Mayor pitches pedestrian safety at new crosswalk

Discover why Mayor Ted Wheeler came to the Mill Park neighborhood simply to cross the street – SE 122nd Avenue, near Midland Library …

The Rapid Flashing Beacons are blinking, and Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat and Program Coordinator Sharon White have stepped into the crosswalk, but that doesn’t stop – or even slow down – these drivers.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

In many of the past “Crosswalk Education and Enforcement Actions” covered by East Portland News, Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Program Coordinator Sharon White served as the “designated street crosser” while Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division officers were at hand to “educate” errant drivers.

But, the mission conducted on February 2 featured new Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler in the role of pedestrian, and just after 10:00 a.m., he stood at the marked crossing on SE 122nd Avenue at Main Street.

With PBOT and PPB officials on hand, the outing might have been more festive – except for the bitter cold and gusting breeze, which together yielded a wind-chill of 17°.

Telling about the newly improved pedestrian crosswalk is PBOT Communications Specialist Hannah Schafer.

“In December 2016, we installed the Rapid Flashing Beacons at this location, as part of the Fixing our Streets program,” PBOT Communications Specialist Hannah Schafer told East Portland News.

“During this summer, we’ll also be installing a pedestrian median island at this crosswalk, creating an area of safety in the middle of the road,” Schafer added.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and PBOT Director Leah Treat stroll across SE 122nd Avenue in the crosswalk.

“Pedestrian safety is a problem in the City of Portland, and I’m out today drawing attention to this location in outer East Portland, where fatalities occur,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

“We’re at a very visible, well-marked crosswalk with Rapid Flashing Beacons, so if police have to pull somebody over today, that driver would truly not be paying attention,” Wheeler told East Portland News.

“Actions such as this one are important, because drivers are speeding, or paying attention, or otherwise distracted,” Wheeler added. “We’re trying to raise awareness about the importance of noticing people in crosswalks.”

Wheeler specifically chose this location to demonstrate his commitment to increased traffic safety of all kinds in the area, he said. “We’re going to commit time, money and resources to make outer East Portland safer for pedestrians, people who are on bicycles, and automobile traffic. I’m here as part of my commitment.”

After ignoring the pedestrians in this well-marked crosswalk, two motorists received their “education” – either a citation, or a warning – from PPB Traffic Division officers.

Watching the action was PPB Traffic Division Officer Brian Sweeney, who said he’s been involved with the crosswalk actions for years. “Fortunately we are seeing more and more people stop for us during these missions, so we know that these efforts are working.”

Officers such as himself are called to investigate all serious injury crashes and fatalities, Sweeney reflected. “There are still too many. That’s why this effort is important to us – we really want to reduce the number of pedestrians being hit, injured, or killed by motorists.”

Officer Sweeney reminded that “every intersection is a crosswalk, whether marked or not”, and that drivers must stop for people in the crossing when they are in the driver’s lane, and the lane on either side of the car.

Pedestrians should look before crossing, and continue looking to make sure drivers see them and are, indeed stopping.

After zooming past pedestrians in the crosswalk, this driver meets two PPB Traffic Division officers.

Although this “Crosswalk Education and Enforcement Action” was ended sooner than usual, due to the bitterly cold weather, it produced nine citations and two warnings.


5 – Failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian
2 – Driving uninsured
1 – Expired registration
1 – Fail to register vehicle


1 – Failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian
1 – Failure to wear seatbelt

The good news on this particular day in East Portland: The new Portland Mayor was not injured here that morning. But remember: Stopping for pedestrians crossing the street is more than a good idea – it’s the law!

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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