At least ten residents living on Southeast Lincoln awoke to ominous red Xs spray painted on sidewalks in front of their homes. The graffiti only appeared in front of homes between 52nd and 54th that display a specific lawn sign, reading “Safe Lincoln Street.”
These signs indicate support for the Lincoln-Harrison Greenway Project, which will lower the speed limit and discourage car traffic with speed bumps and “traffic diverters”—barriers in the middle of the street making it more annoying for cars to breeze through. Currently the street has “sharrows,” the white arrows painted on streets meant to be shared by bicyclists and cars, but the “Friends of Safer Lincoln” support a city plan to make the road even safer for cyclists, pedestrians and skateboarders.
According to the city website, “This project will make capital improvements to reduce cut-through car traffic, address high speeds, and create a low stress environment for people walking and biking on SE Ladd/Harrison/Lincoln between SE Clay and SE 60th.”
While it’s already been approved by the city, the project has remained contentious, according to BikePortland with a December open house on the project going “off the rails.”
Rebecca Casanova was one of the residents greeted with a giant red X in front of her home this morning. “It seems like we’re being targeted,” she told the Mercury. “They’re only in front of the houses with the ‘Safe Lincoln’ signs or the ‘20 is Plenty’ signs.”
Casanova said that Lincoln has seen increasing traffic despite its designation as a “greenway,” a street meant to be shared safely by different types of commuters. She believes drivers have been using it as a cut through to avoid traffic on Southeast Division and Southeast Hawthorne.
“I bike that street every day and the speed of cars has really increased and the level of intimidation by cars has increased,” she said.
Casanova said the Xs appear to be an attempt at intimidation for those in support of the greenway. She says if she’s correct in that theory, “That’s actually pretty terrifying. I do not feel comfortable. That’s actually scary. That’s something that somebody does before they firebomb somebody’s house.”
According to neighbors, Portland police officers came by to investigate this morning. Laura Belson, who was also hit with the X, spoke with the police. “They said it was the lowest grade vandalism, but it is a crime,” she said. “In order to do anything about it, they need to have video footage of either the person or his or her car.”
The Portland Police Bureau has yet to respond to the Mercury’s request for comment.
UPDATE: Portland Police Bureau has responded via email to the Mercury's request for comment. "The Police Bureau has received information about red spray paint on sidewalks on SE Lincoln St and are investigating these reports. Officers ask anyone with information or surveillance footage of the area to contact the Portland Police Bureau non-emergency line at 503-823-3333."