“I’m sick and tired of people speeding around here.”
— Collin Ferguson, SE Stark resident
Collin Ferguson lives in an apartment on Southeast Stark near 113th. He’s so fed up with people driving dangerously that he spent part of his morning on Thursday holding a sign and yelling in hopes of grabbing the attention of drivers.
“I’m sick and tired of people speeding around here,” he shared, as he held a sign in one hand and his dog in the other. Ferguson said he hears drag racing on the street outside his apartment almost nightly and that he fears for the safety of the kids who live in his building. While he appreciates a police presence, Ferguson said law enforcement sets a different tone and that when the message comes from “regular people” it can have a greater impact. When I told him some people criticized this event after we wrote about it on Tuesday, he said, “I’m proud of my city for doing this. My grandma moved to this neighborhood in 1952 and if she were alive today she’d be out here too.”
Ferguson was one of about a dozen or so people who took part in the event. Some cheered and smiled at passing drivers, others yelled “Slow down!” Many people in cars honked in approval and/or slowed down as they went by (and a few rebellious ones revved their engines). PBOT had signs available for people to take home printed with a number of different slogans including: “It’s time to slow down, Portland,” and “Safe driving saves lives.”
It was one of two Vision Zero Thank You Crew events being organized by the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Hannah Schafer, from the bureau’s communications division, said this marketing effort is a continuation of the “Struck” campaign they launched in April 2018. “We’re trying different messages to find out what resonates with people,” she said. Schafer hopes positive events like this can boost awareness of the problem (there were several local media outlets there) and build support for safer neighborhoods.
PBOT Traffic Safety Section Manager Dana Dickman said the novel event is just another way to reinforce expectations. “When I see the drivers going by — even the ones scowling at us — they can’t unsee this. They can’t unsee the messages on these signs. They know they should be driving safer.” Dickman also knows this is just one piece of the safety puzzle: “We have to do it all. We need design change and we need culture change. We have to try everything.”
Talking to folks at the event I got the sense that for some of them it was cathartic — even enjoyable — to take action on such a frustrating and pervasive issue they deal with every day.
Kristine Bates had a babe in arms as she sat on the bleachers and urged people to let off the gas pedal. “We live right on Holgate just a few blocks over and we watch people speeding outside our window every night,” she said, “So I wanted to come out and do something about it.”
If you’d like to get involved, stay tuned for announcement of the next event. PBOT says it will be held during rush-hour on a major arterial.
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