Lawmakers, ODOT Director hear emotional testimony at Vision Zero bill hearing

ODOT Director Matt Garrett (lower right) was in the house for today’s hearing.
(Photo: Oregon Walks)

A bill that would establish an official State of Oregon Vision Zero Task Force got its first public hearing today. And it was heart-wrenching.

The eight members of the House Committee On Transportation Policy who presided over the hearing for House Bill 2667 probably didn’t expect the 8:00 am start time to attract testimony from nearly two-dozen people. And they probably didn’t expect to hear from people like Marina Hajek, the mother of a 10-year old boy who was hit and killed by a reckless, speeding driver while walking his bike across a street in Eugene 10 years ago.

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Vision Zero coming into focus in Portland

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
BTA Annual meeting-2

BTA’s Rob Sadowsky sees a bright future for
Vision Zero in Portland.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Vision Zero (also known as Towards Zero Deaths) is a bold goal that’s also the name of a growing national movement to end the acceptance of fatalities and injuries on our roads as mere “accidents.” Advocates instead want to completely change our approach to street design and policy so that no one is hurt or killed while using them.

We’ve been talking about Vision Zero for years here in Portland, but there seems to finally be some tangible movement forward.

Tomorrow in New York City is the opening day of the Vision Zero for Cities Symposium and there will be several Portlanders making the trip. Rob Sadowsky, the leader of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Aaron Brown, a board member with Oregon Walks will be there. The City will send Gabriel Graff, the operations manager of the Active Transportation Division at the Portland Bureau of Transportation. (We’ve also heard that PPB Traffic Division Capt. Kelli Sheffer will also be at the symposium, but we’ve been unable to confirm her attendance.)

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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…

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