Pedestrian overrepresentation in traffic deaths

This photo shows people walking across a street when the pedestrian signal says walk and the traffic light is red for a few seconds before turning green. This is called a Pedestrian Head Start signal. Photo by Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Pedestrians face the greatest risk in Portland's transportation network.

Roughly 5.7% of Portlanders primarily walk to work, yet 40% of all traffic related deaths from 2018 - 2022 were pedestrians. East Portland continues to have nearly twice the number of pedestrian deaths per capita compared to the rest of Portland. 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.

This is where our investment in infrastructure and services is critical. 

What the data tells us about pedestrian crashes:

Vision Zero relies on a data-driven approach to identify the streets and intersections with the most crashes. While the aim of Vision Zero is to eliminate deadly and serious injury crashes, we look at all crashes for people biking and pedestrians because the difference between a minor injury and a serious injury to a person biking or pedestrian is often random and circumstantial.

Traffic deaths & injuries to pedestrians (2011 - 2023)

Two-bar chart of pedestrians deaths and injuries in Portland from 2011 to 2023.There is a peak of injuries around 2016 that declines, and deaths slowly rise from about 20 in 2017 to 27 in 2021.
Source: ODOT Crash Data System. A double bar graph showing traffic deaths and injuries to pedestrians from 2011 to 2023. There is a peak in injuries in 2016 that decreases after, and a slight rise in deaths after 2017. *Injury data for 2022 and 2023 is not yet available.
  • 71% of all pedestrian crashes occur at intersections, with 44% at signalized intersections.
  • 20% of pedestrian crashes result from left-turning drivers failing to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk at signalized intersections.
  • 25% of all pedestrian crashes occur mid-block, due in part to long distances between marked crossings.
  • 49% of all pedestrian crashes occur in low-light conditions

Injuries and deaths of pedestrians, by location (2017 - 2021)

A pie chart illustrating the locations in an intersection that crashes most often occur. 51 percent of crashes occur at intersections with signals, and 49 percent occur at locations with no signal
Source: ODOT Crash Data System. A pie chart illustrating the locations in an intersection that crashes most often occur. 51 percent of crashes occur at intersections with signals, and 49 percent occur at locations with no signal.

Many actions to make walking safer are set out in PedPDX, Portland’s pedestrian plan. PedPDX prioritizes sidewalk and crossing improvements to make walking safer and more comfortable across the city.

How is Vision Zero making streets safer for pedestrians?

Since the last update in 2019, the Vision Zero team has released a new action plan that reflects the progress made and challenges faced since the original plan was adopted in 2016, and sets the course for our work through 2025. Below are some objectives Vision Zero is working towards:

ObjectiveMeasures of Success

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

2023: 82nd Avenue (NE Lombard Street and SE Foster Road); E Burnside Street (NE Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard to 12th Avenue); and NE Halsey Street (71st to 80th avenues)

2024:SW Fourth Avenue (Lincoln Street to W Burnside Street); SE Foster Road & Woodstock Boulevard couplet (96th to 101st avenues); NE Halsey Street (65th to 92nd avenues); NE Killingsworth Street (53rd Avenue to Lombard Street); and SE Stark Street & Washington Street couplet (72nd to 92nd avenues)

2025: NE Halsey Street (I-205 overcrossing); NE Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard (Cook to Highland streets); SE Stark Street (108th to 162nd avenues); and SE Stark Street & Washington Street couplet (92nd to 106th avenues)

  • Construction begins on projects in the identified year
Strategically improve street lighting conditions to increase visibility of (and for) pedestrians on our streets, focusing investment on High Crash Corridors and locations, Pedestrian Priority Streets, and underserved areas. Address the backlog by prioritizing areas score higher on Portland Bureau of Transportation's Equity Matrix.
  • Number of street segments (measured in miles) where we add street lighting
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 pedestrians PBOT has built on the High Crash Network 
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
Adopt a policy to ensure we make intersections safer whenever signals are rebuilt on the High Crash Network.
  • Complete location analysis
  • Adopt a policy
Apply new marked crossing space guidelines as part of PBOT capital projects.
  • Decrease in the percentage of the Pedestrian Priority Network with crossing gaps
Reduce uncontrolled left turn conflicts are arterial/non-arterial intersections along Major City Walkways, City Walkways, and High Crash Corridors in conjunction with capital projects.
  • Decrease in pedestrian crashes overall
  • Zero pedestrian crashes resulting in death or serious injury
  • Decrease in pedestrian crashes walking along the Pedestrian Priority Network and High Crash Network