Tacoma Urbanist

Dec. 6, 2007 at 12:25am

Traffic Calming Portland Style : Paint Your Intersection

How can neighbors exercise ownership of their neighborhood, make it more attractive, reduce crime and create traffic calming?

How about painting the intersection like Portland does.

This involves painting streets with a high-visibility mural that creates a public square for residents to gather and one which gently encourages drivers to slow down when approaching these spaces. Over time the neighbors further enhance the transformation by adding amenities like benches, community bulletin boards, and introducing gardens & art. As you’ll see, the possibilities are endless.



comments [16]  |  posted under portland, traffic calming

Comments

by thriceallamerican on 12/6/2007 @ 11:32am
This is coming soon to Tacoma. Art on the Ave. 2008. Literally, art, on the Ave.

by Erik on 12/6/2007 @ 11:48am
This is coming soon to Tacoma. Art on the Ave. 2008. Literally, art, on the Ave.

Nice. That's a great place for this to start.

by thriceallamerican on 12/6/2007 @ 12:28pm
I got really excited when I saw this video several months ago, and immediately started ruffling feathers with the 6th Ave Mercants, et al. I think we're aiming for 6th and Pine for repair #1. It should be awesome to get the community involved in the actual painting during the street fair. Obviously the artist has yet to be chosen, and discretion for the design will be theirs, but one idea thrown out has been a giant octopus...

by NineInchNachos on 12/6/2007 @ 12:40pm
I like the idea of slow traffic, but have mixed feelings about hippies and jarring colors.


by izenmania on 12/6/2007 @ 1:28pm
I'd settle for a few streets just getting lines painted...

by KevinFreitas on 12/6/2007 @ 1:39pm
Yea, I'm with izenmania. There are lots of streets especially around the bustling Dome District that are in need of some fresh paint.

by thriceallamerican on 12/6/2007 @ 2:25pm
Community art and street maintenance are two totally different topics. I'm not sure I see the tie-in.

by KevinFreitas on 12/6/2007 @ 3:35pm
Paint on streets -- that's the tie-in. Now funding paths I'm sure are totally different. Maybe the city would be open to permitting line painting parties about town?!

I do think it would be pretty neat to see some road-based murals here and there. Sixth Ave certainly seems like it would be the place to do it.

by Jake on 12/6/2007 @ 4:40pm
This is being done more for art and less for traffic calming right? 6th and Pine has pretty calm traffic. I am sure the average speed through the intersection is 20-25 mph in a 30mph zone.

by NineInchNachos on 12/6/2007 @ 5:58pm
I take issue with the urban hippe folk art.

Do we really need a burning man festival in every intersection? How will the firetrucks get through when a methlab explodes? Will the drum circles flip their instruments upsidedown to serve as a citizen bucket brigade?

Lets learn from the DOT, the only way to slow down cars is to add more cars. lots and lots of cars. Verily a glorious future awaits us all.

by ensie on 12/6/2007 @ 7:56pm
I don't know anyone who loves their home, or rather, the space just outside their home, as much as these people do. Their best friends live just outside their doorsteps - that's really cool. What an awesome sense of community.

Urban hippie folk art or no, taking ownership of your neighborhood is cool, and I would kill to feel this way about my neighbors and neighborhood. Fixing up your streets and slowing down cars are an added bonus.

If anyone wants to take over the instersection of N Steele and Sheridan I'm in. There's even a giant field on the corner where we can build goddess statues or something.

by Erik on 12/6/2007 @ 8:51pm
Urban hippie folk art or no, taking ownership of your neighborhood is cool, and I would kill to feel this way about my neighbors and neighborhood. Fixing up your streets and slowing down cars are an added bonus.

Yep, I think that really explains it. Fixing up the street is sort of like "Adopt a Spot" on steroids. If city workers were paid to simply paint intersections it would not really have the same effect. There has to be immediate local residents working on it.

Transforms a blank piece of anonymous concrete into a place worth caring about and which people feel some ownership over. It probably does slow traffic but as you say, that is an extra bonus.

Crime and dysfunctional behavior tends to occur where there is a vaccum. So I am sure efforts like this help stabalize the neighborhood as well.

Tacoma is already doing that somewhat with the maintenance of the roundabouts. 6th Avenue has done it with the garbage cans some by painting them.

by izenmania on 12/6/2007 @ 9:56pm
Community art and street maintenance are two totally different topics. I'm not sure I see the tie-in.

Nothing calms traffic quite like people knowing where they're supposed to drive and stop, and where they ought to expect pedestrians to cross.

by ensie on 12/7/2007 @ 12:06pm
Nothing calms traffic quite like people knowing where they're supposed to drive and stop, and where they ought to expect pedestrians to cross.

Too true. Spoken like a true walker. From someone who drives a lot, it can be difficult to see people who walk (or bike ride) on dark, rainy nights. Having clearly defined crosswalks, stop and yield signs are very helpful.

by Erik on 12/7/2007 @ 9:48pm
Here's a
web page Creating Places that talks about painting intersections.


by Erik on 12/7/2007 @ 9:54pm
[b]
How do we pick a design? [/b]

See what talent and creativity exists in your fellow neighbors. Your project team may decide to hold a friendly competition or come up with a few designs themselves – the key is to make sure everyone feels like they have an opportunity to participate and vote. You might have a meeting where everyone votes on a design, and then discuss and come to a consensus about the colors. The Pascal & Van Buren intersection design was a “doodle” from a neighbor who claims to have not an artsy bone in her body. For information on how to paint an intersection see this information from Ottawa: www.cityrepair.ca/database/view.asp?item=doc-041

[b]Can our painted design go up onto the sidewalk or cover manholes? [/b]

Yes and yes. For a design that goes onto the sidewalks, just make sure there is a distinction between the street & the curb (the curb pavement is usually a different material from the street asphalt, so it is easy to see where the design would stop and start).
[b]
How much time do we have to close the streets?
[/b]
Tops, two days... Saturday & Sunday. The City of St. Paul would prefer 12 hours, but are flexible especially if the design is more intricate. Hope for a dry but not too hot day. Remember to plan ahead to get the barricades and give yourself time to set them up. Also, if you know a gym or drivers education teacher, borrow some orange cones. Even though you will have barricades up, orange cones standing guard and perhaps balloons and streamers, will help ensure that drivers won’t attempt to drive through the intersection. If you are in the Hamline Midway neighborhood, the Hamline Midway Coalition has cones they can lend to you.
[b]
Will cars skid on the painted intersections?
[/b]
We encourage you to use a non-skid additive to any type of paint that you use (available wherever they sell paint). Don’t forget that we live in Minnesota and when there is snow or ice on the road, one may slip and/or skid, whether you’re on foot or in a car.
[b]
Are kids going to be more drawn to play in the street because of the painted design?
[/b]
We don’t suggest that you paint a hopscotch or a chess board in the intersection! You’ll probably have many kids participate in your painting day, and that is a good time to remind them that they have to be careful when they’re in the street, whether it is playing in or walking across it.
[b]
Does it really calm or slow traffic?
[/b]
Folks who live at the painted intersections say that drivers are more observant and cautious, including themselves. Part of this could be because most of the people who drive fast in neighborhoods are the people who live right there -- and if they participate in a PtP project and get to know their neighbors and the kids, they drive more consciously and carefully. It is bad enough to drive into a stranger, even worse if it is your neighbor and friend. A painted pavement, along with any other visual cues (toys, benches, bird feeders) on or along the road, let passers-by know that it is a lived-in neighborhood where folks know each other and might be outside chatting, playing, or gardening at any time -- so they should drive carefully.