State’s anti-speeding photo radar bill flips ‘scofflaw’ narrative

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Just another day on SW Barbur Boulevard, one of 10 streets that could be fitted with radar cameras under a proposed state law.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

When it comes to the rules of the road, there are a few facts of life — or, as sociologists might call them, social norms.

When people are in cars, they tend to drive over the speed limit if they feel it’s safe to do so and they can get away with it.

When people are on bikes, they tend to roll through stop signs if they feel it’s safe to do so and they can get away with it.

When people are on foot, they tend to cross the street whenever they feel it’s safe to do so and they can get away with it.

Read more

PBOT unveils new “Beacon Buddies” animated video

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Still from “Beacon Buddies” video
produced by PBOT.
-Watch it below-

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has released a new animated video to educate the public about “rapid flash beacons.” As we reported back in November 2009 the beacons are PBOT’s preferred tool to improve the safety of mid-block crossings. Why? They’re cheap and they work.

At just $35,000 a piece, and study results that show a massive increase — from 18% to 80% — in the number of people who stop for someone crossing the road once they’re installed, the beacons are being rolled out at tricky crossings and on neighborhood greenway projects throughout the city.

Read more

Press release on PBOT 2010 traffic fatality data

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Below is the press release from Mayor Adams’ about the 2010 traffic data (we reported about it yesterday):

2010 traffic data show progress on reducing fatalities in advance of Transportation Safety Summit

The Portland Bureau of Transportation released data today on the number of traffic fatalities in 2010. Bureau staff working on traffic safety noted the following about the numbers:

2010 had the second lowest number of total traffic fatalities on record in the City of Portland. The official record began in 1925.

The 2010 figure continues a long-term, downward trend in total traffic fatalities in Portland that began in the mid-80s and exceeds the national decrease in fatalities. (See accompanying graphs.)

Sadly, there was an increase in pedestrian fatalities in 2010 compared to numbers from the previous 5 years. The Bureau continues its work to make walking in Portland safer and asks the general public to attend the upcoming Transportation Safety Summit on February 8 at Marshall High School.

The seven motorist fatalities in 2010 are the lowest number recorded in Portland since 1925. For comparison, there were 37 motor vehicle fatalities in 1996.

There were zero bicyclists recorded as traffic fatalities last year. This has happened five of the last ten years.

“Since becoming transportation commissioner in 2004, safety has been and will continue to be my number one priority for the Bureau,” Mayor Sam Adams said. “Last year’s data show that Portland has made progress and that traffic fatalities are still trending downward. But even one fatality is too many. In the year ahead, we will continue to promote traffic safety for all through education, enforcement and engineering efforts with our excellent partners at Police and ODOT. I urge all interested Portlanders to attend the Fifth Transportation Safety Summit.”

Commander of the Traffic Division Todd Wyatt said, “Our partnership with the community and the Portland Bureau of Transportation is creating one of the safest and most livable cities in the country. As people walk, bike and take transit more often, we all have to slow down, be sober and watch out for one another. The result is that fewer people are getting killed on our streets.”

PBOT Director Sue Keil said, “Portland should be proud of its safety record. By focusing on preventing unnecessary death and injury on our streets, we can help make neighborhoods, schools and business districts thrive.”

The Fifth Annual Transportation Safety Summit is an opportunity to learn more about Portland’s transportation safety trends, increase your awareness of recently completed and planned projects, identify innovative tools and techniques that can assist your work, collaborate with transportation safety professionals, and share your feedback. It will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, February 8 at Marshall High School.

Biking, walking, and NHTSA’s latest Traffic Safety Facts data

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

With Oregon lawmakers set to get down to business in the coming weeks, it’s a good time to prepare for the upcoming debates by brushing up on the latest traffic safety data.

The early edition of the 2009 Traffic Safety Facts is a 232 page compilation of national traffic collision data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and General Estimate System (GES) published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF here). This is an early report (2010 data is not expected to be available until early 2012), but it still contains several gems of information.

Read more

Talking road safety: A Q & A with ODOT’s Troy Costales

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

ODOT Traffic Safety Division
Manager Troy Costales.

Troy Costales is the Traffic Safety Division Manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). In that position, he oversees about $28 million per year in a variety of programs to decrease the amount of fatal and injury crashes on Oregon roads. Costales was also on the committee put together by the Transportation Research Board to find out why the United States continues to lag behind other countries when it comes to saving lives. The TRB issued a report on their findings last week.

With recent national attention on road safety and with last week’s launch of a new safety campaign for high-speed roads (many of them under the jurisdiction of ODOT), I’ve been taking a closer look at ODOT’s traffic safety efforts. As part of my research, I did a phone interview with Costales last Thursday. Read parts of that conversation below…

Read more

Mayor Adams launches traffic safety campaign near SE Foster ‘freeway’

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
High Crash Corridors campaign launch-8

Adams and the banner at this
morning’s event.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Portland Mayor Sam Adams led a press conference today to officially launch the Bureau of Transportation’s new High Crash Corridor Safety campaign. Standing under a newly unveiled banner that stretches all the way across SE Foster Road (one of the city’s most dangerous), Adams said, “This street functions in many ways like a freeway, but it’s not.”

The new “See Kids” banner, with the eyes of a small child staring down on traffic, is PBOT’s educational component of the new safety campaign that focuses on high speed arterials where there are a higher than average rate of fatal and injury crashes. “There are reasons why businesses use banners on busy streets like this,” Adams told the crowd, “Because it draws attention… and it works.”

Read more

City to launch safety campaign focused on ”high crash corridors”

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

SE 122nd and Division is #2 on the City’s
list of most dangerous intersections.

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is set to launch a new safety campaign based on “high crash corridors,” which are wide streets with fast motor vehicle traffic that have a higher than average amount of crashes.

According to PBOT, funding for the new campaign comes from $260,000 of new state revenue taken from the Jobs and Transportation Act (HB 2001) that passed during last year’s legislative session. Mayor Sam Adams (who oversees PBOT) will launch the campaign at a press event at SE Foster and 108th tomorrow morning.

Here’s a first-look at one of the new banners that will be hung in clear sight of road users on these dangerous streets:

Read more

Report: U.S. lags way behind other countries in reducing traffic deaths

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Study says U.S. traffic officials are too
willing to accept the carnage.
(Photo: Oregon State Police)

A landmark, 186-page special report by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) published this week delivers a critique of U.S. traffic safety efforts and says that we have fallen way behind in saving lives relative to other nations. The report, Achieving Traffic Safety Goals in the United States: Lessons from Other Nations, was published by the National Academies Press and is available as a free PDF download.

Read more

Newswire: Beaverton Expands Its Traffic Safety Efforts

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

This press release was issued last night by the City of Beaverton Police Department (emphasis mine – see last two paragraphs):

City of Beaverton Expands its Traffic Safety Efforts

The Beaverton City Council and the City’s Supplemental Budget Committee have approved a Traffic Safety Proposal with the goal of enhancing the City’s traffic safety enforcement and education efforts.

The Traffic Safety Proposal allows for a reduction of all City of Beaverton fine amounts by approximately 20 percent. The City of Beaverton recognized it ranked as one of the highest municipalities in terms of base fines for traffic violations. With the current economic climate, the City wanted to take this opportunity to reduce the financial burden these fines can cause.

The proposal also creates a vehicle compliance program, commonly referred to as “fix-it tickets.” This program will allow citizens the opportunity to repair or correct certain registration or vehicle equipment violations prior to their court date in exchange for a dismissal of the violation and fine.

Starting in January 2011 and phased in over a six month period, the Beaverton Police Department will add two traffic officers and a traffic lieutenant to the Department’s Traffic Safety Team. During the same period, the Beaverton Municipal Court will add one court clerk and a court bailiff position.

The traffic safety efforts of the Beaverton Police Department will also include enforcement of the “right turn on red” cameras in January 2011. The primary benefit of this safety program will be to pedestrians and bicycles crossing at the intersections where the cameras are currently installed and will commence with a 30-day warning period.

Chief Geoff Spalding commented: “More people have lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in the City of Beaverton than as a result of criminal violence. This is a citywide effort to reduce the number of injuries and deaths suffered by citizens as a result of traffic-related crashes.”

“Why do we allow these deaths to occur?” – A Q&A with Peter Jacobsen

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

“1 in 55 Americans will die in a car crash*. My job is to say it out loud. Why do we allow these deaths to occur?”
— Peter Jacobsen, P.E., public health consultant and researcher

As I mentioned yesterday, public health consultant and research Peter Jacobsen, P.E., will be in Portland Friday to spread the word about the “Vision Zero” traffic safety philosophy.

(You might recall Jacobsen as the researcher behind the widely regarded and influential “Safety in Numbers” concept. Learn more about that in a recent column on by Portland’s very own Elly Blue.)

In a nutshell, the Vision Zero concept is about a total re-thinking of the way we approach street design and traffic engineering polices and practices. To learn more about it, I interviewed Jacobsen over the phone yesterday.

Read more

‘Rapid Flash Beacons’ coming to fatal crosswalk on SE Foster

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

A Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon at work.
(Photo taken from video by beacon manufacturer)

A new type of crossing treatment is set for installation on SE Foster near 80th — the same location where two people were fatally wounded back in November.

PBOT sources confirm that crews will install a Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon in the coming weeks where Jennifer Leonard and her friend Jessica Finlay were hit on November 1st, 2009. Leonard was killed instantly and Finlay died in January from injuries sustained in the collision.

Read more