A couple of blocks from Kathryn Harrington's Beaverton home is a roadside and a reminder.
The roadside is along Walker Road, and it doesn't have a sidewalk, despite serving as one of Washington County's more important east-west thoroughfares. The reminder is of a tragedy from late 2005.
That was when Peilian Wu, one of Harrington's neighbors, was killed walking to the bus on a December morning.
"That kind of experience really stays with you," Harrington said last week. "She was a wonderful person, a grandmother, and it was a tremendous loss for her family, but also everyone who knew her. I've remembered that as I've continued my work as a Metro councilor."
Harrington has been a steadfast supporter of the development of a regional plan for sidewalks, trails and bike lanes, now called the Regional Active Transportation Plan. For her advocacy, she'll be recognized this weekend at the Oregon Walks Weston Awards.
"Kathryn was chosen because of her steadfast support and instrumental role in serving as a liaison for Metro's Regional Active Transportation Plan, her history of support for increased walking facilities in corners of Washington County that need it the most, and her commitment to helping Washington County reach more diverse populations in public outreach while planning for road design," said Aaron Brown, board president for Oregon Walks, a pedestrian advocacy group that organizes the awards.
"She's also been an ardent proponent for local transportation improvements; she attended our recent Walkability Summit and is a familiar face at many Washington County-based citizen transportation forums. Oregon Walks is also greatly appreciative of Kathryn's focus on improving public outreach to new populations in Washington County, as demonstrated by her support for the ¡Vamonos! project," Brown said.
Harrington lives near the boundary of three jurisdictions – Hillsboro, Beaverton and unincorporated Washington County all provide different levels of amenities for pedestrians.
But jurisdictions don't really matter when you're trying to get to where you need to go.
"Whether we take transit, walk, bike or drive in cars, we walk," Harrington said. "We have many neighborhoods and centers of business activity and shopping that have incomplete sidewalks, as well as incomplete bike lanes. Or what is there may be old or narrow and doesn't feel safe and comfortable for people of all ages."
Harrington said she hopes efforts like the Regional Active Transportation Plan will help make it easier and safer for people in neighborhoods around the region to walk to where they want to go.
The Weston Awards are named for Edward P. Weston, who made several notable walks in the 19th century, including a 10-day walk from Boston to Washington, D.C., in 1861. The awards honor advocates whose work has helped the region's pedestrians.