A proposed City of Portland administrative rule change is giving street safety advocates a chance to lobby for side guards and other equipment that could make commercial trucks safer.
Given their size, height, and weight, trucks used to haul garbage, cement and other goods on city streets pose a very high risk to other road users. According to the US Department of Transportation, nearly half of all the bikers and walkers killed in collisions with large trucks first impact the side of the truck. Many of the fatalities we’ve reported about here in BikePortland over the years have involved trucks. After the death of Tamar Monhait (that involved a man driving a garbage truck whose operator is now being sued by Monhait’s family), we shared an editorial local lawyer Cynthia Newton who’s “deeply concerned” about truck safety.
That concern is shared by at least one City of Portland Planning Commissioner. Chris Smith has been working on this issue through the Planning and Sustainability Commission for over two years. The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) directly regulates residential solid waste haulers and also permits all the trucks for commercial solid waste in the city. As such, they have the authority to require safety equipment — like sideguards and special mirrors — on contractors’ vehicles.