Recent Tragedy was not an “Accident”

My letter to the editors of The Oregonian regarding their editorial policy on crash reporting:

Dear Editors:

As reported in The Oregonian (Portland police accuse motorist of negligent homicide after he struck and killed a pedestrian on SW Barbur), Angela Burke’s death is a horrific tragedy. My heart goes out to her family and friends for their loss.

My heart also goes out to our city. Angela’s death was not an accident. Every road death is a tragedy that could be prevented, and no one should have to put their life on the line just to cross the street.

Using the word “accident” to describe this crash omits the many road design flaws present on Barbur, flaws which have led to grave and tragic consequence. When the Oregonian reports such matters as an “accident”, is shows a serious disregard to a preventable tragedy that occurs nearly 4,000 times a month in this country.

Crash Reporting at The Oregonian is inconsistent from article to article. I call on the Oregonian to develop a sound Editorial Policy that is referenced when reporting crashes. The Oregonian bears great responsibility to report in the public interest, and I am grateful for your attention to this matter. I am happy to facilitate a meeting between Oregonian editors and advocate stakeholders, who believe this editorial change is vital to their work in reducing road deaths state-wide. Thank you for your time.

Steve Bozzone
Willamette Pedestrian Coalition Board Member
Active Right of Way Organizer
OPAL Bus Riders Unite Member

If you live in the Portland-area, I recommend joining Friends of Barbur, a group of Portlanders pushing for needed improvements on SW Barbur Boulevard.  You can read more about their work in an interview I had with co-organizers Owen Walz & Kiel Johnson.

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