The dogged determination of one advocate has forced TriMet to create a new committee to review all injury and fatal crashes involving their vehicles.
Darla Sturdy, a volunteer with Families for Safe Streets, turned anguish over her son’s death in 2003 into activism that has now led to passage of two bills through the Oregon Legislature. In 2007 she passed a bill requiring TriMet to study and create recommendations for how to make dozens of light-rail crossings safer. That bill became law four years after her 16-year-old son Aaron Sturdy-Wagner was killed while biking through one of them.
And on June 30th of this year, Sturdy’s bill passed just one hour before the end of the session. Senate Bill 1053 establishes a seven-member TriMet Crash Advisory Committee. Originally intended to be completely independent of TriMet with members appointed by the Oregon Transportation Commission, the final bill allows the agency’s general manager to appoint the members. The bill also mandates that committee members must come from a wide variety of experiences and professional expertise including: a disability rights advocate, a biking and walking advocate, a government agency staffer, a vision zero expert from Portland, and a TriMet board member.
Greg Spencer is a writer and editor who volunteers with the local chapter of Families for Safe Streets.
Eighty crosswalks and 45 light-rail stations made safer. That’s how Darla Sturdy sums up her proudest accomplishment to date.
Sturdy, a Gresham mother and member of Families for Safe Streets Oregon and SW Washington, never imagined a second life as a transportation engineer, much less as a lobbyist. But this is the work she threw herself into after her boy was run over and killed by a MAX light rail train.