Sunday, May 30, 2021

ODOT not yet very Serious about Safety

ODOT has a new safety plan out in draft and they want public comment.

New Safety Plan

The Safety Plan still seems stuck in the 20th century, however. They invite comment and debate on the margins, but still avoid the heart of the matter. The whole framework does not yet seem adequate.

If you look at the Executive Summary, there is no connection with climate. A Safety Plan for our climate emergency would include:

  • Don't drive. Only drive if you must. We are building out a robust transportation system that will no longer depend on car trips, their pollution, and their dangers.

A modern Safety Plan would also not just focus on speeding, but also on speed more generally. Even lawful driving on a street posted for 40mph is nearly certain to kill a person on foot or on bike. Customary urban speeds remain too fast. So a modern plan would also include:

  • Drive more slowly. We are reducing posted speeds and roadway design speeds across all urban contexts.

Instead, the actual recommendations do everything to protect driving as a preferred activity, all too haunted by the frame of "congestion relief." (As we see in the continued debate over the I-5 Rose Quarter project. See Willamette Week's coverage for an overview.)

Not gonna discourage driving

There's also a weird false equivalence in the analysis of "crash attributes."

Having a pedestrian involved has the same weight as having a young driver involved. But these are not at all the same kinds of variables. There are no pedestrian vs. pedestrian fatal crashes. Even if the person on foot is the one who dies, the car and its driver behavior deserve much greater weight in analysis. The car is the thing with lethal force and speed. A "pedestrian" or a "bicyclist" is not the same kind and weight of "crash attribute" as "roadway departure," "intersection," "speeding," or "young driver." There's a weird false precision in the analytical categories to make it look more scientific than it is.

A false equivalence in "attributes"

Maybe one or more advocacy groups will offer detailed comments that are worth echoing. (If so we may update here or write a new post.) At the moment, however, the whole shape and form of the plan appear to remain distorted by the commitment to autoism, unable or unwilling to grapple with the inherent dangers and harms of cars and their use.

If we want safer streets, we should adopt policies for less driving and slower driving. Period.

These dovetail happily with our Climate needs.

ODOT says:

A public review of the Draft 2021 Transportation Safety Action Plan is scheduled from May 24th - July 9th.

All comments should be submitted to:

For more see the ODOT TSAP website.


Anonymous said...

WWeek has a little more -

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And at BikePortland, the chair of OBPAC offers critique: "ODOT Safety Action Plan short on action, says leader of state advisory committee."