ACT NOW: Sign our Petition and Demand Portland Adopt #PDXvisionzero.
This past weekend, the City of Portland witnessed the latest tragedies in an ongoing epidemic of unacceptable traffic violence on our streets. Yan Huang, 78, was walking across SE Division with her husband on Valentine's Day when she was struck and killed by an automobile. The next day, a hit-and-run killed another person walking across SE Powell.
These pedestrian fatalities are, respectively, the second and third of the year; there have been six fatalities in East Portland in the past three months. Ten of the last eleven pedestrians struck and killed by automobiles in Portland were walking on streets east of 82nd Avenue, in neighborhoods with disproportionately large low-income communities, elderly communities, youth populations and communities of color.
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As Oregon Walks wrote in an editorial published in The Oregonian last month, "the mix of vulnerable populations, poor planning and unsafe streets are a lethal combination...The promise of Portland's lauded "livable neighborhoods" clearly has not been extended to every Portlander, and it's the responsibility and moral obligation of Commissioner Novick, Mayor Hales and other leaders to work for policies and investments that make it safer to get around on foot."
Oregon Walks demands that the city’s leaders recognize the moral imperative to fix these streets and swiftly declare that the Portland Bureau of Transportation commits to “Vision Zero” policies in future investments in our streets. Originating in Sweden in 1997, Vision Zero is a premise that every traffic crash is preventable, and that every injury and life lost on a city’s streets is a fundamental civic failure.
Efforts to establish “Vision Zero” as a guiding philosophy for transportation investments here in Portland fizzled in 2011, and despite assurances from the Oregon Department of Transportation and the City of Portland declaring intent to invest in safer streets, we are clearly, fundamentally underprioritizing safety improvements in our most vulnerable neighborhoods. Last month, PBOT director Leah Treat stated on the KBOO Bike Show that she intends to adopt “Vision Zero” for Portland. Oregon Walks implores Portland, a city that espouses a commitment to healthy communities and progressive transportation policies, to demonstrate this commitment and join cities including New York, Chicago, and (soon) San Francisco that recognize the imperative to make our city streets safe.
If the City of Portland passes a Vision Zero resolution, we can hold elected leaders accountable to the urgent need to prioritize neighborhood street safety for vulnerable road users, to target investments in East and Southwest neighborhoods that are dangerous by design, and to implore leaders to work with overlapping jurisdictions (Metro, ODOT, Multnomah County) with the fundamental philosophy that a transportation policy that accepts even one traffic fatality is morally abhorrent and absolutely unacceptable.
Information about potential vigils to remember the Portlanders who died while engaging in the basic act of walking this week is forthcoming; we will share information as soon as its available. Our hearts go out to the families undoubtedly suffering unspeakable sadness from the preventable loss of loved ones.
Please sign our petition imploring city leaders to implement a workable, accountable plan that promises to expediently eliminate traffic fatalities in Portland, and share this petition with friends and family on social media using the #PDXvisionzero hashtag.