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Activists and PBOT spar over unsanctioned crosswalk in southeast Portland

Posted by on October 4th, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Photo on left taken September 20th by @howrad via Twitter. Photo on the right is from this morning (taken by J. Maus/BikePortland).

Looking south across Clinton at 19th. Photo on left taken September 20th by @howrad via Twitter. Photo on the right is from this morning (taken by J. Maus/BikePortland).

An inner southeast Portland intersection is the latest front of a battle between transportation reform activists and the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

This time it’s about a crosswalk. The activists (and many nearby residents) think one’s needed, and PBOT thinks it isn’t.

White paint currently litters the area after PBOT crews blasted the unsanctioned crosswalk off the pavement.

White paint currently litters the area after PBOT crews blasted the unsanctioned crosswalk off the pavement.

On September 13th, operatives from the anonymous group PDX Transformation (read our past coverage of them here and here) laid down a crosswalk on SE Clinton Street at 19th. It was done using white tape. Volunteers with the group said they did it in response to a request from a parent who has a child at the adjacent preschool. PBOT removed the crosswalk on Thursday. Then later that same night, PDX Transformation went back out to the intersection and re-installed the crosswalk with white paint. (Agents of the group told us they used paint the second time specifically to make it harder for PBOT to remove.)

It’s important to note that SE 19th ends right into the New Day School, a preschool with about 70 students between the ages of two-and-a-half to five years old. New Day School Office Manager Wendy Rattel told me during my visit to the site today that when the unsanctioned crosswalk was first installed many parents got to school and we’re relieved and excited to see it. “Wow, this is so fantastic, they were telling me.”

Rattel had no idea the crosswalk was put in; but she too was happy about it. She said they’ve requested safety improvements here for many years.

“We have a lot of parents trying to cross Clinton with their children, and it’s unsafe,” she said.

Looking north at the preschool (orange building). The crosswalk used to be on the right.

Looking north at the preschool (orange building). The crosswalk used to be on the right. The white material on the lower left is paint chips that were blasted off earlier today.


Rattel said five years ago they made a formal request with PBOT for safety improvements. A city traffic analyst came out and performed some counts, but ultimately declined to take action because there wasn’t enough daily traffic to warrant a crosswalk. Rattel said the problems of speeding and dangerous driving still exists. While recently installed diverters a few blocks down have helped, many people still speed drive too fast down Clinton to avoid stops on Division (a larger street one block north).

For their part, PBOT gets a lot of citizen requests for crosswalks. So many in fact, they have a page on their website that lists the steps they follow to determine if one is necessary. As you can see in the “Crosswalk guidelines” graphic below, having an average daily traffic above 4,000 vehicles per day is a pre-requisite for crosswalk installation.

(Graphic: PBOT)

(Graphic: PBOT)

The city also says on their website that, “As a general rule, PBOT does not mark crosswalks on low-volume, two-lane streets,” because data shows that, “there is no safety benefit for crosswalk markings on this type of street.”

Perhaps that explains the city’s frustration with PDX Transformation at Clinton and 19th. According to Rattel, a city employee showed up two days ago and verbally berated a New Day School employee. “She yelled at one of our employees,” Rattel said, “Asking, ‘Where did it come from?’ and ‘Who did it?!'”.

PDX Transformation doesn’t appear to be done. In their minds, there’s no excuse for not having a crosswalk at this location. They even point to excellent sightlines and ADA curb-ramps on both sides of the street that create natural starting and ending points for the crosswalk.

Here’s what the group tweeted Friday night after re-installing the crosswalk PBOT just removed:

“It’s ridiculous to think a marked crosswalk is a hazard to anyone there,” an agent of PDX Transformation shared with us in a recent email.

We have also heard from a parent at the school who wants to remain anonymous. “The school community was thrilled with new crosswalk,” the person said, “and compliance from people driving/biking was suddenly very high when it hadn’t been before.”

Wendy Rattel, the school’s office manager who can see the intersection out of the window from her desk seems exasperated by the whole situation. “It’s dumb that they took it out,” Rattel said, “It wasn’t causing any harm. The city hasn’t listened to us, so now we just tell our parents to keep their kids safe.”

As I put away my camera and notebook, she offered one last comment. “Good luck with your story, we’d really like the crosswalk back.”

We’ve asked PBOT for a comment and will update this story when we hear back. Please read major update to this story here.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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180 thoughts on “Activists and PBOT spar over unsanctioned crosswalk in southeast Portland”

  1. Tony T Tony T says:

    I just noticed that marked crosswalk on Sunday. My son used to go to New Day and that crosswalk could certainly use the markings.

    “there is no safety benefit for crosswalk markings on this type of street.”


    PBOT is busier undoing things than they are doing things. #zerovision

  2. Avatar Agent 1 says:

    We thank you for doing this story, and we wish to hear from PBOT why it was such a priority for them to remove this important safety feature *twice* when they have many more important things to do.

  3. Avatar J.E. says:

    This is just baffling to me. There are so many other places in the city where bike lane paint is faded, the sidewalks are crumbling but the adjacent owners are never made to fix it, potholes and poor lighting line greenways, bike lanes are littered with debris and wet leaves because they’re rarely swept, and that’s just the basic maintenance stuff. And PBOT always throws their hands up in the air and says, “we know about it, but we don’t have the resources to fix it!” Then they come out full force for this. Twice.

    Forget the time they dropped everything to remove the guerrilla diverters, this crosswalk was not impacting traffic in the least (except to reinforce state law and behaviors that should already be occuring) and posed no threat to anyone. All the paint did was remind drivers (and let’s be honest, cyclists) that pedestrians have the right of way at intersections, even at less obvious T-intersections like this one.

    Leah Treat, Margi Bradway, Steve Novick, y’all got some explaining to do.

  4. Avatar Eric Leifsdad says:

    Forget the paint, 3 barrels spaced 8ft apart should slow down the traffic a bit. PBOT needs to figure out how to do traffic calming in the vertical plane.

  5. Avatar SE Rider says:

    While I appreciate PBOT’s argument that people can’t just install whatever they want in/on our streets (liability, etc.).

    It’s crazy that PBOT wants to pretend to stand by the law of “all intersections are crosswalks, marked or not”, and then remove crosswalk markings (even if they aren’t “official”).
    I’ve seen a number of these guerrilla crosswalks over the years, and PBOT always removes them.
    I just wonder what they are actually hurting if people (drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, etc.) are supposed to be treating it like a crosswalk anyway?

    1. Tony T Tony T says:

      “It’s crazy that PBOT wants to pretend to stand by the law of “all intersections are crosswalks, marked or not”, and then remove crosswalk markings (even if they aren’t “official”).”

      Absolutely. And the worse thing is that PBOT will NOT arrange enforcements at unmarked crosswalks.

      They claim that they do enforcements at unmarked crosswalks, but they’re simply exploiting semantics. They offered this enforcement as an unmarked crosswalk enforcement.

      Unfortunately BP sold it as such too. Seriously. This crosswalk has 6 signs and a concrete median. The median even has yellow footpads laid out to look like crosswalk stripes. Yes, there are no paint marks on the road, but seriously? Is this what people mean when they demand enforcements at unmarked crosswalks? PBOT’s inactions and excuses expose that they are uninterested in honest dialogue.

      PBOT refuses to organize enforcements at unmarked crosswalks and people who are concerned about it need to harass them until the noise becomes less bearable than the blowback they’ll get when they cite drivers for violating what is probably the most ignored (after speed limits) rule of the road.

      1. Avatar Doug klotz says:

        Every time Sharon White or even Leah Treat comes to the Pedestrian Advisory Committee, I say that all the crosswalk enforcement should be at unmarked crosswalks, and… in the dark, at rush hour, and in the rain. That’s really the condition under which we need to get drivers to stop. Not on a Wednesday afternoon, on a sunny day at a marked crosswalk with Sharon’s glaringly white jacket.

  6. Avatar alankessler says:

    This calls for another fundraiser:

  7. Avatar BB says:

    The answer here is pretty simple: Close the street to private automotive traffic. No crosswalk needed, no further action required once the jersey barriers are in place.

    1. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

      What is the problem to which closing the street is the answer?

      1. Avatar BB says:

        Don’t play **insulting word deleted**. Automobile traffic is creating a hazard to school children and their attendant adults.
        From the article-
        ““We have a lot of parents trying to cross Clinton with their children, and it’s unsafe,” she said.”

        1. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

          I’m not playing **insulting word deleted**. Clinton is a low traffic, relatively low speed road. If there is a (real) crossing problem there, then there is one on every street, at every intersection in this city.

          I know that stretch of Clinton well, both as a pedestrian and a cyclist, and the only time I’ve felt at all threatened there was when I was on my bike and a parent from the daycare pulled away from the curb in front of me without looking.

          I’m not opposed to a painted crosswalk in that location, but to say that the street is so dangerous it should be closed to auto traffic is a bit of a stretch.

          1. Avatar BB says:

            You’re entitled to your opinion, even if it’s wrong.

          2. Avatar Middle of the Road guy says:

            Worst street EVAR!

            1. Avatar George says:

              It’s hella bad!

    2. Avatar Huey Lewis says:

      While I don’t agree no one should be allowed to drive right here, I do think driving on side streets should be annoyingly, prohibitively difficult to do. If you don’t live right there or are visiting a friend or business right there, get your ass over to Division (or you know, whatever big main street you’re avoiding because of traffic).

      1. Avatar Mike 2 says:

        Considering how annoyingly, prohibitively difficult it is to drive on the main streets, it would be quite a feat to make the side streets that much more difficult. Not sure it could be done without closing them.

        1. How do you define or characterize “annoyingly, prohibitively difficult it is to drive on the main streets”?

          1. Avatar Rider says:

            Well, you see, there were all these other cars in front of me slowing me down. There were also lots of pesky lights, the occasional bus stopping, car parking, or #$#@$ pedestrian crossing the road. I wanted to drive fully unencumbered, going as fast as I pleased, but wasn’t able to so instead I found this great side street to go balls out on.

            1. Avatar Mike 2 says:

              This. Is. All. I. Want.

              Is that really asking too much?

          2. Avatar Mike 2 says:

            The doubling or tripling of commute time is annoying. The backed up, idling traffic on Burnside is annoying. Not being able to get out of driveways or parking lots due to the backed up traffic is annoying. Keeping bus stops in the lane of traffic rather than a pull-out is annoying. These all make it more difficult to drive on the main streets. Especially when there is an open side street only one block over.

            I try to ride my bike as often as possible because it is typically about the same commute time over 8 miles of cross town traffic. But when I do have to drive, I have found the new street design has made driving on Burnside awfully painful, thus I look to alternative routes. Even though it is almost a direct, straight line from my home to work, down Burnside. By taking side streets, I save about 6 minutes of stop and go.

            Flame on!

            1. Avatar Huey Lewis says:

              But by taking side streets, likely preferred bike routes, you’re just making the side streets total bullshit to bike on. Right? You see this, yes?

            2. Avatar Eric Leifsdad says:

              Sounds like you’re looking for the freeway. It might be a bit more distance, but you won’t break a sweat and there are no bus stops, crosswalks, or anything to slow you down except drivers.

  8. Avatar Nick says:

    It would be interesting to collect data before and after. Someone could sit out for a few hours and log all the interactions, before and after crosswalk marking installation. Well, too late for the “before” numbers now, but if there was concrete evidence to disprove the city’s argument that there is “no safety benefit”, maybe they’d listen more. A missed opportunity, perhaps.

  9. Avatar Paul Atkinson says:

    Does someone with knowledge of the city’s operations have a good estimate of the money PBOT spent removing the crosswalk markings? They had a big truck and a crew out this morning taking it away, and obviously the personnel and equipment don’t come for free.

    I’m curious not only about the amount, but under what budget category this comes. Which projects can we not afford because the city is spending money removing crosswalk markings that have been donated by helpful citizens?

  10. Adam H. Adam H. says:

    Every intersection is legally a crosswalk. That is the only justification needed for striping one. The whole “crosswalk guidelines” process is just an excuse to not spend the money.

    1. Avatar Tom Hardy says:

      PBOT spending the money and resources to remove the painted crosswalks are how they justify their existence. If they spent as much money putting them in they would have spent half as much as taking them out.

      1. You’re selling PBOT short. They also do press conferences.

        1. Avatar Bald One says:

          Yes, definitely time for Steve Novick to get out in front of the cameras and some PBOT street maintenance equipment and talk about the $300,000,000 in costs his department would have to spend to fill the potholes, paint the lines, sweep the gutters. Thus justify their inaction for maintenance and expense for planning committees, junkets to foreign countries, 3-D modeling software licenses, etc.

  11. Avatar KristenT says:

    This is so confusing– PBOT and ODOT both advertise heavily that EVERY INTERSECTION IS A CROSSWALK but then do nothing to reinforce that idea in real life.

    Especially adjacent to a school, where compliance is low, and business owners and residents are all asking for a crosswalk.

    It seems to me that PBOT and ODOT should be installing crosswalks everywhere there is a request for one, such as this.

    PBOT needs to revise their flow chart to include such things as “is a school or daycare within XXX feet?” and “is there a request for installation from business owners or residences nearby?” and also “is crosswalk compliance low in relation to overall traffic flow?” (On that last one, a Yes answer would direct to install a crosswalk.)

  12. Avatar AndyCE says:

    Just out of curiosity, just PDX Transformation serve the citizens east of 82nd Ave? Or just the more privileged neighborhoods of the inner east side?

    1. Avatar J.E. says:

      My guess is that these people live near the neighborhoods they do the projects in, so that they know what streets and intersections are a problem and know from personal experience what a good solution would be. People east of 82nd are welcome to take the idea and run with it in their own neighborhoods, or directly request places within their own neighborhoods for PDXTrans to work on.

      Please don’t shit on activists for not prancing into neighborhoods that aren’t their own and imposing their idea of safety improvements upon the neighbors, who might not even want it, or might want a different kind of safety treatment.

      1. Avatar Agent 1 says:

        Well put. We want to help everywhere. Get in touch.

    2. Avatar Paul Atkinson says:

      I cannot speak for PBOTrans, but I suspect the best answer is:

      They can probably help you acquire paint and/or tape, and they can probably provide you with instructions on how one might apply such things.

      You *are* PBOTrans if you’re a citizen who sees the need for a transformation. Twitter seems to be a good way to contact them (

  13. Avatar rick says:

    Lame. So much for vision zero.

  14. Avatar Marinus Damm says:

    The opposing point of view is concerned with future effects. If the crosswalk (which was intended to look ‘official’) is not maintained, and eventually there’s a collision at that spot, the city is a prime target of litigation.

    You can hear it: “The city was negligent in not keeping up the crosswalk, and this helped cause the accident. Therefore the city is liable for the damages to the injured.”

    Let’s restrict this thought experiment to a collision involving a shopping cart loaded with over-ripe pumpkins. The smooshed pumpkins are property, so there is property damage. Who’s responsible? Primarily, the rider on the electrified longtail that rammed the cart, of course — but secondarily (and a much easier target): the city.

    What can our burg’s attorneys say in defense? “That’s not our crosswalk”?
    Good luck proving that…

    From the point of view of those-in-charge-of-city-funds, the user-created crosswalk becomes a forced expense. Now that it’s there, they /have/ to maintain it.

    But… funds are tight already. Should the allocation of city maintenance funds become a rush to the trough, with each neighborhood erecting their own signs, barriers, crosswalks, blinkers, and then abdicating responsibility for maintenance and legal liability back to Mother Portland?

    Or, at all future points where cost is to be incurred, will The Activists step up to claim it and so stand for the pumpkin liability and the repaints?

    I bike to work 4x a week, if it matters.

    1. Avatar J.E. says:

      It was clearly a non-standard crosswalk. I was lucky enough to see it in person and up close before it was removed. The white lines running perpendicular to the street are not standard. The stripes were not evenly spaced, and were much thinner than crosswalk standard. There were easily 2-3x the number of stripes as the crosswalk standard. The crosswalk itself was much narrower than the standard. I’m going to take a guess and say the paint isn’t what PBOT uses either. It would actually be quite easy for the city to prove it wasn’t their handiwork.

      1. Avatar Eric Leifsdad says:

        Seems like the city could be more liable for not marking it than for leaving the street art in place.

      2. Avatar was carless says:

        Hardly, I’m sure someone has to fill out an environmental impact statement, get approval from the PBOT commissioner, and get a federal grant or lottery money. Probably takes 3-5 years to get a single crosswalk installed, we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars.

      3. Avatar Dan A says:

        I like that it wasn’t ‘to spec’. Seems like PBOT could have a permitting program to allow community-installed crosswalks that have all sorts of designs that fit the general parameters of crosswalks, like this:

        1. Avatar Alexis Peterka says:

          I love the 3D ones – I think I’ve read that motorists slow down more for those.

    2. Adam H. Adam H. says:

      But I thought that every intersection was a crosswalk!

    3. Before we suppose there is a legal reason we can’t do something good, consider: accountability through our civil justice system much more often promotes safe streets, responsive government and aid to those in need than the opposite.

    4. Avatar Spiffy says:

      your example doesn’t really make sense… there’s already a crosswalk there whether it’s painted or not… once the paint wears down it’s still a crosswalk… no city maintenance is needed of ANY crosswalk, according to the city…

    5. Avatar dan says:

      But what about the collision that occurs here after the city removed the unofficial crosswalk? Then it’s “The city’s decision to remove this crosswalk, and mistaken judgment there was no need for a crosswalk here, directly contributed to this collision.” Seems from a CYA perspective their best bet is to maintain it.

    6. Avatar Adam says:

      Then the city should just go in and officially stripe it. Litigation problem solved.

  15. Avatar Matt S. says:

    It’s probably just PBOT workers going in at night and painting cross-walks so they can work overtime the following day. So much for the “City that Works!”

  16. Avatar kittens says:

    For what its worth, I don’t think this is some vast conspiracy within PBOT to undermine VZ but more a turf war: “keep your hands off our turf”. Like we have seen with the Hawthorne activists action, they are only willing to go so far before they have to reassert their dominance. The spoils of which are a uniform and predicable road network largely out of the control of any single interest or property owner.

    1. Avatar B. Carfree says:

      The recently fired unlicensed head traffic engineer for Eugene was honest enough to tell our neighborhood that, in his opinion, our streets belonged to him to do with as he pleased within his own personal interpretation of the law. The result was, as it is in Portland, a street network that works very well for cars but is a near-complete failure for those who would prefer to get around the city by other means.

      1. Avatar colton says:

        “a street network that works very well for cars”

        I think that’s a stretch. Bikes aren’t the only victim here.

        I’ve always figured that Eugene went out of its way to make it hard to travel by car. It’s the only plausable explaination. Think Willamette/Pearl at 18th Street or Washington/Jefferson near 13th. What about the Chambers/Garfield and 11th/13th stuff, or the entire MLK/Ferry St. Bridge/Coburg/Country Club road mess?

        With all the confusion in those areas, I tend to avoid them on bike too, since the congestion and confusion don’t mix well with the bikes.

        Eugene streets. They’re equal opportunity bad for cars and bikes and they’ve been that way for generations.

        1. Avatar B. Carfree says:

          If those streets are so bad for motorists, then why are ever more people doing ever more driving on them? Traffic counts for cars continue to rise faster than population growth while Eugene lost 30% of its cyclists from 2009-15.

          I agree it isn’t perfect for motorists. However, the primary complaint seems to be that there are too many of them, so it’s not like the road network isn’t adequate for them. However, it’s just plain horrid on a bike and even worse on foot.

          1. Avatar colton says:

            “it’s just plain horrid on a bike”

            I don’t know where you bike, but I prefer biking to driving for most of my trips in Eugene. Many of the recent small improvements (over the past 10 or so years) have made it even better.

            It’s got room for improvement, but it’s not “horrid”.

          2. Avatar Matt S. says:

            Because no matter what city planners do, it will always be more comfortable to drive your car with heated seats in a temperature controlled environment than don a bunch of “water-proof” clothing and voluntarily ride in poring down rain for 30 minutes…

            Even if you have to wait in traffic or deal with dangerous corridors.

            This is what sucks about trying to get people to ride during winter months.

          3. Avatar Middle of the Road guy says:

            Horrid? Compared to what?

            If it is so horrid, why are there so many people on bicycles?

    2. Avatar Spiffy says:

      it sounds like the PPB should add PBOT to their list of gangs… PBOT are known to take actions against citizens resulting in injury and death all so they can claim control…

      sounds like a violent gang that needs to be eliminated…

      1. Avatar Mike 2 says:

        Wow. Just wow.

  17. Avatar wsbob says:

    No sign on the building saying New Day is a school, no sign on the street saying this section of the street is a school zone, despite apparently some 70 students and parents potentially having need of crossing Clinton, directly out front of the school building.

    Crosswalk paint job looks quite good. If it was quality paint able to last awhile being driven over: even better. It does seem to be a good question to ask PBOT how removal of this unofficial crosswalk is reasonably overrides importance of the dept’s othe unmet maintenance obligations.

    When figuring the cost of labor and equipment time, I’d bet the cost of removal was easily a thousand bucks. Of course, it’s reasonable for the city to not want citizens willy nilly installing their own crosswalks wherever they feel like, but here, given that there is actually a school for very young kids at this location on Clinton, it seems the city should maybe have counted its blessing for having received, so to speak, this ‘in kind’ donation.

  18. Avatar Laura says:

    Several years back, there was a painted crosswalk on the west leg of 45th and Division. (Stumptown Coffee and a bus stop is on the east side). PBOT removed the stripes, saying it was not needed and gave people a false sense of security. I cross that intersection several time a day, and car drivers just don’t get “it.” I would love to get some paint an re-create it!

    PBOT removed the guerrilla crosswalk at 19th the same day they painted a bike box at Lincoln/50th. All of it is needed!

    All. Of. It.

    1. Avatar RF says:

      I have emailed them twice this year asking for this crosswalk back. That they removed it drives me bananas. It’s such a pain in the ass to cross there sometimes. Drivers don’t generally stop UNLESS there is a crosswalk.

      1. Avatar kittens says:

        Maybe that is part of the problem PBOT is trying to avoid.

        It has been proven many times over that the more signage and traffic controls you find on a low volume street, the more likely drivers are to assume they have free reign and go into auto pilot mode. If very intersection had a crosswalk painted, would not not diminish the intended goal of enhancing safety at those which most required it? I hardly think this intersection fits that description.

        1. Avatar kitty meow meow says:

          I agree with you here, kittens!

    2. Avatar Doug klotz says:

      The 45th and Division crosswalk was a school crosswalk for Richmond School. I guess when it became a Magnet school they thought it was no longer justified. The Roshmond Neighborhood protested the removal at the time.

  19. Avatar B. Carfree says:

    PBOT claims to see no safety benefit to painted crosswalks on low-traffic streets. However, since there is clearly no decrease in safety and a lack of painted crosswalks can be a hindrance to getting people to walk (since walking will involve crossing streets), it’s pretty lame to not put them in where requested.

    Then again, if they can suppress walking all the way down to zero, there will be zero pedestrian fatalities. I guess this is Vision Zero in practice, PBoT style.

    1. Adam H. Adam H. says:

      This is data-driven engineering gone too far. Yes, using data to inform decisions is vital, but in doing so, one must ensure not to leave the human element out.

  20. Avatar q says:

    Once the crosswalk was painted, the question PBOT should have asked itself is “Is there a safety benefit in removing it?”

    1. Avatar Middle of the Road guy says:

      What if a driver decided to remove a stop sign because they did not see any safety purpose to it?

      This is a prime example of “the road of good intentions”. You can’t leave infrastructure changes up to civilians not tasked with it.

      1. Clearly, once an unmarked crosswalk is turned into a marked crosswalk by rouge citizens, it’s a slippery slope right down to people literally eating their babies for breakfast.

        1. Avatar Dan A says:

          Now even the citizens are rouge! 🙂

        2. Avatar Middle of the Road Guy says:

          One could say the exact same thing about a motorist removing a stop sign…

          1. Avatar Dan A says:

            How is removing a traffic control device the same as adding a safety feature?

            1. With sufficient hyperbole, everything is equal.

      2. Avatar El Biciclero says:

        Your comment is also another example of false equivalence. If “rogue citizens” painted a yellow curb near an intersection to prevent parking and increase visibility, would that have a safety effect equivalent to drivers deciding to start double-parking? If “rogue citizens” vandalized a speed limit sign to change it from 30 to 20, would that be exactly the same as a driver vandalizing a speed limit sign to change it from 30 to 40? How about “rogue citizens” stenciling “SLOW DOWN” on a neighborhood street vs. a driver cutting the power to a traffic signal?

        I might agree that “rogue” actions by unofficial “engineers” are probably not the best idea, but in the recent cases of such actions covered here on BP, they appear to be the actions of those desperate for less death on the roadways. Your counterexamples usually depict changes made to decrease safety or increase convenience for the most dangerous mode. All “rogue” changes are not created equal.

    2. Avatar alex says:

      Yes, there was benefit in removing it. As painted it did not comply with the published design standards for pavement markings. This creates a potentially confusing and dangerous situation.

      1. Avatar Dan A says:

        More or less confusing than the green “crossbikes”?

  21. Avatar Andy says:

    “At some locations, a painted crosswalk alone actually makes the intersection more dangerous, by inspiring a false sense of security in pedestrians,” says City Commissioner Steve Novick. (WW 9/14)

    Let’s all get behind Commissioner Novick as he fights to keep us safe by not painting crosswalks. The parents and children are much safer here if the crosswalk isn’t painted so they will feel insecure crossing the street and drivers pay no attention to painted crosswalks anyway, so what’s the difference? In fact, if we really want to improve pedestrian safety, we should remove all painted crosswalks in Portland.

    Oh, and enforcement needn’t be a part of Vision Zero either. We’ll just tell them it would differentially impact people of color and the poor. Nobody will challenge us to explain why we can’t design an enforcement program that doesn’t. Nobody will ask us why this logic doesn’t extend to other areas of traffic enforcement.

    Are we learning that the real meaning of Vision Zero is zero vision?

    1. Avatar Todd Boulanger says:

      Sadly Commissioner Novick is most likely referring to a very outdated (and repudiated) study from 1970s San Diego. Please would someone bring him up to speed on this…as its important for VZ success.

      If one wants to talk about working to minimize transportation’s “false sense of security” it would be to focus on motor vehicle operators on arterials with 85th% speeds over 40 mph.



        1. Avatar Evan Manvel says:

          Thanks for referencing studies! It’s important to try to find some data to back up what’s going on, rather than engineering through anecdote.

          I only could take a few minutes to scan the reports.

          The TRCP study says it’s about:

          “Recommend selected engineering treatments to improve safety for pedestrians crossing high-volume and high speed roadways at unsignalized locations, in particular those locations served by public transportation; and
          • Recommend modifications to the MUTCD pedestrian traffic signal warrant.”

          While I read the summary on P. 20 that found more crashes at marked than unmarked crosswalks, I wasn’t able to read the source materials for them – a 1994 study from Sacramento and a 2000 study in the ITE Journal to see if those were focused on the same high speed, high volume roadways. Any insights from those studies?

          And this is what the FHWA report said:

          In summary, there are no clear-cut results from the studies reviewed to permit concluding with confidence that either marked or unmarked crosswalks are safer. The selection bias (on where crosswalks are marked) could certainly affect the results of a given study. Units of pedestrian crash experience were also inconsistent from one study to another. Another important question relates to whether analyzing sites separately by site type (e.g., two-lane versus multilane road, high volume versus low volume) would produce different results on the safety effects of marked versus unmarked crosswalks.

          Are citizens to conclude that the science behind this seems like much of pedestrian engineering — understudied and lacking in good data? Or should we conclude other things?

          Are naked streets usually the best, as people are paying most attention? Or do they require a coupling with laws that presume motorist fault in motorist-pedestrian crashes — or a culture of respect towards those not driving — or street designs that naturally slow traffic — to work well?

          1. Avatar paikiala says:

            People believe that ‘science’ is black and white, that numbers provided are a bright line, when in reality all data collected forms a cloud, and hopefully along a trajectory that implies a relationship.
            As the raw data is a cloud of information, choosing where to put the line representing that data – how to weight the results – has many influences.
            For strength of materials, engineers report a low number so that the probability of failures is in the designer’s favor. this is one form of the term ‘factor of safety’.
            If you recheck the zegeer report, you may find information that is of interest and germane.
            the cost of changes, to install and maintain, is a frequent influencer of decisions in the public sector.

    2. Avatar Doug Klotz says:

      “At some locations, a painted crosswalk alone actually makes the intersection more dangerous, by inspiring a false sense of security in pedestrians,” says City Commissioner Steve Novick. (WW 9/14)
      Let’s all get behind Commissioner Novick as he fights to keep us safe by not painting crosswalks. The parents and children are much safer here if the crosswalk isn’t painted so they will feel insecure crossing the street and drivers pay no attention to painted crosswalks anyway, so what’s the difference? In fact, if we really want to improve pedestrian safety, we should remove all painted crosswalks in Portland.
      Oh, and enforcement needn’t be a part of Vision Zero either. We’ll just tell them it would differentially impact people of color and the poor. Nobody will challenge us to explain why we can’t design an enforcement program that doesn’t. Nobody will ask us why this logic doesn’t extend to other areas of traffic enforcement.
      Are we learning that the real meaning of Vision Zero is zero vision?
      Recommended 15

      That is what I read in the Vision Zero plan at the last Pedestrian Advisory Committee. ((page 5: “The enforcement actions in this plan are limited iin order to reduce the possibility of racial profiling and disparate economic impacts”) According to Clay Veka, this doesn’t mean that PBOT doesn’t trust the police to not profile, but that the community doesn’t trust the police to not profile. Either way, it’s a pretty sad way to run a city. But there’s hope: Interviews with people of “Communities of Concern” in East Portland show that they’re okay with speed cameras and red light cameras, so we can have those.

      Now, if we could just figure out a camera that could detect I a driver hasn’t stopped for a pedestrian trying to cross the street. Maybe we could hire Google to do that, since they claim their cars can do that.

      1. Avatar George says:

        Could communities that want them get some extra traffic patrols from those that don’t?

    3. Avatar El Biciclero says:

      I don’t think we need to reference too many studies to discover that making people afraid to do something will help prevent them from doing it. If I’m afraid of falling off a cliff, I stay away from cliffs. If I’m afraid of flying, I stay off of airplanes. If I’m afraid of creepy clowns…

      Of course making pedestrians afraid to cross the street is an effective—and reprehensible—means of “keeping them safe”, but those who should be afraid are being given free rein (and “reign” in this case) to continue dangerous and deadly behavior with no consequences.

      This is how terrorists win—by making people afraid.

      1. Fear of crossing the street is also reinforced through victim blaming and infrastructure even aside from the removal of crosswalk stripes. Fast traffic, wide crossings (you know, like Hawthorne at 43rd), beg buttons with very short “walk” windows all emphasize who doesn’t belong.

  22. Avatar Doug says:

    I will guess that PBOT’s next move will be to mount inconspicuous cameras on nearby poles around 19th and Clinton. I would hope that anyone who is thinking about painting a crosswalk there would keep that in mind. We know they own such cameras, which they use to study traffic flows at intersections. Word.

    1. Avatar Dan A says:

      Dress up as scary clowns before repainting.

  23. Avatar Jim Lee says:

    No, no, no!

    VZ derives its reason for existence from a bunch of doctored data from Sweden.

    It was developed to protect motorists from themselves.

    No one else counts.

    Vote Chloe!

    1. Avatar Chris I says:

      You are definitely not helping her cause.

  24. Avatar Todd Boulanger says:

    And for the advocates…please don’t poke the tiger…just be sure to do you work well and use PBoTs standard transportation details…anyone driving by could see that the marked cross walk was not to spec…its like the 3 4 foot wide crosswalk that Portland Parks did in Delta Park 3 summers ago…but is still up…just say’in…

    So do your homework…go to a city’s Transportation/ Standard Plan details…pull up their “recipe” for a marked crosswalk style appropriate for the roadway “understudy”…

    Such a page would be similar to this one from the City of Vancouver

    1. Avatar Paul Cone says:

      PBOT Standard Drawings are here… P-435 has the ladder bar markings.

      1. Avatar Spiffy says:

        I’d like to see PDX Transformation follow the standards… it’d make the city’s argument that much tougher…

      2. Avatar alex says:


        while i think unapproved traffic modification is a dangerous precedent (and i am glad PBOT is cracking down on it), if you are going to go rouge follow the approved design standards (so it does not create confusion/hazard and will be less likely to be noticed by PBOT/anyone as an anomaly).

        i find the lack of adherence to design standards to be a more serious infraction than the act of installing rouge markings.

        1. Avatar Paul Atkinson says:

          If the markings were rouge, they would definitely not fit the city’s standards. The city recommends white.

          1. Avatar alex says:

            early morning typing and no coffee.. 😉

      3. Avatar Todd Boulanger says:

        Thanks…for some reason I JUST could not find it yesterday…I found other good new stuff but not the basics. 😉

  25. Avatar Kevin Wagoner says:

    Does anyone have a solution to the speeding issue if cross walks don’t provide a benefit. We have several neighborhood streets in SW Burlingame that neighbors have expressed concern over. Some of those are close to the school. If cross walks won’t make it safer what would make it safer?

    1. Avatar Chris Anderson says:

      Under the city’s encroachment permit process, it’s possible to request to put planters and logs in the street. You’d be following the same rules as someone putting in a campus shuttle stop or creating a decorated street like some you see downtown. It’s a little complex. Start here but realize the process is not limited to unimproved roadways.

      1. Avatar Kevin Wagoner says:

        This could be very interesting. I don’t understand. I clicked on the link and it is for unpaved roads. Are you suggesting that we could do this in our neighborhood streets to help provide reasons to slow down? That would be great.

  26. Avatar Sigma says:

    So, the city should allow people to install their own traffic controls? Sure, this was just a painted crosswalk, but where does it stop? There has to be zero tolerance for this kind of thing.

    1. Avatar alankessler says:

      Was this actually a traffic control? The crosswalk is legally there whether or not it’s marked; the paint does not affect the duty of drivers to stop for pedestrians.

    2. Avatar peejay says:

      I’d like to see zero tolerance for crosswalk encroachment by drivers. I think that would be a much greater public benefit, don’t you?

      1. Avatar Mike 2 says:

        Why are they mutually exclusive?

  27. Avatar Caitlin D says:

    I was so excited when this crosswalk appeared–I pointed it out repeatedly to my kids as we biked by (and subsequently explained to them the conflict between PBOT and PBOTrans). My kids don’t go to New Day, but we bike past it on the way to/from elementary school, and it made me happy to see a safer pedestrian environment at that intersection. I wish PBOT would have left the crosswalk alone.

  28. Avatar Brent says:

    As a parent who crosses that intersection nearly five days a week with my 4yr old I will say most all drivers are very accommodating to stop & let us cross which is greatly appreciated and all the more reason the crosswalk should be official. A big thanks to pdxtransformation on this one!! Nothing is more important than the safety of portlands children.

  29. Avatar Mark says:

    So if a pedestrian was injured by a driver who failed to yield at the now unmarked crosswalk, could they sue the city for removing the perfectly good crosswalk that existed?

  30. Avatar Ted says:

    I’ve never understood why, if every intersection is a crosswalk, they aren’t recognized via paint. We seem to have no shortage of yellow paint for all the busy roads, but white must be in short supply. Even though it’s the law, hardly a driver ever seems to acknowledge pedestrians in unpainted crosswalks.

  31. Avatar Kevin says:

    Eric Leifsdad
    Seems like the city could be more liable for not marking it than for leaving the street art in place.
    Recommended 0

    Nah, they aren’t liable — every intersection is a crosswalk, remember? Thus no need to mark anything.

  32. Avatar Mike Sanders says:

    There should, at least, be beacons and school zone signage there. The city should’ve left the X-walk in place. Even if not city-installed, the crosswalk was there for a very valid reason. Besides, the volunteers who installed it saved the city the expense of doing the work itself. And then wasted taxpayers money by removing it – twice.

  33. Avatar wildfiresd says:

    It is so great that citizens are getting the job done. Who would think that painting a crosswalk in front of a school would be treated as a subversive act. The city should get a grip.

  34. Avatar TJ says:

    PBOT is a manipulative joke. I’m sure we’ve all seen the “we’re understaffed and broke responses”. NW tells a different story. What they are is poorly led and self-congratulatory.

    What the hell have pedestrians and cyclist on the east side or north ever received from PBOT without a fight?

  35. Avatar Spiffy says:

    “White paint currently litters the area after PBOT crews blasted the unsanctioned crosswalk off the pavement.”

    seems that they failed in their environmental duties to control the spread of hazardous material when they removed it… those flakes will end up en masse in the drains…

    I thought they were required to vacuum that stuff up…

  36. Avatar Spiffy says:

    there’s one major problem that I see with the rogue crosswalk… they failed to also paint the parallel one at the other corner…

    in Portland if there’s only 1 painted crosswalk then you’re required to use that one…

    at this intersection previously people could legally cross at either corner… after the crosswalk they are only allowed to cross at one corner…

    since PBOT removed this single crosswalk I think that PDX Transformation should paint 2 of them…

    1. Avatar KristenT says:

      Is that correct? I would have thought that since every intersection is a crosswalk whether painted or not, it would have still been legal to cross at the parallel corner regardless of lack of paint.

      1. Yeah, there is/was something that contained distance. I remember because of the crossings in the South Park Blocks. From memory, it’s something like the intersections aren’t crosswalks if there’s a designated one within 100 feet.

        Maybe it’s not ORS but a Portland thing.

        1. Avatar Spiffy says:

          Portland City Code 16.70.210 Must Use Crosswalks.

          No pedestrian may cross a street other than within a crosswalk if within 150 feet of a crosswalk.

          1. Avatar bradwagon says:

            So how is crossing an unmarked crosswalk not following a law that states you Must Use Crosswalks?

            1. Avatar q says:

              As I understand, if there is a marked crosswalk at an intersection, you have to use it, rather than the unmarked crossing parallel to it at the same intersection.

          2. Avatar q says:

            Does this mean that if you’re at mid-block on a street with intersections more than 150′ in either direction (doesn’t occur downtown but does elsewhere) it’s legal to cross mid-block?

      2. Avatar Spiffy says:

        yep, that’s exactly the reference I was talking about…

        it’s a pain to have to cross the street an extra 2x just to get across… all that crossing puts you at an added risk of a collision…

        there are even some places with curb cuts directing you to cross where it’s not legal because there’s a painted crosswalk on the other side of the intersection… one example is NW Thurman and 26th which has a crosswalk on the west side of the intersection nearest the community center but still has curb cuts on the east side teasing people to cross illegally…

        1. Avatar Eric Leifsdad says:

          If you have a wheel in your pocket, get it out and make a vehicular left.

        2. Avatar q says:

          Good point–it seems clear that the curb cuts are illegal to use.

          In fact, it gets even crazier–if you had an intersection with one marked crosswalk going east/west, and another going north/south, they’d meet at one of the 4 corners of the intersection. Someone standing at that corner could cross either street from that corner.

          But if you were standing on the opposite corner, where neither marked crosswalk went to, could you even legally cross that intersection? You’d be within 150′ (actually much closer) to each marked crosswalk, so you’d have to use them, but how could you get to either of them legally?

          I don’t know if that situation exists anywhere in Portland, but it wouldn’t surprise me. After reading your and John’s comments, I found on google lots of examples of intersections having marked crosswalks on only one side of the intersection–it happens often along the North and South Park Blocks, for example.

          I also bet almost nobody outside people reading these comments has any idea these rules exist, including police.

          1. Avatar Eric Leifsdad says:

            So, marking just one invalidates the other unmarked crosswalk across Clinton on the west side of 19th? That one doesn’t end at an ADA ramp or sidewalk, so it would seem like the city would want to mark the eastern one, if only to keep people from parking in front of the ramp as seen in this street view: Don’t cities get sued for that sort of thing?

            1. Avatar q says:

              Yes, I think people are right in some of the other comments–that if you mark one crosswalk at an intersection, it’s not legal to cross at the other, parallel one unless it’s also marked. So they should always be parked in pairs, except for cases (maybe like this one) where it may be best for people to not use the other one.

              In fact, in this case, where the other crossing ends in a landscaped parking strip instead of a curb cut, that’s a good argument for having a marked crosswalk at the “good” side, because the marked one encourages people to use the one that doesn’t have them ending up at a curb with landscaping instead of a curb cut. PBOT should have factored that into their decision about marking a crosswalk here.

      3. Avatar Spiffy says:

        but “such roadway” only refers to the one you’re crossing with the painted crosswalk… the other road isn’t the road you’re crossing and thus isn’t constrained by the crosswalk going across the other cross-street…

        1. Avatar Doug Klotz says:

          And PBOT’s previous traffic engineer, Rob Burchfield, refused to believe that this is what the state rule meant. At Division and 41st, e.g., there’s a painted crosswalk on the west leg, and none on the east leg. Under the Vehicle code, the east one is now illegal, because the west one is painted. If neither was painted, they’d both be legal. But he maintained that no, that’s not what It meant. I was hoping someone would get a ticket for crossing the unmarked one, to prove the point to PBOT. Hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t know what PBOT’s stance is now.

      4. Avatar q says:

        John (and others)–this is all great info. The Portland code looks like it’s the same as the State’s, in regard to the definition of “crosswalk”, and that you have to use the marked one at an intersection:

        1. Avatar q says:

          Yes, it looks like marking only one crosswalk instead of both at an intersection is the equivalent of marking one, and putting up an “illegal to cross” sign and barrier at the other one.

          Today, after becoming aware of the laws, I saw examples all over of single marked crosswalks, including ones where the nearby (less than 150′ away) unmarked crossing had curb extensions and ramps. According to the law, that’s absurd, since it means money is being spent all over the city to encourage people to cross illegally.

          It seems the law needs to change. You could say it’s all a technicality, if nobody’s getting cited for crossing at unmarked crossing near marked ones, and I guess it typically is. Where that will change is when someone notices the law and applies it in the case of a pedestrian being hit, or a car being rear-ended when stopping for a pedestrian crossing at one of these unmarked, illegal crossings. A driver can claim correctly that they weren’t expecting the pedestrian to cross because they were crossing at an illegal location.

          It also is the “elephant in the room” when PBOT and others are telling people that pedestrians have the same rights at unmarked crossings as they do in marked crosswalks. No, in these cases they don’t.

    2. Avatar Spiffy says:

      Portland City Code 16.70.210 Must Use Crosswalks.

      No pedestrian may cross a street other than within a crosswalk if within 150 feet of a crosswalk.

      1. Avatar bradwagon says:

        This does not seem to mention painted or unpainted crosswalks, just crosswalks in general… marked or unmarked. I would love to hear the explanation for how using an unmarked crosswalk is considered not using a crosswalk.

  37. Avatar Lester Burnham says:

    Actually the crosswalk is a very good idea. It’s a good reminder to speeding cyclists there is a school here.

  38. Avatar bikeninja says:

    This is all about power and control. Just like the police department ,deep in the bowels of PBOT they understand that if they fail to provide improvements in safety for citizens that this will eventually and inevitably cause a reaction of people taking matters in to their own hands. They do not want this to happen, so they direct any resources necessary to squashing any “illegal” actions by citizens. Unfortunetly they seem to think that this type of “bug swatting” action will work forever, but history shows that it will not.

  39. Avatar Dan A says:

    PBOT has rogue street markings of their own. These two parking spaces are ILLEGAL.

    1. Avatar Dan A says:

      As are these two, on the same block.

      No reason for these parking spaces, in an area that is loaded with parking garages and on-street parking.

      1. Avatar Spiffy says:

        what’s the problem with these parking areas? they look ok to me…

        1. Avatar Dan A says:

          Places where stopping, standing and parking prohibited:

          17. Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection.

          I’m assuming there isn’t an exception for marked mid-block crosswalks, but I suppose that’s possible. When I’ve brought this up in the past, paikiala said that parking here is against Oregon law, but is not enforced by Portland. Not only is it not enforced, it’s encouraged!

          1. Avatar Spiffy says:

            oh, because they’re within 20′ of the crosswalk? nope, it’s not an intersection so it doesn’t apply…

            however, this is a very broad law that I’ve never seen enforced… and there are a LOT of parking spaces within 20′ of intersections all over the city…

            this law would make it nearly impossible to park in front of any house on a corner…

            this law makes parking legal for only 160′ of each 200′ block downtown…

            cars are frequently parked right up to (and over) the crosswalk on most blocks of the city…

            1. Avatar JeffS says:

              Yes, and all those cars parked right up to the corner are parked illegally.

              That Portland refuses to enforce the law doesn’t change that fact.

              1. Avatar George says:

                What does that line of reasoning suggest about the legality of marijuana in Oregon? If the state wants to enforce that law, they are welcome to send the state police to write parking tickets. Until that time, it’s legal.

            2. Avatar Doug Klotz says:

              It’s that losing 2 parking spaces per block thing that drives (so to speak) the lack of enforcement that rule.

            3. Avatar Dan A says:

              Okay, here’s a more clear example. #17 “Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection.”


              Note the paid parking space directly adjacent to the crosswalk. This isn’t just illegal parking, this is an illegal parking space.

          2. Avatar Dan A says:

            I had a similar discussion with a Washington County engineer when we asked for the curb to be painted yellow next to a very important mid-block crosswalk near our school. He said that’s it’s already illegal to park next to the crosswalk and everyone should know it, so it’s redundant to paint it.

            In Portland, they put parking spaces next to crosswalks. Loony.

  40. Avatar Steve says:

    Those barricades at Clinton/50th blocking cars but allowing bikes/peds look like PDX Transformation work, but they are official for construction work at that corner. They have helped reduce morning/afternoon traffic West of 50th on Clinton. Wonder if they can be left in place for good?

  41. Avatar CJ Walker says:

    As a daily cyclist on Clinton I’m really glad for the PDX Transformations crosswalk. It’s just the reminder I need to check for parents+littles every morning when I roll through.

  42. Avatar Adam says:

    Luckily, it’s just paint.

    So it’ll be easy to repaint! This time, don’t make a big “hoo ha ha” about it.

    If you don’t tell PBOT it’s there, they won’t go out and remove it, duh.

  43. Adam H. Adam H. says:

    PBOT themselves considers neighborhood greenways to be “residential streets with low volumes of auto traffic and low speeds where bicycles and pedestrians are given priority” (emphasis mine). A lack of marked crosswalks does not instill confidence that people walking have priority. PBOT should at least follow their own guidelines!

    1. I’m on a lame sharrowed greenway every time I leave home. I need to print that and highlight those words so I can give it as handouts to the outraged drivers (especially the ones that run the stop signs).

    2. Avatar Spiffy says:

      “The goals are to: Help people across our busier streets – Improved crossings at main streets help people walking and bicycling cross more easily.”

      their example intersection is one of the worse greenway crossings in town, MLK and Going…

      still, a painted crosswalk meets that goal… although they’re now saying (with their removal action) that it doesn’t…

      so which is it?

  44. I’m sorry, but allowing anyone to simply modify roadways as they like would set a really bad precedent. What next — new speed limit, stop, “Do Not Enter,” “Local Traffic Only,” etc signs, speed bumps, and barriers?

    Keep in mind that you are very outnumbered by motorists. They’ll have thoughts about the roads too, and if the basic rule is that anyone who thinks they have a good reason can change things can, don’t be surprised when they make changes you don’t care for. If you think compliance and enforcement is bad now, just wait until citizen “improvements” make it hard to tell what is real and what is not.

    And what’s the deal with Clinton? That street gets WAY more attention than it deserves. It is slow, people play nice there, and it is generally one of the easiest streets in this whole town.

    1. Avatar Lester Burnham says:

      The Clinton thing amuses me too. People should try riding the streets of hell all over east PDX, then we’ll see how many complaints they have about Clinton.

    2. Avatar Spiffy says:

      “That street gets WAY more attention than it deserves. It is slow, people play nice there, and it is generally one of the easiest streets in this whole town.”

      and yet it still manages to make me more nervous than when biking on Powell…

      when a car zooms by me on Powell at twice my speed at least they’re way over in another lane… on Clinton they’re within reach and cutting me off to avoid oncoming traffic so it’s much more unnerving…

      1. Traffic on Powell moves 40mph, there’s no bike lane and you’re butted up against a curb so bail options blow, and you find that easier than Clinton?

        I don’t buy it. I ride Powell on occasion, and that street is no joke except when it’s all gummed up. Some of the people who get all up in arms about Clinton being so bad should give it a try.

        1. Avatar Eric Leifsdad says:

          When you post things like this, I feel like you need to get mansplained at about lane control and ORS 811.065. Where is there a 15-20ft wide lane on Powell?

          1. Avatar Mike 2 says:

            When you use words like “mansplained” I feel like you loose all credibility.

            1. Avatar George says:

              I concur. The PC term is now brosplained.

          2. Avatar Mike 2 says:

            And keep in mind, I agree with what you are (insultingly) saying.

            1. Avatar Eric Leifsdad says:

              Thanks bro. Kyle and I go way back. I still wish he wouldn’t ride in the gutter. I’m pretty sure Spiffy doesn’t.

              1. Just to be clear, I don’t. I think that’s one of the most dangerous places to ride and strongly discourage others from riding there. Having said that, I can see how you’d get that from the post you responded to.

                The specific situation I had in mind on Powell is when you have two lanes of fast moving traffic. This requires pushing the cars out and generally works well enough since the people tend to do whatever the person in front did.

                However, the car following the vehicle behind you is often tailgating and cannot see the you in front of the vehicle he’s following. If the person following you doesn’t do a clean pass (i.e. guns the engine and gives you about a foot of clearance, you’ll have to move in if the tailgater was driving right. You’ll have enough space for that, but the cars behind can be an issue until you can push them out again.

                If speeds are low (60mph with a box truck in the oncoming lane — driver was killed instantly).

                The reason I give people so much guff about complaining about easy streets is that I believe it actually discourages cycling though I know that is not anyone’s intent. It gets into peoples’ heads that cycling is dangerous, that their fate is in the hands of irresponsible drivers, that we need special infrastructure, and that there’s little if any overlap of interests between cyclists and motorists.

                None of these things is true. Cyclists have an enormous amount of control over what motorists do, but hardly anyone uses it. And when they do, they do it in a confrontational way that provokes abuse. For example, if you want to slow traffic down, drift way left. As you see the motorist slow down pull in a bit to the right and invite them to pass close with a wave. Give a friendly wave as they clear you. The cars behind will follow in a safe manner. The drivers are happy because you were paying attention and looking out for their interests and you manage to make everyone feel good about a transaction where you blocked and slowed down an entire line of cars.

              2. Weird, the post ate part of my reply. The part that reads:

                “If speeds are low (60mph with a box truck in the oncoming lane — driver was killed instantly)”

                was really a too long paragraph saying it’s easy to push cars out if they’re going 30mph, but this gets harder as speeds climb. The end effect is that you need more space to work in because sometimes you’re to the right. I also talked about needing a bail position outside the traffic lane. I have bailed only twice in my life, but both times were to avoid an out of control car sliding into my space — I would have been pulped had I not left the road.

              3. Avatar Eric Leifsdad says:

                Many people are scared while driving a car with a driver tailgating them. They don’t want to try to “manage” passing traffic. It’s illegal to pass a cyclist in the same lane on most of Powell, and illegal to pass most of the time on Clinton. So, I think that all of this illegal passing you describe and seem to encourage is the sort of thing that discourages many (most?) people from riding. A rear-view mirror helps, but most people want some solid assurances about where cars will not be and more space than our infrastructure provides.

          3. I know how to take the lane. Wherever you are, you need to work with the exact conditions/drivers you have in that moment and not according to some dogma.

            Feel free to ‘splain away. Believe it or not, I am curious about what you guys have to say, though I might not follow advice from people who get in confrontations and dangerous situations on the tamest residential roads.

            Actually, what I’m really curious about is why some of you ride at all. There’s no way I would if my experience on the roads was like some of the people here.

  45. Avatar Anne says:

    I went to see “Slow Walk Home” last night at the Clinton Theater. Great documentary. Panel discussion and audience Q&A afterwards. They compare the US to Japan (where 98% of children walk to school).

    My takeaway from the movie as it relates to this situation is that putting tape down takes very little continued involvement from the parents/community. They want to put some tape down and consider the problem solved. PBOT will always remove it. Terrible cycle.

    My solution: maybe parents and neighbors (in the movie, it was retired Japanese neighbors) could form a volunteer crossing guard rotation. You would only need it at school’s start and end times.

    That is putting your money (active solution) where your mouth is (problem).

    Now I’ll sit back and wait for the flames.

    1. Avatar George says:

      The Japanese have a more cohesive society than we do, and can rely much more on social pressure/norms to enforce desired behavior. You would never find a community painted crosswalk in Japan. You would, as you noted, find a community crossing patrol, but the thought of one on Clinton is kind of laughable. Perhaps on Division, certainly on Powell or 39th (if you could find enough brave volunteers).

  46. Avatar Martin Vandepas says:

    Yeah I don’t really understand the logic there, if the drivers don’t have adequate stopping sight distance for the existing crosswalk, isn’t that a reason to give it more visibility with paint?

  47. Avatar JeffS says:

    This group knew that the tape was going to be removed when they put it down. I have to wonder, was the purpose really to make a positive change, or to create the opportunity to express outrage when it was removed?

    It seems like using paint and official dimensions would be less of a waste of time and money. Obviously they felt differently.

  48. Avatar Agent 1 says:

    We used tape the first time because it was a better material than the paint we could buy – almost as good as thermoplastic. The second time we used paint because we wanted the crosswalk to be harder to remove. We missed on official dimensions, but won’t make that mistake again. We never want to see our Transformations removed, because we design them to be useful. The outrage the community has expressed was not our goal, but the result of genuine shock that PBOT would do such a counter-productive thing.

    The volunteers kick in a lot of their money and time, well beyond what we recover through fundraisers. We do it out of a genuine desire to improve the safety of our streets. Our ultimate wish is that our temporary installations get recognized as real improvements, and replaced by permanent city projects. We want to drive the conversation toward agreement; outrage is never our goal. If necessary, we will be outraged, when the city acts outrageously.

    1. Avatar Tim says:

      Idea- make rouge crosswalks that look just like the “real” ones and see how long it takes for the City even to notice. how could this be done?

      As for non-standard, what about some of those bike lane markings that everyone loves.

      1. Avatar Doug Klotz says:

        If they’re rouge, they would stand out. Wouldn’t white be a better color for rogue crosswalks? 🙂

    2. Avatar wsbob says:

      “…Rattel said five years ago they made a formal request with PBOT for safety improvements. A city traffic analyst came out and performed some counts, but ultimately declined to take action because there wasn’t enough daily traffic to warrant a crosswalk. …” agent1

      I’m curious whether your group knows of any formal requests of PBOT, more recently made, for a crosswalk at this location…before you went ahead and ‘guerilla style’, installed your crosswalk. Five years ago is a long time.

      A more recently declined formal request, had one been made say sometime in the last six months, might have stood as a stronger justification for installing your crosswalk; and perhaps less feeling of justification within PBOT’s staff, for removal of the unofficial crosswalk.

      Not that it was a particularly bad idea to unofficially install the crosswalk. The fact that this intersection involves a preschool with a sizable number of kids in attendance there…rather than simply a shop or a bar, ought to have driven home to PBOT, the point that perhaps this intersection should have been prioritized for a crosswalk…despite what the bureau’s “Crosswalk guidelines” graphic may lead it to believe.

      On the other hand: this story reports that, based partly on the numbers of people crossing the street at this intersection, PBOT declined the official request five years ago. Relative to the fact that there is a preschool at this location: did your group have numbers more recent than five years ago, or other means indicating number of crossings at this intersection before and after school?

      PBOT’s position on the issue raises the question of how many of the 70 students at this school, and their parents, actually have need of crossing Clinton at this intersection. An important accompanying question, I think, is how many kids are within walking distance of this school, but are instead being transported there by motor vehicle, because their parents feel traffic conditions due in part to a lack of paint emphasized crosswalk, and other traffic controls(example: signs)…makes this intersection unsafe for kids to cross?

  49. Adam H. Adam H. says:

    PBOT has also been on a bike lane removal spree. SW Broadway, NE Tillamook, SW 14th, etc. are all now wide parking lanes because of PBOT’s failure to stripe the right half of the bike lane line.

  50. Avatar Teddy says:

    Well the memorial at SE 41st and Hawthorne was just removed around 21:20 on October, 5th, but I wonder if PBOT will remove that unofficial crosswalk as well.

  51. Avatar K'Tesh says:


    1. Avatar K'Tesh says:

      Paint that next time… God Forbid that anyone should ever be hit crossing there, but if it happens, make sure that the lawyers for the victim are made aware that PBOT was told that this was a bad intersection, and actually removed well marked improvements.

  52. Avatar Carrie says:

    There is a to be installed crosswalk at SE 19th & Bybee. It meets all the criteria per the flow chart. It has been funded. The neighborhood board has written letters in support. The neighbors have been bombarding the PM and novick about getting it installed. It’s been TWO YEARS and it’s still in review stage. It’s a friggin APPROVED CROSSWALK. And yet pbot wonders why neighbors take things into their own hands?

    1. Avatar Steve says:

      Wow, I just rode through there after Sunday Parkways and thought, “Why is there no crosswalk?” At least they did finally put one in at 19th and Tacoma. Any chance they’ll also install a diverter at Bybee?

      1. Avatar Carrie says:


        Through the transportation committee of our neighborhood board I want to advocate for diverters for SE 19th now, before it turns into Clinton (there is a 240 unit apt building going in on Milwaukee 4 blocks away). But, per PBOTs reasoning, we can’t do something proactively to deal with the car traffic we know is coming, we have to wait until we can count the number of cars and then, maybe, diverters could be installed. After years of design and study, of course.

  53. Thank you for all the thoughtful comments. I want everyone to know that we’ve gotten a response about this from PBOT. You can read it here.

  54. Avatar Carrie says:

    PBOT should clearly remove the orange flags that folks are using to cross the street at SE 19th & Bybee now — those don’t meet design standards either.

    1. I’ve advocated for Crossing Bricks instead of Crossing Flags.

      1. Avatar Eric Leifsdad says:

        “including but not limited to” is pretty clear on this (4)

        The best hi-viz 10ft pedestrian poles have a built-in brick holder on one end.

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