Bike lane in danger? Cone power to the rescue!

Bike lane in danger? Cone power to the rescue!

cones-rosa-lead

The corner of North Rosa Parks and Willamette.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s unofficial defenders of transportation safety have once again come to the aid of a bikeway in need.

On Monday, the anonymous group of traffic heros (or villains, depending on your perspective) calling themselves PDX Transformation (@PBOTrans on Twitter) placed two orange traffic cones in the buffer zone of a bike lane at the corner of North Rosa Parks Way and Willamette Boulevard. They were frustated at how many people would drive in the bike lane to cut the corner (a common problem Portland’s official transportation bureau is well aware of). So many people cut into the bike lane at this corner that the paint has worn off. And the behavior has gone on for years.

Back in 2011 I wrote a short opinion piece accompanied by a vandalized sign at this same intersection. Someone had scrawled “5 points” under the bike/walk crossing symbol — as if people using the Rosa Parks/Willamette crossing are nothing more than mere targets in some sick game.

Amazingly, all it took to stop this illegal and dangerous driving habit was about $40 worth of traffic cones. I went and saw it myself on Monday night and couldn’t believe how people stayed out of the bike lane just to avoid these powerful plastic cones:





Reports coming in via Twitter show that the cones are still in place as of this morning. They’ve been knocked down, but people who ride by the location have taken it upon themselves to stand them back up again. Glenn Fee, who follows PBOTrans on Twitter said he plans to monitor the cones twice per day on his commute.

PDX Transportation is very pleased that the cones have survived this long. To them it proves that permanent separation is needed — and would work — in this location. Late last night they posed a question to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (via Twitter): “Those cones have been up for most of two days; why couldn’t you put a concrete curb there?” So far, PBOT has not responded.

These are the same activists that propped open TriMet’s swing gates along the Orange Line MAX at Southeast 11th earlier this month. They are part of what has become something of an orange cone revolution among transportation activists armed with nothing more than cones, paint, Twitter, and frustration. PDX Transformation sprung up after noting the success and notoriety of similar group in New York City. And now there are groups in San Antonio and Seattle as well.

The power of a group like PDX Transformation lies in who sees their work and how/if it influences them. On that note, among their notable Twitter followers are PBOT, Timur Ender (transportation policy advisor for Commissioner Steve Novick), Elliot Njus (transportation reporter for The Oregonian), Dirk Vanderhart (news editor at The Portland Mercury), Reed Andrews (a reporter for KATU-TV), Maggie Vespa (a reporter with KGW-TV), Jennifer Anderson (reporter for Portland Tribune), Sarah Iannarone (Portland mayoral candidate), Gerik Kransky (advocacy director for the BTA), Peter Koonce (an engineer who manages PBOT’s Signals Street Lighting and Intelligent Transportation Systems division), Margi Bradway (manager of PBOT’s Active Transportation Division), and Jeff Owen (TriMet active transportation planner).

Some of the right people are getting the message, the important thing is whether or not it will sink in and lead to real changes on the ground.

UPDATE: There is now a GoFundMe campaign to help buy more cones for PDX Transformation.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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