Portland Officials Will Remove On-Street Parking Near 350 Intersections, in a Major Safety Fix

The city faces a lawsuit saying that a failure to enforce the law resulted in a motorcyclist’s death.

Nearly two years after WW examined the role that cars parked at the edge of intersections play in Portland traffic deaths, Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty is spending money to clear the view of drivers as they approach crosswalks.

Hardesty is spending $200,000 of city surplus to remove parking from within 20 feet of 350 intersections citywide, as BikePortland first reported Thursday.

Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera says Hardesty asked transportation officials to identify safety fixes that would give the city the biggest bang for its buck.

“PBOT has identified more than 350 intersections along high-crash corridors that need this, but we didn’t have funding. But with funding from Commissioner Hardesty, we have cleared parking at more than 200 intersections in recent months. By June, we’ll have cleared all of the more than 350 intersections that need this treatment on all 30 high-crash corridors in Portland.”

Her dedication of funds for “daylighted corners” comes as Portland endures a surge in traffic deaths in the past two years—and the city faces a lawsuit saying that a failure to enforce state parking law resulted in a motorcyclist’s death.

Scott Kocher, a lawyer who filed the suit in February 2020, says the city’s decision is long overdue.

“This is an issue that people have been hounding them about for years,” Kocher says. “Now they’ve been sued. At a certain point, even their engineers can’t ignore the engineering problem.”

At issue: Portland officials haven’t painted yellow lines to keep motorists from parking on the curb within 20 feet of intersections. As WW reported in 2019, state law forbids parking that close to a crosswalk—but gives municipalities leeway in deciding whether to enforce such parking rules.

The closer cars park to an intersection, the harder it is for drivers to see around the vehicles to tell if someone has entered the intersection on foot or bike.

Advocates have criticized city officials for lacking the political will to remove on-street parking—a perpetually coveted asset in the central city—even in the face of rising traffic deaths. More than 100 people have died in car crashes in Portland in the 22-month period since the beginning of 2020.

Related: A new report shows it’s not texting, drunken drivers, teenagers or jaywalkers causing Portland’s epidemic of pedestrian deaths. It’s speed.

Hardesty dedicated funding to removing parking spaces in June, but only announced the policy shift last month. Hardesty’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

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