Alt text: 2-up image with Twitter post featuring image of auto crashed into telephone pole adjacent to bike share station alongside image of cyclist forced into the street by car parked in bike lane.

During the past year, The Street Trust has renewed its focus on regional transportation advocacy but we still show up at the municipal level to shape better outcomes.

Recently, we showed up for street users in the City of Portland in four key efforts:

  • Supported PBOT’s proposed Parking Climate and Equitable Mobility Transaction Fee alongside our colleagues at Verde, Parking Reform Network, Oregon Environmental Council, and Getting There Together coalition. The resolution to apply a parking surcharge to fund services like the transportation wallet and Biketown passed City Council unanimously this week.  
  • Supported PBOT’s Safety Camera bill (HB 4105-1) in the Oregon Legislature to allow civilian review of automated traffic enforcement citations. (Did you know that in Portland, 100% of automated traffic enforcement violation review occurs on police over-time!?!) This legislation has passed out of the House and Senate committees. Now it’s on to a floor vote and, if that is successful, back to the House Rules Committee one more time before the session ends. 
  • Opposed PBOT’s proposed installation of unprotected cycling infrastructure on NE Killingsworth along with with BikeLoud PDX, Andando en Bicicletas y Caminando, and Community Cycling Center.  You can read about our close call with an out of control automobile on NE Killingsworth last weekend along with recommendations for reducing traffic fatalities in this Oregon Way piece: We must act now to stop traffic Fatalities in Oregon.
  • Opposed Mayor Wheeler’s sweeps of houseless people camping along dangerous roadways. Nowhere in any transportation study, advocacy campaign, nor community forum seeking to address our roadway safety problems has it been suggested that unhoused people and encampments should be swept or outright banned as a partial solution to this crisis. We organized with over two-dozen organizations, including Oregon Walks, Verde, Street Roots, Central City Concern, and Transition Projects, Inc. to push back on this non-solution to our traffic fatalities crisis and will continue to promote proven solutions to traffic safety. Read the Street Roots update here: Mayor’s order forbidding camping in high-traffic areas leaves unhoused Portlanders with few places to go

This is an important level of advocacy work that The Street Trust attempts to replicate locally in cities across the region. But it is labor intensive and difficult to fund. Your support makes the difference between The Street Trust having the capacity to lead on the these issues or sitting by in silence. 

Join The Street Trust or make a donation today.

Alt text: 2-up image with Twitter post featuring image of auto crashed into telephone pole adjacent to bike share station alongside image of cyclist forced into the street by car parked in bike lane.

 

It’s time for Oregon’s leaders to reject the old—dangerous and deadly—normal and to create a safer mobility system.

 

“We want to welcome you to our WeBike ride, a monthly program to empower women, transgender, and non-binary people to safely ride…” 

CRASH!!! BANG!!! 

We had just kicked off our event outside Hacienda CDC, at the corner of NE Killingsworth and Cully in Portland. The plan for the day was to tour the neighborhood and explore ways that the City of Portland (PBOT) could improve safety not just for people on walking or riding bicycles, but all street users, even those driving. We’d barely finished our introductions when we heard the boom of a crash next to us on the street. A car had slammed into the utility pole right next to the BIKETOWN station where just five minutes earlier several of us had stood in a group to unlock the shared bicycles for our event.1 

You don’t need to be a daily sidewalk or bike lane user to feel how close to home the epidemic of traffic violence is hitting—we’re all feeling it daily, regardless of our travel mode. This week, the New York Times reported per capita vehicle fatalities in the U.S. increased 17.5% between summer of 2019 and the same time in 2020—the largest two-year increase since World War II. Oregon is, sadly, outpacing the national trend, with statewide fatalities up 22% in the same period. And Portland has posted its highest fatalities in three decades.

As we round the bend into a third year defined by COVID-19, we know too well the extent to which the pandemic has exacerbated existing social problems and inequality. This is evident when considered alongside the recent report from our partners at Oregon Walks who found that “people who identify as Black, who are experiencing homelessness, who are Older Adults or who are Persons with Disabilities are all at a disproportionately high risk of being killed in collisions.”

The intensification of vulnerability during the pandemic is reinforced by a recent announcement that 70% of pedestrians killed in Portland last year were people experiencing homelessness; many were living along streets identified in the city’s “high crash network.”

As the reports of these rising fatalities sound alarms, there’s no shortage of attempts to explain away the problem. The NYT analysis referenced above blames “erratic behavior.” For the Portland mayor, homeless camps located near busy streets are the problem. Oregon’s Department of Transportation (ODOT) chalks it up to reckless driving, too few cars on the road, and too few officers to police them.

To me, this feels a lot like blaming a toddler for being cranky all day because they ate birthday cake for breakfast–is it the cake that’s to blame or the fact that it ended up on their plate in the first place?

Let’s be clear: crashes are a function of vehicle speed and volume. People are dying—on bikes, on motorcycles, on sidewalks, and, yes, inside autos—because drivers are going too damn fast. And they’re able to drive that way because our streets have been designed for frictionless driving, not human health and safety. 

We’re glad to see U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg acknowledge the traffic fatality crisis and attempt to address it via his recently released National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS). This Strategy marks an important display of leadership in the right direction. Systemic responses to epidemics are warranted, and we’re happy to see Buttigieg draw a throughline from the lack of safe streets to our inability to shift away from drive-alone trips toward low-carbon modes like walking, biking, and transit. We hope that the guidance issued in his roadmap trickles down quickly (along with adequate funding) to state and local governments.

But we can’t wait for Secretary Pete to come to our rescue: we need to rethink our streets—and our relationship to the streets—rapidly and locally. We can and must take swift action informed by best practices to reduce traffic fatalities immediately.

Oregon is in the top quartile of deadliest states for traffic crashes in the nation and the deadliest on the West Coast. This is a preventable tragedy that can be addressed by investing in a system that’s not as dominated by cars. When you improve the multimodal system and allow people to shift trips from vehicles, you not only reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled, you improve the safety of the transportation system.

A few state-level fixes we could make this month? The Oregon Legislature is considering a bill to authorize civilian review of traffic violations citations initiated by fixed photo radar, photo red light, and dual function cameras. Passing this will reduce costs for local police departments. (Currently in Portland, 100 percent of this review occurs on police over-time!) And more importantly, the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) will soon be directing ODOT how to allocate its one-time windfall from Biden’s infrastructure package.

OTC needs to address the traffic epidemic by steering these resources away from a funding mix that prioritizes drive-alone trips toward active transportation, public transit, and Safe Routes to School infrastructure, education, and safety programs, prioritizing those interventions and investments with the greatest climate and equity impacts. This is no time to undersign the deadly status quo by directing these funds to roadway expansions in conflict with our safety goals. 

The City of Portland, ostensibly a global leader in transportation innovation, could also act swiftly to reduce its traffic fatalities. Instead of sweeping vulnerable people off streets by emergency declaration, it could by the same authority (and with the same money) reduce vehicle speeds, clear intersection corners, and improve lighting in high-crash areas. (Reducing speeds from 40 to 20 MPH increases the likelihood that a vulnerable street user survives  a crash by 70%.)

Portland needs to rethink its public safety budget, beginning with reallocating funding set aside to hire police officers toward completing unfunded and shovel-ready projects in PBOT’s High Crash Network. Expediting implementation of the “Nearer Term Recommendations” from the Pricing for Equitable Mobility Task Force would generate revenue to enhance investments in programs like the “Transportation Wallet” that encourages travel modes other than driving alone. 

And finally, back to NE Killingsworth where this story started. PBOT is currently rushing through a paving project on that street which would leave that community with minimal protection from crashes just like the one we witnessed. Instead, project managers need to slow down and meaningfully engage residents to achieve the highest standard of protection for this already marginalized community – protection that could have possibly stopped that car this past Saturday from making it onto the sidewalk at all.

Making our streets safer is not going to be easy, but failing to act now will only continue the deadly trends, exacerbating disparities in communities with historical underinvestment. Investments in safe routes to school, pedestrian improvements, and safe ways to bike and access transit help strengthen the entire transportation network by reducing traffic fatalities and congestion, as well as improving public health. But sufficient funding is critical to provide these enhancements to the network.

It’s time for Oregon’s leaders to reject the old—dangerous and deadly—normal and to create a new mobility system and safe streets that keep our people safe and moving in the right direction.

By Sarah Iannarone, Executive Director

This post originally appeared in the Oregon Way substack.

sARA

Pro-shelter protesters stand adjacent to busy Portland Arterial

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

SAFE STREETS AND HOUSING ADVOCATES RESPOND TO EMERGENCY DECLARATION: DO NOT USE TRAFFIC DEATHS AS JUSTIFICATION FOR ENCAMPMENT SWEEPS; MAKE OUR STREETS SAFER AND EXPAND HOUSING OPTIONS WITH URGENCY

To: Portland City Council
Cc: Local Media

February 4, 2022

This week’s release of the Traffic Crash Report by the Portland Bureau of Transportation shows the devastating reality of how dangerous our current streets, roadways, and other facilities are. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler shared on his own takeaway via social media: “Portlanders deserve safer streets, roads and freeways.” Indeed, all community members deserve better, which is why we strongly object to the emergency declaration to sweep encampments and further displace unhoused community members from alongside our most dangerous roads. The presence of unhoused people does not make our streets unsafe; rather, poor roadway design, ongoing neglect and deferred maintenance, recklessness in the form of speeding, operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol, and other dangerous behavior are all well-documented reasons why there is this alarming uptick in deaths.

Portland is not alone in this upward trend, unfortunately: all across our state and nationally people are dying on roadways. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg acknowledges this national crisis and has taken steps to coordinate a response through the new National Roadway Safety Strategy. Nowhere in any transportation study, advocacy campaign or community forum seeking to address our roadway safety problems has it been suggested that unhoused people and encampments should be swept or outright banned as a partial solution to this crisis.

The deaths that our communities grieve over is a direct result of prolonged underinvestment, bureaucratic disarray, and broken promises that advocates for safe streets and those experiencing the brunt of our housing and economic crisis have consistently raised to decision makers at every level of governance. In June of 2021, Portland City Council unanimously passed the Paving the Pathway from Streets to Stability ordinance  (#190478), which codified our approach toward outdoor shelters and provided the regulatory tools we need to build six Safe Rest Villages (SRVs). City Council approved $24.9 million in the first tranche of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) dollars to build up six SRVs around the city. These shelters remain unbuilt, and the demand for appropriate housing and shelter continues to outpace the availability of temporary, much less permanent options.

Even if we did have ample capacity to shelter everyone potentially displaced through this emergency order, the Oregonian reported this week that it’s unlikely that most people swept from their residences would even know they have an alternative: 95% of unsheltered Portlanders said city workers didn’t offer shelter before camp sweeps. City officials proposing this emergency declaration are fully aware of the 9th Circuit Court ruling in Martin v. Boise that unless there is enough shelter space for the homeless population of Portland, we cannot prohibit them from camping outdoors on public property. Sweeping unhoused people without viable options for them to safely relocate and shelter is inefficient, ineffective, and inhumane. 

We need to – and can – act urgently to save lives. The City of Portland’s elected leaders can take bold action to do that without further jeopardizing those living on our streets. Swift action can be taken to:

  • Issue an emergency resolution to close down high crash corridors and intersections to auto traffic and reduce speed limits to 20 MPH on all city-owned facilities and roadways 
  • Rebalance the city’s public safety budget to address the traffic fatality epidemic, beginning with reallocating funding set aside to hire 67 police officers to complete unfunded and shovel-ready projects in PBOT’s High Crash Network
  • Fully fund Portland Street Response citywide
  • Immediately fund, implement, and enforce the “vision clearance” of approximately 350 intersections citywide, beginning with those located on high crash network streets
  • Develop Safe Rest Villages (SRVs) quickly using a low-barrier model that is driven by the needs, hopes, desires and lived experience of people experiencing the trauma of homelessness. Ensure that the City develops SRVs equitably and that they are allowed throughout the city 
  • Move to expedite implementation of the “Nearer Term Recommendations” from the Pricing for Equitable Mobility Task Force
  • Quickly convert existing vacant structures into housing that would meet the needs of people sleeping unsheltered in places that pose a risk to their personal safety, following recommendations in the Here Together Coalition’s Road Map
  • Invest more boldly and urgently in Housing First and other proven models that quickly and humanely support people’s direct transition back into permanent homes. 

 

Sincerely, 

Oregon Walks
The Street Trust
Verde
OPAL Environmental Justice
Portland Forward
Getting There Together Coalition
Human Solutions
Imagine Black
No More Freeways Coalition
Street Roots Advocacy
Our Portland PAC
Portland: Neighbors Welcome
Northwest Pilot Project
Impact NW
Sunrise PDX
BikeLoud PDX
1000 Friends of Oregon
Right 2 Survive
Outside In
Urban League of Portland
Portland Jobs with Justice
Central City Concern
Transition Projects, Inc.

 

A Pacific Northwest winter provides so many exciting bicycling environments: relentless rain, very cold temperatures, long hours of darkness, snow, and ice!

Here are 10 tips to help you bike in some of the conditions winter might present.

And if you’re a member of The Street Trust or Business for a Better Portland, join us for an hour-long virtual Winter Biking Clinic on January 24th to learn even more.

  1. Fender up! Full-coverage fenders will keep that dirty, gritty water and slush on the ground from getting on you, but they also prevent it from making its way into your bike where it will slowly grind away at your drivetrain.
  2. Clean your chain. Wiping your chain clean and applying lube more often throughout the winter will keep your bike running smoothly. Also wipe accumulated snow off your chain as it builds up.
  3. Shield your glasses. Get a visor for your helmet to keep rain and snow off yoBiking in snowur glasses. Or you can make one: remove the button from the top of a baseball cap and it will fit nicely under a helmet.
  4. Wool is warm! Wool keeps you warm even if it gets wet. There’s no great vegan alternative to wool so whether or not you’re wearing wool:
  5. Layer up. Wear base layers under jeans, jeans under rain pants, two pairs of gloves, two pairs of socks.
  6. Re-waterproof gear. Check your soggy rain gear’s tag or online to see howto reactivate it–many items just need a spray-on or wash-in coating andthey’re like new. 
  7. Bring extras. If you’ve got room to stow extra gloves, socks, or even shoes, do it! You’ll use these extras to replace wet items or to add as extra layers.
  8. Avoid wet metal. Metal plates and grates can be slippery in the rain so go around them whenever you can.
  9. Long stops. Give yourself extra stopping space when the ground is wet–especially if you have rim brakes rather than disc brakes.
  10. Light up! You’re required to have a front light visible from 500 feet away, but a stronger light that illuminates potholes and other hazards is great for riding in the dark.

Join us with your lunch on Wednesday, January 26th to learn even more about biking in winter. Email [email protected] if you haven’t received your invite yet or to check the status of your membership. Not a member yet? Join for $5 a month or $40 a year here.

Winter Biking Clinic

 

The City of Milwaukie has opened new Safe Routes to School for students attending Linwood Elementary and Sojourner School! Thanks to these multi-use pathways (pictured right), residents can now more comfortably walk and roll on Linwood Avenue. 

These new pathways would not have happened with out the hard work of The Street Trust’s own Nicole Perry, who is our Clackamas County Safe Routes to School Coordinator and parent of one of Linwood Elementary’s students. Great work, Nicole!

Join The Street Trust as we celebrate the opening of the paths this Saturday afternoon. The City of Milwaukie will have four tent stations along the half mile stretch between Montgomery Drive and Aspen Street. The stations will be handing out treats, coffee, apple juice, stickers, and scavenger hunt prizes. Attendees can also also participate in bike decorating and sidewalk chalk art.

Arrive between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. this Saturday, November 20th.

Drive Like It

School is back in session and with students traveling to in-person classrooms again, drivers need to remember school routes are everywhere and #DriveLikeIt!

The Street Trust has partnered with ODOT, Metro, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and Safe Routes to School programs to share this message across the region. Yard signs have been distributed and Trimet buses are running bright pink ads reminding drivers to slow down and watch out for kids.

 

Want to get the message out in your community? Visit our toolkit to download campaign posters and create your own social media posts!



Walk+Roll

Wednesday, October 6 is International Walk+Roll to School Day! Is your school ready to celebrate and encourage their students to walk and roll?

International Walk+Roll to School Day is a global event that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and rolling to school on the same day. It began in 1997 as a one-day event and over time, this event has become part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration – with record-breaking participation – each October. Today, thousands of schools across America – from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico – participate every October.

 

Visit the Safe Routes to School website  to learn individual and whole-school activity ideas, including how to sign up for our next student art contest! 


Oregon Friendly Driver Classes

Want to learn to be a safer and friendlier driver while out on the road? Attend a free virtual Oregon Friendly Driver class !

The Street Trust will teach you how to drive around people walking and bicycling by talking about laws, infrastructure, and common mistakes that people make while out and about through our interactive virtual class. This free class  is appropriate for drivers of all skill levels from new drivers to professional drivers!

 

Joins for a lunch time Friendly Driver training Thursday, September 1 from 12 – 1 pm and Thursday, September 30 from 12 – 1 pm.

 

Want to host a free Friendly Driver class for your workplace?Request a training !


Parkrose Pedal

On September 1st, The Street Trust partnered with the Community Cycling Center for the #ParkrosePedal by the Parkrose Middle School. The event was dreamt by and organized by Nichole Watson, a local bike advocate looking to improve visibility and representation in the cycling community, and the Parkrose School District. Three #TST leaders supported the “bike rodeo” activity and joined dozens of community members for a walk and ride to build a more inclusive cycling culture in the region.

 

TST was thrilled to see such a large turnout and is always seeking volunteers to participate in and help organize more of these types of events in the future!

 

Questions about TST’s education efforts? Email TST Education Director Lindsay Huber at [email protected] or

visit our website.