‘Agents of transformation’ help spread traffic cone activism in Portland

‘Agents of transformation’ help spread traffic cone activism in Portland


These cones placed by PDX Transformation agents on NE 21st just after it crosses I-84 help prevent people from encroaching into the bike lane through the “s” curve. See more photos of it below.
(Photo: @PedalPortland on Twitter)

Portland’s traffic coning revolution is spreading.

Since we last reported on the anonymous, DIY citizen activists behind PDX Transformation, the group has been busy. Or should we say their followers have been busy.


The Williams and Alberta deployment.

After several cone deployments (and one gate-opening) the group has set their brand of activism free with the “Agents of Transformation” program. The idea (which we helped inspire with one innocent tweet) is that anyone can grab a few orange cones and take traffic safety hot-spots into their own hands.

Here’s more from one the leaders of PDX Transformation:

“We get a suggestion about a bad location from someone who lives or works near the spot, then coordinate a good transformation that can be done cheaply and safely. We get materials to the person, (hopefully with PDX Transformation branding), and the newly deputized Agent maintains the transformation as long as possible. It all happens on twitter, with us retweeting pics of the location.

It distributes our workload geographically in a way that our core team could never cover by ourselves. The more that the word gets out, the more people realize they can do this for themselves.”

These “transformation agents” have helped maintain cones at North Williams and Willamette, North Williams and Alberta, and most recently at the tricky corner on Northeast 21st where it crosses Interstate 84.



A few more views of the installation on NE 21st. The cones work best where people tend to encroach into bikeways, which is a very common behavior especially in curves.

Needing more cones to meet demand, PDX Transformation recently raised $1,000 via a GoFundMe campaign — and they did it in less than a week. They’ve used the money to order 50 new cones which should be ready for action any day now.

These spontaneous traffic-coning projects have been so popular that people have volunteered not only to place the cones on the street but also to maintain them. If someone rides the same route every day they can become caretakers of a specific location, making sure the cones are lined up and sharing the status with @PBOTrans on Twitter. As new locations get posted on social media, it encourages more people to help and get involved. It’s a positive feedback loop of safe streets activism.

And so far the projects have been well-received. “I’ve biked this route 1000 times & cars NEVER give this much room,” wrote one person on Twitter in response to the cones on 21st. “It was amazing to watch people’s brake lights turn on well in advance of the turn. The speed reduction was significant!” wrote another.

Keep up to date with all the action via @PBOTrans on Twitter.

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

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