Portland Gearing Up for Vision Zero. Will Oregon DOT Cooperate?

A group of Portland leaders are headed to New York City this week for the Vision Zero for Cities Symposium. As Tanya reported earlier this week, the city is formulating its own Vision Zero strategy, seeking to entirely eliminate traffic fatalities.

Rob Sadowsky, head of Portland's Bicycle Transportation Alliance, is a big supporter of Vision Zero. Photo: Bike Portland
Rob Sadowsky, head of Portland’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance, is heading to New York for the Vision Zero for Cities Symposium. Photo: Bike Portland

Within city government there seems to be a lot of support for setting street safety goals high. Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland says installing speed cameras will be a key part of the city’s strategy, but he wonders whether the state is on board:

The big elephant in the room here in Oregon is our state Department of Transportation. ODOT has not fully embraced the concept of Vision Zero and it remains to be seen whether the BTA’s legwork will finally help them see the light.

At the same conference last month where PBOT Director Treat called for a “culture change” to put safety “above [auto] access, [Level of Service] LOS, above everything,” ODOT’s Traffic Safety Division Manager Troy Costales put a new spin on Vision Zero.

“We don’t use that moniker,” he said, “Our goal is a little different. Our goal is to increase the number of zero fatality days.” Costales added that he wants to “Turn this conversation of talking positively about a negative situation and start talking positively about a positive situation.”

ODOT’s goal is to achieve 175 fatality free days in one year. Last year they had 170.

Definitely sounds like the state DOT is setting the bar low.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Urban Cincy is excited about a new version of the Cincinnati bike map. West North writes about how hyperlocal public planning processes can actually subvert the broader public interest on transportation projects. And The Urbanist ruminates on the physical and functional evolution of streets throughout history.

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