Protestors shout down officials at road safety press conference

A protestor holds up a sign as others shout at a press conference outside Portland City Hall this morning. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Anger and frustration about Portland deadly roadways — and a feeling that local officials have not done enough in response to it — has been simmering (and at times boiling over) for months. At a press conference Monday morning at City Hall, that anger revealed itself in the voices and actions of several protestors who shouted over scheduled speakers.

As Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner (and mayoral candidate) Mingus Mapps came to the mic (after being introduced by his new PBOT Director Millicent Williams, who assured the crowd she is, “firmly committed to Vision Zero”), protestors forced him to recognize their presence by walking in front of him holding signs.

“Say their names! Say their names! Say their names!” yelled Betsy Reese and about a dozen other protestors, as Mapps stood at the mic ready to speak to a row of media cameras.

“Sure, actually,” replied Mapps, calmly.

(Audio clip above is Commissioner Mapps speaking with protestors shouting.)

After he finished reading victims’ names, he said the reason he called everyone together was to, “Remind the people of Portland about a dire threat to public safety.” “Portlanders need to know that our city is in the midst of an epidemic of traffic fatalities… 43 people have been killed in traffic accidents,” he said.

“Crash not accident! Crash not accident!” someone in the crowd responded (saying “accident,” which implies that nothing can be done to avoid them, has been a no-no for many years and it was a very unfortunate mistake for Mapps to make). And Lois Leveen, the activist who led a group ride to the event from the Belmont Library (across the street from where Jeanie Diaz was killed July 12th), shouted, “Motorists killed 43 people! Motorists killed 43 people. Say it!” It was the first of several outbursts from Leveen, who wanted Mapps to use stronger words against drivers.

As the commissioner continued, saying that Portland could cut the number of road deaths in half if they’d just slow down and not drive impaired, Leveen and others were clearly unsatisfied and continued to yell at him.

“I hear you rage. I hear your frustration. And I share it.” Mapps said.

At one point, PBOT Director Williams walked down from the steps of City Hall where she stood behind Mapps and other speakers and she engaged Leveen in a face-to-face conversation (see photo below). It was a preview of what was to come; but it didn’t smooth tensions.

Frustration by some in the crowd spiked even higher when Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Ty Engstrom spoke. He’s been in the PPB’s Traffic Division for 10 years and said, “Traffic is my passion.” Engstrom spent much of his time talking about how hard it is for him and his officers to see the consequences of traffic crashes. “It weighs on all of us to see that carnage; to see the families devastated. I have lost track of how many times I’ve had to go tell a parent that their child will not be coming home. I’ve had to leave crash scenes and call my wife to decompress a little bit afterwards because I’m thinking about my six kids that I have that are out on the roadways…”

Then Engstrom did something that made several people very upset: he both-sides’d it.

(Audio clip below is some of Engstrom’s remarks.)

Engstrom said one main reason for the reason spate of deadly crashes is a change in culture where he says, “People feel entitled on our roadways. All motorists, all pedestrians, all bicyclists — it seems like we’ve forgotten how to use the roadways together safely and to share them.”

“No. Don’t do that. Don’t do that!” a man in the crowd immediately erupted. (After the event I heard a woman approach Sgt. Engstrom to say, “You really offended me when you said that. I had to turn my back and walk away after you said that. It was offensive.”).

Engstrom (who spent a long time listening to criticism and feedback after the event and was very open to changing how he frames these issues) pressed on, saying, “You are right. There are motorists out there driving in a way that kills people. Absolutely. But there are also people that are on bikes or pedestrians that need to be also more careful with what they’re doing. So it is a shared responsibility and a culture change that needs to happen.”

After three elected officials and one public health expert had spoken, there was still no clear plan of action on the table. People are dying every week. What will City Hall do about it? How will they change an approach that clearly isn’t working? What new ideas are being considered for implementation?

Unfortunately we heard nothing on those fronts at the press conference. One man who showed up on a bike was so frustrated at the remarks he left early and could be heard shouting, “This is horseshit!”

The strongest official remarks came from The Street Trust Executive Director Sarah Iannarone. In a notable shift from previous eras, The Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) leader was standing alongside power — instead of in the crowd protesting. This is part of a strategic shift at the nonprofit that has been many years in the making but has been hastened by Iannarone’s leadership.

After thanking the Oregon Department of Transportation for funding Street Trust research project about how homeless people are impacted by “traffic violence” (a term only she and Chair Pederson used), Iannarone said, “This public health epidemic is preventable, but only with timely attention and action from the government at every level.”

Iannarone called for a “transformation of our system” and urged a harm reduction model of street design that expects people to make bad choices. She cited an expert who says, “If you make streets safer for drunk people, you make them safer for everyone.”

“Building streets which take into consideration that people do make mistakes, makes us all better off in the long run,” she continued. Iannarone said Oregon should follow Utah’s lead and lower the blood alcohol concentration level that triggers a DUI from 0.8% to 0.5%.

As for speeding drivers? Iannarone riffed off PBOT’s recent, bird-themed anti-speeding campaign. “‘Slowing the flock down’ makes for cute signage; but we need a serious, statewide public health campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of impaired and high-speed driving,” she said, to rousing applause.

Iannarone called for collaboration and urged people to join The Street Trust. She was the only speaker to receive strong applause from the activists. But again, there was no plan offered.

I was struck that even after all the talk of a “dire threat to public safety,” “crisis” and “epidemic,” not one speaker shared a clear plan of action on how to respond.

I asked PPB Sgt. Engstrom about this in a one-on-one after the formal remarks were over.

“As you heard today, people are really scared and frustrated. As a leader at Traffic Division, what happens now?,” I asked him. “How are people going to feel safe tomorrow? Next week? What are you doing differently at PPB to make people safer in the short-term?”

“That’s extremely hard… that’s a hard answer,” Engstrom replied. “All I can say is what we’re doing right now, by having Traffic Division back, is trying to be as visible as possible.” He explained that they’re having officers blanket one area to make an impression rather than sending one unit out at a time. He also mentioned more use of social media to “just try and make ourselves look bigger than perhaps we really are.”

As much as I appreciate Sgt. Engstrom’s work and concern about the issue, his response to that specific question was not reassuring. I also found it ironic that now he’s trying to make PPB look bigger, when his strategy in 2021 was to make them look smaller.

I asked him again about his press conference two years ago when he broadcast to everyone that the PPB wasn’t able to enforce traffic laws. And he finally admitted that it wasn’t a good idea. And that it was a political move. “We needed to create a stir to get some change to get them [city council] to fund us back up,” he said. “I mean that’s the honest truth. I know that could make things more dangerous. I don’t know. But at the same time, we needed some change.”

I also talked with Commissioner Mapps one-on-one and asked him a similar question. He rattled off all the what he and PBOT are doing. But none of it was really new and none of it will move the needle fast enough to save lives in the short-term.

“What is happening from your office or from PBOT that reflects the severity of the threat?” I asked.

Mapps then leaned back into his main focus of this event and asked me rhetorically: “How do we bring this culture change?” He said they plan to be more consistent with educational events like the one today and he wants to hold them more regularly. “The one piece I am dissatisfied with, where I don’t think we’re trying hard enough, is the culture change piece.”

I failed to ask Mapps to define what he means by “culture change”; but since he said he’s made it a focus in large part by reading my stuff on BikePortland, I’m confident assuming it’s something like this: The City of Portland needs to encourage people to make better decisions when they operate vehicles. The culture on our streets is dysfunctional and it’s time for an intervention.

Culture change can be difficult for timid government officials, like the ones we tend to have here in Portland. It can be hastened by radically different street designs, following through with novel policy approaches, and by quality communications and marketing — none of which PBOT or Commissioner Mapps’ office has shown to be great at yet.

While I wasn’t impressed with most of the speeches today (outside of Iannarone’s), I was heartened by one aspect of the event itself. It brought some people together to talk and hear new perspectives. While the protestors were not representative of Portlanders on the whole (to say the least), they were at least able to have quality conversations with PBOT, PPB, and City Hall officials.

Those conversations were worth something; but I’m afraid that one hopeful highlight from today won’t be nearly enough to make our streets feel safer any time soon.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago

“Portland could cut the number of road deaths in half if they’d just slow down and not drive impaired” [i.e. don’t break the law].

Yeah, and we could really cut down on homicides if people would just stop going on murder sprees. Truly bold leadership from Mapps there. I guess it takes a political science professor to repeat the same talking points we’ve been hearing for decades. I’m speechless.

John
John
9 months ago

Portland could cut the number of road deaths by adopting pedestrian crossing rules in line with pretty much the entire rest of the world. Marked Crosswalks!! Not, every corned is a crosswalk. The assumptive nature of humans allows them to continually step into traffic, cars be damned, expecting the world to stop on a dime. Change that and see immediate improvements.

Ray
Ray
9 months ago
Reply to  John

The assumptive nature of drivers allows them to continually roll through stop signs into traffic, anyone else be damned, expecting them all to get out of their way.

FTFY

RS
RS
9 months ago

The both-sides comment is ridiculous. If we lived in a hypothetical la la land where there were zero deaths of “doing everything by the book” pedestrians and cyclists it’d be one thing. But also, in that la la land it’d be easy to further point out that even doing things “by the book” as a pedestrian or cyclist can often force you to take on more danger when “the book” is written for cars and infra is designed for cars. Just look at the story of the police officer telling the person to move to the right rather than go after the aggressive speeder. The book and infra needs to be redesigned and that excuse needs to be tossed out the window if we’re to make any progress toward vision zero.

Also, it’s not like it wasn’t obvious but PPB officially saying the quiet part out loud and admitting that he actively and knowingly played with peoples lives in order to drum up funding when they were barely hurt by Covid funding cuts and facing self-inflicted staffing issues dating back decades is a real fuck you to all of us out there. And they’re still making the same “too much work to handle” comments at the presser today! If they’re so short staffed perhaps they should get behind pbot managing cameras and freeing up their precious time for actual traffic patrolling instead of parking a van in “gotcha” spots.

John
John
9 months ago
Reply to  RS

admitting that he actively and knowingly played with peoples lives in order to drum up funding

Yeah, I’ve been saying some people on here and elsewhere wouldn’t believe the cops were doing this unless they admitted it in writing, and that was supposed to be an ironic joke. Because obviously they wouldn’t do that. But yet here we go. They endangered people as punishment for protesting.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  John

At the time, the PPB made it pretty clear that cutting traffic enforcement was about money (though I suspect there was a political component as well). Anyone who watched the police repeatedly threaten to retire the horse unit to gain budgeting leverage (which they did for years before someone finally called their bluff) knew exactly what they were doing.

This isn’t some new revelation.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  RS

The truly appalling thing about it was that the entire city had a budget shortfall that year ($75 million IIRC).

  • The $15 million that was cut resulted in them eliminating 45 *vacant* sworn officer positions.
  • It also resulted in only the 3rd highest budget in their history at that point.
  • And, according to their own 2022-2023 budget request, they *still* had “dozens” of unfilled sworn officer positions.

But, yeah, they needed to sacrifice dozens of innocent lives to get a bigger budget.

Chris I
Chris I
9 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

Given inflation, shouldn’t every year be their highest budget year?

Why do we have the lowest level per capita of sworn officers of any major city in America?

Why are activists focusing so much on budget levels and ignoring staffing? Budgets don’t translate to employment levels and service levels when there are well-documented hiring and retention issues.

John
John
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

What are you even talking about?

“We needed to create a stir to get some change to get them [city council] to fund us back up,”

That’s why we’re right now talking about budget. Because they literally just said they’re putting the public at increased risk in a depraved attempt to get a bigger budget. A budget they’re not even completely using right now. And it works because people can’t seem to remember what happened three days ago.
We have low staffing because of a foreseeable wave of retirements due to a wave of hiring that happened years ago. This isn’t something the iron fist law and order types can scapegoat Hardesty and Eudaly for, they had nothing to do with it. You can blame PPB themselves for the low staffing. And for that matter, as has been asked elsewhere, how do you know they even have low staffing and aren’t just woefully inefficient? What is the right number of cops?

Chris I
Chris I
9 months ago
Reply to  John

The staffing issues are well-documented, but of course, you have to want to find the information.

https://www.wweek.com/news/2022/09/28/portland-ranks-48th-among-50-big-cities-for-cops-per-capita/

Do you have anything to support your narrative that it was a wave of retirements that lead to the staffing issues? I know several PPB officers that left for jobs in the suburbs in the past few years. That’s not a retirement.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Given the $75 million shortfall that year, the fact that a bureau that gets around 30% of the general fund monies only absorbed 20% of the deficit is actually pretty good from their stand point.

Why focus on it? Because we just had a PPB guy admit they let the roads become dramatically more dangerous to – wait for it – *GET MORE MONEY!*

Yeah, they screwed the pooch with a huge wave of officers approaching retirement too.

They’ve also created a toxic relationship with people who used to be naive enough to trust them by abandoning their duty to make a political point – so why would anyone *want* to be a PPB officer?

(because I’m a clean cut, politely spoken, straight, white man my interactions with police have never been anything but courteous – so it took a *LOT* for me to develop such a dislike for them)

9watts
9watts
9 months ago

Thanks Jonathan, for the report, and for Lois et al., who spiced it up, held their feet to the fire. Super unimaginative and disappointing from the folks we elect. What I want to know is why is it so hard to identify the successes the Scandinavian countries (for example) have achieved, and then chart a course for emulating their approach. Concrete, communicable, and if City Hall is not willing to fund it then we should figure out how to get people into positions of power who are willing to make those changes, take those steps.

eawriste
eawriste
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Hey 9watts. I think we may give some countries too much attention (I’m guilty of this sometimes as well. I think some cities in Colombia are doing a lot of great work.). Yes, Norway and Denmark, have dramatically decreased road deaths (like near nill), but it’s really important to note that almost all other “developed” (and some developing) countries have had a lot of success with much fewer funds.

The US is really an outlier when it comes to road deaths (currently on par with Russia). This graph is pretty popular, but the data comes from here. Funding is always an issue with DOTs, but does a lack of funding prevent PBOT or the city to allow, say BikeLoud, to crowdsource planters to build up pilots on NE Broadway or 122nd? What good is a DOT if not to get buy-in for safer designs, particularly in places where frequent deaths are currently happening?

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

I agree!
Always pointing to $$, to funding, is an excuse to not chart a bold and exciting course of action. To always talk about the ostensible lack of money is just weird. Do you (politician) have feelings, priorities, passion, people you would like to see not get maimed? Well, then, commiserate. Lead, Stand for something.

Gregg Dal Ponte
Gregg Dal Ponte
9 months ago

Of course. This kind of aggressive activism will certainly resonate with the elected officials and other spokespersons in a position to wield influence. Having befriended them with such insightful rants and raves it is almost certain that decisionmakers will be incentified to immediately go back to work and follow the advice so graciously offered. This is how you influence people to make desired changes.

Steve Cheseborough (Contributor)
Chezz
9 months ago

Are you unfamiliar with the whole history of protests? Sit-ins, blockades, other actions you might call “aggressive”? Or you just think you know a better way? Tell us how you influence public policy, please.

Gregg Dal Ponte
Gregg Dal Ponte
9 months ago
Reply to  Chezz

Try reasonable discourse with opinion leaders leading up to informed lobbying. Or, continue to experience political impotence as you see fit.

Steve Cheseborough (Contributor)
Chezz
9 months ago

So you have not heard of the movements of Gandhi or Martin Luther King? You really think politicians will do what you want if you just ask them nicely? Come on now.

Arturo P
Arturo P
9 months ago
Reply to  Chezz

MLK and Gandhi did not go around screaming and interrupting elected leaders. Come on now.

John
John
9 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

At least not the sanitized, white washed version you learn about in first grade from a picture book.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

@#$% your white-washing of Dr. King:

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

.

Armies of officials are clothed in uniform, invested with authority, armed with the instruments of violence and death and conditioned to believe that they can intimidate, maim or kill Negroes with the same recklessness that once motivated the slaveowner.

.

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the White moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Not sure these are comparable.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Chezz

I don’t know… I think MLK an Gandhi led protests that were a little larger than the one pictured here.

Something like this might get a bit more action:

comment image

Mick O
Mick O
9 months ago
Reply to  Chezz

What Mr. Dal Ponte means is that you need to offer (in a calm and polite manner) lucrative contracting gigs to regulatory officials to get them to do your bidding. It’s always amusing when he regularly pops up here trying to make sure that no positive change can happen without him and his cronies benefitting financially.

Gregg Dal Ponte
Gregg Dal Ponte
9 months ago
Reply to  Mick O

Check back in with me in a year and regale me with the story of the immense successes you’ve had bringing about change from the public officials you have swayed to your way of thinking. I’ll wait.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago

This is your chance to write a thoughtful email to city council or letter to the editor conveying the relevant facts along with what you think ought to be done. Just think how sensible and rational you will seem by comparison!

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
9 months ago

I have written many emails to city and county leaders, as well as letters to the editor, over the past few years. I also attended yesterday’s news conference and, yes, was one of the folks occasionally shouting my frustrations. (For those who weren’t there: The shouting and other verbalized comments were NOT constant; most of the time, the speakers spoke, and everyone listened. It’s unfortunate that the headline of this article spotlights the shouting.)

For those of you snidely commenting on the nature of the protest, a question: How many deaths and injuries of vulnerable road users would be enough to finally justify shouting? 80? 100? 150? 1,000?

Damien
Damien
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Remy

For those of you snidely commenting on the nature of the protest, a question: How many deaths and injuries of vulnerable road users would be enough to finally justify shouting? 80? 100? 150? 1,000?

In the true conservative “it doesn’t matter until it affects me personally” fashion, only one if a close family member, unlimited for strangers.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Remy

I was being facetious, but thanks for the clarification. I agree that shouting and disrupting “business as usual” is totally justified here.

Concordia Cyclist
Concordia Cyclist
9 months ago

I’m not sure of the effectiveness either, but nothing else in the polite spectrum seems to hone the attention of the elected leaders. Criticise them if you like, but at least they are trying to get heard by a seemingly deaf bureaucracy.

curly
curly
9 months ago

“How do we bring this culture change?” He said they plan to be more consistent with educational events like the one today and he wants to hold them more regularly. “The one piece I am dissatisfied with, where I don’t think we’re trying hard enough, is the culture change piece.”

IMO culture change needs to start within PBOT then sprinkled throughout the rest of the city. Sheesh….

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
9 months ago

Mapps “said the reason he called everyone together was to, ‘Remind the people of Portland about a dire threat to public safety.’” Yes, this was his big purpose, after a record number of motorists killing Portlanders, while he oversees PBOT.

Can he really be completely out of touch with the fact that Portlanders are already acutely aware that distracted/aggressive/illegal driving is endangering lives? Or is telling us what we already know the best this “leader” can do?

The fact that in under 38 hours after learning of this event, a group of folks — certainly not representative of the city given how little notice the public had of this event, but representative of the frustration at City Hall — turned out shows we do NOT need Mapps to tell us what we all know. And by “we all know” I don’t just mean readers of BikePortland — followers of any media outlet or really anyone who spends time walking, biking, waiting at a transit stop, or riding in a car easily observes how dangerous our streets have become.

Perhaps that is why he was so surprised and displeased to have constituents attend his press conference. He really couldn’t believe we know and care that our lives are endangered, if he hasn’t told us so himself.

David Raboin
David Raboin
9 months ago

Portland needs better politicians. This type of conference would’ve been a slam dunk for anyone with even the slightest political skill. It’s not like building safer streets is controversial.

An angry, unreasonable mob is the perfect foil for a politician with practical, actionable ideas. Instead, we see two officials who didn’t do their homework shouted down by righteously angry citizens. Good on those concerned citizens, a pathetic showing for city hall.

Sadly, Mapps is the favorite to win our next mayoral race. He better start some on-the-job learning or else we’re in trouble.

Dave
Dave
9 months ago
Reply to  David Raboin

Exactly – a completely flaccid response that should’ve announced at least ONE tangible change. And, the whole “shared responsibility” thing was tone deaf at best. What an outrageous failure of leadership and disregard for adopted VZ policy.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  David Raboin

Getting things done often means upsetting some subset of people. Politicians here are too scared to upset people.

cc_rider
cc_rider
9 months ago

I asked him again about his press conference two years ago when he broadcast to everyone that the PPB wasn’t able to enforce traffic laws. And he finally admitted that it wasn’t a good idea. And that it was a political move. “We needed to create a stir to get some change to get them [city council] to fund us back up,” he said. “I mean that’s the honest truth. I know that could make things more dangerous. I don’t know. But at the same time, we needed some change.”

Good lord. Fire every single one them. Blood on their hands to try and score political points. New low for a group that, I truly didn’t think could lower.

Like, I assumed this was what it was, but the fact they feel comfortable just openly talking about engaging in politics while on the clock is next level.

bjorn
bjorn
9 months ago

Was surprised to hear TST was so focused on lowering legal limit. Is there good data anywhere on what alcohol content drivers involved in deadly collisions had? A lot of times it seems like you see 0.15 or 0.2 in a deadly collision, and I feel like focusing on bringing the criminality of 0.05 up to the same level as 0.3 might not be as effective as creating some tiers. Someone who is driving at 0.2+ didn’t make a mistake they have a serious dui problem. Someone who is 0.05 might have had a too much the night before. My gut says that we probably shouldn’t be treating those two drivers the same way, and that we damn well shouldn’t be treating someone riding a bicycle who is 0.05 the same as someone who is driving a car at 0.3 but it would be nice to have better data behind that.

BallyHoo
BallyHoo
9 months ago
Reply to  bjorn

Yes, of course there’s good data on that. Sure, one could make some tiers. And definitely drinking and biking is a lot less dangerous to others than drinking and driving.

There’s a strong data reason leaders are focused on speed and sobriety – both contribute to over a third of crashes (speed, in essence, to all).

<i>The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that traffic deaths in Utah decreased, and more drivers said they arranged for sober rides home, when the State lowered its impaired driving legal limit to .05%.

In a new study published today, NHTSA found Utah’s fatal crash rate dropped by 19.8% in 2019, the first year under the lower legal limit, and the fatality rate decreased by 18.3%. The fatality rate measures the number of fatalities over total vehicle miles traveled, whereas the fatal crash rate measures the number of crashes involving a fatality over total vehicle miles traveled.</i>

A summary of the study is here:
https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/60427

If someone is at 0.05 the next morning, they were completely wasted the night before. Most bodies process a drink per hour.

cct
cct
9 months ago

How about a “culture change” at PBOT?????? One that stops prioritizing cars, engineers who protect drivers over pedestrians and cyclists, management that thinks pedestrians are fine walking in the road in some parts of town… THAT culture!!

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
9 months ago

This is a very good synthesis of what happened today. Thank you, Jonathan. (Also, it was a pleasure to meet you in person, finally.)

Two quick things:

  1. I was the guy shouting “Don’t do that!” And yeah, I was furious at Sgt. Engstrom’s attempt to both-sides this. Like, literally shaking with rage.
  2. I also thought Sarah Iannarone’s speech was good, but I found Jessica Vega Pederson’s remarks sincere and compelling, too.

I also share your sentiment that, despite anything we heard today, our streets won’t feel safer any time soon.

Bon
Bon
9 months ago
Reply to  Mark Remy

Literally shaking.

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
9 months ago
Reply to  Bon

Correct. Literally. As opposed to the figure of speech.

As I told Sgt. Engstrom afterward, I would feel more hopeful if I could believe that any of the speakers we heard yesterday ever got that upset over this issue.

maxD
maxD
9 months ago

So disappointed that PBOT wouldn’t even address the concept of a Cesar Chavez road diet. They could enact a 6 month trial with the bits of concrete they have lying around (jersey barriers and whatnot) Paint over the exiting lines and add some striping and see how it goes. start with Burnside to Powell?

eawriste
eawriste
9 months ago
Reply to  maxD

Hey maxD. I personally would also like to see Cesar Chavez redesigned to 3 narrow lanes of cars, but I know there are other streets that would be more pragmatic choices. Streets that have a history of public engagement by PBOT as well as streets that have already had groups like Better Block engaged in placemaking. Again, I’m not saying CC needs to change (it’s terrible), but I do think there are options that our timid and uninspiring leaders might accept much more readily when their feet are held to the fire.

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
9 months ago
Reply to  eawriste

My idea is, yes, restripe Chavez to 3 lanes. With hopefully 4′ left over, place 3′ high Jersey Barriers in the roadway adjacent to each curb. The barriers are 2′ wide, so the math works out. This will at least quickly provide some protection for people using the sidewalk (which might include a few careful cyclists). The city would also have to notify property owners to trim their hedges back (especially just south of Hawthorne), so the full 5′ width of sidewalk is clear.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
9 months ago

PPB finally admitted

“We needed to create a stir to get some change to get them [city council] to fund us back up,” he said. “I mean that’s the honest truth. I know that could make things more dangerous. I don’t know. But at the same time, we needed some change.”

Just let that sit with you all for a bit. Think about the consequences of PPBs actions of the last 3 years and how they have failed the people of Portland. All the deaths. All the suffering. It was all on purpose. Planned. Just for political gains. Disgusting.

Bjorn
Bjorn
9 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

It is crazy the behavior that we allow cops to partake in without consequences. If I lied and openly refused to do my job until my work gave me a raise I think I would be looking for work, and me playing hooky wouldn’t lead to people’s deaths.

SD
SD
9 months ago

Mapps and others are so lost. Culture doesn’t change in a vacuum, it doesn’t change with messaging, it doesn’t change with words, and unfortunately it doesn’t change regardless of the number of strangers that suffer or die. In this case, the police, who regularly see the consequences of traffic violence haven’t even changed their culture.

Culture changes when lived experience changes. On balance, the cheapest most effective way to change the culture of driving in Portland is to dramatiaclly change the physical environment and experience of driving, biking and walking in the city. If Mapps could help put together a comprehensive coalition like The Street Trust is suggesting with a clear results oriented plan with several interventions that could be implemented in the short term.

One of the major obstacles is that PBOT and many Portlanders think the city has already done something something substantial in terms of infrastructure because they compare themselves to other cities in the US without sincerely focusing on outcomes.

Julian Dunn
Julian Dunn
9 months ago
Reply to  SD

Completely agree with you. I find any event where the takeaway (from *either* side) is “make better individual choices” to be a waste of time. Safety arises from good systems design, not individual choices, many of which — like speeding, for example — are encouraged by the culture that’s in place.

What’s outrageous is that successive administrations won’t try any experiments, even temporarily, in modifying the built form to see if driver behavior changes. Instead they pretend that the way Chavez, Powell, etc. are built are completely unchangeable externalities, as though they themselves didn’t make those streets (or stroads, more accurately) that way in previous decades. Then, our so-called leaders are shocked when their minimal, after-the-fact interventions like geese signs aren’t doing anything. Rinse and repeat: I guess I should expect another useless press conference in about 7 years on the same topic.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
9 months ago

Thank you Officer Engstrom for calling it like it is. If you use the roads, you need to be a responsible user.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago

Still trolling. After all these years.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago

Did Jean Diaz fail to exercise responsibility by standing at a bus stop a few feet away from speeding traffic? What percentage is she to blame for her own death?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
9 months ago

No, that was clearly the fault of a driver not being responsible.

But she wasn’t a road user at that point either, if you want to be technical.

qqq
qqq
9 months ago

If people are being killed by cars who aren’t even road users (to accept your argument that someone waiting responsibly for a bus at a bus stop on a sidewalk isn’t a road user) then it sure seems like behaving responsibly while doing whatever clearly qualifies as being a road user isn’t going to keep you safe from being hit by a car.

Actually, here’s a recent one where there’s no doubt the person killed by a car was NOT a road user–a woman hit by a car while responsibly INSIDE her home: https://www.kptv.com/2023/08/04/1-person-pet-dies-after-car-goes-into-house/ (Yes, I realize that’s not in Portland.)

Again, certainly being responsible can reduce your chances of being a victim, but when people are being killed waiting at bus stops (and this latest one wasn’t the only one this year) or inside their homes, it’s got to be much more dangerous to be a road user, even when being responsible.

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago
Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

How do you jump from “every person needs to exercise a degree of responsibility/care when on the street” to “the occupant of a house is culpable when someone crashes their car into it”?

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

They all use the street. How do *you* jump from “every person needs to exercise a degree of responsibility/care when on the street,”  to “that person waiting at the bus stop should have anticipated that driver jumping the sidewalk & killing them.”

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

How do *you* jump from “every person needs to exercise a degree of responsibility/care when on the street,” to “that person waiting at the bus stop should have anticipated that driver jumping the sidewalk & killing them.”

Uh… I don’t. That statement is ridiculous as is the suggestion that I would endorse it.

cc_rider
cc_rider
9 months ago

Thank you Officer Engstrom for calling it like it is. If you use the roads, you need to be a responsible user.

Walking/rolling is a human right. There is a reason there is a drivers license and not a walkers license. People who have reduced or not yet developed cognitive ability should have the right to move about our city without a motorist obliterating them.

All motorists should ALWAYS be prepared to stop. The speed limit is the speed maximum, not the speed minimum.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Rights come with responsibilities – take gun ownership for instance.

I’m simply stating an obvious fact that if you use the roads, you should be an alert user and not abdicate your safety to others.

You do look both ways before crossing a street, right? Care to tell me why?

9watts
9watts
9 months ago

Rights come with responsibilities”

The majority (if not virtually all) of your comments here going back to the very beginning to me read as attempts to flatten a lumpy, tilted power dynamic we all experience, are part of. Your MO here is to suggest false equivalencies, flip the script, use rights (pedestrians) when we were talking about privileges (automobilists), and the list goes on. I used to try to engage with you but it was so frustrating I quit for a couple of years.

Obviously looking both ways makes pragmatic sense, but what does that have to do with the larger picture here? The problem? The maldistribution of violence on our streets? Why is that usefully called out, here and now?

qqq
qqq
9 months ago

This reminds me of the current arguments that slaves benefitted from learning skills that they could later use when freed. Possibly true, but totally irrelevant in the big picture.

Your argument is the same as Sgt. Engsrom’s–obvious and distracting from the big picture.

cc_rider
cc_rider
9 months ago

Rights come with responsibilities

They don’t actually

ake gun ownership for instance

Gun ownership isn’t a human right. It’s an American constitutional right. Do you understand the difference? Do you understand that the constitution is not a governing document for human rights all over the world? We have a governing document that allows wackos to own dangerous weapons. That’s not the same as the right to travel with your own feet/wheels.

You do look both ways before crossing a street, right? Care to tell me why?

Because people like you and car culture in general has left me vulnerable to inattentive and dangerous drivers. You might be confusing how things are and how we should aspire to make things. Many women carry mace or are too scared to walk around at night. Is that how it is or how it should be?

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago

Thank you for mentioning gun rights. Safety from gun violence really is a shared responsibility, and you have to wonder whether people killed in mass shootings do in some way have only themselves to blame.

qqq
qqq
9 months ago

Remind me again–how many people were killed by people riding bikes and walking so far this year?

cp_1969
cp_1969
9 months ago
Reply to  qqq

according to this Bike Portland article posted 4 days ago – https://bikeportland.org/2023/08/04/opinion-portland-must-take-actions-to-stop-grim-traffic-toll-377768
Zero cyclist deaths so far in 2023. And since 2018 have averaged 2.6 per year.
I don’t know about walking.
I’ve been riding in the Portland metro area for 30 years. I feel pretty safe overall. Is that a guarantee. No, that is impossible and will never happen. There will always be risk associated with riding no matter how good things get.
But I don’t participate in the Victimhood Olympics. I take a lot of responsibility on myself to be a defensive rider. And so far it’s worked out pretty well for me.
This kind of political theatrics by the “activists” is ridiculous. They will never win over the hearts and minds of the masses with this kind of bullshit.

Concordia Cyclist
Concordia Cyclist
9 months ago
Reply to  cp_1969

I think you misinterpreted their comment: they aren’t asking how many people have died, but instead how many bikers or walkers have killed other people. The answer is obviously zero.

And I also have been riding in Portland for over 30 years and feel fairly safe most of the time biking within close-in North-NE mainly, but I’m also a strong, experienced rider.

The vast majority of folks that want to bike but won’t due to safety concerns are apparently none of your concern, but I believe that if we can get more people on the road with bikes that there is increased safety in numbers. But we have to get them to feel safe first.

Just acting like “I got mine, so what” is the libertarian approach, which I find is as cancerous a worldview as there is in a liberal democracy.

qqq
qqq
9 months ago

Thanks! Yes, that’s exactly what I meant, and yes, the answer is zero.

The idea that that cop was “calling it like it is” is ludicrous.

cp_1969
cp_1969
9 months ago

You are incorrect to say that those people who choose not to ride because of not feeling safe are none of my concern.
How do you know what my concerns are, by the way? I think you are making some assumptions. Is it that because “If I’m not outraged, I’m not paying attention“?
I just don’t agree with the tactics employed by the people disrupting this event. That was my original point.
I do not believe that what they are doing will lead to meaningful change in cycling infrastructure. And I don’t believe they will win over any hearts or minds.
I believe vast majority of the people in positions of power, the people who do not ride because of safety concerns in the suburbs, etc…see a story like this and see a 60 something year old man in cut offs “preforming” by laying on the ground and probably scoff.

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago
Reply to  cp_1969

So lead your own protest.

qqq
qqq
9 months ago
Reply to  cp_1969

“Victimhood Olympics”? That has nothing to do with what I wrote, and it’s incredibly tone deaf given how many people have been killed this year doing absolutely nothing more unsafe than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

cp_1969
cp_1969
9 months ago
Reply to  qqq

How many people have been killed? None cycling.
What I mean by “Victimhood Olympics” is playing whatever card you have to show that some other force at play in society has their boot on your neck. Which is a sentiment I routinely see in Bike Portland articles and comments.
In this case, acting as if because one is a cyclist or pedestrian they are risking life and limb to exercise their personal right to do that activity. I choose not to look at it that way. Pure and simple.
I live in a city where my mode of transport is a small minority. Because of that, right, wrong or indifferent; I need to take precautions that cars, motorcycles, etc.. do not need to take. OK. I’m ok with that.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  qqq

That has nothing to do with my point, which is anybody using the road network should be a responsible user.

However, 4 days ago a dude on a scooter nearly became a statistic when he just missed my car when he blew through a stop sign at 20mph – he was lucky I was a responsible user of the roads, because he wasn’t.

qqq
qqq
9 months ago

My question has everything to do with your comment, which was:

Thank you Officer Engstrom for calling it like it is. If you use the roads, you need to be a responsible user.

Engstrom didn’t “call it like it is”. He blamed “All motorists, all pedestrians, all bicyclists” for the spate of deadly crashes.

“Calling it like it is” would be pointing out that ONLY DRIVERS KILLED OTHER PEOPLE.

SOME pedestrians contributed to killing themselves, but NONE killed anyone else.

And not only did NO bicyclists kill any one else, NONE were even partially responsible for their own deaths because NONE were killed.

Of course everyone using roads should be responsible, but only irresponsible drivers are killing other people.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  qqq

MotRG is reprising wsbob who used to try this all the time.
= Both sides very irresponsible people, essentially.

The real world just isn’t like that at all.

Their need to keep saying this, whistling this particular tune into the wind, though, that gives pause.

Arturo P
Arturo P
9 months ago

“comment of the week!”

Chris I
Chris I
9 months ago

All those kids who have been mowed down on sidewalks really should have been more careful, eh?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

I guess I would have to ask what percentage of traffic deaths were from people on the sidewalks as compared to in the road.

But to be clear, they were not using the roads.

qqq
qqq
9 months ago

People using sidewalks are road users when it comes to any reasonable discussion about traffic safety. Saying otherwise becomes silly. Someone walking on a sidewalk is as much a road user as someone walking on a shoulder or in a crosswalk.

If you don’t count sidewalk users as road users, then if someone dies driving off the road and over a cliff or into a tree, their death shouldn’t be counted as a road death, either, because they weren’t killed on the road.

For that matter, if someone walks off the sidewalk into the middle of the street in a crosswalk, they’re certainly a “road user” even by your standard, but if they stop walking before they’re hit and killed, they’re not a “pedestrian” by most dictionary definitions because they’re not walking. But saying that’s not a pedestrian death would be as silly as saying people using wheelchairs or children being carried are also not pedestrians because they’re not walking.

Should we say, “right-of-way users” instead of “road users”? Sidewalks are typically within the right-of-way, which is also typically called a street right-of-way. So should there be one set of traffic safety statistics for “roads” and another for “rights of way” so that people killed while on the sidewalk are counted?

“They were not using the roads” is so irrelevant.

maxD
maxD
9 months ago
Reply to  qqq

thank you for stating this so clearly. Someone walking on a sidewalk or waiting at a busstop is a road user.

Arturo P
Arturo P
9 months ago

Sgt Ty Engstrom sounds like a wonderful officer. I’m so glad we have him. We just need a lot more officers like him to make our streets safer !!!

Arturo P
Arturo P
9 months ago

Mapps has a tough job cleaning up the mess at PBOT left by Eudaly and Hardesty. Unfortunately we have voted to spend too much tax money on non-essential activities and wasteful programs. This will make it hard to effect change as even Portlanders are done with more tax increases.

 
 
9 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

I hate seeing Hardesty and Eudaly thrown into the same bucket like this. Because Hardesty was way more competent than Eudaly ever was. In my view, she simply inherited Eudaly’s giant mess and got completely shafted by being the person who had to take it over.

Would having five JoAnn Hardesty commissioners be a good thing? Probably not. But having one JoAnn Hardesty was great to provide an alternate viewpoint.

blumdrew
9 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

What programs are you referring to specifically as it pertains to PBOT?

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

You mean, Mapps has a tough job cleaning up the mess left by the people trying to sabotage Eudaly and Hardesty.

Chris I
Chris I
9 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

Conspiracy!

Adam Leyrer
Adam Leyrer
9 months ago

We are not good at sustaining alertness concentration and movement, at any speed, in any vehicle. We’re not good at frictionlessly navigating roads in cars, warehouse aisles with shopping carts, carnival queues with strollers, buffets with plates. In every case but one we’ll say “It’s too crowded, it’s making me anxious, there’s not enough space, there’s not enough guidance, I can’t do this, I’m going to knock over someone, this is a bad idea, maybe I’ll try again later when it’s less busy.” Only with cars do we pretend that crowd dynamics are actually a talent competition and that we can individually perform our way out of a stampede. This is because cars are marketed to us as toys for our agency to play with, extensions of our free decisions and movements, and we struggle to disinvest ourselves from both their alleged usefulness and our alleged proficiency. Vehicles need to be strictly regulated as tools and tightly controlled like crowds, and people can slowly disentangle themselves from their vehicles and hold them at a healthy distance.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Adam Leyrer

Adam,
aren’t you the guy who use to be creative pruning? Some of us were trying to get in touch with you recently, but your old email doesn’t seem to work. /9watts at gmail/

Adam Leyrer
Adam Leyrer
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

9watts,
Kind of you to inquire. I’m injured, retired, relocated. The posted notices and auto-replies were below my ideal and ran for just one year in the dense fog of Covid, but I hope everyone found new shepherds for their sheep with minimal pain. Cheers.

Aesir
Aesir
9 months ago
Reply to  Adam Leyrer

For a good portion of us, cars are the only option. If I were to switch to public transit, it would add 12 hours to my commute every week. The things that I need to do or want to do in that time cannot be done on a train or a bus. I want to be there for my siblings sports games, be able to visit grandparents in assisted living. Go to church in person. “Detangling” from my car would prevent me from doing most if not all of this because of the absurd travel times and lack of service from East of 82nd to the rest of the city. Until 5 years ago there was a 3 mile gap in North-South bus service. It has now been cut down to 2 miles. From 122nd to 162nd. It is frankly absurd. I can tell you this, chastising me for driving a car, and making it very difficult and costly to drive before offering me a viable alternative to driving does not make me supporting the movement any easier.

Heidi
Heidi
9 months ago
Reply to  Aesir

I read “detangle” figuratively, as “not use them as an extension of our bodies and egos, with disregard for everyone else.”

Adam Leyrer
Adam Leyrer
9 months ago
Reply to  Heidi

Thank you Heidi; your comment clarifies what I accidentally left obscure.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
9 months ago
Reply to  Aesir

Sure you need a car – because we built the city that way.

But, since you are operating a multi-ton piece of machinery that can kill in an instant *YOU* are responsible for it’s safe operation.

Or are those precious hours worth more than someone else’s life?

Americans have voted with their actions that hours, minutes even seconds are worth more than their neighbors lives.

Adam Leyrer
Adam Leyrer
9 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

I cast the same vote every time I purchase a good that wasn’t grown or manufactured at its point of sale. We need to collectively build accidental individual morality into a new system with the same thoroughness with which we’ve collectively built accidental individual immorality into our current system.

Adam Leyrer
Adam Leyrer
9 months ago
Reply to  Aesir

Aesir,
I apologize that my failure to communicate clearly caused you to feel chastised and unwelcome. I want cars to be smaller and cheaper and roads to be narrower, slower, and well guided precisely to make it more accessible and friendly to the people who need it and less inviting and tempting of the instinct to compete and show off. It seems to me like you have the same healthy realistic understanding of the limited usefulness of your car in traffic as I do of my feet in a bank teller queue, and that is where our individual responsibility to behave pro-socially ends and our collective responsibility to modify the anti-social system begins. As far as I am concerned people who drive kindly before the revolution are welcome, and people who drive after the revolution won’t need to be kind to be safe and non-threatening.

Phil
Phil
9 months ago
Reply to  Aesir

Making alternative transport easier and safer for the people who can use it means the roads will be less crowded and safer for the people who need to drive.

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago
Reply to  Aesir

 If I were to switch to public transit, it would add 12 hours to my commute every week. The things that I need to do or want to do in that time cannot be done on a train or a bus. 

That is exactly the point! That is why we need a better transit system. What is a good enough transit system, you can do those things by bus or train, and it would not add 12 hours a week.

Heidi
Heidi
9 months ago
Reply to  Adam Leyrer

Well said!

Dan B
Dan B
9 months ago

Call it what it is vehicular homicide! After losing my youngest sister and her sister-in-law in a blatant vehicular homicide, I would call for imprisonment at a minium. Myself, I’ve dodged far too many egomaniacal drivers while using crosswalks, and with the crossing light to ever consider leniency.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Dan B

Call it that when that’s what it is.

https://oregon.public.law/statutes/ors_163.149

John
John
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“vehicular homicide” may have a legal definition, but it also has a literal one, which perfectly applies to all cases where a person driving a vehicle kills a person. Even you can’t “Well Akshully” out of that.

joan
9 months ago

I have a lot of respect and appreciation for folks who show up at events like this and hold city officials’ feet to the fire. I also think it’s incredibly important to be aware of our protest methods and who might be harmed by them. The #SayHerName campaign was created and shared by the African American Policy Forum to protest the brutality of Black women at the hands of police. There’s real meaning in sharing names rather than statistics.

I want to ask transportation advocates not to co-opt this language and campaign for our protests about traffic violence. We can absolutely protest traffic violence, but we really need to respect the origins of this campaign as being specifically about Black women killed and harmed by police.

This is not our campaign, and this is our not our language to co-opt for our protests. When we use language like this for protests about traffic violence, we are perpetuating harm on Black women and their families.

It’s especially not okay that white people chanted this at a Black woman.

I know many folks didn’t know the origin of this campaign and chant, and I know folks did not intend to harm or to misuse a phrase. But we need to not use this expression anymore. Don’t chant this, even if others do. Don’t write it on signs. And make sure to communicate to other white activists that this isn’t okay. It’s on us white activists to talk to other white folks about this sort of thing. (And I know I might get some sneering and hateful responses to my comment here, as I always do, but my message is for the white activists who want to understand, because I think you all will get it.)

Folks in our community are incredibly creative, and I’m sure we can find ways to communicate our message and make it clear that traffic violence is personal, and it threatens all of us. We just need to find some other language to do that.

jakeco969
jakeco969
9 months ago
Reply to  joan

It’s especially not okay that white people chanted this at a Black woman.

Well, since this woman who happens to be black is in charge of an organization that has failed to keep 43 (so far) people alive this year I think it’s just fine to remind her that the statistics have names.
I’m glad you are insulated enough from the carnage on the streets that you have time to think these social rules through, but a lot of people are not as distant from the problem as you are.

And I know I might get some sneering and hateful responses to my comment here,

Do you realize its okay for other people to think your position is a little out there without being hateful and sneering? That even bringing it up like this is an attempt to stifle comments?

Carrie
Carrie
9 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

I’m glad you are insulated enough from the carnage on the streets that you have time to think these social rules through, but a lot of people are not as distant from the problem as you are.

Joan is the parent of two young Black men who traverse the streets of Portland regularly on foot and on bike. I think she is more intimately familiar with the intersectionality of racial violence and traffic violence than you and the right thing to do is to listen to her.

jakeco969
jakeco969
9 months ago
Reply to  Carrie

I did listen to her and I disagree with her premise except for this part…
“There’s real meaning in sharing names rather than statistics.”
Those who have been killed on the streets need to be remembered as individuals who had their futures taken away from them.

Carrie
Carrie
9 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

She is not saying that we should not ask for folks to be remembered as individuals. She is saying that co-opting the “Say Her Name” campaign is wrong and we need to find a different way. This is the part that folks don’t appear to be listening to.

jakeco969
jakeco969
9 months ago
Reply to  Carrie

I’m having a hard time understanding her need to gatekeep a phrase that is very effective and your insistence that she is the final word on this.

From 2014 to now 2 women (as far as I can tell) have been shot at by the PPB. 1 of those women was slightly injured.
https://www.portland.gov/police/open-data/ois-summaries

From 2018 (since that’s how far back this sample goes) to now 326 people have been killed on Portland streets.
https://bikeportland.org/fatality-tracker

Of these two groups in Portland (where we are basing our discussion), POC women and users of the transportation network, who do you think is in more actual danger?

The people in power that gave that horrible briefing need to be reminded of what’s happening in Portland and they need to be reminded of the futures they are actively taking away with their pathetic inaction.

Adam Leyrer
Adam Leyrer
9 months ago
Reply to  joan

In the short term I think it is reasonable to make sure that our use of a powerful meme expands its meaning instead of redefining it, and to put it down if our relative visibility and power makes the latter inevitable.

In the long term I think it’s an accident of petitionary politics that popular justice is so compartmentalized and professionalized in this country and I think the ultimate goal should be the same chants from the same large diverse group in the same streets every time the system takes away any person’s humanity.

Maybe one path to that ultimate goal is: if you’ve shown up to say the words in the original context, you can borrow from yourself in a new context. If the language of another movement seems powerfully useful to us then we should join them to help and to see what else we can learn, but with the understanding that we won’t be leaving any tools at either side of the border; my limited understanding of the civil rights struggles that predate me is that true borderlessness was a great strength.

joan
9 months ago
Reply to  Adam Leyrer

Okay, let’s think about this strategically. I’m speaking as a white person to other white activists. Let’s say a group of people who are also vulnerable road users has a campaign to call attention to their demographic and a separate issue of concern. If we use that phrase and don’t respect the original use of the campaign, then we risk offending these potential allies, thus weakening our own efforts.

As white folks who want to build bridges and community, it’s important to respect the language and preferences of other folks, even if we don’t totally understand it. So that’s what I am trying to point out here, and I think there are some white activists who do get it, and that’s my audience for my comments.

We can make a better case for our own protests when we can work well with others, and part of the way we do that is by respecting that it’s better for us not to use some language.

Adam Leyrer
Adam Leyrer
9 months ago
Reply to  joan

Joan, I don’t understand where you perceive us to disagree or agree. I think we do some of both, but I’m struggling to see how your reply to me is in conversation with the things I’ve said. Also, with due respect, the audience for your comments in this forum is the participants of this forum, especially the people you comment in reply to on this forum. If you want to express the reasonable notion that, for sake of your time and sanity, you will not be engaging people who don’t understand the matter well enough to agree with you, then I think you ought to follow through on that boundary.

mc
mc
9 months ago

“I asked him again about his press conference two years ago when he broadcast to everyone that the PPB wasn’t able to enforce traffic laws. And he finally admitted that it wasn’t a good idea. And that it was a political move. “We needed to create a stir to get some change to get them [city council] to fund us back up,” he said. “I mean that’s the honest truth. I know that could make things more dangerous. I don’t know. But at the same time, we needed some change.” ”

10 yrs. in the traffic division, “traffic is my passion” and he says “I know that COULD make things more dangerous. ” WTF?!?!?!

Unless he was sitting behind a desk and/or drinking coffee & eating doughnuts your entire shift for 10 yrs, he’d know that it WOULD ABSOLUTELY make the roads more dangerous.

So either he’s grossly incompetent and overpaid or the Sgt. of the PPB traffic division played political Russian roulette with the lives of innocent citizens. Either way, it’s completely F’d up and he should resign or be fired immediately.

mc
mc
9 months ago

At his point, we should just be honest; replace the bicycle image in bike lanes with images of the Grim Reaper and a skull & crossbones to remind people that death & destruction await you on your journey.

Skallywag
Skallywag
9 months ago

Portland Police Bureau posted a sad, cringe post on Facebook about why they can’t address street takeovers.

Meanwhile, in California, police arrested 19 and impounded 27 cars.

I heard someone say that Portland is being held hostage by the police union. It would seem that this is a negotiation tactic to avoid reform.

A. Davey
A. Davey
9 months ago

“While the protestors were not representative of Portlanders on the whole (to say the least), they were at least able to have quality conversations with PBOT, PPB, and City Hall officials.”

Speaking of culture change, reflect on what this says about Portland cycling’s shitty attitude toward the general public.

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
9 months ago

I’m generally not a fan of telling other people how to do their advocacy, but I have to say: I wish street safety advocates would stop wearing helmets to protests!

(Not just in Portland—they do this in NYC too, and probably everywhere except the Netherlands).

Studies have found that drivers perceive cyclists who wear helmets as “less human” (the study participant’s words, not mine). And with a protest, perception is everything.

So while I completely understand the intention of wearing helmets to a protest (to make it clear to you’re a cyclist), I think the optics of a bunch of “regular-looking” people (who, at a glance—even to the most judgemental pro-driving observers— present as moms, dads, kids, rather than “cyclists”) would be much more powerful.

Aaron H
Aaron H
9 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

Then people would criticize them for not wearing helmets, which would also result in a negative perception of cyclists. You say that with a protest, perception is everything, and I agree. I just don’t think not wearing helmets would address that.

To be absolutely clear, I’m against helmet-wearing culture and mandatory helmet laws. I’m not necessarily against helmets, but I’m against helmet shaming. That also means though that I’m for people choosing whatever feels right to them, including wearing helmets.

But, helmet-shaming culture exists. Whether they wear them or not, there’s no winning with some people. They’ll come up with whatever excuse to criticize or even ignore the protesters. So they might as well show up as they are.

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
9 months ago
Reply to  Aaron H

> Then people would criticize them for not wearing helmets

But they’re standing in a plaza, not riding their bikes. I don’t think anyone expect cyclists to be wearing their helmets even when they’re not riding their bikes.

And keep in mind the goal of the protest isn’t just safety for people biking; it’s safety for everyone, pedestrians and drivers included. Which is why I think not wearing helmets would be more effective; it becomes much more difficult for politicians or observers to write them off as just a bunch of crazy cyclists.

Aaron H
Aaron H
9 months ago
Reply to  Zach Katz

Or, they rode their bikes to City Hall and didn’t bother taking off their helmets after they arrived. I do that all the time when I go shopping on my bike. The fact that they wore helmets doesn’t necessarily preclude their interest in people other than those who bike.

It also seems like a problem to me that politicians and observers write off people as a bunch of crazy cyclists. Because who cares if they’re crazy cyclists? They still don’t deserve to die or be injured. It seems like respectability politics to cater to those who would make those types of judgments.

Zach Katz
Zach Katz
9 months ago
Reply to  Aaron H

>The fact that they wore helmets doesn’t necessarily preclude their interest in people other than those who bike.

I didn’t say that!

> It also seems like a problem to me that politicians and observers write off people as a bunch of crazy cyclists.

Sure, but they’re protesting for safer streets, not for people to change their unconscious bias against people wearing helmets. And because of that unconscious bias, it would be more effective for them to not wear helmets while protesting for the former.

Phatbike
Phatbike
9 months ago

Separate the different modes of transportation. Pedestrians, bikes, bus, and cars.

Marty S
Marty S
9 months ago

While I wasn’t impressed with most of the speeches today (outside of Iannarone’s)

Oh please Jonathan. Inarone and her Bike Trust outfit are one of the players in enabling the violence we see on our streets due to their anti-enforcement advocacy regarding traffic laws and hate of law enforcement in general. In February 2022 Bike Trust signed onto a letter calling for a reduction in police and a closure of all major arterials in Portland to “save the homeless”
Nonsense like this is far out of the mainstream beliefs of most Portlanders and yet you promote her as some sort of reasonable voice in this dialectic. She’s not.

Demands from Street Trust and myriad of nonprofits:

*Rebalance the city’s public safety budget to address the traffic fatality epidemic, beginning with reallocating funding set aside to hire 67 police officers to complete unfunded and shovel-ready projects in PBOT’s High Crash Network 

*Issue an emergency resolution to close down high crash corridors and intersections 8 to auto traffic and reduce speed limits to 20 MPH on all city-owned facilities and roadways

Source:
Response to Emergency Declaration on sweeping camps (bikeportland.org)

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago
Reply to  Marty S

Hey Marty S, I think that you are conflating a few in your head. You don’t like bikes, that’s; and you don’t and you don’t like the Street Trust, because you think they’re totally against any type any type of enforcement. Not true, by the way, Not liking the way police are handling things does not mean that you are against enforcement of any kind.

Matt
Matt
9 months ago

So Commissioner Mapps and Director Williams offered no new or revised plans or concepts to curtail the road violence? What was the point of the press conference?

One useful aspect was the telling comments by Engstrom to the crowd and then BP. We now know that a high-ranking officer in the PPB traffic division firmly believes in the absurd “both sides” stance related to road violence. It begs the question, how many of July’s fatalities were the result of entitled pedestrians or bicyclists?

But more damning was his acknowledgement that he knew when he made his politically-motivated public statements regarding traffic enforcement that it could make the streets more dangerous. That’s an astounding and alarming admission from one sworn to protect.

mc
mc
9 months ago

“I asked him again about his press conference two years ago when he broadcast to everyone that the PPB wasn’t able to enforce traffic laws. And he finally admitted that it wasn’t a good idea. And that it was a political move. “We needed to create a stir to get some change to get them [city council] to fund us back up,” he said. “I mean that’s the honest truth. I know that could make things more dangerous. I don’t know. But at the same time, we needed some change.”

The “traffic is my passion” guy w. 10 yrs in the traffic division said “it COULD make our streets more dangerous.

If he’s honest, either he spent 10 yrs sitting behind a desk or in a cruiser drinking coffee and eating doughnuts or he’s completely incompetent.

The cops played political Russian Roulette with people’s lives. The real story here is who made the decision to dismantle the traffic division? It wasn’t Sgt. Engstrom and the people who made the decision have blood on their hands and they need to be held accountable. Either they’re fired or they resign.

Cops serving & protecting cops.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  mc

The real story here is who made the decision to dismantle the traffic division? 

If Wheeler didn’t make the decision, he certainly could have stopped it. And City Council could have reversed it as well. The buck stops with them on this one.

It’s worth noting that many people, including some on this forum, thought dismantling the Traffic Division was a positive step forward for the city. Some here may still believe that.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

This is mostly a bunch of hooey. We are so far removed from a functioning, sincere, trustworthy police department that this whole thing has devolved into an absurdist play.

We have so many issues rolled up here:

  • the allocation of public monies
  • widely divergent conceptions of what public safety means
  • the reputation of the PPB
  • PR plays, culture wars, bad faith

From where I sit, a police department I would be proud to know was using my tax dollars would stop playing games, pouting, screwing around, killing innocent people, while ignoring the ubiquitous auto-menace, and would get out in front of all this nonsense and
+ admit to past mistakes, bad judgments, racist policing, etc.
+ articulate a course out of this mess that addresses all past misdeeds forthrightly
+ holds its own accountable
+ commits to working with the new Police Accountability Commission

I could go on.

The point is their behavior and their utterances to date do not invite trust, and without trust why give them any money?

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

why give them any money?

Because not giving them money would likely have worse outcomes for a lot of people on a lot of metrics.

But stepping back, it sounds like you have a lot of good ideas for the city manager who is going to take control of the police and really shake things up. I hope you share your list when they are named.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“Because not giving them money would likely have worse outcomes for a lot of people on a lot of metrics.”

I will never understand the lopsided thinking that produces statements like this.

It is the same pinched thinking that decries raising the gas tax without appreciating that those extra funds could and should and almost certainly would be spent on (offsetting) things we might like. This is not difficult.

As if I had suggested or it were reasonable, plausible, logical to imagine *not spending* the unbelievable sums of money currently going to the police on alternative approaches to the things the police manage very poorly right now.
You don’t for a minute think we would disband the police department and then just leave that money (those millions) in a city bank account somewhere and twiddle our thumbs do you?
Of course not. And your ‘worse outcomes’ is just kicking up dust. Plenty of the problems currently given over to the police we know could be handled better, less expensively, more humanely by people trained to interact with people, rather than just frame and bludgeon them and then be forced to pay out millions in lawsuits as we now do routinely.

Ray
Ray
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Comment of the week!

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

You’ve basically got the same problem Trump had when he wanted to repeal the ACA: he knew he wanted to kill it, but could never quite come up with a replacement. That led to the “repeal then replace” strategy, which was so fundamentally broken he couldn’t even get his own party to support it.

Overall, I agree with your approach. Let’s build out these alternative community safety strategies and then we can reduce the police as they prove effective. I 100% support that, and have said so many times.

We’ve got two new approaches out there now: Measure 110 and Portland Street Response. They’ll need a bit more time to ripen before they’ll let us get rid of the police, but who knows. Do they look promising to you, or do you have different ideas?

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“You’ve basically got the same problem Trump had”

I disagree. Trump and his cabal were waging a racist ideological war on anything and everything Obama did. They were not trying to fix anything.

“Let’s build out these alternative community safety strategies and then we can”

The problem with that is we don’t (thank you Ukraine War and debt servicing and generally poor spending priorities) have money for both – for continuing to throw good money after bad faith police conduct, *and* simultaneously ramping up alternatives.

“Do they look promising to you, or do you have different ideas?”

Given the ongoing bad faith police stance on all of this, I think the reasonable and fair thing would be to wind down the police budget to zero over, say, fifteen years, and ramp up the alternatives *using those funds*. Some of the alternatives might look a lot like our current police force, but it wouldn’t be managed like a crime syndicate but like a public entity with accountability and (one would hope) trust.

Mostly I feel we need to take the power (whether to cooperate, do their jobs, play dumb, or hold the public hostage) out of the hands of the PPB since they have now lost all credibility, all trust. The current iteration of the citizen police accountability committee proposals must be supported by City Council, and someone with spine should convene a group to chart a new course for all of this.

The Clear-Eyed Realist™
The Clear-Eyed Realist™
9 months ago
Reply to  9watts

You still face the fundamental problem of coming up with a replacement for policing to go along with your repeal. Lots of people have tried charting a new course, and have foundered on the same problem.

That has been the sticking point all along, and the things we have tried, such as Measure 110, do not inspire confidence. Maybe the next thing will work better, but I think most Oregonians want to try before they buy.

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago

The right answer is probably a lot of different things that would give a lot of different people fits.Better access to health care, both mental & physical, for one. Better access to shelter, and more housing, not *just* luxury apartments &houses. Social safety nets that are open to everyone, not just people you deem worthy. Stop setting people up to fail by making all these systems unnavigable by the people who need to navigate them.

The Clear-Eyed Realist™
The Clear-Eyed Realist™
9 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

Those are all reasonable things, and I support almost all of them. They are also unlikely to eliminate the need for police.

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago

Nobody ever said to eliminate the police entirely.

Watts
Watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

9watts did.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

easy now.
I did suggest ramping down the funding for the PPB to zero, but I also said that *some of the functions they are now supposed to perform* would and should be covered by others whose job might to the casual observer look a lot like the current job. Public safety, so called, can be accomplished in many ways and with a variety of different methods. Tasers and knees and billy clubs are not the only or even the best methods to achieve public safety (should be obvious by now).

9watts
9watts
9 months ago

Lots of people have tried charting a new course, and have foundered on the same problem.”

Do we actually know this? I’m not so sure.

In our bureaucratic system it is probably worth pulling apart

  • articulating good ideas (smarts)
  • a plan to implement those ideas (hard work, time)
  • a strategy for adopting them (politics)
  • buy in

and the list could go on. Just because all we’ve seen here lately is Measure 110 doesn’t in my mind mean that is the best we can come up with, have in reserve. And Portland Street Response I think is pretty good. Or do you* know otherwise.

*hard to keep up with all the name changes 😉

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I don’t have a fleshed out plan (the kind wsbob always demanded of his interlocutors) for replacing the PPB, but there are plenty of smart, dedicated, sincere folks in this town who could speak to this, be invited to weigh in.
And I am under no illusion that snapping our fingers and wishing it to be so will accomplish my goal. This will take time and good will to get right. But giving up the race before we tie our shoes isn’t a useful strategy.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Watts

https://kboo.fm/program/totality-circumstances#

Good stuff here, if you are interested in the PPB and those who are trying to improve matters related to their behavior in our community.

blumdrew
9 months ago

PBOT coming to this press conference with absolutely nothing to say is so infuriating. I don’t even really have the words to describe how disappointing it is for there to be no plan on making Cesar Chavez safer.

Al Berg
Al Berg
9 months ago

Until PDX & PBOT actually want to protect bikes & walkers with buffeted bi-modal lanes like Milwaukee is currently installing, there will continue to be deaths. PBOT could do this on probably 80% of all existing streets – you’d just have to be happy with less street trees. Which is really more important though? Street trees that grow into power lines or biking & walking people who can get to their destination safely? Linwood Avenue SAFE Project | City of Milwaukie Oregon Official Website

blumdrew
9 months ago
Reply to  Al Berg

Dang, I was excited that someone else mentioned Milwaukee, but it was just Milwaukie.

Street trees are very important though – especially in the context of heat waves, but luckily for Portland most major roads don’t have such narrow rights of way that doing a widening project is necessary. It would mean taking space away from automobiles though, so PBOT is more or less allergic to it.

Stephanie
Stephanie
9 months ago

Bicyclists and pedestrians are just as responsible for being safe as the motorists. It’s the entitlements of the bicyclists and pedestrians that leads to the bulk of the accidents.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Are you for real?
Do you actually believe what you just wrote?

I would welcome you to elaborate on how your (false equivalence) would have worked to reduce actual documented carnage on our streets.

Adam Leyrer
Adam Leyrer
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Some days social media is just Primal Scream Therapy but where we yell fake statistics about some anecdotal enemy we made on the way to the grocery store. I do hope it’s cathartic because that’s the absolute maximum it’s accomplishing.

9watts
9watts
9 months ago
Reply to  Adam Leyrer

Thank you, Adam.
I do wonder about the drift here and no doubt elsewhere over the past ten years. There was a time when commenters, by and large, took their task seriously, recognized the need to support their claims, maintained a relationship with evidence, veracity, facts.
These days this cannot be expected anymore, which is a shame, because it really takes the fun out of it. If (some) folks come here to mostly point and jeer, make crazy, fact free assertions, what exactly is the point of having a comments section?

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  9watts

Hi 9watts,

Thank you to both you and Adam for your contribution as commenters.

I’ve spent a lot of hours the past couple of days in the moderator chair. When Jonathan posts about a hot-button issue like the police, or a traffic death, we get a torrent of comments, a lot of them not from regular BP commenters. Some I put directly in the trash, particularly if they are violent or hateful.

Others, and this is usually from our regular readers, I hand-edit to remove inflammatory remarks from an otherwise ok comment.

What to do with low-content, low-quality comments is a decision I have to make quickly. They come from all corners, even from BP regulars. Some of them I just delete, others I post for a couple of reasons:

1) It is important to Jonathan that BP is a place for all voices to be heard, within boundaries. He engages with people with whom he disagrees all the time, and he wants to hear those voices. Otherwise, BP is just another bubble.

2) Some comments end up prompting wonderful replies from regular readership, and it is enriching to read them. (Although I try not to impose upon our well-informed readers that way.)

The type of comment that makes my job more difficult is the back-and-forth, gotcha, twitter-style petty argument, and those also come from all corners. When it gets busy like this week, I allow myself to shoot-from-the-hip and just delete many of them. Pro-tip: if you want to get published, increase your odds by writing full paragraphs, not talking-back-to-the-tv one-line responses to every comment in the thread.

One of my objectives is to not let the threads get so cluttered up that it turns people off. That’s subjective and I know that I miss the mark sometimes.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Darn those entitled pedestrians trying to get around on their own two legs! I bet most don’t even have a license! Someone really needs to crack down on uninsured walking!

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago

Comment of the week!

Chris I
Chris I
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Imagine thinking that a 40 year old man driving a F350 and a 10-year old walking down the street have the same level of responsibility for safety. What a dark, perverted perspective on life.

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Imagine! That is pretty messed up.

socially engineered
socially engineered
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Children having the autonomy and independent mobility to explore their neighborhood without supervision? Call the police!

And we ask “Why don’t kids go outside anymore?”

Gregg Dal Ponte
Gregg Dal Ponte
9 months ago

One last observation I hesitate to make but nevertheless feel necessary to share with this audience…..

Sometimes an accident is an accident. An unfortunate event where there is nothing you could’ve done to anticipate it, take action to avoid it, or prevent it.

All the angst over the use of the word “accident” is unwarranted.