Following a listening session with biking advocates, Mayor Hales and Commissioner Novick moved to act quickly to improve bike safety, as the city works on long-term solutions.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 2015 — Mayor Charlie Hales, Commissioner Steve Novick, and Transportation Director Leah Treat on Tuesday hosted a listening session with biking advocates and public safety officials to hear ideas about how to make Portland safer for bicyclists, following several tragic incidents in May.
City officials came away with action items that can be implemented immediately, supplementing efforts already underway by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). Action items include:
Experiment with diverters: Biking advocates called for diverters to reduce auto traffic on neighborhood greenways that are intended to promote bicycle and pedestrian use. Using neighborhood greenway traffic count and speed data PBOT has already collected for a report that will go to City Council in late summer, PBOT will experiment with diverters — which allow bicycles through but block cars — at different locations, similar to the Better Naito pilot happening now. PBOT will work with a Vision Zero Safety Committee that will be created to inform the issue of bicycle safety in Portland.
Unmanned speed cameras: House Bill 2621 would allow the city to install unmanned speed cameras along high-crash corridors to aid police in traffic enforcement. Speeding is the top contributing factor to fatal crashes across the metro region: If a person is struck by a car going less than 20 mph, she has a 90 percent chance of surviving; at 40 mph, that likelihood drops to 20 percent. Portland has 10 high-crash corridors that account for over half of all pedestrian deaths and serious injuries. You can help: Contact your legislators and tell them you want to support Portland’s efforts to slow down traffic and make the streets safer for all users.
Speed enforcement: Portland Police will increase speed enforcement, encouraging drivers to slow down and obey speed limits. Enforcement efforts will be focused on high-crash corridors where the city experiences a large number of pedestrian deaths and injuries.
Funding Vision Zero projects: City Council recently provided funding to make infrastructure improvements on two of the most dangerous streets in Portland — Southeast 122nd Avenue and Burnside Street — to make them safer for pedestrians and transit users. Further, Mayor Hales’ budget includes more than $19 million for transportation maintenance and safety projects, including $4 million for safety projects on Southeast 122nd Avenue.
Safety improvements in the central city: The Central City Safety Improvements project will plan for $5.5 million in bicycle infrastructure upgrades downtown and in the rest of the central city. It will be underway soon; PBOT hired a project manager last week.
Pledge to slow down: The City will partner with advocates to support the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's Travel with Care Campaign and Pledge. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance told officials on Tuesday that research shows that if people pledge to drive more safely, it actually makes a difference. City officials will start with city employees, and get as many Portlanders as possible to sign on.