Posted by Elly Blue (Columnist) on May 21st, 2009 at 1:12 pm
For several months last summer and fall, throngs of visitors to the popular Last Thursday art walk on NE Alberta St were able to walk, bike, skate, roll wheelchairs, push strollers, or stop to browse and socialize in the street without interference or danger from passing cars.
A week from today Last Thursday will go carfree again. On May 28th from 6pm to 10pm, NE Alberta will be closed to motorized traffic from NE 15th to NE 30th. TriMet buses will be diverted to other streets.
Volunteers are needed to help set up and take down barricades, as well as to direct traffic and provide information to vendors and attendees at either end of the closure as well as at intersections between 12th and 31st. All volunteers will be given a t-shirt to wear during their shift. Four volunteers are being sought for each station.
If you're interested, you can reach the volunteer coordinator, Teri, at: info at albertalt dot com.
Event organizers are also looking at options for setting up temporary bike parking corrals so that eventgoers can park their steeds and enjoy the street on foot.
The progression towards carfree Last Thursdays has been long and colorful. Sidewalk congestion was becoming overwhelming at the event, but after meetings among stakeholders and at City Hall in 2007 and 2008 to work out a plan progress stalled. Local residents and business leaders, spearheaded by local developer Magnus Johanssen, took it upon themselves to create three carfree blocks last June.
After this, the city agreed to experiment with a "soft closure" in July, 2008, which allowed people to drive their cars amongst the crowds escorted by clowns on tallbikes. (Check out our photos from the evening.) August and September Last Thursdays were also carfree, with official "hard closures" -- that means physical barricades put up at intersections to prevent anyone from driving down the street.
This year there will be six carfree Last Thursdays, from May through October.
Nonprofit group Last Thursday on Alberta formed last year to run the event, including orchestrating the street closures. According to board member Kriss Parnell, the event relies heavily on volunteers and donations to keep the event running smoothly each month. The costs associated with the hard street closures -- primarily insurance, and the one-time price of materials for handmade barricades -- are significant, and the group is seeking donations. Checks made out to Last Thursday on Alberta can be sent to 5014 NE 24th Ave, Portland, OR, 97211.
Last Thursday on Alberta
When: May 28th, 6pm - 10pm
Where: NE Alberta St between 15th and 30th
More information: info at albertalt dot com