vision zero

Willamette Week: Portland’s Vision Zero efforts “not working”

Avatar by on August 21st, 2019 at 1:25 pm

“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.
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Interview with Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty: Vision Zero, enforcement, distracted walkers, and more

Avatar by on July 11th, 2019 at 8:31 am

Commissioner Hardesty at city council yesterday.

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.”
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PBOT gets council support for Vision Zero, except from Commissioner Hardesty

Avatar by on June 21st, 2019 at 8:46 am

Cover of PBOT’s Vision Zero 2-Year Update.

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…]

PBOT installing ‘left turn calming’ treatments at 29 intersections

Avatar by on June 20th, 2019 at 2:53 pm

Armed with data, plans, and support from city council, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is moving forward with a pilot program to install “left turn calming” at 29 intersections.

Using a mix of rubber speed bumps and centerline delineator wands, PBOT’s aim is to slow drivers down, prevent them from “cutting corners”, and make it easier for them to see people crossing the street.
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During Vision Zero presentation, Commissioner Hardesty says distracted walkers are ‘huge issue’

Avatar by on June 20th, 2019 at 12:02 pm

In the past five years, people walking have accounted for nearly 40% of Portland’s traffic fatalities.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty wants the transportation bureau to do more about distracted walking.
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City lowers speed limits in latest effort to control the insanity on Marine Drive

Avatar by on May 31st, 2019 at 10:43 am

PBOT crews installed the new signs this morning.
(Photo: City of Portland)

Marine Drive has been a problem child for the Portland Bureau of Transportation for years and the city hopes recent disciplinary actions help set it straight.

The road’s design encourages dangerous driving and the city has tried all types of tricks to slow people down and prevent them from running into each other, or from running off the road and into the Columbia River — something that happens more often than you think.

In one week last month, two drivers failed to control their vehicles and ended up in the river. One of them didn’t make it out alive.

The latest move is a speed limit reduction from 45 to 40 mph on an 8.5 mile segment between NE 33rd and 185th (Portland city limits). Last year PBOT lowered the speed limit west of this segment (from 40 to 35) and installed speed cameras at two locations (33rd and 138th).
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Injuries mount as Portland fails to fix dangerous potholes

Avatar by on May 22nd, 2019 at 10:59 am

I slid 145 feet. I was lucky to escape with just road rash.

(Written by Scott Kocher, a Portland-based pedestrian and bicycle lawyer at Forum Law Group LLC and safe streets advocate advocate. We recently highlighted his efforts to improve Highway 30. Note: Kocher’s law firm is also a financial contributor to BikePortland, but that had no influence on editorial decisions.)

I love to ride in the West Hills. From the central city, they’re the closest place to escape stop-and-go traffic. On weekends, people enjoying Northwest Skyline on bikes seem to outnumber people in cars. On weekdays, commuters zip between Portland and the west side. It feels like a world apart from Highway 26 gridlock.

Which brings me to March 16th. I was riding down NW Cornell from Skyline. There were bad potholes below the upper tunnel. Not just bumps, these were the kind that could easily cause a person on a bicycle to crash — which could be catastrophic at downhill speeds. Hoping to get them filled, I stopped and reported the potholes using the City of Portland’s PDX Reporter web app.

I noted in the report that the holes were a hazard for people on bikes. On March 28th, those potholes weren’t fixed, so I reported them again. On May 1st, I took a day off to go check on the route of a popular group bike ride that typically draws 100s of people. The potholes on Cornell were still there. I marked them with yellow paint, and reported them, for the third time.
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PBOT: 18 ‘High Crash’ streets will get updates next year

Avatar by on October 26th, 2018 at 11:25 am

Use data and equity filters to identify the roads, find funding to do strategic upgrades… then build them!

The City of Portland is on a steady march toward safer streets through their Vision Zero program. Yesterday the Bureau of Transportation announced details of 18 “High Crash Network” streets that will get a range of safety updates in 2019.

It’s all in service to our adopted goal of ending traffic violence in the next six years.

The list includes four larger, multi-block projects (marked with asterisk below) and 14 “targeted” fixes on 14 other streets (click street name for project page):

*102nd: a pilot project will evaluate the safety impact of additional crossings, bike lanes, and safer speeds between Weidler and Sandy.
*Capitol Hwy: extensive updates are planned between Garden Home and Taylors Ferry, while more modest (but important!) safety fixes are planned from Huber to Kerr Parkway.
*Marine Dr: safety fixes from 33rd to 185th include new bike lanes, rumble strips, rapid flashing beacons, and a traffic signal at 122nd.
*Powell Blvd: new crosswalks, rapid flashing beacons, sidewalks, protected bike lanes, center turn lanes, lighting, and drainage are planned from 122nd to 136th.
92nd: upgrade signal hardware at Holgate
122nd: larger signal heads & reflective backboards (Airport Way-Burnside), bike lane extensions and conflict markings at 11 intersections (Halsey-Holgate), crossing enhancement at I-84 underpass
Barbur: sidewalk infill, enhanced crossings, rebuilt bike/ped connection (Lane, 53rd)
Broadway: larger signal heads & reflective backboards (Larrabee-Chávez), bike lane extensions and conflict markings (Irving-Oak)
Burnside, East: crossing enhancements at 16th, 129th
Burnside, West: crossing enhancements at 20th Place


Columbia: new bridge for walking & biking (Chimney Park), crossing improvements at Midway, intersection safety fixes at Cully/Alderwood
Division: larger signal heads & reflective backboards (21st-162nd), lighting (122nd-129th), crossing enhancements (64th, 77th, 78th), enhanced bike lanes, more lighting, and improved crossings (82nd-city limit)
Glisan: crossing enhancements at 108th, 128th, and 155th
Halsey: larger signal heads & reflective backboards (84th), two-way bike lanes on I-205 overpass, more lighting, enhanced crossings, protected bike lanes, and speed limit reduction (103rd-116th), sidewalk infill (114th162nd), enhanced crossings (119th, 128th, 143rd, 155th)
Holgate: larger signal heads & reflective backboards (17th-92nd), crossing enhancements (67th, 78th, 79th, 112th, 128th), sidewalk infill (102nd-122nd)
Killingsworth: sidewalk infill from 42nd to Cully
Martin Luther King Jr.: larger signal heads & reflective backboards (Dekum-Lloyd)
Sandy: larger signal heads & reflective backboards (28th-47th), median islands and rapid flashing beacons (85th, 91st)
Stark: crossing enhancements (16th, 130th, 146th, 155th, 160th)

As you view this list, keep in mind that these projects don’t just happen. They are the culmination of years of groundwork laid by PBOT leadership, staff, and volunteer advocates who help push it all through. From the City’s Office of Government Relations that lobbies the legislature for more humane speed limit laws, to the PBOT Director (Leah Treat) who made Vision Zero a top priority at the bureau, to the family members of traffic crash victims who volunteer on the Vision Zero Task Force, and the advocates (like many of you!) who help create urgency and political will — it takes an entire community ecosystem to reform our streets.

And while I don’t think we’re doing nearly enough, fast enough — and my friends at PBOT know I will continue to be impatient and frustrated at the pace of change — I also know steady progress is something worth applause and appreciation.

For more on what PBOT is doing to make our roads safer, check their latest Vision Zero program updates here.

And don’t forget that there’s an important open house for the 122nd Avenue Plan taking place November 7th at the Midland Library.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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We can’t fix what we don’t know: Why access to information is key to Vision Zero

Avatar by on October 11th, 2018 at 3:47 pm

*Watch how many people drive in front of this man while he waits for a chance to cross.

This post was written by our Adventures in Activism column co-editor Catie Gould.

On the evening of April 7th, Alex Hubert was crossing to the MAX platform to catch a northbound Yellow Line train back home when he was struck by a car. There was no police alert on Twitter. There were no news reports. But I was there.

This post is about my attempt to learn more about the safety issues at the intersection and find out why they haven’t been fixed.[Read more…]

Despite need for “safe systems” approach, crash reports still put responsibility on victims

Avatar by on May 2nd, 2018 at 2:22 pm

(Photo: Jonathan Maus).

This story is by Greg Spencer, a writer and editor and proud dad of two bike-commuting kids. He’s also a volunteer with the local chapter of Families for Safe Streets.

In Metro’s draft 2018 State of Safety Report, previewed last month on BikePortland, the latest regional road crash data is analyzed, and it’s done for the first time from the perspective of Vision Zero, a policy framework that aims to eliminate deaths and serious injuries.

But some of the presented data do not reflect the Vision Zero ethos, which says that road safety is a shared community burden, not one that’s primarily on the backs of crash victims.
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