1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204
This morning I was joined by Representative Reardon, Representative Vega Pederson and transportation safety advocates to highlight the completion of several crossing improvements in East Portland. The Bureau of Transportation and Portland Police Bureau conducted a crosswalk education and enforcement action to remind the community to exercise care and caution when walking, biking and driving and to remain attentive to pedestrian crossings and busy intersections.
As the Commissioner in charge of the Bureau of Transportation, safety is always my highest priority; every Portlander deserves a safe way to walk or bike throughout our community. By partnering with our legislative leaders and local advocates, we’re able to leverage resources and prioritize new safety improvements that will make crossing the street safer and easier for everyone.
The site of today’s education and enforcement action is one of 16 newly constructed and activated Rapid Flash Beacons (RFBs) in East Portland. Planning, design and construction was made possible with $1.9 million secured by Representative Shemia Fagan and her legislative colleagues—including Representatives Reardon and Vega Pederson—in the 2014 legislative session.
Thanks to our legislative partners, we were able to maximize State and local transportation resources and prioritize the completion of greatly-needed safety and maintenance projects to improve the daily commute of thousands that drive, take transit, walk and bike throughout East Portland.
Education and enforcement actions are a key part of the City of Portland’s citywide effort to reach its Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries. During the education and enforcement action, police officers and PBOT staff reminded drivers to stop appropriately for pedestrians in the crossing and encourage people walking to cross at the corner and, when available, utilize rapid flash beacons to alert drivers to yield.
While our state laws require drivers to stop for all pedestrians, the lights on RFBs provide additional alerts to drivers of pedestrians or bikers crossing lanes of traffic.
“Today we are celebrating the collaboration and hard work of legislators, city staff, and East Portland Action Plan members who work for the safety of everyone in our community,” said Representative Reardon at the event.
Enhanced crossings with RFBs improve the safety of our streets for drivers, pedestrians and bikers, but they’re expensive and typically require a collaboration with our State or regional partners to secure the necessary funding. Yet, even with constrained resources, we are making progress on critical safety improvements to streets and intersections throughout the City, and we couldn’t have done so without a coalition of community advocates—including the East Portland Action Plan, Oregon Walks and Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets.
“The addition of rapid flash beacons, along with the funding we secured in the 2015 and 2016 Legislative Sessions, are great steps towards improving the safety and infrastructure in East Portland,” says Representative Vega Pederson. “Still, given the 13 tragic fatalities that have occurred so far this year, it is clear that more needs to be done—particularly to protect residents that walk or bike through our community.”
“For all of us who are committed to safe streets, these have been a very rough few months. We cannot and we will not accept this level of tragedy on our streets,” said PBOT Director Leah Treat. “We know that we cannot achieve our Vision Zero goals alone. That is why I am very thankful for the support of our leaders in the state legislature, our Transportation Commissioner, our partners at the Portland Police Bureau and our dedicated community safety advocates.”
The crossing improvements and 16 newly activated RFBs in East Portland are the result of a strong partnership between community advocates and planners who worked to prioritize safe improvement projects in the East Portland in Motion (EPIM) Plan. EPIM is a five year implementation strategy for enhancing active transportation in neighborhoods east of 82nd Ave., which identified over 80 priority construction projects and programs. Of these priorities, State funding made improvements at the following East Portland intersections possible:
Rapid Flash Beacons, including the one we celebrated today at 151st and SE Stark, are emblematic of the important alliance between the public and State and local government. Crosswalk education and enforcement actions are an effective way to communicate traffic laws to people driving, walking and biking. To find out more about PBOT's safety work and Vision Zero initiative—PBOT’s goal of making our transportation system the safest possible and moving towards zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by 2025—visit www.visionzeroportland.com. There, you can learn more about rights and responsibilities for safely crossing a street and view the results of previous crossing education and enforcement actions.