Portland’s drive to eliminate bike and pedestrian deaths within a decade, known as “Vision Zero”, took an important step forward this week with the release of a 78-page “vision statement”, according to a recent blog post by Bike Portland. The document was prepared by the city’s Bureau of Transportation and was distributed to the Vision Zero task force on Monday. In the words of Bike Portland, the document “offers the first glimpse into the concrete steps PBOT might take in this unprecedented safety effort.”
As I wrote a year ago, the “Vision Zero” idea is modeled on a program originally introduced by New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. The goal, in both Portland and New York, is to bring dramatic safety improvements to the city’s streets over the course of a decade and, in doing so, to eliminate pedestrian and cyclist deaths while also making the roads safer for drivers.
A key component of the plan is applying sophisticated data analysis to decision-making about traffic, pedestrian and bike safety. As Bike Portland notes, one slide in this week’s PBOT presentation showed that 62 percent of all fatal crashes in the city involve drugs or alcohol, and that of that total alcohol accounted for eight of every ten crashes. The clear message is that drunk driving education and enforcement must be significant components of any city-wide traffic safety plan.
To this end, Bike Portland reports that city data show that the “four top culprits in traffic deaths and injuries (are) speed, alcohol/drug use, intersections and ‘high crash corridors.’” The group opines that the “barrage of data and analysis… shows PBOT is taking this Vision Zero effort seriously and it sets them up for success later as hard political/project decisions arise.” The Bike Portland blog post (link below) is worth a careful look because of the wealth of data it offers. For example, on a list of the city’s 25 most dangerous intersections for cyclists the corner of SE 11th Ave and SE Hawthorne Blvd tops the list followed closely by the corner of SW 3rd Ave and SW Madison Street with 11 and ten bike and car accidents respectively in the period 2010-2013.
As a Portland bicycle accident lawyer I am glad to see the city moving forward with Vision Zero and glad to see the PBOT taking such a careful, data-driven approach. As the PBOT presentation notes, “in the 10 years between 2004 and 2013 there were 333 fatal crashes and 2,145 serious injuries on Portland’s streets.” It goes without saying that this is entirely too many, and that anything we can do to reduce those numbers significantly is worth exploring. The next step in this process is a meeting of the Vision Zero Task Force on February 25.