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Signs vandalized in separate incidents on Skyline Blvd and Rosa Parks Rd

Posted by on July 5th, 2018 at 11:50 am

New sign broken off and discarded and a broken wand on Rosa Parks. A vandalized sign on NW Skyline.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

As Portland marches forward in an effort to reform streets from auto-centric speedways into more humane and safe spaces for a variety of users, not everyone is taking it well.

Back in March we reported on someone who had painted red X’s on the sidewalk outside homes of people who supported changes to make SE Lincoln safer for bicycle riders. A month later we shared how vandals defaced dozens of orange “20 is Plenty” signs on a north Portland street that’s frequently used as a cut-through.

And now we’ve seen more of this anti-safe streets vandalism.

Up on NW Skyline Road (just north of Germantown) someone has spray-painted one of the City of Portland’s new 35 mph speed limit signs so it now says 85 mph. (Update: A commenter below shares that several signs were vandalized). The context here is that Skyline is a very popular road for bicycling and it’s relatively narrow with not much of a shoulder. For that and other safety reasons, earlier this spring the Bureau of Transportation lowered the speed limit from 40 mph. The change impacts Skyline from Cornell to the city limits (Multnomah County takes over jursidiction a few miles north of Germantown at NW McNamee).

Slow and safe speeds on Skyline are absolutely vital. PBOT is aware of the vandalism and we’re confident this will be fixed soon.

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A separate vandal struck in north Portland near Peninsula Park around midnight on July 3rd. In video sent to us from the owner of a nearby business (thanks Wake!) a man can be seen standing next to a new sign on the northeast corner of Rosa Parks Way and Albina. He then purposely shakes the sign and it breaks free of its stanchion (not captured on the video). In another clip, the man can be seen walking with the sign near the Peninsula Park Community Center. He then places the sign across the newly striped protected bike lane.

The sign in question was recently installed (see it below). It’s a caution sign that advises right-turning drivers to stop and watch for people on foot and on bikes. I also noticed that one of the plastic wands installed by PBOT near the community center has been broken off just above the base. I assume this damage is related to the man who broke off the larger sign because it happened at the same time and the broken wand is right next to where he flung the sign across the bike lane.

The sign in the upper right is no longer there.

These cost PBOT $90 each in case you were wondering.

These are unfortunate incidents. They’re a waste of PBOT’s time and resources and they demonstrate entitlement and a basic lack of respect. On the flip side, maybe this is a sign of progress. After all, if PBOT isn’t making people mad, then they’re probably not doing enough to change the status quo.

And I have to say, it’s a bit satisfying that finally, instead of safe street activists, it’s those who are used to having all the power and privilege that are resorting to guerrilla tactics to get their point across.

UPDATE, 7:13 pm: That was quick. PBOT has replaced the sign on Rosa Parks:

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Hello, KittyEl Biciclerosoren9wattsq Recent comment authors
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9watts
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9watts

“On the flip side, maybe this is a sign of progress. After all, if PBOT isn’t making people mad, then they’re probably not doing enough to change the status quo.”

This.

Champs
Guest
Champs

PBOT will pay lip service for now, get around to cleaning it up in a few weeks, and hope by then that we just forget about it.

I see no sign of progress until PBOT starts doubling down on vandalized projects.

aweiler
Guest
aweiler

It wasn’t just one sign that was hit on Skyline – I noticed at least 3 on my ride yesterday.

rick
Guest
rick

Where on NW Skyline? Did it also happen in the 25 mph section of SW Skyline ?

aweiler
Guest
aweiler

I don’t recall exact spots, should have grabbed some pics. Headed south from Elliott Rd to Germantown is where I believe I observed them all.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

The sign is a waste of money. If they think it’s needed then they’re doing a lot of other things wrong.

And it reinforces the myth that you only have to stop when there’s a sign, rather than conveying that drivers always have to cede the right of way to peds/cyclists .

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Not always. ORS 814.020 and ORS 814.040 describe when pedestrians must obey traffic control signals and yield to vehicles.

I got yelled at tonight from someone crossing Interstate against the signal on Multnomah because I had the gall to ride through on a green light while adjusting my course and speed to provide for a safe pass rather than stopping as would be appropriate a crosswalk with no signal.

He instructed me that pedestrians always have right of way. They don’t.

I don’t think the militant posture does cycling, active, or public transport any favors. From what I can tell, outside the activist communities, even most cyclists hold attitudes that seem more aligned with the drivers. Frankly I do too despite the fact I hardly ever drive. Some of y’all have yourselves to thank for that.

BradWagon
Subscriber

This is not what “ceding right of way” means.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

It’s our fault that your transportation hierarchy is car > bike > person? It seems to me that you’ve been sharing that view with us from the moment you first arrived here.

SafeStreetsNow
Guest
SafeStreetsNow

Harder to vandalize curbed protection than wands. At $90 per wand, and I’m guessing that doesn’t include labor, PBOT has probably spent an absurd figure replacing them all around town. I see them missing all the time.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

As far as the installation goes, they rip off a protective plastic cover off of the double sided adhesive and slap it on the ground. Takes maybe 60 seconds.

Champs
Guest
Champs

Rolling a truck and crew costs few hundred bucks an hour, never mind the physical waste—to restore work that cannot demonstrably handle the rigors placed upon it?

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

Those wands are quite ugly and we’re better off with a true cement median island. I know they always blame the budget. But they wasted the money to widen all these roads, so the least they could do is give them back to the people.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Cement medians are a significant road hazard for cyclists, it would not be progress to use them to replace the wands, plus you can replace a lot of wands for the cost of dangerous hardscape.

David Hampsten
Guest

The heights and spacing between curbs and medians help to maintain car traffic speeds when other vehicles (i.e. bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles) are excluded. The higher the curb and/or median, the faster a vehicle can go without jumping a curb and hitting pedestrians (and sign posts). The narrower the space between, the slower traffic will move even during low-congestion periods or when drivers are otherwise incapacitated (drunk, stoned, having a heart attack). Here in NC speed limits are usually determined by the relative heights of curbs and lane widths; similarly on new streets, the height of the curb and street width are often determined by the prescribed speed limit.

IMO, in many ways, striped bike lanes (and buffered bike lanes) actually encourage (distracted) drivers to go faster, as they have an artificially super-wide lane on the right-hand side. Which is why bike lanes should only be used on streets where the speed limit is below 30 mph AND there is regular public bus service to force traffic to slow down – otherwise you’ll get an increase in traffic injuries and/or deaths from the distracted and incapacitated drivers driving too fast. Any street 30 mph or over really should have a median-protected (or other physical barrier) bike lane, or else move the bikeway onto the sidewalk and upgrade the intersections to give pedestrians and bicyclists priority (i.e. median islands, crosswalk headstart countdowns, turn restrictions.)

SafeStreetsNow
Guest
SafeStreetsNow

When I biked Amsterdam, I saw curbed protection all over the place. And that’s probably the safest major city on the planet to ride your bike.

Beth H
Guest
Beth H

Please explain how increased anger at/vandalism to safer streets infrastructure is considered “progress.”
Must the anti-bike/per crowd be royally pissed off FIRST, and THEN educated?
What does such a progression look like to you, Jonathan?
I’m all for improvements in bike/per infrastructure, and I understand that a longer I view is often required; but I live in the here and now. I sure don’t want my safety sacrificed while planners wait for people to evolve.

soren
Guest
soren

Increased vandalism of active transportation infrastructure does not seem like progress and may be a sign of increased anti-bike sentiment.

9watts
Subscriber

Beating marchers on the Edmund Pettus bridge was unequivocally racist, violent, and born of hate, but I’m not comfortable suggesting that the actions that provoked it weren’t in hindsight essential to the progress that followed. History is neither linear nor binary.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Most violent, hateful acts are neither necessary or a sign of any kind of progress.

9watts
Subscriber

I guess we’re talking past each other… Not that that has ever happened…

People disagree fundamentally, the world over, but perhaps especially in our violent, troubled country. Some of the people who share this place on earth with us have learned to use their fists instead of their mouths or heads. Given those differences in temperament + those disagreements, and that they aren’t about to go away no matter how much we may wish it to be otherwise, I thInk we can say that progress is not conceivable without some resistance. While resistance does not ipso facto suggest progress, I think it is reasonable to allow that it could be one element.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Is resistance to the Rose Quarter highway expansion a sign that it is progress?

9watts
Subscriber

That is an interesting suggested parallel.
I think paying attention to power might help us make sense of the differences between the two cases. Power has almost without exception sided with automobility. Robert Moses, oil wars, GM & Firestone, the interstate highway system being just a few easy examples. The Rose Quarter is part of this history. Those who have suffered the costs of automobility, who have opposed it have consistently been the poor, the marginalized, the minorities, people. And by costs I’m not talking about suffering an extra few minutes of one’s commute, but displacement, sickness, death (c.f. Catherine Lutz’s work).

The example we were discussing here—vandalism targeting minor but symbolically significant encroachments on the reign of automobility—strikes me as having a different relationship with power, a different social history. In our Culture Wars, a slight to the car commute one feels entitled to, a requirement that those in cars begin to share the road, share their time with those outside of cars, is or can be misconstrued as equivalent to the costs exacted by automobility. But is this a valid equivalency? I think not.
The automobile is a fluke, a brief aberration due almost entirely to the brief availability of energy dense fossil fuels. A feeling of entitlement to continue this is not equivalent to the sentiments by those who recognize that planning for and around the Car-is-King mentality is no longer a safe bet, has no future.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The automobile is only a fluke in the sense that all technological advances of the 20th century were a fluke, and the political power behind driving exists not because of a corporate conspiracy, but because so many people want to do it.

The way forward is to find the thing that will supplant cars as we know them, the way cars supplanted what came before. Carving out more space for cyclists is something I wholeheartedly support, but it will not meaningfully address our growing transportation issues. That will take something that people prefer to their cars.

The fact is that our current range of alternatives is less attractive for most drivers. Increasing costs (which I also wholeheartedly support) may shift the balance for some, but even in places where driving is very expensive, many people continue to do it.

9watts
Subscriber

“the political power behind driving exists not because of a corporate conspiracy, but because so many people want to do it.”

And you know this – how? Why couldn’t it be a lot of both, and a whole lot more?
Your theory of power appears to be bottom up: people love cars so those who give them those things get to. But what if we allow that a whole lot more is going on? That to put a freeway through Albina you have to kick thousands of people out, who happen to be black? And those who build the freeways, knock houses down, etc. will get even richer? Just look at who backed the CRC and why it got as far as it did.

“Carving out more space for cyclists is something I wholeheartedly support, but it will not meaningfully address our growing transportation issues. That will take something that people prefer to their cars.”

Again, preferences.
Preferences governed these technological transitions in the past, because with cheap fossil fuels we could afford to do anything, make anything, invent flying cars or whatever. Without access to cheap fossil fuels, preferences no longer govern things. Constraints will.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I have a general policy to disbelieve conspiracy theories. Though I am occasionally wrong, my record of finding the truth with this one weird rule is probably 99.9%.

Putting a highway through Albina was hardly a “conspiracy”. As wrongheaded as it may seem now, at the time, highways were the transportation systems of the future. Albina was in the logical path, and didn’t have sufficient political clout to foist it onto another neighborhood, so there it went. So yes, in a sense the highway ended up where it did because Albina was poor and black, but not because of a conspiracy. We put plenty of highways through white neighborhoods as well.

q
Guest
q

I also tend to disbelieve conspiracy theories, but I’m wondering…Who told you to say that? And why?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The CIA contacted me via the radio they implanted in my tooth.

9watts
Subscriber

This is weird. You’re the one who brought up conspiracies, and now your telling us that we shouldn’t be imagining conspiracies. I was talking about how power works; that is hardly the same thing.

“So yes, in a sense the highway ended up where it did because Albina was poor and black, but not because of a conspiracy. We put plenty of highways through white neighborhoods as well.”

More weird. I mentioned Albina and I5 not because we were talking about conspiracies or racism but in response to your (familiar) assertion that we have automobility because “people” prefer it. My counter is that powerful interests have made automobility-as-we-know-it happen for their own reasons, and on the backs of the disadvantaged the world over (Nigeria, Iraq, Louisiana, Valdez, Suez) I think that is at least as important to understanding why we have automobility as your people just prefer cars theory.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

People don’t prefer cars per se, they prefer point to point mobility that is out of the weather, not physically taxing, private, and relatively cheap. I don’t think it was Firestone or Shell Oil that created those preferences.

If some other mode does these things better, I predict rapid adoption.

9watts
Subscriber

Power has tilted the playing field toward the automobile and against the alternatives for more than a century. Just because convenience (however defined or socially constructed) ranks so high doesn’t mean other forces are not also at play, don’t affect the choices people have/don’t have when it comes to transportation.

“out of the weather, not physically taxing, private, and relatively cheap”

Certainly the powers that be have worked very hard for generations on the last item on your list of preferences. There is nothing automatic or natural about how cheap we in this country have made automobility. Upwards of 80% of the challenges we face here at bikeportland are arguably traceable to this determination to keep automobility artificially cheap.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Interesting point about preferences vs. constraints. I had an observation/theory the other day; I can’t even remember whether I’ve mentioned it here. It seems that most people have a latent desire to live like kings and queens, to be rich and famous. The amount of celebrity worship we have in this country is astounding, and I can only imagine that it is envy-driven. Anything corporations can do to fulfill this desire to have fame and fortune will be immediately pounced-upon. We’ve enabled people to feel “rich” with cheap energy and cheap money (easy/predatory credit), and “famous” with social media. Pandering to abuse of such things has resulted in bankruptcies, cyber-bullying/stalking, road rage, environmental destruction—too many things to list. I haven’t really philosophized on this in much depth, but it seems that companies have invested heavily in creating a world where constraints can be ignored—starting with “buy now, pay later”—and later is fast, fast approaching. I kind of have to agree with HK, that getting people to be voluntarily more responsible is not likely to ever happen. Unfortunately, 9watts is also correct in that we live on a planet with some pretty hard edges up against we are starting to rub, and will soon slam into with more force than all but a few of us can easily imagine.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I think a well structured, predictably increasing carbon tax is a good way to help people better align their preferences with our constraints. It would spur companies to invest in new technology, or improvements on older ways of doing things.

It’s a big problem that our incentives don’t match up well with the true costs of living as we do.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Anti-bike sentiment is there and already deeply rooted. Much like moderate democrats getting demolished trying to appease republicans WHO WILL NEVER stop doing everything they can to destroy them and grab power the same is true for motorist culture at large. Those that drive and don’t like bikes WILL NEVER compromise on bike infrastructure, there is absolutely no use in even considering their opinions in the conversations. Give them a concession and they will only ask for more next time, not return the favor. The only point at which compromises should be made is once we are discussing large amounts of roads being closed to car traffic in general. AKA “Bikes will get Division, Cars can continue to use Powell”

David Hampsten
Guest

You are more likely to get the reverse on Division versus Powell, at least east of 82nd.

When I advocated in Portland for over 10 years, I noticed the numerous Democrat legislators I worked with seemed to be evenly divided into two main groups: those who actively supported the usual “liberal” causes including increasing pedestrian safety by slowing car traffic; and those (such as your governor) who support faster freeways, more funding for highways, adding a sales tax for highways, the 20-lane Columbia River Crossing, and concealed handguns, among other causes. Given that your legislature is two-thirds Democrat, the Republicans hardly matter in Oregon, though they opposed the CRC.

BradWagon
Subscriber

The political part was just an example but I suppose could apply here in that while we’re a strong democrat state / city we have leadership that handicaps actually progress by trying to appease the outdated and clearly ignorant. “Surely if we cave to ODOT and build this one last freeway THEN they will start helping us improve road safety and reduce emissions”.

soren
Subscriber

“those (such as your governor) who support faster freeways, more funding for highways, adding a sales tax for highways, the 20-lane Columbia River Crossing, and concealed handguns”

with democrats like these, who needs republicans.

q
Guest
q

I agree with what Jonathan wrote. The backlash protesting is happening because there’s now something to rail against. Of course having people accept the new situation without feeling a need to protest would be better, but progress with some backlash is better than no progress at all.

Beth H
Guest
Beth H

“progress with some backlash is better than no progress at all.”

Only if you don’t become a casualty of the battle for hearts and minds.
This is not a cause that anyone should have to die for.

q
Guest
q

Not sure what your point is. Some signs and devices aimed at improving safety were installed, (the progress) and there has been some vandalism to them (the backlash). Are you saying it would have been better if the signs and devices had never been installed?

BradWagon
Subscriber

Yes, much better they just die while riding in current conditions because nobody bothered to make cycling safer at all.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Is there no alternative? Maybe progress without backlash?

9watts
Subscriber

Does this country look poised to allow that? It is nice to imagine, but doesn’t strike me as likely.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Sure. Why not? Of course, we’ll never get 100% agreement on anything, but I wouldn’t characterize one or two malcontents vandalizing traffic signs as a backlash, even if I accepted the premise that this wasn’t just some idiot thinking it would be a funny prank to make the speed limit 85mph.

SD
Subscriber

People are dying for this cause everyday. That’s why we need better infra that includes signs on how to use it.

David Hampsten
Guest

How are drivers supposed to look at signs, let alone be able to read and obey them, if they are constantly distracted by their various electronic media?

soren
Guest
soren

I’ve personally observed an increase in anti-bike sentiment from people on the left. And while this is anecdotal, so is the optimism of assuming that increased anti-cycling vandalism is not the harbinger of another cycle of bikelash.

David Hampsten
Guest

Here in North Carolina we call such signs “bash-overs.” Unlike interstate signage, city signs poles are too easy to destroy – they are intentionally designed that way, to cause the least damage to cars hitting them.

Clicky Freewheel
Guest
Clicky Freewheel

Stay classy, Portland.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

Sorry you don’t get to drive your Canyonero AWD as fast as you want whenever.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

Guy is irritated he has to wait a few seconds for cyclists and pedestrians to clear before turning… then wastes his night vandalizing the sign… Smart!

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Impatience is never rational.

You’ve got cyclists that run red lights 5 seconds before they change just because they don’t want to wait.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Yes, they make me fear for my life. /s

JBone
Guest
JBone

Actually, it’s very rational. I do it all the time to get ahead of the exhaust wake and situationally to claim the lane or otherwise gain a safety advantage.

soren
Guest
soren

Waiting to run a red until right before it changes does seem irrational to me. If one is going to run a light, running it the instant it’s safe to do so is a far more rational decision.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

And cars that run red lights 5 seconds after they’ve changed. What’s your point?

q
Guest
q

Years ago I tried to get PBOT to lower the speed limit on a stretch of Skyline, and got the “Can’t do it because of the 85% rule”, so it’s great to see PBOT has come around. Hopefully the vandalism is just a phase that will pass.

rick
Guest
rick

This problem exists on outer Skyline Blvd:

http://www.srnpdx.org/local-roads-action-you-can-take.html

The eBike Store
Guest

From my point of view, the worst thing in the Rosa Parks incident is placing the sign / pole across the new bike lane… In a spot not illuminated well by street lights. Could have killed someone.

Matt
Guest
Matt

My “20 is Plenty” yard sign, on my own property in inner SE Portland, was stolen less than a month after I put it up.

Stephen J Sanow
Guest
Stephen J Sanow

Why I got extras when they offerred.

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

This reminds me of Amsterdam years ago.
https://youtu.be/YY6PQAI4TZE?t=4m14s

Anytime people try to change the status quo there will be those who feel threatened. Keep going with it and don’t let stuff like this deter what needs to be done.
If there’s opposition that’s a sign that it’s effective.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

That’s the MO of the current administration and its supporters.

This article and most of the comments are making a huge mountain out of a molehill. A couple guys out of the population of an entire metro area vandalize a few signs and people here think it’s significant?

q
Guest
q

I don’t see people making “a huge mountain out of a molehill” in the article or the comments. The article isn’t claiming it’s more than a few people. This vandalism is part of a larger vandalism problem (people stealing the “20 is plenty” signs earlier, for example).

The vandalism also has bigger-picture ramifications. For instance, doing cheap wands instead of more expensive but more sturdy alternatives makes increasingly less sense the more they are vandalized.

It’s a relevant, worthwhile discussion.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Important word in Clarks statement being “feel”.

The example as you use it is likely more applicable with roles reversed. As in “white nationalists in the administration and among it’s supporters feel threatened by changes to the status quo and are trying to deter what needs to be done for the good of all” and “drivers feel threatened by changes to the status quo and are trying to deter what needs to be done for everyone’s safety.”

ps
Guest
ps

Ah, but is it truly impatience or your perception of it? When I run the red at 1st and Main, it is to beat the cars so I can turn onto 3rd without having to change lanes through traffic, pretty rational when you consider that not dying while I ride to work is my chief goal.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I don’t leave early at red lights because I don’t want to be found at fault when a distracted driver hits me, and because I don’t want to add to the negative perceptions of cyclists (whatever that means).

But, there are lots of rational reason to do so when it doesn’t interfere with others, and I don’t thinks it’s dangerous enough to spend much time thinking about when there are much bigger threats to people on the roads.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Slow news day.

Paolo
Guest
Paolo

May for you John, but for some of us that ride Skyline almost everyday of the work week it is nice to see this reported, there is hardly any shoulder and people ride way too fast, given that the road is very curvy it, it can be scary when passed by fast cars. And there is no alternative road.

Sean
Guest
Sean

When are they going to fix the park/no-park signs that were installed on the Rosa Parks wands? Half of them were installed wrong pointing at parking in the bike lane and no parking in the new parking strip.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The truth is there is a lot of vandalism out there in general, and we don’t really know what was in the hearts of the vandals in these cases. I for one don’t see this as a threat. If there is an overall theme, I see it as a reaction against the steadily worsening traffic situation overall.

9watts
Subscriber

That misses the fact that the acts are not targeting just any piece of infrastructure, but elements that are easily recognized as representing an encroachment on the hollow promise of unfettered automobility.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

This is a curated selection of events, not a statistical cross section of vandalism over the past week.