Caution: Man-eating streetcar tracks ahead

Posted by on May 15th, 2008 at 7:55 am

Anyone who’s ridden a bike in downtown Portland knows that streetcar (and MAX) tracks can be a bit tricky to navigate. Now, someone has modified a warning sign that takes it a step further.

Check out this sign modification/vandalism/art I noticed yesterday…

streetcar tracks sign modification-1.jpg

Sign is on SW 11th just before Taylor.
(Photo ยฉ J. Maus)

Be careful out there!

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Gabriel McGovern
Guest

Yes- but is that an alligator or a crocodile?

Dr. Benjamin
Guest

It\’s not vandalism! It\’s ART!

Let the arguments over public expression commence…

It\’s hilarious either way ๐Ÿ™‚

Bradly Fletchall
Guest

Very nicely done. Excellent craftsmanship.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

Alligators need to eat too! And by the look of it, he looks HUNGRY!

brewcaster
Guest

I love this town.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Reminds me of playing Pitfall Harry. Anyone?

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

vandalism, but tasteful vandalism..
pretty funny.

Qwendolyn
Guest

that alligator should really be getting more SUVs in his diet.

Michelle
Guest
Michelle

Hilarious. And true.

I had a friend in town yesterday and we biked to NW. He\’s an experienced bike commuter. As we approached NW 10th on Davis I said \”Cross the tracks as close to perpendicular as possible – we\’ll turn right into the left-hand lane.\”

We started across, a pedestrian stepped off the curb while we were turning and we BOTH swerved and ended up in the tracks! Side by side! Synchronized crashing.

It was awkward and a little scary but we didn\’t get run over.

Some people say that if you\’re skilled and you cross at a right angle, tracks aren\’t a problem. So there\’s no problem. But the road isn\’t a perfectly predictable place. A door opens, a car stops unexpectedly, a pedestrian steps in front of you, and BAM. Hello tracks.

I\’m working on the BTA\’s streetcar/bike data from last month\’s survey. Can\’t say much conclusively yet except that most respondents have crashed at least once on tracks. And most are afraid.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

I unfortunately fed that alligator on Tuesday night when some idiot on his cell phone decided to make a left hand turn from the right lane forcing me to swerve into the tracks.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Pitfall…That brought back some memories.

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

Quality of work means everything.

Sweet job!

heavyj
Guest
heavyj

\”Yes- but is that an alligator or a crocodile?\”

As alligators have shorter snouts I\’m guessing it\’s an alligator.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alligator#Differences_between_alligators_and_crocodiles

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Perhaps it should not be a croc but a Tram with teeth…like the PDX Mercury articles a few years back…about murderous streetcars. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Burk
Guest
Burk

Yes! God bless you sign modification/vandalism/art person!

felix
Guest

nom nom nom!

Russell
Guest
Russell

Heavyj I disagree, look at the length of the snout compared to the human in the picture. The lower jaw is about the length the person\’s torso, and, unless the sign is depicting a child, I\’d say that that\’s a pretty long snout . . .

Oh well, get that gator/croc some SUVs. I hear those ones full of teenagers throwing food at cyclists are especially high in protein.

Nick
Guest
Nick

The tracks are just one more reason why fat tires rule.

DT
Guest
DT

Pitfall!!!!! Yes!!!!

Vance
Guest
Vance

I\’ve complained about those tracks, relentlessly, for years. Only to get an earful of how conservative, and anti-mass-transit I am. Not really, but those tracks just blow for bikes. #9 paints a picture illustrating a lesson learned, years ago too, and I never put rubber to pavement on streets with tracks. Mostly \’cause I can\’t afford new wheels, and not out of fear for my already broken, old body.

Love mass-transit. Even like street-cars, reminds me of the \’70\’s B-Movie Sci-Fi I grew up on. No problems here. Doesn\’t change the fact that those tracks are a menace to bikes! Brave testament to this fact, oh hanger of uberslick artwork! Nice pic J!

Let\’s hear it for less kool-looking electric buses! Plus they\’re virtually silent, cost a fraction to maintain, and sell for a fraction of what a street-car does. PLUS, we\’ve already got the three-phase hangin\’!

joeb
Guest
joeb

I hope this one stays.

The curb extentions are really convenient there. I don\’t travel that stretch much, but have hopped the front wheel over the rail, hoping to get enough angle for the rear to get over. Kind of hard to bunny hop with 30 pound panniers. I\’m lucky so far.

Vance
Guest
Vance

Pop Quz:

Q: If you are a good city-planner, where do you route a street-car through a city?

A: On streets with low traffic, yet still get you where you need to go.

Q: If you are an experienced cyclist, where do you ride your bike through town?

A: On streets with low traffic, yet still get you where you need to go.

This paradox needs some serious attention. I have no problem whatsoever adapting, as a cyclist, to the needs of mass-transit. Seriously wouldn\’t change a thing, and don\’t mind re-routing. Not my point. I can\’t help but think though, that planners never really think about the impact train-tracks have on two-wheelers, skate-boards, and roller-blades.

Vance
Guest
Vance

Plus I\’ve seen these things tip over at least one wheel-chair. I\’ve seen them trip blind-folks. I\’ve seen little-old ladies get their grocery cart tipped and spilled. I\’ve seen peds slip on them when they\’re wet. I saw a Pioneer Square Security Guard slip and fall, while chasing a suspect. I\’ve seen them be the start point of a speeding motorist spin-out during rush-hour in the rain. I know at least one cyclist with a severe head-injury from the tracks. I\’ve personally toasted a set of Record equipped wheels in them. Plus, I\’ve heard that high-silicone sand-blasting sand won\’t compress and can be shoveled into a track to possibly derail some of the lighter trains. This happened once on accident from some spilled material.

I\’m just sayin\’!

Joe
Guest
Joe

careful looks hungry.. hehe

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

I\’m waiting for the spoke cards/t-shirts with that exact design to hit the streets… ๐Ÿ™‚

Steve (not steve!!)
Guest
Steve (not steve!!)

Heavyj, Russell

Impossible to be definitive with an identification without a lateral view of the crocodilian with it\’s mouth closed revealing the view of it\’s dentition from the outside.

Russell
Guest
Russell

True Steve, very true. But the argument is still fund to have isn\’t it? I mean, in reality the person who drew it probably couldn\’t tell you the difference between an alligator or a crocodile.

KTesh
Guest
KTesh

What\’s Next? T-Rex? Allosaurus?

No matter what, I must say that it\’s (forgive the pun)… Tasty! ๐Ÿ˜‰

peejay
Guest
peejay

methinks that croc/gator has a great dentist! Probably came here from a country with good health care.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

hey all…

lets all make the world a risk free place so Vance has nothing to bitch about online…

who\’s in it with me?!!

anyone…anyone?

Vance
Guest
Vance

No need to be snippy. I\’m just not the biggest fan ever of light-rail. It was all in good fun!

Deb
Guest
Deb

love it, spewed coffee on my key board!

Zaphod
Guest

Streetcars are a great transit mode although I agree with Vance on all counts.

I humbly recommend that riders pick a different route if the tracks pose a threat.

Racer X
Guest
Racer X

I suggest a different track…most drivers if given a choice drive outside of the streetcar tracks in the Pearl…so why not bike stencil it as a shared route…due to lower volumes and to keep novice riders from riding along the curb with tracks (a more risky route choice I see them take a lot).

Yes tracks can trip up a bicyclist with super narrow tires. But we must ask…is there a minimum design tolerance for street surfaces in city streets for bikeways? Should it be for 23mm tires or a more urbane 28mm tire? I do not see the same level of rider angst with tracks in other international bike cities. (Not not do otherwise would be to design our city streets for racing cars. As a racer I say leave the horsepower at PIR. ;=)

Antonio Gramsci
Guest
Antonio Gramsci

Vance: spot on.

Streetcars are largely a holdover relic paying tribute to bourgeois anti-transit snobbery. The bourgeoisie is too good to ride buses, you see. Such snobbery could be overcome with a really well planned bus rapid transit system a la Curitiba, Brazil.

Duncan
Guest
Duncan

so we want to have a transit system modeled after a 3rd world country (Brazil) and not a after those of Denmark, Germany and other industrialized dsocieties.

Antonio Gramsci
Guest
Antonio Gramsci

Duncan:
The US *is* a 3rd world country — at least in some respects (and not one of the better ones). We would be doing damned well if we could build a transit system today in any American city that was half as good as Curitiba\’s.

jimmy M
Guest

Last year I crashed my bike on a freshly greased section of a streetcar track crossing a track turn near PSU. Had to get hand surgery and then had 2+ months in cast. Cost about $10K total plus missed work. Those things are super sketchy. In the rain I\’d walk the bike over them now. That sign is just brilliant. Man-eating tracks for sure. Thanks much Tag Man!!

Duncan
Guest
Duncan

Antonio-
I say aim high, not low.

kasandra
Guest
kasandra

re. Jeremy #10: I see the opportunity for new super-cool insider lingo: \”Fed the alligator\” = wiped out on tracks. With the number of tracks in town, and the number of us who periodically wipe out on them, I think we can make it take hold…

Carissa Wodehouse
Guest
Carissa Wodehouse

It\’s the hippos that I worry about.

danenestos
Guest

I know this thread is old, but I hadn\’t seen it until just now. Thanks for all the kind words about my croc (it\’s a croc). They took that one down, but I put up a new one on the sign by Powells – next to the zoobombers bike stash.
Also – I love the \”fed the gator\” line.

gl.
Guest

@nobledesign: it was sort of like this: http://tinyurl.com/4mbrjl

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

I prefer the MAX because my bike is right in front of me, not on the front of the bus like a bumper, ready to be yoinked off by anyone.

Emily
Guest
Emily

The track gator got me in front of Powell’s this past November. Amazingly, I didn’t get run over, despite the rain and dark. Nothing like a broken shoulder to put an end to your winter commute, though.

Leila Kordestani
Guest

Train tracks eat bikes. Rawr! This one is for you, @youjeaneugene. http://bit.ly/6v5gkS