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Guerrila crosswalk painted on East Burnside

Posted by on December 28th, 2009 at 11:02 am

This mystery crosswalk on E. Burnside at NE 8th seems to be working.
(Photo: Doug Klotz)

A guerrilla crosswalk has been installed on East Burnside at NE 8th (map). Reader Doug Klotz spotted the painted crossing on Saturday (12/26) and a passerby told him it was done Christmas night.

“Sometimes people get frustrated with the City and take things into their own hands.”
— Rob Burchfield, City Traffic Engineer

Klotz also happens to be Vice-Chair of the City of Portland’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee. In that capacity, Klotz said this type of guerrilla action “shows the public perceives the need for a safer crossing there, to the extent that someone was motivated to execute this involved action… perhaps to make a point about the need.”

When told about the crosswalk this morning, Portland City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield told us he understands that “sometimes people get frustrated with the City and take things into their own hands.” Burchfield said the City’s response to this “unauthorized installation of a traffic control device” depends on the situation and context of what they feel the impact will be.

“If someone put up an unauthorized stop sign, we’d go take it down, but with pavement markings, they’re typically using materials that won’t last very long so it’s maybe something we say, give it a week and it will be gone. If not, we’ll send out a crew to blast it off.”

It’s not clear yet whether or not the folks responsible for this unauthorized installation are aware of the changes coming to the intersection as part of the East Burnside/Couch Couplet project. That project — which is already under construction and scheduled for completion in October 2010 — will bring a curb extension and new traffic signals to this and every other intersection along Burnside from NE 3rd to NE 12th.

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  • Argentius December 28, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Someone needs a guerilla straightedge to go along with it…

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  • SE Cyclist December 28, 2009 at 11:24 am

    A few years ago some people put up their own No Parking signs in my neighborhood and the city gave them thirty days to remove them.

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  • Paul December 28, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Its tempting to also extend all the bike lanes through intersections after last week’s traffic court decision.

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  • Jackattak December 28, 2009 at 11:36 am

    I swear I had nothing to do with this.

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  • bahueh December 28, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Looks like someone was drinking a bit too much to make a straight line…

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  • Anonymous December 28, 2009 at 11:44 am

    They make laser devices that shine a straight line on the ground. Might help them keep the paint between the lines. ;)

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  • bobcycle December 28, 2009 at 11:51 am

    “will bring a curb extension and new traffic signals to this and every other intersection along Burnside from NE 3rd to NE 12th.” My experience is that curb extensions force me to take the lane and thus weave in and out of traffic to both stay safe and obey keep to the right laws. So why add a traffic signal and a bump out?

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  • K'Tesh December 28, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    #4 Ditto (I’d have used my laser to keep the lines straight) ;)

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  • wsbob December 28, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    “Burchfield said the City’s response to this “unauthorized installation of a traffic control device” depends on the situation and context of what they feel the impact will be.” maus-bikeportland

    “…depends on the situation and context of what they feel the impact will be.” . …exactly what is that supposed to mean?

    Is it saying that the city and traffic engineer Burchfield might consider it possible that a traffic control device so installed could result in an improved level of safety for pedestrians without unduly effecting motor vehicle traffic flow?

    And if so, in instances where a street with such an impromptu installed control device is not scheduled for a major traffic control improvement to be installed soon, would the city leave the impromptu device and let the city’s residents continue to benefit(if it is a benefit and not a hazard) from it?

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  • are December 28, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    re comment 7, the far to right law includes an exception where it is unsafe to share the lane. don’t weave, just take the lane implied by the curb extension.

    disappointed to hear burchfield say they would sandblast this out. why remove a safety feature? and the answer, oh, we are going to do something about this in the future, does not help the pedestrians in the photo.

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  • wsbob December 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I like the jogged line. Can’t really see what it hurts, except that it takes a tiny little extra bit of paint to make it. There’s too many straight lines in the man-made world.

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  • RU December 28, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I absolutely love this.

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  • beth h December 28, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    I think it’s a real response to the real need for the crosswalk (and perhaps the traffic light?) to be moved a block west. More foot traffic happens at 8th than at 9th.

    That said, I hope no one will feel a false sense of “security” when crossing within this guerrilla crosswalk. (I certainly get my share of scary moments in the real crosswalk at 9th when drivers try to beat the light!)

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  • jj December 28, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I am just grooving on the thought of a couple of drunk 20somethings with paint rollers on long sticks trying to make a straight line on the street while dodging traffic.

    I needed a laugh. Thanks!

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  • Jackattak December 28, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    beth h, good point.

    As much as I’m all for us pedestrians “taking back the streets” by “any means necessary” (halfway joking here), it does bring to light one of the issues with vigilante justice.

    If a pedestrian gains a sense of security from this crosswalk and then is killed by the idiot inattentive driver, I would feel a helluva lot of guilt if I were the one who painted it.

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  • Egropp December 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Legally, there already is a crosswalk there, lines or no lines.

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  • Joe Rowe December 28, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I’ve always followed the law that every intersection is a crosswalk and pedestrians are king. Can anyone find the ORS or OAR?

    Thanks, Joe.

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  • Jackattak December 28, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    @ 16 & 17 –

    Yes, every intersection in Oregon is a crosswalk, so “legally” and “technically” these lines don’t need to be there.

    However, being a pedestrian as my primary mode of transportation and living in Downtown Portland, I can tell you that they NEED to be there.

    1 – ORS 801.220 2 – ORS Chapter 811 3 – ORS 814.010, 814.020, 814.040

    Those are the ORS’s.

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  • q`Tzal December 28, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    “Think not of what your country can do for your but what you can do for your country.”

    Guess we don’t live there any more.

    There is, of course, a need for standardized road markings and signs but if a group of citizens decides they want to spend their own money to improve road safety by adding paint, signs or even speed bumps they should be allowed to.

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  • pfarthing6 December 28, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    As I understand it, a crosswalk exists at all intersections, whether or not it is painted or otherwise marked.

    So, if that is the case, then the motivated folks didn’t install a crosswalk, they just made the existing one more noticable.

    Really got to watch for the authoratarian spin on things ;)

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  • kitten December 28, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    love the awkward lines. but a cross walk in portland usually uses Continental lines

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  • Tbird December 28, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Hahahaa. Love it.

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  • Jackattak December 28, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Just found this little gem by googling “Oregon crosswalk laws”

    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/docs/pedestrian/Ped_Brochure.pdf

    WHY OH WHY is this wonderfully written brochure not sent to every single registered driver in Oregon? I’d be more than happy to pay for something like this with my tax dollars.

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  • Andrew December 28, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Perfect. Perhaps a more constructive crticial mass coalition? Hey, I will bring a chalk line, five gallon bucket and a few rollas…

    Awesome pic.

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  • Paul Johnson December 28, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Google Maps? Why not http://www.opencyclemap.org/ ? This is bikeportland, right? So why a car-centric map?

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  • Doug Klotz December 28, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    When the Burnside Couch Couplet is complete, Burnside will be one way east, and there will be a striped bike lane on the right, as well as the curb extensions, which align with the parked cars, which will be allowed all hours.The eastbound bike lane will extend to 13th. There will not be a bike lane on Couch, the westbound street, except from 6th to M.L.King, and on the curved ramp onto the bridge. The intent is that cyclists traveling west would be on Ankeny to 6th, then go north on 6th to Couch and then west. There will be signals at every intersection on Burnside and Couch in this stretch.

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  • Pete December 28, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    “Google Maps? Why not http://www.opencyclemap.org/ ? This is bikeportland, right? So why a car-centric map?”

    What makes Google Maps car-centric? They started as car-centric as the market demanded and also have ped-centric and bike-centric capabilities. One of the primary factors inhibiting the bike-centric rollout is communities’ lack of ability to share their data on recommended bike routes. I can tell you firsthand that Google is a very bike-friendly organization, and I can also tell you that the Product Manager for Google Earth has cycle-toured all over the world.

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  • andrew December 29, 2009 at 2:40 am

    As a year round cyclist (18 years) who has worked just off that intersection for over 15 of them (KBOO is there), this has been LONG overdue. I’m glad about the couplet, but as I recently went down on some black ice and am still cane hobbling, I find it seriously unnerving to cross Burnside in particular given it’s lack of controls.

    Oh, and it is still a crosswalk even without paint.
    http://www.wpcwalks.org/wpc_web_sub_pages/crosswalk_definition.html

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  • rev December 29, 2009 at 3:16 am

    pdx pedestrians vigilantes: making the streets safer today because paint is cheap and gumption is awesome.

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  • Shut it down December 29, 2009 at 9:08 am

    No one is going to bring up the repainting of the bike lane in Williamsburg? Where are my hipster peeps?

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  • are December 29, 2009 at 10:20 am

    re comment 26. what you describe sounds somewhat amenable to bike traffic to and from the southeast (if you play along and take ankeney to 6th), not so much to and from points north and northeast. one imagines that the striped lane on burnside will be in the door zone, of course, and motorists will be resentful of cyclists who take the left lane. also one wonders what will be the timing on these signals at every corner. presumably motorists will be focused on making the next light.

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  • Paul Cone December 29, 2009 at 10:34 am

    DMV did put a flyer about the crosswalk law changes in my car renewal mail a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t as good as that one.

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  • Paul Johnson December 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Google lacks bicycle data today. “Sometime down the line in the future” doesn’t cut it when volunteers can collect the data and share it. Hence, OpenCycleMap.

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  • KWW December 29, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I think you should go back and ask Rob Burchfield why the crews wouldn’t paint a crosswalk in, if they will blast the old paint off.

    Its a 4 lane urban highway. To blast off the pedestrian lines is asinine.

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  • Steve B. December 29, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I really, really like this move, and I especially enjoy the design of it. It’s different than a normal crosswalk, it’s strange, it’s curious..

    I understand we are bound but the MUTCD, but it would be wonderful to see more creative, not-always-straight-lines approach to street painting.

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  • Nella December 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Guerrilla Crosswalk Painters, if you are reading this, can you please paint one at Ivanhoe and St. Louis in St Johns?

    The northbound traffic is right turn allowed with no stopping, which in drivers’ minds means not stopping for pedestrians. Couple that with the road curving left/south from St Louis onto Ivanhoe and nobody stops.

    Granted, few people cross here but those who do put their lives on the line.

    @beth h & Jackattak: it’s not a false sense of security, it’s a visual cue. Drivers notice painted lines and people walking in them more.

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  • Marcus Griffith December 30, 2009 at 4:42 am

    I got to admit that the crooked line adds a bit of intrigue to the cross walk. I can’t condone illegal actions, but damn, that cross walk makes the entire intersection look better.

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  • Will December 31, 2009 at 3:22 am

    I’m jealous

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  • Michael Miller December 31, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Andrew @ 28 et al:

    Re-read the first paragraph of 801.220, which includes this zinger:
    “Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks and no other shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection.”

    That says that where an intersection has a marked crosswalk on only one side of the intersection, the other side is no longer a legal, unmarked crosswalk.

    That adds another twist to questions about any legal implications or sense of security from this guerilla paint job.

    (The city has marked crosswalks on one side only in quite a few places, some of which do not seem like there is any smart reason to eliminate the other side as a legal crosswalk. I’m curious if this is a financial decision, perhaps without a clear understanding of the implications for the other crosswalk?)

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  • Eileen January 2, 2010 at 2:18 am

    Matthew, that is disappointing to read. I was excited at the thought. There are several other places around the city I’d like to paint crosswalks to remind the drivers (and bicyclists!!!) that pedestrians have the right of way.

    I think I want to make a big sign, maybe on an umbrella, that would say “I want to cross, you need to stop” or something like that. Would like it to be more polite, but will need to be big enough to read and small enough to carry. I’m not sure what the issue is, but Portlanders have gotten REALLY bad about stopping for pedestrians. Is it the influx of people from other states where the laws are different?

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  • Pedestrian ~ endangered species January 2, 2010 at 10:28 am

    #6 a guerilla cannot use a laser… what are you thinking, #11 I agree, nothing in nature is perfect yet nature is beautiful, it adds to the point of desperation by the artist, #14 LOL, # 15 what security was offered before the guerrilla came by, can we not rely on common sence? if the cars not slowing down, Dive!
    The point is someone in your community cared enough about You and everyone else who crosses that street to spend a cold Cristmas Eve night stooped in the middle of a street. Think of the kind of world it would be if everyone cared that much. I for one applaud their actions, and wished we had the same Pedestrian Safety in Tampa, Florida.

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  • Lindsay January 2, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Over the summer, before every Movie in the Park flick, the city played this animated video:
    “Every Corner is a Crosswalk”
    http://www.portlandonline.com/mayor/index.cfm?c=49278&a=248292
    Thanks Vigilante Pedestrian Crosswalk Painters!

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  • Pedestrian ~ endangered species January 2, 2010 at 10:38 am

    hahaha congradulations your famous!
    -pookie:)

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  • Paul Johnson January 2, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    @Eileen #40: Not other states: Just one. 2 out of 3 people in Portland are not Portlanders, but Californian tourists who forgot to leave when they’re done visiting (source: 2000 US Census).

    I tend to cross “BC-style.” I raise my arm in the air and stand on the curb to indicate that I’m about to cross (in BC, this is the same as a red traffic light! We need to adopt that here!), and as soon as the closest lane is clear or stopped, I start crossing and repeat for each additional lane as I approach (essentially, force your way into traffic as it becomes safe to do so).

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  • wsbob January 2, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    ” …I tend to cross “BC-style.” I raise my arm in the air and stand on the curb to indicate that I’m about to cross(in BC, this is the same as a red traffic light! We need to adopt that here!)…” Paul Johnson

    Paul…in B.C., is a pedestrian raising their arm to convey to drivers a need to cross the street actually codified into law as a command that vehicle users must legally yield to? Or, is this more accurately an unofficial practice in BC that’s might be more widely acknowledged than it is in the U.S.?

    A brief online search shows no indication that this hand signal is an actual law in B.C. .

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  • Paul Johnson January 2, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Last I was in Victoria, there were signs at unsignaled crosswalks that said “Wave to stop traffic” and “Stop here for ” signs. This convention seems to work in Vancouver at unsignaled crosswalks, and there’s PSAs to that effect on the radio. If it’s not province-wide, then the local regions have it at least in signage form and it’s a common enough expectation that even American tourists play along.

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  • wsbob January 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Paul, thanks for the comment back. I haven’t been able to find anything about signs like that in Victoria; checked the city hall website and Canada statutes. Next time you’re there, take some pics of them. Here’s an article from a year ago regarding j-walking in that city. Doesn’t at all mention “Wave to stop traffic” signs at crosswalks;

    Business group raps jaywalking crackdown</a

    Another article about j-walking in Canada:

    Vancouver needs czar to look after pedestrians’ needs, expert says</a

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  • wsbob January 2, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Sorry…ignore the middle link above…just read its text for the following story link.

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  • Paul Johnson January 2, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    @wsbob 47:

    It appears the design of the signs has changed since I last saw them, they now say “STOP WHEN OCCUPIED” on a standard pedestrian crossing sign.

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