The City of Portland is poised to approve an action plan for Vision Zero after a year of task force meetings to generate a data-driven consensus based approach toward reducing fatal and serious crashes to zero in the City. It couldn’t come soon enough. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance has been advocating for a Vision Zero policy for more than six years. We have seen time and time again the disastrous results when traffic flow and convenience is a higher priority than safety. This policy will set in motion a guiding principle for the City that we will not tolerate a single fatality as a “consequence” of our transportation system.
Change will not happen over night. This is a change in mind-set as much as design priorities. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance and our partner, Oregon Walks, released a report in March of 2015 that called on the City of Portland, the State of Oregon and regional municipalities to enact Vision Zero guidance policies. Read the full report here.
We knew that it would be difficult to go from concept to implementation. The decision to build a strong task force that represented a wide range of stakeholders allowed a lot of ideas and challenges to be aired. Equity is baked into this plan from the get-go. There is a broad understanding of the impact of traffic enforcement on communities of color with a de-emphasis on enforcement as a tool compared to other cities. We will see strategic enforcement, but it should never come at the expense of those communities who most often face the traffic injustices of safety to begin with.
This is also a work-in-progress. Because it is data-driven, it will need to be flexible. We should make sure we keep doing those things that work and stop doing those that don’t. Sounds simple? Well, too often, transportation decisions are political rather than data-driven. Unfortunately the data tells a story that is clear. Our most dangerous roads are the ones that carry the most traffic and at the fastest speeds. The solutions will not be ones that everyone will love, but if the City of Portland holds steadfast to Vision Zero, they will be solutions that save lives.
There are many folks to thank for getting us to this point. Thanks to former Mayor Sam Adams who was the first to embrace the concept at the City back at an event the BTA held in 2010. Thanks to the lead team from PBOT and all the key stakeholders who sat at meeting after meeting to hammer out the action plan. Thanks to Commissioner Novick who embraced Vision Zero to carry it further.
We’re not done. We expect that the work will move to three main areas:
- Monitor the implementation of Vision Zero in Portland and form partnerships to carry out recommendations around education, encouragement and community engagement.
- Continue to work to pass similar policies at the State of Oregon in the 2017 Legislative Session.
- Continue to work with other municipalities and counties in the region to pass policies, most notably Washington County, Hillsboro, and Beaverton to start with.
You are invited to testify in support of the Vision Zero Action Plan at the City Council meeting on Wednesday, October 12th starting at 3pm in Council Chambers. View the Facebook event here.