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Oregon Walks releases ‘Sidewalk Obstruction Bingo’ advocacy tool

Posted by on August 18th, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Sidewalk Obstruction Bingo game board.

Sidewalk obstructions are to walkers what bike lane blockages are to bike riders. That is, always annoying and often downright dangerous.

Portland nonprofit advocacy group Oregon Walks has a new tool that to report these hazards. And they’ve turned it into a game.

Sidewalk Obstruction Bingo, a website that also works great on mobile devices, comes with 24 squares labeled with some of the most common things that get in your way including: low branches, cars, garbage bins, a-frame signs, trash, work zones, and so on. There are even squares for missing lights and sidewalk gaps. (I was a bit disappointed to see that they included “Bike riding on sidewalk,” because that’s legal (except for a section of downtown) and often necessary for many people.)

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To play the game all you do is click the icon on the board that matches the hazard you face and share the location details with Oregon Walks. Once you get a bingo you can be entered into a prize drawing.

This is an interesting idea and seems like a great way to collect information about hazard hot-spots. Check it out 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 welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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Kcommentee
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Kcommentee

This will be a great tool for community walk audits.

Adam
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Adam

Add your own ideas: Tent and human unconscious from drug/ alcohol abuse.

Of course I would like to see them change this to just ‘Sidewalk Bingo’ and add:
Children’s chalk art, Maintained vegetation, Driveway meeting current design standards, Proper vision clearance triangle, ADA ramp inline with path of travel, Attractive front yard flowers, Smooth and even concrete, Intersection Repair art, Attractive paving pattern, Waving and smiling neighbor, etc.

dan
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dan

Need to add “pile of cannibalized bike frames”

PTB
Guest
PTB

Water.

nate
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nate

Been noticing a lotta dog poop on the sidewalks these days.

Josh G
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Josh G

I would add “pedestrian (stationary or moving) entrance by phone”

maxD
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maxD

tent

walks2work
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walks2work

Need to add bikes locked to poorly-situated staple racks on sidewalk.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

I have mixed feelings about tools that encourage complaints about poorly-enforced regulations.

Sidewalks ought to be usable (although they are a public resource and should be maintained with public funds, not have that burden foisted upon the nearest private party). But just like in homeowner’s associations, invariably some small number of people will use their new-found power of complaint to brow-beat those they dislike with a fusillade of only-enforced-when-someone-complained infractions. Also, by inserting extra parties into the process, communication is lost and the whole process becomes more hostile. Instead of one person saying to another, “hey, do you think you could fix this?” and a chance to say, “yeah” or “I’d love to but…” now it’s some anonymous party leveraging the power of government to compel action without any chance of dialogue.

Imagine you have a sidewalk over your property. Lots of people walk by your sidewalk every day, and to your frustration more than a few leave their pet’s droppings in your yard. Still, nobody’s ever complained to you. Your grumpy neighbor discovers a whole bingo-app worth of complaints they can use against you, and one day a police officer knocks on your door and hands you a ticket to trim tree branches within 10 days or get fined plus have to pay the city’s cost to do it for you. Cue a mad scramble and taking some time off work to deal with the issue and avoid a fine. About a week later, the police officer shows up with another ticket demanding you remove dog poop from the sidewalk, again within 10 days or fine. Annoying, but quickly addressed. Ten days later, when the police visit within minutes of another person’s dog pooping in your yard while you weren’t home, you get tagged with a fine. A week later, the police show up again, this time with a ticket about some weeds and shrubbery. About two weeks later, it’s the police again giving you 10 days to fix an uneven step in the sidewalk. Good luck getting someone to repair a sidewalk within 10 days.

This, except for the app, is a true story, by the way. But it’s easy to see the role that a laundry-list of infractions with one-click complaint functionality could play in enabling this kind of behavior. And that, I don’t like.

jered l bogli
Guest
jered l bogli

While I do love a good whinge about minor blockages to bike lanes and sidewalks, this bingo game is like Karen/Ken training wheels. “Sir there is water on your sidewalk and it is infringing on my freedumbs and liberties – like to speak to your manager”.

maxD
Guest
maxD

The glaring omission of tents/campers/piles of stuff blocking the ROW has been pestering me since I saw this post. This City and Nation are grappling with decades of ignoring systemic racism instead of confronting it, and now, it seems to me, we are beginning a new era of ignoring classism. Homelessness is a tragic and complex issue. Previous generations carrot and stick approach has increasingly become a failed system thanks in part to the carrots being dismantled and taken away starting with Reagan and continuing to this day. We have been unable or unwilling to provide enough “carrots” to make up for the shortcomings, so our policy became too stick-heavy. As a City, it seems we reached a turning point under the Hales administration, when he stopped enforcing certain rules about setting up camps illegally. The pendulum has continued to swing in this direction, to the point where more and more laws (camping on sidewalks, unregistered/unlicensed vehicles, open fires, open drug use, etc) are being ignored for one class of people. Some advocates are calling for the normalization of substandard tiny house villages. IMO, this is calling for the creation an officially sanctioned class of people with fewer laws governing them, and fewer protections. Health and safety standards will not apply to this class of people as long as they stay in their shanty town/flavela/ tiny house village.As wrong as I believe this is, and equally great tragedy is that this most impacts the working poor, and people with disabilities who rely on public services. If sidewalks, MUP’s, park and overtaken by groups of “campers” to extent that they are unusable, this will have far less impact on people of means. If you have the money, you can drive where you need to go, or take a Lyft; you can drive to recreation, swimming, dog-walking. If you are strapped for cash and time, you rely on transit, on bike paths and sidewalks. You rely on Parks and the services provided by PP&R for personal and family recreation as well as child care. If you are blind or use a mobility device, having tents block entire block faces creates immense challenges. It has become seen as virtuous to tolerate camps, but that tolerance comes at the expense of vulnerable populations and at the expense of fundamentally changing our understanding of justice with equal protection under the law. We need to do a much better job at providing support to people with mental illness and drug addiction. People need to be offered a secure place to sleep. We also need to re-establish our social contract: our parks need to be clean and safe, our transit needs to be clean and safe, our bike lanes must be safe and well-connected, our sidewalks need to be accessible.

As for this bingo chart, we need to acknowledge that the largest, most common, most dangerous and most sever sidewalk obstruction are the hundred of tent village that we allow there.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

The pandemic is proving to be a disaster for the disabled. Over here in Bend, the city is allowing restaurants to partially or completely block sidewalks with tables, chairs, detours into the street etc etc If a blind person has taken months to memorize an urban route, it is now completely turned upside down. The same thing happens in the Winter, when the City piles up snow on the sidewalks; I have actually helped blind and disabled people get through the gauntlets, when I have found them obviously at a loss as to how to proceed. This is after dozens of pedestrians just walk around and ignore them.

qqq
Guest
qqq

There should be bonus points for the vehicle-related violations if the vehicle has a “Share the road” license or sticker. Triple if it’s a City vehicle with a “Vision Zero” bumper sticker.