Traffic Deaths Reach Three-Decade High in Portland

In spite of the city's commitment to Vision Zero goals, more people died on Portland's streets than anytime in the last thirty years, with unhoused people most vulnerable to traffic violence.

Read Time: 2 minutes

March 3, 2022, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Dee Browning / Shutterstock

According to an article from KATU, "Portland saw its highest traffic death toll in three decades, with 63 people killed in crashes on city streets throughout 2021." The recent Vision Zero report from the Portland Bureau of Transportation, where the statistic comes from, also noted that one in three people killed were experiencing homelessness (this number rose to 70 percent for pedestrian deaths). Black and Latinx populations were also overrepresented in traffic deaths.

Despite the city's stated Vision Zero goal, "Traffic deaths on state highways surged during the coronavirus pandemic, PBOT said, with 32 traffic deaths in 2021 compared to the average of around 17 over the previous four years." PBOT says that 60 percent of fatalities occurred in a small group of the city's most dangerous corridors, known as the High Crash Network, which includes 30 streets and intersections. "PBOT said this shows the need to continue to 'change the design of these streets to slow speeds and protect pedestrians.'"

Transportation commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty called Vision Zero a "work in progress," pointing to a recent emergency budget amendment that added $450,000 in funding to "rapid safety improvements" in the High Crash network.

The report also mentions the "complex set of social factors that have contributed to the spike in traffic deaths since the onset of the pandemic," citing "lack of shelter, medical care, and social services for houseless people" as contributing factors.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022 in

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

View of stone-paved street with pedestrians and "Farmers Market" neon sign on left and old buildings on right in Seattle, Washington

Push and Pull: The Link Between Walkability and Affordability

The increased demand for walkable urban spaces could make them more and more exclusionary if cities don’t pursue policies to limit displacement and boost affordability.

January 27, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

Aerial view from directly overhead of buses parked in large asphalt lot

U.S. Transit Agencies Face a Financial Crisis

Transit providers around the country are scrambling to find new sources of revenue to replace lagging ridership and reorienting their systems to a future less dependent on daily commuters.

1 hour ago - Smart Cities Dive

Water SUpply

California Rejects Six-State Colorado River Plan, Proposes Its Own

State officials claim a proposal agreed upon by the other six states using Colorado River water disproportionately impacts California farmers.

2 hours ago - Los Angeles Times

Pedestrians in zebra crosswalk with green bike lane in downtown Seattle, Washington with three-story brick building in background

Washington Focuses Road Safety Efforts on Individuals, Neglecting Design

Legislative efforts to reduce traffic deaths could move the needle toward Vision Zero, but state leaders failed to commit infrastructure funds to making structural improvements.

3 hours ago - The Urbanist

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.