Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 30th, 2016 at 12:14 pm
(Publisher’s note: This week we’re excited to highlight a few of the projects created by students in Portland State University’s Traffic and Transportation course. As we reported in a profile earlier this year, the class has had a vast impact on Portland in numerous ways by churning out over 1,200 smart and inspired graduates since 1991. We worked with class assistant Rebecca Hamilton (a graduate herself who now works at Metro) to share three of the projects that will be presented by students in class later this week. Yesterday we shared Charles Tso’s work on parking benefit districts.)
Safer routes to Bridger Elementary School – Amy Wren
Tucked between Southeast 82nd Avenue and Mt. Tabor Park, Bridger Elementary School is surrounded by streets that lack sidewalks and that are littered with big potholes and gravel. Add in winter weather and vehicle traffic and you’ve got a recipe for danger and stress. For her project, Amy Wren (who took the PSU class after reading about it on BikePortland!) asked a simple question: Would you want your kids to bike or walk on those streets?
What’s your big idea?
I would like to make what is currently Bridger’s Safe Route to School actually safe. Right now the area from SE 82nd down SE Mill to SE 80th where the school is located is a flooded mess in the winter. Many students take Trimet and it drops them off on 82nd where there is a signal to cross 82nd safely. They then walk down Mill towards the school. Mill does not have curbs or sidewalks the street is slowly deteriorating forcing kids to walk in the middle of the street to avoid large pools of standing water. This is also an area where parents drive to drop kids off from school which is a dangerous mix. Now that this is also a Neighborhood Greenway route and you have a large number of cyclists trying to navigate these large areas of standing water where you cannot see the depth or where the road ends.
To fix this issue I am proposing that SE Mill between SE 82nd and SE 80th have sewer lines installed so that sidewalks and curbs can be added. Not only does it make this area after for the children coming and going from school but in increases the safety of all pedestrians and cyclists using the Greenway.
The other part of my proposal is to close the intersection of SE 80th and SE Mill to cars and create a pocket park similar to the one PBOT has created on NE Holman and 13th. On SE 80th traveling west right before you get to the intersection of SE Mill you go through an area that is one lane. It is one lane due to large trees that constrict the street, I have wrapped my head around all sorts of ways to improve this area without closing the street and I am at a loss. So, this area gets closed to cars and the street is repaved for pedestrians and cyclists using the Greenway.
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What steps are you taking to make it happen? Have you made any progress towards your goal?
I have already been approved for a no parking area on SE 80th north of the large trees right before SE Mill. This means there are three fewer parking spots on the street but it gives kids negotiating the area a bit more space to walk when the pools of water are large. I have requested a stop sign to slow traffic down but am waiting on review. I have also requested to talk to one of the city engineers about the area and options for improving it. While I have my proposal I also know there are more than one way to improve things and am open to other ideas.
What have you learned about trying to make a change in your community? Has anything surprised you?
I have learned that so much of getting things done comes down to showing up and having a voice. It is so easy to complain about things on social media and to your friends but to make a difference sometimes all you need to do it make a phone call. My best example is how amazing the pothole hotline is (503-823-2867). With a quick phone call the city will fill a pothole within a couple of weeks, I call all the time and see the results. Many changes are just a phone or email request away.
I am also surprised that advocacy groups in the city continue to be dominated by white, educated, somewhat well-off people. I include myself in this category. I think the city is working hard to hear other voices but it feels like it is still a huge struggle to hear other voices. I don’t know how to fix this, but I do know you start by realizing that there are voices that are missing in the conversation.
This is the second post in a three-part series. Stay tuned tomorrow when student Ross Peizer shares his idea for a bikeway on Southwest Salmon. Also note that the final presentations for the Traffic & Transportation course will be shared live on Thursday from 6:40 to 8:40 pm at the Portland Building auditorium, 2nd Floor, Room C. The event is free and open to the public.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org