What's with the big-ass flower pots clogging the streets downtown? What if something really bad happens and we all have to get out fast? Or an ambulance gets snarled in traffic? (If you use this, please let me know.) —Flower Pot Pissed
Hey, Flower Pot! I'm using your question! HTH.
I confess this issue leaves me in a quandary. On the one hand, I usually tend to sympathize with the city's efforts to impose order on its citizens, since—no offense—you guys are morons. In this case, however, as one of the morons having order imposed upon him, I'm inclined to side with you.
The installations you're seeing are what transportation officials call "traffic-calming devices." It's sort of funny, actually, because when I'm driving, I find that they don't make me calm at all! In fact, they make me turn red in the face and say words like "chickenfucker." I guess everybody's different.
There are lots of these devices strewn about the city—along Southeast Clinton Street, in several intersections north of Northeast Broadway, and a particularly horrible one at Northeast Rodney Avenue and Ivy Street.
I hit up the Portland Bureau of Transportation about this with a polite, neutrally worded query that may or may not have contained the phrase "turning a two-block jaunt into a 16-block odyssey along whose interminable windings many of us will perish of cholera and/or old age." They replied that the diverters are there precisely to keep folks like you (and, less justifiably, me) from using neighborhood streets as thoroughfares, specially designated greenways earmarked for use by bikes.
And just as I was about to say "Screw that," along comes the killjoy Los Angeles Times with a Feb. 27 report that pedestrian deaths are skyrocketing even as motorist deaths are on the decline.* When you think of it that way, I suppose I must—grudgingly—concur that not killing passers-by is worth a little cholera.
*The decline in motorist deaths isn't due to better driving, but to improved safety features.