One woman’s effort to prevent pedestrian fatalities

Multnomah County

42 people have died in Portland traffic collisions in 2019 so far

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A driver who watched another woman get hit by an SUV right in front of her in late October said the intersection where it happened needs to be safer for pedestrians.

On October 24, a woman suffered life-threatening injuries after she was hit while crossing the street at the intersection of Northeast Sandy Boulevard and Lawrence Avenue.

“She had kind of looked at us and given us a wave like, ‘thanks for stopping,’ and then I heard a horrible sound and saw an SUV hit her,” said Tamara King, who witnessed the crash. “It was very traumatic.”

Now, weeks later, King hopes others making their way across will wave the quilted neon flags she placed on each side to get drivers to press on their brakes.

“Rather than just reliving it in my head and fretting about it, I thought it would be better to just do something to maybe help,” said King.

Neon crossing flags are now stationed at NE Sandy Blvd and Lawrence Ave. November 4, 2019 (KOIN)

Forty-two people have died in Portland traffic collisions in this year alone. That’s half a dozen more than in 2018, and that figure inches closer to 2017’s record number of 47 deaths—far away from the city’s “Vision Zero” goal.

“Traffic fatalities went down more than 20% in 2018,” said Dylan Rivera of the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Shorter days and longer nights bring a 30% increase in crashes, and greater risk for those on foot, according to PBOT.

“Daylight, we think, does play a factor in this,” said Rivera. “Pedestrian fatalities tend to rise in November and December.”

While the city looks to improve thousands of streets over time, King hopes these flags will bring safety to those walking by in the meantime.

“I hope to see them all over the city soon,” said King. “I think every little bit we can do and if it can save even one person, it’s all worth it.”

According to King, the city is working to take down bushes and paint solid white lines to make the area more visible. She hopes other people will commit to putting up flags in their own neighborhoods.

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