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Willamette Week: Portland’s Vision Zero efforts “not working”

Posted by on August 21st, 2019 at 1:25 pm

“Portland’s streets are killing fields.”

That’s the opening salvo in a Willamette Week cover story that tries to make the case that the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Vision Zero efforts are failing.

Blindsided is a photo essay and reporting effort that will likely have a big impact on local transportation discussions for weeks and months to come. It uses personal stories from a range of Portlanders to illustrate the vast problem of unsafe roads and to poke holes in the City’s effort to fix them. The focus of the piece isn’t a surprise given that so far this year 35 people have been killed in traffic-related incidents. That’s one more than we recorded for all of 2018.

City staffers, including PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, provide comments in the piece. “It’s deeply troubling,” Eudaly says, “‘What are we doing wrong, and what can we do faster?'” The commissioner added that it will take more than physical infrastructure to make progress.

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Among the powerful personal stories highlighted in the piece include southeast Portland resident Anjeanette Brown. She says the lack of streetlights and generally dangerous conditions are an illustration that PBOT isn’t doing enough to protect people in outer southeast neighborhoods.

The shortage of enforcement from the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division is another big takeaway from the piece. The story features an officer who’s been hit twice by drunk drivers and who says the lack of officers dedicated to catching them is a major safety risk. The reporter points out how PBOT’s Vision Zero Task Force chose to not prioritize enforcement due to concerns over racial profiling.

Read the full story here.

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

92 Comments
  • Avatar
    Middle of the Road Guy August 21, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    No enforcement, no fear of penalties.

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    maxD August 21, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    One significant mistake, in my opinion, is to have separate Vision Zero projects, and no Vision Zero standards for all other projects. I had a discussion with PBOT about the proposed Greelely project that route bikes onto a sidewalk and widen the lanes for people driving. The existing traffic speeds exceed 55 mph in each direction. IMO, the wider lanes proposed will encourage faster driving, not slower. When I asked why they were not trying to slow traffic here, per VZ, PBOT explained that this is not a VZ project, and it is funded by freight money. There has been a traffic fatality on Greeley since that conversation, the project has not started yet, but changes to the plans are proposed.

    PBOT continues to design and build unsafe infrastructure. They could change that today if they wanted. They could also increase parking rates. Remove on-street parking spots that block sight lines, and they could increase enforcement of speeding, red light running, and distracted/drunk/high driving. Portland and Oregon could also do some things tot discourage the increasingly large vehicles people are buying These things would take more time and would involve legislative action but increasing registration fees based on length, weight, and miles driven and raising the gas tax.

    PBOT and trimet should continue to focus on improving and expanding transit. PBOT should focus on fixing dangerous pinch points and closing gaps in the bike network so the disjointed segments we have can begin to function like a network.

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      Middle of The Road Guy August 22, 2019 at 10:21 am

      Agreed. As a guy who does workflow design/improvement, I can suggest one should generally want to look at the most inefficient and easily remedied areas first…for those quick wins with big impact. The Big Picture/Grand Vision stuff is great, but fix the broken things first.

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      stephan August 22, 2019 at 3:28 pm

      I nominate maxD’s comment of the week.

      PBOT and Eudaly need to realize that achieving VZ requires a fundamental restructuring of PBOT’s culture. Changing the culture of any organization is a hard and long process but without it, we’ll be seeing these kind of patched up priorities over and over again. Eudaly’s priority needs to be to change the bureau’s culture, and not trying to address a systemtic problem through non-systemic action.

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    J_R August 21, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    We could try enforcement.

    Even a traffic stop and a verbal warning that takes little of the officer’s time would send a message to the other motorists who pass in the interim. The passing motorist wouldn’t know whether a citation was being issued. Flashing lights cause a change behavior, at least for a little while.

    I’d rather have mandatory classes for those committing traffic offences or big fines, but let’s try SOMETHING!

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      Toby Keith August 21, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      The way some people on this forum whine about enforcement being racist, that’s pretty much off the table. FWIW though I agree with you.

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    Tom Hardy August 21, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    First of all! Traffic stops for moving or not paying attention must carry a manditory fine. The size of the fine must be a combination of vehicle size and the speed of the violation. for instance the fine for a scooter operator is one thing but for smart car then a F 350 quad cab 4wd is something much bigger and carries the probability of a lot more damage to other persons on the road.
    I have found the bigger the vehicle the more aggressive the driver. I have found this to be true whether riding my bike or as a pedestrian and definitely a sedan. The higher the vehicle is jacked up the more aggressive or obnoxious the driver is.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty August 21, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    “City Hall must do more” says the commissioner in charge of PBOT. That’s rich.

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      Fred August 22, 2019 at 7:36 am

      She also said she needs help from other bureaus, which is a thinly veiled way of saying she needs Wheeler and PPB to start enforcing the traffic laws. She obviously can’t say it directly, but that’s what I think she’s saying.

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      Dave August 22, 2019 at 8:03 am

      All city’s halls must do things that offend drivers. Making nice will do nothing–making money on traffic fines just might.

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    Bjorn August 21, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    I fail to see how increased enforcement of DUI laws will have any real impact considering how light the penalties are. I know someone who recently got drunk, drove his car and smashed it into a building totaling the vehicle. That happened in March, he was back driving by July. It cost him a little money but really the impact on his life was and is minimal. If the chance of getting caught when driving drunk increases from 1 in 2000 to 1 in 500 but the penalty is a slap on the wrist is it really going to change the behavior of those who are doing the drinking and driving. I would rather see that investment go to things like better options such as round the clock transit rather than enforcement by a police department that has a long history of racist practices.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 21, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      Was the person who hit the building driving because TriMet shut down too early? Unlikely, as there are now more options than ever for people who don’t want to drive drunk. If you think having police is worse than drunk driving, we’ll just have to disagree on that point.

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      BikeRound August 22, 2019 at 7:03 am

      This whole “slap on the wrist” argument generally makes little sense. Criminals respond to the likelihood of being caught and punished, and not to the severity of the punishment. Which of the following proposals do you think would be more effective in cutting down on speeding: the current system, which in theory can dish out some fairly large fines, or a system that is guaranteed to fine drivers $10 per every mile traveled in excess of the speed limit?

      Further, it does sound like that this DUI driver lost his driver’s license for several month, an outcome that actually would have a noticeable impact on most individuals’ lives. If the drunk driver had to hire an lawyer, then the DUI must have cost him several thousand dollars. Once somebody is criminally prosecuted, then no punishment deserves the slap on the wrist label. Fines, lawyers’ fees, court appearances, short jail sentences, probationary periods, and criminal records can be all components of serious sanctions imposed by the criminal justice system. This reminds me of the Brock Turner case, where the defendant was sentenced to jail and he will be forced to register as a sex offender, and yet the media pilloried the judge as if he had dismissed the case.

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        Johnny Bye Carter August 22, 2019 at 11:21 am

        You call those punishments serious and yet they do nothing to stop those people from driving dangerously. All those things are small slap-on-the-wrist punishments that allow the driver to carry on doing what they were doing before.

        I know because I experienced all those things first hand and they did nothing to deter me from driving dangerously. The thing that got me to start respecting the danger of motor vehicles was to voluntarily stop driving them (because they built a MAX line by my house) and witness the terror from the sidewalk.

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          BikeRound August 22, 2019 at 1:51 pm

          When you says that all of those things happened to you, do you mean that you received a speeding ticket or two or, maybe, three? I think that goes to show that you would have stopped driving dangerously had you received a speeding ticket every time that your were exceeding the speed limit, but since you were under the impression that the vast majority of the time you were not actually going to be punished, you continued to speed.

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            Sam August 22, 2019 at 3:48 pm

            Yet ignition interlocks for dui and automated enforcement of every type of infraction is last century’s technology, and won’t be implemented, why?

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              soren August 23, 2019 at 11:23 am

              because that’s “infrastructure” and does not satisfy’s bikeround’s amorphous thirst for vengeance.

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      Dave August 22, 2019 at 8:05 am

      Chronic drunk drivers need to be chipped like dogs (no offense, dogs) so that their movements can be tracked by police. Sorry, but driving in a condition that makes you likelier to kill other people on the road should be cause for forfeiting all of your legal and civil rights.

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      Caelin August 22, 2019 at 9:32 am

      My neighbor drove drunk with his baby in the car, went 30 in a 10 zone, hit me and my friend and totalled 8 cars. He got an 80 dollar fine, brand new car from insurance, and a 3 month suspension which he ignored. Basicly he got rewarded, and went on to gloat to me about it, and make fun of my losses.

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    mark August 21, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    I skimmed the article, and will read it more carefully later. One thing that immediately stood out was the use of passive voice. Many instances of “killed by a car,” rather than “killed by a DRIVER.”

    Words matter. Sloppy journalism.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 21, 2019 at 5:26 pm

      Both of your examples are equally passive.

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      mark August 22, 2019 at 8:59 am

      I don’t usually spend much time reading comment threads on websites, but here on Bikeportland, I do. I can usually find a lot of intelligent discourse and people presenting different ways of looking at an issue. On most other websites, I find only acrimonious snark and name calling. I’m frustrated by some of these useless responses which look past the obvious point I was attempting to make, and instead calling me out on the way I phrased it.

      I am not a professional journalist, nor am I a pipe. I feel that journalists in prominent media publications should be held to high standards with regards to the language they choose to use, much like professional drivers should be held to higher standards than the general public. The words they choose can influence a large audience in ways that have been so culturally normalized as to be invisible to many.

      Many times, on this very website, Jonathan and others have mentioned that the choice of words in news articles and police press statements have the effect of taking away the human element of road violence. Using the word “accident” to describe a crash serves to present the incident as something that couldn’t be avoided, like extreme weather or an attack from a wild animal, instead of a wholly preventable circumstance brought forth by human decisions and poor choices. Another instance is the description of a car or vehicle striking a vulnerable road user, instead of being described as a result of the actions and choices of the person operating that vehicle. I realize that we have too many cars on our roads, but the truth is that they rarely kill anyone without being operated by a human driver.

      When I read the article more carefully, I noticed that in many of the episodes described by the writers of the article, an inanimate object was responsible for the resulting carnage:

      “Portland spends millions to stop cars from killing people.”
      “Last week, a vehicle killed a Portlander…”
      “…13-year-old Patrice Johnson was struck by a car…”
      “The second car to hit Officer Mark Gaither…”

      I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t try to design our physical infrastructure to lessen the frequency and severity of traffic crashes, but we need to give some effort to changing the choices made by the people operating large and dangerous vehicles in our dense urban environment. We can’t ignore that people driving made the bad decisions that led to these predictable outcomes. We need a cultural change in the ways that the public views traffic violence, and that can start with choosing more accurate words and phrasing to describe it.

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        9watts August 22, 2019 at 9:15 am

        Well said.

        And I wasn’t trying to be mean with my Rene Magritte reference.

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          mark August 22, 2019 at 9:34 am

          Thanks for saying so.

          With all that’s going on in the world today, I feel like I’m living in an Absurdist dystopia, so I guess it’s an apt reference.

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    Eawriste August 21, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    We know what works. Other cities have successfully done what Portland will do. A complete network of protected bike lanes is a very big part of this. A good indicator of how effective VZ has worked in Portland is: How many miles of PBLs per year has the mayor and council installed?

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    Andrew August 21, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    City hall won’t do anything so long as they believe(rightly) that any action taken to make driving less convenient is political suicide. Tolls? Classist. Enforcement? Racist. Parking removal? Look out for PBA on that one…

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    SD August 21, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    “Vision Zero” is failing in Portland and other US cities because state and city dots/bots are trying as hard as they can to inch their way to zero. Mayors, legislators and governors refuse to create a sense of urgency because they don’t want to be viewed as taking anything away from people. They are desperate to increase safety the perfect amount and not cross the line where a single person is inconvenienced more than necessary to reach zero deaths. They are more concerned about overshooting zero and doing too much to slow down a car trip than they are about transportation related deaths.
    Inherent in the approach of vision zero is that everything is done as fast as possible to bring deaths to zero. Then, once there are zero deaths, add back measures to increase travel times and convenience for car and truck drivers. Lower a speed limit too much, turn too many stroads from two lanes to one, put in too many protected bike lanes, take out too many parking spots and parking garages.
    The problem with incrementalism is that it doesn’t achieve obvious results, but it draws a ton of backlash that says “all of these changes aren’t making a difference AND they are CAUSING MINOR INCONVENIENCES!” It is very possible that traffic deaths would be much worse this year without PBOT’s changes or that the benefits will be more tangible in the future as driver behavior adapts to new infrastructure and expectations. But, this is not “vision zero,” it is a failure of leadership that starts at the state level with Kate Brown and her failure to improve ODOT and is mirrored by Salem and Portland’s silent ineffective mayors.

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      9watts August 21, 2019 at 11:50 pm

      = Carhead.

      I agree with you on all points.

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        Middle of The Road Guy August 22, 2019 at 10:25 am

        People are generally resistant to major changes in their life. In this instance, it is transportation…but broad sweeping public policies often have similar behavioral reactions at first. People WILL adapt but they will vote those public officials out of office first.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 22, 2019 at 10:43 am

          Since Eudaly has really stepped in it with her assault on neighborhood associations, and re-election seems increasingly unlikely, and since she’s running PBOT, maybe she could take some risks and show her progressive transportation chops. It seems she has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Though, admittedly, the signs that she actually supports progressive transportation are pretty thin on the ground.

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            Buzz August 22, 2019 at 9:47 pm

            So you don’t think what we’re seeing is what she wants? A huge amount of existing ADA ramps are getting replaced with new ones, and that seems like it’s probably part of her agenda…if she doesn’t have a clear understanding and grasp of the needs of bicyclists of all skill levels, anyone with a wild idea can convince her, which is what I think we are seeing now.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty August 22, 2019 at 10:22 pm

              I don’t think she ran with the intention of replacing ADA ramps with other ADA ramps. When it comes to transportation, I’m not sure she ran with any intention at all. I think we will continue to see what we have seen, which is PBOT continuing on the trajectory it was on before, which is incremental progress but mostly status quo. If you think you can convince her to be more progressive when it comes to cycling facilities, I wish you Godspeed. I don’t think she particularly likes us.

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              Brian L August 23, 2019 at 8:42 pm

              Sadly most of those ADA ramps near me (NE Broadway) are lazy diagonal ones angled into traffic. Feels like suicide when I’m pushing a stroller or kids are on balance bikes. Someone in a wheelchair is at serious risk. All in the “new” ramps. Does Oregon have some low bar legal definition of ADA compliant? Never saw new ones designed this way in other cities I’ve lived in.

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      John Lascurettes August 22, 2019 at 9:04 am

      comment of the week

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        Ryan August 22, 2019 at 3:27 pm

        I kinda feel like there are several comments for this story that could qualify. Lots of good thoughts about this.

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      ED August 22, 2019 at 12:09 pm

      Something I read in another, personal context that relates here I think: All change involves loss, even overall positive change to reduce fatalities and injuries on our roadways. (And I don’t just mean loss of deaths/injuries in a double negative kind of way.) Changes to our roadways will create changes in how people move around, hopefully positive, but a productive dialogue would probably include acknowledging the losses that come along with it. Psychologically, we tend to fixate on the known things that we are losing than the unknown benefits we are supposedly gaining–so no surprise that many people are not interested to add xx seconds delay to the driving time and pay xx more for parking, even to gain alternative transit options and, you know, not kill people.

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    Racer X August 21, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    Commish Eudaly says, “‘What are we doing wrong, and what can we do faster?’”

    Definitely too many motor vehicle operators are driving TOO FAST! To start.

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    kittens August 21, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    Perhaps it is too simplistic for out-of-touch bureaucrats, but the real solution is the only solution that works : e-n-f-o-r-c-e-m-e-n-t.

    There is basically an entire industry which serves only to conflate expensive and convoluted rationale for otherwise easy to solve problems. Design and build all the road diets, fancy ad campaigns, clever taglines and speed bumps you want. It may have some fringe benefit of encouraging more thoughtful driving, but the folks who end up killing people are often intoxicated serial abusers of the roads who only respond to threat of fine or punishment.

    Driving and/or owning a car is a privilege, not a right. Doesn’t matter who or what you are.

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    John Lascurettes August 21, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    Hey Vision Zero Team:

    One of the very best ways you could reduce number of “mistakes” people make while driving is do things to encourage them not to drive in the first place. Here’s a few spitballs for you:
    – parking “taxes” (fees) in public and private lots that make parking more expensive so the fees can go directly to transportation subsidies.
    – no more removing one VRU (riders) from a conflict zone for drivers and shunting them off into crazy, under-engineered spaces with even more V VRUs
    – ENFORCEMENT; come up with an executable plan to assuage concerns of profiling. Don’t just throw your hands up and say “welp, damned if you do, damned if you don’t”

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      Middle of The Road Guy August 22, 2019 at 10:43 am

      Enforcement first. That can be done tomorrow. The other items are longer term behavioral/cultural changes…with of course the “equity” concerns.

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    Joseph Knecht August 21, 2019 at 11:40 pm

    Hello,

    Some cities in the world, including Oslo and Madrid , are taking additional steps to increase travelers’ safety and also address climate catastrophe. Maybe time for Portland too?
    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/jessesinger/ban-cars

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    Mike Quigley August 22, 2019 at 6:04 am

    Car carnage is like gun carnage. Lots of thoughts and prayers, and wringing of hands, and wailing, but it’s politically impossible to resolve the problems. And, as everyone quietly knows, it IS a car problem, and a gun problem. Everything else is bullshit.

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      Middle of The Road Guy August 22, 2019 at 10:45 am

      It’s not a car or gun problem, it’s a selfishness problem.

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        Johnny Bye Carter August 22, 2019 at 11:11 am

        And yet most weapons of mass destruction are illegal to own.

        I’d rather people were selfish with a scooter or a slingshot.

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        Dan A August 22, 2019 at 12:30 pm

        Selfish, sociopathic…..it’s all the same thing on the road.

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        El Biciclero August 23, 2019 at 8:36 am

        “It’s also mental illness…a lot of mental illness—it’s a terrible, terrible problem…”

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    Steve Scarich August 22, 2019 at 7:50 am

    Why not create a new level of law enforcement personnel, whose sole job is traffic enforcement? Would not require anywhere near the training, or qualifications, of a ‘full’ officer. I’m not even sure they would need a firearm. Could be recruited faster, assigned quicker, and paid less.

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      GlowBoy August 22, 2019 at 8:21 am

      Because traffic stops pretty regularly put officers in contact with criminals. If you’re going to be pulling over and citing people for moving violations, you need to be prepared to deal with drug runners, human traffickers, people with wants and warrants on them, and just plain general-issue thugs. The work really does require a fully trained LEO.

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        Steve Scarich August 23, 2019 at 12:36 pm

        I don’t agree. We just a had a big traffic enforcement action in Bend, and only a tiny portion (I think one or two) resulted in anything beyond a citation. A traffic enforcement officer would not be that much different than the Park Rangers that get so little respect in this forum. They do not have LE training.

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        Seth D. Alford August 24, 2019 at 5:15 am

        Then don’t pull them over. Automate enforcement, instead. And to make it cheaper and easier to do that, just require identifying the vehicle by its plates. Assume that the registered owner is the driver and committed the traffic violation.

        If the registered owner wasn’t driving, then the registered owner allowed their vehicle to be used by someone who committed a traffic violation. So the registered owner can assume the burden of proving that someone else was driving.

        Create exceptions for stolen vehicles which are reported stolen prior to the traffic violation.

        And allow civilians to submit helmet cam video which the police can then use to generate more citations. They are already doing that in some parts of the UK. No, in the UK, the civilian doesn’t get a cut of the fine. I’m not sure if in the UK the video has to include the driver.

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      Dan A August 22, 2019 at 8:46 am

      I do think you could post officers on foot at specific intersections and have them give out tickets. At the Skyline/Scholls overpass, for example, you could stand by MUP crosswalk and give out a ticket every 2 minutes to drivers who fail to stop before the crosswalk. I regularly see drivers go all the way through the crosswalk there before stopping and then turning their heads.

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        Johnny Bye Carter August 22, 2019 at 10:41 am

        Give video cameras to some jobless folks and pay them to write citizen citations.

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        Middle of The Road Guy August 22, 2019 at 10:46 am

        Sounds like a design flaw.

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          El Biciclero August 22, 2019 at 12:00 pm

          My design idea would be for bollards to automatically raise when the light turned red. If we insist on keeping right turn on red, then there could be a beg button to push (driver would have to get out of their car, or have a passenger reach out the window) to get the bollards to go down before the light turned green again. Too much of a hassle? Then wait for the green light.

          Hahhhhh….but seriously, we should at the very least ban RTOR at intersections that have any possible conflict with any kind of MUP. With camera enforcement. Sylvan crossing would disproportionately catch white people in Euro-SUVs, though…

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          Dan A August 22, 2019 at 12:34 pm

          It’s hard to say why a painted crosswalk in front of a red light is difficult for drivers to miss. Maybe many drivers are unfamiliar with crosswalks? Or perhaps with the notion that beings exist outside of motor vehicles who might want to use such road markings to cross the road?

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    Johnny Bye Carter August 22, 2019 at 10:44 am

    “it will take more than physical infrastructure to make progress”

    This is a cop-out and a lie. You do get progress from physical infrastructure. You may not get all the way to Vision Zero without political will, but you will absolutely make progress with physical changes to the environment.

    It sounds like she’s just throwing up her hands in defeat and saying “See how I can’t get it done because of some other person who said it wouldn’t work?!”

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      Buzz August 22, 2019 at 9:54 pm

      While I empathize with you, the infra the city is currently coming up with is woefully inadequate and inappropriate, the less of it that is immortalized in concrete, the better!

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        Eric Leifsdad August 23, 2019 at 11:18 am

        What if they applied some of their bike lane designs to car lanes? Turn a sharp corner and up onto the sidewalk like 37th and Prescott?

        Seriously though, yes we need to improve designs before we use concrete, but we also need to be putting more significant obstacles in the way of cars. The jersey barriers we had in the wrong place on Naito for one day to the tune of $50k? Half as many could have made the entire east half of Naito car-free and been left there, saving millions on that pending project.

        Soft-hit plastic posts on the edge of a 12ft car lane as “protection” for a 6ft bike lane? How about some $200 STOP signs? Traffic diverters? There are so many tactics we’re not using because we wouldn’t want anything to inconvenience motorists or scratch their fenders. Our traffic engineers have chosen to take the chance on someone getting killed when a driver makes a mistake rather than to allow drivers to regularly suffer damage to their own personal property as a consequence of their own careless driving. Nerfing infrastructure to protect cars turns cars into a deadly threat to everyone else.

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    Johnny Bye Carter August 22, 2019 at 10:59 am

    It’s sad that a major concern of pedestrians is streetlights when ever motor vehicle is required to have lights that illuminate the objects in front of them. The main problem is that when drivers hit people in the dark they are not prosecuted for driving negligently and usually just get a Failure to Yield ticket that doesn’t deter them.

    You can see dark people in dark clothes on a dark road if you’re paying attention.

    You can write proper tickets a lot sooner than you can get a streetlight installed. We should be working on both. Streetlights encourage people to walk their neighborhoods.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 22, 2019 at 11:42 am

      Why is it sad? Street lights help make pedestrians more visible (and thus safer) than relying on car headlights alone. Simply “illuminating objects in front” is often not sufficient to make a complex scene apparent to the human eye.

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        Dan A August 22, 2019 at 12:36 pm

        This is part of the reason why we have the often-ignored basic speed rule. You don’t get to blame bad driving on insufficient lighting.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 22, 2019 at 1:42 pm

          You can, apparently, blame not seeing someone on insufficient lighting.

          So if our goal is to increase safety, we fix the lighting. If our goal is to demonize drivers, we criticize them for having limits to their perception and other human failings.

          I, for one, want to fix the lighting.

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            Dan A August 22, 2019 at 2:20 pm

            Interesting that you would summarize my wish for enforcing the existing laws as ‘demonizing drivers’.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty August 22, 2019 at 2:23 pm

              As you know, I consider the “basic speed law” to be essentially unenforceable. Safety mechanisms that are predicated on idealized behavior are unlikely to be effective. My vote is for doing what works, even if it allows some people to “get away” with behaving badly.

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                John Lascurettes August 22, 2019 at 3:14 pm

                Vision Zero should both aim to improve the street lighting and enforce the basic speed law. Both work toward the same goal: zero deaths. How to enforce the BSL?

                Officer: “Why did you think you hit this pedestrian crossing at an unmarked crosswalk?”

                Driver: “I couldn’t see him”

                Officer: “Okay, you are receiving a ticket for violation of the basic speed law … If you couldn’t see a human-sized, moving object while approaching, you are driving too fast for the conditions, your abilities, and/or your equipment.”

                Done.

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                John Lascurettes August 22, 2019 at 3:16 pm

                Start habituating traffic enforcement and officers responding to an accident, and over time, people’s habits will change — either first-hand or by word of mouth.

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                John Lascurettes August 22, 2019 at 3:17 pm

                * Damnit. I said “accident”. 😀

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                q August 22, 2019 at 3:23 pm

                Don’t worry. I’m sure you did it acciden–I mean I’m sure you did it crashly.

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                Buzz August 22, 2019 at 9:59 pm

                IMO, your average cop has car-head mentality because they spend most of their time on the street driving, so a lot of what peds and cyclists consider egregious behavior seems more or less normal to them and/or they don’t see it. They need to be retrained or hiring criteria need to change, otherwise enforcement won’t be any sort of panacea.

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                Ryan August 23, 2019 at 1:14 pm

                Buzz August 22, 2019 at 9:59 pm
                “IMO, your average cop has car-head mentality because they spend most of their time on the street driving, so a lot of what peds and cyclists consider egregious behavior seems more or less normal to them and/or they don’t see it.”

                This. Awhile back I mentioned in a story on here about a PPB officer I know who posted to his FB page about how pedestrians overestimate their visibility to cars at night by about 200%, so they should be more vigilant about wearing reflective/high-viz clothing. My question, though, is how much do drivers overestimate their ability to see at night? Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s similar to the pedestrian overestimation which, to me, seems like the Basic Rule should make it so that the legal speed at night should be about half the posted speed. But most people I see drive just as fast at night as during the day. Maybe as the technology gets cheaper, dynamic speed signs (like what they have for the freeways when there’s congestion) could replace all normal speed signs, so that the posted speed could change depending upon the conditions. Of course, commissioner Hardesty would be worried about that confusing all the drivers…

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                Dan A August 23, 2019 at 1:46 pm

                A few years ago a Multnomah County Deputy was doing 33 in a 25 with his headlights off before dawn in an area that he knew to have foot traffic, and killed a man with his car. He first claimed that the man jumped in front of his car, then he claimed that he had seen something in the road but didn’t realize it was a person, then he claimed that he was looking elsewhere when he hit the man. Two Portland police officers ‘investigated’ and determined that the Deputy was not at fault.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 23, 2019 at 2:29 pm

                Colleagues investigating one another will often come to the same conclusion.

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          El Biciclero August 23, 2019 at 8:40 am

          Unfortunately, only Fantasy Drivers follow the Basic Rule.

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    q August 22, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    I understand the difficulties of the whole street safety issue, but one thing that’s incredibly galling to me is seeing City vehicles (often PBOT) driving dangerously while displaying their orange “Vision Zero” bumper stickers. It reduces Vision Zero to sloganeering marketing BS.

    Example: A City project that decided to show up on a very busy Sunday morning in Willamette Park, running heavy equipment back and forth on the crowded Willamette Greenway Trail, for a project outside the park that could have been done any weekday with few people around, with people literally running to clear the area while a backhoe drove backwards downhill towards them over and over–no spotters, flaggers, cones…nothing. Meanwhile, another project truck parked for half an hour directly on the trail at a main crosswalk, forcing adults and kids to walk and bike blindly around them into the street. All with City staff looking on with their Vision Zero sticker on their vehicle. I complained to the field and office staff and was told “All safety procedures were followed”.

    –A PBOT truck parking for maybe an hour to block all visibility at the crowded park boat launch/Greenway Trail crosswalk, literally 20′ from where a boy was run over and killed a couple weeks prior. The only reason I could see they were there was because it had a good view of the water for them to enjoy while fiddling with their phones.

    The private sector does it too–the national contractor whose “We Make Safety Personal” slogan is plastered all over their job fences while the guy in the company pickup truck drove off yesterday from the site texting while driving. Same contractor shut down the sidewalk by leaving their construction fence gate (same one with the safety slogan on it) blocking it while their lookout texted on his phone while people walking past had to walk into the highway lane to get by because he was too oblivious to take 5 seconds to swing it closed. Or the people with the Bike license plates parking in the bike lane.

    But PBOT could at least start with having their own employees drive legally, so at least their orange bumper stickers aren’t total jokes.

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    Jon August 22, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Driving is not a right. Privacy is not a right on public streets. We should have automated enforcement (red light cameras, speed cameras and reckless driving cameras if possible) all over the city. There should be mobile hidden random automated enforcement. It would not take long for people to drive safely if they knew they could be ticketed any time for illegal activity. Make sure there are more cameras in white neighborhoods so nobody can claim racial profiling.

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    GNnorth August 22, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Vision Zero=War on Drugs, can we say it is the 80’s all over again? The mindset is the same, “no more deaths, no more this, that, etc.” but fails to work, continually. I look so forward to this inept catchphrase someone invented just fading away out like all the others. In due time…

    A total sham, helps politicians give big sound-bites to encourage the public that they’re actually doing something.

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    pdx2wheeler August 22, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    We need enforcement and subsequent fines set based on an offender’s income level. Make it hurt just as much to a wealthy person speeding in there motor vehicle as it does to a person of lesser means. Something like 1% of an annual income…? If you make 1 million/year your fine is $10,000, you make 20K/year your fine is $200…

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 22, 2019 at 4:42 pm

      There has been tons of study that show deterrence is best served by increasing likelihood of being caught rather than harshness of punishment, so there is no evidence your suggestion would help.

      So, if your goal is to deter dangerous behavior, what we _actually_ need is more enforcement, even if fines are relatively low.

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    Kem Marks August 23, 2019 at 9:25 am

    For those who argue against enforcement because of implied bias, I have one question. Who do you think the majority of people are who are getting killed, and where? People of Color are significantly more likely to be killed or seriously injured because they live in places where the conditions are most likely to exist that cause traffic violence, e.g. East Portland.

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    Craig Harlow August 27, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Ditto all the comments on boosting enforcement. I made the comments below back in 2015 on this site’s story about the Vizion Zero kickoff… https://bikeportland.org/2015/08/18/portlands-vision-zero-kickoff-brings-new-faces-to-the-table-155467
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    In my view a strong combination of enforcement and education is vital to improving safety and comfort for all Portland-area road users, particularly those most vulnerable. In both cases, the great challenge is working with state agencies and the legislature to pave the way…

    Enforcement:
    The city should move fast and hard on implementing radar/photo enforcement along all high-crash corridors; and all roads with speeds above 30 MPH. I realize this is complex to implement, including acquisition, installation, P.R., solid legal footing, prosecution, penalty collection, etc. But without it, what hope is there for meaningful improvement? I think this is worth a significant financial sacrifice on the city’s part.

    Education:
    The city should combine forces with BTA, Oregon Walks, OPAL, etc., lobbying state legislators for a change to driver licensing :

    (1) nobody passes without getting correct EVERY item related to vulnerable road users (prompt re-takes should be permit);

    (2) enhance driver license testing to more massively represent vulnerable road user laws;

    (3) shorten the license expiry period to three years with MANDATORY re-testing for all;

    (4) there must be some provision for reliably educating/certifying interstate freight haulers not licensed in Oregon.

    Of course there is great cost to this as well, not only for the ongoing and probably long-term lobbying effort; but for the state and for taxpayers for implementation. I think this too is worth a significant financial sacrifice on the city’s part, and should be enshrined as a permanent strategy for the city until it succeeds. We have to stop treating auto driving as an easily-invoked right and start treating it as a uniquely special privilege to which we assign grave responsibility.

    None of this is necessarily coupled to infrastructure strategies, nor need it be. Unless we create an environment in which every license holder drives more safely because we systemically indoctrinate this mentality, then no amount of infrastructure changes will move us closer to achievement of vision zero.

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    soren August 27, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    It’s fascinating how despite the calls for expensive enforcement by armed police above, no one has called for the enforcement method that is both incredibly cheap and has high levels of compliance: Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA). And this is not some pipedream, as shown by the EU’s passage of a law that will require all motorvehicles to have ISA:

    https://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-1793_en.htm

    The discussion here reminds me of discussions on how to address drunk driving: demands for DUII roadblocks but complete silence about MADD’s decades old demand for mandatory ignition interlock.

    PS: Adoption of ISA was championed by Sweden — you know, the nation that invented vision zero.

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    mark smith August 27, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Right now, today, is there a multi modal street bordering all sides of cry hall with a protected bike lane or is there a wide fast one way deadly to bikes and walkers and people on wheelchairs?

    How is the city council actually leading?

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