October 4, 2005
Portland Transportation Safety Summit
The Portland Office of Transportation held a Safety Summit yesterday, involving members of the community and officials from various bureaus and agencies responsible for transportation and safety.
The headline was that our streets are getting safer. Crash injury rates for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers are all on a downward trend. Nonetheless Commissioner Adams and the organizers asked the assembled participants to help find ways (preferably without spending a lot more money) to continue to improve safety.
I attended two breakout sessions. The first on safety on Main Streets hit one of my favorite topics, crosswalk markings. Commissioner Adams asked if perhaps we should mark fewer crosswalks, but much more visibly, concentrating our resources.
The second breakout I attended focused on freight safety. A lot of the issues revolved around truck and passenger car interactions, with a general view that drivers are not educated sufficiently about interacting with trucks (stopping distance, mirror visibility, etc.) and therefore often do things near trucks that are unsafe.
I saw many Portland Transport contributors and regular commenters at the summit. What were your impressions? What great suggestions came out of your breakouts?
October 4, 2005 7:25 AM
Ross Williams Says:
There was a suggestion that new residents get a targetd with a message to do things the "Portland Way" including stopping for pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks, sharing the road with bikes, giving the right-of-way to buses, etc. Since new residents have to get a drivers license the campaign could easily target them and since they are already making a lot of changes, establishing new behavior would be easier.
I think for it to work there would have to be a media effort targeting existing residents as well so that a good portion modeled the behavior. I also think it would work best as an effort lead by NGO's rather than by government agencies.
October 4, 2005 7:28 AM
Ross Williams Says:
Oh - the other idea was to lower neighborhood street speeds to 15 mph and engineering all streets for the desired speed. There was also a discussion of street trees, traffic calming, narrow streets and more on-street parking as ways to reduce neighborhood traffic speeds.
October 6, 2005 1:54 PM
rex Burkholder Says:
I was going to add something on Ross' second comment. I couldn't attend the Summit because I was in Salem at a meeting about the update of the Oregon Transportation Plan. One idea that I didn't get in the draft going forward (because I thought of it too late), was to get the State--through the Oregon Transportation Commission--to either "relinquish" their interest in local residential streets or to alter that interest substantially and in the manner Ross mentions.
What is the State interest in local streets? Well, they don't pay for them and never want to pay for them. Yet, they still control the speed through the Speed Control Board (set up to prevent cities from creating speed traps to raise revenue from travelers on state highways) which requires that all streets allow 25 mph travel. The State also treats local streets like arterials and freeways in the proscribed rights and responsibilities of motorists and non-motorist. People on foot must yield to cars even in the cul-de-sac in front of their house.
wouldn't it be great to:
1) allow local communities to set speed limits and therefore street design on local streets to encourage lower speeds where people live;
2) create "people first" zones where cars are guests and must yield to people in the street. Think of all the new basketball games, outdoor dining with friends, shuffleboard tournaments (for us aging baby boomers) that could take place in what is now mostly empty concrete and asphalt.
I will be submitting this idea to the OTC as part of the OTP process and would love to get support from readers of this forum.