Outer Division. Again.
Around 8:30 pm on Sunday night 74-year-old Portland resident Fuk Chan tried to walk across Southeast Division Street near 115th. He was struck and severely injured by a man driving a Nissan Quest minivan. Mr. Chan died in the hospital yesterday.
Based on the Police narrative released so far and from a photograph in a KATU story, it appears the collision happened near a TriMet bust stop on the north side of the street, just west of 115th. There’s a small market on the south side of the street.
Division is nine lanes wide in this location. There are parking lanes and bike lanes on both sides as well as two standard vehicle lanes and a center turn lane. There’s 1,829 feet (one-third of a mile) between marked crosswalks.
Outer Division has been the focus of attention from bereaved families, safe streets activists, and the City of Portland for many years. In December 2016, following the deaths of two people killed in separate collisions within hours of each other while walking across Division, Portland City Council passed an ordinance that freed up $300,000 for “emergency” safety updates.
Admirable advocacy from the City of Portland continued into last year when a formal safety action plan was released in February at a community meeting held on SE Division at 82nd. At that meeting PBOT Commissioner Dan Saltzman told local residents (many of whom needed a translator because English is not their native language), “We’re sorry and we’re bound and determined to do something about that.”
That was 13 months ago.
Changes are planned for the section of SE Division where Chan was hit, but they haven’t come soon enough.
That project Commissioner Saltzman presented in February 2017 — which was initially called the “Outer Division Multimodal Safety Project” and is now for some reason been changed to the “Safety Action Plan for Outer Division” — includes a list of safety updates aimed at reducing driving speeds and creating more protection for vulnerable road users.
But how long must we wait before they are built? (I’ve asked PBOT for an update and will share when I hear back.)
In a sad twist, it appears the exact location where Mr. Chan was hit is waiting for a new rapid flashing beacon, median island and marked crosswalks.
The last time we reported about PBOT’s Outer Division project was in November 2017. At that time the project had been delayed due to concerns from local business owners that the safety upgrades would result in too many lost parking spaces and not enough room for large trucks to make turns. “Across the board we have overall support,” a PBOT project manager told the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee in October, “But we’re also hearing, ‘Wow, losing on-street parking will be a big deal for our business,’ and, ‘How’s freight going to work?'”
Another factor causing a delay in making this street safer is the budget shortfall that has paused the (mostly) federally-funded Division Transit Project. PBOT and TriMet want to coordinate work on Division; but that’s proving to be more complicated than expected.
But it’s not all bad news: In January we reported that PBOT plans to construct a raised center median and protected bike lanes on Division between 116th and 146th before the end of 2018. At least that’s the current plan.
As the daily threats — and often consequences — to human life persist on outer Division, activists are now sounding the alarm about outer SE Stark.
With the way we currently approach fixing deadly and dysfunctional streets, it will likely take much more activism — or unfortunately, more deaths — before anything gets done.
Note: Mr. Chan was the seventh person to die while using Portland streets so far this year. 65-year-old Portland resident Wes Hatton died at a hospital on Saturday (3/10) after he was hit while walking across SE Belmont at 30th on Friday.
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