Despite tragedy and focus, right-hooks still plague Portland

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on July 5th, 2012 at 11:59 am

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.”[Read more…]

Metro report: Road carnage costs region more than congestion

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on June 20th, 2012 at 1:23 pm

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.[Read more…]

Tragic irony: PBOT postpones crosswalk enforcement action due to fatal collision

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on February 2nd, 2012 at 10:40 am

Traffic Safety action on SE Foster-7

A memorial on SE Foster near
site of fatal collision back in November 2009.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has been doing “crosswalk enforcement actions” for several years. The events, which place a human decoy in a crosswalk with a phalanx of cops waiting to pull people over nearby, have helped raise awareness for crosswalk laws and traffic safety in general. In the past six years, the actions have netted nearly 1,000 citations.

One of the most dangerous streets in the city is SE Foster Road. It’s a high-speed arterial that has claimed many victims over the years, including a fatal hit-and-run just last week. Portland Mayor Sam Adams himself launched a safety campaign on SE Foster in 2010, calling it a de facto “freeway.”

Today I noticed that PBOT had a crosswalk enforcement action scheduled for tonight on SE Powell at 54th — a location less than a mile from SE Foster. In an email from PBOT traffic safety staff about the actions, I read this:

“The crosswalk enforcement action scheduled for Thursday, February 2nd… has been postponed until a later date to be respectful to the residents of Foster Powell and Mt. Scott Arleta that will be having a candlelight vigil for Jason Lee Grant on Thursday at 5:30 PM on SE Foster near SE 71st Avenue. Mr. Grant was crossing SE Foster near SE 71st on Saturday evening when he was struck and killed by a hit and run driver.”

These arterial streets are so frustrating and so sad. Despite efforts to hang banners over them, install blinking lights at crosswalks, do enforcements actions, and hold vigils to remember their victims — these streets continue to win in the end.

Surely there’s got to be more we can do to tame these streets? What we’re doing now is great; but sometimes it seems like it’s just not enough.

For more information about tonight’s candlelight vigil, contact Christian Smith via email at christianbsmith [at] me [dot] com.

‘Be Seen, Be Safe’ at Pioneer Square tonight

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on November 4th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Jim Parsons from Beaverton won the “Best Lit” winner at last year’s “Be Safe Be Seen” event.
(Photos © J. Maus)

TriMet is all set for their second annual Be Seen, Be Safe event tonight at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The event will feature a mix of reflective and hi-vis fashion shows, a contest to see who has the most well-lit bike, and a guided ride through the city to show it all off.
[Read more…]

Final weeks to comment on ODOT’s Traffic Safety Action Plan

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on August 8th, 2011 at 11:38 am

Cover of Oregon’s Traffic Safety
Action Plan.

Did you know that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in Oregon for people under 35 years of age? Or that every year, traffic crashes in Oregon result in an estimated $2.58 billion in total economic loss — that’s about $657 dollars per Oregon resident*.

The good news is that the number and rate of injuries and fatalities on Oregon roads have been on the downswing in recent years. However, as we’ve been reminded in the past week or so, there’s a lot more work to do.

So far this year, 181 people have lost their lives while traveling on Oregon roads.[Read more…]

Guest Editorial: Are we ready for ‘Vision Zero’?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on February 21st, 2011 at 1:15 pm

[Publisher’s note: This article was written by transportation activist Alexis Grant and it was originally published on the Active Right of Way blog.]

A (small) part of traffic-1

(Photos © J. Maus)

At the annual Transportation Safety Summit on Tuesday, February 6, 2011, at Marshall High School, Mayor Adams started off the summit by asking “Why is safety our highest priority?” It may be a bit heretical of me, but the first question that came to my mind was “Is it? Really?”

What does it mean for safety to be our highest priority on the roads? Vision Zero argues that optimal safety means no loss of life:

No loss of life is acceptable. The Vision Zero approach has proven highly successful. It is based on the simple fact that we are human and make mistakes. The road system needs to keep us moving. But it must also be designed to protect us at every turn.

[Read more…]

Recap: Summit lays out City’s priorities on transportation safety

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on February 10th, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Transportaiton Safety Summit-31

Citizen activist Rebecca Hamilton pitches
Mayor Adams with her big ideas.
– Full Gallery –
(Photos © J. Maus)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation and Mayor Sam Adams hosted the Transportation Safety Summit Tuesday night. The event brought together advocacy groups, city staffers, citizen activists, and leaders from PBOT, the Oregon Department of Transportation and other agencies. The goal was to share information, garner feedback, and get focused around our city’s top safety priorities.
[Read more…]

Not just safer for bikes: Fatal car crashes lowest since 1925 – UPDATED

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on January 27th, 2011 at 8:43 am

PBOT chart shows traffic fatalities in Portland by mode between 1996 and 2010.
Download larger image (with additional data) as a PDF –

[Read more…]

Portland had zero bike fatalities in 2010 (again)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on January 26th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

A Sunday ride-9

A family enjoys a sunny winter
ride on SE 52nd Ave.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Lost in the end-of-year festivities and perhaps overshadowed by a startling number of people killed while walking on Oregon roads in 2010 (60), lies a positive statistic that deserves our attention. In 2010, there were zero fatal bicycle crashes in Portland.

According to PBOT data, this is the sixth time since 1999 that no one has been killed while riding a bike in our city (others were 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2008).[Read more…]

Mayor releases details on Transportation Safety Summit

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on January 21st, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Mayor Sam Adams has released details of the fifth annual Transportation Safety Summit which is scheduled for February 8th from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at Marshall High School (3905 SE 91st Ave).

Here is the updated list of keynote speakers:

  • Mayor Sam Adams
  • Susan Keil, Director, Portland Bureau of Transportation
  • Tom Miller, Incoming Director, Portland Bureau of Transportation
  • Todd Wyatt, Captain of Traffic Division, Portland Police
  • Jason Tell, Region 1 Manager, Oregon Department of Transportation
  • Neil McFarlane, TriMet General Manager

[Read more…]