By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
It would be hard to find a Keizer pedestrian or motorist who hasn’t been frustrated by the state of pedestrian crossings on River Road North.
At its meeting Thursday, Jan. 12, the Keizer Traffic Safety, Bikeways and Pedestrian Committee (TBP) revisited the issue.
In early 2016, the committee began investigating the possibility of adding pedestrian flags at strategic points along River Road. With plans to place such flags in downtown Newberg making headlines recently, the possibility got another look.
“It is an idea that has worked in other cities including Seattle and Kirkland, Wash., and Salt Lake City,” said Wayne Frey, a committee member who looked into what other cities had done to improve pedestrian safety.
Frey said the issue as it relates to Keizer is that the spacing of crosswalks becomes inconvenient for pedestrians. Depending on where one wants to cross, it may mean walking past one’s destination to reach a crosswalk and then a lengthy backtrack once they reach the other side of the road.
“Many pedestrians are just walking across the street in an unsafe manner by crossing the street with no crosswalk, signal or method to signal to the motorists their intention to cross the street,” Frey said.
To alleviate the problem, Frey said the city could place pedestrian flags at any legal intersection on River Road North – a legal intersection is any place where two roads intersect regardless of whether crosswalks are in place.
With pedestrian flags, walkers could grab one of the flags from a self-serve repository on one side of the street, use it to get the attention of drivers and then cross when traffic stops. Once the pedestrian reaches the opposite side of the street the flags would then be placed in a repository there for someone going in the opposite direction.
While the committee previously set aside the idea citing the high traffic volume along River Road and not wanting to encourage unsafe behavior, the Newberg program is one the committee plans to watch as it unfolds.
In Newberg, a group of downtown business owners is proposing to put out flags in the downtown core and is seeking sponsorships from local businesses.
TBP committee member John Maurice said he wanted to know what parameters would be used to judge the success of the program before looking at the possibility for pedestrian flags in Keizer again.
“I want to know if they sat down and discussed what success would look like? Also, how many of the flags disappear? Does jaywalking increase or decrease?” Maurice said. “You have to have pre-defined criteria, not just people’s opinions.”
Committee member Pat Fisher suggested that it might work better for an area with one-way streets rather than the two-way traffic of River Road.
In other business, the committee:
• Learned it did not qualify for a Cycle Oregon grant to purchase a bike repair station like the one currently at the Keizer Transit Center. The lack of a grant is a setback, but committee members were not discouraged in their pursuit of the idea.
• Worked on improved signage for the bike/pedestrian path along the Salem-Keizer Parkway.
• Agreed to begin pursuing ways to improve Keizer’s designation as a League of American Bicyclists (LAB) Bike-Friendly City. Keizer currently hold honorable mention status, but received feedback from LAB on what it might do to improve that rating.