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Portland Transportation Leaders Set Goal To End All Traffic Fatalities In the City

Portland’s Director of Transportation has set a new safety goal: to end traffic fatalities in the next ten years.

Portland city horizon with I-5.

Portland city horizon with I-5.

Michael Clapp/OPB

“Any death on our roadways is unacceptable and avoidable, and we need to work collaboratively across the city to do everything we can to protect people’s lives,” says Leah Treat.

That goal is one of many the Bureau of Transportation set in a 2-year work plan it released Tuesday.   On average, 37 Portlanders die each year in traffic accidents. Distracted driving and speed are often factors, Treat says. 

For example, a pedestrian hit by a car traveling 25 miles per hour has a 95 percent chance of surviving. If the car is traveling 35 miles an hour, only about half of pedestrians hit survive.

The Bureau hopes to reach the safety goal, which Treat calls “Vision Zero”, using a combination of strategies: redesigning some four-lane streets, lowering speed limits, enforcing traffic laws and expanding the use of automated cameras, and educating drivers.

“Unmanned speed cameras would give us another tool to catch speeders and aggressive driving on many of our dangerous roadways,” Treat says.

Other transportation priorities include protective sealing for the city’s 147 miles of streets, and managing traffic congestion and parking as Portland continues to grow.

“Even though population is growing and the economy is expanding, our roadway space is not. Our streets, roads, and other public rights of way are, for the most part, a fixed resource,” the plan states.

The plan includes a range of strategies to handle increasing demand for street parking. The Bureau is considering greater use of metered parking on the East side and will research variable “performance pricing” for parking spots in the central city.

The plan also suggests changing city regulations to permit “shared parking,” which would allow hospitals, theaters, and businesses to make spaces in their garages available to the general public.