Monday, January 29, 2007

Snowstorm help for pedestrians, transit riders needed

Don Baack, president of the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association and founder of SW Trails, recently wrote The Oregonian about problems pedestrians faced in the recent snowstorm. His brief article, seen below, has yet to appear in the newspaper.

The Oregonian on Jan 21, 2007 asked "Can We Do Better?" and then proceeded to write exclusively about cars, buses.

What about pedestrians? What about transit riders?

After Portland snowstorms, I find no one shovels sidewalks, especially businesses. The bus service is a mess.


Same old excuses: Snow is so infrequent that no one prepares.

That is no excuse. Our entire transportation system needs to be safe and secure during and immediately after snow and ice events.

Here are some inexpensive actions the City, County, TriMet and State of Oregon Department of Transportation can do to make our streets, sidewalks and walkways more safe and usable in bad winter weather:

• All agencies should plan together—and far ahead —for emergencies.

• Keep vehicles without traction devices off the streets so they don’t block buses. Use the Salmon Street "car pinball” film clip as a cautionary tale.

• When the situation calls for it, post via reader boards that vehicles without chains must exit the highway immediately.

• The City should use Public Service Announcements to remind businesses and individual homeowners of their responsibility to shovel their sidewalks and entrances.

•Adopt a policy to monitor and ensure businesses and individuals are levied stiff fines for not shoveling their walkways.

• Solicit well in advance offers from companies with small equipment, (read landscapers among others,) willing to plow facilities such as bridges and sidewalks along parks and other key pedestrian facilities.

• Neighborhood kids and NET teams should be organized to assist seniors unable to hire or otherwise get their sidewalks shoveled.

• Ensure individuals in each bureau or agency are held accountable for performance.

• Implement TriMet Manager Fred Hansen's idea of chaining up the buses in the field rather than having to tow them in. Train the drivers to put on chains. If truck drivers can do it, bus drivers can too.

• Map the snow routes on TriMet’s website.

• Figure out how to use TriMet’s GPS technology to avoid having two or three buses running on the same route. If one bus is delayed, adjust the schedule for the following buses so later arriving folks will get a ride without an extraordinary wait.

• Clear snow and ice from around bus stop shelters and approaches.


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