Oregon’s Report Card: The Urgent Need for Transportation Investment

Everyone deserves the right to safe, accessible, climate-friendly transportation options. And everyone deserves to arrive at their destination safely, regardless of their transportation choice. Yet the need for investments in transportation safety could not be more urgent as this year’s back-to-school season is met with a 40-year peak in pedestrian deaths, nationwide. 

Number of Annual U.S. Pedestrian Fatalities, 1980-2022 - ~8,000 in 1980 reducing to a low of 4302 in 2010, then increasing to 8126 in 2022 representing a U-Shaped curve.In their “Spotlight on Highway Safety” report, the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) uncovered a shocking safety disparity for people walking: Pedestrian deaths rose a troubling 77% between 2010 and 2021, compared to a 25% rise in all other traffic fatalities. 

GHSA attributes the increase to just three particular states with the highest year-to-year jumps — including Oregon.

Alarmingly, Oregon tops the list with the 4th highest percentage increase in pedestrian fatalities in 2021-2022. In a state known for active transportation, these numbers are a sobering reality check and must not be ignored.   

Graph from GHSA illustrating pedestrian traffic fatalities by state - New hampshire leads with 78 in 2022, with Iowa making a -44 change at the other end. Oregonians witnessed 46 fatalities in 2022 ranking as the fourth most fatal state in 2022.


People-Focused Transportation Solutions

Many common-sense solutions help reduce traffic fatalities, including lower speed limits, speed bumps, safer pedestrian crossings, lighting, and more. These solutions have been proven to work in cities like Hoboken, NJ, that have had zero pedestrian fatalities for four years running. Oregon needs to listen to local communities about priority areas and increase investment in safety measures. This enables more people to access transit, and bike, walk, or roll to their destinations. These measures make more vibrant and livable communities. Increased foot traffic is good for local businesses, active transportation improves health, and taken together they are an important climate solution.  

Currently, cars and trucks emit nearly 40% of Oregon’s climate pollution and more than one-half of Oregon’s air pollution. Runoff from streets and parking lots pollutes our water. Poorly planned roads lead to sprawl, which threatens Oregon’s forests and farms. Communities where residents can’t walk or bicycle safely have higher rates of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. And many families struggle with the cost of transportation. That’s why we’re working for all Oregonians to have access to transportation choices that meet their needs and are safe, healthy, convenient, affordable, and sustainable for households and communities.

A family cycles to school with bright sun in the background.

2023 Legislative Win for School Transportation Safety

In the final week of the 2023 legislative session, Oregon lawmakers passed HB3014, the “Bike Bus Bill”. This law gives schools more flexibility in how they allocate state-issue funding for school transportation. Previously, this funding would be spent almost entirely on school buses. This year, schools can use these funds on safety improvements like additional crossing guards and climate-friendly alternative options like walking school buses and bike buses. OEC applauds this bipartisan win! We need to build on this success, especially as we develop the next Transportation Package. 

Ways You Can Get Involved

  • Drive with extra caution! To help keep students safe, PBOT advises people driving to always:
    • Drive at or below the speed limit — 20 mph or less in school zones.  
    • Slow down and exercise caution when kids are walking, biking, or rolling.   
    • Stop for school buses, never try to pass them.  
    • Keep an eye out for students around public transit stops. Students, especially middle and high schoolers, ride TriMet across the city. 
  • Mark your calendars! International Walk+Roll to School Day is Wednesday, October 4, 2023. Check with schools in your area about ways to support their students in active transportation. 
  • Check your mailbox! Between September 2023 and June 2024, about half of Oregon’s 1.6 million households will receive invitations by mail to participate in The Oregon Travel Study to understand where, when, and how people in Oregon travel in their daily lives. If your household is one of those randomly selected, please participate!

OEC’s transportation work is made possible by individual supporters across the state. Make a difference. Become a member of OEC today.

GHSA – Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, 2022 Preliminary Data (January-December)

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Sort by
People charging an electric car

Electrifying Oregon’s Local Economies

The transition to electric vehicles – which dramatically cut air and climate pollution – is clearly underway. Global and national automakers are planning to phase out gas and diesel engines, spurred by national and state mandates to convert all new car sales to 100% electric as soon as 2035. The federal government and private sector companies are making huge investments in a national EV charging network. To ensure small local businesses and the neighborhoods they serve also benefit fro
November 20, 2023, 10:43 am


Nora Apter, senior program director for climate at the Oregon Environmental Council speaking at the pro-CPP Rally in Salem on September, 29, 2023.

Voices of Support: Defending Oregon’s Climate Protection Program

On September 29, 2023, OEC gathered with a growing coalition of community-based organizations, lawmakers, and business groups following oral arguments heard by the Oregon Court of Appeals to rally behind the Oregon Climate Protection Program (CPP), which is under attack from the fossil fuel industry. OREGON’S CLIMATE PROTECTION PROGRAM Oregon’s Climate Protection Program (CPP) is a cornerstone in our st
October 23, 2023, 1:43 pm


Renewable Northwest Executive Director, Nicole Hughes, and OEC Senior Program Director for Climate, Nora Apter, welcome 20 representatives from 15 advocacy organizations to the Oregon Clean Grid Collaborative kick-off.

Celebrating the launch of the “Oregon Clean Grid Collaborative”

Authors: Nora Apter, Senior Program Director for Climate, OEC; Nicole Hughes, Executive Director, Renewable Northwest
September 11, 2023, 4:15 pm


Oregon Advocates Celebrate First Anniversary of the Federal Inflation Reduction Act: A Year of Achievements and Future Opportunities for Progress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 16, 2023 Media Contact: Patty Wentz, patty@wentzjackson.com 503-970-7929 As Oregon experiences record breaking heat driven by climate change, it is important to note the one-year anniversary of the historic Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which will invest at least $370 billion–and potentially upwards of $1 trillion–nationwide to a
August 16, 2023, 11:51 am


Sweeping Environmental Wins in Oregon’s 2023 Legislative Session

At the end of the 2023 Oregon Legislative Session, OEC is proud to have secured several major policy victories that will benefit Oregonians and our shared environment. Thanks to our coalition partners, supporters, and legislative champions, the Oregon legislature delivered critical action to reduce climate and air pollution, support healthy, affordable, resilient communities, and leverage once-in-a-lifetime federal funding for clean energy and clean water infrastructure. Healthy
June 29, 2023, 11:40 am


Windmills over green terrain

Climate Win! Oregon Lawmakers Take Powerful Action Passing the ‘Climate Resilience Package’

Oregon’s 2023 Legislative Session ended with a momentous victory in the fight against climate change with the passage of the bipartisan Climate Resilience Package (HB 3409 & HB 3630). With over $90 million in funding and strategic leveraging of federal investments, this victory represents significant progress in our relentless pursuit of a climate-resilient future for Oregon.
June 29, 2023, 11:13 am


Huge Wins for Public Health! Oregon Lawmakers Act to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of Cosmetics and Kids’ Products

In a resounding victory for the health and well-being of Oregonians, Oregon Environmental Council and coalition partners successfully advocated for the passage of two crucial environmental health bills in the 2023 legislative session.  Despite facing staunch opposition from the chemical industry, our coalition’s unwavering commitment and tenacity paid off, as we se
June 27, 2023, 2:46 pm


Oregon Health Authority Report Finds Devastating Public Health Impacts from Climate Change in Oregon, Underscoring Urgent Need for Legislative Action to Pass the Climate Resilience Package

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 22, 2023 Media Contact Kat Driessen, kat@empirical.media PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Health Authority today released a comprehensive report on the public health impacts of climate change in Oregon. The “2021-2022 Climate and Health in Oregon Rep
June 22, 2023, 11:00 am



For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 25, 2023 Contact: Jana Gastellum, janag@oeconline.org, (360) 618-2722 SALEM, Ore.– Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) called on State Senators who have walked out of the Capitol to return to work and vote on critical environmental legislation.
May 25, 2023, 11:26 am


Sparks Lake Oregon

Oregon’s Looming Water Crisis

There are over 12 state agencies involved with managing Oregon’s water. And a recent state audit determined that things are not as coordinated as they need to be. Existing laws are tied to property rights and based on an outdated worldview. These policies make it hard to live up to the Endangered Species Act, honor T
March 21, 2023, 10:00 pm


No Replies to "Oregon's Report Card: The Urgent Need for Transportation Investment"