Slow down, you’re going too fast

“Keep Portland Weird” is the unofficial slogan of the city we know and love. TriMet is attempting to keep that weirdness alive with a singing bike path. You read right: A singing bike path.

“Keep Portland Weird” is the unofficial slogan of the city we know and love. TriMet is attempting to keep that weirdness alive with a singing bike path. You read right: A singing bike path.

TriMet’s public art program is continuing its unique approach to different MAX and bus stops with a proposition of a singing bike path on the table. The soon-to-be-built Portland-Milwaukie light-rail bridge over the Willamette River will be welcomed with grooved pavement. Vibrations created against a bike’s tire across the groves will emit the song titled “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),” by Simon and Garfunkel.

More specifically, the pavement will play the rhythm and melody to the part, “Slow down, you move too fast.” The idea behind it is that saying “Slow down, you move too fast” is more polite than signs that just say “slow down.” Cyclists will often not read signs as they are riding their bikes and it will be more helpful for them to avoid hitting cars, buses, pedestrians and other bicyclists.

The bridge is part of a $1.5 billion MAX line that is supposed to be open in 2015. It is also part of the public art program that is “allocated for art commissions, infrastructure and installation, based on the 1.5 percent of the project’s civil construction budget required by TriMet policy,” according to TriMet’s website.

TriMet’s public art program has made MAX and bus stations look nice and more unique than an average public transportation stop. The program has created murals and sculptures that are truly beautiful, which is great for the people using TriMet as well as the artists with whom Portland collaborates. Although the public art program has had triumphs in the past, it is hard to wrap your head around the idea with so many problems already arising.

This is just a proposition, and there are already bumps in the road for the singing bike path. It has been proposed that a test patch of grooves first be constructed to test how the grooves “sing” in the rain and mud, which is obviously very prominent in Portland.

While the whole concept of a singing sidewalk sounds cool in theory, the pavement’s performance in the weather is only one of the many problems for the proposal.

The last thing that you want to hear when you are in a hurry is a chipper song telling you to slow down, especially if you are in a rush while battling the wind and the rain that so often occurs in Portland.

And what if you do not like “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”? One of the most annoying things is being forced to listen to a song that you do not like, which is what this bridge is doing.

Another problem with the singing bike path is that it costs money. With TriMet cutting Fareless Square down to the Free Rail Zone and cutting stops and lines, TriMet has been hurting financially. However, the company has added lines and upgraded buses, so it is hard to figure out exactly what TriMet’s financial deal is. Either way, however, a singing bike path is not vital to the new bridge and would just be throwing money down the toilet.

The idea behind the singing bike path is that you have to go fast enough on the grooves to hear it, so people will speed up to hear the song and will experiment with going even faster. That is not really promoting safety for bicyclists or pedestrians.

Problems galore exist for the singing bike path, ranging from the weather, to the song choice, to safety and budget. A singing bike path definitely sounds pretty awesome in theory and there is no doubt Portland would eventually embrace the uniqueness wholeheartedly, but there are some kinks that need to be worked out first. ?