In the first eight months of 2020, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers made 20,990 traffic stops. According to police data, between New Year’s Day and August 1st, 17.7% of the people stopped were Black — a significant overrepresentation of Portland’s Black population which was 5.8% as of 2019. Over the same time period, 64.9% of those stopped were white, a number that underrepresents that demographic by by over 12% (whites make up about 77% of Portland’s population).
Between April 1st and August 1st, Black people accounted for 12 of the 57 people (21.2%) stopped by the PPB who weren’t driving.
These numbers come to light less than a week after police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back as he stood in the street outside his SUV and amid a tense public dialogue about systemic racism and nightly protests against racist polices and police brutality.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty made headlines last month when she said distracted walkers are a “huge issue” and voted “no” on what was expected to be a non-controversial update to Portland’s Vision Zero program. Her vote and comments raised the ire of the commissioner in charge of that program, Chloe Eudaly.
Eudaly called Hardesty’s views, “Virtually unfounded” and said Hardesty must not have been briefed on the topic properly.
Nearly three weeks after that exchange, I spoke with Hardesty and asked about her views on Vision Zero, traffic enforcement, distracted walkers, and more.
Commissioner Hardesty wanted to set things straight from the outset. “I share the values of making our streets safe for everyone,” she said. “If I left you with the impression that that was not my goal I don’t want you to have that impression.”
One of the many ways race intersects with transportation is with enforcement of traffic laws. National and local statistics show that black people are stopped and cited for road-use related violations at a higher rate than whites.
In their Unequal Justice series, Investigate West reported, “For everything from jaywalking to driving without a license, it pays to be white in Oregon if you run afoul of the law. What you really don’t want to be is black.”
Now there’s an Oregon law on the books that will give advocates and law enforcement officials new tools to analyze traffic stops and ultimately tackle racial profiling — or as Oregon law enforcement officials refer to it, “bias policing.”
The Oregonian reports that a northeast Portland man who was tackled off his bike, roughed-up and arrested in 2015 has filed a $475,000 lawsuit against the City of Portland.
An attorney for 23-year-old Anthony James Allen Jr. told The Oregonian her client was arrested without cause simply because he was black. Allen was cycling home from work when the police first made contact with him and began questioning him about an unrelated incident. Here’s more from Allen’s attorney as reported in The Oregonian:
“You need reasonable suspicion,” Albies said. “It can’t just be because ‘I feel like it.’ It can’t just be because ‘You’re black and I want you to do what I want you to do.’ … If that was me on my bike … there’s no way they would have done that. I’m a white woman.”
The lawsuit filed Wednesday (PDF) says that Allen was profiled due to his race. Police were in Allen’s neighborhood because of a shooting that had occurred. Here’s what happened when Allen rolled up on his bike (from the lawsuit):
PPB officers camped out on Highway 26 up near the Oregon Zoo to catch speeders. Read their press release below for how that turned out…
53 CITATIONS ISSUED DURING A #VISIONZERO TRAFFIC SAFETY MISSION
News Release from Portland Police Bureau
Posted on FlashAlert: October 12th, 2016 3:04 PM
Downloadable file: Vision_Zero.jpg
On Tuesday October 11, 2016, the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division conducted a Vision Zero traffic safety mission on the Sunset Highway at the Oregon Zoo overpass. For approximately two hours, officers conducted high-visibility enforcement and education stops.
In total, 53 traffic citations were issued along with three written warnings. The average citation speed was 70 MPH in the 50 MPH zone. This location was selected for the mission due to the number of crashes that occur on the Sunset Highway.
This mission was conducted in an effort to address the high number of traffic crashes this year resulting in serious physical injuries or death. So far this year, 32 people have died in traffic-related crashes.
The Traffic Division and Precinct operations will be conducting future enforcement missions as staffing allows.
The Portland Police Bureau is committed to working with our partners in government and the community to create safer streets and work towards reducing, and eventually eliminating, traffic fatalities as part of Vision Zero.
Oregon’s first speed camera has had a very busy first month. And that’s great news for fans of safer streets.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation installed the camera on SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway on August 25th. It’s been issuing only warning since then but the agency announced this morning that as of tomorrow (9/24) the warnings end and the citations begin.
If the first month is any indication, the camera will be a huge success (unless people don’t mind getting tickets). PBOT says the presence of the camera (and associated signage) has already reduced top-end speeding by 93 percent (more stats below).
When an urban neighborhood holds a beloved street festival, space becomes scarce — and less space-efficient transportation options become a much worse way to get there.
Three weeks after the State of Oregon declared a culture war against distracted driving, they launched the first battle and the results of a “saturation patrol” show just how commonly people break the law while driving.
Over just just 48 hours in Central Oregon last weekend, troopers from three counties issued 317 traffic citations and issued 273 warnings. The officers specifically targeted behaviors that contribute to serious injury and fatal crashes like speeding, lane violations, and impaired and distracted driving.
Here’s the full breakdown:
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)
With today’s police enforcement action targeting bicycling on downtown sidewalks, I took a few minutes to check out the action for myself.
Here are some of my thoughts…
It’s always good to see local law enforcement agencies devote more time and attention to dangerous driving — especially around schools. Check out the press release below from Gresham PD to see what they’re up to…
Operation Safe Routes Helps Kids Get to School Safely
Speeders and inattentive drivers beware! Gresham Police Department’s traffic division is beefing up its education and enforcement of traffic laws around area schools. This focused enforcement will start immediately and continue to the end of the school year, June 11. Officers are hoping to ensure the safety of children and pedestrians; preventing accidents and instilling healthy driving practices.
Funds from a Safe Routes To Schools grant will pay for the additional, target-specific enforcement in Gresham’s school zones and surrounding areas. Particular attention will be given to the areas around Hall Elementary School (2505 NE 23rd St., Gresham) and Mt. Hood Community College (2600 SE Stark St., Gresham).
Officers will concentrate on school zones, student pick-up and drop-off locations, and crosswalks. Drivers who are identified as breaking laws will be stopped and may receive a citation in addition to an educational pamphlet.
Oregon laws require drivers to obey posted speed limits, including the posted 20 MPH zones near local schools during the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Drivers must also yield to pedestrians crossing streets within marked and unmarked crosswalks, stopping their vehicle before the solid white line when a crosswalk is in use and before reaching a stop sign.
Pedestrians too must obey traffic laws, comply with posted signs, cross within crosswalks and perpendicular to the roadway. Motorists and pedestrians alike are encouraged to remain alert and help keep each other safe.