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Portlanders relish a warm, carfree Last Thursday on Alberta

Posted by on May 29th, 2009 at 9:59 am

bikes at Last Thursday on Alberta-5
Nearby residents Gregg Lavender
and Nikki Kress steal a kiss
in the middle of Alberta
Street last night.
- Slideshow below -
(Photos © J. Maus)

Last night, warm weather and the onset of summer brought throngs of Portlanders out to enjoy their neighborhood and the riches of their City at the first carfree Last Thursday on Alberta.

It was the first of six months that the main stretch of Alberta Street will be closed to cars from 6-10:00 pm.

The impact of not having to worry about car traffic is profound. I brought my family along last night and, after dancing in the street with the March Fourth Marching Band, we came across several dancers, musicians, artists, and performers who shared their gifts right in the middle of the road.

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Carfree Last Thursday
This scene from September 2006 shows
the dangerous mix of cars, people, and
bikes before the event was carfree.

I remember the tension and problems of previous years, when cops and neighborhood monitors spent the night telling people to get out of the street, get up on the sidewalk, and “keep moving along please!” It always felt so ridiculous that we were being crammed onto a sidewalk that was bursting at the seems, just so a few cars could muddle their way down the street at 5 mph.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I share my intense gratitude to the people from the Alberta neighborhood, the advocates who made this event a reality, the Police Bureau, and the City of Portland.

I realize (especially after chatting with cops, city staffers, and spearhead of the event, Magnus Johannesson last night) that the event is not perfect and there are still some feathers being ruffled, but I hope everyone can work together to continue this very important and special carfree event.

As usual, my eyes always turn to the many interesting bikes and the people that ride them. Below is a little slideshow of what caught my eye. Highlights include an Icicle Tricycle, a huge, wheeled trailer holding the soundsystem for a very cool rapper, the bike of Ruckus Components founder Shawn Small, some fixie-riding friends, and more….

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Comments
  • amos May 29, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I had a blast. I’m so happy they closed the street.

    I think this One showed up a little late in the game, but it was sweet!

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  • mmann May 29, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I was trying to figure out the banner picture – now I get it.

    Looks like I missed a nice party :-(

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  • Pants May 29, 2009 at 11:02 am

    This was my first Last Thursday, and I can’t even imagine what it would be like without the street being closed.

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  • carlos May 29, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Last Thursday was a lot of fun. I’m all for bikes, but it seemed like more trouble than it was worth for the riders who braved alberta last night. Some times its better just to walk it or better yet lock it up and walk.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 29, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I agree carlos. it was definitely tough for those folks to push bikes through the crowd.. .but then again, that’s another advantage of going by bike… you can take your transportation with you!

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  • the future May 29, 2009 at 11:20 am

    thank you magnus

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  • hanmade May 29, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Yes it was nice, if not nuts! It reminded me of a Yogi Berra quote about a restaurant, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded!”

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  • Borgbike May 29, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Seeing so many bikes coming and going from Alberta Street, I felt like I was at the epicenter of the U.S. bike revolution. Phenomenal! It was a very friendly chill vib last night. Closing the street is the ticket to achieving this.

    All was well except for the drunk yelling yahoo who woke me up at 2:45.

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  • jim May 29, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    There were some yahoos riding through the crowd too fast for no good reason, that should not be allowed. If they are riding slow to put on a show of some sort that is ok, like the trio of bikes hooked together playing music… It’s hard enough to just walk through the crowd. maybe next time I will bring a squirt bottle along for the rudesters trying to blast their way through a crowd.

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  • Joel May 29, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Where’s your helmet Gregg?! Just a joke, you look great buddy.

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  • gamesink May 29, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Was the street really supposed to close at 6? Because it actually closed at 7. My sister operates a store on Alberta and she was suprised that cars were still rolling by at 6:59 (albiet very slowly).

    Not that it mattered much – it was still a good time!

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  • joe May 30, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    what a great party! allowing people to have the street for a few hours really allows for families and pets and a much more relaxed environment. kudos to the magnus crew for all the hours to make this happen.

    also, nice job from the PPB. they were(mostly) on foot, very friendly and dare I say, reasonable to talk to and joke with. I saw them issue about 10 tickets for open container. seemed like it took almost an hour(from 10 to 11pm) to “reopen” the street.

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  • carye bye May 31, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    I arrived at 8:30 pm and wanted to get a late and much needed dinner at Alberta Co-op. I could not find bike parking anywhere. I ended up going way down a side street. Every possible space used up. It was crazy, i’ve never seen so many bikes locked up for Last Thursday. Also I’m noticing that downtown, I sometimes have to park a block away. There are more bikes then ever out there this (pre)summer!

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  • Todd Boulanger June 1, 2009 at 2:14 am

    Sorry I missed it this month (work). It was so fun last year.

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