Keith Reed

Perkins

To the editor:

Two months ago, my wife was killed as she was crossing 6th Street leaving her job at the hospital. The outpouring of love, support and encouragement from this community has been incredible, and we will forever be grateful for that. There is no telling how many hundreds of offers of support our family has turned down; simply because there are not enough hours in the day to eat all the food, drink all the drink, or talk all the talk, or even to go on all the bike rides people have offered.

My stock answer these last few weeks when asked if we need anything has been: Thank you, but everything that anyone can do for us has been/is being done, the rest of it we just have to muddle through.

Well, it turns out there is something else folks can do. So if you are one of those many who have reached out to our family, here you go:

While this will not do anything to soothe the loss of Teri, perhaps your action could lessen the chance of someone else in the community having to endure our nightmare. Please plan on attending the 6th Ave. Corridor Study, on March 31st, from 5:30-7pm at the Stillwater Community Center.

6th Street through town is on the books for a complete rebuild. Early drafts of ODOT’s proposed reconstruction were not encouraging. If this community does not step up in a big way and hold to a higher standard, the rebuilt road will likely be wider, faster, and encourage even more motor vehicle traffic, because that’s what ODOT does best. ODOT has some fine people on staff, but much of their design and build work is still based on outdated traffic engineering principles.

Stillwater deserves better. People that live, work and play in this community every day especially deserve better.

The good news is a better way exists. As cities who’ve pushed back on D.O.T. status quo have learned, they don’t have to involve multi-million dollar parking garages, over-the-road pedestrian bridges, or even banks of flashing lights that serve mainly to add to the problems of distracted driving.

Best practices involve reducing the need for automotive traffic by giving the community viable travel options. High quality options, so that fewer people have to rely on cars and trucks to move about the community. “Active transportation” this is called. Look it up. Study it until you become comfortable with the language of higher expectations.

Best practices also involve slowing traffic down, so that when unspeakable tragedies happen, at least lives are not lost. Of course we can never know, but research data strongly supports the notion that had the driver who hit Teri been going 10 mph slower, she would still be with us today.

Change is not easy. Your attending one meeting isn’t going to do it. You’ll need to engage for the long haul. Not only by attending meetings like these, but by becoming an advocate for change. This includes talking to the Mayor/Council, City Manager and administrators of large employers like Stillwater Medical Center. And this certainly includes engaging the decision makers at OSU, the singular institution most well equipped to affect change on this community matter.

I hope you’ll consider taking me up on this request. Be advised I won’t be there myself, as I just don’t have it in me to participate any further on this one. I hope you can understand that the sacrifice of my wife of 40 years, mother to our two beautiful sons, caring nurse to many of you, and an all-around wonderful woman makes the reasons why abundantly clear.

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