Vision Zero Action Plan Update 2023-25
Today, we're pleased to share the latest update of our plan to advance Vision Zero, the goal to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on Portland streets, with the Vision Zero Action Plan Update 2023-25.
Since our last Vision Zero update in 2019, the world has changed in significant ways. A global pandemic exacerbated societal struggles. A U.S. movement for racial justice—renewed by the murder of George Floyd by a police officer—reignited conversations about systemic racism in our communities. The impacts of climate change have intensified with deadly temperatures and hazardous air quality.
Some actions in this update respond to these new realities, others continue our work to create a safer transportation system.
This update, summarized below, 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. It also sets the course for our work through 2025.
You may view the executive summary and/or full plan online. Be sure to also visit the Vision Zero dashboard, an interactive data exploration platform, for an overview of traffic safety improvements from the past five to 10 years and data relating to our performance measures.
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.
With input from the community and other agencies, the city’s original Vision Zero Action Plan (2016) outlined principles that still guide us:
- Equity: Actions will focus on the inequities in our transportation system, particularly for Portlanders living on a low income and people of color. Our work will not lead to racial profiling.
- Data: Data drives decisions, based on the underlying causes of death and serious injury on our streets, and the places where traffic violence occurs most often.
- Accountability: We measure success by how much we invest in historically underserved communities, and by what degree streets are safer.
Safe System approach
The goal is zero traffic deaths and serious injuries. What’s known as a “Safe System approach” is how we get there.
With a Safe System approach, the transportation system is planned, designed, and operated to be forgiving of inevitable human mistakes, so that serious injury outcomes are unlikely. The following five elements work together to create a safe, redundant transportation system.
Portland crash trends
People most impacted by traffic violence
Understanding the groups most impacted by traffic violence, shapes how we respond and take action.
- Black and Indigenous community members died in traffic crashes at about twice the rate relative to their proportion of the population.
- Males ages 26 to 55 are over-represented in traffic deaths.
- 55% of pedestrians killed—30 out of 55—were unhoused when they died.
Top contributing factors
Certain factors have an outsized impact on traffic safety.
- 70% of pedestrian deaths and serious injuries occur at night (from dusk to dawn).
- 69% of deadly crashes involve alcohol and/or drug impairment.
- 50% of deadly crashes occur on wide streets (4 or more lanes), which only account for less than 5% of Portland’s streets.
- 42% (at least) of deadly crashes involve speed.
- As vehicles have gotten bigger, pedestrian crashes have gotten deadlier.
For more information on crash trends in Portland, visit our Vision Zero data webpage.
High Crash Network
The 30 streets and 30 intersections in Portland with the highest number of pedestrian, bicycle, and motor vehicle crashes form what is known as the High Crash Network. The High Crash Network represents 8% of Portland streets and yet it accounted for 62% of traffic deaths in the past five years (2018-2022).
Equity data and traffic crash data guide our investments
PBOT Vision Zero prioritizes investments in areas where the High Crash Network intersects with communities with higher proportions of people of color and lower median incomes.
62% of deadly crashes are on 8% of Portland streets
Areas that score higher on PBOT’s Equity Matrix have three times the number of pedestrian deaths per capita compared to the rest of Portland. Citywide, 40% of all traffic-related deaths are pedestrians. Our investment in infrastructure and services in higher Equity Matrix areas and to support pedestrian safety is critical.
Vision Zero actions are organized by the elements of a Safe System. Here, we highlight ten of the 35 actions in the Vision Zero Action Plan Update 2023-25.
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.
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.
We all have responsibility for the safety of ourselves and others as we travel on Portland streets. “Safe people” actions center on education, raising public awareness, and engaging with culturally specific communities about traffic safety.
Improving traffic safety through vehicle technology and regulation is a relatively untapped opportunity in the United States. While city governments can demonstrate technology using their own fleets, federal policy is required for systemic change.
PBOT updates the public on our Vision Zero work annually—what work we’ve done, and what areas need more attention.