Activism by Multnomah neighbors inspires Bureau of Transportation

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF PATTI WAITMAN-INGEBRETSEN - Patti Waitman-Ingebretsen, Moses Ross, James Nobles and Greg Manning during a recent so-called safety vigil in Multnomah Village.

Community activism is nothing new to Southwest Portland. Less common, perhaps, is such activism having a direct, positive impact on our community. But thanks to a group of citizens’ efforts to restore traffic safety to parts of Multnomah Village, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Moses Ross, chairman of the Multnomah Neighborhood Association; Patti Waitman-Ingebretsen, president of the Multnomah Village Historical Association; and their neighbor Greg Manning had long wished for safety improvements on Southwest Capitol Highway and 40th Avenue. Then fellow Villager James Nobles joined their cause.

“I have two young sons, and they go to West Hills Learning Center on Capitol Highway and Miles as you’re coming into the Village, and there were times it would just be really difficult ... to come and go from the Learning Center, because you park right there on Capitol and people were either speeding or weren’t yielding,” Nobles recalled.

Finally, after narrowly avoiding an accident with a speeding driver, “I thought, ‘This is it; I’ve had enough. There’s kids coming and going from here; there’s bus stops; there’s people walking in at 7:30 in the morning; PPS picks up there,’” he said. “And that just kind of got me started on what you can do about this.”

Nobles went to the community policing office at the Multnomah Arts Center. There, he was directed to fellow MAC tenant Southwest Neighborhoods Inc., who referred him to Moses Ross. Ross, in turn, put Nobles in touch with Waitman-Ingebretsen and Manning. The four of them invited Matthew Machado and Sharon White of the Portland Bureau of Transportation to come speak at a Multnomah Neighborhood Association meeting. They were sympathetic, but Nobles, said, “Were like, ‘There’s not much we can do,’” as people tend to ignore posted speed limit signs after a while and speed bumps could not be installed on that particular road.

With that in mind, “We thought, ‘We’re going to have to come up with something on our own,’” Nobles said, “And that’s when I had the idea of safety vigils.”

White had told them of the city of Portland Office of Transportation yard sign lender program, in which a citizen of Portland gets one “Share the road” yard sign for every six completed so-called I Share the Road pledge forms. After distributing pledge forms at neighborhood association meetings and to parents and staff at West Hills Learning Center, the group earned 20 “Share the road” signs.

These signs served as the impetus for the safety vigils; Ross, Waitman-Ingebretsen and her husband, Manning, West Hills Learning Center’s co-director and Nobles posted signs at Capitol Highway and Miles Street and along Capitol Highway and 31st and 40th avenues, stood next to them clad in orange vests and waved to drivers encouraging them to slow down.

And that wasn’t all. The week prior to their last safety vigil the group met one-on-one with Machado, and he informed them that although speed bumps and speed limit signs weren’t feasible, PBOT could help facilitate the change they sought two other improvements:

n Installing crosswalk striping on Southwest Capitol Highway and Miles Street

n Curving street striping on Southwest 40th Avenue so that drivers will have to approach Capitol Highway from a 90-degree angle, making stopping intuitive

Even so, “We’re still considering carrying on with the vigils,” Nobles said. “We Want to keep safety on top of everybody’s mind.”

Drew Dakessian can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 108.

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