Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 1331, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View Less

Tracking our progress: safety


This week we provide a snapshot of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Active Transportation Division’s work in 2012. Later posts will focus on bicycle ridership and partnerships.

Pedestrian waiting at a crossingEvery person deserves to get to their destination safely.  No person should have a higher likelihood of being involved in a crash because of where they live or how they travel and no person should limit their travel due to concerns over safety.  

Pedestrian Safety
PBOT prioritizes pedestrian connectivity in neighborhoods and business corridors.  Safe mobility for all travelers is PBOT’s highest priority and safe pedestrian mobility serves as a primary performance indicator for Active Transportation in Portland.  Investments in the pedestrian network make getting around by walking and rolling a more attractive travel option and provides Portland residents with safer access to jobs, goods, and services, while increasing their physical activity. 

Some of the key pedestrian projects PBOT built in 2012 include:

  • The SE Stark sidewalk infill project built four blocks of sidewalks on SE Stark between 126th to 130th avenues, providing a critical connection for Menlo Park school students and safe, convenient access to transit for residents in the neighborhood.
  • PBOT installed six rapid flash beacons in conjunction with crossing improvements.  Rapid flash beacons bring attention to pedestrian crossings and create more awareness for people walking, rolling, and driving.

Severe pedestrian injuries and fatalities are shown in Table 1.

Pedestrian injuries and fatalities
* Number of crashes that involved at least one severe pedestrian injury
Injury data source: Official crash record, State of Oregon (query includes “Pedestrian Injury crashes” AND “Injury A crashes”)
Fatal data source: Portland Police Bureau

High Crash Corridors 
To maximize return on investment, PBOT has prioritized safety improvements, outreach, and enforcement on 10 main arterials, designating them as High Crash Corridors (HCC).  HCC are roadways that have exceptional concentrations of crash activity. Identifying HCC helps the City target limited resources for improved safety.   State, regional, and City partners have adopted a metric to track progress on reducing fatalities and severe injury on all roadways (see Table 2).  The City is currently on pace to meet the goal set forth by the stakeholders in 2012 to reduce fatalities and severe injuries on roadways by 50% by 2035.

Fatalities and injuries all modes
Injury data source: official crash record, State of Oregon
Fatality data source: Portland Police Bureau

The High Crash Corridor program employs a comprehensive strategy to reduce severe injuries and fatalities that include educational opportunities, engineering improvements, and traffic safety enforcement actions in partnership with the Portland Police Bureau. 

Some examples of 2012 High Crash Corridor work:

  • In partnership with Portland Police Bureau, High Crash Corridor staff conducted eight crosswalk enforcement actions, resulting in 184 traffic citations or warnings for road users failing to obey crosswalk laws.
  • Installed four different transportation safety messages on over-the-street banners at six locations.
  • Enhanced pedestrian crossings by installing six rapid flash beacons, one HAWK signal, one full traffic signal, two pedestrian islands, and multiple curb extensions; as well as making upgrades to three existing median islands.

New 20 mph sign20 MPH Speed Limits on Neighborhood Greenways
In 2012, PBOT made a significant investment in the health of residents who travel on Portland streets by reducing the speed limit on 70 miles of neighborhood greenways from 25 to 20 mph. 

Reducing traffic speed, even by only 5 mph, can have a tremendous impact on the health and safety of the transportation system’s most vulnerable users. PBOT chose to lower the speed limit on its network of neighborhood greenways, low-traffic, low-speed, local streets where walking, bicycling, and neighbors are prioritized.  PBOT sees neighborhood greenways as the backbone of the City’s growing active transportation network, connecting people to places they want to go, such as schools, parks, and area business districts.

Photo courtesy of Greg Raisman,

Bicycle Safety
Portlanders who live in neighborhoods with safe and convenient bicycle facilities are more likely to incorporate biking into their daily lives.  Biking to work, school, and to meet daily needs, improves air quality and cardiovascular health while decreasing the risk of obesity and heart disease.   Improvements to bike facilities and increasing bicycle network connectivity are two key ways to make biking safer and more attractive to residents. (See our upcoming post on 2012 bicycle projects and ridership for more information).

Helmet use in Portland has been trending steadily upward since the early 1990s. In 1992, only 44 percent of Portland cyclists used a helmet. Helmet use has been at or near 80 percent since 2008, and in 2012 citywide helmet use remained unchanged from 2011 at 80%. Helmet use is highest in Southwest Portland at 90 percent and lowest in East Portland at 63 percent. Though lowest, helmet use in East Portland showed the highest one-year growth.

As has been the case in every year since 1992, women wore helmets at a higher rate than men. In 2012 approximately 86 percent of female riders wore helmets compared to 76 percent of men.

Table 3 compares citywide helmet usage for 2011 and 2012 and at different locations throughout Portland. Table 4 shows severe bicycle injuries and fatalities from 2008 to 2012.

Helmet use
Helmet use is recorded as part of PBOT’s annual bicycle count process. Staff and volunteers counted helmet use at 216 locations between July 20 and September 30, 2012 during peak commuting hours.

Bicycle injuries and fatalities
Fatality data source: Portland Police Bureau
Injury data source: official crash record, State of Oregon


Read the other progress in our 2012 recap series:
2012 Progress Report: Bicycle projects and ridership
2012 Progress Report: Partnerships


Please review our Code of Conduct rules before posting a comment to this site.
Report Abuse (Please include the specific topic and comment for the fastest response/resolution.)

Post a Comment
E-mail (visible to admins only)
 Remember Info Yes   No
Spam Prevention In the Pacific Northwest, what state is Portland in?