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Portland's bikeway signage "wasteful" says GOP Senator

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 21st, 2010 at 1:23 pm

[Via KGW-TV]

Tom Coburn

Oklahoma's Republican Senator Tom Coburn has published a list of 100 federally funded projects that he deems, "the most wasteful government spending of 2010." On that list is a $900,000 stimulus grant recently received by the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation to pay for bikeway markings and signage.

Sen. Coburn seems to think that we already had enough signs on our bikeways and the new ones simply aren't necessary. Here's the mention of the signs in Coburn's "Wastebook" (those are my photos, used without permission):

And the text reads:

"Why have one bike sign when you can have two? Portland, Oregon spent $900,000 in federal stimulus funds on a new bike signage project even though the city already has similar bike signs, which it plans to leave up. The new signs—which include arrows, distance, and travel times to key destinations— have a slightly different design than existing ones, according to a local biking website."

The "website" Coburn's report refers to is BikePortland.org. He also includes links to our story back in April about the signage project.

This isn't the first time Sen. Coburn has trash-talked a bicycle project. You might recall back in April 2009 when he and Republican Senator John McCain issued a report calling out non-highway projects being funded with the Highway Trust Fund. In that report the Senators likened "bike paths" to "extraneous expenditures" like flowers and "road-kill reduction programs."

As Republicans ready to take over control of the U.S. House of Representatives and try to look tough on what they deem as wasteful government spending, we're likely to hear more of this rhetoric in the future.

UPDATE, 12/22 at 9:16am: Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) has issued a response to Coburn's claims. Read it here.

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  • Chris December 21, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    And we spend ~$300,000,000 a day in Iraq.

    ...Just sayin'...

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  • VIE December 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Tom Coburn is the most wasteful federally funded project I can think of.

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    • Spiffy December 21, 2010 at 2:58 pm

      I was just going to post that...

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  • Brewcaster December 21, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Reason 168,482 why I am still so glad I left my home state of Oklahoma.

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    • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 10:46 pm

      I took your job?

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  • Allan December 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    to clarify, are the new signs going up to replace old signs or simply all new signs that go in will be of the new design?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 21, 2010 at 1:42 pm

      the new signs are not replacing the old signs. PBOT simply altered the design of new ones.

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      • are December 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm

        and they altered them in order to comply with MUTCD standards, which had been changed. also, is coburn saying that stimulus spending was by definition wasteful? i mean, you have to spend it on something, and presumably these signs were made somewhere by someone who got paid to make them, and they were certainly put up by people who got paid to put them up, so there's your 900k, circulating in the dormant economy, putting food on someone's table and paying their rent. maybe no one in oklahoma got any.

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        • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 10:57 pm

          Oklahoma's senators only need to look in their own back yard if they want to see extravagant transportation spending. Both Tulsa's bike map and highway map are full of dotted lines for construction zones right now (enough so that I'm having a hard time keeping the map in synch with the ground truth). The most visible and notorious example in Tulsa is below, but it's currently the best known and largest example given that this is the off season (there's approximately 30 major roadworks within a 5 mile radius of my house). Bike map example posted elsewhere in this thread.

          http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=36.09654&lon=-95.92113&zoom=16&layers=M

          The bridge over the Arkansas River on the Martin Luther King, Junior Memorial Expressway is about to get a similar treatment (work started last Monday), though I haven't found any government-sourced diagrams and haven't had a chance to scout out the area to update that part of the map yet. This project, however, includes a cycleway and a segment of a high speed rail line between Chicago and Houston.

          http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=36.14357&lon=-96.00497&zoom=16&layers=M
          http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20101216_11_A1_CUTLIN510190

          All this, while the north leg of the Inner Dispersal Loop is under construction, and the new MLK Bridge workzone is going to cause them to have to rip up the west leg of the IDL, which *just* re-opened last month.

          http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=36.15362&lon=-95.98982&zoom=15&layers=M

          The transportation situation here reminds me of Portland in the 1990s in terms of bicycle and motorist infrastructure, and Salem today with transit...

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        • matt picio December 22, 2010 at 10:27 am

          They altered them to more closely match the ODOT standard, which is the state standard. Milwaukie has very similar signs which were also based on the ODOT standard. Brett Kelver was largely responsible for the Milwaukie signs, and guiding the public process which helped create them (full disclosure - I was a member of the public in those meetings). The Milwaukie signs have received a lot of positive feedback since they've gone up.

          Interestingly, in the Milwaukie public meetings there was some discussion about whether the signs should match Portland's, since the Portland wayfinding signs were already in-place. The decision was made to adhere more closely to the ODOT standard and to enhance some of the visual elements in response to the experience gained from Portland's signs, and later on the new Portland signs turned out to look an awful lot like Milwaukie's.

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  • Don Arambula December 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Even a stopped clock (Coburn) is right twice a day. Within the narrow context of the signs illustrated... he has a point. I find the new signs graphically atrocious, much more difficult to read and frankly a waste of money.

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    • Chandler December 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm

      I agree. My mind reads the old signs much faster than the new ones. I read "Where - How" better than "How - Where". Being a visitor to Portland this quick information as I roll along helps quite a bit.

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      • are December 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm

        talk to MUTCD. they changed the design specs. you cannot use federal stimulus funds to put up noncompliant signage.

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        • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 11:01 pm

          The design specs didn't change, the current bicycle guidance signs are an updated version of the old bicycle guidance signs (which almost universally only said "BIKE ROUTE" without telling you where) and general guidance signs (which have arrows, distances and white-on-green lettering). The PBOT design (green on white) was PBOT letting a graphics designer do a traffic safety engineer's job, with sub-par results.

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      • bikieboy December 21, 2010 at 6:01 pm

        Don & Chandler -- interesting, i find the new ones far cleaner, graphically speaking - the white on green is a much easier read for me, and the old directional arrows were just bizarre. But i'm a poor test case, because I know where I'm going - or that's my conceit, anyway.

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        • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm

          I tend to agree with you, the new signs are much more consistent with other guidance signs you find around. The green-on-white was both non-compliant by any version of the MUTCD and just plain invisible on rainy nights. The new signs are considerably more legible by comparison.

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  • Jeff Ong December 21, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Sounds like a good opportunity to pursue your rights as a copyright holder.

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    • dan December 21, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      Seconded. A friendly letter outlining your photo licensing fees is definitely in order.

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  • Paul Tay December 21, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Yep. Dat's MY Senator! Goooooooooooooooooooooooo, Tom!

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  • Sean G December 21, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    The implication in Coburn's report is that these will be some sort of sign duplication. Your report shows that these signs will be placed in spots that are currently without. As in, filling in the gaps in the bike signage network. I wonder if Coburn would make the same complaints if additional speed limit signs were placed on busy streets, or highways were restriped.

    And as a photographer, I agree with the sentiment of others that you should complain about the use of your photo without permission... it's despicable that anyone, let alone the government, would feel that just because a photo is on the internet that they can use it at their whim.

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    • matt picio December 22, 2010 at 10:30 am

      I agree - your photos have clearly-defined licensing terms on Flickr, and your website clearly states no derivative works and attribution required.

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  • David Haines December 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Regardless of my opinion on the signs, the fact that this minuscule expenditure made Coburn's top 100 list of "most wasteful government spending" proves his cluelessness.

    Careful Coburn -- your choices can and will be used to illuminate your rich, grumpy agenda.

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    • Machu Picchu December 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm

      I don't think it's cluelessness. I think he's picking his target(Portland, Progressive Government), so his fans know what to expect from him. The sign project was just an easy to pick example. And that much easier to communicate when you steal your visual aids (and data?) from somebody else's portfolio.

      Lawsuit?

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      • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 10:44 pm

        What fans? Coburn and Inhofe are unpopular even in Oklahoma.

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  • q`Tzal December 21, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    "extraneous expenditures" like ... "road-kill reduction programs."

    Road-kill reduction is not just for smell abatement or public health concerns; carcasses rotting in the road seem to encourage some drivers to slow down.

    We can't have that! I need to be able to drive my car with out the slow downs caused by some "goody-two-shoes" trying to avoid a dead squirrel. Get the dead animals off the road so I can drive 90MPH!

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  • Bjorn December 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Did he at least host his own copy of the photo or is he just linking through to yours and stealing your bandwidth along with using the photo? If it is the latter I suggest changing the photo to something hilarious...

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  • tim December 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Closer to home, in the Tigard City Council minutes for 2/9/10, Mayor Dirksen refuses to support Blumenhauer's Active Transportation Act as it would pull money from the Highway Trust Fund.

    The Happy Motoring Mayor of Tigard is a registered Republican, deep into Washington County politics, and weighing in on issues such as the CRC, Sellwood Bridge, and the I5/99W Connector.

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  • Jerry_W December 21, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Still think Republicans and Democrats are just alike, so no need to vote? Some very bike friendly congressmen were voted out of office last month, we are moving in the wrong direction folks. Sure hope we can hold on to Peter DeFazio in the next election.

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  • Jerry_W December 21, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Here are just 3 projects in Oklahoma using stimulus funds: valuable to citizens???
    CAREER: Research, Education, and Capacity Building - Genomic Structure of Native Peruvian Populations - $644946
    Catalytic Nitrogenation of Hydrocarbons - $360000

    Gene delivery vectors inspired from the structure and assembly process of target-recognizing phage - $300000

    Senator Coburn, please stay in Oklahoma and mind the business there!

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    • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 11:03 pm

      We don't want him, either.

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  • Sean G December 21, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    By the way, I encourage everyone responding here to contact Sen. Coburn through his website...

    http://coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contactsenatorcoburn?p=ContactForm

    I just sent him a letter explaining the benefits of increased signage complying with new federal guidelines , the money-saving aspects of sharrows (dual-using existing infrastructure rather than building new infrastructure), and expressing my disappointment in a government official illegally using copyrighted intellectual property.

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  • Wayne December 21, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    I'm not going to be so quick to criticize Tigard's mayor, Craig Dirksen. Transportation issues have been one of his priorities. The city of Tigard now has a map of bicycle routes, such as they are. We're just seeing the final improvements to Hall Blvd/99W. As a suburb that essentially developed around the car/bus needs of commuters going somewhere else to work, any projects for bicycling will be challenging retrofits at best.
    I did attend a meeting addressing SW commuting issues last summer, the Mayor was there along with Jonathan and several of the bicycling agencies as well as Dick Schouten, county commisioner. It's a very complicated issue to address between the various community jurisdictions, but I believe Tigard is certainly more bike-friendly now than when I first moved there in 1989.

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  • Wayne December 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I forgot to mention, I believe he's the owner of an electric bike/scooter business, if memory serves me correctly.

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    • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 10:43 pm

      I find Coburn's position as a senator and a doctor on the signage issue to be very odd considering he was recently applauding one of Omaha's transportation officials for promoting bicycling as a way to reduce health care costs back in September. Then again, we are talking about a Republican, so it could just be lip service. (In which case, I wonder how he isn't speaking only in vowels with the lip service he's giving to an elephant...)

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  • hroðberacht December 21, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    What seems to me a more blatant waste of taxpayer money is the production of this "guide" and its hosting on Senate webspace.

    I particularly like the one about using goats to eat invasive weeds in a national park. Perhaps Senator Coburn would rather employ people to eat weeds?

    Jonathan, I really hope you'll ask them to either remove or pay for your photos. Our elected officials should be held to at least the same standards as high school students.

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  • Dave Reid December 21, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    It is definitely going to be a difficult time to work towards improving our cities.

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  • david...no the other one! December 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Just to chime in on the signs, as I recall all of our signs for county HAD to come from Texas, no place else. Don't know why, probably just thats the way we do it here kind of thinking( oh excuse me, bid submission for goverment signage lowest cost highest benefit return).

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  • Stig10 December 21, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    But it's govt. waste if he says it is. His supporters won't question him. Silly Portland and its silly bikes.

    Serving him a DMCA takedown notice might be interesting.

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  • jim December 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    I thought Obama was supposed to do something about wastefull spending. Instead he is spending faster than he can print it (or borrow it from the Chinese)
    What a waste.

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    • are December 21, 2010 at 7:29 pm

      yeah and extending the bush tax cuts does not contribute a nickel to the deficit

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  • KWW December 21, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    I guess my question is Sen. Dick Coburn's assessment true? What was done with that money? Surely more than what he states.

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  • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Coburn can go to hell.

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  • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    VIE
    Tom Coburn is the most wasteful federally funded project I can think of.

    QFT.

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  • jim December 21, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    How is it that people can drive cars without having signs to tell them where to go?

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    • Andrew Seger December 21, 2010 at 5:58 pm

      I can't tell if this a joke or not.This is some sort of clever naked streets argument, right? If not...

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      • jim December 21, 2010 at 8:04 pm

        I call it a "stupid sign arguement"

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    • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm

      So I guess /all/ green guidance signs are purely there for decorative purposes? Assuming you have one, how is it you have a driver's license without understanding what the signs mean?

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    • are December 21, 2010 at 7:31 pm

      like all those green signs on the interstate and the signs saying "broadway next signal" and all the signs on street corners with the names of streets on them

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    • resopmok December 22, 2010 at 9:54 am

      Even with the profusion of signs that tell people in cars where to go, I still see a lot of lost drivers paying more attention to their GPS than the road. I would guesstimate they account for upwards of 5% of the near misses I encounter out there. Good luck navigating the highway on/off ramps without any signage.

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  • Steve B December 21, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks to are for pointing out that the new sign design is an effort to create bike wayfinding signs compliant with Federal standards.

    This is purely a histrionic appeal from the same camp that wants to be 'fiscally conservative' by giving tax breaks to the most affluent Americans. This Senator is more into the 'story' then the facts. Is he related to the Oregonian?

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  • ambrown December 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Wanted to note that in 2008 Senator Coburn included Minneapolis' Midtown Bike Center on his list as well. Apparently any federal dollars towards any transportation other than automobiles is considered wasteful for the Senator.

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  • Steve Scarich December 21, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    This is a waste of money. I can see how these might be useful for a visitor. But, how many people are riding Portland streets who don't know their way around? And, do we really need the nanny-state to help us get where we are going? Ever heard of Google or MapQuest? Sorry, as a life-long bike commuter, I don't need signs to help me get where I'm going. Before you flame me, think about all the more useful ways this money could have been spent (say, like where someone is forced to walk their bike in the roadway, because there is no sidewalk).

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    • matt picio December 22, 2010 at 10:37 am

      Steve,
      In the entire history of Oregon, more people live here who are from somewhere else than were born here. There are constantly new people. I just dined yesterday with a woman who moved out from Nebraska 6 months ago. The signs are invaluable for her as a beginning cyclist. Also, MapQuest, Bing or Google Maps are great if you have a computer in front of you, but what if you have to change destinations on the fly? What if your iPhone is dead, and you lost your fold-out compact bike map from PBOT? From personal experience, I used to live in deep SE, and signs like this would have been great in NoPo back then - I still don't know most of the area around St. John's, and I've been biking in Portland for 5 years. It's not a waste of money just because you personally don't need them, any more than curb cuts or ADA facilities.

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    • CaptainKarma December 22, 2010 at 10:12 pm

      I use the signs too, not being familiar with every square inch of portland yet. 'n Besides, routes & infrastructures change from time-to-time. Sheesh.

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  • JR December 21, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Actually, I've lived in Portland 5 years and still find the bike signs useful. The old ones had faded away, so the new ones are bigger and much more helpful. Since most of the bike boulevards are off major streets, they aren't intuitive without the signage. I don't know about you, but I'm not talented enough to shuffle through a mapquest or google maps printout while riding a bike and paying attention to the road.

    $900,000 would buy less than a mile of sidewalk, but instead helped sign probably a hundred miles of bike boulevards.

    Senator Coburn is a typical Republican.. only wants the government to pay for things he uses personally. In other words.. a greedy SOB.

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    • jim December 21, 2010 at 8:07 pm

      So after 5 years you still have a hard time finding your way around? Portland is not that hard, it is mostly a simple grid.

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      • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 10:08 pm

        Yeah, screw tourists! And truckers!

        Seriously, jim, you're out of touch with reality if you think everyone automatically knows the layout of town. There's a LOT of truckers in Portland given that it's a major hub for shipping by every mode imaginable. And tourism is about the only industry other than transportation Portland has left at this point.

        Have you tried moving to rural Mexico? They're living your ideal world right now.

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      • valkraider December 22, 2010 at 8:01 am

        What about maybe people from Beaverton, Oregon City, or Vancouver who might come in and ride around Portland?

        What about casual cyclists who may not know the best route for a bicycle even though they know the streets by car?

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      • matt picio December 22, 2010 at 10:40 am

        Only on the east side. NoPo and the west side of the river aren't. Also, the "simple grid" approach won't give you good routes up onto the Alameda Ridge. And there are barriers with only a few crossings, like I-5, I-84, I-205, and Johnson Creek Boulevard.

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        • Paul Johnson December 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm

          Alameda Ridge? By context, I think you meant Columbia Crest.

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  • Jerry_W December 21, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Senators Coburn and Inhoff are both bought and paid for by the oil industry. I'm sure they are pulling the strings for these two puppets.

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    • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 10:16 pm

      You should have seen the completely ridiculous campaign they ran here, too. Really fed off the whole "repeat your name but don't state your platform" method of advertising. The only reason that BS even worked here is because Oklahomans only have 8 hours to vote, election day is no longer a state holiday (thanks, republicans!) and the state doesn't send out a voter's pamphlet.

      As usual, the only thing that gets conservatives elected is "low voter turnout." You even hear the good ole boys down at the bar saying things like "Jim Inhofe is too conservative for Oklahoma."

      Bumper stickers saying "James Inhofe doesn't care about red people" have also started turning up on vehicles bearing Muskovee Nation, Cherokee Nation or Pawnee Nation license plates, too, probably in response to his opposition to the US funding the tribes highway departments and transit systems. God knows they need it, one of my friends lives on a tribal road in the Muskovee Nation that hasn't seen maintenance since the early 1990s due to lack of funds and has been weathered and used to the point it's barely a road grade, the pavement itself LONG gone.

      This same pair of idiots then wonders why the tribes want as little to do with Oklahoma state government or the federal government and push the sovereignty issue to the point that two thirds of Oklahoma are technically outside the US by treaty, and Tulsa itself straddles three national boundaries...

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  • Chris December 21, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    The O.W. Coburn School of Law is named in honor of Tom's old man, who donated $10 million dollars to Oral Robert's University. Yes, the same Oral Roberts who said that God would strike him down if he did not raise $4.5 million for missions. Hmmmm... Senator Coburn, you want to talk about wasting money???

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    • jim December 21, 2010 at 8:09 pm

      I don't imagine that the missions spent the money on signs?

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    • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 10:26 pm

      CityPlex Tower West (the second tallest building in a five-state area) is wholly empty above the 9th floor: The rest of it is a facade, and a legacy to an aborted hospital complex ORU couldn't complete after folks lost confidence in Oral Roberts sanity (he started ranting about visions of a 900-foot-tall Jesus that towered over the then-under-construction City of Faith Hospital Tower (as it was then called) by 300 feet...).

      Needless to say, Tulsans with half a brain can't be found anywhere near ORU.

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  • Hart Noecker December 21, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Nothing makes me happy like libertarians fearing the power of the bicycle.

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    • Paul Johnson December 21, 2010 at 10:37 pm

      Frustrates the heck out of me. Look at this cyclemap: Lots of dedicated roadways, few suitable connectors. Really easy to cross town by bicycle, but the last mile is a very real issue here.

      http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=36.1454&lon=-95.9553&zoom=13&layers=C

      This is one of the reasons why I responded, "Does Portland need another naval gazing agency only concerned with Portland?" on the thread about AROW the other day.

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      • Hart Noecker December 22, 2010 at 1:10 am

        This is the same Coburn who is blocking the health care for 9.11 first responders.

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  • wsbob December 22, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Senator Coburn is to be commended for making efforts to reduce spending. The size of the budget desperately needs slimming, so...the entire nation being faced with that concern, maybe he's right that this expenditure on bike route directional signs was wasteful.

    The new sign design is nice, but Oregon could have got by with the old design if doing so would really have made enough difference in reducing budget expenditures to justify not investing in the creation of a new design.

    The old sign design (the one on the left in the above picture), is busy, confusing, and looks amateurish, though maybe Coburn wouldn't mind that in his own state if using old signs with it would help reduce the federal budget. With that spirit of thriftiness in mind, perhaps as the signs with the old design are decommissioned in Oregon, Coburn might welcome them as a donation from Oregon to Oklahoma's DOT, whereupon Oklahoma prisoners could then re-letter the signs for use on Oklahoma streets and roads.

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    • Paul Johnson December 22, 2010 at 6:21 am

      There is nothing commendable about Coburn's actions; his list pretty much reeks of "Stuff I didn't think of getting for my own constituents, therefore is wrong."

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    • matt picio December 22, 2010 at 10:44 am

      "if doing so would really have made enough difference in reducing budget expenditures to justify not investing in the creation of a new design"

      It wouldn't have, because the new signs are based on ODOT/Federal standards - the old ones aren't, which make them now ineligible for federal funds. Also, redesigning the signs only cost a few hours of staff time (maybe 20? Design time, plus meetings, etc), so the real cost is probably in the low thousands. (i.e. less than $10k)

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      • wsbob December 22, 2010 at 11:24 am

        Appears to very true. Readers here might want to check out maus's later story featuring a report from Representative Blumenauer's office, detailing the expenditures made with money from the federal grant for bikeway signage:

        Follow up: Blumenauer points out "inaccurracies" in Coburn's report

        Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 22nd, 2010 at 9:15 am

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    • resopmok December 22, 2010 at 11:41 am

      The unfortunate truth is that most of the projects which actually are basically a waste of public resources listed in Coburn's report don't contribute much to our country's debt woes. Even if we cut every single item in the report, it still wouldn't measure up to the amount of dough sucked in by the military and social security, both of which are running their own deficits.

      It doesn't do much to slap your hand at the convenience store to keep from buying that 5-cent Reese's cup when you're filling up your Hummer's gas tank twice a week at $4/gallon just to get there. These sort of things are a distraction for a politician's constituents so that don't have to answer the hard questions about where our money is going. A few bike wayfinding signs? Big effing deal, let's talk about two ongoing wars for the last ten years and see if we can't save some money from that.

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  • Hart Noecker December 22, 2010 at 2:20 am

    wsbob
    Senator Coburn is to be commended for making efforts to reduce spending.

    By opposing health care for firefighters who rushed to Ground Zero? Are you out of your mind?

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    • wsbob December 22, 2010 at 11:09 am

      Hart ...on specific items he wants to cut back, such as the one you mentioned, probably...'no'. In general... 'yes'.

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  • mp December 22, 2010 at 5:21 am

    This is not the first time Sen. Coburn has used copyrighted pictures without permission/payment:

    http://www.mainjustice.com/2010/07/26/sen-coburn-thats-our-copyright/

    Collect your fee Jonathan!

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  • valkraider December 22, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Paul Johnson
    The PBOT design (green on white) was PBOT letting a graphics designer do a traffic safety engineer's job, with sub-par results.

    I am sorry, but Graphic designers know MUCH MUCH more about readability, typeface, placement, and overall design than ANY traffic safety engineer.

    If given the proper "goals" (or "guidelines") a graphic designer will beat the traffic safety engineer 10 out of 10.

    Graphic designers get YEARS in education about kerning and serifs and contrast and lighting conditions and color perception... Traffic safety engineers don't.

    Now, the designs of things like public signs should not be given the same creative freedoms as marketing or other "art" - but still, the graphic designers win.

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    • Paul Johnson December 22, 2010 at 5:46 pm

      Sure, they might know more about what works for an advertisement for a particular target audience. But signage isn't about glitz and glam, it's about consistency and understandability to the greatest number of users. The target audience is everyone. You don't need a road sign to look cool, it needs to work. Graphics designers suck at functional design.

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  • Elliott @ Austin on Two Wheels December 22, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Same Senator who is personally holding up health benefits for 9-11 responders. Not exactly someone looking at the greater good.

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  • Daniel Evans December 22, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Here's a little waste for Coburn to report: The cost of one Virginia class submarine is 1.8 to 2.5 BILLION. If we spent one dollar a second it would take aprox. 62 years to pay for one of these useless things if we weren't borrowing the money and paying interest on it. There are 7 of these that have been built, 3 under construction, and a total of 30 are planned.

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    • Paul Tay December 23, 2010 at 5:49 am

      We need these babies for ET invasions.

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    • jim December 31, 2010 at 12:16 am

      Would you rather we subcontract these out to China for a fraction of the price?

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      • Paul Johnson December 31, 2010 at 4:55 pm

        We could financially and diplomatically benefit from a dramatically smaller armed forces.

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  • Duwayne Anderson December 28, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Good old Republicans. Always enough money for another round of tax breaks for their corporate sponsors. Always enough money for another war, or another war machine. Never enough money for schools, teachers, parks, recreation or bicycling. What does anyone expect from these fossils?

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