Late Thursday night someone died while using 122nd Avenue. They were the 46th person whose life ended while traveling on a Portland road so far this year, putting us on the same grim pace as 2019 despite a major reduction in travel due to the pandemic.
There have been four fatal crashes in a one mile stretch of 122nd Avenue in the past year alone. In 2018 I attended a press conference marking the completion of new crossings and other updates to the notoriously deadly street. Standing just one block from one of this year’s deaths, Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, PBOT Director Chris Warner, and other transportation bigwigs gave glowing speeches about their dedication to Vision Zero. Eudaly said the recent changes they made were an example of “transportation done right” and how she wasn’t willing to accept the constant carnage on 122nd. [Read more…]
Comments about transportation safety made on Twitter last week by Portlander Tiana Tozer have raised eyebrows. While her Twitter account is not an official ODOT communications channel (her profile says, “Opinions are my own”), Tozer is ODOT’s Region 1 transportation safety coordinator and she sits on the Portland Bureau of Transportation Vision Zero Task Force.
Here’s what happened:
Tiana Tozer attended a City of Portland event at Ventura Park Thursday morning. Later that day she replied to a tweet of a video we posted from the event. When someone questioned the effectiveness of holding signs and asking drivers to slow down, Tozer replied: “Ho hum another entitled American sitting back watching people die, but he himself has no solution. How easy it is to criticize. God forbid you should be part of the solution. Don’t strain yourself.” [Read more…]
“Portland’s streets are killing fields.”
That’s the opening salvo in a Willamette Week cover story that tries to make the case that the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Vision Zero efforts are failing.
Blindsided is a photo essay and reporting effort that will likely have a big impact on local transportation discussions for weeks and months to come. It uses personal stories from a range of Portlanders to illustrate the vast problem of unsafe roads and to poke holes in the City’s effort to fix them. The focus of the piece isn’t a surprise given that so far this year 35 people have been killed in traffic-related incidents. That’s one more than we recorded for all of 2018.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty made headlines last month when she said distracted walkers are a “huge issue” and voted “no” on what was expected to be a non-controversial update to Portland’s Vision Zero program. Her vote and comments raised the ire of the commissioner in charge of that program, Chloe Eudaly.
Eudaly called Hardesty’s views, “Virtually unfounded” and said Hardesty must not have been briefed on the topic properly.
Nearly three weeks after that exchange, I spoke with Hardesty and asked about her views on Vision Zero, traffic enforcement, distracted walkers, and more.
Commissioner Hardesty wanted to set things straight from the outset. “I share the values of making our streets safe for everyone,” she said. “If I left you with the impression that that was not my goal I don’t want you to have that impression.”
The Portland Bureau of Transportation is making steady progress on their march toward safer streets. They’ve queued up an impressive slate of capital projects, worked the legislature to gain authority for speed limits and enforcement cameras, and have passed important plans with the policy backbone that enables them to do things like remove auto parking from corners (a.k.a. “intersection daylighting”), install crossing treatments in more places, and so on.
Last week PBOT brought their annual Vision Zero 2-Year Update (PDF) to city council. They don’t have to get council’s official blessing for reports like this, but PBOT often takes this step to burnish council relationships, lay political groundwork for funding requests, and get explicit support for what might be controversial Vision Zero-related moves down the road.
Things like this usually get unanimous support because PBOT doesn’t bring half-baked ideas to council and they brief each commissioner beforehand to make sure they are up-to-speed with the issues and information. So it was a big surprise when Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty voted no.[Read more…]