When Portland Bureau of Transportation management and staff heard about the new safety study focused on speed released by the National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday, their reaction must have been. “It’s about time!”
The report is making waves in transportation reform circles for its strong tone against the scourge of speeding and what should be done about it. The NTSB looked at crashes from 2004 through 2014 and found that speed was listed as a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes. That led the NTSB’s Acting Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt to say, “You can’t tackle our rising epidemic of roadway deaths without tackling speeding.”
Here’s more from the NTSB press release:[Read more…]
A bill that would give cities across Oregon new powers to lower speed limits without first seeking permission from the State of Oregon has been significantly amended ahead of a hearing and possible vote tomorrow (Wednesday, 4/12).
House Bill 2682 seeks to change Oregon’s rules for setting maximum speeds (ORS 810.180). While the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) doesn’t manage or own most local streets, the agency still controls speed limits. As more cities adopt Vision Zero plans and struggle to respond to an increase in injuries and deaths to vulnerable road users, the City of Portland and local House Representative Rob Nosse led the charge to create this bill. When it was first introduced, the bill was devilishly simple and would have given broad new authority to all cities across Oregon to set their own speed limits without going through ODOT.
Now, as the legislative session heads into crunch time, a major amendment would reduce most of that authority, but also make the bill much more likely to pass.
Portland City Council just voted unanimously to enact an emergency state law to drop the speed limit on outer Division Street — a road recently referred to as a “death corridor” by City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.
As we reported earlier this month, the move comes as the Bureau of Transportation reacts to a spate of deaths and injuries on the street. The move also comes as the latest example of PBOT flexing its Vision Zero muscles.
Since this passed as an emergency, it can go into effect immediately. PBOT crews will be out on Division Street tomorrow taking down 35 mph signs and replacing them with 30 mph signs. Once the signs are up, the new speed limit will be in place for 120 days. If all goes according to PBOT’s plan, they’ll never have to remove the signs. Upcoming changes to the street intended to slow people down are likely to reduce average speeds to an amount compatible with what the Oregon Department of Transportation prefers to see before granting an official, permanent speed limit change.
Here’s more from PBOT as shared in a press statement following today’s Council vote:[Read more…]
When a city says traffic safety is their top priority, it should be willing to do whatever it takes to make people drive more slowly.
In Portland that means taking a very close look at the Oregon Revised Statutes.
Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat announced today that her bureau will seek permission to enact section nine of ORS 810.180 which gives the city the power to set an “emergency speed” without going through the often onerous process of asking for permission from the State of Oregon. (Note: Another section of this same law gives cities the power to reduce speeds on certain residential streets, thanks to a lobbying effort by PBOT in 2011.)
Treat said they’ve decided to take this very rare step in order to keep people safer on outer Southeast Division Street. Back in December two people were killed while trying to walk crossing Division Street in two separate crashes just hours apart. The tragedies sparked outrage from local residents, activists and even top PBOT staff. One day after the deaths, PBOT Active Transportation Group Manager Margi Bradway called neighborhood leaders to talk about the city’s response. Those conversations led to the passage of $300,000 in emergency funding to do outreach and education in adjacent neighborhoods (which are populated by many people of Chinese and other descents who don’t read or speak English).
To continue their focus on taming Division Street, Treat said PBOT will bring an ordinance to Portland City Council on March 2nd asking them to support the move. The existing state law gives PBOT the ability to make this move, but we’ve never heard of it actually being done. [Read more…]
The faster a vehicle travels, the more likely it is to hurt its operator or other road users. Advocates know this, first responders know this, traffic engineers know this, safety experts knows this. It’s a simple concept that fuels a lot of policy and advocacy — yet some politicians are still enthralled with the idea that the benefits of going faster outweigh the human costs.
After we got our first clue about two weeks ago, we’ve now confirmed that the Oregon Department of Transportation has commenced an engineering report on raising truck speeds on interstate highways. The move comes after an unnamed lawmaker said they plan to introduce legislation in the 2017 session to raise the speed limit on I-5 and two other major highways.
Let’s back up a bit…
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).
It’s simple: When we drive too fast, it’s much easier to kill someone. But even with that clear and present danger, the vast majority of us still speed. Our roads will never be safe until we get a handle on this and now the City of Portland has taken a big step in the right direction.
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.”
Here’s another take on the much-discussed and increasingly well-documented problem of people who are in a big hurry to drive on some of Portland’s neighborhood greenways (sometimes known as bike boulevards).
My commute has me driving for four blocks on the Clinton bike boulevard west of 21st. For the second time this month I’ve had an aggressive drive pass me to speed down the street. This morning there was a line of bicyclists in front of me basically taking up the lane through to the next signal, as well as oncoming traffic. It would not have been safe or prudent to overtake the bicyclists as I would have to either cut one of them off or stay in the oncoming lane until the next signal. Instead I just drove at the speed of the bikes which was around 18mph. The car that passed me nearly took out a cyclist trying to get back in our lane to avoid a head on collision. It’s completely ridiculous to me that PPB has nearly zero traffic enforcement, especially on our neighborhood greenways where safe respectful driving is even more important. I’ve tried calling in requesting enforcement but have not seen any cops. Any ideas on how to make our streets better, and what the fuck is going on this summer that is making all the drivers extra aggressive?