Letter: Don't blame drivers for Portland's unsafe streets

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Your recent story on the feasibility of converting State and High streets in Portland to two-way traffic was right on target, but left out a few salient things.

Supporters claim that “high speeds” are the norm, speeding is causing accidents, and demon drivers are hitting pedestrians and bicyclists willy-nilly. All of that is wrong.

The committee’s first study said the majority of speeds are 15-25 mph. They didn’t believe that, so they did a second one, which found 23-25 mph. That’s not “high speed.”

Of 361 accidents in three years, just one was caused by speeding. Twenty-six accidents involved vehicles, pedestrians or bikers; 19 of those were the fault of the pedestrian or biker. Four had dual responsibility, and just three were the fault of the drivers.

Portland doesn’t have a “speeding vehicle” problem out there folks, it has a careless pedestrian/biker problem. But it’s easier to blame drivers.

The tepid vote sendoff to the Transportation Committee was a result of consultant engineer Tom Errico’s telling the committee that there would be no change in daily traffic volume, no change in pedestrian or bike access, a reduced level of service for vehicles (think gridlock), all for a cost of $3.23 million dollars. What a deal. Snow removal costs would increase 7.6 percent just for Parkside.

But project supporters in the Parkside neighborhood would like an increase in their property values, and I suppose the rest of the city can ante up for that. Get your wallets out.

Brian Peterson