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Update on the PBOT 102nd Project - will you help make presentation to City Council?

December 07, 2019 11:58 AM | Anonymous

Dr. Cowles is asking for two people to help present concerns to the Portland City Council at their Jan. 7th meeting. Please contact a member of the GEAC committee or Dr. Cowles if you want to help him with the presentation.

Dr. Cowles advises that "Because the City Council no longer allows one person to speak for more than three minutes, we need two more 'volunteers' to help deliver the messages.  All will have a script with accompanying poster-boards as needed.  Last time, I taped my script to the back of each poster board.  Seemed to work.

The goal is to let the Council know that Vision Zero's two major goals, Eliminate all traffic fatalities, and Eliminate all serious traffic injuries, is not only not working, but is resulting in increased frustration and anger, and record traffic fatalities.  And, to make the recommendation that an independent expert examine each VZ project in context of the two goals, and make suggestions.  And, prepare a summary of the talks to send to the general Portland groups."

Dr. Cowles asked Transportation Engineer Christopher M. Clemow PE, PTOE to review the  PBOT 102nd project to see if it will meet the Vision Zero Mission.

Here is his response:

I have reviewed the crash data and the NE 102nd improvement project identified on the PBOT Vision Zero website.

Your concerns are well-founded, particularly as they relate to serious injury crashes. The 102nd improvements will most likely improve overall corridor safety as intended by PBOT; however, these improvements are less effective at reducing/eliminating excessive speeding and alcohol-related crashes. While most corridor crashes (turning, angle, sideswipe, rear-end) occur during congested periods and have less severity, most speeding and alcohol crashes do not occur during these periods. 

Reducing the posted corridor speed will likely improve safety; however, the two elements of truly improving corridor safety are missing - increased enforcement and increased societal accountability.  Both elements can (and should) be improved/implemented; however, it requires a fundamental shift in City policy and increased traffic enforcement funding. This also gets to another point you make - when a public agency is attempting to reduce corridor crashes, the primary focus of Vision Zero should be on eliminating severe crash types versus overall crash reduction (although this is also important) which is the current basis for how projects are priority ranked and funded.

I am not positive what more I can do for you on this issue. Overall, I believe that improving corridor safety is a good objective and that PBOT is doing the 'best' they can given the parameters of the Vision Zero project and the political willingness of the elected/appointed officials to implement change. However, I also believe that until we get serious about enforcement, there are increased societal consequences, we fundamentally change how vehicles and drivers are licensed/insured, and our transportation system shifts to predominately autonomous vehicles that we will never really get to (or approach) zero serious injury or fatal crashes.

Thank you,


Christopher M. Clemow PE, PTOE

Transportation Engineer

Please contact Dr. Cowles directly, a member of the GEAC committee or Debbie Utberg if you want to help Dr. Cowles make the presentation to City Council. Thank you.

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