An article last week in The Oregonian spotlighted efforts to improve pedestrian safety and prevent pedestrian and car accidents in the areas east of Interstate 205. According to the newspaper, in the last year the city has embarked on a $1.75 million program “to build 17 beacons at dangerous pedestrian safety crossings.”
The article quotes State Representative Shemia Fagan, who it describes as the driving force behind the project, calling the beacons an important safety improvement in a part of our city where news all too frequently is “sad, or scary or downright tragic.”
In the year since Fagan began pushing the issue only five of the planned 17 beacons have been installed (the first of the two links to The Oregonian provided below will also take you to a map which shows both where beacons have already been installed and locations where they are planned). The locations, which the newspaper describes as “problematic intersections”: “were identified and prioritized through the East Portland In Motion plan… a community process approved in 2012.” Funding for the project comes from the state.
As a Portland lawyer who represents pedestrian and car accident victims this is a project I hope will eventually expand, and one I hope will eventually expand. Over the last few years our city has seen too many avoidable deaths and injuries at intersections. Indeed, pedestrian deaths have recently risen throughout the state, according to The Oregonian, from 52 in 2013 to 56 last year.
There is no way to say whether flashing beacons like those being installed east of I-205 would have prevented any particular accident, but when it comes to reducing that number to zero, the state’s investment in flashing beacons at 17 key Portland intersections is a good beginning.