Vision Zero Action


I was heartened to read last week that Portland City Council is showing signs of taking Vision Zero seriously. After adopting the philosophy last summer that all traffic deaths are preventable, they took the next step by adopting an Action Plan that outlines 32 steps to take to make Portland's roads safe for everyone.

While some advocates criticize the plan for not having enough teeth, I think every step toward this laudable goal is important. It's great that Council is discussing these issues in a serious way that will hopefully lead to decisive action. I was further impressed that the Portland Bureau of Transportation (the authors of the Action Plan) has made the Plan available not only as a PDF (that very few people will read), but also as an "interactive story map." They went a little nuts with the scrolling effects and image wipes, but overall it's a much more engaging effort to communicate big ideas to a general audience.

In our work, we often deal with the details of traffic violence to create diagrams of crashes. It's important to show context and try to understand how crashes happen and how they can be prevented. Each crash is a story, and a clear and precise diagram is a compelling way to start telling it.

Here are some examples:


In this case, a man was hit while crossing the street to catch a bus.


Here, a woman riding a bicycle was killed by a driver turning left across her path.


A terrain view shows how the woman on the bicycle was able to pick up significant speed coming down the hill.


And in yet another bus collision case, a woman is killed by a left-turning bus whose driver presumably didn’t see her.

I hope Portland’s Vision Zero Action Plan is successful, and we no longer have to make these diagrams.

Ady Leverette was a designer and a principal at Fat Pencil Studio between 2011 and 2018.