City restripes 3rd Avenue bike lanes one day after activists’ cones appear

Bright fresh striping on SW 3rd this morning.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

There’s good news and bad news about the unauthorized cones on SW 3rd Avenue that have made that street’s bike lane much safer and comfortable to ride in. The bad news is most of them are gone as of this morning: Only four of the original 14 are still standing. The good news is that the bike lane stripes have magically become much more visible even without the cones.

Compare the photo above from this morning with the one below I snapped on Monday:

On Monday the lanes were quite faded.

Yes, it appears that for the first time Portland’s official bureau of transportation has responded to the unofficial bureau of transformation*.

Anonymous activist group PDX Transformation unveiled their highest profile deployment of unauthorized traffic cones on Monday. They put up 14 large orange cones in the buffer zones of the bike lane on Southwest 3rd Avenue between Burnside and Stark. The action earned them yet another big headline from the local media and it got them support from all three leading mayoral candidates.


Another shot from this morning.

So far the Portland Bureau of Transportation has stayed relatively neutral about the group in the press. A PBOT spokesperson made it clear the actions were not legal, but the agency also said they shared the concerns highlighted by the actions and they didn’t plan to run out and confiscate the unauthorized signs and cones. But since PDX Transformation did their first action three months ago, PBOT had yet to respond with actions of their own. Until now.

Today we noticed the the bike lane striping on SW 3rd Avenue has a nice fresh coat of paint. The lanes are as bright as when they were first installed. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s very obvious to us that even fresh paint is not as good at encouraging safe and legal driving behavior as real, physical objects like plastic cones. I wasn’t out there for more than a minute this morning before someone encroached into the lane prior to a right turn — the exact type of behavior the cones have done a great job to discourage.

PBOT’s response here shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. The agency has a long and laudable track record of responding to citizen concerns about traffic safety problems. The city — and especially Commissioner Steve Novick in City Hall — have also enthusiastically embraced this type of tactical urbanism in their ongoing partnership with Better Block PDX.

Nevertheless, to see this type of reaction from PBOT is encouraging. And it’s also likely to embolden PDX Transformation. After we shared news of the restriping this morning they tweeted, “Thanks, @PBOTinfo! Now let’s talk about permanent barriers.”

UPDATE, 10:28 am: PBOT says this striping was not done in response to PDX Transformation. “Yes there was some re-striping down downtown, but no, it wasn’t in response to the cones,” PBOT spokesman John Brady just shared via email. “With the dry weather, we can start to ramp up our striping activity and we stripe where there is a need, e.g., because of a recently completed paving project or because the lines have faded and need refreshing.” Brady said crews were out early this morning and also striped: the 8” bike lane line on the new pave out on NW 16 from Glisan to Davis; NW and SW 3rd Ave from NW Glisan to SW Market; SW and NW 2nd Ave from SW Market to NW Everett; N and NE Russell from just west of N Interstate to NE MLK Jr Blvd; and N Kerby from N Vancouver to N Russell.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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