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PBOT gets council support for Vision Zero, except from Commissioner Hardesty

Cover of PBOT’s Vision Zero 2-Yr Replace.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is making regular progress on their march towards safer streets. They’ve queued up a powerful slate of capital tasks, labored the legislature to realize authority for velocity limits and enforcement cameras, and have handed necessary plans with the coverage backbone that permits them to do things like remove auto parking from corners (a.okay.a. “intersection daylighting”), install crossing remedies in additional places, and so forth.

Final week PBOT introduced their annual Vision Zero 2-Yr Replace (PDF) to city council. They don’t need to get council’s official blessing for reviews like this, but PBOT typically takes this step to burnish council relationships, lay political groundwork for funding requests, and get specific support for what may be controversial Vision Zero-related moves down the street.

Things like this often get unanimous support as a result of PBOT doesn’t deliver half-baked ideas to council they usually temporary every commissioner beforehand to ensure they are up-to-speed with the issues and knowledge. So it was an enormous shock when Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty voted no.

“…When every other street has a different speed limit, you’re not changing behavior, you’re making people lose their minds because they don’t know how to legally operate on the street.”
— Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty

Here’s what occurred…

Metropolis council passed a commitment to Vision Zero in 2015. By the top of 2017 they’d handed an “Action Plan” aimed toward attaining it, and by spring of that yr Vision Zero had turn into the bureau’s chief organizing precept.

Final Thursday’s presentation to council was expected to be non-controversial. PBOT Director Chris Warner and his Lively Transportation and Security Division Manager Catherine Ciarlo up to date commissioners on planned capital tasks (they’ve eight tasks on major streets planned to be completed by 2020), new policy approaches, and near-term actions they’re taking to enhance street security (together with the left-turn calming initiative we reported on earlier at this time).

“I’m very disappointed to hear your concerns with this report. If those are your takeaways — which are virtually unfounded — I don’t think my bureau has done a good enough job briefing you on this program.”
— Commissioner Chloe Eudaly

In certainly one of his first major council appearances since being named PBOT director lower than a month ago, Chris Warner spent some of his time explaining why the bureau now erects electronic indicators for two weeks on the location where somebody was killed in visitors. It’s part of a “culture of shared responsibility,” which is considered one of PBOT’s Vision Zero priorities. “Sometimes there will be a fatality and a few hours later everything will be cleaned up and people won’t really know what happened,” Warner explained. “So we really want to raise the focus and awareness for Portlanders to know that was a dangerous spot, that someone died there, and for them to really reflect on how they’re driving.”

When cautioned by Commissioner Nick Fish about promising the public such a lofty objective as zero deaths, Warner was unfazed. “Unless we have that goal I don’t think our job is ever complete. And I don’t think we can stop doing what we can to make sure there are no deaths or injuries on our streets,” he stated.

Sitting alongside Warner, Ciarlo spoke about PBOT’s dedication to the “Safe Systems” strategy. “If Vision Zero is the performance measure, then Safe Systems is the approach that will get us there,” she explained. Ciarlo shared a slide (under) outlining the essential tenets of the strategy, which call for (amongst different things) metropolis employees to be proactive, as an alternative of reactive to problems. It additionally says street designers and policymakers — not just users of the system — share duty for security outcomes.

PBOT slide outlines primary tenets of Protected Techniques strategy.

When it got here time to vote and touch upon the report, Commissioner Amanda Fritz had effusive reward for Commissioner Eudaly and the Vision Zero program normally. She urged PBOT to maneuver even more shortly in their effort to remove parking at corners and provided recommendations on how one can fund the work. Commissioner Nick Fish additionally strongly supported it, saying “This is a fine piece of work and I’m proud to support it.” (Mayor Ted Wheeler was absent.)

Commissioner Hardesty on the 6/13 meeting.

Then there was Commissioner Hardesty. As we reported yesterday, she had expressed considerations early in the presentation concerning the “big issue” of people who walk while utilizing their telephones. Turns out that wasn’t her solely concern.

Hardesty stated in her feedback before her vote, “I think it’s a good vision. I just think it could be a better vision.” “It looks like the responsibility we’re putting is primarily on the drivers of automobiles as compared to us taking responsibility for the roads we haven’t built, the sidewalks we haven’t built, the lighting we haven’t put in,” she added. “There are reasons why there are a lot more crashes in east Portland. The primary reason is there’s been a lack of investment in east Portland.”

Hardesty’s comments touched on several points she’s uncomfortable about.

Hardesty referred to as out PBOT’s velocity limit discount efforts – not as a result of she needs individuals to drive quicker, however as a result of she feels they’ve created a patchwork of various velocity limits that make it too arduous to comply with the regulation. “You could be going a couple of blocks, and it’s [the speed limit is] up another 10 miles, then you turn to the left and it’s down 20 more miles [an hour], then you turn to the right and it’s up another 10 miles [an hour]. It’s very confusing if your goal is to change behavior, when every other street has a different speed limit,” Hardesty stated. “You can imagine how frustrating it is for people who live in the community who are trying to do the right thing and yet there’s no commonality or consistency from one major arterial to the next. I just don’t think that’s a good way to change behavior. You’re not changing behavior, you’re making people lose their minds because they don’t know how to legally operate on the street.”

PBOT’s Ciarlo defined that because the City of Portland doesn’t have management over the velocity restrict on all streets (ODOT does), they’ve had to go “section by section”.

Then Hardesty stated she believes PBOT is concentrated an excessive amount of on particular person behaviors when the system itself isn’t a degree enjoying area. “I continue to have the concern that we are over-criminalizing one segment of our community and using them as the reason why people are dying rather than the poor conditions of our roads. The lack of lighting, the lack of sidewalks in many places. I think it all works together.”

PBOT slide on enforcement cameras.

Earlier within the meeting there was a discussion about velocity reader boards (signs that present velocity limit in comparison with actual driving velocity) and automated enforcement cameras. Hardesty expressed discomfort with cameras because of privateness and racial considerations. Regardless of stats introduced by PBOT that present a clear reduction in rushing in places where cameras have been put in, Hardesty appears to favor reader boards which don’t have a built-in enforcement and quotation mechanism (“90% of people look down and check their speeds when they pass those reader boards,” she stated). Hardesty pressed PBOT to share demographic knowledge from the velocity and pink mild digital camera citations. That knowledge isn’t presently collected and PBOT stated it might be challenging to find out individuals’s race based mostly on the pictures taken by the system — to not point out the potential pitfalls of getting a employees individual make racial determinations based mostly on appearance.

Eudaly stated she likes the reader boards too and would welcome more demographic knowledge, however she defended the enforcement cameras as an necessary device. “I’m not so interested in being punitive as I am in changing behavior. However, because there’s such inadequate enforcement on the street… If there’s no ultimate consequence I think we lose that effect over time.”

In the long run, Hardesty remained skeptical and the presentation didn’t allay her considerations. “I guess until I know whether or not we’re penalizing folks, and whether we’re still using speed readers or whether we’re actually going to start giving people tickets, and what that process will be, I will vote no.”

“I’m very disappointed to hear your concerns with this report,” Eudaly replied. “If those are your takeaways — which are virtually unfounded — I don’t think my bureau has done a good enough job briefing you on this program.” (Word that this pressure between Hardesty and Eudaly round enforcement just isn’t new.)

Yesterday I asked Eudaly’s Chief of Employees Marshall Runkell if the 2 commissioners had spoken since that trade. He stated they’re making an attempt to arrange a meeting but haven’t had a chance to debrief in individual. “Commissioner Eudaly is sympathetic with Commissioner Hardesty’s concerns about over-policing low-income neighborhoods and the surveillance state, but she did a good job of explaining why PBOT’s approach allayed her concerns from the dais during the hearing.” (I reached out to Hardesty’s office as properly but the commissioner and her chief of employees are out till next week.)

Whereas PBOT’s Vision Zero Report and 2-Yr Strategy was finally adopted 3-1 final week, a renewal of the photographic visitors enforcement contract will return to council on Wednesday, June 26th.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and [email protected]

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