Interview with Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty: Vision Zero, enforcement, distracted walkers, and more

Posted by on July 11th, 2019 at 8:31 am

Commissioner Hardesty at city council yesterday.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty made headlines last month when she said distracted walkers are a “huge issue” and voted “no” on what was expected to be a non-controversial update to Portland’s Vision Zero program. Her vote and comments raised the ire of the commissioner in charge of that program, Chloe Eudaly.

Eudaly called Hardesty’s views, “Virtually unfounded” and said Hardesty must not have been briefed on the topic properly.

Nearly three weeks after that exchange, I spoke with Hardesty and asked about her views on Vision Zero, traffic enforcement, distracted walkers, and more.

Commissioner Hardesty wanted to set things straight from the outset. “I share the values of making our streets safe for everyone,” she said. “If I left you with the impression that that was not my goal I don’t want you to have that impression.”

“I have to be more mindful of how people hear my words… I in no way want to imply that it’s the pedestrian’s fault if they get hit by a car or a bicycle. Please help me clarify that in the biking community.”

Hardesty also raised eyebrows with her insistence that people who walk while staring into their phones are a major problem. Everyone knows being distracted is a bad idea no matter what you’re doing on the road; but bringing it up during a conversation about Vision Zero — especially at a time when fatal crashes are way above normal — is considered a major faux pas among transportation advocates (many of whom winced when she made similar comments at a candidate forum in 2018).

“Let me say that I understand that was perceived as blaming the victim,” Hardesty said when I asked her about those comments. “That in no way was the intent of that statement. One of those personal little pet peeves of mine is I see people crossing the street without looking to see if the walk signal is on and I’ve held my breath a couple times out of concern that they might be hit. But I’ve realized that in the context of me being a city commissioner I have to be more mindful of how people hear my words.”

“The pedestrian is always right,” she continued. “Let me be really clear: Anybody who is hit or injured or killed by an automobile, they are the victim of that activity. I in no way want to imply that it’s the pedestrian’s fault if they get hit by a car or a bicycle. That was not my intent at all. Please help me clarify that in the biking community.”

It turns out Hardesty has a lot of opinions not just about Vision Zero, but other transportation topics as well. And she doesn’t care if PBOT isn’t in her portfolio. “I did not run to be a commissioner that would be siloed and that would be only focused on the bureaus under my management. My community doesn’t live in silos,” she said.

Hardesty prefers speed reader boards over citations when it comes to changing driver behavior.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Hardesty had the most to say about enforcement. She has two main problems with it: First, she thinks there’s a lack of data being collected about who is getting stopped. And second, she feels like it’s a punitive tool that has potential to hurt people of color and people who live in low-income neighborhoods.

“For me, it’s not that I am opposed to enforcement, I just want to make sure that we’re using tools in a way that are building community and are not having devastating impacts on low-income communities and communities of color.”

According the PPB’s latest traffic stop data, of the 7,654 stops, 65% were white people, 18% were black or African-American, and 9.5% were hispanic or latinx. (Portland is about 73% white, 6% black, and 9% hispanic/latinx.)

Instead of tickets to speeders, Hardesty said she’d prefer to see more speed reader boards. She believes those are a better way to change behavior. She also believes it’s unfair to target enforcement in areas that have inadequate infrastructure. “If our goal is to change behavior we need to invest in the infrastructure improvements that are causing the streets in east Portland to be unsafe.”

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“I just don’t want poor people and people of color to pay for the lack of public investment that should have happened 25-plus years ago.”

Hardesty, an east Portland resident who said she’s nearly been hit by drivers while walking to the number 20 bus she takes to city hall, is grateful PBOT is finally spending money east of 82nd. But, she adds, it’s long overdue. “The reason we’re having deaths and traffic accidents in east Portland is because of the failure of the government to actually do what they promised when east Portland was annexed into the city of Portland,” she said. “So I just don’t want poor people and people of color to pay for the lack of public investment that should have happened 25-plus years ago.”

Speed cameras also raise skepticism from Hardesty. She told me her concern is that they’ll be installed primarily in neighborhoods where people of color and low-income Portlanders live. “If we assume people speed all over the city, why would we have an over-preponderance of cameras in east Portland and not have them in the southwest hills?”

To which I responded, “PBOT places the cameras on streets with a history of crashes.” (There are currently five fixed speed cameras in operation: One in southwest, two in outer southeast, and two on Marine Drive.)

“So then you have to ask the question: Why are there a high number of crashes on those streets?,” Hardesty replied. “The reason is because there’s been a lack of investment in those communities so the transportation infrastructure doesn’t exist right? So, talk about blaming the victim.”

Hardesty then compared her traffic enforcement concerns to the PPB’s Gun Enforcement Unit (renamed from Gang Enforcement Unit). “54% of the people stopped and searched were African-Americans in a city that’s 6% African-American and no one questioned that,” she said, “I came in and said how is that even possible?”

“The problem is that once you put the system in place, it’s too late to ask the questions. My goal is to make sure we’re being intentional about what system we put in place and make sure it’s equitable from the beginning. My experience with the city is that once it’s in place it’s almost impossible to shift it so it becomes a more equitable system.”

That thinking explains Hardesty’s position on the Pricing for Equitable Mobility initiative which got rolling today after a 4-0 vote at city council. Despite her concerns about how congestion pricing might impact low-income people who’ve been pushed to the edges of the city due to expensive housing, Hardesty was supportive of the initiative because racial and economic equity were baked into the process from the start.

As for her overall vision for transportation, Hardesty has a lot in common with Commissioner Eudaly. They both want major improvements to transit (Hardesty wants it to be free and run 24 hours a day) and they dream of a Portland where driving is the exception, not the rule.

We might see her in the bike lanes soon.
(Photo: City of Portland)

“I want public transit to be free. Period… If we’re ever going to impact the climate, we need to get people out of automobiles,” Hardesty said. “It’s like, boom-boom-boom right?”

While Hardesty said she has a “wonderful relationship” with Eudaly and that they are “in lockstep 90% of the time,” it’s that last 10% that has lead to icy exchanges at council meetings. The two progressive politicians mostly agree on substance; but they differ in style. “It’s about, how do we get there,” is how Hardesty put it. In a Facebook post last night (posted after our conversation), Hardesty wrote, “I am absolutely committed to working with Commissioner Eudaly and PBOT to talk through these issues. I have no doubt in my mind that our values are aligned in this fight for safer streets for everyone. I just also know that the means to the end are equally as important when it comes to these types of policies, and that in crafting policies we need to hold equity at the forefront, not as an afterthought.”

On a lighter note, I asked Hardesty if she rides a bike. She said no. And in fact, she hadn’t ridden a bike in 35 years prior to re-learning last year to take part in a group ride during her campaign for city council. “I think I’m past the demographic loop where riding a bicycle is going to work for me,” the 61-year-old said. Even so, like many of us, she’s been seduced by the beauty of bicycles. “I found a very cool bike [at a bike shop] last year I think I’m going to buy, and I think I’ll practice in my apartment complex first before I feel brave enough to take it onto the street.”

CORRECTION, 7/11 at 12:49 pm: This story originally shared traffic stop statistics from the PPB Traffic Division only. I’ve updated the story with more current stop data from a bureau-wide sampling.

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

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87 Comments
  • Avatar
    m July 11, 2019 at 9:20 am

    “The pedestrian is always right,” she continued. “Let me be really clear: Anybody who is hit or injured or killed by an automobile, they are the victim of that activity. I in no way want to imply that it’s the pedestrian’s fault if they get hit by a car or a bicycle. That was not my intent at all. Please help me clarify that in the biking community.”

    Absurd statement. So I could walk out into the middle of traffic on Sandy Blvd and have no responsibility for my actions? I am the “victim” no matter what? This defies common sense and Vision Zero (which I support) run amok. People need to be responsible for their actions and that includes walking into traffic with your head staring down at your phone.

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      Gary B July 11, 2019 at 9:42 am

      And what if the pedestrian has a bomb, and the heroic driver hits them, saving thousands. And one of those thousands goes on to cure cancer. Is the pedestrian the victim THEN?!

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        John Lascurettes July 11, 2019 at 10:02 am

        And what if that pedestrian has the plague and typhoid and their splatter becomes airborne infecting a whole neighborhood. Who becomes the victims then? Also, it turns out the pedestrian wasn’t human at all but a shapeshifter.

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          Middle of The Road Guy July 11, 2019 at 10:04 am

          I do love “what ifs”.

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          David Hampsten July 11, 2019 at 11:30 am

          Or an appliance store that jumped in front of the car…

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            nuovorecord July 11, 2019 at 11:34 am

            I hate it when that happens.

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            GlowBoy July 15, 2019 at 12:07 pm

            Appliance stores are always right.

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      John Lascurettes July 11, 2019 at 10:06 am

      The pedestrian is the victim in the sense that they will always lose in law of physics against a car. That said, by far the majority of pedestrian fatalities are the fault of the person behind the wheel and their choice of vehicle. https://usa.streetsblog.org/2019/03/01/pedestrian-deaths-reach-another-high-drivers-entirely-to-blame/

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        pruss2ny July 11, 2019 at 10:18 am

        GHSA report says majority of pedestrian fatalities occur at night and away from intersections, but in 1/3 of fatalities the pedestrian is drunk? …does that really side with “by far” the fault lies with drivers.

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          John Lascurettes July 11, 2019 at 10:27 am

          Yes. 2/3 is twice as large as 1/3. Maths.

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            pruss2ny July 11, 2019 at 10:39 am

            i, too, like to maths (sometimes)…but the observation is that in 1/3 of accidents the victim is drunk, that doesn’t imply fault in the other 2/3 rests with drivers…it doesn’t say anything about assigning fault at all frankly from 0-100%…it just says that in 1/3 of accidents the victim is drunk (hence me asking if the report really says that driver error is “BY FAR” the problem).

            also confused by note that only 18% of accidents occur at an intersection and vast majority occur in travel lane (>70%)…what/why are the scenarios that a pedestrian is in a travel lane?

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              Lowell July 11, 2019 at 11:30 am

              On the flip side, being drunk doesn’t automatically make someone at fault. Believe it or not, it is not illegal to cross a street while inebriated.

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                pruss2ny July 11, 2019 at 12:08 pm

                agreed..not illegal to cross street inebriated…thats why i pointed out that 1/3 of victims were inebriated and 2/3 weren’t didn’t assign fault…was just observation.

                again, just bored, sitting on a plane, and saw the comment that BY FAR pedestrian deaths are the fault of the driver….not seeing it. read the report, and only potential assignment i saw was to legalization of weed + distracted walking/driving.

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                JRB July 12, 2019 at 12:22 pm

                Thanks for continue to fight the good fight against hyperbole.

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              Steven July 12, 2019 at 8:31 am

              https://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2019-02/FINAL_Pedestrians19.pdf

              The report does not suggest whether the victim was “drunk,” but rather that 32% had BAC > 0.08, and 17% of drivers did. It also does not state that the majority of intersections occur in the travel lane, but rather that 72% were “not at an intersection.”

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                pruss2ny July 12, 2019 at 2:21 pm

                “The report does not suggest whether the victim was “drunk,” but rather that 32% had BAC > 0.08”

                was under impression that all 50 states had moved to a .08 BAC to show impairment? even if i’m wrong (and certainly could be) it’s what, .1? seems like a trivial hair to try to split. try crashing your car and blowing .085 and exclaiming “yea, but i’m not ‘drunk’ drunk officer”

                “It also does not state that the majority of intersections occur in the travel lane, but rather that 72% were “not at an intersection.”

                right..i transposed and misused “travel lane”…i was expecting majority of deaths to be at intersection/crosswalk…but seeing that majority of deaths (>70%) were at night, and NOT at intersection (>70%), and that victim was (legally) drunk in >30% of the deaths, it potentially paints a different picture than the title of the streets blog article: “Pedestrian Deaths Reach New High — Drivers Entirely to Blame”

                I know i’m mixing stats there, which is why i said “potentially.”

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                Steven July 13, 2019 at 10:29 pm

                I actually hadn’t seen the streetsblog article until just now. I just wanted to provide the stats as phrased in the report because the information is pretty limited which leaves a lot of room for speculation.

                My point in calling out your description of the victim as “drunk” is that being above the legal limit where driving is reckless and illegal is not a standard that should be applied to pedestrians in direct comparison to the drivers (which the report does in a bar graph). Those 17% of drivers were driving illegally, while for all we know, the 32% of victims were walking home safely.

                And the lack of further location detail for the fatalities that weren’t at intersections leaves us with limited information.

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          idlebytes July 11, 2019 at 10:29 am

          Citation? Cause that claim doesn’t really mesh with Portland’s pedestrian fatalities. If you read through the police reports for our pedestrian fatalities this year 9 out of 11 the driver was at fault and or left the scene. The other 2 the pedestrian was in the road outside of a crosswalk and we have only the drivers word they were paying attention and couldn’t avoid hitting them.

          https://bikeportland.org/fatality-tracker

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            Dan A July 11, 2019 at 11:23 am

            Exactly.

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          X July 11, 2019 at 3:01 pm

          If I’ve had four beers, walking home is actually a responsible thing to do. Also legal. And no other information is provided about the 1/3. Were they on a sidewalk? In a crosswalk with a walk signal? Inside an appliance store in NE Portland? All places you can be struck by a car, driven by a human who may or may not be drunk, drugged, licensed, insured, etc. Let’s stop pretending that somebody walking while drunk is therefore responsible for their own later death in a car crash.

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        Roberta M Robles July 11, 2019 at 12:56 pm

        I really REALLY appreciate her continued clarification and advocacy on mobility. I wholeheartedly agree with her clarification statement. The problem here is that everybody stopped listening to her after that statement. She is saying people walk in the middle of the road because of decades of broken promises in east side infrastructure including safety paths for everybody. Yes, she is acknowledging it’s not ok for people to be distracted walkers. Just remember how her statements have evolved. She’s going to bat for everybody to be more responsible on the road. The real dearth of leadership here is at the Metro Regional Council. They should be running a committee on congestion equity pricing. Anything the city does within our boundaries will get burned by whatever car driven auxiliary lane Freeway widening they need more money for or people just take their business outside of the city. Too many egos at Metro.

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        m July 11, 2019 at 1:17 pm

        Just to be clear, she said “the pedestrian is always right.” Totally absurd and not helpful.

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          Chris I July 11, 2019 at 1:34 pm

          To me, this statement just shows that she doesn’t care, or just flat out doesn’t understand the problem with her initial complaints about distracted walking.

          No, the pedestrian is not always right. The correct response to concerns about distracted walking is “distracted walking is not a major safety issue”. This statement is backed up by facts. Very few pedestrians are killed because they waltz into the street on their cell phones. Distracted walking is annoying, but it is not a major safety problem facing our cities.

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          soren July 11, 2019 at 2:06 pm

          It’s the only moral position because walking* is the default human mode and the most vulnerable one by far. The idea that other modes should have priority simply because they are capable of greater violence is a form oppression. It’s not a coincidence that the three nations with the lowest rate of pedestrian fatalities (the UK, Sweden, and Netherlands) give pedestrians priority when they cross roadways at any point.

          *or rolling pedestrian-style

          PS: In many respects the UK is a pedestrian paradise because pedestrians have right of way on private property (e.g. your backyard). I hope that Oregon and the USA will someday adopt this sensible stance.

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      Middle of The Road Guy July 11, 2019 at 10:09 am

      Sometimes we are the authors of our own misfortunes.

      Just because something unfortunate happens to a person does not mean they did not contribute to the situation. Doesn’t mean they deserved it, but it also doesn’t mean they are not in part responsible.

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        soren July 14, 2019 at 10:43 am

        This is akin to arguing that a foreign visitor who is killed by a drive by shooting in the USA is “partially responsible”. After all, by deciding to visit to this violent ****hole country, the tourist was the “author of their misfortunes”.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 14, 2019 at 3:22 pm

          If you do something known to be dangerous, and you don’t take reasonable precautions, and something bad happens, do you bear any responsibility?

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      soren July 11, 2019 at 12:35 pm

      “This defies common sense and Vision Zero (which I support)”

      *sigh*

      Vision Zero is predicated on the assumption that a pedestrian *WILL* try to cross Sandy unexpectedly — that human beings *WILL* make mistakes. Thus, the goal of Vision Zero is to design our road system so that it’s exceedingly difficult to drive fast enough that a collision would likely kill someone. Vision Zero acknowledges that traffic violence is almost entirely associated with driving behavior (e.g. driving at speeds that are likely to kill). After all, pedestrians never run into other pedestrians and kill them no matter how inattentive they are.

      USAnians have a hard time with Vision Zero because they have been brainwashed by fordist capitalism to see driving as some sort of fundamental human right that is “normal” and walking (in the roadway) as a privilege that is “abnormal”.

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        m July 11, 2019 at 1:20 pm

        Typo on my part. Should have been “and is Vision Zero (which I support) run amok”

        No editing on bikeportland is a long standing pet peeve but my error nonetheless.

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 11, 2019 at 2:27 pm

          I don’t think this is an example of Vision Zero run amok. VZ has nothing to do with this IMO. This is a case of an elected official doing the best she can on an issue that is not her strongest issue. My gut tells me that Hardesty thinks she is saying the right thing to tamp down displeasure with her initial comments — but unfortunately she swung a bit too far in the other direction. What I’m trying to say here is that it’s a pretty nuanced thing to understand – and then even hard to to communicate – that walkers are not always in the clear and innocent. There are many situations where people on foot don’t have the right of way and there is good reason to educate the public about how to walk safely… But it’s all about context and tone and nuance… which is easy to criticize people for not having exactly right; but hard to get right when you are in the spotlight.

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            m July 11, 2019 at 3:24 pm

            You (and others) regularly pounce on politicians who don’t align with the goals of this site but yet you give her the benefit of the doubt with the need for “tone” and “nuance” analysis. Got it. Hardesty chose to venture into this world with her “no silo” comment. Her comments are absurd and very much fair game.

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              Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 11, 2019 at 5:05 pm

              Hi m,

              No need to come at me. Your tone feels a bit aggressive to me.

              I’m not giving Hardesty the benefit of the doubt. I’m sharing my opinion of where I think she’s coming from. I agree with you that her comments are fair game. I wouldn’t call her comments “absurd”. I’d call them unfortunate, technically incorrect, or careless.

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        Fred July 12, 2019 at 7:07 am

        @soren I think you made a great point here about VZ – that we need to be thinking about how VRUs are going to behave and design those possibilities into the system. Why would someone try to cross a busy road on foot, for example. Have we designed the roads in such a way that we cut off pedestrian routes? Based on what I’ve heard from ODOT and others, most roads were not really designed for *all* users – if they can be said to have been designed at all. That is, the folks who built roads optimized the design for more and more powerful motor vehicles – everyone else was an afterthought. And look what we have today.

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      Lancealot July 11, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      Exactly what I came here to say.

      And that is the problem. For those that hate cars, they equate the act of even daring to drive a car as a criminal act. How dare you drive a car! You are evil!

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      Opus the Poet July 12, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      What if the reason the pedestrian is distracted is they are on the cusp of developing a cure for cancer?

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    idlebytes July 11, 2019 at 9:47 am

    “The reason we’re having deaths and traffic accidents in east Portland is because of the failure of the government to actually do what they promised when east Portland was annexed into the city of Portland,”

    What was promised? I hear this claim all the time and it applies to so many things but I rarely see any actual source of what was promised. Most notably people say this when complaining about the unimproved road in front of their house. I’d be surprised if the City promised to build out all the roads for all the annexed neighborhoods when it has been policy to require property owners to do so prior to the City taking responsibility for them.

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      David Hampsten July 11, 2019 at 11:41 am

      And yet the city did make such promises, to put in sewers, build and widen roads, community centers, sidewalks, light rail, etc. This was back before the property tax rollbacks in 1992, when the city was charging as much as 3% on property taxes. The city wanted to fund downtown improvements with a suburban tax base, like most US cities still do, and the East County neighborhoods were at the time far more wealthy than inner city Portland up to 82nd. East Portland was 99% annexed between 1986 and 1991, along with Cully, Sumner, and Brentwood-Darlington. In the intervening years, all Portland did was the sewers and a street or two, and one community center (out of 3 promised). Plus shove several housing projects in, allow for uncontrolled development, and neglect the rest.

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        idlebytes July 11, 2019 at 12:04 pm

        So of the things you claim the City promised to these annexed regions I’ve only seen evidence for the sewers which you note the City did provide. Do you have any citation for the 2 missing Community Centers or the wider roads? Also how do those things make the roads safer? The original quote was claiming deaths and accidents are occurring because the city has failed to fulfill their promises but I don’t think wider roads would help much.

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          David Hampsten July 11, 2019 at 5:22 pm

          NE San Rafael and SE Harold are narrow roads with no shoulders and one lane only in each direction, yet they are collectors going through some of the poorest areas of East portland. There are also numerous local streets that are still gravel or oil-on-gravel. Tell me, do you think that the 25% of folks who have a bike in their garage but rarely ride will feel comfortable on such roads?

          East portland has over 30% of the city’s population, but has only one community center. Don’t you think that’s odd?

          Just curious, but have you been to East portland?

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            idlebytes July 12, 2019 at 8:09 am

            I’m genuinely curious about the source of your claims. I’m not saying they weren’t made or that East Portland isn’t being undeserved I just want to see what was actually promised when annexation was occurring. I feel like a lot of people default to this claim about what was promised as a scapegoat for problems in East Portland and it doesn’t do a lot of good. Much like Hardesty did above.

            I think the 25% of people you mention would prefer San Rafael to Halsey or even gravel. I’m not sure it’s that odd there’s a lack of community centers. East Portland has a different history and the community is significantly different.

            As for your curiosity yes I have been to East Portland lived out there for a decade or so. Most of it without a car depending on Tri-Met and my bike to get me to work. While you may find San Rafael unsatisfactory I found it to be much better than Halsey. It’s one of the few through streets that isn’t a large arterial. That’s sort of the problem I’ve found with East Portland. There aren’t a lot of non-arterial through streets . As far as unimproved roads go I’ve already addressed that. Property owners need to step up although I suspect even if money weren’t an issue a lot still wouldn’t. I live on an unimproved road and to be honest I don’t mind. People drive slower past my house.

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              SERider July 12, 2019 at 9:40 am

              The problem is Idyle, most of these “promises” were done by word of mouth. In speaking to the older residents of my 1980’s annexed neighborhoods, they have the same stories of promises the city made prior to annexation not delivered . It’s not like annexation was voted on by the residents, so there isn’t much of a paper trail, just a lot of “memories”.

              Check out this article for some references:
              https://www.wweek.com/portland/article-17460-dirt-roads-dead-ends.html

              “The policy and the reasoning behind it are spelled out in plain language on PBOT’s website: “The City of Portland does not currently share in the cost of constructing streets or maintaining substandard streets. Since the beginning of the City’s history, most or all of these costs have been paid for by adjacent property owners.”

              Of course, that’s not the argument Adams made when he toured Cully and promised to work through the backlog.

              But there’s a bigger problem with the city’s policy—it’s based on a total falsehood. That particular version of city history was thoroughly debunked in a report provided to Willamette Week by PBOT itself.

              In a 2000 report to City Council about funding for street improvements, an expert panel delved into the history of Portland infrastructure. They called the notion that property owners have always borne the cost of paving streets a “long-standing myth.”

              As recently as 2000, the study found, the city was paying most or all of the costs to pave many streets, especially in poorer neighborhoods.

              “The implication of this myth was that property owners paid almost entirely for their street, a proposition that is nowhere near the truth,” the report says. “It is much more accurate, and also much more relevant to the problems we face today, to state that property owners have almost always helped pay for at least a portion of the costs for improving their streets.””

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty July 12, 2019 at 9:56 am

                Is an oral promise made by an individual commissioner (or even the mayor), however well intentioned, binding on the city as an institution? I really don’t see how that can work.

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                idlebytes July 12, 2019 at 10:24 am

                Hey I appreciate that article. It’s very interesting but I feel like it glosses over some of the more important details. Dismissing $300 million to improve all those roads? That’s almost as much as an entire years budget. Especially when PBOT is on record saying it would need to increase its budget by about 30% for 10 years just to repair the roads its currently in charge of. Also I would like to see this 2000 report and see the details about how much was borne by the property owners especially in neighborhoods not along arterials and collectors. It’s a pretty vague claim that could mean 1% of the cost to 99%.

                It’s also interesting the article talks about promises made after annexation and frames them as failures of the commissioners and mayor making those promises but acknowledges that they did vote to invest in those communities.

                Finally while some residents want these improvements not all of them do. I would like to see a survey of the Cully neighborhood because the one PSU did of Woodstock found that only 20% of “Woodstock Residents & Visitors: If money were not a concern, would you prefer that ALL streets in the Woodstock Neighborhood were paved with curbs and sidewalks?”

                All in all the article seems pretty salty and biased but does have some interesting quotes.

                https://www.portlandmercury.com/images/blogimages/2010/07/07/1278535558-unimproved_streets_study.pdf

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            Chris I July 12, 2019 at 9:13 am

            I ride the length of San Rafael as part of my daily commute. It is a shame that the neighborhoods weren’t built with sidewalks when the houses went in, but I don’t see why the rest of the city should pay for it. I paid more for my house because it was in a neighborhood with sidewalks and parks. And I pay more every year in property taxes. Why should I pay for sidewalks on San Rafael? Did the city say they would build sidewalks throughout east Portland after annexation?

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              SERider July 12, 2019 at 9:47 am

              Except it’s not true that you pay more in property taxes because of your sidewalks/parks/etc.
              https://multco.us/auditor/property-tax-equity

              Some of the highest rates of property taxation in Portland are in the under-served, under-sidewalked neighborhoods.

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    J_R July 11, 2019 at 9:53 am

    We don’t need more “speed reader boards” preferred by Hardesty; every motorist has a “speed reader board” substitute in the car 30 inches in front of his/her nose. They just don’t care.

    As for “building community,” there’s nothing like building community like having the victim’s friends and family gather at the funeral home.

    To avoid targeting any group, like the low-income neighborhoods Hardesty is worried about, lets put speed enforcement cameras everywhere.

    The sensitive, soft approach isn’t working; people are being killed every month in Portland. Let’s try some serious enforcement with consequences sufficient to change behavior.

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      Dave July 11, 2019 at 10:01 am

      J-R, I agree completely with your enforcement idea. For a few years I had a Buckman to Beaverton commute which I usually cycled. I have found no drivers to be as aggressive, arrogant, and inconsiderate as those in the whitest, wealthiest neighborhood. It would be a good thing for police to have to meet an enforcement quota of the white and wealthy–they would probably find a disproportionate number of distracted and chemically disabled drivers there, too!

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        HJ July 11, 2019 at 1:48 pm

        As a resident of a white, wealthy neighborhood I cant agree with this more. We currently receive zero enforcement and it shows in the truly horrendous driving behaviors. Hell, myself and others in my area have literally begged for enforcement only to be told no. Hmm…

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      Middle of The Road Guy July 11, 2019 at 10:07 am

      But then we would have to hear about how unfair this is to less privileged folks…and that just because people are poor, they should not be held financially accountable for their choice.

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        John Lascurettes July 11, 2019 at 10:36 am

        While I think it would be an administrative nightmare, I think that income-adjusted fines would be great in this regard. Lower income people could still be penalized without devastating them while at the same time rich people don’t get to just wave off fines with the nonchalance they would with a hover fly.

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          turnips July 11, 2019 at 11:10 am

          day fines.

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          ed July 11, 2019 at 11:22 am

          Might be less difficult than we think. Scandinavian counties and a few others already have an income based fine system, so a Ferrari driver is likely to pay a much higher fine than a Yugo driver 😉 But most importantly incentive to obey the law in the first place is more “equalized”. This would also be good for parking tickets. In some cities the wealthy expect to pay parking fines as it’s nothing for them, and more convenient than time and hassle of finding a legal space to park! A “meaningful” fine is totally relative to ones means.

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            Lowell July 11, 2019 at 11:43 am

            I learned from an article in the Monday roundup that New York City literally has a discount club for people and businesses that routinely receive parking tickets. How much do these tickets get discounted? It turns out most are discounted to $0!

            Here’s an infuriating article: https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2019/02/13/update-citys-stipulated-fine-program-costing-taxpayers-tens-of-millions-more/

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              Chris I July 11, 2019 at 1:38 pm

              New York City is a pretty bonkers place. Free street parking, bags of garbage piled on the curb at garbage day. Epic traffic jams due to a lack of congestion pricing. It’s like they don’t know how to run a city properly…

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          osmill July 11, 2019 at 1:11 pm

          Perhaps you could avoid a lot of the administrative hassle (and side-step privacy objections) by basing the ticket price on rough ‘brackets’ of vehicle value – something with a quick look-up table: “Well, you were doing 18 miles over, in a school zone, that’s a $325 base fine. But with your Tesla Model S, let me see … this is a 2018? … hmm, that’s a factor 5 vehicle, so … that will be $1,625.”
          Or something like that. And you could have a half-factor (or whatever) for the least-expensive vehicles, so that fines would actually be reduced on (mostly) the poorest drivers. Lowering the fines for poorer drivers might actually increase the willingness to enforce and ticket from an equity standpoint.

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            John Lascurettes July 11, 2019 at 3:18 pm

            People aren’t always driving their own car (e.g., any professional driver). Previous year tax bracket or income would be more egalitarian.

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            El Biciclero July 12, 2019 at 10:37 am

            If I were rich, I’d have my “scofflaw” car and my “nice” car.

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      El Biciclero July 12, 2019 at 10:54 am

      “…every motorist has a “speed reader board” substitute in the car 30 inches in front of his/her nose. They just don’t care.”

      Actual enforcement would probably have more of an impact on those cited, but I wouldn’t say reader boards are worthless. I have a feeling, being a driver a lot of times, that drivers might care less when they’re the only one who knows what their personal “speed reader board” says, but care a little more when it appears that someone else is “watching” and also knows how fast they are going. Plus, reader boards reach every single driver (as would speed cameras, admittedly) with unbiased facts, whereas “live” enforcement is subject to discretion that might allow one driver going 12 over to carry on, business-as-usual, while another going 15 over would be cited.

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        Dan A July 12, 2019 at 1:26 pm

        We have 2 reader boards in my neighborhood, and people do slow down when they get close to them. Too bad we don’t have a reader board every 100 feet, or people might come close to following the speed limit all the time.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty July 11, 2019 at 10:04 am

    “If we assume people speed all over the city, why would we have an over-preponderance of cameras in east Portland and not have them in the southwest hills? … So then you have to ask the question: Why are there a high number of crashes on those streets? … The reason is because there’s been a lack of investment in those communities so the transportation infrastructure doesn’t exist right? So, talk about blaming the victim.”

    SW Portland hasn’t had an excess of transportation infrastructure investment either. Dangerous drivers are not the victim.

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      PDXCyclist July 11, 2019 at 10:47 am

      Going off this, very few (compared to the total population in SW portland) go about their day using anything other than a car. It’s a very car dependent area and the cycle means there isn’t much demand by residents for sidewalks and PBLs. There are definitely people asking for it, but they are a small number and don’t catch the attention of Portland council or MultCo commissioners. SW could actually get a large number of bike commuters because it would feed in from Beaverton and Tigard, but there’s currently lots of 2 lane roads, no shoulder. Would you want your husband/wife/yourself biking on that?

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    miss_me_with_that July 11, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Jonathan, I really appreciate the follow up and interview with Commissioner Hardesty. She did a good job clarifying her position on some transportation issues. I don’t agree with her on all of them, but I believe she brings a valuable perspective to city hall.

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    Todd Boulanger July 11, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Jonathan, thanks for following up with CM Hardesty on these important issues. I would caution her that speed reader boards are only a good tool for managing the speeds of generally compliant drivers but not those who drive aggressively.

    I would strongly recommend that the cycling community/ traffic safety community work with her to support the use of camera enforcement with a citywide pilot period for data collection and warnings. This information then could be used to move the discussion forward to full enforcement.

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      J_R July 12, 2019 at 8:15 am

      Why “warnings?” I’ve had it up to here with lawlessness and even killings on the streets by motorists.

      Do you really think motorists exceeding the speed limit by 10 to 15 mph, rolling through stop signs at 10 mph in their own neighborhoods, blowing through red lights 3 seconds after they’ve turned from yellow to red aren’t fully aware they’re doing something wrong?

      My children learned stop on red when they were 4 years old reading “Go, Dog, Go.” Warnings are unnecessary BS. It’s an indicator that “we don’t really mean it.”

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    Todd Boulanger July 11, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    And…I think she would be a great candidate for senior cycling especially in her neighbourhood. The Dutch (and Portland) have long promoted 8 to 88 for cycling…and I assume this is still CoP policy. She would be very visible and have fun.

    [We in Honolulu have had a very good senior cycling pilot with the AARP + Biki bikeshare and Bluezones [sustainable food and communities]…amazingly some adults had not been on a bike for 40 years and had a great time rediscovering safe cycling on a solid bike share bike.]

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    Noel July 11, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Jonathan, your 2016 PPB stop information is for the traffic division ONLY, who make less than half of the overall traffic stops in the city. When people are pulled over for a traffic violation, they have no idea whether that is a traffic cop or not – who have very different reasons for pulling someone over. If you look at the stops by non-traffic cops, it is VERY different than the general demographics (In 2017, 60.9% White, 21.7% Black/African American – in a city that is 73% White, 6% Black/African American).

    That 2016 data is also outdated, PPB released 2017 stops data in January and also posts it quarterly. It is almost always similar in those disparities:

    https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/65520

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 11, 2019 at 12:41 pm

      This supports my view that the problem is not traffic enforcement, but using traffic enforcement as a pretext to stop people who “look suspicious”. While traffic enforcement may be the pretext, it is incorrect, in my opinion, to group those stops in with actual traffic enforcement.

      We need more traffic enforcement and fewer pretext stops.

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        Noel July 11, 2019 at 12:47 pm

        In 2017, traffic cops also stopped Black/African Americans at almost twice the population rate. Still a big disparity in who gets pulled over in Portland.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 11, 2019 at 2:41 pm

          Agreed, but it could mean several things: maybe traffic policing is biased; maybe the police are focusing on high-crash corridors which might overlap where there are a higher proportion of black/African American drivers (which might also mean the police are protecting a disproportionately black population); maybe both, or neither.

          That statistic, in isolation, doesn’t really inform.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 11, 2019 at 12:43 pm

      Thank you Noel. That’s a major mistake and I appreciate you correcting me. I will edit the story ASAP.

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        Noel July 11, 2019 at 12:52 pm

        Thanks Jonathan – and thank for this follow up article with Commissioner Hardesty! It is so important that we have elected officials that are paying attention to the nuances in policy while also willing to admit when they make a mistake. I greatly appreciate her leadership – and willingness to dive into issues outside of her bureau assignments!

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    Kem Marks July 11, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    The funny thing is, although she says the bad infrastructure in East Portland is the problem and needs to be fixed, she has refused to support increasing spending in East Portland to make up for past. For all the money going into East Portland, we still can’t get to and stay at parity in transportation spending. Seems odd

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      soren July 11, 2019 at 2:18 pm

      Kem, can you elaborate on the specifics. (I’d like to lobby for more funding.)

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    Jason July 11, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Solution:
    1. Signs stating speed limits are enforced by camera.
    2. Followed by speed reader board.
    3. Followed by the camera that sends out citations to those too negligent to listen to the warnings.

    If the goal is just to get people to slow down, that would do it. No one can say they weren’t warned, and it would accomplish the stated goal.

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      El Biciclero July 12, 2019 at 8:56 am

      Actual solution: put up “Crosswalk Closed” barriers. Problem solved!

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      J_R July 12, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      But, it only accomplishes the stated goal for that particular section of highway. For the rest of the street system, it’s the usual lawlessness, maimings, and killings.

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    Mark smith July 11, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    m
    “The pedestrian is always right,” she continued. “Let me be really clear: Anybody who is hit or injured or killed by an automobile, they are the victim of that activity. I in no way want to imply that it’s the pedestrian’s fault if they get hit by a car or a bicycle. That was not my intent at all. Please help me clarify that in the biking community.”Absurd statement. So I could walk out into the middle of traffic on Sandy Blvd and have no responsibility for my actions? I am the “victim” no matter what? This defies common sense and Vision Zero (which I support) run amok. People need to be responsible for their actions and that includes walking into traffic with your head staring down at your phone.Recommended 17

    Yes, we need to get to the point where the pedestrians are always right.

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    Andrew July 11, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Thanks for reaching out to Commissioner Hardesty, Jonathan. Her clarification helped me understand where she was coming from with her statements a few weeks ago.

    ““I did not run to be a commissioner that would be siloed and that would be only focused on the bureaus under my management. My community doesn’t live in silos,” she said.”
    A call to change of the at-large commission system? I’m on board with that!

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    Toby Keith July 11, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    Well she hates cops and hates enforcement. And you voted her in. Which is it? Do you want safer streets or a police force that has basically given up?

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      Fred July 12, 2019 at 7:15 am

      @toby We are not given these kinds of either-or choices when we vote – there’s a whole range of issues to consider. Politics is the art of the possible.

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  • Rivelo
    Rivelo July 12, 2019 at 9:34 am

    “I think I’m past the demographic loop where riding a bicycle is going to work for me,” the 61-year-old said.

    Jeez, Jo Ann, way to me feel old (63). Still riding to our shop every day where I sell bikes designed by a guy 2 years older than me….and he still rides *his* bike every day, too.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BzyMNn9l3Nu/

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    Cyclekrieg July 12, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Surprised you didn’t ask about the ORCMP or MTBing in Portland in general.

    She has had some pretty dismal and quite frankly ignorant things to say about mountain biking and mountain biking access in Portland. Way more concerning than her comments about Vision Zero, IMHO.

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      Dan A July 12, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      I think MTBing has a serious marketing problem. Ask pretty much anyone who doesn’t mountain bike what they think about it and you’re likely to get the same ignorant comments about it. It doesn’t help that every purpose-built MTB facility in the area is a jump park or flow trail.

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    Mark smith July 13, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Look, she made some mis steps as every elected official has in town. The difference being, unlike a white man, she owns up fixes it. Let’s not be a white jerk mob and pile in.

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      Toby Keith July 13, 2019 at 8:53 pm

      She volunteered for the job. We have every right to be critical. We pay her salary.

      You’re the one injecting race into this for some odd reason.

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    Mark smith July 14, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    Toby Keith
    She volunteered for the job. We have every right to be critical. We pay her salary.You’re the one injecting race into this for some odd reason.Recommended 1

    Race has everything to do with everything we do. In addition to that fact, she talks about it daily.

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    Phil Richman July 15, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    As an almost daily observer of the SW Barbur Blvd speed reader boards I can attest that when they are working very few drivers seem to pay attention and ODOT installed the Northbound boards in an area just before where the speed limit increases and therefore encourages drivers to speed up, not slow down. Sad.

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