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Last Thursday becomes nearly carfree, naturally

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 1st, 2008 at 1:28 am

A carfree street, even without an official street closure permit. Photo taken on NE Alberta Street just east of 24th looking east.
More images
(Photos © J. Maus)

Alberta Street wasn't officially closed to cars tonight, but it sure felt that way.

A nearly carfree Last Thursday on Alberta-75.jpg
Volunteers on tall-bikes helped
clear the way for the few cars
that attempted to get through.

For the first time ever, the City of Portland -- working with neighborhood activist Magnus Johannesson, TriMet, the Police Bureau, and stakeholder groups -- agreed to test the waters of discouraging car traffic on NE Alberta Street during the popular Last Thursday event so that people could walk and bike undisturbed by the dangers of passing motor vehicles.

The result was thousands of Portlanders who were able to experience the event without being squished onto the sidewalk or hassled by police for being in the street.

As crowds increased through the night, people got comfortable with the idea of roaming down the middle of the street. Once the crowds got thick enough, the street belonged to the people and very few cars even tried to drive through.

"It's going exactly the way I was hoping it was going to happen."
--Neighborhood activist and business owner Magnus Johannesson who hopes to eventually make Last Thursday completely carfree

I mounted a bus parked on the street between 24th and 25th streets to get some aerial views and the street was covered with people as far as I could see.

Police were on hand to make sure everything went smoothly. When a young man yelled excessively at someone in a car to go down a different street, I watched an officer approach him and explain that the confrontation was unnecessary and that his actions could "ruin this for everyone".

A nearly carfree Last Thursday on Alberta-78.jpg
Looking west toward 24th Street.

The cop was right and he handled the situation perfectly. The idea tonight was not to confront people in cars (one bad confrontation would bring PR that could kill the entire effort), but rather to help coax them off Alberta without incident.

But even with massive crowds and tactful discouragement, some folks still drove down the street. For them, a volunteer crew of tall-bikers was at the ready to help ferry them along, clearing a path so they could get through undeterred. The entire night I only saw one woman in a car that seemed perturbed by the whole thing.

I talked to another woman in a car (after she flipped me off for taking her photo) who seemed to have gotten stuck in the crowds by accident and she turned off Alberta as soon as she could.

A nearly carfree Last Thursday on Alberta-67.jpg
This woman wasn't too happy
about all the people in the street.

Unlike in my past recollection of the event, the Police did not hassle folks who were in the street. They seemed to be acting on orders to just stand by and let people flow out into road (as long as they weren't carrying alcohol of course). If a car showed up, the officers would help guide it onto a side-street.

A nearly carfree Last Thursday on Alberta-74.jpg
Notice the guy in a wheelchair
in the middle of the street!

Volunteers also were assigned to encourage people in cars to turn off Alberta. They held signs that read, "Last Thursday. No Cars Please". While I observed, the signs didn't seem to have much impact and most of the people in cars continued on Alberta; but as the night wore on, the crowds became impassable and the people in cars wisely decided to simply turn off Alberta and take another route.

Local resident John North (he lives two blocks off Alberta) was walking his dog and he said, "I'm so happy this is finally happening... this is amazing!" North told me he's lived there for eight years and he thinks the street should get an official street closure permit for Last Thursday. "It's not that big a deal," he said, and then added, "and the speed limit should be reduced to 20 mph [it's now 30]."

A nearly carfree Last Thursday on Alberta-64.jpg
Magnus Johannesson

Johannesson, the neighborhood activist who got in a bit of hot water with the City over his guerrilla carfree activism last month, was delighted with how the night was going. "It's going exactly the way I was hoping it was going to happen," he exclaimed from the seat of a pedicab at NE 24th and Alberta, "The cars and pedestrians are staying away from each other and whoever wants to be on the street is allowed to. Very smooth, I like it. We couldn't hope for a better outcome."

Johannesson has played a key role in making this happen. He pushed on City leaders to recognize the importance of a carfree event and he has met with them over the past few weeks to hammer out a compromise. He is working hard to prove to the City that his grassroots style and vision for the event's future is in line with what the community wants and that he can successfully pull it off.

A nearly carfree Last Thursday on Alberta-89.jpg
Mr. Johannesson zoomed about
all night in a pedicab.

While the City isn't ready yet to grant a full street closure permit (although I wouldn't say that's out of the question in the future), they did put it in writing that this month volunteers could "help deter non-local traffic" and suggest that they, "take an alternate route." Along with that, TriMet agreed to re-route their buses off of Alberta Street from 7:00 to midnight.

A nearly carfree Last Thursday on Alberta-65.jpg
Do it for the children!

From here, the City plans to meet and discuss how the event went. While it seemed to go well from my perspective, there could very well be some complaints to address and there are other issues to contend with -- like how the vendors and business owners feel about this new-style Last Thursday.

For Johannesson, he says he's already formed a new non-profit to help continue his carfree event momentum; now he's looking for a few board members. If you're interested send an email to magnus [at] urbanfocuspdx [dot] com.

Were you out there tonight? What was your experience?

UPDATE: Check out the short (:48s) video below:

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Comments
  • sox fumata August 1, 2008 at 2:31 am

    YES

    YES

    YES

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  • n8m August 1, 2008 at 2:34 am

    One of the best Last Thursdays I can remember. It makes such an awesome difference to let the party take over the street. The few cars that made it through were oddities, like if a car were to ride through the living room of your house party. Big thanks to the peeps who held those signs (they were definitely effective in getting the word out in a friendly way), cruised their bikes, etc. Such a rad time. Hoping for a good review from the city and more car-free Last Thurs like this.

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  • Snowflake Seven August 1, 2008 at 7:24 am

    So Cool.

    And so cool that it went off without incident.

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  • Darren August 1, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Great results from local activism. Yeah Portland.

    The next hurdle is to get people to leave their cars at home and bike, walk, or use transit to the event. The surrounding blocks were a mess with cars everywhere.

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  • throwtheslinky August 1, 2008 at 7:36 am

    Actually, several friends and I were ordered by a cop to get out of the street.

    Other than that, it was a very lovely evening.

    And the fire fighters on hand were all very nice and gave my friend\'s child a sticker of a fire fighter badge then showed him the inside of the truck... and the giant axe they keep in there. Pretty fun.

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  • throwtheslinky August 1, 2008 at 7:39 am

    And if this event becomes car-free permanently and officially, one of the local groups behind bike-parking should set up a parking spot. The street was so thick with parked bikes it was hard to find a place to stash my wheels.

    All in all though, lovely. Not complaining. I love to see Portland out in full force on bikes.

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  • MJ August 1, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Like Sox said... YES YES YES!

    Way to take the streets Portland!

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  • Andrew August 1, 2008 at 9:07 am

    I liked the lowrider with the number \"75\" on the rear spare tire cover. The guy was doing laps down Alberta. I know that they wanted it to be carfree, but that guy had a smile like he thought Last Thursday was a parade just for him.

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  • bahueh August 1, 2008 at 9:23 am

    oh, how dare that woman flip you off?

    I mean all you were doing is taking random pictures of individuals in their cars...

    just a wee bit creepy...no offense.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 1, 2008 at 9:29 am

    \"I mean all you were doing is taking random pictures of individuals in their cars... no offense.\"

    none taken.. and i don\'t mind that she flipped me off.

    but taking photos of her on a public street filled with thousands of other people is hardly what I would call \"random\".

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  • Jesus Christ - God of WAR August 1, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Beautiful!

    Idea to realization in the blink of an eye. No laws required. People doing the right things naturally.

    This is what I LOVE about Portland.

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  • JP August 1, 2008 at 9:40 am

    There were so many people out and on the streets that later in the night there wasn\'t enough room for bikes. What a great way to mingle and interact with the community! I also stayed later since normally the tight crowd becomes too much. Thanks to the people that made this happen!

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  • dsaxena August 1, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Last night was completely amazing. It was like a little mini Burning Man with all the freaks wandering about. :)

    #6, on the bike parking note, I think Alberta is a busy enough street even w/o Last Thursday that it deserves two bike corrals, one in the high 20\'s, one around 17th/18th (by CCC?)

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  • browse August 1, 2008 at 9:59 am

    I thought the \"no cars\" aspect of this LT went really smoothly. My deep thanks to all the volunteers who made it happen. Made me all the happier I decided to MAX/bike there. :-)

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  • Red Hippie August 1, 2008 at 10:08 am

    I loved that picture of Johnathan getting the bird. The woman had a great mischevious smile on her face. In any other town the face would be one of anger. People are just more chill here than most other places.

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  • Paul Cone August 1, 2008 at 10:22 am

    I agree with Darren on the next steps... I live a block and a half north of Alberta, on 29th Ave, and on Last Thursday I don\'t mind all the extra cars trying to park, but what I DO mind is the occasional fast-driving car speeding around. People in a hurry to get out of their cars and walk is stupid. C\'mon people, try riding your bike or using transit to get to Last Thursday. I\'d like to see TriMet get on board more, too... instead of flyers that just say PLEASE READ, WE\'RE REROUTING THE BUS, they could say, TAKE THE BUS TO LAST THURSDAY! like they do with other events.

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  • Ian August 1, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Come on people how do you know that this women who \"flipped the bird\" wasn\'t just giving the universal peace sign. Was there an official investigation... so quick to jump to conclusions.

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  • peejay August 1, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Once this is permanent, and the apocalypse fails to occur, then maybe people can see the wisdom of making Sunday Parkways a weekly thing. If only certain TV news stations chose to be responsible instead of sensationalistic.

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  • richard August 1, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Yeah, I was walking my bike in the street when two police in a car drove by, advising people \"The street is still open to traffic. Please use the sidewalk.\" No one really took their advice, though.

    Did anyone see or hear the woman who had her own megaphone, lambasting people: \"Did no one learn in kindergarten not to walk in the middle of the street?\" That was kind of hilarious and absurd, considering the mass of pedestrians surrounding her.

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  • Evan August 1, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Perhaps this would be a great place to bring another type of street treatment over from Europe -

    Portland\'s
    first
    WOONERF!

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  • throwtheslinky August 1, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Jonathan,
    Who can we email at the city/police dept/POOT/etc. to give them positive feedback about this event and encourage them to make it official next time? I\'m sure they\'d want to hear how happy their citizens were to be able to take to the streets.
    Thanks.

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  • Alberta Resident August 1, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I wonder if the car-freeness of it kept the crowds more peaceful. I went to bed at 10 and wasn\'t kept awake by loud music or screaming! and I wasn\'t woken up at 2am either.

    I did hear a cop siren\'s \"whoop whoop\" at about 10pm. did they clear the streets then?

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  • D.R. Miller August 1, 2008 at 11:20 am

    For years I\'ve walked in the street when things got too crowded on the sidewalk at last Thursday, and always thought to myself \"man, I wish people would just flow across and take over the street.\" Thanks to two things, it is finally happening: inspired grass-roots leadership (this Magnus Johannesson fellow and the volunteers with signs and on tall-bikes) and the sheer enormity of the crowds. Talk about the tipping point! The size of the crowd between about 8 and 10 PM was such that the PPB couldn\'t have restrained it short of a full-on riot-gear assault. As an artist I used to gripe that Last Thursday long since stopped being about art and morphed into simply a place for people from other neighborhoods to see and bee seen once a month. But what the heck. Who can deny that much music, smiles, and people power?

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  • b August 1, 2008 at 11:39 am

    i wasn\'t able to make it last night. however, one of my friends attended. her report was super positive....with the exception of police ticketing jay-walkers. she said she witnessed it on a few different occasions.

    not sure if anyone saw this.

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  • Chris Sullivan August 1, 2008 at 11:57 am

    I quick attending Last Thurs because I got tired of the aggression...looks like it\'s time to try it again. Very cool.

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  • Chris B August 1, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    My wife and I don\'t own a car and had the rare opportunity to borrow a friend\'s car to go out to dinner. We went to Autentica and had the best meal ever. Drunk on fat-belly-ness we decided to head over to Alberta around 8 to see what kind of treatment a car would receive. We could barely even turn onto Alberta... and that was all the way up at 30th! We turned left on Albert (going south on 30th) because we could see that further down the street the crowds were already filling in. It was like being in a disaster movie and a tidal wave of people was going to take us out. We made it about a block and one of the sign holders requesting Thursdays be car-free prompted us to end our little experiment. So, we made it a block, drove home and returned our friend\'s car. I told my 3yo old daughter a futuristic bedtime story that night where she was the last person to ever ride in a car on Alberta during Last Thursday!

    PS: When I met Magnus last year he said he didnt like to be in the spotlight and like to keep his name out of the papers. Oh well :) Way to go Magnus!

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  • nephyr August 1, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Heya,
    that\'s my kid you took a picture of (with the sign on his chest). It\'s lovely that he\'s on here, but I did read the comment about the woman flipping you off with a wee bit of interest. In the moment when you took his picture, it happened pretty fast and I didn\'t have time or the wherewithall to really think about it, but as soon as the click was clicked, I thought \"hey, he didn\'t ask\" and when you turned away after, I was struck by the fact that you didn\'t tell us who you were or why you took the pic. I know it\'s a public place, but I just want to gently say that it\'s different with kids. People do feel protective of them, and protective of their images. It would have been great if you had just given us a 15 second identification and indication of why you were taking pictures. Honestly, I didn\'t get a skanky vibe from you at all, and I wasn\'t really worried, but it did all cross my mind that a certain etiquette among parents was breached and it gave me that little twinge. All that said, I am psyched that fortune led a friend to notice my kid here and forward the blog, and my kid was totally excited to see himself here. No harm done, we all think it\'s great - just a reminder of the sensitivities of parents. Being one in a crowd is one thing, but with a photo of an individual, especially a child, it\'s nice to check in. Thanks for the great write up about a fabulous last thursday.

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  • E August 1, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    omg! love the pic of the woman flipping you off!
    I have a co-worker whose middle finger appears in every single picture of her - along with that very same smirk. It\'s her trademark!
    :D

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  • BURR August 1, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Did anyone see or hear the woman who had her own megaphone, lambasting people: \"Did no one learn in kindergarten not to walk in the middle of the street?\" That was kind of hilarious and absurd, considering the mass of pedestrians surrounding her.

    That must have been BikeFreeMyra!

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  • Elisabeth August 1, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    If Last Thursday went CarFree, they would get my business and my dollars back.

    I currently don\'t go to LT, because the sidewalks are so crowded, it\'s impossible to see what any of the art vendors even HAVE for sale!

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  • steve August 1, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    You need to relax a bit there Nephyr. Would be a shame to push that uptight paranoia into your kid.

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  • peejay August 1, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    nephyr:

    Actually, I find it a little creepy that people get worried about things like photographing children, to be honest. In a time when various officials try to tell people they cannot take pictures in public places because of \"security concerns\", I think we ought to be respectful of the camera as a tool of democracy and freedom. Declaring kids off-limits doesn\'t cut it for me.

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  • vigilante August 1, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    I thought nephyr was totally respectful and within reason. What is so uptight about sharing how you felt about a situation?

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  • Matter Guy August 1, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    A lady gave Jonathan a bird?

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  • beth h August 1, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    I think that if the city is able to work with the neighborhood on this and make it \"official\", then the next logical step is to glean lessons from this that could be used to expand the Sunday Parkways idea. However, instead of an all-volunteer force for something on that large a scale, why not budget some paid street-monitor positions -- and give a few dozen or hundred unemployed people some gainful work?

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  • BURR August 1, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    However, instead of an all-volunteer force for something on that large a scale, why not budget some paid street-monitor positions -- and give a few dozen or hundred unemployed people some gainful work?

    for the same reason the city uses herbicides to kill weeds in our parks rather than giving a few dozen of hundred unemployed people some gainful work? (i.e. to save a buck)

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  • Robert August 1, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I agree with Nephyr, there should be some etiquette. This is not a picture of a kid in a crowd, but a real close-up. That would really bug me.

    Also, I suspect Steve and Peejay do not have kids.

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  • J to the H August 1, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    I was a virgin to last Thursday until last night, and it knocked my socks off. I\'m hopeful that they\'ll just close the damn street in the future. Last night set a nice precedent.

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  • Paul Tay August 1, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    If cars would ONLY slow DOWN, way DOWN, I don\'t see a problem with them sharing the road with bikes and peds.

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  • chris August 1, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    So Steve and Peejay are suddenly not entitled to opinion if they don\'t have kids? They \"lack an understanding of the danger\", or some such nonsense?

    Please respond with a specific reason why a child in a public place should not be photographed, as I honestly do not understand what line was crossed.

    For the record, I too do not have kids, but saying \"I don\'t think they have kids\" is a nebulous reason to reject thought, akin to \"the war on terror\".

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  • nephyr August 1, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    hey ya\'ll, if you knew me you wouldn\'t jump to conclusions of uptight paranoia. And if you gave it some thought you might just realize that if I really was that uptight person I would not have let it go in the moment, but would have jumped all over the photographer as it happened. I\'m not that person, but you know what? It\'s general courtesy with kids to check in with their parents when you are a complete stranger and you want to a) give them food (you never know what allergies or religious/ethical beliefs they hold) or b) take their up close photo. That\'s just how it is, and just about any parent would tell you so. I\'m sure there are exceptions. I\'m sure there are people who wouldn\'t give it a second thought. But every parent I know (and they are almost all liberal relaxed people raising pretty free range kids) would rather be talked to before someone took a close up photo of their kid and then published it or went home and jacked off to it. Ya know? 1 in 3 women in our country is molested as a child. Think about this - it\'s reality. If you hang out with 3 women you know, statistically at least one of them was molested. It sucks but it\'s true. To the person who said it\'s creepy for parents to worry about this stuff, I say no, it\'s creepy that we have to. It\'s creepy that people really and truly do hurt children. Trust me, someone you know was abused as a child. It\'s not something that rarely happens yet gets talked about in the media to scare us - just the reverse. It happens all the time and rarely gets talked about. So give credit to the parents who protect their kids - don\'t call them paranoid. Spend your energy helping the neglected and abused kids. Like I said earlier, I didn\'t have a problem with it all ultimately, I was just giving friendly advice. I didn\'t really think anything creepy was going on. And it really truly was written in a spirit of compassion and cheerfulness. Something I\'m not feeling quite so much after reading the return comments. I honestly thought this was a friendly blog where we could say something like this or I would not have commented in the first place. It felt welcoming. ah well. My thanks to Robert. I was feeling a bit attacked for what I thought was an easygoing comment and your support made me feel much better.

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  • Matt August 1, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    I witnessed more frustration in car drivers. I didn\'t understand why they would bother to try when there was clearly an event going on, but I also don\'t see why the city doesn\'t just close the street.

    I disagree that people should be able to bike down the street, though. As a pedestrian, I got buzzed by a few bikes and felt like wheeled travel was just not appropriate. The tall bikes I put in a category with the stilt walkers. Appropriate because it looked to me like it was fun for fun\'s sake rather than transportation.

    On a negative note, I used to think of Last Thursday as a big art fair. There was a lot less art than I remember. Seemed like more of a carnival seeking acts than it did an art walk.

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  • steve August 1, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    I have 3 children.

    Your 1 out of 3 statistic is complete bullsh!t.

    You sound terribly uptight, though perhaps it is just how you present yourself online.

    You also have a cute kid!

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  • steve August 1, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Robert-

    It is also a close-up of a kid with a large sign around his neck. Not like he is completely blending in exactly.

    Don\'t want attention? Don\'t hang a placard around you kid and take him to a large public event.

    Duh.

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  • nephyr August 1, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Okay, I\'m out. I had thought this was a community where people could make a suggestion in kindness and not be insulted. There is just plain meanness here. It would have been fine to politely say you disagree, but the comments I\'m getting here are not real conversation, they are just insults. I had a lovely time at Last Thursday, so did my kid, I would like to remember it that way.

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  • bc August 1, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Nephyr-
    Your post was very intelligently and compassionately written. It is a common courtesy among photographers to ask permission when taking a close-up picture of a child like that....especially when you expect to put it on the internet. Saying that to Jonathan, in a nice way, as food for thought, was a nice thing for you to do. You are not paranoid.

    Steve-
    The statistic is true. Saying you don\'t think it\'s true, based on your own ignorance, doesn\'t make it fact.

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  • Opus the Poet August 1, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    The 1 in 3 statistic is true, but left out is the 75% that are molested by a relative, and most of the rest are by close family friends or caregivers, and that stranger molestations are less than 2% of all incidents. and I thought this was a bike blog?

    Actually this is an example of worrying about the wrong thing, and ignoring what you should be worrying about. Like in the helmet thread, about 10 times more head injuries are from cars hitting pedestrians, why are people allowed to walk the streets without helmets?

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  • fuchsia August 1, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Didn\'t anyone else see the SUV with Washington plates driven by a woman who kept honking loudly because she was stuck behind a pedicab (which had a small child as a passenger)? It was around 8:00. She had plenty of opportunity to turn off but just kept going west down Alberta, honking the whole time. When she passed us it seemed from the expression on her face that she might have been having a good time, and that making a lot of obnoxious noise was her way of showing it, but one of her passengers called my partner a very rude name, so it seemed like they were not enjoying the festivities after all. I liked that the pedicab driver just kept pedaling slowly and patiently.

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  • Eileen August 1, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    I have good reasons why I decline the school\'s permission to publish photos of my kids. I would have been pissed if it were my kid. I know it\'s a free press, but it\'s a courtesy to ask, especially with minors.

    Oh, and Steve, wrong again. Sorry bud. You need to start checking your numbers. The 1 in 3 is correct and I think for boys it\'s something like 1 in 7. You would be surprised how many people you know have stories they hold close to the vest. Anyway, keep your kids safe. I\'m sure you do.

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  • n8m August 2, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Re somebody taking a pic of your kid w/ a placard- this thread is about a car-free last thursday. this conversation needs to be in a separate blog. people please. its old.

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  • steve August 2, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Those statistics are only put forth by highly prejudiced groups. There are plenty of other statistics showing vastly lower numbers.

    There is one group that categorizes \'rape\' so broadly as to include if you regret having consensual sex after the fact.

    Paranoia, and blowing evil up to a larger extent than it actually exists benefits no one.

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  • Patrick August 2, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    About time Portland, I mean the Euro\'s have been doing this for about as long as there have been cars.

    Area Pedonale

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  • T Williams August 2, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Hi nephyer,

    I agree with you about the photographing of children. steve is having some kind of tantrum or something. Pay him no attnetion.

    True that I\'m a newer bikeportland addict, but I\'ve seen Mr. Maus post photos of his own family and many, many other people and I don\'t recall hearing any feedback from those pictured regarding permission. Of course I don\'t think or speak for Mr. Maus, but maybe he didn\'t ask your permission because family photographs just are not on his radar (which is what you were politely advising).

    Anyway, if you\'re new to the site please don\'t let a few rude folks keep you from coming back.

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  • Drummer points the way | Cracked Window August 2, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    [...] galleries on Alberta stay open late, artisans and vendors hawk their stuff on the sidewalk, and a festive atmosphere envelops [...]

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  • sox fumata August 3, 2008 at 6:11 am

    i wish Jonathan would appoint editors to this forum, he\'s too busy to edit them all. i\'ve read a few snotty post from Steve, some people are just like that. There\'s others who post to these boards who\'ve yet to learn to play nicely.

    What really sucks is: that a few jerks can dumb down a whole town via an unending stream of personal attacks, petty whining, and over posting.

    i think nephyr\'s post was well thought out, sensitively composed, and that her concern is valid. i\'d like to hear from Jonathan (or other public photographers) about hot how this concern can be addressed. Personally, i don\'t have an issue with strangers photographing my kid but i can see how others might.

    i can\'t help it if he\'s a rock-star,
    sox

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  • peejay August 3, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Not being rude at all. And I\'m aware that this is a deviation from the main subject at hand, as well. But it needs to be said that there is a certain level of fear that is for whatever reason sold to parents in this country that is counterproductive. It has already had one cycle boom and bust, when opportunistic scoundrels convinced kids that they had been abused at every other day care facility in the country, and many good people\'s names and lives were ruined. We\'ve had the \"recovered memory\" movement, which was made up of whole cloth, and destroyed more lives.

    So, while parents should be protective of their children, let\'s be mindful that it can go too far. Remember, it is overprotectiveness that led to kids not being allowed to walk or bike to school anymore. And that has actually made them less healthy, and less safe!

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  • Joe August 3, 2008 at 8:36 am

    SO VERY true! but the cars dont seem
    to get the point or the people in them.

    Paul Tay #39

    and peejay #54

    yes yes, I try and teach my girls its ok to walk/bike and not drive, but to be extra safe these days, YESTERDAY in my town red light runners all over the place, speeding drivers. I feel on edge when we are walking or biking these days, some people don\'t care at all even if its a kid. where is the law? who knows?

    have a nice day all,
    Joe

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 3, 2008 at 11:03 am

    nephyr

    Thanks for your feedback. You are right, I should have taken a moment to chat and explain who I was before just walking away. By the smile and nod on one of the adults faces I assumed everything was cool. I will be more careful in situations like this in the future.

    As for the tone of some commenters here. Over 50,000 comments have been left in this site and, while I\'ve always tried to pay close attention to them, it has become more and more difficult to keep up lately.

    Again, thanks for your understanding with the photo. I am always open to removing photos at the request of readers (and have done so a few times in the past).

    Ok everyone, I\'m camping at the coast right now, but starting on Monday I am going to be watching comments much more closely. No one has the right to be rude but some folks just need a reminder.

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  • peejay August 3, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    sox:

    Please tell me why steve and I are accused of being rude, or even disrespectful of nephyr. As a long-time commenter, I don\'t like to have that accusation thrown at me when I have done nothing to earn it.

    Nephyr is claiming certain rights of privacy that I don\'t think exist. He/she is entitled to his/her opinion, but had better be prepared to hear other opinions, and having reviewed all the comments so far, I cannot see where I crossed the line. I respect nephyr\'s opinion, but I do not allow someone to claim parenthood gives them special rights to automatically win every argument about etiquette and privacy in a public space.

    I feel really bad that this little dispute has taken over a thread that should be talking about an awesome neighborhood event, one that should be celebrated and duplicated throughout Portland. And that\'s the last I have to say about it.

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  • bc August 3, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    uh, maybe because she wrote a thoughtful, respectful post and you two immediately shot back with the words: bullshit, creepiness, paranoia, and being uptight? Just a guess.....

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  • sox fumata August 4, 2008 at 7:04 am

    peejay,

    i didn\'t accuse you by name. i am guessing you that you felt accused because you hold some guilt.

    i think bc is on target.

    If a poster is making a valid argument in a snide tone, all i am gonna remember is the snide tone.

    sox

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  • Duncan August 4, 2008 at 7:27 am

    all picture-drama aside.

    It was a great night.

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  • Robert August 4, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Nephyr: I hope you continue to check out this site, it is really helpful and informative. Jonathan does a great job. I might stay away from posting myself, but the articles are super!

    Chris: I did not say either of the statements you put in quotes. I just posted my suspicions about steve and peejay. Maybe I was wrong; just suspicions. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but having kids usually changes your opinion about things related to KIDS. Especially about telling another parent how to raise their kid or what not to feel for them.
    I won\'t comment on reasons to ask before taking a childs picture, beyond etiquette. I think a few other posts already have eluded to some reasond and I don\'t want to give steve fuel for another attack.

    Steve: To characterize an 8\"x11\" black and white line drawing as \"large sign\" or a \"placard\" is not honest. \"Would be a shame to push that.. into your kid.\"

    Peejay: I second what bc posted.

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  • Chad August 4, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Nephyr

    As a parent I will reiterate what a few others have stated. Children have no more an inherent right to privacy in a public square than adults. As the adult, it is YOUR responsibility to protect your kid. If you were really that concerned about the photo, you absolutely should have said something at the time, even if it meant getting Jonathon\'s attention after the photo was taken.

    If you don\'t want to draw attention to your child, don\'t put a giant sign around your child\'s neck prompting hundreds of adults who would have otherwise passed by to stop and look.

    Lastly, you did more to harm your child\'s privacy in this forum by posting that it is your child in the photo. The photo was completely anonymous up to that point. Now, thanks to your post and your web site, your child\'s identity can be known to anyone who cares to click a few times. If you are serious about this being an issue of protecting your child, then you need to be smarter as a parent. Otherwise, lighten up. It is a dangerous world out there, but not everyone is out to get you.

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  • Jasun Wurster August 4, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Did any one read or see any other press coverage of this event? I did not see any news crews and don\'t have a TV (or the desire to watch local news).

    The reason for my question is that did this event get a corporate media blackout?

    For me it was great to walk in the street, which was pretty packed. At the end of the night it looked like 2 squads ( 1 sgt and 4 officers) were walking each side of Alberta telling people to get back on the sidewalk, but they were being very civil. I did see an officer approach a girl with an open bottle of beer and ask her to dump it out and recycle the bottle. It was really nice to see officers walking and interacting with residents. Maybe next month there can be some officers on bikes... maybe even tall ;)

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  • BURR August 4, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    not surprising about the media blackout, who in Portland (besides Jonathan of course) wants to cover a story about how everybody got along without incident at a large public event? It\'s not considered a \'sensational\' story and apparently doesn\'t sell papers (or motor vehicles)...

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  • Robert August 4, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Chad: Where is this \"giant sign\" everyone keeps posting about? All I see is an 8\"x11\" line drawing.

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  • chris August 4, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Nephyr,

    I apologize if my tone was inflammatory. I wish I had toned the post down, but I was honestly curious from where these thoughts and feelings of parents come from. Your response addressed my questions quite well. The question I asked was honest. But had I known it would lead to this dialog, I would never have asked it.

    These forums are unusually productive and fair. I would like to keep it that way, and I apologize if the post I made was insensitive to you.

    Really.

    Can we all just take a deep breath now?

    Thanks.

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  • Sox Fumata August 5, 2008 at 8:40 am

    kudos to Chris

    way to set the example!

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