‘Walk of Remembrance’ highlights need for Foster Road safety improvements

Learn what outgoing Mayor Sam Adams promised, to help keep pedestrians safer when they cross this busy highway …

Transportation for America Campaign Pacific Northwest Field Organizer Chris Rall holds flowers to place at sites where pedestrians have been killed along SE Foster Road.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A small group of people gathered in Laurelwood Park – where SE Holgate Boulevard and Foster Road intersect – and started what they called a “Walk of Remembrance” eastward, on the morning of October 23.

“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 East Portland News as he walked, clutching a large paper-wrapped bunch of pink flowers.

The “Walk of Remembrance” cautiously crosses SE Foster Road at SE 70th Avenue.

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

Area resident Nick Falbo at the memorial of Jason Lee Grant, who was killed by a vehicle while crossing Foster Road at SE 70th Avenue in January.

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,” said Falbo. “I cross the street here every day; it’s definitely a harrowing experience.”

The walk continued east on Foster Road, and again crossed at SE 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 on our streets and roads in Portland,” Adams intoned. “[These are] pedestrians who have been the victims of car crashes – victims who left behind loved ones – and we will miss them.”

Portland Mayor Sam Adams points to locations where Rapid-Flashing Beacons will be installed to help protect pedestrians crossing SE Foster Road.

Cars hitting pedestrians are avoidable crashes, Adams said. “It takes vigilance for automobile drivers to pay attention to their surroundings, and 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 the travel way in which 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 SE Foster Road.”

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

“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 decries vehicular traffic that is “spilling the blood of our community”, as he puts it.

Metro Chair-elect Bob Stacey said the regional governmental body is working on a “Transportation Safety Study and Plan”, and railed, “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 the new crosswalk warning beacons, at least, were a good start in that direction.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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