Today I am pleased that my colleagues unanimously passed my budget amendment to provide street safety interventions as an urgent response to the crisis of vehicular violence that has so far caused 25 traffic related deaths on the streets of Portland this year. That represents a 47% increase in traffic deaths for 2021 compared to this date last year.
It’s clear our City is seeing a tragic increase in loss of life from traffic deaths and we need to treat this like an emergency.
I directed the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to identify and plan out actions that could be taken to provide safety improvements that can prevent traffic deaths as quickly as possible. This amendment funds ready to go action items proven to improve street safety that can be acted on within the next 4-6 months.
These safety interventions will in some cases begin brand new projects while accelerating and enhancing other projects that were already in development.
The $450,000 in General Funds will go to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) for High Crash Corridor safety interventions including:
• Speed Safety Cameras: Install additional cameras on High Crash Corridors to reduce high-risk speeds.
-- Portland’s existing cameras have reduced overall speeding by an average 71 percent and top-end speeding decreased by 94 percent, compared with the period before the cameras were in place.
• Increase Safety and Visibility at Intersections on the High Crash Network, including:
o Pull parking farther from intersections (sometimes called “daylighting”)
o Install signals that give pedestrians a head start to help people see each other and avoid crashes
-- Nearly three-fourths of pedestrian crashes occur at intersections in Portland
• Turn Calming Infrastructure: Add small rubber bumps to high-crash intersections that help left-turning drivers see and avoid pedestrians in the crosswalk.
-- 20% of pedestrian crashes result from left-turning drivers failing to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk at signalized intersections
• Center Turn Lane Delineation: Install flexible posts to help prevent misuse of open center turn lanes approaching major intersections, which can increase the risk of crashes.
• Speed Limit Reductions: Speed limits are a proven tool in supporting safer speeds.
-- Speed is a major factor in nearly half of Portland traffic deaths.
• High Crash Intersection Warning Signs: Install high-visibility signs about traffic safety risks at intersections on Portland’s High Crash Network.
It is crucial to focus on High Crash Corridors. While they make up only 8 percent of Portland streets, high crash streets consistently account for the majority of traffic deaths.
In 2020, 62 percent of Portland’s 54 traffic deaths occurred on High Crash Corridors, and they account for the majority of traffic deaths so far this year as well.
These high crash streets are disproportionately in East Portland and generally in areas with higher rates of people living on low incomes and people who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color. The death rate from traffic crashes among Black residents in Multnomah County was nearly twice the rate among white residents during the period 2013-2017, according to a recent Multnomah County study.
This morning we heard from some passionate students about their desire to see safer streets and sidewalks around the City of Portland. I'm thrilled my colleagues took that message to heart and voted to make our transportation system safer today.