Portland transportation officials this week will install more than 80 barrels at intersections to discourage car traffic on city streets they hope Portlanders will use for exercise.
As WW reported last week, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly has approved a plan to limit cars on some neighborhood streets, essentially turning them into promenades where people can stroll.
It's a similar policy to one that emerged in Oakland and Seattle as city leaders tried to keep residents from jamming neighborhood parks during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Portland, cars won't be entirely banned from the chosen streets, but city officials want to prioritize walking, bicycling and skating in the road, with enough room for people to stay 6 feet apart. That means closing the roads to all but local traffic—that is, drivers who live or work on those blocks.
But how to keep other drivers out? City officials are trying out barrels.
"The first step of this initiative focuses on neighborhood greenways—PBOT is installing temporary barricades to either close certain streets to all but local traffic or to slow traffic where a full closure is not feasible," says a Portland Bureau of Transportation announcement, issued May 1.
The orange-and-white barrels will slow cars but allow them to pass—like gates or speed bumps, they're intended to alert drivers that this isn't just their road. Signs mounted on the barrels will read: "Local access only."
Eudaly's spokesperson Margaux Weeke says the installation will start May 7. "Installation is going to start next Thursday—we have a hold up with signage production."
The city has created an interactive map of where the barrels are going. Each green line is a street where walking gets first priority, and each orange dot shows where barrels will slow traffic.