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1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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Dylan Rivera

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News Blog: Snow in the forecast? What you need to know to get home safe in Portland

get home safe

chains required

Everyone driving in Portland should carry snow chains and in hilly areas such as West Burnside, the City sometimes requires traction devices. (Photo by Dylan Rivera, Portland Bureau of Transportation.)

(December 2, 2016) Forecasters are still uncertain about the timing and amount of snow we could get in the Portland area on Monday morning, but it never hurts to be prepared! Safety is the Portland Bureau of Transportation's number one priority and, with that in mind, we've prepared some tips to make sure you get home safe in winter weather.

The best advice for traveling in bad winter weather is not to travel at all if you can avoid it. Wait until conditions improve before venturing out in winter weather. Allow the snow plows, sanding trucks, and other emergency vehicles to get out ahead of you to treat conditions. Allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. 

Check for breaking news and information on major service disruptions. Visit to learn more about how PBOT responds to snow and ice events in Portland.

Safety tips for driving

The City of Portland’s Snow and Ice Plan discourages private vehicle use and encourages public transit use instead. But we understand some neighborhoods at high elevation may encounter snow or ice unexpectedly and everyone should be prepared for winter conditions. The Portland Bureau of Transportation offers these tips. See more at:

Chains - your link to safety!

Buy chains, practice putting them on your car, carry them in your vehicle, and use them. You may need them unexpectedly, especially at areas higher than 500 feet above sea level in Portland. PBOT sometimes requires chains or traction devices on West Burnside and SW Sam Jackson Parkway.

Carry an emergency weather kit

Have a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle to keep you safe and more comfortable during long waits. Your kit should include chains, shovel, bag of sand, battery jumper cables, first aid kit, basic tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver and knife), blanket, extra clothing (hats, socks, boots, mittens), flashlight, and a cell phone or CB Radio.

Expect slippery sidewalks; clear your own as well

In a winter storm, the sidewalk in front of your neighbor’s house may be the slickest surface you encounter. PBOT applies anti-icer and uses snow plows to clear streets along bus routes, but property owners are responsible for ensuring safe passage on sidewalks.

Look out for people on bike or out walking

Be watchful for pedestrians and bicyclists who are also trying to get around in hazardous, low visibility conditions. Share the Road safely and responsibly.

winter weather

Click here for an enlarged version of PBOT's Get Home Safe infographic.

Watch for black ice

Black ice can occur when roadways are not subjected to direct sunlight in freezing temperatures. It looks "black" because it is clear, not frosty. This makes it almost invisible to the naked eye. Black ice commonly forms on roads that wind around lakes and rivers, in tunnels, on overpasses and in highly shaded, rural areas. Be especially careful when driving or riding into shaded areas, on bridges and overpasses, and on infrequently traveled roads. Slow down during your approach.

You are responsible for your vehicle

If you choose to drive, stay with your vehicle in a snow and ice storm. Any abandoned vehicle is subject to being cited and impounded. To locate your vehicle, call Police Auto Records at 503-823-0044.  If you are driving and visibility and conditions are getting worse rapidly, do not stop in a travel lane. Any vehicle creating a safety hazard is subject to towing. The current contractual cost of a tow is $168. The cost to store a towed vehicle past the initial four hours is $25 per day.

Look for an opportunity to pull off the road into a safe parking area and wait for conditions to improve. If you cannot reach your home, move your vehicle off a major street or plow route onto a side street so that plows can completely open up major streets. If you become stuck or stranded in severe weather, stay with your vehicle for warmth and safety until help arrives. While you wait for help to arrive, open a window slightly for ventilation, run your motor sparingly, and use your emergency flashers.

You may be towed on West Burnside and Sam Jackson Parkway

PBOT sets up chain-up areas in the shoulder heading uphill on West Burnside and SW Sam Jackson Parkway. They are set aside as a safe place for people to attach snow chains during a storm. Parking is not allowed in these areas and vehicles abandoned there are subject to towing.

Recover your vehicle as soon as possible

Parking regulations and other road safety regulations remain enforceable during a winter storm. If you leave your vehicle parked in a metered parking space or other time zone during a winter storm, recover your vehicle as soon as possible when conditions improve. If you receive a citation, follow the instructions on the back of it to resolve it or contest it with the County Circuit Court.

abandoned cars on burnside

People abandoned their cars on West Burnside during a snow storm in 2014. Most of these vehicles were towed to provide a safe chain-up area for drivers heading into the hills on West Burnside. (Photo by Dylan Rivera, Portland Bureau of Transportation.)

Drive safely on wet and icy roads

Travel gently - drive, turn, and brake slowly. Adjust your speed to the road conditions and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.

If you get stuck in snow, do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel, or de-icing granules in the path of the wheels to help get traction. Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other travelers. Keep your lights and windshield clean. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.

Do not pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.

Biking in snow

Stay warm and dry. For more visibility, wear bright clothing, an orange vest, or use reflective tape. Use front and rear bicycle lights. Lights are required by law when riding after dark - a white light visible at least 500 feet to the front, and a red light or reflector visible at least 600 feet to the rear. Brake early and often. Avoid some painted and steel road surfaces. Steel plates, sewer covers, grates and other metal can be very slick in the rain and snow. Stay out of puddles and off of black ice. 

Slow down, give yourself longer stopping distances, and keep a firmer grip on your handlebars. 

Do not pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind. 

Remember, bicyclists have the right to take a full lane and/or use sidewalks which may be used if bike lanes are blocked by snow from snow plows.

Take transit

The City’s Snow and Ice Plan discourages private vehicle use and encourages mass transit use instead. In most Portland neighborhoods, residents are within four to six blocks of a transit stop or covered bus shelter. Some neighborhoods have great access to MAX light rail or the Portland Streetcar. To plan your commute by public transit, call 503-238-RIDE (7433) or visit for bus and MAX light rail schedules. In snow and ice, plan for bus delays of 20 to 30 minutes. Know where your transit stops are before venturing out.

News Release: End of an era as Portland's last single space parking meter is retired

the last parking meter

Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick presents Executive Director of the Oregon Historical Society, Kerry Tymchuck, with Portland's last single space parking meter. Photo by Hannah Schafer, Portland Bureau of Transportation.

(December 1, 2016) Commissioner Steve Novick, community stakeholders and PBOT representatives officially closed an era in Portland parking history today as they retired the city's last remaining single space parking meter. 

Officials retired the meter in dramatic fashion, using an electric saw to separate the meter head from its post. Commissioner Steve Novick then presented the meter to Kerry Tymchuk, Executive Director of the Oregon Historical Society, for inclusion in the society's collection. 

"These meters have served the city well," said Commissioner Novick. "They have been an integral part of our parking management system. But they have reached the end of their useful life, and it is time to completely transition to 21st Century parking technology, like paystations and pay by phone, which are more efficient and make it easier and more convenient for Portlanders to park."

"We are very excited that the Portland Bureau of Transportation has implemented new technologies to manage transportation and parking demand in the Central City," said Felicia Williams, President of the Downtown Neighborhood Association. "These advanced systems make it easier for everyone to enjoy visiting downtown, especially now that people don't have to carry around spare change to feed the meters."

"The retirement of single-space meters is a signal that Portland is moving towards more effective, efficient, and flexible on-street parking management solutions," said Tony Jordan of Portlanders for Parking Reform. "By leveraging advances in plate-reading technology and mobile communications Portland can develop and implement a revolutionary citywide performance based parking solution that will provide greater convenience for consumers who drive while supporting our city's mode share, climate action, and traffic safety goals." 

Portland installed its first single-space parking meter in 1938. At the time, an hour of parking cost a nickel. At the height of the meter era, Portland had over 7,000 single space meters in Downtown and other parts of the city. In 2002, Portland become one of the first cities in the country to adopt the next generation of parking technology when it began to install paystations. The paystations allow customers to use credit cards or coins to pay for parking at any space on a block. Since then, PBOT has been gradually replacing single space parking meters with paystations. In the past year, PBOT has been removing the last 453 single-space meters. The meters, which do not take credit cards, have become obsolete and replacing them with paystations is more cost effective, promotes better parking management and provides a better user experience. 

The removal of single space meters is part of PBOT's overall effort to modernize the tools the agency uses to manage on-street parking spaces. In the first half of 2017, the agency expects to introduce two new parking solutions: mobile pay and pay by plate technology. Both tools are expected to make it easier and more convenient for users to pay for parking. 

Click here for a fact sheet about the history of Portland's parking meters.

Click here for historic newspaper articles about Portland's first parking meters.

News Release: Traffic volumes significantly reduced on SE Clinton Street following safety and design improvements by the Portland Bureau of Transportation

PBOT releases findings of SE Clinton Neighborhood Greenway Enhancement Project

Will make diverter at SE 32nd Avenue and SE Clinton Street permanent as part of City’s Vision Zero initiative

vision zero logo(Nov. 30, 2016) The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) released its findings today after six months of testing and observation of design improvements on the SE Clinton Neighborhood Greenway. Citing traffic count data, PBOT declared the project a success saying that safety conditions have improved significantly thanks to the installation of diverters and speed bumps that have lowered traffic volumes and vehicle speeds along the Greenway. Due to its success, in the coming week PBOT will replace the temporary diverter installed at SE 32nd and Clinton with a new, permanent diverter (weather permitting).

permanent diverter design

Illustration of the permanent design for the SE 32nd Ave diverter on SE Clinton Street.

After holding public meetings with residents in the neighborhood in the fall of 2015 as well as conducting an online survey, the bureau installed two diverters along the greenway - a median diverter at SE 17th Avenue and a temporary semi-diverter at SE 32nd Avenue - in January 2016. PBOT also restriped SE 34th Avenue between SE Clinton and SE Division Streets to a one-way northbound with a contraflow southbound bike lane to improve safety. Testing was done on these improvements after a period of six months, to allow for traffic conditions to adjust to the changes. Volume and speed traffic counts were collected in May and June of 2016 at 35 different locations within the project area which stretched from SE 12th Avenue to Cesar Chavez Boulevard.

Before the test, all six monitoring locations within the test area were either near or above 2,000 cars a day, the maximum performance guideline for total auto volumes on a neighborhood greenway as defined in the City’s Neighborhood Greenways Assessment Report which was adopted by City Council in 2015. Traffic count results following the six month test period found that auto volumes on SE Clinton were reduced significantly across the entire test area, with reductions in volume between 900 and 1400 cars per day (-34% to -75%) thanks to the design improvements. The street segment between SE 21st and SE 26th Avenue that still exceeds the 2,000 car per day threshold is slated to get additional speed bumps in 2017 as part of an upcoming paving project.

greenway signs

Four lawn sign messages were developed to raise awareness of SE Clinton Street’s classification as a neighborhood greenway, and the how greenways are supposed function.

“Neighborhood Greenways are the backbone of Portland’s bike infrastructure and the SE Clinton Neighborhood Greenway is one of the oldest and most used of them all. If people don’t feel safe using our Greenways, they won’t use them,” said Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick. “I am proud that we were able to find a cost-effective solution to improve the traffic conditions on SE Clinton and maintain its status as one of Portland’s most popular and loved Neighborhood Greenways for people walking and biking.”

“The results of this project show that small improvements can have big safety impacts,” said Transportation Director Leah Treat. “Thanks to the strong neighborhood support for this project, we were able to achieve the results we were hoping for in a short period of time. I look forward to continuing to build strong community relationships across the city as we implement additional safety improvements to help us reach Vision Zero.”

In addition to diverter installation and restriping of SE 34th Avenue, speed bumps were added on SE Clinton between SE Cesar Chavez Boulevard and SE 50th Avenue, new ‘Bikes May Use Full Lane’ signage was installed and the speed limit on Clinton was reduced to 20 mph where auto volumes are below 2,000 cars per day. The total project cost was $215,000. Installation of the permanent diverter at SE 32nd Avenue will cost an additional $15,000.

The City of Portland has joined cities around the country in embracing Vision Zero – the notion that the death of even one person on our roads is one too many. Vision Zero prevents traffic deaths through smart policy and system design, like the improvements made to the SE Clinton Neighborhood Greenway. Learn more about Vision Zero by visiting

The full SE Clinton Neighborhood Greenway Enhancement Project Report can be found at

News Blog: Community members step up to make Vision Zero a reality

By Matt Ferris-Smith, Portland Bureau of Transportation

vision zero logo

(Nov. 29, 2016) Bright orange yard signs are blossoming on Portland streets. The signs, free to borrow from PBOT, reflect a shared desire for people to drive safely in Portland.

“People are requesting these signs because they feel unsafe on their street,” says Donna Herron, interim chair of the SWNI Public Safety Committee, who has helped distribute at least 40 yard signs in the last year.

Herron says the demand is a result of people “driving like crazy,” including texting, speeding and rolling through stop signs.

Vision Zero signs in Markham neighborhood

Neighbors in the Markham neighborhood pose with their new Vision Zero yard sign. Photo by Donna Herron, Markham Neighborhood Association.

The yard signs are a small but highly visible part of Vision Zero, a citywide program that aims to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2025. Along with education, Vision Zero focuses on changing street designs to prevent deaths and serious injuries. Vision Zero also uses enforcement and policy changes to support safety.

In addition to requesting yard signs with safety messages, people can promote awareness of Vision Zero by requesting stickers, pins, brochures and fliers. Going forward, there will be additional opportunities to get involved.

Vision Zero yard signs Markham

Markham Neighborhood has embraced Vision Zero with its "Paint the Neighborhood Orange" campaign. Photo by Donna Herron, Markham Neighborhood Association.

The opportunities are described in the Education & Accountability section of the draft Vision Zero Action Plan, which Portland City Council will consider for adoption on December 1. People wanting Vision Zero materials can pick them up at the hearing.

Other education-related actions in the Vision Zero Action Plan include:

  • Form agency-led “street teams” that engage people driving, walking, biking and taking transit to raise awareness of Vision Zero and moving safely through Portland
  • Develop targeted engagement for middle and high school students in traffic safety through the Safe Routes to School program, with a focus on empowering youth leadership to promote safe transportation in their own school communities, prioritizing Communities of Concern
  • Conduct multi-component education campaigns to build public awareness and leverage Vision Zero actions

Markham Neighborhood has already embraced Vision Zero with its “Paint the Neighborhood Orange” campaign, which encourages residents to install the brightly colored PBOT yard signs on their property. PBOT loans a yard sign free-of-charge for every six people who sign a safety pledge.

 “We know people want safe streets because we hear it every day—from phone calls and emails, from neighborhood meetings, from our own neighbors,” says Vision Zero Project Manager Clay Veka. “In order to achieve Vision Zero, we absolutely have to tap into our shared desire to help people reach their destinations safely, no matter how they travel.”


Tips for Yard Sign Placement

yard sign at nightDonna Herron, a Southwest Portland resident who helps neighbors request yard signs from PBOT, suggests the following:

-  Move the yard sign frequently to catch drivers’ attention

- Add visibility with reflective tape

- Avoid creating a travel hazard for people walking, biking or driving


Portland is committed to ending traffic violence in our communities. Through the Vision Zero program, the City of Portland and our partners are working to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our streets by 2025.



The Vision Zero Task Force has overseen the creation of a draft Vision Zero Action Plan with specific steps to make streets safe. This draft plan will go to Portland's City Council for approval on Thursday, December 1, at 3 p.m.

The public hearing will include a short presentation followed by testimony from community members who helped create the plan through the Vision Zero Task Force.

Others who would like to speak can sign up at City Hall starting at 1 p.m. on the day of the hearing. Each person receives three minutes to speak in the order in which they are on the list. Community members interested in Vision Zero can pick up stickers, signs, pins, brochures and other materials about the program while at the hearing.

For questions about the hearing on Thursday, email Vision Zero.

News Release: Don't get towed when Leaf Day pickup comes to NW Portland next week!

(Nov. 22, 2016) – "Don't get towed!" is the Portland Bureau of Transportation's message this week, as we approach the annual start of Leaf Day pickup in Northwest Portland on Monday Nov. 28, when crews will call in tow trucks to remove vehicles for Leaf Day service.

PBOT's Leaf Day program posts "no parking" signs 48 hours in advance of Leaf Day service in areas where neighborhood leaders have asked us to remove vehicles to provide an effective leaf pickup service. Areas include Northwest Portland, Goose Hollow in Southwest Portland and Sullivan's Gulch in Northeast Portland. Anyone who parks a car on the street in those areas -- whether you live, work or shop there -- needs to be on the lookout for "no parking" signs. In advance of the Thanksgiving holiday, PBOT will post "no parking" signs on Wednesday, Nov. 23 in Leaf District NW 4, which will be swept on Monday, Nov. 28.

This year, PBOT is offering text message reminders of Leaf Day service in areas where we tow vehicles.

Remind your neighbors about Leaf Day by asking them to subscribe to weekly Leaf Day reminders by email.

Would you like text message reminders about towing days? Click here to sign up.

No parking sign with no phone number

Obey "no parking" signs in Leaf Districts or face towing in Northwest Portland, Goose Hollow and Sullivan's Gulch. This is an example of the type of signs PBOT uses to warn people who park on the street. Signs will include the phone number for recovering a vehicle: 503-823-0044. Photo by Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Here are the scheduled dates for Leaf Day districts where vehicles are towed because of neighborhoods' interest in providing the cleanest sweep possible. Most are in Northwest Portland. To reduce the impact to the public, parking restrictions are limited to two hours, 7 to 9 a.m., in all areas except Sullivan's Gulch, where parking is restricted from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Monday, Nov. 28: NW 4
  • Wednesday, Nov. 30: NW 2
  • Friday, Dec. 2: NW 3
  • Monday, Dec. 5: NW 7
  • Wednesday, Dec. 7: NW 9
  • Friday, Dec. 9: NW 6
  • Monday, Dec. 12: SW 1 (Goose Hollow)
  • Wednesday, Dec. 14: SW 2 (Goose Hollow)
  • Friday, Dec. 16: NW 8 
  • Friday, Dec. 16: NE 14 (Sullivan's Gulch) 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Any cars on the street during Leaf Day in these neighborhoods will be towed at their owners' expense. The current contractual cost of a tow is $168. The cost to store a towed vehicle past the initial four hours is $25 per day. To locate your vehicle, call Police Auto Records at 503-823-0044.

Browse our interactive map to locate your Leaf District's boundaries and service dates

Click on a Leaf District to see details of service dates and district boundaries. District numbers that say "clean sweep" on the pop up details are areas where we call tow trucks if you are parked on a block where "no parking" signs are posted. For example, NW 3 is labeled Northwest 3 (Inner West Clean Sweep).

Leaf Day Interactive Map

Live or work in a Leaf District?

Check your Leaf Day brochure for more details

Each year, PBOT sends Leaf Day brochures to thousands of addresses in leaf districts. Those brochures include maps and information about towing in areas where we call for towing to get the most effective sweep possible.

Dont Get Towed brochure image

From mid-November to mid-December, removing leaves from our streets is critical because letting them stay on the street can clog storm drains, flood intersections and make streets slippery. Our Leaf Day Pickup program is about getting the leaves cleaned up in a way that makes a better, healthier and safer Portland.

Want us to tow cars in your Leaf District?

Email the Leaf Day Program, contact your neighborhood association and work with your neighbors to request it


Contact Portland's Leaf Day Program:

503-865-LEAF (5323)