considering that installation of speed cameras is illegal on 97% of Portland’s roads I’m not sure how this relates to Portland.

      Moreover, the idea that the goal of speed cameras is to “deter” is, IMO, the “3E” point of view, not the Swedish vision zero point of view.

      Belin et al on Swedish speed camera policy:

      “The main purpose is to support and create a new social norm among drivers that it is easier and better to follow the speed limit…The main chain of influence is to inform (through signs and open cameras) the drivers that a large proportion of the traffic network (large proportion of the traffic) is covered by cameras”

      Belin et al on where Swedish speed cameras are installed:

      The Swedish system is based mainly in the rural road network and covers about 2800 km.”

      https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0001457510001983?via%3Dihub

      Why have Swedish traffic planners not installed speed cameras widely on urban roads? Because there are other far more effective mitigation methods for these lower-speed roads.

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    soren June 23, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    “It looks like the responsibility we’re putting is primarily on the drivers of automobiles as compared to us taking responsibility for the roads we haven’t built, the sidewalks we haven’t built, the lighting we haven’t put in…There are reasons why there are a lot more crashes in east Portland.”

    Hardesty gets it. Vision zero puts the onus for safe streets on traffic planners and engineers, not drivers. PBOT and transportation advocates’ emphasis on enforcement is misguided, lacks evidence, and is contrary to vision zero principles.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 23, 2019 at 1:10 pm

      Soren,

      I think it’s incorrect to say that PBOT and advocates have an emphasis on enforcement. The PBOT Vision Zero Action Plan specifically did not recommend increased enforcement.

      And from what I see… our city’s approach to VZ has been very multi-pronged. They’re doing a bit of everything. I think you’re rushing to some false generalizations in order to justify your views.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty June 23, 2019 at 9:41 pm

        It is also incorrect to say that vision zero puts all the responsibility for safety onto system designers. What it does is asks those designers to create systems that are tolerant of failure, but it is still incumbent on everyone involved to make the system work as well as it can.

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        soren June 24, 2019 at 9:43 am

        Considering that the bulk of this piece and most of the comments focused on “enforcement”, I think my use of “emphasis” was spot on. To the best of my knowledge there is no evidence that PBOT’s substantial enforcement (and education) spending reduces serious injury or death. In fact, even the PBOT slide you highlighted dishonestly fudged the data to include minor injuries that are not the purview of “vision zero”.

        PBOT should ditch their ridiculous 1970s era “3E” programs and allocate this funding to immediately impactful fixes: LPIs, speed bumps/tables, raised crosswalks, scramble intersections etc.

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