Plea to City Council to Support SW Trails

Honorable Portland City Council Members:

I find it hard to believe that the City has stated it is not financially responsible for maintaining urban pedestrian trails. Please say I heard it wrong! Dozens of Southwest Portland foot paths have been constructed with free labor, using hand tools and a lot of (subsequently) aching muscles. Southwest Trails has asked for a minuscule share of a $20,000,000 transportation budget request to help maintain and complete an impressive network of trails now in place. This slender portion is huge to the volunteers who heft railroad ties to make stairs and scrape and bushwhack pedestrian access where tractors and earth-movers would only ruin the landscape.

Also sources of danger to pedestrians are those streets that are unavoidable, but have high traffic. Narrow verges, overgrown private hedges, weed-choked shoulders and soggy ditches make getting between less busy streets scary for us walkers. It is not feasible for Portland to build sidewalks everywhere; we would like to see at least minimal attention to widening the shoulders of busy southwest streets such as Hamilton, Stephenson, Dosch and others. The work done on Maplewood is an example of a relatively inexpensive fix, and is appreciated by motorists and pedestrians alike.

Our informal urban byways are important additions to Portland’s livability and infrastructure. They help pedestrians avoid traffic on the way to work and school, and provide a safe way for walkers to enjoy this beautiful city. A relatively tiny investment, such as this $15,000 budget request, goes a long way toward keeping pedestrian traffic safely flowing. Moreover, it’s a morale booster and a way to thank the volunteers who have done so much work on the trails.

Willo Oswald
2109 SW Sunset Blvd.
Portland 97239

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