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Could our Streets be Shrinking… Literally?

Traffic. If you haven’t noticed it yet, lucky you… as it’s becoming an unavoidable issue for most of us in the Portland Metro area. Whether you’re headed to work, trying to get home or just want a dang donut, you can’t seem to beat it! Our rapidly growing population is a major contributing factor, but it’s not the only thing slowing us down. The Bureau of Public Transportation has been purposefully shrinking our city street network, where over 77 miles have “disappeared” within the last few years. Beyond reducing the amount of streets, the City has been taking other actions that directly affect traffic flow. Why? Two words- Vision Zero.

Founded by Sweden in 1997, Vision Zero is a plan that aims to build a healthier and safer community by reducing high accident areas so as to achieve ZERO traffic deaths. Since the plan was realized, Sweden has reduced their amount of traffic deaths by over 30% and it has been steadily growing in popularity around the world. Portland’s goal is to fully execute these actions by 2025. Solutions such as the following would be implemented:

  • Lowering Speed Limits
  • Adding Street Barriers
  • Raised Crosswalks
  • Extended Curbs
  • Convert 4 Lanes to 2
  • More Speed Bumps
  • More Roundabouts
  • Flashing Pedestrian Crossing Signs
  • Opening Up Intersections
  • Understandable Signs & Signals

It all sounds counter intuitive (more people, less road) but it may all be worth our added time in traffic.

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One Response to “Could our Streets be Shrinking… Literally?”

  • Stacey Carlisle
    Written on

    The Vision Zero is radical enough that it should be put to a vote by the citizens of Portland. If Vision Zero is the reason for our city’s street barricades, extended sidewalks, speed bumps, etc., why start in neighborhoods like mine not known for traffic accidents/ deaths? The result of a street barricade has turned a once beautiful tree-lined street into an ugly eye sore rerouting traffic onto unpaved roads. Speed bumps installed next to stop signs, extended curbs next to pot holes and no obvious reason for reduced speed limits has certainly not helped me to see the city’s “vision”.

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