A Rainy and Fun Community Walk: Woodlawn Recap

by: David Backes

Umbrellas and rainboots came out for our Community Walk at Woodlawn Elementary School in NE Portland last week. Despite the deluge, several Woodlawn community members attended and shared great information about what makes walking to school challenging, and what could make it easier for them and their kids.

(For more background on the Community Walks as part of the Healthy Travel Options to School Plan, see our blog post about Rosa Parks Elementary or visit our programs page here.)

While kids splashed in puddles along the route, parents and Woodlawn staff shared information about several problem areas near the school. As the route map shows, this area is unique because the cross streets intersect NE Dekum Street at odd angles, often making pedestrian crossings longer than they would otherwise be. In fact, difficult crossings characterized almost all of the challenges in the area. Speeding on NE Holland Street was one of the few non-crossing challenges described. The list below contains all feedback from the the Woodlawn walk.

Community Challenges

  • NE Oneonta Street & NE Dekum Street have center islands but no rapid flash beacon, and the crosswalk sign gets covered by a tree when it leafs out in the spring

  • Crossing NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is very difficult, especially with a bike trailer: NE Buffalo Street, NE Morgan Street, and NE Holland Street are all streets that cross NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with little protection

  • Angled streets that intersect NE Dekum Street present crossing challenges due to lack of infrastructure, especially at NE Dekum Street/NE Durham Avenue/NE Oneonta Street, NE Madrona Street, and also at NE 7th Avenue

  • Crossing is marked at NE 13th Avenue and NE Dekum Street but drivers often ignore this crosswalk

  • NE 8th Avenue at NE Madrona Street is another wide, unmarked crossing that is heavily used by families, but cars are often driving too fast and don’t see people walking

  • NE Buffalo Street is directly adjacent to the school but is only paved in the middle and has no sidewalks -- the sides of the street get filled with mud and potholes

  • Crossing NE 15th Avenue is not child friendly in many places, including at NE Morgan Street and NE Bryant Street

  • People speed down NE Holland Street

Community Ideas for Solutions

  • Flashing beacon at NE Oneonta Street and NE Madrona Street

  • Area wide traffic calming, including speed humps throughout the area

  • Covered structure at the school so that parents have a place to wait out of the rain (and cars) so that they don’t need to park as close to the school

  • Turn NE 11th Avenue (in front of the school) into a one-way street. Woodlawn has been given go-ahead already for doing this beginning and end of day, but only if the school provides flaggers and manages it themselves. Lack of resources is preventing this from happening.  

  • Fully paving NE Buffalo Street between NE Madrona Street and NE Oneonta Street

Do you live, work, or spend time in this area? Is there anything you would add? Please leave a comment below or email us and let us know!

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