PORTLAND, Ore. -- You might have seen their work around town, most recently along Southwest 3rd Avenue near Pine Street.
They’ve also posted authentic-looking speed limit signs along several streets, including Southeast Clinton, Salmon and the Hawthorne Bridge. At least, they look authentic until you get closer. The actual text reads “20 is plenty."
The leader of PDX Transformation, who asked to remain anonymous, said Tuesday he’s ordered about 75 signs so far and plans to post more.
The goal, he says, is to push the city to work faster when it comes to improving safety on its streets.
When asked to describe his methods, he replied “tactical urbanism.”
“I’m a citizen who wants to do more and wants to help my city do more,” he said. “That’s basically it. Our streets are not working.”
He has about 12 people working with him and he expects that number to grow.
The leader of PDX Transformation says he knows his work is illegal. Many of his signs have been taken down, but he doesn’t plan to stop until the city, he says, “stops talking about making improvements and starts making them.”
“I try to improve little things that can be improved, and I know that we’re not doing permanent changes,” he said. “We’re just doing changes that show how much better it can be, and then hopefully the city will look at that and say ‘Well, what can we do on a more permanent scale to make those things better?’”
City leaders weigh in
The Portland Bureau of Transportation sees the movement as a slippery slope, and they’ve dispatched crews to clean up PDX Transformation’s work.
“We can't condone it. People shouldn't be doing this. We're taking them down, but we understand in this case, they're trying to send a message," said PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera.
Police say criminal charges could apply under these circumstances, but they aren’t counting on catching these guys.
The issue even has Portland mayoral candidates weighing in.
Sarah Iannarone tweeted about the issue this week.
“Citizens and residents are concerned about our safety here, and they're taking it into their own hands,” she said Tuesday.
KGW reached out to Treasurer Ted Wheeler and County Commissioner Jules Bailey about the issue.
“There shouldn't be any deaths on Portland's streets. Period," Ted Wheeler wrote in an email. "We as a community are dedicated to Vision Zero, yet deaths and injuries from automobile accidents are up since the City Council formally adopted the Vision Zero resolution. I understand why people have a sense of urgency about this issue. When a 10-year-old crosses the street on Burnside and is struck and killed by a car that's not an accident — it’s a crash. And it's avoidable. I'm committed to creating more protected bike lanes.”
Jules Bailey believes a gas tax will evenutally help the situation.
"I have worked on increasing safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure throughout my career," he said. "I am supportive of the temporary gas tax proposed to help with safety improvements, however, with the all too frequent news of a vulnerable user fatality I share these citizens' sense of urgency. As mayor, I'll work to address these concerns."