'New Orleans Jazz Funeral' calls attention to Portland road safe - KPTV - FOX 12

'New Orleans Jazz Funeral' calls attention to Portland road safety

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An increase in deaths on Oregon roads prompted a group in Portland to march through downtown Friday evening in an unusual way, donning Big-Easy-style funeral attire to hit the streets. 

The group Bike Loud PDX held a New Orleans Jazz Funeral outside of Portland City Hall to raise awareness to the number of traffic-related deaths in the city and across the country. 

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, 2015 and 2016 saw the largest two-year national increase in traffic deaths in 53 years, with Oregon's numbers moving right alongside that national trend.

In 2016, 44 people lost their lives on the roadways of the Rose City, the highest number of deaths of any year since 2003.  

"Gas has been cheaper and people have moved further outside of the center," Jessica Engelman with Bike Loud PDX said. "People are driving more, and we are seeing more aggressive behavior that is resulting in more fatalities."

MORE: Oregon House passes bill that could drop speed limits in Portland neighborhoods

The group who gathered at City Hall left messages on the sidewalks calling for safer streets, and among the crowd was a woman who knows the pain of losing a loved one to a crash all too well.

Kristi Finney-Dunn said her son, Dustin Finney, was hit and killed by a car in 2011 and he was riding his bike. Since his death, she has been pushing for safer streets not only for cyclists and pedestrians but drivers as well.

"Every day I think about him and I miss him," Finney-Dunn said. "We can individually make a difference.”

She said Friday's march was sad but at the same time happy. Many of the participants were dressed up and jazz was played before the somber march through downtown, ending at the Oregon Department of Transportation Region 1 headquarters.

Bike Loud PDX encouraged those apart of their "funeral procession" Friday to reach out to lawmakers both local and state to continue to improve the roads across the state.

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