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Five Walktober ambles worth checking out

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
walklead
In the 2012 Situationist Walk, attendees concocted
bizarre rules to govern their own behavior as they
strolled through Southeast Portland.
(Photo: Oregon Walks)

Portland’s annual three-week festival of fun on foot, inspired by PedalPalooza, has its first big burst of action this Saturday.

Walktober is run by advocacy group Oregon Walks. Like PedalPalooza, anyone can create an event online; the most interesting will survive.

With lots of good contenders for people interested in exploring, learning more about the city or just sampling many kinds of beer without worrying about the bike home, we thought we’d pull a few highlights from this month’s calendar of walking events.

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State’s $1.9 million gift says it: flashing beacons are the safety tool of the moment

Thursday, April 24th, 2014
An active warning beacon in North Portland.
(Photo: City of Portland)

Two state legislators’ announcement this week that $1.9 million from the state’s general fund would pay for new flashing beacons and traffic islands at 18 East Portland crosswalks communicated two things about Portland streets.

First: that street safety is one of State Rep. Shemia Fagan’s core issues, something she’s consistently putting political capital behind. Second: that rectangular rapid-flash beacons, which communicate a person’s desire to cross without using red lights to stop traffic completely, have become one of the city’s go-to safety tools.

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Novick wants $1 million from general fund for beacons at 15 crosswalks

Friday, April 18th, 2014
An active warning beacon in North Portland.
(Photo: City of Portland)

The City of Portland’s general fund has a few million dollars to spare, and Commissioner Steve Novick is mounting an unusual campaign to spend some of it on safer street crossings.

In a city where you’re twice as likely to die from traffic as from homicide, Novick and other backers say making roads safer is the most cost-effective way to improve public safety.

In an interview Friday, Novick called out a few police operations in particular as having lower returns on investment.
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Time to hit the streets for ‘Walktober’

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Have you heard about Walktober? It’s “Three weeks of fun on foot” and it’s in full swing right now. The event is organized by Oregon Walks and it was inspired by Shift’s bike-centric Pedalpalooza that happens each summer. Similar to Pedalpalooza, the event consists of several individual events created and led by community groups and individuals who add them to a master calendar. Last week there was a walk on the Eastbank Esplanade led by the man who planned the project, George Hudson. There was also the Get Annoyed walk led by our very own Michael Andersen which featured problem solving and cake.

We’ve heard about two events this week that look interesting, so we wanted to share them with you…

Wonk Walk 2013: Crosswalk Crusade! - 5:15 pm TONIGHT (Meet on west side of SW 4th between Stark and Oak)
This walk will be led by Lancaster Engineering employees Kirk Paulsen and Brian Davis. Here’s how they describe the event: (more…)

Wear Oregon’s crosswalk law on your chest

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
A shirt that’s also a traffic sign.
(Photo: Brian Davis)

Ever been frustrated when other road users don’t respect Oregon’s crosswalk laws? Now you can wear a helpful reminder on your chest thanks to a new t-shirt that will turn you into a walking traffic sign.

Our friends and neighbors at Lancaster Engineering (who are nice enough to rent part of their office to us) have stepped up to promote safe walking by offering t-shirts that have an official Oregon regulatory sign plastered across the front. The t-shirts are being offered by Lancaster to help raise money for Portland-based non-profit Oregon Walks (it also happens to be Walktober in case you didn’t know). (more…)

Steph Routh announces resignation from Oregon Walks

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
Steph at Oregon Walks benefit-2-2
Steph Routh in November 2012.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon Walks, a non-profit advocacy group that works to improve walking conditions around the state, has announced that Executive Director Steph Routh will resign in October.

Routh became the organization’s first full-time staffer when she was named to the position in May 2009. In the ensuing years, Routh helped transform Oregon Walks (formerly known as the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition) by making what was traditionally a quiet, behind-the-scenes organization into a public force to be reckoned with. Just months after taking the job, she asked the community to think hard about the state of walking advocacy in Oregon — a movement that has lacked the spark of and cultural identity evident in the local bicycle scene.

Routh’s personal dedication to the task, professional creativity, and natural charisma drew people to her organization and her cause.
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View from a Williams Avenue resident: “A weary pedestrian”

Monday, July 22nd, 2013
Bikes on N. Williams Ave-2
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

From a livable streets perspective, Williams Avenue has a lot of problems. Its outdated bicycle lane is so inadequate that the City of Portland prioritized it for an upgrade a few years ago. That upgrade won’t happen until next year, and thankfully, that’s not the only thing that will be be changed. The North Williams Traffic Operations and Safety Project will also come with many other design changes that should make it nicer to walk and bike on the street.

In the meantime, a longtime BikePortland reader who frequently walks on Williams says the way many people ride on the street has made him a “weary, weary pedestrian.” He wrote us via email to share his perspective and I’ve pasted it below:

I have lived off of Williams (N of Skidmore) for over 10 years and fully embrace anyone riding a bike on Williams or anywhere for that matter. I’m a huge bike fan and love nothing more than admiring a great vintage bike or beautiful lugwork on a frame.

Unfortunately my love of bikes is slowly diminishing due to more than a handful of cyclists who choose to ignore traffic signs and markers. I can be found walking my dog, or by myself, at all hours, and find myself more and more astounded by the behavior of folks who fly through stop signs, lights, around corners and most especially through very visible pedestrian crossing areas all over Williams.

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Careless driving to blame for death of woman in SE Division crosswalk

Thursday, July 11th, 2013
The bus operator was in this lane prior to collision.

The Portland Police Bureau have given the driver of a school bus two citations for her role in a collision that killed a 43-year-old woman who was walking across a southeast Portland street.

Renee Bates was walking on SE Division with her husband Shawn Bates on Tuesday afternoon when they attempted to walk eastbound across SE 148th (from the northwest corner). At the same time, 55-year-old Billie Jean Neel was attempting to make a right turn onto Division from 148th. Neel failed to operate her bus safely and ran over the Bates couple. Shawn was not seriously hurt but Renee died from her injuries later that day in the hospital.
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As crosswalk enforcement decoy, Mayor Hales walks talk on traffic safety

Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Mayor Hales crossing enforcement action-6
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales crossing E Burnside at 16th as a decoy in a police enforcement action this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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No longer “pedestrian”: Advocacy group to unveil new name, logo, mission

Friday, November 9th, 2012
Out with the old.

The Willamette Pedestrian Coalition will not exist — at least in name — after Saturday night. The non-profit that pushes for infrastructure and policies to encourage more walking has been operating in Portland for over two decades, and now it’s ready for a major change.

Major changes at our region’s walking advocacy organization are bound to impact bicycling. Walking advocates push for many policies and projects that reduce car use and help create the conditions necessary for better bike access.

At their annual Weston Awards fundraising event this Saturday, the WPC will unveil a new name, a new logo, and an expanded vision. (more…)

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