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Traffic deaths up, despite Vision Zero pledge

There has been an increase in traffic deaths since Vision Zero launched. The city of Portland says the program is a long-term project. (KATU File Photo)

In the first year after adopting its Vision Zero Action Plan traffic deaths are up in 2017 in Portland.

To date 50 people have died on the city's streets -- 2016 saw 44.

Twenty people have been killed while walking. That's a 66 percent increase compared to a year ago.

"This is a long-term project; this is the first year," said John Brady, communications director for Portland's Bureau of Transportation. "It has been a very tragic year."

Brady says Vision Zero remains PBOT director Leah Treat's "number one priority."

PBOT has been effective in making certain parts of the city safer. In the spring speed cameras were installed along outer Division and Southeast 122nd Avenue. Those two streets are both high-crash corridors, which make up just eight percent of the city's roadways but are responsible for more than two-thirds of the fatal crashes in Portland.

"If we can move the needle in those most dangerous places, then we'll really start to make progress," Brady said.

In 2016 the speed limit in outer Division was lowered from 35 mph to 30 mph. The city then installed the speed cameras in the spring. People who live along the busy street say things are more pleasant now and they feel safer crossing the street on foot.

"I haven't seen a lot of crashes or heard anything. People are actually starting to follow the speed limit," said Kayla Berger.

In January speed cameras will be installed on Northeast Marine Drive, one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the city.

The Oregon Legislature passed a law which gives city's the freedom to use their red light cameras to ticket drivers going 11 mph over the speed limit. PBOT says it's undecided how many of its red light cameras will also look to catch speeders.

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