Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Transportation Safety Action Plan Launches with Survey: At the MPO

The MPO is cranking up a new Transportation Safety Action Plan. Though it looks like it is open already with a soft launch, formally they will hold an online Open House and survey starting March 13th.

A crash at Ferry and High

Summarizing data from 2015-2019 they write:

There is an average of 3,700 crashes per year within the Salem-Keizer area. Each year, these crashes resulted in 3,000 injuries, 100 serious injuries, and 18 fatalities. On average, 150 of these crashes involve a bicyclist or pedestrian, resulting in 6 fatalities and 12 serious injuries each year.

And introduce the focus areas:

  • Safety while walking/rolling (i.e., using a wheelchair or other mobility device)
  • Safety while riding a bike
  • Safety while driving a motorcycle or other motor vehicles
  • Safety at intersections
  • People who are distracted while travelling
  • People who are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs while travelling
  • Speeding
  • Safety of aging adults

It is annoying that the "distracted" focus area is framed with false egalitarianism to embrace the canard of distracted walking, and that there is not enough focus on speed generally, including the frequent lethality of lawful posted speeds.

There is also research on the effectiveness of various strategies, and it does not seem very useful to ask non-experts for an opinion on effectiveness. People will call for education, even when education campaigns have shown to be of limited utility.

Is this really a useful survey question?

More useful, at the end there is another comment map. Hopefully this will surface some new areas, and reveal problems where already installed countermeasures are in fact inadequate, but it's also going to attract comment on well known areas of problem or deficiency, like this one featured in the State Street Corridor Study. We had years of comment on the lack of bike lanes, and there's an unfunded plan for it.

Users, politicians, and planners all know
State Street is a problem

On first glance then, in the survey and project design there appears to be more rehearsal of known knowns than might really be necessary, and it risks a certain redundancy that will be marketed to us all as some great new progress and solution.

Safe systems approach in Portland - via Twitter

It would be great to see more on "freedom to get around without driving" and "people-friendly vehicles," with discussion of bigger, more powerful and more lethal vehicles.

Dangerous size - via Bloomberg

For a good summary discussion of unproductive strategies, some of which might seem tempting here in the action plan, see this at Strong Towns:

One lingering disconnect with the action plan is centered on a site just one block north of that tipped over car at top.

At the annual dinner last month, the Council of Governments, which hosts and staffs our Metropolitan Planning Organization, SKATS, honored Denise Van Dyke, whom a driver struck and killed in December while she was attempting to use the crosswalk on State Street at High Street. Here is the citation in full that the COG shared.

The Wes Kvarsten Professional Service Award recognizes a staff person or volunteer working for, or on behalf of, one or more member governments within the region who has exhibited sustained commitment in support of regional, intergovernmental cooperation.

This year’s award winner was nominated by three separate agencies and was an immediate unanimous choice to win this award. Not only did her service to the region span multiple decades, but her impact was felt in just about every service area that the COG works in. Her professionalism in supporting innumerable meetings and events, organizing the support material, getting everything needed for policy makers to make decisions to support our region were so important, yet often was overlooked because her reliability was unquestioned.

What I admire most about her work over the many years is the thoughtfulness, the kindness of word, the willingness to help others to move efforts forward. Many can “do the job”, but she set a standard of customer service and cooperation that helped establish the tone that has helped make the Council of Governments an effective and influential government organization in our region. Her decades of work ensured that the COG consistently provided support services for our collective sustained commitment to regional, intergovernmental cooperation. Her deep understanding of the COG purpose and mission, along with her high standards of personal and professional excellence, set up everyone around her for success.

A friend and colleague to everyone she met, a kind face and helping hand of welcome day after day, year after year, a smart and savvy planner and thinker, and a delightful, well-read cat lady. Our honoree was likely to have been recognized at her retirement for the very reasons I have just read to you. We did not get that chance. But we are not going to pass up this opportunity to celebrate, honor, and remember an amazing person who left a lasting legacy in our hearts and minds.

Denise Van Dyke faithfully represented the COG for more than 25 years. She never sought the spotlight, but it is right for us to let her light continue to shine by memorializing her lifetime achievements and example through this award. It is our honor to be able to present this award in gratitude to the memory of our friend, Denise VanDyke.

I am glad the COG recognized her in a public way, but the elision and mystification of her death in traffic violence remains troubling. At a dinner it might not be appropriate to dwell on those details, but they should at least be mentioned.

The Transportation Safety Action Plan, developed by the MPO, which staffed by the COG, is an opportunity to address the specific material causes of her death. A robust safety plan with genuine action would be an even better tribute.

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