In 2015 Portland became one of the first cities in the country to adopt Vision Zero—an ambitious plan to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injury crashes on our roadways. Since then, PBOT has worked to:
- Strengthen a culture of safety within PBOT and across the city;
- Protect the most vulnerable people on Portland streets regardless of race, language, age, income, or physical ability;
- Prioritize investment in designing safer streets and installing what is needed for safety—technology and infrastructure where it is needed most.
- Identify safe speeds and use education, enforcement, and engineering to achieve those speeds on Portland streets; and
- Test new concepts like protected bike lanes and launch innovative safety programs like our Safe Ride Home initiative.
The alarming numbers of fatalities that have already occurred on our roads in 2019 is a reminder about how much work we still need to do to achieve our Vision Zero goals.
As our city continues to grow, so too does the number of cars on our roads. National and international research clearly shows that an increase in driving reduces safety for everyone on our streets—drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike. Simply put, as Portland grows, and more cars take to the roads, our transportation system becomes less safe.
Moving to Our Future takes two major steps to reverse this trend. First, it continues our aggressive implementation of our Vision Zero Action Plan. Adopted in 2015, the Action Plan aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injury crashes from Portland streets. To do this, we focus our efforts on our city’s most deadly streets, called the High Crash Network, and we do this with proven Vision Zero strategies—building safer streets, encouraging safer behavior, and deploying effective and equitable enforcement. The High Crash Network represents only a fraction of the total streets in Portland, but this is where the majority of fatal and serious crashes occur. If we can make these streets safer, we will make Portland safer.
Of course, traffic safety is a citywide issue. Not every fatality and serious crash occurs on the High Crash Network. For this reason, Moving to Our Future adopts a citywide approach known as Safe Systems which prioritizes safety in everything we do. Safe Systems means we design and build streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, and infrastructure safe enough to compensate for the inevitable mistakes that people make.
What outcome do we want from this goal?
- Make annual progress toward eliminating fatal and serious injury crashes.
- Build streets that are safer and where people drive slower.
How does making Portland streets safe for everyone advance equity?
- Addressing hate in streets. Safe spaces mean different things in different neighborhoods. Our public streets and sidewalks belong to everyone and should be safe and welcoming for everyone. This begins with treating each other well and combating hate in our public spaces. How people experience safety and inclusion in our streets is fundamental to every decision they make.
- Strengthening relationships with our community and within communities themselves. Specific decisions we make resonate differently in different parts of the city. More streetlights are needed in some areas, while lighting is insufficient in others. As we work to create safer, more livable communities throughout Portland, we also must recognize the impact of displacement. Only through deep engagement and partnership with the community and other agencies can we prioritize the safety projects each community needs. By listening and building connections, we ensure that our work allows people to remain in their communities, and that everyone can enjoy the benefits of safer streets
How does making Portland street’s safe for everyone reduce pollution?
- Less driving, fewer crashes. Building a safe transportation system shares some of the same fundamental goals and measures of climate action. Every additional mile driven in Portland increases the risk of serious injury or fatality on our roads. To increase safety and reduce carbon emissions, we must reduce the number of trips made by people driving.
- Feeling safe inspires more active travel. There is a strong correlation between safe conditions on the street and the ability of residents to use more sustainable transportation modes. Working through our Vision Zero plans and our Safe Systems approach, we will measure how our projects provide safety and how much of a shift to different modes of travel we see as a result.