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A bike lane video game on N. Williams

Posted by on August 18th, 2010 at 9:38 am

Someone has stenciled several video game symbols in the N. Williams bike lane.
– See the rest of them below –
(Photos © J. Maus)

A cherished local tradition of adding character and personality to our bike lanes has taken a new twist. Someone has painted symbols from Nintendo’s Mario Kart video game in the bike lanes on N. Williams Ave.

The painted symbols begin south of N Tillamook Avenue with a set of speed-boosting arrows (see above) and the symbols continue to about N. Cook Ave. There are several bananas…

A mushroom (which a reader tells me is worth an extra life in the game allows you to store a speed boost)…

And a star (which gives you invincibility)…

While this sort of vandalism is obviously illegal, I don’t think anyone is looking to crack down on it. Reader Steve R. wrote us to share this sentiment about the symbols:

“I’m sure this is very illegal. As I pedal home from work, though, I find it engaging and humorous. Would motorists similarly decorate their lanes? I suspect not – this good-natured vandalism is a sign that bikers take pride in their bike lanes and the biking community we’ve created. Well, that is my impression anyway.”

Have you seen the symbols? What’s your impression? I find them to be great conversation starters with my fellow Williams commuters.

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  • Clarence August 18, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I wanna get chased by Ms. Pacman!

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  • Matthew August 18, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Hah! That’s wonderful!

    (In Mario Kart, the mushroom gives you a speed boost)

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  • Nick August 18, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I feel like a total pedantic dork for saying this, but…

    Mushrooms give you an extra life in most Mario games, but these are inspired by Mario Kart, anthen and there).d in Mario Kart, they actually give you a speed boost. The difference between the mushroom and chevron it that you can “store” the mushroom and trigger its speed boost when you want, whereas the chevrons give you a speed boost right when you drive over them.

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  • Richard Masoner August 18, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Speed boost FTW!

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  • Erin August 18, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I’ve been seeing these. A few weeks ago there was just a banana. Now there’s a star and a banana – and more. I’ve been curious to know what game it is. If someone does PacMan symbols, I’d be more apt to win! Definitely fun. 🙂

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  • patrickz August 18, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I ran/rode into them as I made my way to pick up my new commuting machine, so I was in a good mood and that banana one had me imagining whole ribbons of imagery along the lane. I had no idea they were from one of those games, but they bring the whole lane system into a friendly, cozier place. My thanks to the perpetrators.

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  • Dave August 18, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Hah, that’s awesome 🙂 It is from Mario Kart 🙂

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  • Ely August 18, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Make sure you do the appropriate sound effects as you ride over. 😉

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  • April August 18, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Oh man. Mario Kart is one of the few video games I really enjoyed as a kid. I love it.

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  • A.K. August 18, 2010 at 10:04 am

    I love these! Though I think the speed boost is broken, it never works for me unless I pedal harder. 😉

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  • trail abuser August 18, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Oh great, now kids will want to ride their bikes to school. YOU HEAR THAT VANDALS??

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  • Caroline August 18, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I like it so much I wish I could say I did it! 😀

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  • eli bishop August 18, 2010 at 10:28 am

    so envious! it makes me want to “vandalize” a lane. what game could we play on holgate? 🙂

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  • Donk August 18, 2010 at 10:37 am

    @eli bishop, if you can figure out how to do Excite Bike, I’ll start riding Holgate instead 😉

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  • Spiffy August 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

    awesome! I haven’t seen them but that’s even better than the power-boosting sharrows…

    even though it’s illegal it’s not bad… they’re not offensive and they’re well done and colorful…

    I’m all for more of these on all bike routes…

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  • peejay August 18, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Cue the hand-wringing about graffiti vandals spoiling it for all cyclists in one, two, three…

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  • SilkySlim August 18, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I think some classic RC Pro-Am “oil slick” spots would be fun (and topical!).

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  • Paul Johnson August 18, 2010 at 10:49 am

    A red shell would be really quite handy in Beaverton to take care of the overabundance of Californian drivers, particularly around the Tek campus, Cedar Hills Boulevard, Farmington, TV, Hall and Watson…

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  • K'Tesh August 18, 2010 at 10:58 am

    If I remember there were shells (were they red or green?) that would orbit you, and knock other competitors silly if they got to close. I’d like those for when I’m up between a curb and a too close car.

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  • justa August 18, 2010 at 10:59 am

    public art! bike lanes! two of my very favorite things!!

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  • Marcus Griffith August 18, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Didn’t the star make you invincible AND give you a prolong speed boost? Been awhile since I played and I haven’t played the more recent ones…

    Glad to see the Blue Shell and Bullet didn’t make the list. However, the lightening could explain the increase in mini bikes around town.

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  • Drew August 18, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Too bad for me as I avoid N.Williams. Too many yogis and doors flying open.

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  • Did I miss it? Again? August 18, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I know I am about to get flamed for being a downer and not being in the spirit, but here goes anyway.

    I realize that this is in good humor and these particular stencils do no harm, but is this really a good path to start down (no pun intended).

    This only adds fuel to the fire that is cyclists feel they are above laws (be they right of way, stop signs, red lights, vandalism, etc.).

    No, it would not be cool if drivers created their own stencils on the roads, and cyclists would probably be the first to point out that drivers do not need anymore distractions, and rightfully so.

    Bike commuting should be a serious subject and treated as such. This means, for better or worse, respecting and maintaining current infrastructure. If you do not like it, take the steps to have it changed. Vandalism only makes us look like immature law breakers. Not exactly the look I want when I am trying to get respect from other road users.

    OK… let the name calling and flaming begin.I do ask that we skip the obligatory “Troll”/”Trolling” comments if that’s ok?

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  • Bob_M August 18, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Get off of my lawn!!

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  • Esther August 18, 2010 at 11:22 am

    The only thing that would make this better is if Mario and Luigi appeared with lil Martinis 😉

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  • Paul August 18, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Awesome. Another way to discusss the benefits of cycling. It puts a smile on your face!! I feel the exact opposite as the above. Cycling should only be taken seriously when safety is the issue. These stencils are clearly not a safety issue (unless the bananas become real). It’s a thoughtful addition that will do nothing but put a smile on someone’s face. In fact, I bet when drivers see them, it makes them want to be a part of the game. Nice work.

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  • Michael M. August 18, 2010 at 11:27 am

    I’ve only seen the speed-boosting arrows because it’s been a while since I’ve ridden Williams north of Tillamook. Not being a gamer, I didn’t know what they are or what they’re supposed to signify. The whimsy of the enterprise is somewhat lost when you’re ignorant about the origin, though the other symbols are at least inherently more fanciful. The arrows just had me scratching my head wondering what PBOT was up to now; it would have been clearer to me that a banana and a mushroom are not official designations of some kind.

    All in all, seems like something that will put smiles on a lot of faces and is unlikely to have any downsides.

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  • Lethal Panda August 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I think this is Portland’s cue to make this permanent. We should discourage vandals by making our city beautiful and fun.

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  • gl. August 18, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Lethal Panda: “We should discourage vandals by making our city beautiful and fun.”

    YES. THIS!

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  • trail abuser August 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    I like these little themes that make neighborhoods interesting and fun for kids and adults. In Beaverton there’s an Alice in Wonderland themed neighborhood with a park and streets named after characters.

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  • billy bob August 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    City of Portland should put distance markers on the lanes too.

    Like you are 1/3/5 miles from city center.

    That would be informative for out-of-towners who come there too.

    Corporate sponsorships cannot be far off…

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  • Anonymous August 18, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Coins to designate the optimal high speed travel path, especially through turns.
    Now slow speed and high speed cyclists have their own mini-lanes.

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  • q`Tzal August 18, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Coins to designate the optimal high speed travel path, especially through turns.
    Now slow speed and high speed cyclists have their own mini-lanes.

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  • q`Tzal August 18, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Corporate sponsorship should take the form of bike lane sweepers that are plastered like Nascar.
    They’d be going slow enough to sell tubes, patch kits and what ever.
    Do it right it might even be profitable.

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  • Michweek August 18, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Love It!!

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  • Amos August 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Sorry about the skid mark on the speed arrows, it’s totally mine. Damn squirrel.

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  • CaptainKarma August 18, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    If I was to do this sort of thing (not sayin’ I would!), I’d roll over to a hardware or paint store and get non-skid paint. Just sayin….

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  • Pete August 18, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Did I miss it (#23): “This only adds fuel to the fire that is cyclists feel they are above laws (be they right of way, stop signs, red lights, vandalism, etc.).”

    No flaming here; I respect your opinion. In my experience the ‘fire’ is fueled by emotion, intolerance, and ignorance (of bike-related laws, mainly). And despite how often we see it online and it seems to be popular public opinion, my experiences on the road are very different. Yesterday a guy in a big SUV rolled down his window and said “I’ll block traffic for you” as we edged across a busy four-lane backed-up street during rush hour, for example.

    My point is, if something this fun is going to sway public opinion against cyclists, then so be it. There’s no logic involved, and you’ll never get respect from ‘them’ regardless of how legally you ride.

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  • Nat West August 18, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Cars can do road sounds:

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  • q`Tzal August 18, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I want this:
    Pac man title song,

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  • h August 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Cool. It might lead more unwanted graffitis. I am pretty sure PBOT does not approve or appreciate these…

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  • Kt August 18, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    That’s awesome! I love the Mario Kart game except that my 7-year old niece and 5-year old nephew routinely beat me at it.

    It’s a great game, and I love the symbols on the bike lane!

    (At first, I thought the power-up/speed boost arrows were supposed to show people which way to ride in the bike lane– a good idea all around, if you ask me!)

    #32, no name calling here, but I agree with Pete #38.

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  • Paul Johnson August 18, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Heh, a lot of bicycle-equipped morons (I differentiate these from bicyclists) ignore the official arrows and one-way signs anyway. You’d think PPB would go for the easy money and stop people when they see wrong-ways, given how frequently they cause accidents going the wrong way.

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  • Paul Johnson August 18, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    @drew: Yogis?

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  • Paul Johnson August 18, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    @31: Distance markers are on the guide signs; there’s no provision in the MUTCD for distance markings on the pavement.

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  • Paul Johnson August 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    @30: The ironic thing about the Alice in Wonderland neighborhood is that it’s definitely a contender for worst neighborhood in the Metro Region to live in, with it’s non-existent bicycle connections, extremely high crime, and the fact that housing costs anything given that most of the buildings are one good snowstorm from collapsing in on themselves…

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  • Bill Lascher August 18, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I just saw the Star (I believe by the Waypost) this evening and had a good smile about it. I don’t think I was paying enough attention to notice the others, but I was entertained. It wasn’t distracting or easy to confuse with official markings, so I say it just adds a touch more enjoyability to the ride (similar to what I find as a pedestrian noticing little things about people’s yards and the like).

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  • Izaac Spencer August 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    While this is illegal, there should be an easy way to legally apply for this kind of fun art to our city. I am all for this kind of addition since it may encourage more people to want to use the bike lane.

    Another great example to encourage active transportation here.;_ylu=X3oDMTEzN2tqdXRhBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMQRjb2xvA3NrMQR2dGlkA0RGUjVfMTA0/SIG=120piqb8q/EXP=1282266878/**http%3a//

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  • Red Five August 19, 2010 at 5:10 am

    at what point does all this paint become a slipping hazzard? Then will it be funny?

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  • Brent August 19, 2010 at 8:16 am

    What is next? “Frogger” stencils at crosswalks for pedestrians?

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  • A.K. August 19, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Since this appears to be normal spray paint and not the “thermoplastic” that the city uses to stripe lines (the material that gets slick in the rain), I don’t think there will be any slip concern. It’s very thin and the texture still comes through.

    I would think these stencils would wear down long before they cause any issues.

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  • Argentius August 19, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Dibs on painting some of those little gold wrenches that you can run over for fixing your vehicle / more time / whatever.

    I’m thinking Super Off Road here, but they were in everything!

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  • Paul Johnson August 19, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    @Red Five #49: It becomes a slipping hazard when you’re riding with dirt tires on pavement. Or if you’re riding while drunk. The first is pretty stupid since you have that problem on clean, dry, paint-free pavement anyway, the second is stupid and illegal. Balance, people!

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  • Paul Johnson August 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    @AK #51: In what parallel dimension do the thermoplastic markings have significantly different traction when wet than they do when dry? Honestly, I gotta wonder, because I haven’t experienced traction issues on any of the pavement markings, be it a sunny day or pouring rain.

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  • Jessica Roberts August 19, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I nominate Brent #50 as best comment on this thread.

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  • A.K. August 19, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Paul Johnson:

    I’ve never fallen in the rain, but I’ve heard lots of comments expressed about them causing a loss of traction when wet. Perhaps I’m thinking of another material, if someone wants to chime in and add any information.

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  • Shozo August 19, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I’ve wondered how long it’s going to be before I’m arrested for putting down Dan Henrys.

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  • Erin August 19, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    @Paul Johnson – that slick paint/thermal plastic they use for stop bars can be very slippery when wet. Typically this is a problem for cyclists who are turning, as opposed to those who are going straight.

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  • Paul Johnson August 19, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    @Erin: Really? When I’ve got the green or a yield sign leading into an empty bike lane, I often whip around street corners in excess of 20 MPH on wet pavement, and in 15 years of doing that, I’ve yet to slip or skid on them (and that’s with slamming on the brakes while cornering in some cases) unless I’ve been riding on pavement with knobbies (which I’ll be the first to admit is really stupid).

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  • jim August 19, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    I like it

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  • Anonymous August 19, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Leave us alone, gamers. Quit sucking our blood.

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  • suburban August 19, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Leave us alone, Gamers. Stop sucking our blood.

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  • Paul Tay August 20, 2010 at 6:41 am

    Hey maybe sumbody will go out there and stencil this: “BIKEPORTLAND RULZ!” Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

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  • Tdot August 20, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Great observation at the end, motorists are obviously less cool than cyclists and don’t have any respect for their city because they wouldn’t kneel down in the middle of the road to draw pictures.

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  • lamia Ben August 21, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Pretty awesome idea. ILike!

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  • Mario August 21, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Sorry to get technical here, but actually, in other Mario games the GREEN mushrooms give you an extra life. The red mushrooms would make you grow.

    But in Mario Kart, the mushrooms do allow you to store a speed boost. In SOME Mario Kart games, they ALSO let you have an immediate speed boost if one is on the floor that you or another player has dropped (from running over a banana or several other reasons).

    And of course, I am quite a fan of these symbols. If only we had them here in NYC, the princess and I would feel more at home.

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  • Derek August 23, 2010 at 12:57 am

    I do think this is cool. However it is still illegal. I they should be removed. By allowing these to remain, it will only endorse further non-approved painting in the bike lanes. Many people already veiw bikers as being negligent of traffic laws. This will only add to the argument.

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  • Pete August 23, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Yeah, my view of kids has gone way downhill since I saw my neighbor’s kids chalking the sidewalk. Damn vandals! It will cost the city lots of money to clean it up and they’re too young to pay taxes. People in the children community all think they’re above the law.

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  • Todd August 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Can I ask how Seattle to Portland is allowed to stencil the road for their event in Portland? This seems like it would be illegal too unless there is some type of permitting that one can obtain.

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  • Sarah Sharp September 1, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    This bike lane art seems as harmless as the boat stencils on the speed bumps on NE Bridgeton Rd near the marinas. (Although those might have been done by the City of Portland, since they look like thermoplastic to me.)

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  • Duncan September 2, 2010 at 11:13 am

    seventy comments… about this?

    oops 71 now….

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  • willie boy September 2, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    I slipped and fell from that darned banana!

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  • buglas September 7, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Corvallis has a very brief Pac Man treatment in the bike lanes on Buchanan Avenue between Corvallis High School and the Fred Meyer store.

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