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How we are making streets safe through Vision Zero

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Portland’s Vision Zero Action Plan sets out specific, measurable actions to move toward zero traffic deaths or serious injuries on Portland streets.
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Portland's Vision Zero commitment

No person should die or be incapacitated from simply going about their day. Protecting human lives is core to Vision Zero, the goal to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on Portland streets.

In 2015, Portland made a commitment to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets. The 2016 Vision Zero Action Plan mapped out actions to make that commitment a reality. Portland's Vision Zero 2-Year Update (2019) report describes lessons learned during Portland’s first two years as a Vision Zero city and sets the stage for the next phase of work. Our latest update, Vision Zero Action Plan Update 2023-25, reflects the progress we’ve made and the challenges we’ve faced in the seven years since city council adopted the Vision Zero Action Plan in 2016, and sets the course for our work through 2025.


Actions and performance measures

Safe speeds

Slow people driving to reduce injuries

Slowing down people driving reduces crashes and their severity. People who drive slower can stop more quickly to avoid a crash. Driving more slowly also reduces the chance of injury or death when crashes occur.

Set safe speed limits

ActionsPerformance measures
1. Update speed limits to reflect new state guidelines.
  • Analyze all city speed limits
  • Miles of street where we have lowered speed limits

2. Make school zones safer. 

Evaluate all school zones and flashing warning lights, update our guidelines, install new school zones, and lower speed limits around them.

  • New school zone guidelines in place
  • Number of school zone adjustments

Redesign dangerous streets to encourage safe speeds

ActionsPerformance measures

3. Develop a strategy around street design and speed. 

Build a toolbox for street design that considers how to slow people driving on busy streets and residential streets.

4. Change signal timing. 

Where feasible, retime signals on the High Crash Network to slow vehicles down.

  • Identify where to retime signals
  • Corridors where we have retimed signals

Enforce the speed limit

ActionsPerformance measures

5. Install more cameras for automatic speed enforcement in crash hotspots. 

Overcome challenges in procuring and installing cameras.

6. Analyze speeding citations. 

Better understand how speeding affects different ZIP codes.

  • Complete analysis within six months of getting access to the database

Safe streets

Design and maintain streets to protect people

Designing a safe transportation system means building streets to protect people even when they make mistakes. Core to this work is slowing down people driving and protecting pedestrians and others outside these vehicles.

Improve street lighting on wide streets in high-equity areas

ActionsPerformance measures

7. Design and install new street lighting on streets in the High Crash Network. 

Address the backlog by prioritizing areas that score higher on Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) Equity Matrix.

  • Number of street segments (measured in miles) where we added street lighting

Maximize signal operations for safety

ActionsPerformance measures

8.Launch “no turn on red” pilot. 

Reduce the risk of turning crashes that are particularly dangerous for pedestrians and people bicycling.

  • Begin pilot
  • Evaluate pilot

9. Launch “rest on red” pilot. 

At night, at some intersections with a history of speed-related crashes, display red lights in all directions to require drivers to slow down as they approach the intersection. Technology at the intersection will detect the vehicle and give a green light.

  • Begin pilot
  • Evaluate pilot

10. Adopt a policy to ensure we make intersections safer whenever signals are rebuilt on the High Crash Network

Determine where and when we are rebuilding signals or adding rapid-flashing beacons to crosswalks. Develop standard operating procedures on where and when to install roundabouts. Write policy that considers and prioritizes all manner of intersection safety measures when we rebuild signals: roundabouts, shortening pedestrian crossings, reducing conflicts from turning, and/or slowing drivers down.

  • Complete location analysis
  • Adopt a policy

Transform wide, fast streets

ActionsPerformance measures

11. Break ground on multiple major projects along the High Crash Network each year.

2023

2024

2025

  • Construction begins on projects in the identified year

12. Engage community members on key safety projects. 

Projects will be on streets in the High Crash Network and in areas that score higher on PBOT’s Equity Matrix.

  • Develop public engagement plan and perform public engagement in line with timelines for design and construction

13. Analyze deficiencies in the High Crash Network using a Safe System approach. 

Use analysis to prioritize corridor planning, project development, and funding.

  • Complete analysis

14. Partner with PBOT’s pedestrian program to advance pedestrian safety projects identified in PedPDX

Priority projects are on streets in the High Crash Network, in areas that score higher on PBOT’s Equity Matrix, in pedestrian districts, and near schools.

  • Complete project list and investment strategy
  • Number of new pedestrian crossings PBOT has built on the High Crash Network
15. Upgrade temporary materials (such as rubber curbs and flexible posts) to permanent materials (such as concrete) at priority safety project locations.
  • Develop priority list
  • Identify funding
  • Number of permanent safety improvements built

16. Integrate the Safe System approach into PBOT’s internal decisions and processes. 

Use the High Crash Network as one input to prioritize projects, maintenance, and paving. Integrate safe speeds and protection for pedestrians and people bicycling into project work and the Complete Streets checklist.

  • Create agreements with relevant divisions

Respond quickly to critical safety needs

ActionsPerformance measures

17. Install low-cost treatments along street segments with a high concentration of crashes. 

Build recommendations from PBOT’s 2023 High Crash Network priority segment analysis.

  • Develop delivery plan and identify funding
  • Number of locations addressed

18. Evaluate spots where fatal crashes occur, identify safety improvements, and install improvements where we can. 

Multidisciplinary team meets monthly to evaluate locations.

  • Percent of site evaluations completed
  • Number of locations with improvements installed

19. Add low-cost safety elements to existing projects on the High Crash Network. 

Leverage existing project development process to achieve added safety gains.

  • Number of locations with improvements installed

Measure street design performance

ActionsPerformance measures
20. Develop project evaluation guide to support consistent PBOT safety evaluations of corridor projects on streets in the High Crash Network.
  • Develop evaluation guide

21. Evaluate all significant corridor projects on streets in the High Crash Network. 

Define roles and responsibilities for project development and delivery.

  • Percent of High Crash Network safety projects that are evaluated and that follow the evaluation schedule

Safe people

Foster a culture of shared responsibility for each other’s safety

We all have responsibility for the safety of ourselves and others as we travel on Portland streets. These actions center on education, raising public awareness, and engaging with culturally specific communities about traffic safety.

Advance safety and sense of belonging for culturally specific communities

ActionsPerformance measures

22. Develop a personal safety resource for use by both PBOT and community members. 

The resource will identify ways to integrate personal safety into capital projects and public space programming.

  • Develop resource

23. Collaborate with culturally specific groups. 

Share safety resources, and provide ongoing education and engagement.

  • Number of community events or trainings with a safety focus that Vision Zero staff develop or attend

24. Engage with groups who are over-represented as victims of traffic violence. 

Share safety resources, and provide ongoing education and engagement.

  • Number of community events attended, and resources shared, with impacted communities

Educate Portlanders about making safe travel choices

ActionsPerformance measures

25. Host events and raise awareness on traffic safety. 

Conduct proactive outreach on the Safe System approach. Prioritize events around the High Crash Network and in places that score higher on PBOT’s Equity Matrix.

26. Place a variable message sign at the site of deadly crashes. 

Raise awareness and encourage safe driving behavior where traffic violence occurs.

  • Percent of eligible sites where a variable message sign was placed
27. Integrate Safe System approach into traffic safety education materials for elementary-, middle-, and high-schoolers.

Focus enforcement on safety and education outcomes

ActionsPerformance measures

28. Partner with the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division on focused enforcement.

Ensure that enforcement focuses on the High Crash Network and the behaviors that contribute to deadly and serious injury crashes. This also means deemphasis of non-moving and minor infractions.

  • Number and percent of citations issued for speed and for driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII)

29. Partner with the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division on training.

Ensure training for new police recruits includes data about traffic safety, how to process DUII offenses, and city and state protocol and laws around making traffic stops. These training elements should focus on advancing safety and equity outcomes.

  • Topics covered in new officer trainings

Curb impaired driving

ActionsPerformance measures
30. Support legislation to lower Oregon’s legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit from 0.08% to 0.05%.
  • Supported legislation to lower the legal BAC limit to 0.05%

Safe vehicles

Make vehicles safer for people inside and outside of the vehicles

Improving traffic safety through vehicle technology and regulation is a relatively untapped opportunity in the United States. For example, the European Union requires that all new vehicles have automatic braking to prevent possible collisions, speed limiters to prevent vehicles from exceeding the speed limit, and back-up cameras. These features are only available in some cars sold in the U.S. While city governments can demonstrate technology using their own fleets (and require safety features in contracted fleets), federal policy is required for systemic change.

ActionsPerformance measures

31. Advocate for stronger national regulations. 

Write and lobby in support of requiring vehicle manufacturers to add safety features that address safety overall, and pedestrian and bike safety in particular.

  • National efforts that PBOT has supported

32. Partner with City Fleet team on ways to increase traffic safety. 

Explore emerging technology and demonstrate effectiveness.

  • Ways our feet explores new technologies

Post-crash care

Provide quick medical response and quality treatment

The fifth pillar of a Safe System approach, “post-crash care,” is about timely emergency response and quality treatment. Quick response to the crash scene and good medical care increases the chance that a traffic crash victim will survive. This pillar is a particular focus of rural areas with greater distances from hospitals and emergency services. PBOT coordinates with Portland Fire & Rescue to ensure projects do not negatively impact emergency response. Multnomah County leads the effort to improve emergency response times.

Accountability

Share progress on Vision Zero work

PBOT updates the public on our Vision Zero work annually—what work we’ve done, and what areas need more attention. PBOT remains committed to safety, and this kind of reporting helps keep us accountable.

ActionsPerformance measures
33. Redesign and update Vision Zero online reporting.
  • Redesign dashboard
  • Provide quarterly updates based on data availability
34. Produce annual summary of PBOT’s Vision Zero work.
  • Write and distribute summary
35. Produce annual report on deadly crashes.
  • Write and distribute report