Portlanders love yard signs and neighborhood greenways and a new initiative from the Bureau of Transportation wants to take full of advantage of it.
About 25,000 people who live on our 110-mile network of neighborhood greenways citywide received a postcard in the mail this week that exclaims: “You Live on a Neighborhood Greenway!” The postcard offers all recipients their choice of two sign designs. One of them is a general neighborhood greenway sign with stick figures biking, walking a dog and playing ball; the other is yellow to mimic a traffic caution sign and includes “15 MPH” in large font.
This isn’t the first time PBOT has sought to use private front yard real estate to hammer home a traffic safety message. In 2018 they could hardly keep “20 is Plenty” signs in stock as folks were eager for anything that might help deter speeders from their streets. And who remembers last April when local artist Mike Bennett created a variety of “Slow Down” yard signs and could barely keep up with demand?
In passive-aggressive Portland, anonymously planting a sign in the grass that tells other people how they should act is the perfect way for many people to exercise their activism muscles.
PBOT says they hope this latest effort helps raise awareness about the 15 mph advisory speed limit and other traffic calming installations they’ve recently installed on greenways.
PBOT Interim Communications Director Hannah Schafer says, “Our goal is raise awareness among people traveling and living along greenways that they are great streets for walking, biking and rolling.” Funding for the signs comes from the Slow Streets program.
Schafer said they’ve printed 1,000 signs, 500 of each design. If you want one, you better act fast as she reports they’ve had 287 orders in the first two days of the campaign.
This free sign program is available only to people to who live on neighborhood greenways. If you’re one of them, you can request yours here.
Insert drake-nah-yes-meme.jpg here:
Spending money to advertise the existence of a Neighborhood Greenway on a Neighborhood Greenway.
☺️ Spending money to advertise the existence of a Neighborhood Greenway on a busy/unsafe street _near_ a Neighborhood Greenway.
This funding could have been used to install several “temporary” diverters but PBOT chose instead to fritter away its meager safety funding on homeowner virtue signaling. What a farce.
And just add to roadside trash.
Signs are probably only a couple thousand dollars at most. I don’t think you can do any kind of diverters, even temporary for that amount.
High-quality yard signs cost more than $2 each and then there is the FTE to design and distribute signs as well as mail postcards. I’d be surprised if the budget for this PBOT extravagance is less then $10K. Temporary concrete barrel diverters (e.g. the former diagonal diverter at 15th and Ankeney), on the other hand, are incredibly inexpensive.
But more so work has to go into that than a simple design like this. You have to do traffic studies before adding diverters, pay for labor to actually put the concrete barrels, large concrete barrels are probably close to a couple hundred dollars each.
Education is needed, and this seems like a decent, easy thing for pbot to do for greenway awareness.
I very much doubt that these small signs are even noticed by the majority of drivers.
Pepperidge farm remembers when PBOT’s vision zero program was supposed to be based on *evidence*.
These new slow streets signs will pair well with the “In This House” projection signs that so many have.
Awareness is nice, but…awareness does not equal safety.
I would prefer diverters! Flanders is nearly useless as a Greenway due to the steady and fast traffic. So is Going, and I guess all the Greenways. Portland needs to commit to these routes and add diverters adn safe, direct connections to other bike routes so people can actually use them to get places. If they are going to put sign on the Greenway, they should say “If you driving here, you are doing it wrong”
I’d love to see some of them become a kind of adjacent access only where cars are actually prevented from driving down them.
As a recipient of the postcard, I thought the same thing at first—what’s the purpose of a sign that’s only visible within a 40ft radius, my neighbors already know it’s a greenway. But then I thought about the number of vehicles that park in front to visit the popular street nearby. All those visitors might -not- realize it’s a greenway. Some might not even have thought about biking here until they saw a reminder. And if all of those signs prevent even one serious crash from an inattentive driver, it’s probably paid for itself.
I like this. Man, everyone hates everything.
This is a great idea for getting started.
If they wanted to install 15 mph speed signs or “neighborhood greenway” signs on poles instead, it would be much more expensive and slower. I found the cost per sign was about $150 to $200 in 2013, so imagine $200 to $250 now: https://activelivingresearch.org/sites/activelivingresearch.org/files/Dill_Bicycle_Facility_Cost_June2013.pdf
So assuming a cost around $10 per yard sign (including delivery), they can get 20 to 25 signs on yard and planting strips, for the cost of one official sign on a pole, and get them out there right away. This way there will be as sign on most blocks within a few months.
The best longer term solution would be to stencil the 15 mph speed on the street surface, but this also costs around $250 per stensil (if the cost is the same as a sharrow in the document above). I think that will be the best option when there is time and funding, it is more noticable than signs, and creates less clutter along streets. You put one on every entrance to the greenway. This is common on low-speeds zones in Europe and Britain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/30_km/h_zone
And the 15 mph yard signs will be ignored just as often as the old 20 mph yard signs.
Heck, even the speed signs on the poles are ignored.
If there isn’t an enforcement component to this it’ll just end up a dismal failure like “20 is plenty”. Oh, and I don’t see any more of those signs in my neighborhood either.
This is awesome, good job PBOT! Ignore the haters.
You’d need a sign to tell you because PBOT is adamant that motorists should have completely unrestricted access to speed down greenways to avoid other motorists.
“Schafer said they’ve printed 1,0000 signs, 500 of each design” – I think you mean ” they’ve printed 1,000 signs”
yes. Thanks for the proofreading Joseph! Always nice to have extra set of eyes.
All you entitled east-siders with your fancy greenways. Try living on the west side of the river, which is truly a wild west of unregulated two-lane roads. We just feel fortunate to have painted bike lanes on a few streets.
Yesterday, I experienced first-hand what you described. On a long walk from NE Portland to SW Portland (Bridlemile), I used Apple’s walking instructions to set my route. All went well until I started downhill on SW Patton Rd. Yikes!
There were several stretches where I could barely find a shoulder to walk on. In a few cases, I had to cross SW Patton from the left side (facing oncoming traffic) to the right side to even find the shoulder. The crossings where I had poor sight visibility were especially unnerving.
One day later, I’ve considered using the ‘Report an issue’ crowdsourcing feature in the app to let Apple (TomTom) know what I think. In response to their question, “What step in your directions to […] was wrong?” I’d flag “Walking wasn’t safe” along most of SW Patton. Interestingly, Google Maps also shows SW Patton in their walking instructions for the same 10+ mile route.
I should also add, I did a ‘flyover’ of the route when I was doing my planning, but the tree canopy obscured a lot of the road. And since this is BikePortland, the bicyclists who passed me going downhill on SW Patton were able to take the lane because they were going as fast as the motorists.
Ahaha, oh man, that one hits hard. Incisive observation, there.
Superimpose a map of Portland’s greenways on a map of Metro’s Equity Focus Areas (or your choice of equity measure), and it looks once again as if the (leafier and cooler*) inner neighborhoods are getting subsidized pretty signs through this effort. How many greenways are east of 205, where 1/5 of the city’s children live? Or even east of 82nd? Certainly not enough to function as a network by any means. The greenways east of 82nd largely don’t deserve the name – they lack basic conditions or infrastructure. ever ride/walk the Mill St. greenway at 82nd, east of 82nd? Potholes, uneven paving, no sidewalks (remember greenways are for people walking too) – but slap down a chevron, and call it good enough for E. Portland? Sigh.
*thanks for the coverage of the Climate Resilience ride and drawing attention to the unequal tree canopy!
Yes. I’d like to see the Neighborhood Greenway map overlaid with the High Crash Corridor/Dangerous Intersection map. It would show your point graphically.
Also, while it’s true that SW is short on greenways, as the Greenway map shows (plus short on sidewalks, bike lanes, etc.) that overlay would also show almost no SW streets or intersections in the High Crash/Dangerous category. East Portland really stands out having dangerous streets while being neglected for greenways and other infrastructure.
I noticed your new comment and re-read all the comments posted here.
I need to start keeping a folder of PBOT maps. Notice that the Greenway map above is truncated, Portland extends further south than the map shows. And, as frequently happens, the inset for downtown sits smack in the middle of west Portland.
I understand why the person doing the graphic layout does this– nothing going on in the south or west, lets cut it off and use that space for text! (I’ve seen this with bike maps too.) But it is visually misleading.
East Portland certainly has more high crash corridors than SW, although both Barbur and Cap Hwy are HCC. But it’s not helpful to categorize SW Portland’s needs using east Portland’s deficiencies. The two areas have very different problems.
Mark McClure’s (and Fred’s) description (above) of trying to walk in SW does a good job of illustrating SW deficiencies. Greenways aren’t going to fix the problems here.
I agree with everything you wrote. Also, your observation about cropping the map being misleading is a good insight.
My comment was to Zoe, but it was also a reaction to Fred’s comment above: “All you entitled east-siders with your fancy greenways…”.
I’m fine with anyone commenting that SW isn’t getting adequate infrastructure and other transportation solutions–because that’s true, and it’s also why I mentioned “sidewalks, bike lanes, etc.” in addition to greenways. But calling east-siders “entitled” is inaccurate to the point of being clueless.
The most obvious, simple way I could think of to illustrate that is to look at those crash statistics. (I realize crash statistics don’t give a comprehensive picture of what an area’s transportation problems are; on the other hand their focus on where people are getting injured and killed is pretty important.) East Portland’s are worse than SW’s by an INCREDIBLE amount. If someone in SW doesn’t like that SW isn’t getting greenways, fine, but they shouldn’t call east-siders (which includes East Portland) “entitled” when almost every major street in East Portland is a High Crash Corridor, and so many intersections are statistically dangerous.
I wasn’t intending “to categorize SW Portland’s needs using east Portland’s deficiencies”, or to imply that greenways will fix SW’s problems. or even to downplay SW’s issues in any way. I was simply pointing out that, while both East Portland and SW are shortchanged in greenways, East Portland statistically is more dangerous.
I’ve lived in SW for decades, worked in SW almost that long, and been active in transportation issues the whole time. I know what SW’s issues are, and I know that trying to get things done in SW by calling Eastsiders “entitled” or even implying that other parts of the city are getting City Hall’s ear and money while SW languishes is a losing proposition because it’s so laughably false.
Thank you for the long reply qqq. Sometimes triage comes to mind. East Portland is bleeding out in the emergency room–needs immediate attention. SW has metabolic syndrome, the trio of high blood pressure, high blood sugar and lousy cholesterol. SW can probably wait a day, but it’s not healthy.
What SW needs is bus service to be restored to levels 15 years ago.
That’s a perfect way of describing it. You should be a writer!
Funny you should mention buses. I used to take the bus to work downtown from SW. The poor schedule (1 per hour or worse at the times I needed it) led me to start bike commuting, which was also faster, cheaper and more flexible.
The city needs make it a priority to keep our Greenways free of camping.