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Some streets are made for dancing, not driving

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 29th, 2006 at 9:32 am

Last night was the Last Thursday art celebration on NE Alberta Street. As usual, hoardes of people spilled off the crowded sidewalks and into the streets.

Carfree Last Thursday
[Cars, bikes and people dangerously mix]

In one area (in front of the Star E. Rose Cafe), a DJ pumped out great music and a break-dancing session captivated the street. The dancers were extremely talented and a crowd quickly formed around them. The dancers and onlookers were taking up more than one lane.

Of course since Alberta Street is still open to motor vehicle traffic, cars backed up in both directions and a bit of motor vehicle mayhem ensued.

I know there is a strong effort already underway to close this street to motor vehicle traffic during Last Thursday but if anyone still needs convincing, I think these images tell the whole story.

If you want to help in making Last Thursday and more areas of Portland carfree, get on the Portland Carfree mailing list and stay in touch with PortlandCarfreeDay.org.

Check out more photos of last night's impromptu break-dancing session.

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Comments
  • felix September 29, 2006 at 11:40 am

    Last Thursday for sure needs to be car free. Last night was one of the best Last Thursdays yet!

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  • Elly September 29, 2006 at 12:30 pm

    Shortly after Jonathan took these photographs, two men in an SUV drove quickly (given the circumstances, at about 5mph) up to the crowd, blaring their horn. The driver and another man got out of the truck and started shouting. One of the onlookers started shouting back, and a woman broke them up just as it looked like things were about to come to blows.

    Within about three minutes (!!!) a police officer showed up with lights flashing, parked blocking the opposite lane of traffic, and got on the megaphone to tell the crowd of pedestrians to clear the street. I left at this point, taking advantage (along with another large crowd) of the car-free space made by the wrong-way police car.

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  • Alberta Resident September 29, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    I live in the Alberta neighborhood. Closing the street off for Last Thursday is a GREAT idea! Also encouraging people to take the bus or ride is important. Each month, our neighborhood is flooded with cars making it very hard to negotiate.

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  • adam September 29, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    thank you for writing about this so well.

    and, a big thanks to the clownhouse - in their typical gallant style, they provided bike escorts for cars up and down the street to ensure safety. that is what I call community policing!
    I would like to apologize to the neighbors who were trying to drive home and were blocked for a moment or three.
    Also, thank you to Tri-Met who rerouted the buses until after 10pm when the festival retreated to homes and local establishments(and my bed).
    let's remember, until we get the street closed down to cars for the festival that some of the "cars" are really people who are just trying to get home after a long day at work.

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  • Pinga September 29, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    Yes, it's not only stupid, but it's very dangerous to drive through Alberta on Last Thursdays.
    Regarding to what Elly reported, here's my version:
    every car that approached the spot where the break dancing was going reduced and moved to the other lane to keep on moving. The SUV kept on going on a straight line and honking as it approached the crowd (revealing a common misunderstanding that cars own the streets). Most of the people did not move, obviously, since the arrogant attitude of the driver, who kept on driving until touched (hit) someone, got off the car with his buddy and tried to get in to a fight with an older man. When the cop showed up, the problem had been solved, but I wanted to tell him that that driver was assaulting people with his SUV, to what the officer replied: "I don't care, they are in the middle of the street". Calmly, I tried to explain to him tht besides the fact that people were in the streets and the driver could see them for a long distance he was trying to drive over people and that means he was using his car as a weapon. He just repeated "I don't care, get off the street". But for his dissapointment, I wasn't in the street while talking to him, so I pointed that out and said that he should be doing his job protecting people and hearing our complains, when someone shouted: "Yeah, I want my money back!". He took of and the party kept on going for a long time, in many different places. A block away, fire dancers put cones in the streets to diverge traffic, and that worked for a while, until the cop took the cones away, but could never dismiss the crowd.
    The streets are ours and we shall do whatever we want with them, no force or tradition can stop us.

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  • SKIDmark September 29, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    Why not just block off the street with barriers? Why not get permission from the city to do it, like what was done downtown for car-free day? Or if the city won't "let" just block the damn street off?

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  • Dingo September 30, 2006 at 4:54 am

    Lets have us a good olde fashioned Couch burn at all the intersections!

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  • Ian September 30, 2006 at 8:44 am

    Re: Dingo's "The streets are ours..."

    Pardon my ignorance, but couldn't the police legitimately arrest or threaten to arrest folks in the street for "jaywalking"? I thought that was the standard way for them to break up demonstrations downtown.

    Also, kudos to Tri-Met for the bus rerouting! Thank you, whoever it was at Tri-Met that made that happen. The last time this was discussed, the major obstacle to getting an official street closure was the fact that Alberta was a Tri-Met route.

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  • Scott September 30, 2006 at 10:22 pm

    Last thursday can be a great celebration. As it is, it's suffering from an over dose of drunks. I live just off Alberta and every month I get to deal with noise, trash, and obnoxious assholes who treat my neighborhood like their own little slice of a New Orleans sewer. Anyone else remember when Last Thursday was about Art?

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  • adam October 2, 2006 at 11:09 am

    re: Ian - that is a good question. while I have never been arrested for jaywalking, I have been threatened with tickets a number of times. generally, the cops can always threaten you with something if they want to.

    anyone know the law on this? I don't think the police are going to be any obstacle in closing alberta to cars (and opening it up to people, art and fun). they seem to think they can better spend their time dealing with crime and public safety, as it should be.

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  • [...] and the City are well-known. In the summer of 2008, as the event continued to grow well beyond what the sidewalks alone could support, local activist and real estate developer Magnus Johannesson took things into his own hands. Can [...]

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