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PBOT hopes ‘Thank You Crew’ cheerleaders will slow drivers down

Posted by on September 24th, 2019 at 9:32 am

PBOT Thank You (for not speeding) Crew.
(Photo: PBOT)

“PBOT needs your help to begin shifting cultural attitudes around speeding – it should not be the norm.”

Speed bumps, speed reader boards, lower speed limits, yard signs, photo radar cameras, enforcement missions — the City of Portland has used many tactics to get people to slow down while driving. But still, too many people speed. And still, too many people die.

Desperate for anything that will shake drivers out of their speeding stupor, the City of Portland’s latest initiative will take the message directly to them with a new marketing campaign and the power of peer pressure. Two events this week aim to create teams of “Thank You Crew” cheerleaders that will hold signs and encourage people to slow down on high-speed corridors.

“These events are designed to provide community members with an opportunity to change driver behavior by cheering on safe driving – literally!,” PBOT says.

The first two events will happen this Thursday (9/26) and Friday (9/27). PBOT plans to erect bleachers adjacent to two streets in their High Crash Network — Southeast Stark and Division — and install a speed reader board to let drivers know how fast they’re going.

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Examples of new slogans and marketing graphics for the campaign.

As added enticement to show up and cheer for 20-30 minutes, PBOT will give all volunteers who pre-register the opportunity to take home one of their new anti-speeding yard signs. The new marketing slogans and graphics will also be put to use on billboards PBOT plans to purchase overlooking high-speed streets.

Here’s more from PBOT:

“2019 has been a very deadly year on Portland’s streets – we have lost 38 people to fatal crashes in the first nine months of this year alone [our tracker has the total at 40]. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is delivering safety projects around the city, but we know that infrastructure is not the only piece of the puzzle. Unsafe speeds are a factor in 47% of the deadly crashes in Portland. As people drive faster, the chance of survival for those involved in a crash decreases dramatically. PBOT needs your help to begin shifting cultural attitudes around speeding – it should not be the “norm.” It is a preventable dangerous behavior that contributes to death and serious injury.”

Event details:

September 26, 10 AM to noon at Ventura Park near corner of SE 113th Avenue and Stark Street.
September 27, 10 AM to noon – 15004 SE Division Street *This event has been cancelled and has yet to be rescheduled.*
RSVP here

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

44 Comments
  • Avatar
    John Lascurettes September 24, 2019 at 9:36 am

    While I appreciate the intention and message, I feel like this is neither stick nor carrot except to those that are already conscientious of their speed and road awareness. I’d rather PBOT get more hardcore about pushing through connected, contiguous, and friendly bike infrastructure — while not designing “compromises” that seem to change very little about the behavior of motor vehicles in the roadway where these alleged compromises are doled out.

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    Johnny Bye Carter September 24, 2019 at 9:59 am

    A few people cheering will not counter the thousands of aggressive drivers honking, tailgaiting, and otherwise pushing you to drive over the speed limit. We are social creatures and when most of society tells you to speed (and belittles you when you don’t) then you speed for fear of being outcast.

    Drivers will not give up speeding unless they have to. Drivers will not give up their cars until you give them a better option.

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    SE 34th September 24, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Carrots don’t work without sticks.

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      Brian September 24, 2019 at 11:56 am

      Agreed. How about some others that read “Stop driving like an a**hole” or “Slow down ya jack@ss!”

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      Beth H September 24, 2019 at 11:59 am

      Agreed. I’d love to see law enforcement meaningfully involved here. Otherwise these “cheerleaders” are only as effective as the placement of Intersection Superheroes at Parkways.

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    pdx2wheeler September 24, 2019 at 10:24 am

    What did that sign say? I was driving too fast to read it… Oh well!

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      John Lascurettes September 24, 2019 at 10:33 am

      There was a sign? I was too busy looking at a text that came in.

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  • TonyT
    TonyT September 24, 2019 at 10:25 am

    This all reinforces the notion that people outside of cars are the guests who are left to beg for accommodation from those in cars who are of course entitled to the space by default and enjoy an 11-14 mph buffer (quoted to me by a PBOT staffer) before risking a ticket. On most of Portland’s streets, this equates to permission to drive more than 50% over the limit before risking a ticket. 30mph instead of 20mph quadruples the death rate of pedestrians from 10% to 40%.

    Enforcement is a sticky topic for sure, but what are we left with? Do we surrender our streets because we’ve given up on fighting racial profiling? “Sorry we can’t do anything about the deaths on the streets because our cops are too racist and out of our control.”

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      John Lascurettes September 24, 2019 at 10:35 am

      early candidate for comment of the week

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      raktajino September 24, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      I was always told (by parents, drivers ed instructors, not cops) that the “10 over is ok” comes from the discrepancy between the radar guns vs the car’s spedometer and a margin of error. Assuming this was accurate, that was in the 90s. Surely technology has improved, making this discrepancy less of an issue?

      Also, I’ve been reading about other countries (Finland iirc) having traffic fines that were relative to income. Probably too radical for our system of exalting billionaires, unfortunately. A girl can dream.

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      • TonyT
        TonyT September 24, 2019 at 5:05 pm

        I’d like to see income and vehicle weight factor into the fines.

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    EP September 24, 2019 at 10:47 am

    I drove to work today and honked at a woman who was swerving in and out of the Broadway bike lane…while putting on Mascara!!! Got the finger waved in response. HOW WILL SHE EVEN SEE THESE PEOPLE WITH SIGNS?!

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      Andrew September 25, 2019 at 4:44 pm

      Oh man. My wife and I were nearly run down the other day while we were crossing NW 23rd (I-5 Jr I call it) on foot. The driver did acknowledge his error, however, by screaming “go back to california” at us. I didn’t have the heart to tell him we’re from here

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        Dan A September 26, 2019 at 7:11 am

        NW 23rd should be fixed by being blocked to car traffic.

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          Andrew September 27, 2019 at 12:04 am

          Yup. For how congested with foot traffic it is year-round, cars have no place there. Shame that a lot of that foot traffic are visitors who likely arrive by car… NW is basically a cutesy, overpriced version of what the Lloyd Center used to be… an open air shopping mall…

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    mark smith September 24, 2019 at 10:50 am

    When pbot turns all of its race tracks, I mean one ways that are downtown into protected bike lanes and two-way roads, then drivers will know they are serious about controlling speed. Until then it’s do as I say not as I do

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      Andrew September 25, 2019 at 4:52 pm

      Portland’s nearly uninterrupted grid downtown could do to have some breaks in it. The city block sizes are the reason max trains are limited to 2 vehicles; I dont see what the trouble would be to extend the downtown stops through intersections. Of course the platforms would need to be built up through what is now crosswalk, and drivers would be robbed of their ‘shortcuts’ if such a thing even exists. Could be a good interim solution as trimet and metro mull the possibility of a multi-billion dollar tunnel from Lloyd to Goose Hollow.

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    Stephen Keller September 24, 2019 at 11:26 am

    I fervently hope it doesn’t happen, but I wonder how the media will respond when one of these cheerleaders is injured by someone driving too fast. It seems like PBOT is just setting itself up for irony.

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    Ted September 24, 2019 at 11:39 am

    I’m just as skeptical as everyone else. Will PBOT do any pre/post measurements of speeds to prove us wrong?

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      MTW September 24, 2019 at 11:52 am

      Last year PBOT handed out lawn signs with “20 is plenty” written on them and as noted in the release, “2019 has been a very deadly year on Portland’s streets.”

      Not sure why switching the slogan to “slow down, save lives” would work any better.

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    joan September 24, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Yup, I’m feeling cynical. But also, sure, let’s try this. Because we need to try everything.

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      mh September 26, 2019 at 12:55 pm

      How ’bout narrowing the street and lanes? PBOT doesn’t seem to keep this in their toolbox, or if it’s there, they don’t want to wear it out.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty September 24, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    I would rate this pretty high on the Hello, Kitty Scale Of Things Not Likely To Be Effective.

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      Middle of the Road Guy September 24, 2019 at 3:07 pm

      Clearly not enough Thoughts and Prayers.

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    bikeninja September 24, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    With all this talk of automation replacing humans in jobs perhaps we have a good opportunity here. We can’t seem to afford enough sworn officers to do actual traffic stops and even if we did profiling is a problem. We can’t have non-sworn staff doing traffic stops because of the potential for dangerous situations. Speed Cameras seem like a hard sell because of the privacy and profiling potential of the humans reviewing the photos. So it seems logical that we just go to speed enforcement robots. Lawbreakers would be pulled over ( the robot could engage the cars computer if compliance is an issue) and given the opportunity to pay a fine with a card or cash to the robot, which would be programmed to be blind to all known human characteristics so profiling would not be possible. If the lawbreaker fails to pay it could summon the car crushing robot to recycle the lawbreakers car. Robots would be dispatched by overhead drones that would only be tuned to highest frequency of law breaking ( as observed from the sky at that moment in time) in any part of town and no other variable would be used. This seems like a far more useful technological vision than the streets filled with robot cars. Lets get going now, and enjoy the safe streets that would result.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 24, 2019 at 1:28 pm

      I saw a great documentary about this. I think it was called Robocop.

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      Middle of the Road Guy September 24, 2019 at 3:10 pm

      “Speed Cameras seem like a hard sell because of the privacy and profiling potential of the humans reviewing the photos.”

      That sounds like it is pretty easy to fix, unless the suggestion is that it is impossible for an officer to be impartial because of the complete saturation of institutional racism in every facet of law enforcement (including minority policemen).

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      Middle of the Road Guy September 24, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      Personally, I am outraged that the makeup of the cheerleading squad is not truly representative of the population.

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      Squeaky Wheel September 24, 2019 at 5:18 pm

      Serially hyperbolic guy who acknowledges speed cameras are a hard sell proposes judge-jury-executioner flying car crusher.

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      Paul H September 25, 2019 at 10:13 am

      This is incredible satire. Chapeau!

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    hussain September 24, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    awwwwww, this is precious :3

    PBOT is so proud of its minimalist attempts, and just keeps crowing about their “Doing the most to do the least” wastes of time/effort!!
    With no enforcement, nothing will change.

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    Velograph September 24, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Give me a f*$%ing break.

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    Anthony September 24, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Anything to avoid actual changes to the infrastructure that might mildly inconvenience drivers.

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    jered bogli September 24, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    how about a group of people that bounce a ball in front of speeding cars.

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      raktajino September 24, 2019 at 3:39 pm

      Paintballs would be so satisfying but probably would cause damage. Water balloons leave detritus. Squirt guns? Can we put red ink in some really powerful squirt guns?

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      Andrew September 25, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      I was thinking of a jack-in-the-box type setup. Coils like what are used to detect and change traffic lights could instead trigger a giant jack-in-the-box to pop up out of the road at random. Any driver that hits it is subject to revocation of all driving privileges for life and given a shiny new ebike. Is that even a punishment?

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    q September 24, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    One the one hand, at least PBOT is aiming something at slowing down traffic. On the other hand, I think I’d rather see those four employees working at desks so when I report a safety problem to PBOT, I don’t get a “Due to a backlog of safety requests, please plan to wait 12-16 weeks for a response” message.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty September 24, 2019 at 3:57 pm

      “Due to a backlog of safety requests, and the fact that our engineering department is currently rotated out onto cheer leading duty with the Thank You Crew, please plan to wait 16-24 weeks for a response. If you have any suggestions for a new cheer, please submit them directly to the PBOT Cheer line at 823-CHEE. Thank you.”

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    q September 24, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    It may be just me, but wearing of safety vests outside of a construction or flagging situation just seems demeaning and pathetic. I dread reading that PBOT cheerleaders are standing at corners handing out safety vests for people to wear so they’re safer when walking. Or have they already tried that?

    The only thing worse would be safety vests with slogans printed on them.

    Actually, getting warned or fined for walking without a safety vest would be worse.

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    Toby Keith September 24, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    Well at least the silly signs won’t racially profile.

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    Fred September 25, 2019 at 9:13 am

    These signs, waved by attractive young people, will certainly stop the tailgating and dangerous passing and lane-changes I observed yesterday during a rare but routine drive across Portland.

    I’d be okay with this initiative if it were accompanied by more ENFORCEMENT. But if waving signs is all we’re doing, then it really means we have given up.

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    Austin September 25, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    Check out PBOT’s Facebook post about this – judging from the comments on there, cyclists and pedestrians are doomed no matter what.

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