Legislator’s ODOT donation bill shows how desperate people are for safer roads

In 11 days last December, 10 people died while driving on highways in central Oregon.

How desperate are Oregonians for safer roads?

People in the central Oregon district of State Senator Tim Knopp were so distraught by a spate of fatal and serious injury collisions late last year, they worked with him to introduce a bill that would create a State Transportation Donation Fund. Senate Bill 798 had its first hearing on March 20th and it passed through the Senate Committee On Business and Transportation.

Senator Knopp, whose district includes the cities of Bend, Sunriver and Redmond, testified in favor of the bill at that hearing. “During an 11-day period last December we had 10 fatalities,” he shared. “It was unbelievable. There was a father and a son, a pregnant woman, two Portland physics professors… It seemed quite hopeless, almost daily… You’re kind of wondering, ‘What is going on? What can we do? Is there a solution to this?'”

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Portland steps up safety resolve following a deadly December on Division

PBOT shared this graphic of their current plan to tame traffic on outer SE Division Street.
At a city council meeting on December 21st PBOT shared their current plan to tame traffic on outer SE Division Street after a spate of fatalities.

Emotions around street safety issues ran high at the end of 2016. Not only did we have the most road fatalities (45) since 2003, but we lost six Portlanders to traffic violence in the final month alone.

When two of those six happened within just a few hours of each other and on the same, notoriously dangerous section of Southeast Division Street where three other people died last year, the pressure to do something intensified. (Now former) Mayor Charlie Hales and his four commissioners took steps to address the situation at a meeting on December 21st.

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City of Portland will deploy ‘Be Seen Be Safe’ street teams as dark season begins

PBOT's 'Street Team.'(Photo: City of Portland)
PBOT’s ‘Street Team.’
(Photo: City of Portland)

With the sun now setting well before the evening rush-hour, the City of Portland wants everyone to step-up their vigilance and visibility while using the roads.

In a statement released today the bureau of transportation (PBOT) shared tips about how to safely operate a motor vehicle and how to increase your chance of being seen if you are walking or rolling. They also announced that all this week “street teams” made up of PBOT volunteers and staff will be stationed at danger hot-spots throughout the city. These teams will pass out lights and reflective stickers to people who walk and roll by.

PR efforts like this are typical for transportation agencies this time of year, and they often put most of the onus of responsibility for being seen on vulnerable users. But PBOT is not your typical city transportation agency. They know better.

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Portland area teenagers to learn safe driving skills at Ford-sponsored event

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
(Photo: Ford Motor Company)
(Photo: Ford Motor Company)

Nearly 3,000 teenagers die every year in motor vehicle crashes in our country — it’s the leading cause of death in the 12-19 year age group and represents nearly half of all teenage fatalities.

As a bicycle rider (and father of a teenager), it’s quite unpleasant to think about sharing the road with these inexperienced and often distracted young people. That’s why I’m happy to share that this weekend Ford is sponsoring a series of free “Driving Skills for Life” clinics that will teach teens from around the region how to drive safely.

The event is part of a national tour that Ford Motor Company has been organizing for 12 years and it’s being promoted by the Oregon Department of Transportation as an element of their Vision Zero plans.

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Portland ‘Transformation’ bureau unveils a new trick: ’20 is Plenty’ signs

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

The anonymous street-safety activists at PDX Transformation are following the lead of successful campaigns in New York City and the United Kingdom to spread the idea of driving at nonlethal speeds.

The group took responsibility last weekend for hanging a set of signs that look like legal speed-limit signs but aren’t.

KATU-TV’s Reed Andrews reported Wednesday that the signs were “donated by someone who works for a sign-making company.”

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At City Hall rally, demonstrators demand action for safer streets

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aaron brown wide angle

City Council members heard calls for safer streets loud and clear this morning.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Brittany Gratreak

If the 75 or so Portlanders who came to City Hall this morning to kick off a full day of protests could be said to be speaking for any single person, it might as well have been one of the people there: Brittany Gratreak.

On April 8, the 22-year-old Portland State University student was riding her bike to school in Northeast Broadway’s bike lane when a man driving to work accelerated across Broadway from the south, seizing a gap in auto traffic but not considering the fact that he might run into something more fragile than metal. He did.

Gratreak was hit at a 90-degree angle, thrown from her bicycle and knocked unconscious. Once she woke up and received insurance information from the man who’d hit her, she decided to save money by calling a friend, rather than an ambulance, for a ride to the hospital.

She didn’t know at the time that by not paying for an ambulance ride, she was avoiding Portland’s little-known trigger for a police investigation. Two months later, Gratreak remains in physical therapy.

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What makes people stop at red lights? Other people, study finds

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Would you stop?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

It might be peer pressure. It might be geometry. It’s almost certainly some of each.

But following up on a study that found that (as we reported last year) 94 percent of observed bike users in Oregon stopped for red lights, a Portland State University civil engineering student has also found that every additional person waiting next to you on a bike makes you 78 percent less likely to run the light on your own bike.

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New ‘Bikeology’ curriculum guides spell out bike skills for grades 6-12

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Click the image for a link to the documents.

When the basics of biking are essentially passed on as folk wisdom from one individual to another, is there any wonder so many of us fail to pick up the best practices?

Local programs like Safe Routes to School and Create a Commuter try to fill this gap for elementary schoolers and working-age riders, respectively. And now the federal government is offering a free three-part guide aiming to help middle school and high school “physical education teachers and recreation specialists” teach the basics of bike use, maintenance and safety.

The 355-page curriculum includes seven units: Getting Ready to Ride, Bicycle Handling Basics, Emergency Bicycle Handling Skills, Advanced Bicycle Handling Skills, Rules of the Road for Riding, Bicycle Maintenance and Riding for Fitness.

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94% of bike riders wait at red lights, study finds

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Wait up? Most people do.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’ve all met that person who can’t seem to talk about bikes without complaining about “the cyclists” who are “always running” red lights.

Next time you cross paths with them, you might want to mention a new study suggesting that speeding in a car on local streets is at least six times more common than running a red light on a bike.

Nearly 94 percent of people riding bikes in Portland, Beaverton, Corvallis and Eugene stopped for red lights, a forthcoming Portland State University-based study of 2,026 intersection crossing videos has found. Of those, almost all (89 percent of the total) followed the rules perfectly, while another 4 percent entered the intersection just before the light changed to green.

Only 6 percent of riders were observed heading directly through the red light.

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Despite tragedy and focus, right-hooks still plague Portland

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It happens.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

One of the biggest urban bicycling planning conundrums facing Portland (and other cities?) right now is how to decrease the prevalence of right-hook collisions.

The majority of our bikeways here in Portland are to the immediate right of right-turning motor vehicle traffic at intersections. That scenario brings with it some inherent safety issues and it has led to more tragedy than I care to remember. While experts have told me that overall, right-hooks do not tend to be as serious as other types of collisions; they happen quite frequently and as we all know, they can have fatal results.

The problem really crystallized for me recently, when at a meeting of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, a Bureau of Transportation staffer said, “We have not figured out a good solution to making bikes visible when cars are making a right turn.”

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Metro report: Road carnage costs region more than congestion

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Arterials kill.

Using ODOT traffic crash data and their own data on transportation infrastructure Metro’s State of Safety report has found that roadway collisions cost our region $958 million a year — that’s significantly more than congestion.

The report also lays bare one of the nagging issues for local transportation planners and a central theme of the Mayor Sam Adams administration: Portland’s large, multi-lane arterials are unsafe. In what report authors refer to as one of the “most conclusive relationships” in the study, they found that a disproportionate amount of the serious crashes in our region occur on arterial roads.

Streets like Tualatin Valley Highway, 82nd Ave, SE Powell, McLoughlin Blvd (in Clackamas County) have much higher rates of fatalities and serious injuries than neighborhood streets or even freeways.

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