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Impressions, photos of carfree SW Ankeny

Posted by on August 10th, 2011 at 10:30 am

With the entire roadway roped off, foot traffic (and the occasional person on a bike) crowds onto the SW Ankeny sidewalk.
(Photos © J. Maus)

I finally got a chance to see the newly carfree SW Ankeny in action this past weekend and my impressions were mixed.

Pushed by businesses on the narrow street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues and buoyed by support from PBOT Director Tom Miller, City Council voted to make one block of SW Ankeny carfree.

The ordinance turned the Ankeny roadway into a de facto “sidewalk cafe,” allowing cafes on the street to serve customers in a space that used to be taken up by on-street parking and vehicle traffic.

View of newly carfree SW Ankeny looking east from SW 3rd Avenue (people in foreground are waiting in line for Voodoo Doughnuts).
Didn’t take long for the bike parking to fill up.

I had visions of the cafe owners creating an inviting and open space (remember, they are leading this project, not PBOT), similar to what I’ve experienced in carfree plazas in Europe. Unfortunately, what they’ve done is completely roped off the roadway, pushing all through foot traffic onto the narrow sidewalks. Instead of elegant chairs and tables, clunky wooden picnic tables (about 20 of them) dominate the street. Square wooden posts with rope strung between have been placed up on the already narrow sidewalk, keeping people from freely accessing the tables. (*I’m aware that this was done likely due to mandates from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, but I have yet to confirm that.)

Square posts and rope control access to seating areas.

I was there on a sunny Saturday morning when the surrounding area (Saturday Market) was mobbed with people and the tables were about half full.

While I’m a bit disappointed in some aspects of this project (and it turns out PBOT Director Tom Miller is too), I’m happy that PBOT and the business owners came together to make this happen. Nitpicks aside, having a street where Portlanders can eat and walk without inhaling car exhaust or playing second fiddle to parked cars, is something to celebrate. Surprising as it sounds (given all the kudos Portland gets for livable streets), this is Portland’s first attempt at a carfree street, so growing pains are to be expected. Hopefully we’ll learn lessons here and make the next one even better.

And hopefully, City Council votes to make this pilot project on Ankeny — which is set to turn back into a standard street on October 21st — permanent.

Have you checked out SW Ankeny yet? What do you think? Are there ways we could make it even better?

UPDATE: Reader Mike S., who’s “pretty disappointed in how Ankeny turned out,” sent in this image of a similar street in Lyon, France. “It’s what I thought that Ankeny would look like. Plenty of room for folks to walk and each restaurant gets some, but nowhere near all, of the street space.”

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  • Dave August 10, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I agree with your assessment largely, I think. It would be nicer if it was more of an open plaza, and less of a roped-off seating area. There can and should be seating there for the restaurants, but I feel like the whole space would be nicer if it weren’t JUST exclusive seating.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 10, 2011 at 10:38 am

      Yeah, I think it’s be much more welcoming if the design allowed for people to weave in and out of the cafe chairs and tables… especially when the tables are empty! The way it is now… even if no one is sitting at the tables, the roadway is still a no-access zone. I should find out if that was due to some OLCC (liquor control) mandate or what.

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      • Lillian Karabaic August 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

        It was due to OLCC restrictions. Unfortunately, you can’t even be inside the rope with a minor in front of most of the businesses. Sadly, the is the way the OLCC functions. It’s a shame that the OLCC’s impressively strict restrictions (compared to most other states) have led this carfree street to be an unwelcoming environment for those that are just passing through. under 21, or are not patronizing a business.

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        • Dave August 10, 2011 at 10:46 am

          Yet another reason to be unhappy about the OLCC. Because prohibition has obviously always worked so well! :)

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        • wsbob August 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

          “…It was due to OLCC restrictions. Unfortunately, you can’t even be inside the rope with a minor in front of most of the businesses. Sadly, the is the way the OLCC …” Lillian Karabaic

          Wait a second… . The OLCC? No blame here due on their part. By dedicating their permitted use of the street to the sale of alcohol, it’s the businesses themselves that have turned this street into an environment that’s hostile to people under the age of 21( minors ) from being there.

          In particular, the businesses have made this street not a place for kids. Saturday Market is further away now, so maybe it’s less of an issue, but Ankeny used to be a natural street to choose to walk within the area of the market.

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      • Dave August 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

        Oh yeah, didn’t think about the OLCC possibility. Of course, we’re much safer from the alcohol being served with that rope there :D

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      • bikemike August 10, 2011 at 8:47 pm

        I agree. At first glance it seems like the businesses have been given de facto ownership of the *public* right of way.

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  • Dabby August 10, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I concur that this is not what we should be doing with street closures. Not even close.

    So much more to say, holding off.

    Please put the street back how it was.

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  • Rick August 10, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I agree! Smaller, round top cafe tables would be nice, and the space would benefit from strategically placed hanging flower baskets and/or plants. Someone who specializes in that should contact the local business owners. And the ropes hafta go!

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    • Rick August 10, 2011 at 10:44 am

      And some awnings wouldn’t hurt either!

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      • 007 August 11, 2011 at 7:19 pm

        yeah, to prevent the sun that shines 3 weeks out of the year from wrecking your day.

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  • Dabby August 10, 2011 at 10:41 am

    “And hopefully, City Council votes to make this pilot project on Ankeny — which is set to turn back into a standard street on October 21st — permanent.”

    After pointing out the obvious issues, and stating you are disappointed by it, you still hope it becomes a permanent thing….

    Doesn’t the top of the fence hurt?

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    • Dave August 10, 2011 at 10:43 am

      I would rather they keep the road closed to auto traffic and re-work it so that it is a nicer public space, rather than just give up and open it back up to auto traffic.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 10, 2011 at 10:47 am

      I’d like to see it made permanent, but with some changes and improvements hopefully. Perhaps they could create some pass-through access to break up the dominating roped off area?

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  • wsbob August 10, 2011 at 10:51 am

    “… Unfortunately, what they’ve done is completely roped off the roadway, pushing all through foot traffic onto the narrow sidewalks. …” maus/bikeportland

    Wonderful. The ‘car-free’ street, which from the get go, was in reality, ‘car-free-bike-free’, turns out also to have become ‘pedestrian-free’.

    Note also in the top shot, that amongst the people crowding the sidewalk adjacent to the Oyster Bar the person on a bike isn’t walking their bike…they’re riding it. Aren’t there signs at the entrance to the street reminding people with bikes that they’re required to walk them?

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    • Paul Souders August 10, 2011 at 11:41 am

      Before the closure the street was effectively “car free” (except for parking) because it didn’t go to or from anywhere in particular — if you were in a car.

      Ironically it was so “car free” that I used to walk down the middle of the street, now with the ropes there’s LESS room for pedestrians.

      It was never “bike free,” in fact it saw pretty significant bike traffic going between the transit mall and Sat. Market/Waterfront.

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  • gee August 10, 2011 at 11:02 am

    What it is with Portland restaurants’ predilection for picnic tables instead of cafe tables and chairs with backs?! Ugh.

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    • Suburban August 10, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Price point

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    • Editz August 10, 2011 at 11:40 am

      Cost.

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    • Spiffy August 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      meth addicts aren’t stealing picnic tables to sell for scrap…

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    • 007 August 11, 2011 at 7:21 pm

      To support the Canadian logging industry. LOL.

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  • was carless August 10, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Regardless, I still think its an improvement.

    However, this isn’t the first carfree street in Portland. That would go to the PSU Park Ave (8th) next to Newberger, Smith and the library buildings that were closed off to cars long ago (70s?). Well, except for the occasional delivery or construction vehicle.

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    • wsbob August 10, 2011 at 11:16 am

      “…That would go to the PSU Park Ave (8th) next to Newberger, Smith and the library buildings that were closed off to cars long ago (70s?). …” was carless

      Very good point, and always an excellent reminder of how the public space can be enhanced for greater use in ways that allow equal access for people to relax within busy, crowded cities. The PSU park blocks have far more space than Ankeny does, so their ideas can’t be directly applied to Ankeny, but the general idea has some application.

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    • SV August 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm

      Actually, the first carfree streets would go to the South Auditorium District — the areas around Lovejoy Fountain and Pettygrove Park and the associated ped malls. And that was during the freeway craze of the 60′s and 50′s. With the addition of the MAX lightrail down Lincoln Street, it will hopefully activate the shops along the eastside of Lovejoy Fountain and down the pedestrian mall.

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  • Indy August 10, 2011 at 11:06 am

    It is an ugly street and not my idea of a test project.

    I personally feel that SW Morrison/Yamhill are great candidates for permanent car-free locations, as they have minimal car traffic now, or car traffic that routinely is stopped due to timing with the MAX that gets precedence. They have numerous restaurants and public spaces that compliment a car-free street.

    On the North side I find NE/SE Couch a great [future] opportunity to be bike/Ped heavy, say by cutting half the parking spaces and adding a full-time bike lane. I have a friend that lives on the SE Couch and bike traffic is quite frequent, quite dangerous due to dooring risks.

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  • Steve B August 10, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I don’t understand why there can’t be a “beer garden” type of area the businesses could share, roped off for whatever OLCC regulations, and then have an all ages area at the other end.

    At the very least, they should move the posts INTO the street so they don’t take away another 15 inches (yep, I measured) from the sidewalk.

    I’ve also noticed there doesn’t seem to be room for a public seating area. Maybe the Voodoo Donuts section could serve this purpose?

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  • Nick V August 10, 2011 at 11:18 am

    The space is not inviting AT ALL. It’s as if the restaurants are saying, “Nothing to see here, inconvenient pedestrians. Unless you’re one of our paying customers, kindly move along.”

    I like that it’s car-free. I don’t like that it has become private space.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 10, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Reader Mike S., who’s “pretty disappointed in how Ankeny turned out,” sent in this image of a similar street in Lyon, France. “It’s what I thought that Ankeny would look like. Plenty of room for folks to walk and each restaurant gets some, but nowhere near all, of the street space.”

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    • Dave August 10, 2011 at 11:23 am

      But if the OLCC requires seating for the restaurants to be roped off, this could be tricky to do, too.

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      • Dabby August 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm

        The fact is that we do not need booze on the street right here.

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    • Spiffy August 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm

      yes, way more close to what I thought it would look like… and it would be pretty easy to move those picnic tables up onto the sidewalks and force people into the car-free street…

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    • are August 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      that effect cannot be duplicated where there are curbs

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      • Alan 1.0 August 10, 2011 at 2:37 pm

        It looks like there is room for two chairs, side by side, on Ankeny sidewalks, no? The Lyon street also deals with drainage differently, and the street lights on Ankeny might need to be moved, if it were rebuilt specifically to accomodate that sort of scene.

        I agree with Ted, for a first try with the provision to improve based on experience, I’m happy to see this effort.

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        • Dabby August 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

          I think what really dictates what can be done is the ADA act….

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          • Dabby August 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

            Which is not well accounted for IMO on Ankeny right now.

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      • was carless August 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm

        Agreed. And this is a temporary closure, so they’re aren’t going to put any actual money into it.

        Permanently, they should just fill in the street with sand and lay pavers between the curbs. Then they could dedicate half the ROW to the businesses, and the other half (north side of street) to the sidewalk.

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      • wsbob August 12, 2011 at 1:37 am

        “that effect cannot be duplicated where there are curbs” are

        Sure it can. At least the part about the tables fitting onto the sidewalks. (See the following comment via link supplied.).

        http://bikeportland.org/2011/08/10/impressions-photos-of-carfree-sw-ankeny-57506#comment-1916670

        As Dabby notes below, whatever seating and general use configuration Ankeny settles on should make a best effort to meet ADA specs. Curbs like Ankeny has, which are quite low, probably can be worked around in some fairly simple, inexpensive way that allows people in chairs to transition from the street to the sidewalk and vice-versa.

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  • Dave August 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Yeah, that was more what I had in mind originally too. Streets like that are all over Europe.

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  • Adron Hall August 10, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I just found this in San Francisco recently too. A totally human focused street or alley way. Absolutely spectacular, great place to hang out, eat, and talk.

    PDX & SEA would be advised to get multiple streets like this put together. IMHO.

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  • DT August 10, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Not surprised about the picnic tables, but I agree that they are kind of an eyesore. However, in that part of town, I can see little cafe tables and chairs quickly disappearing. Perhaps picnic tables were the obvious choice because they are heavy and clunky… and will stay put?

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  • Paul Souders August 10, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I work at Mercy Corps about a block away. Ankeny was a major thru-way for me on foot or bike. I was excited for this closure to happen and pooh-poohed naysayers like Sisters of the Road.

    I am disappointed with the results, for pretty much the reasons Jonathan outlines. It doesn’t feel like a public space any more, ironically it felt more “public” when it served mainly as subsidized private car storage. I don’t even walk through now, let alone bike through.

    Big bucket of win for those businesses though.

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  • Mike Meade August 10, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I walked through here last week and had similar thoughts. I would hope that the furniture could be upgraded if this is ever turned into a permanent car free street. It’s possible that business owners didn’t want to invest in the best infrastructure for something that may well disappear soon.

    Not only was it tough to see the main space roped off, but the tables themselves are separated from each other. It looks like a real land grab situation. I would much rather see the tables be different colors or types for each business rather than a see of ropes containing the tables dedicated for each business.

    If the tables could be moved to the sides and the two sidewalk areas combined in the center, the whole street would work a whole lot better.

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  • El Biciclero August 10, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Why can’t they rope off the sidewalk and leave the street open? And use velvet rope–that would really class up the place.

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    • Jon August 10, 2011 at 2:27 pm

      +1 for velvet rope

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  • birdsong August 10, 2011 at 11:39 am

    This doesn’t look like what I had in mind either. If this were made permanent, the sidewalk and street could be built to the same level so that tables could be on the outside and a walk-through down the middle. As it is now, there’s no room to put the tables except in the middle of the roadway. Perhaps making it permanent can improve the design?

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    • davemess August 10, 2011 at 11:59 am

      EXACTLY. That’s the main problem here, the street/sidewalk are not at the same level, so the tables cannot be put on the sides of the street. That is the major different in the French picture (that street looks even narrower), one street surface allows tables and pedestrians to coexist nicely. Until the street is leveled, there is not much that can be done with the situation, and that requires the changes to be permanent.

      Awnings would go a long way too!

      I am pretty disappointed with how it is set up now. The pedestrian access looks like it got worse!

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  • Dillon August 10, 2011 at 11:39 am

    There are hundreds of restaurants/bars in Portland that have outdoor seating on the sidewalk. What’s the difference between those not being required to rope off.

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    • wsbob August 11, 2011 at 11:15 am

      In response to a different comment, earlier this morning, addressing that point, I posted a comment in response, with a link to the OLCC’s rules and regulations page, and an excerpt relating to special permitted outdoor alcohol sale. For some reason, maybe because I mentioned ‘shallow thinking’? …it got checked by ‘comment moderation’, and now appears to have disappeared entirely.

      At any rate…Dillon, and some of the other people commenting here that have questioned the need for Ankeny businesses to rope off tables at which they choose customers alcohol:

      The businesses have some responsibility to see that people under the age of 21 aren’t being served alcohol. I looked at OLCC’s rules, but couldn’t readily find the specific reason why Ankeny businesses have to have their tables roped off, but I’m reasoning that it’s because businesses can’t adequately monitor who is consuming alcohol when the table arrangement is a big mass, rather than a line of tables on the sidewalk against each respective businesses building.

      This city and the state has huge problems with alcohol abuse. Many people drink, they drive, they wound and kill people. Old Town has major problems with alcohol abuse. With this in mind, measures to oversee the consumption of alcohol on Ankeny St, with its street mass seating arrangement seem to be good judgment. If the businesses will consider moving their tables onto the sidewalks, next to the buildings in an actual sidewalk cafe arrangement, allowing Ankeny’s car-free street to become more of a pedestrian street, maybe the ropes won’t be required.

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  • Michael M. August 10, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Well I’m pretty much on record — here, at City Council, and elsewhere — with being concerned and disappointed by the lack of public seating, and I tried to alert Jonathan, BikePortlanders, AROW and others about exactly what we were getting here, which is anything but the welcoming, open, inviting space people somehow were hoping for. (Not trying to say “I told you so,” I’m just saying my impression all along has been that people’s ideas of what SW Ankeny would be like did not mesh with the reality of the plans.)

    OLCC and several of the business’s desire to serve alcohol outdoors is certainly a big reason for this. Another reason is that, because it is only a pilot and not a permanent installation, there’s a limit to how much money the businesses can sink into something that has to be taken down in a few months. That’s especially true because they are compensating PBOT for lost parking revenue. If PBOT eventually agrees to make this permanent, it could all be much nicer. Duncan’s original conception of the street is, I think, much closer to what most people here would like to see, and certainly closer to what I’d like to see because it incorporated public seating for everyone, not just customers. The current implementation is very much a compromise on every level and from all quarters, except perhaps the OLCC, which doesn’t compromise much. I’m not sure how much leeway the OLCC could be persuaded to give, but it the area remains relatively trouble-free it’s possible that, eventually, we’ll get a street that many more of us (including the business owners) would be happier with.

    All that said, I like the lighting and I think it all looks better at night. In daylight it’s a little harsh and there’s no shade, so it gets pretty toasty.

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  • patrickz August 10, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Years (and YEARS) ago, I came back from Spain hoping I’d see here streets like those, where people eat, talk, argue and laugh taking all the room they need and want. Maybe we’re getting near that…

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  • pdx2wheeler August 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I don’t think these would work on a permanent basis in Oregon, without adequate cover. What happens when our 8-9 months of rain begin? I for one won’t be sitting out there “sipping” a beer in the rain. Maybe these areas should be opened on a seasonal basis? Open them starting around the beginning of Rose Festival and close them when the rainy season really starts in late October / early November?

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    • was carless August 10, 2011 at 5:18 pm

      There are 3-4 months a year that it truly rains and is nasty outside. Nov – March. April and even October have nice enough rain-free days (usually) for people to sit and eat outside. Just bike by the Bonfire Lounge if you don’t believe me.

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  • KC August 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    It looks like one of the most charming little street in downtown Portland got privatized.

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  • Oliver August 10, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Damn. I hadn’t considered this (enough). I try to be measured in my anti-governmental rhetoric, as I rarely meet a regulatory agency I don’t like at least a little, but the OLCC has always been a menace and should be disbanded.

    One might as well put up a chain link-fence.

    Very disappointed. Are we ever going to get over our neurosis with drinking?

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  • Peter W August 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    FYI – for anyone interested in Carfree Portland, there is a Facebook group:
    https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=4940683060

    Things have been quite on the carfree front but perhaps now is a good time to restart discussion and organizing to improve this street and see others established.

    My thoughts on Ankeny: People underestimate the power of a good example, but unfortunately I’m afraid Ankeny is a powerful example of what *not* to do. Someone with a sense of aesthetics needs to find a cheap way to fix this street, and fast.

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  • Alex August 10, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I love the idea but it needs to implemented better. I imagined it looking like the picture of Lyon as well and was disappointed to see the roped off tables in the middle of the street, not being directly connected with the eateries. This gives the street a foodcourt atmosphere as opposed to a sidewalk cafe atmosphere and lacks character. The design isn’t more pedestrian-friendly than a normal sidewalk since there’s no added space to walk. If the tables were against the walls, then could they get rid of the ropes and let the peds walk in the middle and maybe even allow bikes through? I realize that the sidewalk will need to be leveled with the street first. In the meantime, there need to be umbrellas for shade in the daytime. I haven’t seen how it is at night yet but I like the lights strung overhead, and again, I like the idea in general.

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  • Tony H August 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    My wife and I went to check out the street, and we thought that it was awful. The roped off part squeezes everyone into sidewalks too narrow for the resultant flow (during busy times, such as the saturday market). Want to stay for a beer? If an umbrella isn’t available, you’ll bake in the sun. The amount of people leaving (without being served) was sad. This project is a disaster.

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  • Ovrdbrs August 10, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    This is awesome. I don’t think trying to emulate the Parisian cafe scene is the solution. I like the Portlande feel of this street. I agree it is not perfect but what a great starting point!

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    • Dave August 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      That’s not Paris, it’s Lyon :) (sorry, couldn’t help myself)

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  • Ted Buehler August 10, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Folks — I don’t think this is all bad.

    It is an experiment. It was set up on the fly. It was put together at lightening speed. Sure it has problems, but its not an abject failure.

    Portland closed a street, and now you can have a beer on it.

    If you want things to always be “perfect” on the first attempt, you need to spend way more time and energy planning and reviewing and deliberating. This, naturally, limits the number of new things you can try out.

    I say congrats to the city and businesses for going out on a limb and doing a “proof of concept” trial. Conceived and implemented in the same year. Not conceived in 2007 and deliberated until 2013 and built in 2015.

    Now, there’s things we don’t like and want to do differently next time. But that shouldn’t put us in a position where we are punishing the city for experimenting and acting.

    Ted Buehler

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  • q`Tzal August 10, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    This is pretty much the worst case “tin foil hat” scenario where public space would be co-opted by commercial interests and public access would then be restricted to what was otherwise a public area.

    If these private companies are going to be allowed exclusive and excluding (see ropes) control over public space I expect them to pay full market rates for the real estate and pay back taxes for every day they have been utilizing it.

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    • OnTheRoad August 10, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      Pretty much every sidewalk seating cafe or pub in Portland uses public space, some more than others. The camel is already in the tent.

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  • Laurence Qamar August 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Laurence Qamar
    I am perfectly happy to see private businesses using the public realm to create a (potentially) lively civic space. Sidewalk cafes, plaza cafes and shops’ sidewalk displays happen all over, and create the most vibrant street places, or “outdoor rooms”. The purpose of streets of all kinds should firstly be for gathering, and then mix in various forms of circulation and transport.
    Those who previously suggested decking over the street to level it with the sidewalks, and then pushing the tables to the building edges got it right! The center of the street should be for circulation, and the side edges should be for sitting, and entering the shops. The French photo shows it perfectly.
    Recommended 0Comment awaiting moderation.

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  • Justin Morton August 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Considering it is the first attempt, I like it. Looks like a fun little street.

    I agree with everyone that hopefully it will be developed into something a little more European. But to do that, I think they need to make the car-free change permanent, and then they significantly need to widen the sidewalks. Or repave the street so it acts as just one big sidewalk. Currently the sidewalks are too narrow to accommodate tables and chairs conveniently,

    Again though, good first effort.

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    • Alan 1.0 August 10, 2011 at 5:27 pm

      “Currently the sidewalks are too narrow to accommodate tables and chairs conveniently”

      Really? The second photo shows several pairs of people walking comfortably on the sidewalk, and that’s with nearly a foot of its width roped off. If they can walk that close, can’t they sit that close? (Move the rope into the street, make the rest of the center of the space public.) Seems to me that those Lyon seating areas are just about the same size as the Ankeny sidewalks.

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  • Bjorn August 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    maybe if they do it long term the curbs can be removed which would allow the seating to be on the edges and the walkway down the middle. The biggest annoyance for me was that if you are on one sidewalk you have to crawl over the ropes to get to the other side since it all seems to be roped to either one side or the other.

    The OLCC should be disbanded these arbitrary rules are ridiculous.

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  • Laurence Qamar August 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    I was thinking the street could be leveled with the sidewalk by building a thin wood deck like at Jameson Square, which would be cool to hear shoes walking on. But I also like the idea of sand with pavers, as long as the drainage would work.

    I don’t see a problem with rainy winters, if the tables are lined up along the walls under awnings. Like basic sidewalk seating anywhere.

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  • wsbob August 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Noticing at this point in the day, a lot of people have commented that instead of in the middle of the street, (where logically on a ‘car-free’ street, people would be allowed to walk and slowly glide through on bikes), the tables for dining and having beer, wine or mixed drinks should be located on the sidewalks next to the buildings.

    Though it would perhaps be nicer, eliminating the curbs to allow room to place tables isn’t really necessary. I can’t exactly tell from the pictures, but those picnic tables might be 6′ long, meaning they’d just fit on the sidewalk if an end was placed against the building. No big deal if the tables are 8′. Just stick a 2 by 4 under the end hanging over the curb. Custom seating…the person with long legs gets to sit there.

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    • Dabby August 10, 2011 at 11:56 pm

      WSBob,
      The servers would have to go up and down the curb to get around.you do not have sidewalk seating where your servers have cannot also walk around on it.\

      How many beers have to be spilt due to uneven working condition?

      How Many Damn Beers Have To Die?

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      • wsbob August 11, 2011 at 10:53 am

        “…The servers would have to go up and down the curb …” Dabby

        ‘No beer shall die before it’s time’ (borrowing from, and with respect to the late Orson Welles in one of his wine commercial gigs.).

        Check ‘em out…those curbs are low…about 3 inches from sidewalk to street.

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  • dwainedibbly August 10, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    As it is now, Ankeny looks like the way they’d do it back in Florida. It isn’t any more livable than the way it was before. For the love of all the is good and decent, I hope this gets completely redesigned if it ever becomes permanent.

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  • Laurence Qamar August 10, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    I was in the neighborhood, so I just stopped by and checked it out in person. wsbob is exactly right: the sidewalks are exactly 6′ and the current tables are the same dimension. They could easily test out both arrangements by just picking the tables up and butting them up along the walls. No need to level the street with the sidewalks.

    The Lyon photo is really worth carefully studying the details. There are only three people on that street, but you can just tell it’s a great street to hang out on. The little things like cafe chairs and tables, a planter box, a menu sign board, and roll-out awnings along the sides of that clear, open central walkway all come together to make it an inviting and habitable place.

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    • wsbob August 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      Laurence …thanks for taking a first hand look at an easy, inexpensive alternative to how business owners are currently using the street. If there were an interest in doing so, there are probably a number of other simple, creative and practical ways that the street could be planned for dining, socializing and easy paced through travel by on foot or bike.

      If I remember correctly from previous bikeportland stories, the width of the street from building to building was said to be 30′. Easiest thing to do, would obviously be a straight, 12′ center swath right down the middle of the street. Also possible though, and maybe an idea having some practical value (slowing down bike travel speed.), might be a meandering path…gentle curves rather than straight. Not to overdo things, moving too far in the mall direction, but maybe a little fountain water feature would be enjoyable as well.

      For some money in paint, City Repair, might consider enhancing the street’s appeal by laying a design on the pavement.

      This street, car-free, has great potential to be a nice setting to relax, have a beer or some other kind of alcoholic drink. Providing that opportunity doesn’t mean businesses, in the interest in selling alcohol, should make the entire street an over 21 setting, failing to legally make a significant area of the street open to people under 21. Steve B has some good ideas along that line: http://bikeportland.org/2011/08/10/impressions-photos-of-carfree-sw-ankeny-57506#comment-1916212

      Not all the businesses on Ankeny are bars. Among them are a nice little creperie, one of Portlands’s oldest, most reknowned oyster bar restaurants, and of course…the donut shop, as in THE donut shop. Seems like it would be kind of nice for people to take their kids in down Ankeny for a crepe or a donut, and sit at a table.

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      • Laurence Qamar August 10, 2011 at 10:57 pm

        wsbob – You’ve got another good point that with tables along the sides and a center walking/biking way, it might be nice to place some sort of ‘civic object’ in the center as a fully ‘public’ gathering location, and something that deflects the visual and movement path… a small fountain to sit around, some benches with a public chess/backgammon table, or a sculpture of an elk or of a donut….some sort of public art that’s inviting to sit on. So the sides would have cafe/restaurant seating, but this one center icon would be a public sitting spot.

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  • kittens August 10, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    I think it is a very Portland solution: cheap and quick. Kinda wild west. And it is better than just parked cars. gets very crowded down there on Fri/Sat nights., all those bars need more sidewalk area. Shame the 20′ sidewalks are all on 5th and 6th Ave’s

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  • Bjorn August 10, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    here is an idea, the city should make the street a park, and pass an ordinance legalize drinking there, that way businesses can serve outdoors without ropes and without the OLCC getting in the way. The OLCC might change their tune if they were about to lose their iron grip.

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  • jim August 10, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Are there bus boys coming out to all those tables to wipe them down with bleach (as per health dept. regs)

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  • Chris Shaffer August 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I don’t really understand why the ropes are required for OLCC approval. There are lots of bars in town with un-roped sidewalk seating. The Basement Pub at 12th and Taylor is an example.

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    • Bjorn August 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      The OLCC puts takes every application for anything and then pulls 5 requirements out of a hat that the bar must meet before they can do whatever they are asking to do. They pride themselves on never having the exact same requirements for any two bars.

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  • Hart Noecker August 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Speaking of car free streets, here’s a quickie vid on Michigan’s Mackinac Island: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFYITMNg-ds

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  • Duncan August 11, 2011 at 6:14 am

    I dont get the OLCC thing- I mean I can have a drink in front of the the bagdad on Hawthorne (or a thousand other places) without a rope, why not here?

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  • Rick Hamell August 11, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Has anyone noticed how the disenfranchised population in the area is reacting to this? Do the ropes serve to “separate” them from the customers? Have there been any altercations between the aggressive street kids and patrons?

    I have mixed feelings in general about this street. It’s always been a bit of an eye sore in my opinion. Lined as it tends to be with trash cans, trash and unidentifiable, and frequently sticky, stains on the sidewalks and roadway. So closing it up and hopefully cleaning it up is a good thing.

    But I’m not sure that a small handful of businesses should profit so heavily from it’s exclusive use as it stands. On the other hand, as other’s state, I’d be concerned with adding to much in the way of cafe style seating due to it’s tendency to walk off. Which would be needed to make it more friendly and open to the public.

    Perhaps railings along the side walks, with cafe style chairs and tables close to the businesses would fit both people’s needs, plus a few concrete planters or large flat boulders to sit on for those who’re not patronizing the businesses nearby.

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  • Jim F August 11, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Good idea. Horribly executed.

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  • Skid August 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    All I know is that I used to be able to ride a bike down that street and now I can’t. Fail.

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  • Bill Stites August 11, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    The turnover of public space to private enterprise is still very disturbing, irrespective of how ugly it is.

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    • jim August 13, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Are you talking about saturday market? All those people using public space to make money for themselves? It dosen’t bother me to see people prosper from being able to use some public space. I’m sure that Portland being Portland will try and get money from anyone wanting to use public space. A tax for everything.

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  • Aaron August 12, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I presume at least some people here have seen/read J.H. Crawford’s Carfree Cities or seen his website info?
    http://www.carfree.com/

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  • Mickey August 13, 2011 at 10:30 am

    My take:

    Even if temporary, there needs to be solid obstruction between potential vehicle intrusion and the unwitting pedestrians. See Santa Monica Market accident: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Russell_Weller#Santa_Monica_Farmer.27s_Market_incident

    The generic tables in the generic table corral make the whole thing…generic. It’s lost a lot of its quaintness.

    They definitely have the seating inside-out. On our visit: Servers have to cross through the often dense line of sidewalk traffic (maybe they should make it one-way?) to service their customers. They were constantly fending off potential Joe-Public-seeks-public-restroom types and staring down existing customers unrecognized by other servers. And my food gets perused by the drunken masses (hey, I was one of them…) as it comes out the front door. I should note that this was on an evening of a beer fest at Waterfront. But it would seem like a typical crowd given the numerous events throughout summer.

    I would also say that the customers of each establishment are not necessarily of the same ilk and maybe shouldn’t be seated so close to each other.

    And lastly, bike parking near each business.

    At least they’re trying, and I hope they make it successfully and permanently work.

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  • Aaron August 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I agree completely that it’s a failed project. I drink regularly at a nearby bar. When I heard about the street closure, I was excited, because I hate cars. But it’s a mess: last night I had to weave in and out of tables and climb over a rope to pass through the area. It’s a heavy-handed mess of clutter.

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  • Glenn February 13, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    People steal tables and chairs in Europe too. So they are placed out on the sidewalk in the morning, and brought inside again when the business closes for the night. Either the owner (a lot of mom and pop places) does this, or, heaven forfend, an employee is _paid_ to do this as part of their job. American businesses tend to be too cheap to do this.

    If the seating was in the sidewalk area and the street left clear, it would be much easier for businesses to rig awnings for protection from Portland’s brief summer sun and the more usual rains. I agree that it would be nice to place a few planters, benches or the like at various places along the edge of the street to induce meanders and at least visually liven the space and make it look a little less like a shotgun street.

    And walk the bikes; when Copenhagen closed off the Stroget in 1962 the businesses panicked, and everyone said the Danes would never take to a “street culture”. It’s been wildly successful ever since, for business, tourism and social life. That being said, Portland could certainly use a few streets (say half of them) that are car free and still have cycling and walking.

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  • Laurence Qamar February 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

    After three years, I am glad to see this discussion revived. I recently saw a perfect example I South Beach Miami of how Ankeny should be redesigned. It’s called Espanola Way. The point is that the cafe seats on the two sides against the shop fronts, while the walking passage is in the center. Ankeny simply needs to have the sidewalks widened with relatively low cost, temporary boardwalks that span over the existing sidewalks. The cafe seating would go on the boardwalks, and the pedestrians would walk down the center. Rain would easily drain through the board walk decking. No more rope corrals with identical picnic benches. Each business would control it’s own cafe tables, and bring them inside each evening.

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  • Laurence Qamar February 14, 2014 at 11:01 am

    PS. Jon Maus provided that great French photo with this same pattern of a center walkway…three years ago.

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