“Thanks PBOT! As a frequent visitor to Arbor Lodge Park with my 2 year old, I had experienced a stubborn neighbor repeatedly moving the previous temporary barricades.”
— Seth Sokol, north Portland resident
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is making good on a promise to make neighborhood streets in Portland safer by installing permanent barricades designed to slow drivers down.
‘Slow Streets’ are part of PBOT’’s ‘Safe Streets’ initiative that began as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and aimed to lower speeds and cut-through car traffic on select neighborhood greenways so people could safely physically distance outside. PBOT placed orange plastic barrels and a-frame signs on neighborhood greenways at 100 locations around the city, expanding them to over 200 locations upon seeing how successful they were.
But these temporary orange barrels were too easy for irritated drivers to pick up and move (see below). Seth Sokol, a BikePortland reader who found the barriers helpful in creating a safer environment to ride bikes around his neighborhood with his two-year-old son, told us this morning he’d seen someone repeatedly moving the barricades — a scenario that no doubt played out at dozens of other locations citywide.
These new concrete planters will be hard to move (they are not filled with concrete as I first assumed, but are simply turned upside-down). As you can see in the photo of North Bryant at Greeley, they’ve also added yellow advisory signs with “Shared Street” and “15 mph” on them. The barricades are also painted yellow and placed far enough into the intersection so they have the added bonus of slowing down cross-traffic on the larger street. And they cost only $1,500 each to install (including signs).
PBOT announced over the summer that the ‘Slow Streets’ program would continue — this time, with permanent concrete structures serving as barriers so they couldn’t be moved so easily. As we reported in August, this was a big deal.
According to the PBOT map of all slow street installations, these barricades in Arbor Lodge count for two of the eight permanent installations in north Portland and the peninsula. PBOT has promised 80 total and a quick citywide count shows they’ve got over 70 and are close to that promised number (we have not verified the accuracy of the map, but PBOT has been good about keeping it updated).
Sokol shared his excitement with us at seeing the flimsy barricades he repeatedly saw being whisked away by a neighbor, get replaced with something much more solid.
“Thanks PBOT! As a frequent visitor to Arbor Lodge Park with my 2 year old, I had experienced a stubborn neighbor repeatedly moving the previous temporary barricades, so this should provide more permanent traffic calming,” Sokol emailed.
Not only is there a park a few blocks from this installation, but there’s also a TriMet bus stop and a school nearby.
When announcing this plan, PBOT shared positive testimonials from supporters who said having barricades in their neighborhood streets made them feel safer walking and biking alone and with their families. One southeast resident told the city they bought bikes for their family for the first time, finally feeling safe enough to freely cycle through their neighborhood.
If you’ve seen any of these barricades, let us know what you think. It’s heartening to see how simple, inexpensive tools like concrete barrels can improve the livelihoods of people who get around Portland without cars and provide encouragement to people who are wary of taking to the streets on a bike.
CORRECTION, 12/16 at 9:45 am: This story initially reported that the planters were filled with concrete. That is not true. They planters are hollow inside and are just flipped upside-down. That means they’re a bit lighter than we hoped. Still too heavy to move by hand, but we can expect (unfortunately) that they’ll still be jostled around by bad drivers. PBOT has said, “Future updates could include using more permanent materials, like poured concrete.” So we’ll see. We regret any confusion.
Taylor has been BikePortland’s staff writer since November 2021. She has also written for Street Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org