Twenty-one people have died from traffic-related accidents in Portland this year, and they will be remembered with a New Orleans-style jazz funeral on Thursday evening.
The fourth annual Jazz Funeral to Remember Victims of Traffic Violence is a chance to pay tribute to those lost in traffic accidents—but it’s also a political event, meant to call attention to what transportation activists see as a failure to make city roads safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.
In a press release, event organizers BikeLoudPDX, The Street Trust, and Oregon Walks note that despite the city’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025, safety issues persist—and are especially prevalent in lower-income communities east of 82nd Avenue.
PBOT has continuous plans to make streets safer through both Vision Zero and the Fixing Our Streets program. Improvements through those programs include new and enhanced sidewalks and crosswalks, repaved roads, better bike lanes, and reduced speed limits.
Still, the event organizers have some specific demands that they'd like to see PBOT enact quickly. From the press release:
While we look forward to the speedy implementation of these improvements, BikeLoudPDX calls on Commissioner Eudaly and Director Chris Warner to:
• Ban Right-on-Reds in Downtown and in Pedestrian Districts
• Use low-cost materials to install curb extensions and upgrade bike lanes on dangerous streets
• Add protected left turns and 3-second head start to the walk signal (Leading Pedestrian Interval) for people walking across intersections to enhance pedestrian visibility along all High-Crash Corridors and Pedestrian Districts.
The jazz funeral kicks off at 5 pm at Pioneer Courthouse Square Thursday evening, and will include live music, speakers, and a procession to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Portland headquarters on NW Flanders.