No, PBOT did not permit a car photo shoot on the carfree Blumenauer Bridge

Over the weekend someone sent me an interesting Instagram post. It showed a custom car parked on the Blumenauer Bridge. It was a striking image, not just because of the racey sports car, but because cars aren’t allowed on that bridge.

I wanted to have some fun with however posted the photos, and I figured folks would want to know about someone posing a car on the sacred space of our beloved new bridge, so I reposted the images and a link to the original IG post. The photos were taken by a photographer who goes by The House Ophidian on IG. The car was built by someone named Casey, whose Casey’s Garage IG account has over 47,000 followers.

Not surprisingly, some folks who follow BikePortland left some comments on the post that expressed their anger. I say it’s no surprise because carfree infrastructure has somewhat of a sacred space in the hearts of people who are forced to navigate scary, car-dominated spaces every trip they take. In some ways, the deck of that bridge is hallowed ground.

This exchange summed up these feelings:

fritglass: “I cannot belive [sic] people like that exist. What terrible lives they must have to be so mad over a photo of a car.”

– reply by kevkevshield: “It’s not “a photo of a car” it’s a car parked on a bridge that was specifically made for bicyclists and pedestrians. It’s insulting and infuriating how entitled motorists are with their private property.”

The folks responsible for the post implied they received permission to take the photos. Oddly, they also implied that BikePortland gave them that permission. “Thanks @bikeportland for all the support in capturing this photo,” said the post after it was edited following a burst of negative comments. I have no idea why these folks are saying we had anything to do with their stunt. It’s misleading and 100% untrue. I reached out to the photographer and to Casey to learn more about them to share in this post but never heard back.

I personally don’t have a beef with this — especially since it was taken before the bridge was officially open to the public (note the lack of pavement markings). Portland has a big car culture that shares many of the same traits are our bike culture. People love to trick out their cars, take photos of them, drive them together, race them. They love cars! And that’s fine with me (as long as they drive safely of course). And for what it’s worth, Casey seemed like an OK person in a short exchange of DMs I had with them.

Oh, and if you’re curious whether or not PBOT permitted the photos, I followed up with them on Monday. They say they did not give these folks a permit. So, either the people who arranged this got permission from construction crews on the ground. Or they’re lying.

I was hopeful they’d do a little Q & A with me because I think this episode was a potential bridge (ha!) to better relations between bike and car lovers. Or at least an opportunity for better understanding. And who wouldn’t want that? Having car lovers and bike lovers get even more mad at each other is something I have zero interest in being a part of.

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curly
curly
22 days ago

Let’s advocate to have PBOT issue permits for such an occasion and use the fees to pay forward the $15 million used to construct it. A real public/private venture!
Cool ride.

Sloppy JImbo
Sloppy JImbo
22 days ago

Not sure what the big deal is… we seem to allow automobiles on all of our car-free MUPs these days. And they’re typically much less attractive looking than this one.

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
22 days ago

An interesting situation…especially if it was the bridge builder giving approval…I assume they would have a COI from the photography company / marketing firm if there was a “permit”…but if its just “permission” then it could have been a verbal “yes” without much paperwork trail.

cc_rider
cc_rider
22 days ago

This is an excellent example of why we need to smash cars for car-brains who do stuff like this. Cars on MUPs that aren’t stolen need to be smashed. Cars used in street racing that haven’t been reported stolen need to be smashed

qqq
qqq
22 days ago
Reply to  cc_rider

In this case, it looks like it was done before the bridge was open, which to me makes it much different than the typical situation of vehicles blocking bike paths or lanes.

cc_rider
cc_rider
22 days ago
Reply to  qqq

I agree! Instead of just driving their car onto a ped path, they drove their car onto a ped path that wasn’t open to the public yet, meaning they could have damaged it inadvertently

smash smash smash smash

qqq
qqq
22 days ago
Reply to  cc_rider

It could possibly do that. Or not, given that the paving looks like it could be at a stage that it already may have had construction vehicle traffic using it regularly. They may have not had permission, or they may have.

In the best case, they didn’t do anything wrong. In the worst, I wouldn’t put parking a car for photos on an unoccupied bridge anywhere near driving on MUPs or street racing.

cc_rider
cc_rider
22 days ago

Let’s also remember that Portland Parks and Rec promotes car culture and the people who did that are almost certainly patrons of PRI or the street racing scene

Anthony Ziti
Anthony Ziti
22 days ago
Reply to  cc_rider

almost certainly patrons of PRI

Tell me you don’t understand car culture without telling me you don’t understand car culture.

First of all, what you call “street racing” has absolutely nothing to do with racing. They do donuts and burnouts, stunts. There’s nothing like that at PIR.

The more appropriate name for what you’re talking about is sideshows or takeovers. It’s informal and social, based around “cruising” and gatherings like the Red Door Meet. It’s DIY and participation takes very little money– you can be rich, you can be poor.

These folks don’t care about organized motorsports at PIR. Not even a little bit. It might as well exist in a different universe. It would be like asking a crew of kids riding recklessly on BMX bikes to sit down and watch the Tour De France on TV: boring. Unrelatable.

This is what the uninformed always seem to get wrong. They say stuff like “Why can’t the ‘racers’ sign up for Spectator Drags?” Because it costs money, because it’s not rebellious, and it’s not what their cars are built to do.

And I write this as someone who barely drives at all. Never been a part of the car culture, always way more into bicycles. It’s not hard to understand this stuff if you’re paying attention to who is shutting down streets with their cars, what they’re doing with their cars, and what they seem to get out of it.

So you don’t like PIR, great. Save that whine for a more relevant article.

cc_rider
cc_rider
22 days ago
Reply to  Anthony Ziti

First of all, what you call “street racing” has absolutely nothing to do with racing. They do donuts and burnouts, stunts. There’s nothing like that at PIR.

Please dude. When I was young and dumb I attended street racing. I’ve seen street racing on N Columbia and Marine drive.

I’m not sure you actually read what I wrote so I’ll quote it here:

Let’s also remember that Portland Parks and Rec promotes car culture and the people who did that are almost certainly patrons of PRI or the street racing scene

In this case, the word “or” is being used to say “they could be into PRI, street racing, or both”. I’m hoping you didn’t quote part a sentence in a malicious manner, but generally you need to read the whole sentence and then think about it, to understand what its saying

This guy almost certainly is involved with PIR or street racing, its just a matter of which one.

Racer X
21 days ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Yes, its an interesting conundrum for such a “green thinking” city…Parks manages the Portland International Raceway…I used to support the use of PIR as a “pressure relief valve” to get illegal unsafe racing off the city streets and public spaces. But we all know how well that deal worked with the motörheads / roadway hoons.

Now that Portland has a new form of government: Time to repurpose PIR (along with most golf courses)…there has to be a creative solution (vision) for some unmet need in Portland for these lands / open spaces…local food production, housing, …coffee bean drying?

maxD
maxD
22 days ago

What is worse: 1) a car using the bikebridge (before it is open) for a photoshoot, or 2) PBOT building a $19M bridge, ostensibly for bikes, but the the connection at the north does not line up withthe street it joins and requires a bunch of abrupt right turns and mixes bikes and pedestrians together in an awkward and unsafe way and then despite have years to figure it during bridge construction, the bridge opens without connecting infrastructure- they couldn’t even turn the stop sign on NE Davis!

soren
soren
22 days ago
Reply to  maxD

So many better uses for $20,000,000 in active transportation funding but real estate speculators desperately needed a fancy bridge between bougie condo towers on the south and north side of the freeway.

dwk
dwk
22 days ago
Reply to  soren

Cycling as transportation is just embarrassing in the downtown and inner NE compared to 5 years ago despite all the stupid paint and spending like this bridge.
Some is demographics as the real estate market drove out young people, part is not having city workers back in downtown which was a decent percent of cyclists.
The stay at home and work crowd is not what I consider a livable pleasant vibrant society and it shows in downtown.

Nick
Nick
21 days ago
Reply to  maxD

Don’t forget about the flooding on the north side too

Chris I
Chris I
21 days ago
Reply to  maxD

#1 is still worse.

PdxPhoenix
PdxPhoenix
20 days ago
Reply to  maxD

well, engineers (bridge, traffic, or otherwise) are not known for common sense.

dwk
dwk
22 days ago

At least it is used….I ride across this bridge daily., I have yet to see another bicycle on it. Its a blatant advertisement for stupid spending.
I rode from NE to downtown today on a beautiful day, could count cyclists on one hand. Nice to have all the lanes to yourself.

Matt
Matt
22 days ago

The car says “DANGER” in the location where state law requires a front license place…

I’m reminded of Maya Angelou stating, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them, the first time.”

was called
was called
22 days ago

Why do people have to get mad all the time?

Chill out

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
21 days ago
Reply to  was called

Ask the rioters from a couple summers ago. They’ll surely have an answer for you.

Fred
Fred
21 days ago
Reply to  was called

Also ask the car drivers and passengers who regularly scream out of their car windows at cyclists, just cuz they can.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
21 days ago

click bait

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
21 days ago

FWIW I do not think they implied bike Portland gave them permission, the aforementioned support is how many social media algorithms function at their core; any attention is good attention, especially when it drives additional engagement.

More eyes on the info and more comments all means more metadata to collect which leads to the post being promoted to collect even more data in an effort to build the cascading domino effect we refer to as going viral.

Bike Portland brought more attention, so their post was allotted a greater chance at success. Their edit to call out BP directly was also a success in this regard, as you’ve directed even more traffic in their direction. I’m sure it also gave them some smug feelings of misguided satisfaction to know their edit got your attention.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
21 days ago

Apologies, not meant to be a commentary on your knowledge. When there’s a public audience with unknown background information I have a habit of over explaining my understanding of things and how I came to my conclusions.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
21 days ago

All good, I lurk enough to know you’ve got a much more chilled demeanor and patience than I would with a LOT of the back and forth that I can see post-moderation. Appreciate all the work from you and your team.