Hit By a Car in Portland: Sidewalks Delayed

If you live in southwest or east Portland and aren’t fortunate enough to own a car, then serious consideration should be given to public transport options, because throughout the city, some 58 miles of busy roadway have no sidewalks on either side of the road, and the majority of those roads are located in southwest or east Portland.

In spite of the fact that Portland needs sidewalks, and indeed, has been promised new sidewalks, the plans for putting them in have been put on the back burner, at least for now. This means that if you’re a pedestrian, the chances you could be hit by a car in Portland are considerably higher than they would be if the city’s new sidewalk strategy had already been implemented. Our Portland pedestrian accident attorneys explain.

Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Budget Problems

Portland Bureau of Transportation understands perfectly well that Portland needs new sidewalks. They allocated $8 million this year alone to help the neighborhoods in southwest and east Portland become walker friendly. With mid-year budget cuts, however, came the postponement of $3.2 million in sidewalk construction projects, and the same Bureau has stated they want to slash a full $7 million from their 2011 expenditure, due to an unforeseen shortfall in revenues.

Unfortunately for the Bureau and for people being forced to walk on busy public thoroughfares because there are no sidewalks, delaying the building of new sidewalks certainly doesn’t appear to be the answer to the budget crisis. It is already estimated that the Transportation Bureau will have an even bigger shortfall in 2012, when a $16 million shortfall has been forecast. Sidewalks appear now to be a likely casualty of the even more stringent budget cuts the Bureau will be forced to make. Pedestrians being hit by a car in Portland will almost undoubtedly be a serious side effect of those cuts.

Residents Disappointed by Lack of Sidewalk Construction

Mayor Sam Adams promised in 2010 to spend no less than $16 million on sidewalks over two years, 2011 and 2012. Ironically, that is the exact shortfall the Portland Bureau of Transportation expects for 2012 alone, and it now looks like the mayor has made promises he simply can’t keep. Sadly, a number of neighborhoods desperately in need of new sidewalks now appear as if they’ll be left waiting for someone else to fulfill those promises, as Adams is in his last year in office.

Marianne Fitzgerald is president of Southwest Neighborhoods, Inc., and she is extremely disappointed at the recent developments. “I thought the mayor would keep his pledge and we would get our sidewalks for $8 million,” she said. Now, however, it looks like the sidewalks planned and promised for stretches of road on Southwest Vermont, Northeast 102nd and Southeast 162nd Avenues, as well as Northeast Glisan and Northeast Prescott Streets will all be deferred or abandoned. All five of these neighborhoods were specifically mentioned in Mayor Adams’ 2010 State of the City speech.

Sidewalks Passed Over for Other Projects

Fitzgerald is also a member of the Transportation Bureau’s citizens advisory committee, and she has expressed frustration that other projects have received more attention—and—money from the City Council. These include a bike-sharing plan which jumped the queue ahead of sidewalk projects for $2 million in federal funds. After intense negotiations, a compromise of sorts was reached when Commissioner Nick Fish directed the Transportation Bureau to come up with a total of $1.25 million for sidewalks on Southwest Barbur Boulevard and the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail in east Portland. Even those plans may have to be shelved once the Transportation Bureau makes their next round of budget cuts.

Portland’s Office of Management and Finance says the Bureau of Transportation is spending money it hasn’t got. In a recently released 12-page report, they said “Project spending sometimes appears to out-pace external revenue sources, which can put a strain on existing General Transportation Funds.” That seems to indicate the Bureau shouldn’t count on receiving any funding apart from the revenues they bring in themselves.

The Pedestrians Lose Out, Risk Accidents 

Putting all the political wrangling and budget balancing to one side, the real losers in all of this are Portland pedestrians. Joggers out doing a couple of miles on a Sunday morning or a child on the way home from school are the ones at risk. As winter sets in and days become shorter, the danger increases, and in a vehicle-versus-pedestrian collision, there’s only ever going to be one winner. If you’ve been hit by a car in Portland, whether you were crossing an intersection or simply walking along a road with no sidewalk, then someone should be held accountable. Once you’ve received the medical attention you need, contact an experienced Portland pedestrian personal injury attorney for help and advice.