Traffic troubles: Residents see speed, enforcement as the problem

A resounding theme from meetings of the Keizer Traffic Safety, Bikeways and Pedestrian Committee in 2019 was that Keizer residents were concerned about traffic speeds in neighborhoods throughout Keizer. 

In southwest Keizer, complaints arose about speeds and pedestrians on 5th Avenue North between Hollyhock and Dennis Lane. In southeast Keizer, the long corner signaling the change from Manbrin Drive to Thorman Avenue was the target of complaints stemming from lack of visibility and speed. In northeast Keizer, residents of Harmony Drive took issue with their street being used as a thoroughfare. 

The tumult caught the attention of Carol Doerfler and Patti Tischer, presidents of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association and Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association, respectively. 

The pair have been closely watching the conversations and even experienced some of the infractions themselves. Tischner said she has been passed on McLeod Lane Northeast while traveling the speed limit multiple times. 

“There are people who come to meetings and complain and there was a recent discussion on Nextdoor[.com] that had more than 150 people talking about it,” Doerfler said. 

At traffic safety meetings, residents repeatedly asked for more traffic enforcement, but, at best, the city currently has three officers dedicated to traffic control (See related story on Page A1). In addition to attending to resident complaints, those same officers are called in as back-up when responding to major incidents and are frequently expected to be seen by the public in multiple places at the same time. 

Keizer police once had a reputation of being tough on traffic control matters and Doerfler advocates for a return to those days.

“It may be time to do that again, to maybe get that reputation back,” Doerfler said. “They could change the speeds but, if they’re going to ignore 25-mile an hour sign, they’re going to ignore 20-mile an hour sign.” 

Doerfler added that the complaints make neighborhood traffic seem like an epidemic. She and Tischer are hoping to get more of the residents with concerns to come to neighborhood association meetings before heading to the city. 

“I don’t know whether people look at the neighborhood associations as just a bunch of people getting together and complaining, but we’ve actually accomplished some things. You just got to keep after it, hammering, hammering and hammering away,” Doerfler said. 

On the small scale, efforts by WKNA helped get some curbs painted to increase visibility around Holiday Swim Club on 5th Avenue. WKNA also banded together with large groups of neighbors to voice concerns at public meetings in Keizer and Polk County about a quarry being used as a shooting range across the Willamette River.  

“I felt like being part of the neighborhood association is important because it is a way for us to support each other. We encourage the people who we encounter online to come to meetings so we can work together, but I don’t know any of them and the don’t come [to meetings],” Tischer added.

The Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association meets the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. The West Keizer Neighborhood Association meets the second Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. The Southeast Keizer Neighborhood Association meets the first Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. All meetings are held at the Keizer Civic Center.

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