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Letter to the Editor: Why won’t the City work with us on Hawthorne memorial?

Posted by on September 29th, 2016 at 7:31 am

Fallon Smart Memorial Ride-23.jpg

A man swerved around a stopped car and was speeding in this center turn lane on Hawthorne Boulevard prior to hitting Fallon Smart. The City of Portland plans to clear out the makeshift memorial that has prohibited people from driving in the lane for the past month.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This post was written by Katherine White as a letter to the community in response to news that the City of Portland plans to clear out the memorial where Fallon Smart died sometime this week. White is the program coordinator at One With Heart, a martial arts studio located adjacent to the 43rd and Hawthorne intersection.

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“The memorial is making a difference. Cars are no longer racing down the street at 40 miles an hour… Isn’t it sometimes worthwhile to let go of policy and procedure, to step outside the bureaucratic road blocks and just do the right thing?”
— Katherine White

On Aug. 19th Fallon Smart lost her life in a tragic accident on SE Hawthorne and 43rd. My co-worker and I were having a quiet day at work at One with Heart when we heard the noise right outside and immediately responded.

We will never be the same and we will never forget what we experienced.

We ask ourselves if this could have been prevented if the city had responded to previous requests we have made to implement safety measures at this intersection. A number of years ago the mother of a student who trained martial arts at One with Heart was hit by a car while crossing the street at the same intersection. She survived, but was seriously injured. Our request for a crosswalk was not addressed.

When I arrived to work on Aug. 20th and found citizens had finally taken matters into their own hands and painted a crosswalk, I can’t even explain the relief I felt. I have used that crosswalk every day since and for the first time in the 25 years, I see drivers paying attention to pedestrians and cyclists on this busy section of SE Hawthorne.

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Fallon Smart Memorial Ride-27.jpg

Then the flowers started arriving in the center turn lane. A dedicated group of citizens comes often to clean up and replenish the memorial. It is beautiful and lovingly cared for. For me it provides a small measure of comfort and healing. More importantly it gives some meaning to the loss by raising awareness about traffic safety.

One with Heart is a martial arts school with over 300 students, many of them young children. Most school zones have crosswalks and 20 MPH speed limit signs. Until the City of Portland is ready to invest in making this intersection safe, what is gained by dismantling the community’s efforts to do so?

The memorial is making a difference. Cars are no longer racing down the street at 40 miles an hour. They are no longer using the center lane to pass other cars, as the driver who hit Fallon Smart did. Drivers are stopping for pedestrians and maybe they are thinking twice about the cost of their impatience.

Isn’t it sometimes worthwhile to let go of policy and procedure, to step outside the bureaucratic road blocks and just do the right thing? A young, beautiful life was lost and we are doing our best to honor Fallon Smart by making a difference that can save other lives. I ask city leaders to see that, to support it, to leave the memorial in place, and to be part of the solution – now.

— Katherine White

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92 Comments
  • Avatar
    Chris I September 29, 2016 at 7:45 am

    The memorial should only come down if it is to make room for the concrete forms that will then be filled to create a solid median crossing refuge at this location. These need to be a feature of every road diet project, installed every few blocks to prevent drivers from illegally using the center turn lane as a passing lane.

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      SilkySlim September 29, 2016 at 8:53 am

      I can’t believe how rare these are in SE…. The one on Woodstock really works great (despite the overabundance of foliage). The stop rate for pedestrians is really top notch there.

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        J_R September 29, 2016 at 10:57 am

        Actually there are three on Woodstock. One at 41st. Between 44th and 45th. At 49th near the library. I agree about the vegetation complained to the city once, an action that actually produced results.

        Compliance by motorists is actually pretty good now, but it took about two years for that to happen. During the first few months motorist rarely stopped or slowed down.

        Overall, I think the installations on Woodstock Avenue proved how effective center median barriers can be. They should be a standard feature of all business area collectors.

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          9watts September 30, 2016 at 1:46 pm

          “business area collectors.”

          new word for pan handlers? 😉

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    rick September 29, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Less than one year after Harley Rocher was walking on SW Laurelwood Ave and was killed by someone driving fast in a hit-and-run crash, one lady was driving and stopped by the side street stop sign and said the memorial should be removed for Harley. Shocked. It is a road that connects three schools that combine to have over 1,700 students.

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    soren September 29, 2016 at 7:55 am

    The Portland Police have aggressively blocked activists from painting crosswalks in the inner SE. Ironically, while they were chastising activists they ignored the streams of motorists who were buzzing people trying to cross at the unmarked crosswalk.

    #ZeroVision

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    Tom Hardy September 29, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Why are the PBOT consultants that insist on NOT having the painted crosswalks and safety islands not being elected? Because they do nothing, they definitely do not need to be paid out of the public coffers.
    I know! The sun was in my eyes!

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      9watts September 30, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      two double negatives? (= quadruple negative?) You lost me there.

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    mran1984 September 29, 2016 at 8:52 am

    The thousands of people that move here every month are driving cars. It is not going to get better. A Tri-Met bus completely ran the light at 26th and Hawthorne this morning at 8:25…while speeding. Too many people in a hurry throughout the day. Public transportation cannot even obey the basic speed law. Good luck out there. It’s not cars, it’s people. Many of them are going to vote too. It’s not going to get better…

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      bikeninja September 29, 2016 at 9:45 am

      I think that we should implement a driving test requirement for all newcomers to get an oregon license. Make this test rigorous, extensive and expensive. From what I have seen of driver skills, we are not doing right if there is a pass rate of over 50%. Make it a huge revenue source for the DMV so they will implement it with enthusiasm. Also invalidate drivers licenses from out of state within 30 days of taking up residence here.

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        Let's Active September 29, 2016 at 9:52 am

        Give me a break. It’s not just newcomers from out-of-state. It’s Oregon drivers, too. Testing in general should be much more rigorous for all.

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          dan September 29, 2016 at 10:59 am

          The Basic Rule (no motor vehicle shall be driven at a speed greater than prudent given the conditions) was not on the license test when I took it. (questions are randomly selected from a question bank, I believe). Why not? Everyone should be asked this question to drive in the state.

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          Matt S. September 30, 2016 at 2:50 pm

          Speed cameras all over the city, blanket it. I know they’re expensive, but they sure work.

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        B. Carfree September 29, 2016 at 11:34 am

        Twenty years ago, when California required every person renewing their license to retake the knowledge exam, licensed drivers passed this exam about 45% of the time. Motorists coming from out of state (mostly Oregon) did only slightly better. Interesting enough, new drivers (mostly teens) fared the best at about 60% passing. Even after the warning shot of failure, only about 55% of licensed motorists were able to pass on their second go ’round.

        California’s answer to this failure rate: drop the test. Clearly, we need to bring back knowledge exams for renewals. (Drivers moving here from out of state already have to take the knowledge exam). We should also ramp up the quality of the test, imo. Being a D+ student isn’t good enough to be trusted with a deadly tool.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 29, 2016 at 11:53 am

          I believe the written test has only a loose connection with practical driving skills. Certainly you need some book smarts when you learn how to drive, but once you have some experience, I think your actual decision making process is not based on book learning.

          I am not saying this is 100% true in all cases, but I recently retook my driver’s exam (written and practical), and found that I learned far more by talking things through with my examiner that I ever did from the written exam.

          Maybe better than retesting would be to send out a mailer every year featuring one thing drivers could absorb, such as basic speed rule, unmarked crosswalks, what a red turn arrow actually means, etc. (it surprised me to learn that you can turn right on a red arrow pointing right… who knew?) This might be better than requiring people to show up and take a quiz on the proper distance for following a firetruck.

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            Eric Leifsdad September 30, 2016 at 11:14 am

            Many people seem to believe (and I’ve talked to a few who said they did) that there is no law against parking on the left side of a two-way street, even while witnessing or creating the resultant conflicts. It’s never easy to get tests, knowledge, logic, and facts to mesh but we could do much better if we at least decided that it was important.

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      Tom September 29, 2016 at 10:34 am

      Do you have data to support your mode share claim for transplants? The transplants I know moved here to ride bikes for transport. All the drivers I have had problems with had Oregon plates, not out of state. Bike mode share is rising along with immigration, not falling. I’m not seeing any data to indicate transplants are the problem. Are you claiming that Trimet bus driver is a transplant also?

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        Ted Timmons (Contributor) September 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm

        I don’t know if we know modeshare for transplants, but there’s evidence to imply newer residents commute in more sustainable ways.

        It takes some handwaving to get there. I’d speculate newcomers are much more likely to be living in multifamily housing too. Occam’s Razor would support this: incoming residents are more likely to be living in all the new multifamily housing, rather than assuming current residents ‘trade up’ to the new housing and incoming residents live in their suburban homes and such.

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          lop October 4, 2016 at 11:54 pm

          That’s not evidence to support your assertion. Increasing share of workers commuting by bike + increasing number of people commuting to work does not imply that the new commuters are biking. A longtime resident giving up his car for his work commute is counted the same as a new resident biking to work.

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        bikeninja September 29, 2016 at 1:38 pm

        I wish Tom McCall were around today, he would update his famous speech,”
        We want you to visit our State of Excitement often. Come again and again. But for heaven’s sake, don’t bring your fossil fueled death machines.”

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      TonyJ September 29, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      We can simply stop accommodating more cars in our neighborhoods. Don’t require gobs of parking for new construction and charge market rates for on street parking and watch car ownership plummet. A $50/month parking permit would reduce car ownership by 8-15% according to the Victoria Transport Policy Institute.

      Blaming this tragedy on density was baseless and tasteless in the last thread and it still is in this one.

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        Chris I September 30, 2016 at 8:47 am

        And just plain wrong. Density increases congestion, which will slow traffic, making the arterials safer, in general. There will be issues, like increased traffic on certain greenways, but the city should be taking in enough tax revenue and development fees to mitigate this with diverters. It comes down to priorities. How much does the city really care about safety?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 30, 2016 at 9:27 am

          I thought one of the arguments for increasing density was that it reduced traffic.

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            Dan G September 30, 2016 at 6:18 pm

            The argument is that density reduces vehicle miles traveled per capita. A lower VMT/cap = a lower vehicular death rate.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 30, 2016 at 9:24 am

        Would it reduce car use by 8%, or just ownership of cars that are underutilized?

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          TonyJ September 30, 2016 at 3:35 pm

          Probably the ownership, but ultimately that does transfer to use reduction. Anecdotally, when I went car-free, we initially used car share pretty frequently and that has now tapered off to where we almost never drive.

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    Spiffy September 29, 2016 at 8:56 am

    I guess we could get out there with some cement and soil and create a real median island…

    if it was more permanent and up to code then they’d be wasting money tearing it down…

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    Bald One September 29, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Thank you for writing this and taking action by insisting more be done on this section of Hawthorne. Fallon’s tragic death continues to hurt. Our kids used to be in class at One With Heart, and whenever we had to do it, crossing the street there on Hawthorne to get to OWH was very stressful with two small children. Never easy to get across that street, and after it gets dark and rainy, it becomes 10x more difficult.

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      dan September 29, 2016 at 11:01 am

      Why not a mid-block island and pedestrian refuge? The center lane would still work as a turn lane as intended, but it would be impossible to use it as a travel lane.

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  • TonyT
    TonyT September 29, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Zero Vision. Perhaps the memorial bothers the city so much because it’s a daily reminder that they are doing nearly nothing. It’s a memorial to their failure to act.

    And I can’t even get excited about the possibility of a reduction in city-wide speed limits because without enforcement, they mean nothing.

    The excuse that they don’t want to do more enforcement out of fear of racial profiling is insulting. http://bikeportland.org/2016/09/14/city-releases-draft-of-vision-zero-action-plan-191456#more-191456

    If racial profiling is their concern, then why aren’t they just shuttering any and all enforcement including drug busts, etc? Where is the massive education campaign for police?

    The powers that be have no spine. They are terrified of the specter of opinion letters to the big O, outraged that the city dare question the god given right of motorists to speed and get where they need to go NOW, NOW, NOW.

    And does Amanda Fritz speak of collective punishment for drivers? Do we hear talk of not investing more money in car infrastructure due to scofflaw drivers? Of course not.

    And the body count will continue to rise.

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      J_R September 29, 2016 at 11:00 am

      This gets my vote for best comment of the week!

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      Kristi Finney Dunn September 29, 2016 at 10:46 pm

      The Vision Zero Action Plan was decided on by the majority of the Vision Zero Task Force, not the city staffers. Equity and profiling was discussed again and again. In my opinion it carried too much weight, but maybe that’s because I’m a middle class white woman who “doesn’t get it.” And maybe it’s also because I’m more concerned with getting the bad drivers off the road regardless of race or income because my son’s death would hurt just as much and he would be just as dead regardless of the color of the man who killed him. I voiced my concern at the removal of enforcement from the plan and even those members I have the most respect for thought it was for the best at this time.

      I still urge the community to support and to back the parts of the plan you do like. And speak up about what you feel is missing. The plan goes before City Council on October 12 at 3:00.

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        Dave September 30, 2016 at 8:29 am

        It’s actually insulting to our police to think that they’re too dumb to de-Klanify their behavior while still dropping the hammer on killer drivers at the same time. Certainly the very smart cops I’ve met are up to both of these tasks.

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          Kristi Finney Dunn September 30, 2016 at 1:19 pm

          That was part of the conversation. Also, that just saying it could cause people to think there’s a problem even if there isn’t. And the head of the traffic division is a VZ member, too. At our last meeting we were told the number of traffic officers would be decreased by five within a month or two.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty September 30, 2016 at 1:31 pm

            That’s too bad… in an Oregonian article I linked to on a different posting, they said that the traffic division statistics showed their stops were not clearly racially biased, so it may be that we can have increased traffic enforcement without a disparate racial effect, at least in Portland.

            Minority communities, after all, suffer from traffic fatalities as much as any other community

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    patrick September 29, 2016 at 9:25 am

    What I find particularly heartbreaking about this situation is that from what the people at the city/PBOT say, it’s up to the citizens. The city has stated, clearly, multiple times that when they fail to achieve an ambitious program (20th Bikeway, etc) it’s because they need more “grassroots support.” Yet here is a genuine, community-driven action that has provided real results, and their response is to remove it.

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    • Kai McMurtry (Events Manager)
      Kai McMurtry (Events Manager) September 29, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Well said, Patrick.

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      Middle of the Road Guy September 29, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      Grass roots does not equal guerilla.

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        9watts September 30, 2016 at 2:01 pm

        Hell just froze over. I agree with MotRG. A bureaucracy simply cannot handle this kind of tactic, acquiesce to it, make an exception. Will.Never.Happen.
        Not that this is right or moral or anything, but if we aren’t prepared to do away with bureaucracies this is one of the things that is not negotiable. Of course, City Repair figured out how to do an end run around this intransigence, but I’m pretty sure it was a long slog, and, to Tony’s point above, their intersection treatments are not the kind of stick-in-the-eye to PBOT’s failings that this installation.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 30, 2016 at 2:17 pm

          Man, it’s getting cold down here…

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      Paikiala October 4, 2016 at 8:07 am

      P,
      You measured vehicle speed?

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    David September 29, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Wouldn’t it be nice if a huge group of people showed up when the removal is scheduled? I wonder if we could find out when it’s slated to happen.

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      B. Carfree September 29, 2016 at 11:38 am

      I’d rather see them show up the day after and put it all back up. If the city removes it again, put it back up again and again until the city cries uncle.

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      TonyJ September 29, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      The family has asked for there not to be a demonstration during the removal.

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    mh September 29, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Wouldn’t it be nice if city policy and procedure was to “just do the right thing”?

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      Ted G September 30, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Do the right thing according to who? You?

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    Middle of the Road Guy September 29, 2016 at 11:36 am

    What if drivers started removing the barricades on certain streets that are blocked to cars?

    Can’t have it both ways, folks. While the memorial certainly is feel-good and serving a purpose, you just can’t arbitrarily change the transportation network…not without the expectation that others may do the same in a manner you do not like.

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      Rob September 29, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Removing diverters does not align with the city’s stated goals. Adding safety infrastructure does.

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      bikeninja September 29, 2016 at 11:56 am

      Your right, fair is fair. Whenever a cyclist mows down and kills a motorist, the pro-auto activists should be able to set up a memorial in the offending bikeway for a period of time.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

        It’s not a “person from community x” did wrong to our community so we’re going to punish community x by taking away a bit of their infrastructure for a period.

        I know you were (kind of) joking, but it reveals a flawed way of looking at things.

        We’re all the same people.

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          bikeninja September 29, 2016 at 1:41 pm

          Seems like a good way to detour “deviant drivers” since many of them have the self centered mentality of small children. From “drop your juice on the carpet and you get no more juice” to ” mow down vulnerable road users on the street, and you lose the use of that street”.

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      Robert Burchett September 29, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      Ok, it seems you are somewhere in the middle between “a person should be able to cross the street without injury” and “a person should be able to drive a motor vehicle in the way they find most convenient without regard for others.”

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      El Biciclero September 29, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      This is an example of “false equivalence”. The notion sounds like it is in favor of equality: “if you can change things around, so can I”. But in looking at what is being altered, in one case, the street is being made safer, and in the other it is being made more convenient. The assumption that VRUs and drivers should both be able to alter the transportation network—because we’re all equal, here—assumes that safety and convenience are an even exchange.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 29, 2016 at 3:17 pm

        It seems you are assuming that drivers and VRUs are different people. Perhaps rather than focusing on populations, you could focus on the nature of the changes people wanted to make. So a change favoring safety would be OK, but one favoring convenience would not, regardless of mode, assuming that safety and convenience are inherently at odds.

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          El Biciclero September 30, 2016 at 10:52 am

          True, I’m modally profiling, assuming that people who primarily drive want the streets made more convenient for themselves, regardless of the effect on safety for others, while people who primarily (or very often) walk or ride a bike, want the streets made safer, regardless of the effect on convenience it has for others.

          The exchange of convenience for safety has to be further qualified as well: what I mean is that exchanging the safety of one group for the convenience of the other should not be considered viable. I should not have the right to make the street more dangerous for you merely to increase my convenience. But a balance must be maintained between these two. There is always the fallback of making things incredibly inconvenient for a vulnerable group in the name of “safety”, merely to preserve the level of convenience for the more protected/powerful group. We see this implicitly every time we see a sign that says “BIKE ROUTE” with an arrow pointing in a direction you are not riding. This says, “We built this street/bridge/road in a way that is too dangerous for you to use (or your safe use of it would really inconvenience drivers), but look! We made this other path—it’s only about a half-mile out of your way, and it might be jammed with pedestrians—but it’s totally safe!” We tell pedestrians the same thing. We tell peds, for example, they must cross at a corner, even though it might be very inconvenient (and is often more dangerous).

          Anyway, I haven’t quite worked out the details of the exchange rate between driver/VRU convenience vs. driver/VRU safety, except to note that $1 of driver safety is roughly $70 of VRU safety (how many pedestrians would it take to actually harm a driver in his car?).

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty September 30, 2016 at 11:03 am

            How many cyclists do you see taking risks, however small, in order to increase their convenience? I’d say a great many, if not most of them.

            I think everyone wants convenience, and that there is not an inherent tradeoff between convenience and safety. An example is a median island where Smart was killed — adding one there would inconvenience no one, and would increase safety.

            That said, I do agree with your concept that increasing safety should have a higher priority than enhancing traffic flow, but within limits. Completely blocking Hawthorne to vehicle and bike traffic would greatly enhance pedestrian safety, but is probably not a good tradeoff.

            I think the issue is fundamentally multi-dimensional. What you are calling convenience is probably a combination of access/accessibility, travel time, and other factors, which are borne unevenly by residents based on where they live and their access to alternatives.

            This is kind of a rambling response, but I like the idea of creating a formula (who doesn’t like formulas?) to try to express the relationships between the various competing demands on our transportation system.

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              El Biciclero September 30, 2016 at 1:14 pm

              “How many cyclists do you see taking risks, however small, in order to increase their convenience? I’d say a great many, if not most of them.”

              This illustrates the notion of an “exchange rate” fairly well. It also illustrates the point I was attempting to make in comments on this article about the meaning and motivation for “being safe”. If I, as a bicyclist “take a risk”, whose life, mostly, am I risking? If some motorist wants to “take a risk” by passing unsafely, passing another car that is stopped for a pedestrian, or darting out from a driveway because they think they see a gap in motor traffic, whose life are they mostly putting at risk? So even the phrase “take a risk” is ambiguous unless we understand what it is that is actually being put at some risk. Further, stating (I know you didn’t state this, but for illustration…) “everyone takes risks”, once again implies that all risks are created equal, when in fact, they are not.

              In American culture today, it would seem, taking risks with other people’s lives is considered acceptable, but taking risks with your own life is viewed as foolishness and invites scorn and derision.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 30, 2016 at 1:26 pm

                You ignore the likelihood that if you get killed by a car, even if the driver is not physically injured, he or she will most likely suffer severe guilt and psychological trauma, possibly for life.

                Also, most drivers involved in fatal crashes are killing other drivers, so the drivers vs. VRU angle is probably less than drivers vs. other drivers. Treating “drivers” as a monolithic block is probably misleading.

                I also disagree with your analysis of risking your own life vs. the lives of others in American culture. People who risk themselves for others are held in the highest esteem (e.g. firefighters, soldiers risking being shot to rescue a comrade, or just common people who take great risks for strangers in an emergency or disaster). Smoking on your own outside is somewhat scorned (in middle class circles, at least), but doing so in a way that jeopardizes the health of other people is considered worse. No one scorns people involved in risky sports — football, motor racing, backcountry skiing, parachuting, etc.

                I see something to your line of thinking, but I think you need to think more about the concept of risk vs. benefit vs. cost.

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                El Biciclero September 30, 2016 at 3:21 pm

                “You ignore the likelihood that if you get killed by a car, even if the driver is not physically injured, he or she will most likely suffer severe guilt and psychological trauma, possibly for life.”

                I’m not “ignoring” the psychological aspects of running someone over, I’m focusing on the inequality inherent in the potential results of careless use of the roadways. If a driver runs over me–regardless of who is at fault—we’ll both still suffer psychological trauma (assuming I live), so in that one aspect, the level of damage we can inflict on each other is roughly the same. What isn’t the same is my ability to actually inflict physical harm on a driver by running into his/her car. And yes, I know it’s possible that by swerving out of the bike lane, I could freak out a driver, who then veers into the lane next to him and sideswipes another car, sending it careening into an entire line of parked cars, one of which jumps up onto the sidewalk, killing three pedestrians and knocking over a fire hydrant; meanwhile the sideswiped car flips and rolls, injuring a toddler in the back seat and killing his mom, the driver, thereby creating four dead bodies, an orphan, and a flooded intersection. I’m also not considering that remote possibility given the vastly more common interactions that result in VRU injuries and deaths every day.

                “Also, most drivers involved in fatal crashes are killing other drivers, so the drivers vs. VRU angle is probably less than drivers vs. other drivers. Treating ‘drivers’ as a monolithic block is probably misleading.”

                Again, I’m focusing on the inequality between modes, and the ability of users of one mode to inflict harm to a disproportionate degree on users of other modes. To say “but drivers crash into other drivers too, so….” implies a false equivalence between car-car collisions and car-ped or car-bike collisions. I suppose we could apply a similar template to drivers of different sizes of vehicles, but unless we’re talking about a semi vs. a Smart Car, the differences among motorized vehicles are roughly nothing when compared to the difference between a car and a pedestrian or bicyclist. Also, since cars and drivers vastly outnumber anything else on the roads, probability suggests that car-on-car collisions would be the most numerous.

                “I also disagree with your analysis of risking your own life vs. the lives of others in American culture. People who risk themselves for others are held in the highest esteem (e.g. firefighters, soldiers risking being shot to rescue a comrade, or just common people who take great risks for strangers in an emergency or disaster).”

                Well, you’re talking about heroism, putting your life on the line for someone else. We do like to romanticize our heroes, and many of the folks you mention rightly deserve honor for their selflessness. Now imagine that a mom was pushing her baby in a stroller across an unmarked crosswalk on a rainy night, noticed that a car she thought would stop—according to the law—wasn’t stopping and was in fact speeding up, not seeing her. All this mom has time to do is give the stroller one mighty push out of the path of the car before she herself is mowed down and killed. Is she a hero for saving her baby? Or will the public treat her with scorn for putting her child at such grave risk and for ending up depriving her baby of a mother?

                I will re-frame my scope of culture to merely include “American roadway culture”.

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      Dave September 30, 2016 at 8:30 am

      If all means of travel caused equal hazard to us, your words would make some sense.

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    Buzz September 29, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    The ‘complaints’ about the memorial the city is receiving are coming from motorists who don’t live in the neighborhood and don’t want to slow down for vulnerable road users; I don’t understand why the city is even entertaining the idea of removing the memorial to placate these uncaring people.

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    El Biciclero September 29, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    “…a tragic accident…”

    Don’t you mean, “…a tragic crash…”?

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    Caitlin D September 29, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you for writing this letter, Katherine. I sent a letter to PBOT and City Council about this too. Based on an email I got from PBOT’s Constituent Services Coordinator this morning, the memorial is being taken down today. I hope that they will install a permanent pedestrian refuge (or similar) in the center lane soon.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 29, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      Will they be delivering on Treat’s promise of having a plan to move forward before the memorial is dismantled?

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        J_R September 29, 2016 at 2:07 pm

        But, they already have a plan. It’s called Vision Zero. It includes a task force, a new logo, a committee, an annual report, and a media release explaining that they are moving forward and self congratulations on accomplishing some really good stuff.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 29, 2016 at 2:13 pm

          Treat promised a specific plan for this intersection or stretch of road.

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    Adam September 29, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Beautifully expressed. So glad to see businesses getting on board with street safety.

    My one concern – Fallon Smart’s death was not an “accident” as the writer states.

    Driving 25mph over the speed limit then hitting and killing someone is not an accident. It is a wholly preventable incident.

    Csn we see this word “accident” banished back to potty training, where it belongs please?

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    Bob September 29, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    Lets look at some facts.
    Some kid who has their license suspended, was driving and speeding. He hit a 15 year old and she died.
    The parents protested by blocking the road. During their protest they stopped an emergency vehicle with its lights on from getting through.
    That could have been the few seconds to save someone’s life. Kinda sending the wrong message if you’re trying to save lives.

    I’m sure we can all agree we want safe streets.
    I can’t help but ask myself this question:
    Will this road block really stop the heart of the problem?
    Will this one road block cure the problem of speeding (in an area that is obviously loaded with people) and driving when you shouldn’t?
    No.
    Laws can’t make you do anything. Laws are guidelines reinforced with the fear of locking you up in a cage if you don’t follow them.
    Someone who is going 50 in a 25 probably isn’t going to care if there is a cement island, it’s not going to spark them into thinking “Wow I should really slow down I could hurt someone”
    Although it may seem like this is doing good, lets remember that all the people slowing down for this memorial are not the drivers who are going 50 in a 25, they’re already looking for people and this isn’t an intersection where “the killing” needs to stop. This was not a planned out attack, it was a huge mistake made by a 20 year old (I’m sure everyone has taken stupid risks, this idiot just got unlucky).

    Putting up a memorial is a beautiful way to remember someone who was lost.
    Trying to change the one street intersection thinking this is the magic formula that will stop a few people from extreme speeding…Is wishful thinking

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      Chris I September 30, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Are you arguing that we shouldn’t have solid median refuges for pedestrian crossings, because it might delay ambulances by a few seconds? Do you have any evidence that anyone has actually died because an ambulance was delayed by traffic calming features?

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        Kyle Banerjee September 30, 2016 at 9:46 am

        No one is saying the delay caused a death. I think he’s saying being reactive might not be the best way to move forward.

        Just because a handful of activists think it’s no big deal to set up small delays all over the place without any regard for side effects makes it a good idea.

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          9watts September 30, 2016 at 2:11 pm

          the ‘but the ambulance’ retort is so boring. It is treated as a club with which to beat anything even remotely sensible into retreat. Next thing you know someone will say ‘but the firetruck,’ since these days with our topsy turvy division of labor the fire department deals mostly with medical emergencies.

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            Kyle Banerjee September 30, 2016 at 3:08 pm

            I’m sorry you find medical and public safety emergencies so boring. Most people would think it’s sensible to have good emergency infrastructure, part of which involves getting to/from people in crisis. Hopefully you and no one you need will need such services.

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              Eric Leifsdad September 30, 2016 at 10:32 pm

              Seems like some first responders could be specially trained, supported, and equipped with sufficiently quick and nimble vehicles to quickly reach and resolve an emergency even in a dense city. I mean, if we want to actually solve that problem instead of just maintain the status quo of Vision 40-something.

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              Chris I October 1, 2016 at 1:57 pm

              If we really cared about emergency response times, we would use congestion pricing. Ask why we don’t.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 1, 2016 at 1:59 pm

                Why don’t we?

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                BarBarian October 1, 2016 at 4:53 pm

                Because the ambluance is a straw man, and always has been.

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) September 30, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Bob

      During their protest they stopped an emergency vehicle with its lights on from getting through.
      That could have been the few seconds to save someone’s life. Kinda sending the wrong message if you’re trying to save lives.

      I’m willing to bet there are dozens of times per day where ambulances are held up because inattentive drivers are blocking intersections.

      By your logic, if we wanted to save lives, we’d make every road 8 lanes wide, right? Because that might save a few seconds.

      Bob

      Will this road block really stop the heart of the problem?
      Will this one road block cure the problem of speeding (in an area that is obviously loaded with people) and driving when you shouldn’t?
      No.
      Laws can’t make you do anything. Laws are guidelines reinforced with the fear of locking you up in a cage if you don’t follow them.
      Someone who is going 50 in a 25 probably isn’t going to care if there is a cement island, it’s not going to spark them into thinking “Wow I should really slow down I could hurt someone”

      This is just FUD. As you say, laws can’t make you do anything. Narrowing roads slows traffic and improves safety.

      Bob

      Although it may seem like this is doing good, lets remember that all the people slowing down for this memorial are not the drivers who are going 50 in a 25, they’re already looking for people and this isn’t an intersection where “the killing” needs to stop. This was not a planned out attack, it was a huge mistake made by a 20 year old (I’m sure everyone has taken stupid risks, this idiot just got unlucky).

      This isn’t an “accident”. Yes, it may not literally happen right there. It’s part of an attitude of prioritizing wide roads and cars over streets that are part of a community.

      It’s easy to “other” the driver because he isn’t white, he isn’t from the USA, and his driving was beyond what most find tolerable. Yet it’s common to go 40-45mph on that stretch and to be impatient with pedestrians who want to cross. Hell, I bet the majority of Portland drivers don’t know that unmarked crosswalks are actually crosswalks.

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    Kyle Banerjee September 30, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    If you look at the vast majority of cities in this country, it’s a real stretch to say wide roads are prioritized in Portland.

    Cars certainly are, but that reflects what most people want even if that’s not what cyclists want. Better infrastructure and transit takes many years to implement, and realistically the best we can hope for in the next few decades is for cyclists to be a sizeable minority.

    Changing roads by removing lanes or installing barriers can improve safety, but I’m not sure narrowing roads is a always a good way to do that. I’m not sure how narrowing the likes of Greeley, Interstate, Lombard, and a bunch of others would make life better for anyone. Even on sleepier streets, narrower roads also reduce sight lines, and on some of these Portland streets where cars are parked all over the place, you can’t see small kids or animals step out and then there is practically no reaction time even if you are going slow.

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      Eric Leifsdad September 30, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      Some people won’t ride a bike because it’s too stressful or doesn’t feel safe. I think infrastructure could make driving and biking feel equally safe and convenient. I won’t accept that it takes many years to implement. Maybe go try Sunday Parkways this weekend and see why you think we need a lot of time and money to make streets safe for people.

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        Kyle Banerjee October 1, 2016 at 5:04 am

        There are certainly ways to make things safe and think Sunday Parkways is a great idea. People won’t ride unless they feel safe, and that’s partly a matter of infrastructure, and partly just getting comfortable with cycling.

        However, once the distances reach a certain point or you add other factors like hills or bad weather, even people who want to bike drop out. Relatively few people will ride in cold, rain, or darkness, not too many people will ride more than a few miles each way, and hills discourage a lot of people. In addition, certain types of home or work responsibilities are also less conducive to cycling.

        Workplace logistics are also important. Changing facilities and safe storage are a big deal and so many employers offer neither. At a former job, I had to pay for a health club membership and rent a place for my bike just so I can ride, and not many people are willing to do that.

        More people will ride if it’s easier, but even if it’s totally easy/safe, most people will choose something else even if it’s the best way to get around. Don’t underestimate peoples’ willingness for “passive” options. Getting people cycling is like getting them to read instead of watching garbage on TV. Even if they know it’s the right thing to do, they have trouble taking that step.

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          Eric Leifsdad October 1, 2016 at 10:48 am

          Electric bike, trike, cargo bike/trike, velomobile, fenders, poncho, boots, hat… Not everyone can ride a fixie all the time.

          Just getting half of sub-3-mile (easily under 15min) trips out of a car would be progress.

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            Kyle Banerjee October 2, 2016 at 9:57 pm

            There’s no doubt it can be done — even faster and more efficiently. But cycling requires people to be more engaged and comfort is a major deal with people. Heated seats are actually super important to an amazing percentage of people. These people aren’t going to bike no matter how much sense it makes.

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              Eric Leifsdad October 3, 2016 at 12:06 pm

              I always forget to mention bikes can have heated seats.

              Cycling requires you to be more engaged than driving a car? See, this is what’s wrong with our infrastructure. If people don’t feel extremely engaged while driving on city streets, we’re making it too easy. More posts and narrower lanes would be a good start. Maybe even some big moving objects that might randomly roll into your right-of-way at every block or driveway. Some randomly placed severe tire damage hazards, giant potholes, lanes that end with no warning, etc. Make driving grate again!

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 3, 2016 at 12:25 pm

                I think you’d make a awesome engineer! Is PBOT hiring?

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    Paikiala October 4, 2016 at 8:15 am

    “… did not address our request.”, or said no?
    The road is too wide, with too much traffic, to just mark a crosswalk without doing more, like a refuge, or beacons. The traffic investigation section doesn’t have that kind of budget.

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      Eric Leifsdad October 4, 2016 at 9:42 am

      How much budget is needed to put some $300 sand-filled barriers or barrels in the center lane? If a turn pocket on each side of the intersection had just one jersey barrier on the left edge (maybe another diagonally at the start of the pocket), passing would be prevented and the effective road width would be significantly reduced.

      We don’t have $1200+sand+labor to make an intersection safe, or we just don’t want to?

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 4, 2016 at 11:41 am

      Paikiala

      The road is too wide, with too much traffic, to just mark a crosswalk without doing more, like a refuge, or beacons. The traffic investigation section doesn’t have that kind of budget.

      This definitely seems to be the implied PBOT attitude about things. Aside from talking about Vision Zero, everything is too hard.

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