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Portland Bureau of Transportation

We keep Portland moving

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

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

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PBOT Analysis: Road Reconfigurations Reduce Crashes and Speeding in Portland

Projects result in 37% fewer crashes, 10% reduction in speeding

(October 7, 2014) –   A Portland Bureau of Transportation analysis of 20 years of traffic data found that road diets, or reconfigurations, on Portland’s streets lowered speeds and significantly reduced traffic crash rates.

The results demonstrate the value of these reconfigurations as a tool to improve safety on busy multi-lane streets. 

Portland Road Diet Evaluation: 1994 - 2014
Project Location Project Length (mi) Construction Year Before Data Range After Data Range % Change in Crash Rate % Volume Change % Change in 85% Speed
NE Glisan, 22nd - 32nd 0.57 1997 1993-1996 1998-2012 -42.25% -3.93% N/A
SE 7th, Division - Washington 0.85 1994-1996 1993-1994 1997-2012 -32.62% -5.79% N/A
SE Tacoma, 6th - 11th  0.25 2002/03 1993-2001 2004-2012 -36.76% -13.45% N/A
SE Division, 60th - 80th 1 Fall 2013 2008-2012 2014-2015 N/A -6.27% -12.50%
NE Glisan, 60th - 80th 1 Fall 2013 2008-2012 2014-2015 N/A -2.60% -7.14%
Average 0.52       -37.21% -6.41% -9.82

Sources: Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles Crash Data, 1993-2012, Portland Bureau of Transportation (vehicle speeds)

PBOT analyzed crash data on all five road sections in Portland where the bureau reorganized a two-way arterial from four vehicle lanes to two vehicle lanes and a center turn lane. In some instances, Portland also added bicycle lanes. PBOT often refers to these changes as “road reconfigurations.” Nationally, this treatment is known as a “road diet.” 

On Portland’s streets that have undergone road diets, PBOT’s analysis found on average:

  • 37 percent reduction in traffic crash rates
  • 10 percent reduction in the 85th percentile speed*

Before/after comparison of NE Glisan at 78th AveIn addition, the amount of traffic dropped six percent, which mirrors traffic volume reductions across the City since 2005.  

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has identified these road reconfigurations as one of nine “proven counter safety measures” to reduce speeding, crashes and fatalities.

Portland’s experience mirrors national data. FHWA cites a 29 percent reduction of traffic crashes nationally on streets undergoing road reconfigurations. 

FHWA notes that road diets provide multiple benefits to all road users. These benefits include improved vehicle compliance with posted speed limits and a corresponding decrease in crash severity; reduction of “multiple threat” crossings for pedestrians (one driver stops for pedestrian while driver in adjacent lane does not); reduction of rear-end and side-swipe crashes; increased opportunity for on-street parking, and improved safety for bicyclists when bike lanes are added (which also provide an additional buffer for pedestrians).

In 2013, PBOT implemented road reconfigurations on SE Division between 60th-80th avenues and NE Glisan between 60th-80th avenues. Both segments saw more than a 50 percent decrease in vehicles driving over the posted speed limit (see links). PBOT anticipates an accompanying reduction in crash rates, although crash data is not yet available.

Over 90 percent of Portland traffic crashes take place on busy streets. PBOT’s High Crash Corridor program employs short-term, low-cost treatments to improve safety on these roadways. Given their high cost-benefit ratio, road reconfigurations are an important tool in that program’s tool box.


 *The 85th percentile speed is a value that is used by many states and cities for establishing regulatory speed zones. It is the speed that 85% of vehicles are observed traveling at or under during free flowing conditions.


Portland's Street Seats 2014

Diners at the Street Seat in front of Bonfire Lounge(October 1, 2014)  As we head into the fall, the Street Seats installations from this summer continue to provide outdoor seating at many locations through the City.  Two new locations were recently installed at Bonfire Lounge (2821 SE Stark Street, designed by Propel Studio) and Lompoc Brewing (1620 NW 23rd Avenue, by Artifekt Architecture).  Portlanders can take advantage of the outdoor seating at most of Portland’s ten Street Seat locations throughout the year though some will be removed during the winter (please check with the local business about seating availability).

Street Seat in front of Lompoc Brewing

In addition, two finalists from the Design Week Portland design competition have been installed outside of the Center for Architecture (403 NW 11th Avenue). They will be in place through the end of October. The installations are a result of collaboration between the Bureau of Transportation and Center for Architecture in their second annual Street Seat Design Competition.  Of 17 submissions received from across the country addressing the theme ‘Active Streets,' two finalists were chosen to be installed as part of a six week installation outside of the Center for Architecture.  The winning submissions were developed by Hennebery Eddy Architects (“Log Dam”) and Scott Edwards Architects (“A Dialogue”).  Construction costs were covered by sponsor Hoffman Construction.  "A Dialogue" Street Seat designThe installations will find new homes along NE Alberta Street in the spring.

Now in its third year, Street Seats is a program of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) that allows businesses and non-profit organizations to convert on-street parking into other public uses, such as café seating or a mini-park. Based on similar programs in San Francisco and New York City, the program enlivens the streetscape by creating spaces for Portlanders to enjoy seating and a meal or drink outdoors, which in turn enhances street vitality and benefits local businesses.

A map of Portland’s collection of Street Seats can be found by clicking here.

See more photos of the 2014 Street Seats on Flickr.

See KGW's story on the Center for Architecture Street Seats here.

Check out the Oregonian's coverage here.

More information about City of Portland’s Street Seat program can be found at  

Safety project coming to E Burnside in early-October

Fewer crashes, more parking spaces will be some of the benefits.

illustration of lane changes - E Burnside at 18th Ave(September 26, 2014)  The East Burnside Transportation Safety Project is scheduled to begin construction in early October on the first phase of improvements.  This High Crash Corridor project will restripe E Burnside St from 14th Ave to Laurelhurst Pl (just west of Cesar Chavez Blvd).  E Burnside will change from two lanes in each direction to one westbound lane, one center turn lane, and two eastbound lanes. The new configuration will add about 15 on-street parking spaces. A second phase in Spring 2015 will install three pedestrian islands and marked crossings at 18th, 22nd and 24th avenues on the west leg of each intersection and reduce the posted speed from 35 to 30 MPH.

This project was requested by adjacent business and neighborhood associations and developed in partnership with a Community Working Group.  Community members reviewing street planThe goals of the project are to reduce crashes, reduce speeds, improve pedestrian crossings and access to transit, and support the business district.  The treatment is expected to reduce crashes on this segment of E Burnside by about 30%.

For additional information including the why, what, and when of the project, check out the project brochure here, or visit the Burnside High Crash Corridor website.

Traveling on Going Street? Street maintenance to close sections starting Sept. 8

(September 3, 2014) - The Going Street Neighborhood Greenway, one of the most popular bike routes in the city, will get a fresh coat of sealant this month to improve the roadway and extend the life of the pavement for years to come.

Beginning Sept. 8 and continuing for up approximately 5 days, N & NE Going Street will be closed in three to four block sections so crews can fog seal the street from N Vancouver to Cesar Chavez Blvd.  Please note:

      • Each section will be closed for only one day. 
      • Follow the signed detour (see map below) and stay off the pavement while crews work and the fog sealant dries
      • Fog sealing is extremely sticky when applied. It will remain wet and sticky for up to eight hours after application. That’s why is it so important to protect yourself and ensure an effective treatment by keeping cars, truck, bicycles, children, pets, and your shoes off the pavement until all barricades and traffic control have been removed.
    • Bicycles may use the sidewalk but should use extreme caution as Going is a busy pedestrian thoroughfare. People choosing to ride on the sidewalk must proceed slowly and cautiously.


Fog seal is a coating of asphalt, recycled tire rubber, and grit blended locally in Portland. It is a cost-effective technique to maintain low-traffic streets, extending the life of the pavement and preventing more  costly and lengthy repairs later.

This preventive maintenance project is part of Mayor Charlie Hales’ and Commissioner Steve Novick’s  Back to Basics initiative to repair and improve at least 100 miles of streets during this fiscal year. The Back to Basics initiative prioritizes maintenance of the city's Neighborhood Greenway network of streets, like Going, that are optimized for bicycling and walking. 

Please help us improve Going Street for you and other travelers by staying off the pavement while it’s being sealed.

For more information about the Going project or other PBOT maintenance concerns, call the 24-hour hotline at 503-823-1700.

Going Street detour route




Welcome SmartTrips Targets New Movers for 2014

Program offers tips and tools for those finding their way around a new neighborhood

(July 23, 2014)  After 12 years of moving around the city to target specific neighborhoods, Portland’s residential SmartTrips program is taking a new approach for 2014.  SmartTrips, a program of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Active Transportation Division, is focusing on people who have recently moved.

Delivering SmartTrips information by bike

Recent movers include new Portland residents - relocating from another city, state or country - and those who have recently changed residences within Portland. The thinking goes, when people move they must develop new patterns for everyday trips - shopping, library, school - and may be more open to making changes in how they get around.

Welcome SmartTrips sent out its first mailing to about 9000 residents on May 6 followed by a reminder postcard, a newsletter and an order form within a few weeks. Residents can order, either online or by mail, a variety of tools and resources for getting around Portland. Available resources include bike and walk maps, a digital pedometer, transit maps, information on carshare, schedules of guided walks and bike rides, travel safety tips and more. Water conservation tools and information are also offered.

To date, SmartTrips has received about 1500 orders for materials from new residents. Customized packets are delivered by bicycle to residents’ door steps within two weeks, and orders have come in from all reaches of the Portland area including Marine Drive, 184th Avenue in east Portland and the Multnomah/Washington County line on the west side. Three staff members typically ride 20-25 miles per day but have ridden as much as 40 miles on one delivery pulling trailers full of customized packages for new residents.  Trailer with bags for delivery

Funding for the SmartTrips program comes mostly from a Metro Regional Travel Options grant. These grants fund “projects to reduce the number of people driving alone, improve air quality and address community health issues.” Metro’s Regional Travel Options group is also focusing on new movers this year.

Over the ten years in existence, Portland’s Residential SmartTrips program has been able to effect an average 9 percent shift away from drive alone trips to more active modes – biking, walking, transit, etc.