Leah Treat, director of the Portland Bureau Of Transportation (PBOT) says that business in the Old Town-Chinatown neighborhood were looking for ways to spruce up the area to make it more lively and attractive, and this was one of the ideas they came up with. Somehow the new crosswalk is supposed to make everyone NOT notice the all crank dealers, addicts, and prostitutes that frequent that area.
“These are much more engaging (than regular stripes), they marry public art and public safety, so it not only brings a sense of place to the neighborhood and gives it a sense of identity and character, but it also enhances safety.” says Treat “Everyone who will be entering this intersection will notice this parked crosswalk, because it’s more visible, and people will slow down and will be more aware of their surroundings.”
On hand for the maiden walk across the umbrella stripes was Portland city commissioner Steve Novick. Commissioner Novick was in hot water earlier this year for plotting with Mayor Charlie Hales to introduce a head tax or city income tax to pay for street maintenance. Kind of ironic that these new crosswalks he’s championing cost $4000 per stripe, versus the old, regular stripes that cost $750.The Oregonian reports:
The cost of the creative crosswalks is substantially more than standard striping, according to PBOT. But city officials said they think the experiment will pay off as both a safety feature and a cultural enhancement.
“Portlanders have long recognized that a quality pedestrian atmosphere is the backbone for a vibrant downtown retail environment,” Novick said.
In recent years, Old Town has been the scene of some of the city’s most tragic pedestrian deaths, including a collision in which a TriMet bus driver hit five pedestrians in 2010, killing two.
The city paid about $8,000 for the materials and installation of the two reflective raindrop crosswalks at the intersection, which is illuminated by street lights at night.
“The cost estimate for each creative crosswalk is $4,000,” wrote PBOT spokeswoman Diane Dulken.
By comparison, the cost for one traditional “ladder bar” used at other crosswalks is $750.
It will be interesting to see how many vehicles recognize these as crosswalks, versus how many will just blow right on by not realizing what they are. Then there will be the rubberneckers, who will slow down to take a look at what is on the street, while taking their eyes off the rest of the road.
Keep Portland weird.