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After another death, community groups will press City for ’emergency’ on outer SE Stark

Posted by on February 7th, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Looks like an emergency to me.

We’ve seen this sad movie before: After seemingly incessant traffic violence on our streets, people join together with tears in their eyes and frustration in their hearts to implore our government agencies to do more to make our streets safe.

This time Oregon Walks and the Rosewood Initiative will lead the way. They’re hosting a press conference Thursday morning to draw attention to terrible conditions on outer SE Stark Street after a woman was killed by an auto user at 148th Street last week. That was the third fatal traffic crash at or near that same intersection in less than a year. In a statement (below), Oregon Walks Executive Director Noel Mickelberry is calling on the City of Portland to declare an official emergency on SE Stark in order to immediately reduce the speed limit from 35 to 30 mph.

Mickelberry hopes the Portland Bureau of Transportation will take a similar approach to the emergency declaration they successfully pursued on SE Division last year.

Here’s more from the Oregon Walks press release:

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Advocates and Community Members Demand a Safer Outer Stark

On Thursday, February 8th Oregon Walks and The Rosewood Initiative will hold a press conference on SE 148th & Stark at 10am on Thursday, February 8th – calling for action to improve safety after a community member was killed by a hit and run

We believe that crashes are preventable. We are calling on our local elected officials to invest in safety improvements on Outer SE Stark immediately.

– Use an emergency ordinance to lower the speed limit from 35mph to 30mph on SE Stark from I-205 to 162nd. This was recently implemented on Outer SE Division St.
– Fully fund the Outer Stark Safety Project – including street redesign, signalized crossings, and pedestrian lighting and other traffic calming measures.
– Ensure that implementation of the Outer Stark Safety Plan includes robust community engagement to ensure the project meets community needs.

Noel Mickelberry, Executive Director of Oregon Walks, the state’s pedestrian advocacy organization, shares that this is the 6th most dangerous road for people walking in the City. “We have seen too many people unable to get to where they need to go because of the dangerous design, high speeds, and limited crossings along Outer Stark. To reach Vision Zero, we have to invest in safer street design and Outer Stark is a perfect example of a street that is not designed for the safety of people.”

“People are dying on SE Stark and other East Portland streets way too often,” said Kem Marks, Director of Transportation Equity at The Rosewood Initiative. “We need our elected leaders to take action to make our streets safe for everyone. This is a high priority equity issue for East Portland.”

“East Portland streets were designed to move large quantities of cars quickly. The problem is, these roads are not highways, they are our neighborhood streets. They are lined with multi-family housing complexes and thousands of people that call East Portland home. We have a collective responsibility to the people that live in our communities east of I-205 to make these streets safe,” said Jenny Glass, Executive Director, The Rosewood Initiative.

Join us for a press conference to learn more about our safety priorities, and our ask to City Council:

When: Thursday, February 8th at 10am
Where: Intersection of SE 148th & Stark. Parking available at Scan Design on 148th, just south of SE Stark.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Middle of the Road Guy February 7, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    It’s only an emergency when the press makes PBOT look bad.

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    • curly February 7, 2018 at 3:17 pm

      Not hard to make PBOT look bad. Especially if you’re speaking from east of 82nd Ave.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 9:50 am

        I don’t disagree, but it is worth pointing out that PBOT neither designed nor built this area; they inherited it. Changing the fundamental nature of an existing network is far more difficult and expensive than building one from scratch.

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        • curly February 8, 2018 at 1:50 pm

          They didn’t inherit it, they annexed it knowing it would take an exorbitant amount of $ to retrofit the existing transportation infrastructure. Then they ignored it for years, but continued to develop it. Now it’s the City of Portland’s biggest challenge.

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  • Dave February 7, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    How about, like, speed limit enforcement? How about treating road laws like they mean something? How about fines that are so steep that they engender genuine fear in drivers?

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    • B. Carfree February 7, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      Time for PPB to show they are all over enforcement issues by doing stop sign enforcement for people on bikes in Ladd’s Addition.

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    • TonyT
      TonyT February 7, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      “fines that are so steep that they engender genuine fear in drivers”

      I was saying just this yesterday. I love the notion of fines being a proportional to income. I would also factor in vehicle weight.

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      • David Hampsten February 8, 2018 at 1:43 pm

        They do so in Germany too. There was a famous case of a Tour De France winner who was caught speeding and drunk driving and was fined over $250,000, based upon his winnings and income that year.

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  • Mark Nelsen February 7, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Dave hits the problem on the head…all across the region. There is so little enforcement on highways/freeways/streets that changing speed limits won’t matter. I drive 22 miles of I-84 every day going to work and speeds have gone up quite a bit in the past 5 years. I’ve always been a 64 in a 60mph zone type person; but now it’s like I’m standing still! More enforcement = slower traffic = fewer deaths.

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    • I wear many hats February 7, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      Divided limited highways are designed for high speeds. I’m a 20 in a 25 person where people are around but highways are for higher speeds. SE Stark is around people so speeds should be adjusted accordingly. If enough people cork an arterial no one goes faster. Just look at the left lane of Interstate 5. Lowering the speeds will have an effect.

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      • Matthew in Portsmouth February 8, 2018 at 2:20 pm

        I’m a speed limit person myself – I use my cruise control almost all the time to ensure I don’t drift above the speed limit. I also stick to the right most lane as much as I can (I’ll use the middle lane if there are a lot of on/off ramps and merging traffic, e.g. I-205 between I-84 and exit 14 on my daily commute). Last night when driving home, I noticed that there are quite a few more pedestrians and children on bicycles, so I dropped my speed well below the limit – I do not want to hit a vulnerable road user in my SUV.

        That said, it makes no sense to me to design and build a high speed road in areas where there are any pedestrians or bicyclists. Roads should be designed to limit traffic to the safest speed. ODOT clearly thinks that speed limits are to be set according to how fast scofflaws are actually driving – this is backward.

        Traffic laws that are unenforced are useless. Speed and red light cameras don’t discriminate by race, gender/sexual identity, religion, color or cost of vehicle, which is a good reason to use them extensively.

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  • Ryan February 7, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    My commute goes from North Gresham to inner SE PDX. I tried using Stark for a significant portion of that one time. From speeding cars to a bike lane that disappeared suddenly (and had sunken storm drains and debris even when it was there), I never tried that route again even though it cut over a mile off my commute. I do plenty of rides where I mix with cars or am on bike lane-less roads, but that ride down Stark was just too stressful.

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    • soren February 7, 2018 at 5:15 pm

      Even Burnside is no cakewalk. I had one of the worst commutes of my life while riding Burnside during a rain storm on my way to an event at the Rosewood Initiative. Tree branches, poorly marked construction pits, potholes, steel plates, and multiple drivers veering into the ~5 foot bike lane. Ironically, road conditions and my comfort levels improved once I entered Gresham at 161st. In my experience, Gresham has better maintained bike lanes than those in East Portland (platinum).

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      • Ryan February 8, 2018 at 3:37 pm

        Indeed, overall I find Gresham bike lanes to be better than when I get into PDX, although there tends to be more broken glass and branches. However, it seems like east-west lanes are better than north-south; I feel like I have more issues with storm drains on narrow-ish lanes on north-south roads. Currently, I have to ride 223rd to connect with the Springwater since they’ve been working on the Gresham-Fairview trail between Burnside/Division for a couple months now. There are several spots along 223rd – especially between Division/Powell – where I have to either ride on the line to avoid a sunken storm drain or else bunny hop it if I don’t want to take the lane. Speed limit is 35 through there but cars are regularly going 45+ so having to get on the line a few inches away from the cars isn’t fun.

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  • Noel February 7, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks for covering this Jonathan! If you share our concerns and want to let City Council know – feel free to email them – the more voices, the better!:,
    Nick Fish ,
    Commissioner Fritz ,,

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  • maxD February 7, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    I just reviewed the street on google maps. Looking at the photograph, there are only a handful of cars using the on-street parking, making this 5 lane road feel like a 7-lane road. What if we removed parking and removed one lane of traffic then added dedicated bus lanes and a buffered bike lane on a temporary, emergency basis- just until plans could be planned, designed, engineered and built.

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    • Spiffy February 7, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      in the 12 blocks west of this intersection there is parking allowed on every block with only 2 cars using it that entire stretch… they’re parked illegally half on the sidewalk of course, because even drivers fear that street…

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  • Granpa February 7, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    Red light cameras combined with steep fines. Photo radar, combined with steep fines. POPO rightly complain about being understaffed, but monitoring traffic violations can easily be automated, freeing up Police for their other responsibilities.

    The city of portland (lover case intentional) is willful in allowing this deathwatch to continue.

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  • dan de vriend February 8, 2018 at 7:30 am

    Too bad it will stop at 162nd. Gresham needs to get with the program too.

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  • rick February 8, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Surely outer SE Stark has enough room for 3.5′ bike lanes?

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    • soren February 8, 2018 at 8:40 am

      don’t you mean the buffer lanes for large parked trucks???

      i’m willing to bet that if more pbot staffers actually had to commute these “bike” lanes the perennial delays in building east portland’s fully-funded neighborhood greenways would evaporate.

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      • rick February 8, 2018 at 9:15 am

        I meant for the area in the photograph shown in this article.

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        • David Hampsten February 8, 2018 at 1:56 pm

          According to Portland Maps there is a minimum of 80 feet right-of-way on both Stark and 148th. Both have 7-foot sidewalks, so the curb-to-curb width should be 66 feet. If PBOT made the 4 traffic lanes and the center turn lane proportional to the posted speed limit (10 feet wide for each), then there should be 8 feet available on each side for parking and/or buffered bike lanes.

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  • Spiffy February 8, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    at the press conference we witnessed illegal lane changes, speeding, drivers cutting through the 7-11 parking lot we were in to avoid waiting to turn right, cars stopped in the crosswalk, drivers turning off Stark into the bike lane, etc, etc, all the usual law-breaking you’re used to…

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