Have you seen one of these white profiles at an intersection, or along the side of the road?
Did you know what it was, or understand what it signified?
These white silhouettes represent cyclists, pedestrians, passengers and drivers* killed in motor vehicle crashes.
Families and friends of the victims marked the locations on Sunday—World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. The project was led by Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets.
The group says they placed 130 silhouettes on streets in and around Portland, Oregon.
The white, human-size markers are shocking reminders to drivers to slow down and share the road.
Kristi Finney Dunn was among the dozens of families who placed a white silhouette marked with the date of loss. Her son Dustin was riding in the bike lane on a SE Portland street when he was struck and killed.
“Before my son was killed by a drunk driver, I thought ‘Accidents happen.’ But what happened to Dustin was no accident. I learned that most crashes are preventable, often caused by behavior easily within a person’s control to change.”
“I hope people will learn from our tragedies and change their risky driving, so they don’t cause the kind of devastation our families have suffered.”
The group is calling for cultural changes to the way we drive, and for improved safety infrastructure.
Many of the white memorials appear to be located along Portland’s High Crash Corridors. These streets account for only 3% of Portland’s roads, but 51% of pedestrian deaths, and 36% of all traffic fatalities.
“As families who have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one to reckless traffic in OR and WA, we demand rapid implementation of Vision Zero.”
Mission of Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets
Vision Zero is a traffic safety project with the goal of completely eliminating traffic fatalities.
Portland adopted the worldwide program earlier this year, with a focus on these High Crash Corridors.
However, Portland’s Vision Zero plan barely mentions the most obvious way to eliminate most of the city’s traffic deaths: reducing the speed limit.
Far too many lives are lost to traffic violence. These sudden deaths are so hard on the victim’s family. It is heartbreaking to see grieving family members grapple with feelings of powerlessness and futility.
We at D’Amore Law Group commend the members of Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets for channeling their grief into an effective, powerful message of change.
And we hope that the silhouette memorials not only remind motorists to slow down, and watch for cyclists and pedestrians, but also help push forward Portland’s implementation of Vision Zero.
Have you seen one of these silhouettes? See #safestreetspdx on Twitter.
* Update: a spokesperson for the group Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets says these silhouettes represent not just pedestrian and cycling deaths, but also include motor vehicle passenger deaths.