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Activists use traffic cones to improve safety of bike lane along new Orange Line MAX

Posted by on December 30th, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Fed up with standard bike lanes that offer only paint as separation between bicycle and car operators, an anonymous group of activists has placed traffic cones on the bike lane at the intersection of Southeast Powell at Pershing.

As you can see in the Tweet above, the new group is having some fun with the Portland Bureau of Transportation. They’re using PBOT’s logo and calling themselves “PDX Transformation.” This is the group’s first action and they’re promising more installations to come. Not much is known about the group beyond their Twitter profile which reads: “Transforming PDX any way we can (Not connected to PBOT in any official way) – Portland of the Future”

Using traffic cones to more strongly delineate bike lanes is a method of tactical urbanism, which Wikipedia defines as “a collection of low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment, usually in cities, intended to improve local neighbourhoods and city gathering places.” Think of it as an unsanctioned, underground version of Better Block PDX, a group that has won broad support from City Hall for its professional approach to tactical urbanism.

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In early October, an anonymous group in New York City called “Transformation Dept.placed traffic cones and flowers on bike lanes. “In less than a half hour and with about $500 worth of cones and flowers,” the group said via a statement published by CityLab, “we were able to achieve something that often gets delayed by Department of Transportation bureaucracy or political fear.”

The motivation for the Portland group is likely very similar. There’s a growing cadre among Portland bike riders who feel like PBOT is not moving quickly enough to create physically protected bike lanes.

This isn’t the first time we’ve reported on guerrilla traffic calming and safety actions. Last year activists placed homemade steel drums on SE Clinton to hasten the placement of traffic diverters (which are now scheduled to be officially installed in the next few weeks). And in 2009, activists painted a crosswalk on East Burnside.

And you might recall the “People’s DOT,” a group that sprung up in 2010 to draw attention to a wall erected in the middle of 82nd Avenue by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

You can follow PDX Transformation on Twitter via @PBOTrans.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

rad. the issue of car drivers cutting corners or otherwise ignoring right-of-way is scary.

Carrie
Subscriber

I usually am a big fan of people doing what should have been done by the government in the first place (Clinton diverters being a prime example). But I was NOT pleased to have the bike lane blocked by cones (yes, the lane was blocked, not buffered) when I rode through there at 5pm this evening. Very unpleasant.

After being harassed by a semi-truck for taking the lane near this spot due to ice this morning and then forced into the car lane at that blind corner this afternoon, I am getting a ride to work tomorrow in car. Not the outcome any of us wants, but I just don’t want to be scared riding tomorrow.

I ride this route EVERY DAY. Have since before the MAX infrastructure went in. i understand that people are trying to improve things and make a point, but this evening it backfired horribly on someone you probably want as an ally.

mark
Guest
mark

Portland: We do most everything 95%.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Considering the way ODOT reacted to K’Tesh’s yellow warning paint around a hazardous drain grate I would naturally expect bureaucrats to directly equate “tactical” anything with some sort of “turrerist” organization and invoke every level of law enforcement that will give them the time of day.

Yes, I am just a little ray of sunshine.

Grandpa
Guest
Grandpa

Kramer adopted a highway…..

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

See Something? Do Something!

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

The diverter at NE Tillamook and 16th was originally a guerrilla installation in the 60s? Perhaps the real PBOT could please stand up and do a history report on this sort of thing?

If the cones aren’t staying in place, that points to some need for enforcement of lanes and/or speeding. Even just “slightly speeding” (say 8mph over) — which will likely be enforced by vigilantes soon if PPB doesn’t step up. Until PBOT has some self-fining paint to work with, they can only do so much (a well-placed steel bollard and some cameras would be a start though.)

Is this the same corner that shows a 20mph advisory sign in google’s street view for July 2014? https://goo.gl/maps/HGKGSQu9zD62

Adam
Subscriber

This is great! Looking forward to seeing more of this around town!

Spiffy
Subscriber

hopefully they’re also PBOT’s cones…

Joe
Guest
Joe

safety 3rd rubber side down..

Tom
Guest
Tom

If people can store there personal automobiles in the public right of way for free, I don’t see why personal traffic cones can not also be stored, as long as they are placed correctly and serve the purpose of increasing safety. I don’t see this as “guerrilla” at all, but instead just proactive and responsible. What is “guerrilla” is people parking in bike lanes. Parking in bike lanes should be referred to as a guerrilla tactic by anti-urbanists.

clint
Guest
clint

I commute through here all the time. I’ve never had trouble being pinched. However, the car lane could be/should be moved to the left at least 4 feet. That would give a larger buffer between cars and the bike lane on the slight curve.

The speed has been raised as mentioned above.

The main problem I have in this location happens immediately behind the photo above. Cars do not stop for the flashing crosswalk. Very dangerous.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

Drivers seem to have no problem following the large painted buffer on the left side of the road.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

It is “sad” that this is a “brand new” designed street intersection.

The real question should be: “why did not TRIMET/ PBoT design this retrofit intersection better for traffic safety while maintaining property access?

Could not this intersection been a narrower [close to 90 degree] raised driveway approach or even a one way out (no right in)…the blocks are short in this area.

Editorial comment: This being 2016 and not 1990…the state of design practice is much better at understanding the long term safety deficiencies this type of intersection approach creates…but somehow this intersection was rebuilt as it is…ADA was considered but not good universal design and vision zero.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

My bet is “trucks” because we are enjoying a philosophy of build for the biggest vehicles rather than fit the vehicle to the street.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

As if there isn’t enough stuff to deal with at that intersection between the fact that it is an intersection (that is where the bad things happen in an urban setting), there is a slippery steel plate in the bike lane and, right next to it, a slippery metal storm grate, it’s displeasing in the extreme that some group of know-nothings have chosen to put more obstacles in the way.

The bike lane is clearly narrower than the state-standard six feet, no doubt because some “advocates” have convinced PBOT that narrow bike lanes with slick thermoplastic “buffers” are somehow better than simply giving us bike lanes that are wider than six feet. Thanks a lot for making cycling conditions unnecessarily worse, kids.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

That looks like new construction, I thought BES agreed to stop using those double-wide drainage grates years ago…

caesar
Guest
caesar

Activism, Russian style (NSFW – bleeped cursing):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNDbo2ghEwo