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New activist group highlights ODOT’s “Berlin Wall” on 82nd

Posted by on February 17th, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Elly Blue on the mic.
(Screenshot)

A new Portland-based transportation activism group, the People’s Department of Transportation (as in PDOT, not to be confused with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, PBOT), has released their first video and press release.

I’ve heard murmurs about this group coming together but now it’s official (read their introductory blog post at PDOT.org). The video released today features Elly Blue (former managing editor of BikePortland) talking with Portlanders about a new wall erected by an “activist organization calling itself the Oregon Department of Transportation” along 82nd Avenue.

Here’s more from a statement released with the video:

“The wall was completed shortly before the People’s Department of Transportation (PDOT) was scheduled to begin work on the mid-block crosswalk and pedestrian signal preferred by local residents and transit users in a lengthy public process…

The wall runs down the middle of East 82nd Ave, dividing the street neatly down its length between the two major intersections of Jonesmere and Wasco Streets, where the street crosses the I-84 freeway. The wall is about four feet high and resembles the barrier on a divided highway.”

If you’re confused, you’re not the only one. This is an interesting mix of satire, activism and digital journalism. It might help to recall the anti-CRC project infomercials that surfaced in March 2009. Some of the same folks behind those videos helped make this one happen.

This video highlights a very interesting situation out on 82nd. The interviews with locals, combined with facts from Ms. Blue definitely warrant attention. Interestingly, ODOT’s Region 1 Director Jason Tell featured this “wall” in a slide at the Transportation Safety Summit last night and I think I heard at least one “boo” from the crowd (I’ve got an email into Tell for more information I have heard from ODOT and will post a follow-up story soon).

Download the press release (37kb PDF) and watch the video below.

PDOT Communique #1: The Berlin Wall from Peoples DOT on Vimeo.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

27 Comments
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    Racer X February 17, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    To paraphrase President Reagan…’Director Matt Garrett, …tear down this wall !!!’

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tear_down_this_wall

    Will history repeat itself?

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    Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie February 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Using humor and satire – great way to draw attention to and get people talking about serious transportation issues – viva la people’s department of transportation!

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    cold worker February 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    i was prepared to groan, roll my eyes, barf a little. i was expecting a video equivalent of a protest “hey hey, ho ho…” chant (insert shotgun in my mouth, pull trigger.) but that was pretty good.

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    former resident February 17, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Having driven that stretch of road several times, i think the wall is a great idea. A crosswalk wouldn’t work as people wiould continue play frogger here. Way to go Portland Department of Transportation! And comparing this to the Berlin Wall is a gross misrepresentation of it’s intention.

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    biddy February 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    This story is a little confused. To be clear, ODOT is a shadowy activist organization from out of town. PDOT is the local branch of the People’s Department of Transportation. Stay tuned.

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    former resident February 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Sorry….meant kudos’s to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

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    former resident February 17, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    well who ever put the wall up i applaud you.

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    Heidi February 17, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    FYI the “introductory blog post link” goes to a BikePortland page. Maybe the link you wanted to post is http://pdot.org/?p=7?

    — Thanks Heidi.. I’ve fixed that link! -Jonathan —

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    kiwimunki February 17, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    “(it seems like) it was designed by someone who never has to use this…”

    Well said.

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    jocko February 17, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    interesting video. I feel that many times the humor and satire in this sort of video is totally lost on(and rarely seen by)folks who don’t read BP or are involved in transpo issues. Clearly however the wall solution is not the best option. What would be nice to see is a follow up with “direct actions” local folks can take to solve this problem, not just their gripes.

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    "kudos" = pretension February 17, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    i think all streets should have walls.

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    Debe February 17, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    “People’s” Dept. Of Transportation. Aptly named indeed.

    Mr. Adams, tear down this wall!

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    Stripes February 17, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    My understanding is, this is NOT a PBOT project.

    PBOT does NOT own 82nd Avenue. I went to last year’s Transportation Safety Summit, and heard PBOT ***WERE*** pushing for a mid-block crossing at this location. But ODOT (who own the road) said no. It seems PBOT have different goals (safety) to ODOT (moving as much traffic as fast as possible).

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    bob February 17, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    I think all sidewalks should have port-a-johns.

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    Kevin Wagoner February 17, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    100k more than a cross walk…ouch. Poor, poor, decision.

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    John Lascurettes February 17, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I wasn’t aware Elly had moved on from Bike Portland. She’s still listed on your About page as Managing Editor.

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    Thanking deities I don't have to travel there February 17, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    I saw that picture last night at the Summit, too, and didn’t understand where it was. Once I negotiated the trip from the 82nd MAX stop to southbound bus legally; I don’t think I ever dared it again. It feels like it was designed with malice to all pedestrians/transit riders, and I’m pretty sure I complained to the city. I hope my wail did not contribute to the justification for this bad excuse for a solution.

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    Bjorn February 18, 2010 at 12:26 am

    When they were planning to put this wall in my neighborhood I wrote letters against it. At the time we were told that ODOT didn’t want too many signals too close together because it would disrupt the flow of cars so they decided to do this even though most people in the neighborhood did not want the wall. Jaywalking was a bit of a problem here, but a light could have fixed the problem at 1/4 the cost. Thanks ODOT way to continue wasting money on car-centric solutions even in places where the residents are requesting Pedestrian improvements.

    I would like to see it removed.

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    jim February 18, 2010 at 12:55 am

    why didn’t they just truck in the portable barriers? They have those- it wouldn’t have cost anything

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    Malex February 18, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Here’s a link to an ODOT comment form:
    http://highway.odot.state.or.us/cf/comments/comments.cfm

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    Adam February 18, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I hate to sound like a naysayer, but this always comes back to the question I have about Bikeportland when I read it – is it a personal blog, or a news site?

    If it’s the latter, then, while I don’t know about news ethics per se, here’s my two cents…..

    It seems to me to be a somewhat biased reporting to be featuring videos that just happen to be created by, and feature in front of the camera, your managing editor, when they are not working with their Bikeportland “hat” on as it were.

    Don’t get me wrong. This video was fantastic, and I really enjoyed it. But I think it wouldn’t hurt in future, to clarify when you feature stories in which your staff are present, yet not in their Bikeportland capacity. Again, I hate to sound like such a party pooper, but, failure to disclose these sorts of things does rather smack of cronyism at best, and arguably poor journalism at worst.

    Otherwise, a good story!

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    Adam February 18, 2010 at 10:48 am

    My apologies. I just read the article again, and it says Elly is no longer managing editor. Not sure how I missed that first time round in the article (?) She is still listed in that capacity on the BP page sidebar, which is I think what threw me. Still, more poor reporting on MY part that yours, possibly!

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    Anonymous February 18, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Coming soon: “ODOT’s Pedestrian Holocaust”

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    Ali February 18, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    People used to cross at mid-block because it was more convenient to get to the bus stops, and because it was, paradoxically, safer than using the crosswalks at either end of the bridge. People were getting hit by cars in the intersections, but there was never a reported pedestrian injury at the center of the bridge.

    In the past year or so, Trimet has moved the bus stops to be closer to the crosswalks, and PBOT has adjusted the timing of the traffic lights to try to keep turning cars from plowing into pedestrians. I haven’t seen any data yet, to tell if there’s been any improvement in safety.

    I’m not pleased with the idea of the wall, but I understand the mindset that mid-block crossings are unsafe and should be discouraged. But the real safety problems were in the crosswalks, and I appreciate that those were addressed before the wall was erected.

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    Anonymous February 18, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Why is this satire where is the humor??? The video seemed pretty straight forward.

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  • […] Wednesday, we brought you news of the first “communique” from newly formed activist group The People’s Department of Transportation (PDOT). Their […]

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    Stig6 February 20, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    We sure need a lot of concrete to keep people safe from cars.

    PeDOT: Try to spell department correctly in your next video.

    I like the idea of reporting w/ video from independent organizations like PeDOT. Maybe BP could try their hand at that as well..

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