As we approach the Independence Day holiday, it's a good time to talk about safety. I had the opportunity to participate in the 2nd Annual PDOT Safety Summit earlier this week. It's a great event where citizens can interact with PDOT staff and other agencies to brainstorm how to make life safer out on the streets.
But today I want to celebrate our successes in this area. Here are a few slides from the opening presentation demonstrating that it is in fact getting safer out there.
I'd particularly like to point out that on a trip-by-trip basis, it's safer to walk or bike than drive! I know someone will point that it's probably not so on a mile-by-mile basis, but hey, that's just one more reason to organize your life so you can take shorter and less auto-dependent trips for your daily needs.
Last Thursday, the steering committee overseeing the Lake Oswego transit alternatives analysis got an update on the evaluation of alternatives. I'll hit the highlights below, but the full presentation is here (PDF, 3M). There are also some visual simulations that I will post later when I receive them.
To get involved in the process, you can attend two open houses next week, and a formal public hearing on July 16th. Details are on our calendar.
The first interesting piece of data in the evaluation is that Streetcar has the best travel times among the alternatives due to the availability of dedicated right-of-way. Even with queue-jump lanes at intersections, BRT gets stuck in congestion on Highway 43.
In fact, Streetcar travel times are better than auto travel times, even with the more conservative total travel time measure (versus in-vehicle time). This is one of the few corridors in the region where transit beats autos on total time.
There is an interesting question the steering committee will need to grapple with that doesn't appear on the slide. If the alternative chosen is to run in Macadam through Johns Landing - avoiding the political challenge of running next to the existing condos and likely contribution to a higher development potential - the price is several minutes in travel time.
Streetcar also appears to have the highest potential ridership.
There is a very unfortunate conflict developing between Streetcar and a trail in the same corridor. The critical pinch point is the tunnel through Elk Rock, which is not wide enough to accomodate the Streetcar and the trail (it's barely wide enough for one Streetcar track). Since there is no practical way to run the trail over or around Elk Rock, a poor set of choices are left:
Abandon the Streetcar and get a relatively inexpensive trail, but ONLY if it turns out that the easements will hold up legally without rail use - a very debatable question. This option also abandons the $50M value of the right-of-way as a potential match against Federal funding for a rail project.
Bore a very expensive additional tunnel through the Elk Rock.
Put Streetcar stops at either end of the tunnel and let hikers and bikers board for the segment under the rock.
Yuck all around.
While Streetcar has higher initial capital costs, lower operating costs make it less expensive than BRT over a 20 year horizon.
One of the questions the Metro Council posed is whether it would be more effective to reach Lake Oswego via an extension to the Milwaukie LRT line. A very preliminary analysis suggests that capital costs would be higher and ridership would be lower. However, operating a DMU-type commuter rail service on the existing rail bridge may have some potential.
An article in today's Daily Journal of Commerce looks at whether getting Mississippi Avenue's sidewalks to the recommended twelve feet will come at the expense of property owners who are redeveloping, or will come out of a perhaps over-wide street.
The final days of the legislative session were very good for Streetcar in Portland. The package of Lottery bonding projects included two key items:
$20M for vehicles for the Streetcar Loop
About $250M for the bridge for Milwaukie Light Rail
That means that not only are we in good shape for the capital side of our Federal application for the project segment to OMSI, but that we can see a non-too-distant future where a bridge will complete the entire Loop route around the central city.
The 20th century was the century of the interstate highway, the shopping mall and the automobile. What will the 21st century bring? Join Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder and Gail Achterman, a member of the Oregon Transportation Commission, for City Club’s June 29 Friday Forum, where we’ll explore the future of transportation in Oregon — at the federal, state and regional levels.
Now, the way we move people, goods and services relies heavily on highways. Yet, oil prices continue to rise and over 60 percent of American-consumed oil is imported from far-away sources in Russia, Nigeria and Venezuela. Congestion is increasing, and nearly 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gases are a result of transportation-related pollution. In the future, what will be required of Oregonians to change the way we travel, and how will we need to transform our delivery systems in order to adapt to the needs of the 21st Century?
Burkholder was a founder of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and served as its policy director. He has taught high school science and served as faculty at Portland State University’s Office of Student Development. He is also a founding trustee of the Coalition for a Livable Future, which unites more than 50 citizen groups on the issue of sustainability.
Achterman, a member of the Oregon Transportation Commission, is a natural resource and environmental expert with policy-making experience at the state, local and federal levels. She currently serves as director of the Institute for Natural Resources and is a member of the boards of the Oregon Garden and Northwest Environment Watch. She also served as executive director of the Deschutes Resources Conservancy, and practiced law for 18 years with Stoel Rives LLP.
Join us as we discuss the future of transportation in Oregon.
Last month I wrote about the Poli Car system in Italy that added an element of trust to carpooling via a text message system.
I just learned of a similar system that has been started in Seattle called Goose.
And this week's Smart City radio program has an excellent discussion of a system in Massachusetts (which also works nationwide in theory) called GoLoco, founded by Robin Chase who previously founded the ZipCar carsharing company.
The point Chase makes on the show is that this is essentially the extension of social networking approaches to ride-sharing.
But obviously these things start slowing until they hit a critical mass, and a series of local systems will have a harder time getting to critical mass.
So here's my question. What if we approached this confluence from the other direction? What would happen if MySpace added a transportation feature tomorrow? It might be revolutionary...
Monday's Oregonian features a front page story that essentially accuses Peter DeFazio, the City of Portland and Portland Streetcar of working to get Federal dollars to Oregon Iron Works to help jump start a local streetcar manufacturing industry.
I believe the official charge should be "conspiracy to create jobs in Oregon."
The procurement process was open, no one has appealed it and the Federal Transit Administration has said very clearly that it was completely legal.
Is the congressional earmark process screwed up? You bet - see the post yesterday about Rob Puentes' remarks - there's very little strategy in our national transportation funding system. I hope our congresspeople will reform this, if only because I'm sure that when it becomes performance-based, we'll fare very well.
But meanwhile, I hope Peter, Earl, Darlene and the rest of the delegation will keep looking out for our interests and entrepreneurial opportunities like this.
Last week I attended a presentation by Rob Puentes of the Brookings Institute that was part of the economic development series sponsored by PSU and Metro.
Puentes' topic was national policy on infrastructure investment and his message was pretty stark: we're wasting our transportation dollars. Puentes has analyzed the return on investment for our transportation investments. In the era of the initial construction of the Interstate Highway System, the returns were excellent. Since then, the payback has continually declined.
Puentes makes the point that transportation dollars are now essentially allocated as pork with each Congressional District getting their share of the pot. There is no prioritization.
In particular, Puentes points out that metropolitan regions are the economic drivers of our economy, but transportation investments are often concentrated outside of metro areas. This is true in Oregon as well. Only about half of the gas tax dollars generated in the Portland Metro area come back to the region. The rest are spent elsewhere in the state.
The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
Friday morning I got to see that in action in spades. I had an appointment on Interstate Ave and elected to walk. As I crossed the Broadway Bridge eastbound, I encountered a hundred or more cyclists in a steady stream commuting into downtown and had the opportunity to exchange a wave with 3 different people that I know (including a PDOT bureau director). I also came across the SHIFT Breakfast-on-the-bridges crew serving coffee to the commuters.
I can safely say I've never encountered that kind of delightful instantaneous community while driving a car.
The Federal Transit Administration is having trouble understanding the two sets of benefits, as illustrated by the fact that all the projects funded so far under the new 'Small Starts' category have been BRT projects.
That should change with Portland's application for the Streetcar Loop. We've got a Streetcar that provides both great transportation benefits (10,000 riders per day in the latest sampling) AND development benefits.
Keeping Portland Weird - by bike. We talk with tall bike builder Tiago Denczuk and Jacque Authier, the mastermind behind the Sexy Cyclists ride who has big dreams of getting more women over 40 back on their bikes.
ODOT expects about $710M to be available for highway modernization projects (in the period from 2011 through 2035) and sorted out their priorities for those funds. They also presented 'Ilustrative' and 'Refinement' project lists for what they might do with funds beyond that.
It's worth noting that only the first phase of the Sunrise corridor fits within the expected funds, and the only contribution to the Columbia River Crossing is for engineering. That would suggest that ODOT expects the CRC construction to be funded from something other than the usual flow of funds (perhaps a combination of tolls and special appropriations?).
TriMet was not so restrained. They put together a long wish list, far beyond what the anticipated $1.1B in transit funds is likely to pay for. I'm sure some of our readers will be interested to note that the wish list includes potential Commuter Rail and Bus Rapid Transit projects.
You can't say Sam Adams doesn't have courage. He's looking at ways to close Portland's street maintenance backlog, and find some dollars for safety programs.
The ultimate proposal will likely be a combination of two or three funding mechanisms, possibly including a local gas tax and/or a Street Maintenance Fee (a utility fee added to your water bill based on the # of auto trips your property type generates).
You can read more on OregonLive. They call it 'unsexy', which strikes me as charitable.
Nonetheless, it's important. We're gradually letting a multi-billion-dollar City asset crumble.
Sam is doing it right, consulting all the stakeholder groups and doing a series of community meetings. Drop by one:
Commissioner Sam Adams to Hold Series of Town Hall Meetings
to Discuss Portland's Ailing Transportation System
Currently, 32% of Portland's arterial streets, 22% of the bridges, and 43% of the traffic signals are in poor condition. Deferred maintenance adds an estimated $9 million annually to the $425 million transportation backlog that exists. Given current funding, money does not exist to adequately address these issues.
Commissioner Sam Adams is taking this issue to the public in an effort to ensure a sustainable and safe transportation system for the future. Over the next few weeks, Commissioner Adams, the Portland Office of Transportation, and the Portland Neighborhood District Coalitions are hosting Town Hall meetings to discuss transportation funding, and maintenance and safety needs. These Town Hall meetings will provide residents of Portland a unique opportunity to learn about the current transportation funding situation and provide their input on how to fix the problem.
Mark Lear has been temporarily pulled from his position as Traffic Investigations Manager and will lead the public outreach campaign to build support for increased funding for PDOT maintenance and safety projects. If you have questions about these meetings or the outreach effort, please contact Mark Lear at 503-823-7604 or Jamie Waltz, who's assisting Mark, at 503-823-7101.
Community Town Hall Meetings
Southwest Portland: Tuesday, June 19, 7-9 p.m., Multnomah Center, 7688 SW Capitol Highway
Southeast Portland: Wednesday, June 20, 7-9 p.m., St. Philip Neri Church, Carvlin Hall, 2408 SE 16th Avenue
North & Northeast Portland: Tuesday, June 26, 7-9 p.m., King Neighborhood Facility, 4815 NE 7th Avenue
Northwest Portland: Wednesday, June 27, 7-9 p.m., Friendly House Conference Room, 1737 NW 26th Avenue
Central Northeast & East Portland: Monday, July 2, 7-9 p.m., Firehouse #12, 4415 NE 87th Avenue
Some good news for fans of transportation planning, and regional planning in general.
Two bills have passed both the Oregon House and Senate and are headed to the Governor's desk for signature.
One will give Metro an additional two years to process the next Urban Growth Boundary review. The other will give Metro the ability to establish both urban reserves (areas we expect the urban area to grow into in the future) and rural reserves (areas we expect to keep in agricultural or natural resource use permanently).
Why is this good news for transportation planning? It stops a mindless by-the-numbers expansion of the UGB next year (when we still haven't found the resources to plan or build infrastructure for the last two cycles of expansion areas) and by doing the long-term planning to figure out future directions for urbanization, we can have a much more thoughtful long-term process to build transportation infrastructure to serve those areas.
An article in the Daily Journal of Commerce last week suggests that the build out of Park Block 5 (next to the Fox Tower) may bring with it rebuilding the adjoining streets (Park and 9th) to begin to implement the vision of a different kind of street linking the North and South Park Blocks:
“If Pioneer Courthouse Square is Portland’s living room,” said ZGF’s Paddy Tillett, “this park could be characterized as a library or salon.”
A library or salon with wall-to-wall “carpet.” The herringbone paving pattern that will turn the block into a piazza, said Laurie Olin of Philadelphia’s Olin Partnership, will stretch from the base of Fox Tower to the east to the base of the historic buildings to the west, threading together the spaces for walking, driving, and living.
“Americans know how to use a space like this,” Olin said, “and I know people in Portland know how to use a space like this, if it existed.”
It’s a space that can also be used, members of the Park Avenue vision team say, to create momentum for the larger plan. When designers began looking at the park-adjacent streets, Janet Bebb from Portland Parks and Recreation said, they saw the possibilities for creating a special moment in the streets’ progression.
“We would like to seize the day here,” she told the design commission.
You are invited to attend PDOT's Second Annual Transportation Safety Summit!
Join Transportation City Commissioner Sam Adams, ODOT Region One Manger Jason Tell, and PDOT Director Sue Keil for an opportunity to carry out a meaningful review of recent transportation safety trends and accomplishments, and to provide valuable input into current and future transportation safety projects. This Summit is free to attend, with registration required.
The Second Annual Transportation Safety Summit Tuesday, June 26th 2007 1:00pm to 4:00pm The Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Avenue (2nd Floor) Optional pre-Summit pizza and networking session - noon - 1:00pm
This year's Summit will focus in particular on -
* The 82nd Avenue of Roses High Crash Corridor Safety Project
* The "I Brake For People" Campaign
* The Portland Bicycle Master Plan Safety Chapter Update
* The Safer Routes to Schools Program
Please feel free to distribute this invitation to other interested parties or individuals. If you are unable to attend personally, please consider forwarding this email to other members of your organization with an interest in transportation safety, who might want to attend on your behalf.
ODOT's Delta Park Project to widen portions of I-5 between Victory Blvd. and Lombard St. is moving towards the construction phase -- scheduled to begin Spring 2008.
A June 20th Open House will provide an update on the final project design and the upcoming construction traffic impacts and possible detours.
Please join us:
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Ockley Green School Auditorium
6031 N Montana Ave.
Portland, OR 97217
Contact Stacy Thomas with any questions you may have at:
Stacy Thomas, Senior Community Affairs Coordinator
Oregon Department of Transportation --Region 1
123 NW Flanders
Portland, OR 97209
Fax. 503.731.3266 Stacy.L.Thomas@odot.state.or.us
According to this CNN Money article on the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, Portland now ranks among the top 10 transit commuter cities with a commute share of 13.3%.
The article also notes that the survey puts the share of bike commuters at 3.5%, about eight times the national average.
I'd like to see the survey questions and data, and learn more about the geographic areas covered, but at least in relative terms this seems to indicate that the steps Portland has been taking to improve transit and bike networks have had an impact.
Reading through my Trib yesterday morning, I was confronted with a full page ad titled "Keep Oregon Moving" (featuring a pothole as a background).
Turns out this is a group of business leaders and associations (mostly the "cost of congestion" report proponents at both the statewide and local level). They are listed prominently in the ad on their website: www.KeepOregonMoving.com
The basic pitch is that we need to put pressure on the legislature to actually have a reasonable transportation funding package.
Now I may part company from these folks on the details of how to add targeted new capacity, but I'm 100% on board with the idea that we at least need to raise the gas tax to pay for maintenance of the roads that we have.
So I'd like these folks to have some success. But what I can't understand is where's the rest of the likely coalition? In particular, why aren't local governments on the list? I know that cities and counties all around the state are lobbying the legislature for basic maintenance funding. So why haven't these two groups gotten together to take a focused run at the legislature?
Well, if you're stuck in construction traffic in downtown Portland, you can call a new hotline: 503-865-MOVE (865-6683).
Downtown Traffic Hotline to Ease Travel Hassle
(PORTLAND, OR) - Do you have a problem with traffic in downtown Portland? The Portland Office of Transportation is listening. Operators are standing by to take your call to the Downtown Traffic Hotline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 503-865-MOVE (865-6683). Use the hotline to get information about what streets are open or closed, to report problems with downtown traffic or signals, or to report any other downtown travel hassle. Call 503-865-MOVE (865-6683) or visit KeepPortlandMoving.org.
Word from an insider is that the operators aren't very busy...
The Coalition for a Livable Future is hiring a part-time, temporary transportation policy advocate to lead its Shift the Balance Campaign. The Transportation Policy Advocate will be an integral part of the CLF’s policy analysis and advocacy team- including public policy analysis, coalition building, developing consensus among regional partners, and decision-maker lobbying. Specifically, the transportation policy advocate will focus on carrying out the Coalition’s Shift the Balance Campaign, which is focused on influencing two key regional transportation decisions: Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan Update and the Columbia River Crossing Project. For the full job description and instructions for how to apply, go to: http://www.clfuture.org/about/jobs/document_view
Thursday morning, I was very fortunate to be traveling southbound on I-5 on my way to Wilsonville. I only had a brief delay as we rubbernecked at the tractor-trailer splayed across all the northbound lanes.
Folks heading north were being detoured off of I-5 at 217 based on a predetermined ODOT contingency plan. The fact that such a plan exists is part of an increasing focus on operations and ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) as a way to deal with non-recurring congestion.
I was amused to read in the latest issue of Portland Monthly that Editor-in-Chief Ted Katauskas recently got nabbed for blowing a red light - on his bike.
Like many others (both drivers and cyclists) he was given the opportunity to reduce the $242 fine to a $30 fee to attend a new "Share the Road Safety Class".
This class, sanctioned by the courts and run by the Trauma Nurses Talk Tough organization (with help from a number of local transportation agencies), is proving very popular, with 100+ participants each month.
Let's hope we all learn to share the road more safely!
While I'm on the topic, I also want to give a shout out to the Evergreen Safety Council, an organization that provides driver training and safety classes for commercial drivers.
It's a City of Portland program that provides an intensive 1-day opportunity for the homeless in our community to connect with services they need. In January, more than 800 homeless singles received services like medical, dental and vision care; counseling on disability and Social Security benefits; and counseling on housing services.
On September 18th another event will be held for homeless families. I've been asked to the be the team leader for transportation services.
I'm wondering if our blog community here at Portland Transport will step up to provide brainstorming about the kind of transportation services required by the homeless, help make the connections with those service providers, and then act as volunteers on the day of the event?
What do you say? What ideas do you have for services? Who's in to help with the effort?
Do you think a Streetcar would benefit your neighborhood or local main street? Here's an opportunity to share your idea!
On July 27th, Reconnecting America will hold one of four regional Streetcar conferences here in Portland. In conjunction with this, on Saturday morning, July 28th, we'll hold a local brainstorming session to identify Streetcar corridor opportunities here in the Portland region.
If you'd like to present your ideas as part of the brainstorming, please contact session chair Chris Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today's News-Register has an article about new interest in a study for commuter rail in Yamhill County. The article uses the term "light rail" in a few places but from the context it is pretty clear that what they are really talking about is commuter rail on existing freight tracks.
Since the Regional Transportation Plan is fully underway, and grabs most of the headlines, I thought everyone should also know about what Metro is doing with regard to high capacity rail planning.
First of all, we in Portland owe much to the dedicated and visionary leaders and planners in the 1970’s and 1980's for the incredible regional rail system that we have today. Our system benefited from the regional compact in 1990 that laid the foundation for the expansion of the light rail system from 15 miles to over 60 miles. We have made amazing progress in the last 20 years on our existing plans, as well as projects not even envisioned in that era, namely a 15-mile Commuter Rail line that’s currently under construction from Wilsonville to Beaverton as well as the Portland Streetcar system, which has brought amazing economic development along with its ridership success.
But despite our region’s success, we must not rest on our laurels, so we’re aggressively pursing new rail system planning.
Starting this summer and ramping up in the fall, Metro will be undertaking a Regional High Capacity Transit System Plan. This plan will build on the work currently underway in the RTP, and will include the prioritization of future major transit investments in the region. Metro will be evaluating ridership, costs, operations and financial feasibility of potential light rail, streetcar, commuter rail and bus rapid transit projects in the region. The work will be closely coordinated with TriMet and local jurisdictions. Metro's efforts will dovetail with work that the City of Portland is undertaking on the development of a Streetcar system plan.
I hope that everyone who follows transportation issues closely is both thankful for how well our region has planned and implemented our rail transit system and energized about our ongoing and future efforts to add more rail capacity. It’s one of the most valuable assets our region has to maintain our economic security and quality of life for generations to come.
Past agreements have allowed us to avoid the multi-billion dollar tax increases seen in places like Denver, Salt Lake and Phoenix to rectify the unsustainable practices of sprawl and automobile monoculture. Steady, modest investments coupled with smart land use planning and good urban design help us avoid drastic actions yet we can’t let up. This next round of constructing our region’s transportation “backbone”—high capacity transit—is critical.
Wed, June 6
Sara and Carl will host as many event organizers as they can cram in the studio. We'll be talking about a variety of Pedalpalooza events - giving you just a taste of the festival that's about to explode.
Pedalpalooza event organizers are encouraged to call in with shout outs for their events.
Thurs, June 7
Ayleen and Tori will be interviewing organizers of Pink, a love note
courier service and Kelly Peach, the mastermind behind many of Portland
recent and future creative bike events.
Tues, June 12
Sara will interview the founders of Clever Cycles, a new bike shop that
is importing Bakfiets and other Euro bikes.
Wed, June 20
Keeping Portland Weird - by bike. We'll be talking with tall bike
builders, entertainers and more.
KBOO FM 90.7
Streamed live at KBOO.fm
Podcast here later that day
Reconnecting America has just published an FTA-HUD study that finds that households in transit-rich neighborhoods spend just 9% of household income on transportation, while suburban households spend 25% of household income.
It also suggests that households that move to the suburbs to find lower housing costs spend up to 77% of the housing savings on transportation.
A couple of years ago, Google launched the Google Transit service which allowed users to plan trips on an interface very much like Google Maps, using schedule data from transit agencies in various cities. (In fact, Portland was the first city chosen for this service.)
Recently, Google began integrating features of Google Transit into the main Google Maps interface... most noticeably in the form of icons representing transit stops on all map results (in supported cities). The icons are clickable to view transit lines and arrival times. There is even a special icon for the Aerial Tram.
I'm afraid the old bank account at Portland Transport is getting a little low.
When we surveyed you last year, you were pretty clear you'd rather have ads than constant dunning for contributions. We should get our first Google Ads check next month, and that will help a lot, but meanwhile, we need to ask for your support.
It's also important over the long term that we show support from a diversity of contributors. At the five-year mark the IRS will review our 501(c)(3) status and we'll be in much better position if we can show a large number of donors, even if it's for small amounts.
So if you have an old vehicle to donate, great! Otherwise, please think about making a small gift (even $5.00 helps immensely). Just hit the PayPal button.
Some of the focus for the article is on the rail vs. bus issue that we've discussed often here. I'd like to focus on a different question the article raises (at least indirectly).
Funding for transit today is primarily based on the payroll tax. That works well to the extent that as employment grows, driving demand for more transit, funding also grows to match it.
But if demand for transit grows because demand increases due to modal shifts (for example because energy costs change behavior, or because land use changes allow more people to effectively access transit) funding does NOT increase to match the new demand.
Where should we look for funding for the increased appetite for transit?
This is explicitly about asking how we grow the pie rather than fighting about how we cut the slices!
Whether you think they're big brother in operation, or the greatest thing out there for safety, Portland will soon have more red light cameras:
CITY OF PORTLAND OFFICE OF TRANSPORTATION
For Immediate Release
May 31, 2007
Contact: Cheryl E. Kuck
Phone: (503) 823-5552 or (503) 823-5909 cell
CITY TO INSTALL RED LIGHT CAMERAS AT SIX ADDITIONAL LOCATIONS
(PORTLAND, OR) - The Portland Office of Transportation will request that Portland City Council on June 6, 2007, will approve the installation of six additional red light cameras at selected intersections in the city, with five on the city's east side. The cameras, authorized by the Oregon Legislature in 1999, capture vehicles and their drivers running red lights and are meant to reduce crashes caused by this dangerous and illegal behavior.
Below is a list of the six intersections to receive the cameras. Each has a history of high numbers of crashes caused by red light running in the last four years.
• SW 4th at Jefferson - 29 red light crashes
• SE Stark at 99th - 19 red light crashes
• SE Stark at 102nd - 44 red light crashes
• SE Foster at 96th - 53 red light crashes
• NE Broadway at Vancouver - 28 red light crashes
• SE Washington at 103rd - 35 red light crashes
Traffic specialists say that when red light violations occur, they most often result in an angle or turning collision. These broadside collisions, also known as right-angle or T-bone collisions, are especially dangerous because the sides are the most vulnerable areas of cars.
"The most serious crashes that occur at intersections are caused by someone running a red light," said Sergeant Dan Costello of the Portland Police Bureau's Traffic Division. In Portland, turning and angle crashes are 2.5 times more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities than rear-end crashes. "Adding six more cameras will further decrease these types of crashes," says Costello.
There are currently six red light cameras operating at five intersections in Portland, enforcing the entering traffic as follows:
• E Burnside at Grand Avenue, northbound approach
• NE Sandy Blvd at 39th Avenue, westbound approach
• NE Sandy Blvd at 39th Avenue, northbound approach
• SE Grand Avenue at Madison Street, northbound approach
• W Burnside at 19th Avenue, eastbound approach
• NE Broadway at Grand Avenue, westbound approach
Studies show that Portland's red light camera program has reduced red light running at the existing five camera intersections and the injuries and fatalities that red light running causes.
"No matter how pressed for time you are, please stop for a red light," says City Commissioner Sam Adams. "Gambling on saving a minute or two by running a red light could kill or seriously injure you or someone else. Red light running has very serious consequences."
The six new cameras will be installed by the end of August, with three going in by the end of June (4th/Jefferson, 99th/Stark, 102nd/Stark). Signage will be posted to alert drivers to the cameras.
DATA AND BACKGROUND
For intersection approaches with red light cameras, crashes went down after the cameras were installed. During the three-year period before installation of the cameras at the five intersections, there were 136 total crashes, 33 of which involved red light violators. In the three years after installation, there were 122 crashes on the enforced approaches, 29 of which involved red light violators.
Red light cameras can only serve one direction of travel. The red light camera program is intended to discourage red light running for the specific intersection approaches that are enforced. However, a broader goal for the program is to have a more generalized reduction in red light running behavior at locations without red light cameras. One indication of this more generalized effect relates to crash activity at the non-enforced approaches at intersections with red light cameras.
Crashes at the entire intersections, not just for the approach with red light cameras, have dropped as well. During the three-year period before installation of the cameras at the five intersections, there were 252 crashes, 78 of which involved drivers going against the red light. In the three years after installation, there were 199 crashes at the intersection, 54 of which involved red light violators.
In addition to a reduction in total crash activity, injury crashes have also dropped at locations where red light cameras are operating. There were 26% fewer injuries for the enforced approaches for the four years after camera operation than there was for the four years before. Total injury crashes for all approaches at the intersections were reduced by 30% over the same time period.
According to Greg Raisman, a City traffic safety specialist, fines from red light cameras are dedicated to a traffic safety account. "These funds are used to make our roads safer through engineering, education, and enforcement efforts," says Raisman. "The program is set up so that violators pay to make our streets safer and so that they are less likely to violate again in the future."
In 1999, the Oregon Legislature approved the use of 12 red light cameras in Portland. The first six were installed between October 2001 and April 2003. The cameras take photographs of cars running red lights, generating tickets that are sent to the car's owner. Police oversee the issuance of tickets, which carry a $245 fine, and the money goes in to the City's General Fund. Over a five-year period, the red light camera program netted the City nearly $60,000 per year.
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that red light cameras have a positive economic benefit of about $40,000 each year per camera by reducing the number of severe crashes at enforced locations. This means that Portlanders will realize an estimated $1.8 million in economic benefit in the first 10 years of operation of six new red light cameras. The estimated cost of installing cameras at six locations is $250,000. This represents a benefit/cost ratio of over 7 for the investment.
Two City agencies administer the program. The Police Bureau reviews and signs the issued citations to the drivers, provides officers to testify if the driver requests a trial, and works with program vendors on maintenance issues. The Portland Office of Transportation monitors the effectiveness of the cameras. Both agencies are responsible for choosing which intersections receive the cameras. Locations are selected for red light camera enforcement because they have high numbers of crashes caused by red light running compared to other intersections in the city.
For more information about the red light camera program, go to the City of Portland's website at www.portlandonline.com, and in the search field, type: red light running.
A couple of notes from our server move over the weekend. First, after the initial move, comments were very slow. We implemented some optimizations to address this, including changing some of our comment spam controls.
We're now using a different anti-spam tool: Akismet. It's a pretty tough screen. If you find your comments are going into the junk bucket, drop an e-mail to email@example.com and we'll dig them out. This will also alert us so we can figure out if we need to do some tuning.