Hi neighbors! I’m writing the column for Chris this month, as he is visiting family. As I write this in mid-August, we’re going through another mini-heat wave. I hope you all manage(d) to stay cool during this oppressively hot weather. And I hope you had a restful summer—maybe with some fun travel thrown in—and are ready to get back to school/work/community with renewed energy.
At our August Board meeting, we discussed a letter to PBOT written by Rob Galanakis. Rob is a father of two on the board of the Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association who bikes everywhere. Like many of us, Rob was horrified to learn of the senseless death of librarian Jeanie Diaz, caused by a drunk driver who struck her as she was waiting for a bus on Cesar Chavez Blvd. Jeanie’s death was the seventh traffic death in eight days, in the most deadly month for traffic in our city’s history. And it was totally avoidable.
With four lanes of traffic, vehicles traveling at a high speed (despite a posted speed limit of 30 mph), and narrow sidewalks, this area of Cesar Chavez is extremely dangerous. It was just a matter of time before someone was hurt or killed. In his research, Galanakis learned that PBOT has already identified a stretch of Cesar Chavez (from I-84 to Stark) to receive a Rose Lane—a dedicated bus lane—in each direction. Rose Lanes not only reduce delays for bus routes, they keep cars and trucks from driving continuously on the outer two lanes of the road. (Cars and trucks can enter the Rose Lane only when turning right onto a neighborhood street.) In his letter to PBOT director Millicent Williams, Galanakis asks PBOT to immediately extend the Rose Lane south to Division or Powell. (Galanakis will also send copies to everyone on the City Council.) Rose Lanes are quick and cheap projects. “Rose Lanes require no hard infrastructure, and are some of the cheapest projects to implement, with a per-mile cost of about $200,000. It may be convenient to point to PBOT’s ongoing financial woes as a reason to do nothing, but such an attitude is the reason we have dual crises in budget and human safety in the first place. These sorts of low-cost, high-benefit projects are absolutely essential to pursue and prioritize,” he writes in the letter. The letter can be read in full on Sunnysideportland.org.
After discussing the letter and knowing that there are additional safety measures PBOT should, and could take, the SNA Board decided to sign onto this letter. However, the week after our meeting the Richmond Neighborhood Association opted not to sign it and are taking time to do more research and get community input. The SNA (and the Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association) believe it’s important that all the neighborhoods surrounding Cesar Chavez agree on one unified message. So, at our Sept. 14th General Meeting we hope to get your feedback on the specific traffic calming and safety measures PBOT should implement along Cesar Chavez.
We have a lot planned for our Sept. 14th General Meeting. Continuing the theme of pedestrian safety and traffic calming, both State Rep. Rob Nosse and (hopefully) Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland will share their ideas (and listen to ours) on how we can advocate for, and get, safer streets — particularly along Cesar Chavez and other busy Portland arterial roads. Rep. Nosse will also give us an overall update on his work in the Legislature, touching on housing, homelessness, addiction treatment and behavioral health issues. Come and bring your input and ideas!
The SNA will staff a table at the Belmont Street Fair. Stop by Saturday, September 9th and introduce yourself and consider getting involved in one of our many Sunnyside projects!