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135 ghostly memorials of traffic victims now haunt our region’s streets


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(Photos: Oregon Walks)

Yesterday local advocates for safer streets joined with family members of traffic victims for a somber ceremony: they placed white silhouettes of their loved ones on our area’s most dangerous roadways.

In all, 135 life-sized cut-outs of men, women and children went up to serve as a reminder of what’s at stake when we get behind our wheels. They represent people who were killed while walking, riding, and driving. Emblazoned across the figures is the date of the collision that took their life and the #saferstreetspdx hashtag.

Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets founder Kristi Finney put up a memorial for her son Dustin. “Before my son was killed by a drunk driver, I thought, ‘Accidents happen’” Finney said, “But what happened to Dustin was no accident… I hope people will learn from our tragedies and change their risky driving, so they don’t cause the kind of devastation our families have suffered.”

These deaths represent the tragic toll these major streets (what the City of Portland calls “High Crash Corridors”) have had on our community in the past 10 years alone.

Volunteers who helped make yesterday’s event happen broke up into groups and were given a grim set of maps to follow. I asked to see the maps and just looking at them really drove home the senseless loss and magnitude of the problem these streets represent:

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What’s really frustrating is that there are well-known solutions to fixing this problem. On that note, here’s one last passage from the Our Healthy Streets coalition press release: “These families are crying out for urgent, crucial safety improvements that will save lives like complete sidewalks, protected bike lanes, guardrails, safe crossings, and speed reduction corrections that can accomplish this.”

135 ghostly memorials of traffic victims now haunt our region’s streets… But will they haunt enough people’s conscience to actually change behaviors and the status quo? We’ve still got a lot of work to do.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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