Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 9th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
(Photo: Adam R.)
Reader Adam R. sent me an interesting photo a few days ago. It’s a DIY stencil that’s apparently one of many painted on streets throughout Southeast Portland. It reads, “Vehicle’s Only!” and it’s written in all caps.
Grammatical slip-ups aside (bikes are vehicles too and of course there’s no apostrophe needed), one astute transportation policy and politics observer in town thinks it just might symbolize something deeper than the words themselves convey.
After I posted the image to Twitter this morning, it got a lot of responses. Most of them either focused on the grammar or the unfortunate anger behind the sentiment. But Steve Bozzone, a Willamette Pedestrian Coalition board member, volunteer with Active Right of Way, and generally engaged transportation activist, saw it differently.
“I think we’ve hit a critical mass when we see car drivers resorting to grassroots stenciling for space.”
— Steve Bozzone
“I think we’ve hit a critical mass,” he wrote, “when we see car drivers resorting to grassroots stenciling for space.”
Bozzone might have a point. Southeast Portland is one of the most bike-centric areas in the city and arguable one of the most bike-centric neighborhoods in the entire country. It’s nearly impossible to drive around down there without feeling and seeing the presence of people on bicycles.
As the City of Portland continues its unprecedented effort to create a network of bike-friendly neighborhood streets, is it possible that people in cars are starting to feel outnumbered? Is this the start of a role reversal where people who have no interest in bicycling begin to demand their space on the road?
I’m not sure we’ve come that far yet; but as bicycling rates continue to rise in Portland — especially in some bike-crazy neighborhoods — the usual vehicle power paradigm is bound to shift.