November 4th, 2018

Berthold Run

If I could jump Superman-style, this would be moot (feelin' cross at a crosswalk)

A walk, earlier. Not a long one, about eight blocks to one of the neighborhood coffee shops and, eventually, back. On my way up to the shop, I crossed SE Foster with no problem. A while later, I headed towards the house and was going to cross at the same intersection I'd crossed before, but: steady traffic going one direction on Foster, then steady traffic going the other direction, and no good gaps. Plus no guarantee that any drivers who'd be approaching while I crossed would see me and slow down. (At least once while living here, a couple of years ago, I crossed there while watching a car driving toward me, and I am sure that driver accelerated. I crossed safely, but was worried during it.)

I remembered: around when I moved to this neighborhood in 2014, someone died at the same crossing. Vehicle hit him. For months following that, a small shrine remained at that corner. I've seen too many of those, all over Portland. I've walked through a lot of Portland.

Not long ago I read a Willamette Week piece about the dangers for people who walk along and across Division Street: from SE 82nd Ave. out to Gresham, Division is a five-lane thoroughfare with a large number of pedestrian injuries and deaths. The article opened by describing how a man died trying to cross the road so he could make it to a bus. The opening stuck with me: "[The person who died] did everything right." And he still got hit and killed, because a driver wasn't paying enough attention.

I hate that those of us walking can do everything right and still be at risk of injury and death because of a bad driver, or an inattentive one.

And here's a thing (not the thing): I've been a bad driver, and an inattentive one. I've put people at risk. I try to be very, very aware of that, and better at watching out, better at stopping to let people cross. I know the risks they take. So I remind myself that I need to be careful.

Meanwhile, Foster is undergoing traffic flow improvements, meant to slow traffic overall and, we hope, make things safer for pedestrians. So far the road's gone from being four-to-five lanes wide to, for most of its length, three lanes wide, one traffic lane each direction plus a turn lane. More pedestrian islands with flashing lights to alert drivers to walkers are being built. It should eventually be safer. It's not there yet. And this time, on this walk, I finally decided to go down Foster a little farther and cross at a signal, except that at the next signal, the first of two crosswalks I could use is being rebuilt. The usual sidewalk is gone, and (thank goodness) a lot of orange barrels protect pedestrians from traffic, but keep those pedestrians about 10 feet away from the signal to press to get a crosswalk signal. Um. So I went to the east end of the intersection, where I could reach that crosswalk signal without needing Reed Richards arms. Then, THEN, I crossed. Success! I didn't die!

Don't let my flippant tone fool you. I do worry about this. I stay worried about this.

Take care.