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'Walk of Remembrance' advocates Foster Road safety

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Portland Mayor Sam Adams points to locations where Rapid-Flashing Beacons will be installed to help protect pedestrians crossing S.E. Foster Road.On October 23rd, a small group gathered in Laurelwood Park – where S.E. Holgate Boulevard and Foster Road intersect – and started out eastward on what they called a “Walk of Remembrance”.

“We will stop at the sites of fatal and injury collisions along the way,” remarked “Transportation for America Campaign Pacific Northwest” Field Organizer Chris Rall.

“We are calling for funding to help fix these problems, so that we can have safe neighborhoods where people can walk safely,” Rall told THE BEE as he walked, while clutching a large paper-wrapped bunch of pink flowers.

One of the locations where the seven participants stopped was at S.E. 70th Avenue – but the memorial group had to wait several minutes for an opportunity to cross S.E. Foster Road, as cars and trucks zoomed past them.

Once safely across Foster, neighbor Nick Falbo put flowers on the faded makeshift memorial of Jason Lee Grant, who was killed there in January.

“This spot is just a couple blocks from my house,” sighed Falbo. “I cross the street here every day; it’s definitely a harrowing experience.”

The walk continued east on Foster Road, and again crossed it -- at S.E. 80th Avenue, where Reed College graduates Lindsay Leonard and Jessica Finlay were killed by a car in 2009.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams was there, awaiting the group’s arrival.

“We are gathered here today to remember those who we have lost their lives on our streets and roads in Portland,” Adams mused. “[These are] pedestrians who have been the victims of car crashes – victims who left behind loved ones – and we will miss them.”

Cars hitting pedestrians are avoidable crashes, Adams said. “It requires vigilance from automobile drivers, to pay attention to their surroundings, and to pay attention to the more vulnerable users in the city’s travel corridors. It also means vigilance on behalf of pedestrians – to be aware of where you’re walking, and to be aware of cars.”

Pedestrian safety also requires City infrastructure, Adams added. “And I'm pleased to announce today that we will be putting in additional [travel] safety Rapid-Flashing Beacons along S.E. Foster Road.”

Placing these new beacons was already scheduled for 2014 – at S.E. Cora Street, and at 65th and 70th Avenues, but Adams revealed that their installation is now being “fast-tracked” with funds loaned to the project by the Portland Development Commission.

“No one should have to fear for their life, let alone lose their life, just to get across the street,” Adams remarked.

Metro Chair-elect Bob Stacey said the regional governmental body is working on a “Transportation Safety Study and Plan”, and fumed, “These so-called arterials carry the lifeblood of our economy. But we’re spilling the blood of our community on streets that are built to make it possible for cars to drive too fast, in large numbers.”

Stacey didn’t reveal how the plan would balance the needs for vehicle transportation thoroughfares that move traffic expeditiously with increased pedestrian safety.

But, those attending the event agreed that new crosswalk warning beacons, at least, were a good start in that direction.