The Oregon Department of Transportation is trying.
The agency that’s pushing to expand freeways throughout the Portland region and has become Oregon’s de facto advocacy organization for car users, wants to be seen as innovative and nimble; but a situation in the city of Hood River shows the lengths businesses had to go just to use a few curbside parking spaces on one of the agency’s state highways.
Earlier this month businesses along Hood River’s main drag of Oak Street started building “street seat” installations to give customers more space to eat and drink. The efforts were part of a parklet permit program launched by the City of Hood River at the end of June.
Unlike our Oregon Department of Transportation whose seems to be carrying out a policy to rid their highways of everything but people in cars, the Washington Department of Transportation announced yesterday that it’s getting on the open streets train.
Imagine that. A state DOT voluntarily banning automobile users from lanes and even complete roadways all in the name of safety and health.
“That was the wrong decision and we are in the process of removing two stretches of that guardrail now.”
— Rian Windsheimer, ODOT Region 1 director
We’re still trying to learn more about why the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) installed three sections of guardrails in the paved shoulder of the Historic Columbia River Highway south of Interstate 84 last week. These guardrails narrow valuable space used by many bicycle riders and their dangerous placement increases odds of stressful passes and collisions.
The fact that ODOT did this without any public notice and on one of the most important and valuable cycling routes in the state is unconscionable and just the latest example of the agency’s negligent stewardship of our transportation system. We’ve reached out to ODOT leadership for further comment and clarification but haven’t heard back.
Since our story posted on Monday, we’ve read dozens of comments expressing grave concerns and outrage. Now homeowners who live along the road where the guardrails were installed are defending the project, saying the guardrails are necessary to thwart illegal campers and to make the road safer for drivers.[Read more…]
On May 1st, traffic engineers in the state of Oregon will no longer rely on an outdated and dangerous method for setting speed limits. Thanks to new rules adopted by the Oregon Transportation Commission last month, the process for for designating speeds has changed dramatically and now goes way beyond the traditional 85 percentile method.
The 85th percentile rule has dominated U.S. traffic engineering since it was championed in the 1960s. It says limits should set at the speed which 85% of drivers are currently driving at or under. What could possibly go wrong? Since it’s a universal phenomenon that people drive faster than what’s safe, this methodology is very biased toward higher speeds and it’s a big factor in America’s rising traffic death toll. [Read more…]
Iulia Hanczarek was coming into her prime as a chemist and researcher at Portland State University. She had dreams of a doctoral degree and missions to space. At just 39 years old, she had a lot of important discoveries ahead of her. Staff at the university describe her as “brilliant”.
But just after midnight on Tuesday her life was cut short when a man chose to drive his car while drunk and hit and killed her as she walked home in southwest Portland. According to police, Ivan Cam was driving approximately 50 miles per hour prior to hitting Hanczarek. Cam told crash investigators the window of his car “suddenly exploded” and he didn’t even know what he’d hit. He now faces charges of manslaughter, DUI, and reckless driving.[Read more…]