A third of Portland residents killed by cars last year were homeless

One-third of people killed by cars last year in Portland were homeless, according to the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s annual report of traffic fatalities, released Wednesday.

2021 was a record year: 63 people were victims of car accidents, the highest number in three decades. Twenty-one of these people were homeless.

It’s a factor in the spike in Portland road deaths identified late last year by Ashton Simpson, a foot safety advocate running for the Metro Council. In December, Simpson said people living near freeways were at greater risk of being killed by cars.

“They’re just trying to get to the convenience store right across from their camp, and there’s no clear path,” Simpson said. WW. “What happens when someone has a nervous breakdown at 3 a.m. and they get hit [Interstate] 84? Because they are right there.

Simpson, who is the executive director of a safer streets advocacy group called Oregon Walks, expanded on that observation in a lengthy interview with WW to open the new year.

“First, we need to address our homelessness. A third of our pedestrian deaths this year and the last were people living on the streets. We have to take care of them. Second, east of I-205, it’s almost forgotten land,” Simpson said. WW. “I’m tired of seeing the city center being refined. We absolutely have to make sure that every street corner is accessible, for example. But you can get around the city center quite well. In the communities here where there are no sidewalks at all, people are dying.

Now, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has offered a firm figure that backs up Simpson’s conclusion.

In its report, the transport agency identified speeding and being impaired by drugs or alcohol as two of the main factors contributing to the increase in road deaths, but said the high number of traffic offenses leak obscures the data.

The same number of people who died on foot, scooter or skateboard in 2021 as people who died in their vehicle: 27.

The city has identified what they call “high collision lanes,” or the city’s most dangerous streets where most people are killed each year. As in previous years, 60% of this year’s deaths occurred on just 8% of the city’s streets.

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