Foster Road’s Eight Most Dangerous Hotspots: The Heart of the Heart of the Foster Freeway

According to the City’s Existing Conditions report, Foster between 54th and 64th is among the longest unsignaled stretches of roadway in the area. Home to many small businesses on both sides of the street, Foster runs 2225 feet without a signal, almost half a mile.

This areas’ multilane profile, lack of signalled crossings make it one of the classic pieces of unrestrained Foster Freeway.

Yet it also contains some of the most active streetlife in the area. Dozens of businesses, a daycare center, a park, and plenty of pedestrians makes this an area that needs real attention.

There are two striped crosswalks, one at 58th and the other at 61st. But because of the Freeway-style highway profile, drivers often don’t see pedestrians trying to cross in the area. Motorists rarely stop. Compliance by drivers is so low that in September the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition held a rush-hour crosswalk education action at the 61st Avenue crosswalk.

Two weeks ago, Mayor Adams announced that he was ordering immediate construction of four more Rapid Flash Beacons, just like the one that’s at 80th Ave. Presumably these are two of the locations that will get the new beacons, though we will get more detail from Streetscape Project Manager Mauricio Leclerc at the Streetscape Committee meeting this Thursday.

That makes this area one of the prime locations where the real impact of the Foster Streetscape public involvement process will be tested. Under the neighborhood-crafted vision document, the affected neighborhoods called for an emphasis on walking and for calming of the excessive traffic speeds. The installation of the RFBs will give an immediate assist to pedestrians in the area, but do nothing to change the overall character of the street, as envisioned by both the 2003 Plan and the recent neighborhood vision.

The committee will want to ask about the impact of Mayor Adams’ announcement on their ability to craft a longer-term strategy for areas like this one. Will the city look at the two new beacon signals as the permanent solution? Or will it see these as short-term safety improvements that do not preclude a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach?

 

Tomorrow night’s Streetscape Committee meeting will include discussion of possible new street profiles, including this one that could replace the current configuration between 52nd and 72nd Avenues. The pictured strategy includes retention of on-street parking and creation of segregated bike lanes. This kind of profile can be done relatively cheaply.

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12 Responses to Foster Road’s Eight Most Dangerous Hotspots: The Heart of the Heart of the Foster Freeway

  1. Cora Potter says:

    Based on the existing conditions report, it seems that excessive speeds isn’t really the issue, which would lead me to conclude that lack of visibility is the primary cause of our pedestrian involved crashes. The rapid flash beacons should help with this.

    • Nicole says:

      They may not be excessive based on the posted speeds, but fast enough that cars may not feel comfortable stopping even when they do see someone waiting to cross. I’ve waited in plain view every morning to cross the street, and not once has a car stopped.

      • Cora Potter says:

        The rapid flash beacons should help with that too. It’s already been shown to work at 80th.

        • Nicole says:

          Let’s not forget that Foster has many legal crosswalks, not just the marked ones.

          • Alex Reed says:

            Agreed! My ideal for Foster would be a street where most people feel safe and comfortable crossing on foot at any corner even at rush hour (as they are legally entitled!). I don’t think that will happen with the current two-lanes-each-way cross section. I think even one-lane-each-way-with-a-center-turn-lane would be a barrier to that.

          • Cora Potter says:

            Regardless of the cross section – what we should aim for is shorter crossings and bulbs, so pedestrians can move into the are where they are in the line of sight for people who are using automobiles. Right now, the start for crossing at most intersections is set too far back to achieve this.

            Just bringing the bulbs into the parking lanes, with the existing cross section, shortens crossings by 16 feet or more. That’s pretty significant.

  2. Cora Potter says:

    Also – the cost estimates on the profile you’re showing don’t include the externalized costs of traffic calming that will need to happen on cross streets, side streets and parallel facilities. So, it might not be that cheap “just” to restripe after all.

    • John MulveyJohn Mulvey says:

      No, you’re right –the committee should look at costs for all the options. I’m just making the point that the kind of profile pictured is super cheap compared to some of the other treatments. Painting the buffer lines and adding those flexible pylons is a lot of safety bang for not much buck.

    • Nick FalboNick Falbo says:

      Very true Cora, but I bet the cost of installing traffic diverters and other traffic calming tools are way cheaper than moving curbs on Foster itself.

      I’m pretty skeptical of the feasibility of any two-lane only solution for a variety of reasons, but if it gets selected I have no doubt the project will require the creation of matching neighborhood improvements to mitigate impacts.

  3. Nick FalboNick Falbo says:

    I have two opinions on these rapid flash things:

    First, they are UGLY! They have this trashy industrial chic to them that fits unfortunately well along Foster. (This is particularly true in front of Shimmers at 80th…it’s almost like accessory signage with the flashing lights.)

    Second, they are amazingly effective. Seriously, the best invention since sliced bread. For decades traffic engineers have been trying to figure out what to use at crosswalks when they can’t put in a full traffic signal. Most other solutions don’t work anywhere near as well as these, and these are cheaper too!

  4. Kurt says:

    Is there any way we can class the rapid flash crossing up? Planted trees, plants in the medium island, better lighting on the cross walk ?

  5. Kurt says:

    Is there any way we can class the rapid flash crossing up? Planted trees, plants in the medium island, better lighting on the cross walk ?

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