Vision Zero & Other How Communities Members Can Create Safer Streets
In mid-September, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) released their draft Vision Zero Action Plan. This 36-page document outlines how the Bureau intends to meet the goal of eliminating deaths and serious injuries on Portland streets by 2025.
The draft Plan, which will go to Portland’s City Council for approval at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, October 12th, focuses on using data to drive decision-making, ensuring equitable implementation, and accountability through performance measures and clear objectives.
Investments in safety made under Vision Zero will be prioritized for High Crash Network streets in Communities of Concern, which are census blocks in Portland that score high on equity indicators identified by Trimet. However, some of the education components will be implemented city-wide.
Now What? How Community Members & Neighborhoods Can Create Safer Streets
Reaching the goals of vision zero is going to take more than redesign some of our most problematic streets to be successful. It will also require support for increased funding, safety education, and changing cultural norms. If you and your neighbors want to improve transportation safety, check out the list of suggestions, tools, tips and organizations we’ve compiled below.
This list is not complete by any definition, but it will hopefully serve as a starting point for ideas, examples, and resources to be an effective advocate for more, and better, options.
1) Start with your own behavior
Whether you bike, walk, roll, drive or ride a motorcycle, we all have a role to play in keeping Portland’s streets safe. Each of us needs to commit to being more aware and responsible of our own behavior on the road. Start by taking the Vision Zero Transportation Safety Pledge. And, as a bonus, if you get 5 other friends and family members to sign the pledge, you’ll be eligible for a free yard sign through the Vision Zero Yard Sign Lender Program.
2) Connect with and support organizations working on this issue
There are many excellent community organizations participating in making our streets safer for everyone. Learn more about their efforts and reach out to one (or more) that best matches your interests.
- Community Cycling Center
- Oregon Walks
- Bike Portland
- The Street Trust (Formerly known as the Bicycle Transportation Alliance)
- Bike Loud PDX
- Active Right of Way
- Better Block PDX
- Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets
- OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
- Oregon Safe Routes to School
- Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon
3) Consider the big picture
Transportation improvements in one area of the city often also help residents who live in another. However, the current demand for transportation safety improvements far exceeds the amount of funding available to make those improvements. Therefore, it’s important for each of us to remember that when we advocate for funding to be put toward a project outside of the High Crash Network, we are in effect arguing against funding for a project on one of the most dangerous streets in a traditionally under-invested community in the city.
4) Advocate for increased funding
Achieving Vision Zero goals will require ongoing investment. The success of this plan will hinge on whether the Portland Bureau of Transportation is able to secure additional funding from new local, regional, and state sources. The first opportunity to support additional funding for the program is at this month’s City Council hearing, 3 p.m., October 12, 2016.
5) Learn more and spearhead a project
Consider leading a safety outreach or education project in your neighborhood. Learn more about how Portland and other cities have approached traffic safety. Start by checking out a few of the resources below.
Local Education and Activism Resources:
- The Vision Zero Yard Sign Lender Program allows community members to borrow bright, bold yard signs that encourage everyone to share the road, slow down, and watch for people biking and crossing the street.
- PBOT offers extensive online and in-person resources community members can use to educate neighbors, teens, people who drive, etc.
- Trimet’s Be Seen. Be Safe. Campaign takes place the week after Daylight Savings Time ends. You can participate and promote visibility and driver awareness by helping to distribute light up and reflective accessories.
- ODOT’s pedestrian safety resources: Resources and campaigns produced by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
- Vision Zero Oregon Guidebooks (created by the LOCI Group and a team of Masters of Urban and Regional Planning students at Portland State University), cover 5 topics:
Other Online Transportation Activism Resources:
- Transportation & Creative Placemaking Toolkit: This guide is designed to show how creative placemaking can help advance transportation projects and create vibrant places to live and work.
- A People’s History of Urban Transportation Innovation: This report by the Transit Center highlights strategies and stakeholder groups that have enacted recent innovations in urban transportation. It shows how several cities have implemented “people-oriented” transportation.
- Osocio’s Road Safety Campaigns: A curated blog of social advertising and nonprofit marketing campaigns related to road safety.
- A Citizen’s Guide to Better Streets: This guide focuses on the role of local transportation agencies in street design and outlines effective ways of interacting with transportation agencies.
- Working with Metropolitan Planning Organizations: This report spotlights proven ways that biking and walking advocates can work with their Metropolitan Planning Organizations to unlock crucial federal funds for healthier, safer communities.
- Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center – Case Study Compendium: Includes case studies on successful pedestrian and bicycle projects and programs, including engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement, planning, health promotion, and comprehensive safety initiatives.
- Walksteps.org: An online resource for developing strategies toward walkable communities. A pdf showing all of the resources on this website is viewable here.
- A Resident’s Guide for Creating Safer Communities for Walking and Biking: This guide, by the Federal Highway Administration, includes information on identifying problems, taking action to address pedestrian and bicycle concerns, finding solutions to improve safety, and resources to get additional information.
- America Walks Learning Center: An online library of case studies, research articles, white papers, and other educational materials about increasing walking.
- Read more about the Oregon Department of Transportation Safe Communities Program.
- Review the Oregon Metro Regional Transportation Plan.