The “Grim Reaper” Is Traveling Portland’s Streets

In June 2015, the Portland City Council passed a resolution adopting Vision Zero, a plan to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on our city streets. Since the launch of Vision Zero, Portland Department of Transportation (PDOT) has spent over $100 million on crosswalks, flex bike lane wands, flashing beacons, lower speed limit signs, etc. to improve safety on our city streets.

Sadly, traffic related fatalities have been steadily climbing since the Portland City Council implemented Vision Zero. Two deaths on the morning of December 27th, raised the total number of traffic related deaths in Portland in 2019 to 50, the most since 1997[1]!

The obvious question is why isn’t Vision Zero working? A major reason is Portland’s drivers! In October 2019, Quote Wizard[2] released their annual ranking of cities that have the worst drivers in America. The study analyzed data from the 75 largest cities across our country.

Quote Wizard’s study showed that Portland, the 25th largest city in America, had the worst drivers of the 75 largest cities. Allstate Insurance conducted a similar study, which ranked Portland 190th out of 200 cities on their list of “Best Driving Cities.”

What can be done to improve the safety for the pedestrians, cyclists and drivers on Portland’s streets? Portland City Council’s plan was to reduce automobiles traveling at excessive speeds by posting new signs with lower speed limits across the city. The assumption was new speed limit signs would cause drivers to slow down and drive safely.

The growing number of deaths on our city streets clearly shows that simply posting signs is not working. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is significantly understaffed and are unable to patrol all the streets and highways across the entire city, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

The solution? Provide PPB the resources to install traffic enforcement cameras. Worldwide studies have shown that traffic enforcement cameras result in a reduction of “11% to 44% for fatal and serious injury crashes.”[3]

If elected Portland City Commissioner, I will support the PPB installing traffic enforcement cameras to make Portland’s city streets safer.


[1] “With Two Deaths in One Morning, Portland Hits 50 Traffic Fatalities in 2019” by Sophie Peel, Willamette Weekly


[3] Wilson, C; Willis, Hendrikz; Le Brocque, Bellamy (2010). “Speed cameras for the prevention of road traffic injuries and deaths”

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