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Spotted on the 50s bikeway: Billboards, Portland-style

Posted by on May 5th, 2015 at 10:37 am

DSC_0094

Ads follow eyeballs.
(Photos: M.Andersen)

I drove a car on Sunday. (No shame here — I needed to get to Jantzen Beach and back before Game of Thrones.)

One of the things I noticed was the fact that when you’re on a freeway, advertising becomes a significantly larger part of your life.

In some ways, of course, spending one’s transportation time away from commercial messages is nice. But in other ways, advertising does actually give you useful information, such as the news that it’s berry season at a local fast-food chain or the fact that a certain car wash offers a monthly subscription for unlimited washes.

Being advertised to can be annoying, but it’s also a sign that you’re part of a community worth catering to.

Advertisement

Maybe that’s why I was so pleased, later on Sunday evening, to notice the little posters taped above the electronic “push to cross” buttons at 53rd Avenue and Burnside, on the 50s Bikeway.

They’re just ads for a show at the Holocene, and of course our culture already has a long and glorious history of attaching music posters to municipal infrastructure. But the precision of these little notices was unmistakable. This was an ad for you to look at and consider while leaning against the post, waiting for your bike-crossing light to turn green.

Which is, as of last year, something hundreds of Portlanders do each day at 52nd and Division.

Advertisements aren’t always a blessing. But ads follow eyeballs. And when your city starts to fill up with more ads that are five inches by eight and designed to be read while standing still, instead of 48 feet by 14 and designed to be read at 60 mph, that’s as good a sign as any that something about your city is working right.

Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to the wrong intersection.

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canuck
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canuck

Guess I don’t see how handbills are new.
Every telephone pole in the city can be mined for the metal in the staples that are embedded in the surface.

rainbike
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rainbike

Sign pole litter. Not impressed.

davemess
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davemess

Sorry Michael. This article is reaching a little.

Adam H.
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Adam H.

The diverter is actually at 52nd and Division, not 53rd.

Spiffy
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Spiffy

something hundreds of Portlanders do each day at 53rd and Division.

I believe the photo is 53rd and Burnside… the other crossing would be 52nd and Division…

Martin Vandepas
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Martin Vandepas

That Rilla show was Awesome! Check them out.

Lester Burnham
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Lester Burnham

We have enough trash and graffiti in this city lately. Let’s not add to it with this junk.

Eric
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Eric

Not looking forward to the painted ads in bike lanes and on paths.