Committee takes action promoting Foster Road Safety

After yet another pedestrian injury, it’s clear to see why neighbors made plans – and took action – to help make a dangerous road safer …

The Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Major Crash Team begins their investigation of yet another “pedestrian stuck” accident on SE Foster Road on the evening of June 29, at about 9:30 p.m., between 70th and 71st Avenues.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As a response to a pedestrian being struck on the evening of June 29 on SE Foster Road between 70th and 71st Avenues, a group of area residents decided to take active steps for improving safety for those who use this major east-west thoroughfare on bike and on foot.

On July 5, Mt. Scott-Arleta, Foster-Powell and Lents neighborhood residents were invited to a meeting at Bar Carlo to plan their next steps.

At the “Foster Vision and Action” organizing meeting, Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association board member Tracy Gratto leads the discussion.

At that meeting, Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association (FoPo) board member Tracy Gratto served as facilitator.

“I’m interested in supporting some action to make SE Foster road safer for people,” Gratto said before the meeting began.

“The idea is to get together to create a broader coalition for more intense action than just, for example, writing a letter to the City regarding safety along the street.”

Dan Campbell, Transportation Chair of the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association, says the association can’t wait for Foster road safety improvements.

Dan Campbell, who said he serves as FoPo’s Transportation Chair, sat across the table from Gratto.

“When it comes to safety concerns, the City hasn’t done enough,” Campbell opined. “They created a Streetscape Plan in 2003, but because of lack of funding have not been able to fund the plan.”

He continued, “While City officials mull over the now-dusty plan, the number of pedestrian and bicycle-related injuries and fatalities continue to climb.”

Campbell referenced the January 28 hit-and-run accident that killed 26-year-old Jason Lee Grant – and now the pedestrian stuck on June 29 – both within a few feet of each other, on Foster Road and SE 70th Avenue.

> See our story, “Foster Road hit-and-run death followed by arrest”: Click Here.

“We’re also looking to see how Foster Road can be made safer in the near term, before construction scheduled for 2014 actually begins,” Campbell said.

The “Foster Vision and Action” group meets for the first time at Bar Carlo on SE Foster Road.

The group discussed the draft of a letter that outlined their collective visions for a “transformed Foster Road into a street that is safe, pleasant, lively, fun and appealing.”

Their vision listed four key components: Be safe to be at or travel through at any time of day; pedestrian-friendly, bicycle-friendly, and business-friendly.

Proposed measures for “The road to a better Foster Road” included:

  • Road-diet – “Lane reductions to free up space for bike lanes, on-street parking, bus-stop pull-outs, turn lanes, curb extensions for safer crosswalks, etc.”
  • Speed reductions – Proposing “A 25 mph maximum speed … between SE 62nd and SE 72nd Avenues; 30 mph maximum speed from 50th/Powell to SE 62nd Ave. and SE 72nd Ave. to the Lents Town Center.”
  • Bike lanes – “Foster Road needs to be safe to cross and to travel along, for cars, for pedestrians and for bicycles.”
  • Business- and Pedestrian-friendly environment – Retaining on-street parking; providing safe crosswalks; including street trees and landscaping; and providing TriMet bus pull-outs.

 

Demonstrators against deadly accidents pick up their mock coffins, ready for their march westward on SE Foster Road.

Safety group takes action
Many of the same people turned out for what they called a “Foster Road Safety Action” on the evening of July 17.

The group gathered at the SE 80th Avenue and Foster Road pedestrian crossing – where one woman was killed and another seriously injured on November 1, 2009.

> See our story about this tragic accident: CLICK HERE.

“We’re out here tonight to put pressure on the City to address some of the pedestrian safety needs on SE Foster Road,” said their spokesman, FoPo resident Jeffrey Lynott.

“We’re out here trying to say that people should be able to cross the street safely in their neighborhood. The fact is this not happening.”

Acknowledging that the most recent pedestrian victim was suspected of being intoxicated, Lynott added, “In other neighborhoods, people go to bars, but they don’t [then] have traffic fatalities.”

Jennifer Merrill makes sure her 3-year-old is safely tucked in, before they join the procession.

As Jennifer Merrill put a helmet on her 3-year-old riding in a bike trailer, she said, “As one who lives in the Foster-Powell neighborhood, safety is a priority if I’m walking, biking, or even driving in the car.

“That’s why I decided to serve on the board of our neighborhood association,” Merrill added.

The “Foster Vision and Action” group traverses the deadly SE 80th Avenue crossing.

Bil Mayer of Mt. Scott-Arleta holds a “crossing flag” as the group traverses SE Foster Road at SE 75th Avenue – an unmarked, yet legal, crossing.

Off the group went, heading west along SE Foster Road. The group crossed the busy street at six locations, including a signalized intersection, marked crosswalk and at a few un-striped intersections – considered, by law, to be crosswalks, even if they are not marked as such.

Some motorists jeered; others gave signs of support for their effort. Their peaceful “demonstration” may not sway those at City Hall – but the sight of folks wearing black, and carrying mock coffins, perhaps influenced a few drivers to drive more carefully.

The demonstrators pass this makeshift shrine for Jason Lee Grant, killed on January 28 in a hit-and-run accident at SE 70th Avenue at SE Foster Road.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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