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As more ‘street seats’ pop up, thoughts about access impacts

Posted by on October 19th, 2012 at 11:05 am

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New ‘street seat’ on Mississippi Ave makes
a future bikeway hard(er) to envision.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Two new ‘street seats’ installations have popped up around Portland recently. The City of Portland program allows cafe owners to pay for a permit (along with other fees) and then install a patio seating structure in the street. Instead of car parking, businesses get more human parking, expand their dining footprint, and (potentially) expand their revenue.

The other day I noticed one on NW Everett between 10th and 11th (outside Oven & Shaker pizza joint) and on N Mississippi north of Fremont (in front of Mississippi Pizza Pub).

The Oven & Shaker installation is pretty minimal at this point, with just the wooden structure and side railings.

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But the Mississippi Pizza structure is the largest and most elaborate one of the three I’ve seen so far. It looks to be twice as long as the others and it’s fully decorated with a covered booth for seating, a giraffe sculpture, and for some reason, a bathtub and sink!

street seats on mississippi
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street seat on mississipi

My first reaction to this program was excitement — I love how it reclaims public space for humans and away from toxic, loud, and dangerous vehicles. But seeing the large installation on Mississippi also brings up another thought: How is bike access impacted?

Narrow, two-lane commercial main streets like Mississippi, Alberta, NE/SE 28th, and so on, lack adequate bicycle access. Instead of the low-stress facilities we aim for, these streets are dominated by auto and bus traffic. Those who do ride bicycles on them are either strong and fearless enough to ride fast while taking the lane; or worse, they squeeze along the right side just inches between parked cars and moving vehicles. I have long held out hope that the on-street parking lane is the future location of a dedicated cycle-track or some other type of low-stress bikeway.


With ‘street seat’ patios now in the parking lane, will that make it even more difficult to consider using that space as a bikeway in the future? It has taken decades to pry auto parking out of the hands of business owners. Now the City has managed to do it by giving them more seating space. (The same can be said for on-street bike corrals, but those are less “owned” by the businesses and therefore seem like they would be easier to move for a future bikeway.)

Will these business owners want to uproot their nice patio seating for a bikeway someday? Or, perhaps this isn’t the end of the bikeway discussion but the beginning of the carfree street discussion?

Reader Michael Berg emailed me this morning with some good insight. He said the type of space reclamation being hastened by this patio parking is how Copenhagen started what he calls their “walking streets.”

“Cafes kept creeping out further and further in the street, making it more and more difficult to drive,” he wrote. “Eventually people stopped driving the streets because it was a PITA [pain in the ass] and nobody complained when cars were removed completely. It really is a brilliant way to go about it because it happens so naturally.” (All deliveries would be done before 10:00 am, he said, and then it’s humans only.)

That’s an exciting idea to consider. For now though, we’ve got these permanent structures taking up space in an extremely limited right of way. It’s important to note that, according to the permit language, PBOT says they’ll issue 15 permits during this “pilot” phase, which ends on December 31st. After that date, the structures must be removed — unless of course the program is renewed.

What do you think?

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Comments
  • 9watts October 19, 2012 at 11:16 am

    “Or, perhaps this isn’t the end of the bikeway discussion but the beginning of the carfree street discussion?”

    That would be grand. Good to sneak that idea into the discussion with the City early.
    In the meantime I wonder what the width of these permitted structures is compared to the space taken up by the average parked car. I would imagine they would be similar. Not sure about the bathroom theme, though. That could be distracting.

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  • Andrew Holtz October 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

    The street seats could be seen as progress if they are used on streets where (rather than trying to have separate motor lanes and bike lanes) the intent is to slow traffic to the point that people on bikes (and maybe even people walking) feel quite comfortable taking the lane, since the cars are going nice and slow.

    Neighborhood streets with lots of destinations should be a PITA to drive on… so that people use parallel arterials to cover distance and then turn onto these streets only for the final bit of travel, if at all.

    Then, instead of being a hazardous barrier, the street becomes woven into the activities around it.

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  • indy October 19, 2012 at 11:20 am

    An interesting design would be a bike throughway that is covered for bikers to roll through and diners sit on one or both sides watching them roll through. (hopefully slowly) You could add motion-activated strobe lights/music/etc to make it fun for bikers/observers. Adds liability, however.

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  • K'Tesh October 19, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I’d be a little worried about riding where it’s so busy and tight. That said, at least I don’t have to worry about being doored.

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    • matt picio October 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      It might actually be a good thing. While many of us don’t care for taking the lane, many of us do. Mississippi has enough of the latter type to slow down traffic overall.

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      • John Lascurettes October 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm

        Mississippi is also a business-shopping district and its de-facto Oregon speed limit is 20. Even so, there’s plenty of pedestrians crossing at every intersection so almost no one should have problems asserting the lane. Most auto traffic between Fremont and Skidmore is looking for parking or a business address as it is and are also going slow already.

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  • Terry D October 19, 2012 at 11:21 am

    As more and more of these spring up, it will not only have the impact of reinventing public space, but it also will visually act as a “pinch point” for automobiles, thus psychologically slowing them down. This will, in the long run, increase access and safety for cyclists.

    I think for now we should focus on providing parallel access for all these commercial corridors and embrace this streetscape reinvention. After more of these become popular and start getting scattered through the denser neighborhoods of the city we can then move towards metered parking. Thus, the outer lanes of these corridors will be “rented out” so to speak to the private sector as either parking or seating. We can use the income to augment greenways, crosswalks, or other neighborhood amenities.

    At some point in the future one neighborhood will say “hey, we do not really need the parking fees anymore, why don’t we just put bike lanes in the middle of the street and close it down to cars completely….then the complete redesign of our city can continue.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 19, 2012 at 11:22 am

    …and perhaps the City (PBoT) should add language to the permit that such structures are temporary and may be removed if a bikeway [or wider sidewalk] was added in the future (if its in the TSP).

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 19, 2012 at 11:24 am

      Well, they are considered temporary and the City obviously has the right to revoke the permit… But if these are deemed a “success” and are made relatively permanent, it could just add another layer of politics/controversy onto an attempt to build a bikeway.

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      • matt picio October 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm

        Sure, but if traffic speeds are impacted to the point that all traffic is slower than 20mph, will we still *need* the bikeway? The whole road becomes the bikeway. That said, it bears examining this program with some scrutiny, because it isn’t necessarily a given that traffic will slow down, nor that drivers will become more attentive. It would be tragic if these installations caused a serious injury or death.

        I think the biggest issue with at least some of these installations is that they are sight blockers. I don’t care for the opaque 8′ wall.

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      • velokitten October 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

        Are the bike corrals temporary too? I don’t see how they are any different then the seating areas.

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        • maxadders October 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm

          Everyone is welcome to use the bike corrals. Can I sit down at a “street seat” and just read a book? Eat food I brought from home? I doubt it– you’ll be asked to leave. Come on activists, put this to the test.

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  • mikeybikey October 19, 2012 at 11:25 am

    With the introduction of the street seats, I wonder if the so-called advisory bike lanes work on streets like Mississippi and Alberta? It would further the idea of the street seats by extended the notion of shared space to the street as a whole. Seems like the traffic calming would be a big win for the businesses on the streets. Might also help prevent cars crashing or bumping into a street seat installation.

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    • Nick Falbo October 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      Advisory bike lanes are a very new idea in U.S. bikeway planning and exist only in Minneapolis as far as I know. I think they have great promise to help us extend our bikeway network in locations where space is too tight for bike lanes. Unfortunately, they only work on streets within a limited volume range (3,000 – 4,500 … maybe up to 6,000, the jury is still out). Most of our two-lane main street areas exceed this range, although Mississippi is in the upper realm of possibility at 5,000 vpd.

      Of course, these bike lanes are not the low-stress bikeway ideal Jonathan is talking about. They’re a little worse than a conventional bike lane in terms of comfort.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 19, 2012 at 11:26 am

    The constant use of the parking lane along Mississippi does not and will not allow for cyclists to move over, so the City should move ahead and add transit friendly traffic calming (speed cushions no speed humps) to these pinched points along cafes and corrals.

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  • Elliot October 19, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Jonathan, I think it’s worth noting in your article that this is still just a pilot program, and these installations are not permanent. The Street Seats application clearly notes “Approved permits for this pilot program expire on December 31, 2012.  All platforms
    must be removed from the street by the permittee after that date.” I presume PBOT will move to an annual renewal system of some sort in 2013 but still wanted to start the test before winter this year.

    Businesses are definitely aware that these projects are subject to future approval by PBOT, and I have no doubts that PBOT will reject or decide not to renew permits for locations where Street Seats would conflict with a greater transportation need. Right, PBOT?

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  • Allan October 19, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I see the ideal state of these streets a 15 mph speed limit and everyone on wheels in the street. This doesn’t hurt that vision

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    • Craig Harlow October 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Yes, and I have a very different experience riding on Mississippi already (prior to the installation the pizza pub). I always take the full lane on Mississippi, and never feel hurried by auto speeds, which seem to be very calm there–more akin to NW 23rd–and less speedy and impatient like on NW 21st, NE Alberta, SE Hawthorne/Division, etc.

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  • BURR October 19, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Street seats aren’t that different from curb extensions, just slightly less permanent; both prevent the outside or curbside parking lane from being used for a bikeway.

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  • Caroline October 19, 2012 at 11:45 am

    At least you don’t get doored by street seats.

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  • Anthony October 19, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I don’t see it as impacting bike access all that much when cars are perpetually parked up and down the majority of this stretch of Mississippi throughout the day anyway. To my mind, this is at least an aesthetic improvement, and might have a slight traffic-calming effect.

    Having lived in the neighborhood though, I can see this being a headache for nearby residents, who already have precious little space for their own vehicles on any given day (let alone on weekends, or event days like the Miss. St. Fair). Not advocating for the culture of everyone having their own personal motorized vehicle that they travel alone in most of the time, just being realistic about the actual on-the-ground situation as it currently stands.

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    • 9watts October 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      “a headache for nearby residents, who already have precious little space for their own vehicles on any given day [...] Not advocating for the culture of everyone having their own personal motorized vehicle that they travel alone in most of the time…”

      Except at some point we’re going to have to choose.

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    • Chris I October 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      Clearly, demand is too high for the space provided, so a fee should be charged to stabilize the demand.

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    • Craig Harlow October 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      Most residents on that particular block have parking access from the rear alleyway. {link) Note the driveways and garages.

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  • Lenny Anderson October 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

    The ROW on N. Mississippi is actually wide enough to have sidewalks extended to 15 feet from Fremont to Skidmore. Speeds should be posted to 20 mph or less as its a business district. Sharrows should go on the pavement and more crosswalks striped…it has double blocks. All of this will calm things down and create a new normal…bikes, peds, cars, buses, all sharing a very low speed public space.

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    • John Lascurettes October 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      If there is not posted speed limit, the de-facto speed limit in a business district is 20 mph in Oregon.

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  • pixelgate October 19, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Nothing like breathing car exhaust as you try to enjoy your meal

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  • benschon October 19, 2012 at 11:52 am

    If the choice were between a continuous cycle track and a parklet, this would be a valid concern. But we’re nowhere near the political will to take out multiple blocks of on-street parking for a bike facility, and none has been proposed. Carving out one parking space at a time for bike corrals and street seats is an incremental, but enormous, shift in thinking, away from a street-are-for-cars-only mentality.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      I agree with you about the “enormous shift in thinking” part.

      But I don’t think we’re “nowhere near the political will” to create those type of bikeways. Political will can change very quickly, and it remains a good, common-sense, basic-rights idea in my opinion.

      One thing I do know, is if we continue to assume that those type of projects are non-starters, I can assure you they always will be.

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  • Bike-Max-Bike October 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    First impression of that covered area: smoke shacks outside dive bars on 82nd. Time to grub me up a smoke!

    2nd. This highest and best use of the public space in the street next to the sidewalk is not free storage of private motor vehicles. This project goes a ways to demonstrate that.

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  • Jeremy Cohen October 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I think this is a great use of the space. I would prefer a calmed street where I can ride at the flow of traffic to a distinct bikeway–at least through a cafe/shop area like these are showing up. I am MUCH more afraid of getting doored/hit by parking-leaving cars than I am of the traffic that drives calmly behind/along side of me. These street seats are essentially putting door-free cars in the spaces all the time–that gives the effect of keeping me from getting doored and keeps the impression the street is narrow at all hours–calming traffic always!

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  • don arambula October 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    “Street Seats” are a slippery slope toward privatization of of the public right-of-way, which gives me concern. There are whole host of physical design, maintenance and other issues that need to addressed before this, generally good idea becomes permanent PBOT policy.

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    • matt picio October 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      That’s a good point. Not to beat a dead horse, but – well, yes, let’s beat a dead horse – where is the bike-friendly, ped-friendly car-free Ankeny we wanted? What we got was lots of restaurant tables and no real public use of the public right-of-way. For those who argue the tables are a public use, I ask this – can 40 of us go over to Ankeny, move all the tables aside, and have an impromptu dance party? Can we move them aside, put in a couple couches and read poetry? Can we move them aside at all without the restaurants on that street sending someone out to tell us we can’t do that? If not, then how is it now public space? The idea of public space is that no one user can monopolize its use.

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  • Morgen October 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    This is one of those ideas I absolutely loathe. Just loathe.

    What has happened here is that the city has taken “public” space and leased it to “private business”. There are very few things that set me on edge more. These are NOT parklets because they are NOT open to the public. They are for use by the customers at that store/restaurant only.

    Take that aspect and apply it elsewhere:

    “My business borders a park! Wouldn’t it be great if I could rent a part of that public space to use for my own commercial interest?! That way, only people who pay to eat my food can use this portion of the park.”

    “My house backs the river! Wouldn’t it be great if I could rent a part of that public space to use for my own purposes? That way, only people who have my permission can use this portion of the public access.”

    “My apartment building backs the green space beside the cycletrack. We can rent that space from the city and use it to deposit more storage structures for our residents! As long as they are moveable there’s nothing stopping us!”

    “My business borders a bike parking area. I can rent that from the city so that only my customers can park their bikes! That will give my customers exclusive use!”

    To take a public asset and rent it to a private commercial operation isn’t new… but normally it requires much more specific legislation and checks and balances. What would we think if the city just started renting parks, landmarks, etc on a long term basis to people who then refuse public acess?

    Have I said I loathe this idea?

    I know my rant wasn’t bike related but to me that never even comes into it. It’s a bad idea from conception.

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    • 9watts October 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      You make some excellent points. Thank you for elaborating.
      I wonder if I sat in one of those spaces with no intention of patronizing the business how the conversation between the employee and me might unfold?

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    • SilkySlim October 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      I hear your point, but weigh it pretty evenly against my loathing of using public space to park private vehicles.

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      • Morgen October 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        Lol! That’s funny! You mean like using a public bike lane to ride a private bike, lay on the lawn of a public park on a private blanket, etc?

        All joking aside, public spaces are spaces that are defined use areas. For instance, you can’t take a picnic table to a public swimming pool, you can’t build a home in the park, you can’t drive a car in the bike lane. Those areas are for specified public use.

        Using the parking area to park vehicles is what that space is designated for at this point. If we don’t like that the proper response isn’t to lease that space to commercial enterprises, it’s to change that designation to another public use.

        Of course, if you chose to ride your private bike only in your livingroom and leave the public road to us, hey, that’s your choice.

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        • Kristen October 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm

          I agree with your point about using public space for private vehicle storage. I’m really not sure what the alternative is—more parking lots and garages? Neither of those seems more desirable, to me, than letting cars park at the curb.

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        • Dan October 20, 2012 at 7:57 am

          I think we’ve all seen cars in the bike lane and I for one have seen scooters using a bike lane (all along the bluffs on Willamette).

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    • resopmok October 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      I think you bring up a very valid and concerning point, however, according to the sample permit on the street seats’ program website, the structure is defined as a sidewalk, which means the business has no claim to exclusivity. The exception to this is perhaps that a business can make another application annually for a sidewalk cafe permit which may (though I didn’t look through it) include some right to exclusivity. Perhaps this is the permit that you should look into crusading against.

      The permittee is also responsible for the costs of construction, maintenance and removal of the structure, and any legal liabilities that may result from its use. Line of sight issues should be investigated and included in design recommendations, but otherwise I find the program, as it stands, to be a good way for private citizens to install public space. And I also find it a better use of the space than parking a car. You could probably put one in front of your house if you have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket.

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      • Michael M. October 20, 2012 at 12:30 am

        No, actually PBOT is allowing businesses to use these “street seats” for their exclusive use, as has been widely reported, even on this blog. This contrasts with the parklet programs elsewhere, where parklets are public spaces for the public and not reserved for customers of private businesses. It also violates the best practices recommended in the manual “Reclaiming the Right of Way,” created by researchers at UCLA, on how to design these spaces:

        page 118: “Additionally, if a parklet is located adjacent to a café or restaurant, the tables and chairs should not be the same style as the ones inside the business. This differentiation visually designates the parklet as a separate entity from a private business, and people will not confuse the parklet with café seating.”

        page 129: “Parklets in San Francisco, Vancouver and New York City feature explicit signage denoting their public nature. In addition to signage, parklet design should denote the parklet’s public nature. This includes designing an open edge from the sidewalk into the parklet and using distinctly different seating from those of the adjacent businesses.”

        Compared to these other cities, Portland is far behind when it comes to valuing equity and valuing the concept of public space being for the public, vs. the portion of the public with disposable income.

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        • resopmok October 20, 2012 at 3:34 am

          Sorry but the linked Mercury and Bikeportland articles are the only ones that make an exclusivity claim, and neither provide sources to back this assertion. According to the city’s own sample permit – http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/405745 – the structure is defined as a sidewalk extension, and thus legally, part of the public right-of-way. Unless you can actually prove otherwise, I will stand by my statement that the businesses do not, in fact, hold any claim of exclusivity without an accompanying sidewalk cafe permit.

          If you dislike that the city allows the sidewalks to be used in this manner, then please, by all means take that permitting process to task.

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          • Michael M. October 20, 2012 at 10:59 am

            Jonathan provided a source for the exclusivity claim: Dan Anderson from PBOT. And when I inquired about this issue on the Active Right of Way, one of the regular contributors helpfully made a point of asking PBOT specifically about this issue. Here is what she found out:

            “The option to do a parklet is open to both businesses and other organizations. As long as you have a willing property owner, PBOT will accept applications. They do want public ones as well. If it’s a business, during business hours that is their space. But after hours, it is a public space. (interesting, I didn’t know that)”

            So, yes, during hours the business that installs one of these “street seats” is operating, this is its exclusive space. Of course, anyone who installs these has the option of allowing public access, but they don’t have to.
            This, again, fails to follow best practices and is nothing like the parklets programs in other cities, where the parklets are public property for use by the public and should be so designated.

            There has been no opportunity to provide feedback on the way PBOT is handling this scheme because there has been no public process. PBOT just sprang it on everyone as a “pilot,” without doing any pubic outreach about it. Those of us who attend the Sharing Public Sidewalks meetings never heard about it, never had a chance for input. Increasingly, this is how PBOT operates since Tom Miller took over. He seems to favor backroom deals over public process, though I couldn’t say whether this has any connection to his questionable ethics. No wonder Tuscon rescinded its job offer after Miller failed a background check.

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            • resopmok October 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm

              I wish I had access to more primary source material, such as actual permits issued so far. I could find no indication in any of the three official documents posted by PBOT which back the claims of either Dan Anderson or the anonymous commenter that businesses hold any exclusivity. Even the two claims you posted conflict:

              “The City does not want people to be confused into thinking these are mini parks for public use.” -J Maus

              ” ..during business hours that is their space. But after hours, it is a public space.” – anonymous commenter

              The permit application makes no request for business hours, the design guidelines make no recommendations for how to close the structure off during non-business hours, and the sample permit explicitly states that the structure is to be defined as a sidewalk. If exclusivity without the additional sidewalk cafe permit is what PBOT intends, they should make amendments to their public documents to reflect it. The very clear wording in the third condition of the sample permit, however, leads me to believe otherwise.

              As I stated in my first response of this thread, I too find the privatization of public space to be a compelling problem, however this is not the ordinance which accomplishes that.

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    • Max D October 22, 2012 at 10:25 am

      how is it different from renting the space to a private car owner to park there? How is this different from creating a fenced Community Garden and renting space to people to grow vegetables fro themselves? I think this is a grey area already prevalent, but it is better use with tangential benefits for everyone such as traffic calming, improved street life, and increased wierdness.

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  • Andrew Holtz October 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    If the long term vision is to move thru traffic to nearby arterials, the planning needs to include bicycles, not just cars; that is, you don’t want commuters or others in a hurry trying to blast through on a bicycle either.

    Mississippi (in places) has or could have nearby alternatives for faster riders. But Everett is one of my favorite cycling through-routes. It is pretty easy to keep pace with vehicles and it doesn’t have the stop signs (with the accompanying crossing hazards) of Flanders. I don’t see Everett becoming a quasi-pedestrian mall, so it’s a different animal than Mississippi.

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  • Sunny October 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Just one vehicle slamming into sitting customers…..

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    • Sbrock October 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      I’m with sunny. Looks like a target for heartache.

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  • RonMH October 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I wonder how these will affect residential streets immediately parallel to the arterioles with now “pinched” driving lanes. I’m seeing more and more auto traffic on SE Clinton now that construction and “traffic calming” measures have slowed traffic on neighboring Division St to a crawl at times. The resulting unintended diversion of traffic to Clinton is really going to affect cycling along that street. Remember, automobile drivers will shift over to a parallel street if they can’t make headway via their preferred route.

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    • 9watts October 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      I don’t think this is necessarily always a zero-sum issue, where the volume of car traffic is fixed and will just shift around. In the short run it can appear so and sometimes it is no doubt the case, but over time I expect the observed trend away from cars to accelerate.

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    • BURR October 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      …and the outside lane of Division will no longer be usable by cyclists, so this is a lose-lose traffic calming project in the making.

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    • Reza October 19, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      I agree about increased traffic on Clinton making it less comfortable to ride.

      That’s why we need more diverters. At 12th, 21st, 26th and 50th.

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    • Dan October 20, 2012 at 8:02 am

      I say we pull a switch! We’ll ride on Division, and the cars are free to drive on Clinton.

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    • maxadders October 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      I’ve lived two blocks off Alberta for almost six years and the amount of traffic we’ve seen as businesses thrive is not to be underestimated. Parking’s a problem on summer weeknights, and it becomes nearly impossible to park on my own block come Last Thursday. Many older houses, like the one I rent, lack off-street parking. I’m loathe to see any more spots removed for a cause like this. Replacing an auto spot with a bike corral? Great. That’s something everyone can, and will, use. But private cafe seating is just stupid, and disrespectful of public property as well.

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  • Hart Noecker October 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Answer seems simply to me, just get ride of cars on Mississippi. Problem solved.

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  • Neighbor October 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    These spaces are for public use as stated in the application for the program

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  • Sunny October 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Homeless shelters

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  • q`Tzal October 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Chris I
    Clearly, demand is too high for the space provided, so a fee should be charged to stabilize the demand.

    I do hope that this appropriation of public land (road) payed for by the general public is not being offered free of charge to commercial interests; both as an initial cost and ongoing property taxation.

    If I have to lose usable road to parked autos or one of these “street seats” I’ll choose the latter. I just think that we (the taxpayers) should be compensated for loss of road space; perhaps a permanent recurring parking fee.

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    • Dan October 20, 2012 at 8:03 am

      The business does have to pay the City (as agent of the taxpayers) for use of the spot and any loss of parking revenue.

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  • Doug October 19, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    The Mississippi street seat has a sign posted by the “owner”, that is, Mississippi Pizza, that their customers can use them, but also that anyone else is welcome to use them as well. I also understood that, beyond Dec. 31, the plan was for these to just be summer structures anyway, and that they would all be removed in the winter. This is especially important, because few of them actually allow much water to flow along the gutter (though they were supposed to allow for that), and with the addition of leaves, there will be ponding and overflows onto the sidewalks.

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  • Morgen October 20, 2012 at 12:53 am

    I wanted to respond to the public/nonpublic question. I wanted to note that a Starbucks is considered a “public” coffee shop but that doesn’t mean you can chose to sit there and not buy anything. I am actually in a position to have spoken with the city myself and have been told several times that the area, like sidewalk tables, is considered part of the business.

    But as a hostile and suspicious person, I run it through the BS meter regardless of what the city has said to me. First, we are talking thousands of dollars in permits and fees before we even get started. Then the business is responsible for designing/building the area out. They pay for all the design costs, they pay for the build. Because we are being told that the structures will only be in place a part of the year (six months last I asked) the structures are not able to be fastened down and are expected to be removed and presumably placed in storage somewhere the other portion of the year. Then they must supply/store the tables, chairs, bathtub? etc. None of this is inexpensive. Then there is upkeep. I suspect there will be increased insurance fees in addition to bussing/cleaning/patrolling the area. On the other side of the scales the business has increased seating for the months the seating is in place. Would a business take on the liability of an area that they are responsible to maintain but have neither control of nor recieve value for? Consider Mississippi. The additonal seating is quite minimal. One booth sized area as far as I can tell. The amount of possible additional income is interesting to think about. So from my point of view there is a negative cash situation if the business doesn’t have most of the space available to their customers.

    If I ran a business would I pay to put open seating in front of my establishment if I had no recourse to get rid of drunks, or rowdy groups, etc? What does your BS meter say?

    I haven’t spoken with one of the business’s yet who have spoken to/recieved information from their insurance company. This is not to say they haven’t, just I’m not in the loop. I’m really interested in what the liability insurance company thinks about a space (public or private) like this. Who is covered? Who is not covered? I’d love to hear from one of the business owners on that aspect.

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  • Dan October 20, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I think that it is more confusing to traffic to keep moving them in and out. Make them permanent and let’s start diverting cars onto the side streets. I’m all for a bike/pedestrian zone through here. And, as to the commuters wanting to hammer; Good Heavens, get some upright bars and enjoy your ride! You are not in a Grand Tour and no one is timing you…

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  • Bike Me, Twice. October 20, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Stay out of the street…

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  • Ted Buehler October 20, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Streetseats Good. Bikeways Good. Parked Cars, Bad.

    It’s pretty unlikely that streets like N Mississippi will ever ban parking for a bike lane. Speeds are slow, streetside businesses are flourishing.

    I like them.
    Ted Buehler

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    • Paul in the 'couve October 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      Agreed. I like Mississippi the way it is although Street Seats will improve it and more walkers are good. I wouldn’t want bike lanes on Mississippi. Traffic is either non-existent or very slow. Stops signs every few blocks, people entering and exiting parallel parking spots and lot of jay walking pedestrians. I ride it all the time. It shouldn’t be a “high speed” corridor for bikes as it changes, it should become a very slow street with mixed traffic. It is unlikely to become a preferred main through route because of the steep hill up from Interstate (through the sewer trucks). With Interstate Ave and N. WIlliams both being better overall N/S routes Mississippi does fine the way it is. While slower cyclists may be concerned about asserting the lane, the side streets are very rideable. It works the way it is and it will get better as foot traffic increases and parking spaces get scarcer.

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      • Max D October 22, 2012 at 10:40 am

        I agree with Paul! I ride all the time, and I think bike lanes on Mississippi would be a mistake. This is a place where cars bikes and jaywalkers all need to slow down and share the space. BTW, I ride this street with my kid pretty comfortably

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  • mabsf October 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Each of these street seats should have giant orange signs of “Yield! Merging bikes on it”… just to drive the message home!

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    • are October 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      or you could just put sharrows down in the travel lane, since a cyclist who has already claimed the lane will not be merging

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  • esther c October 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I have no problem with this. At least its not going to door me. And it means less cars on that street. You need to claim the lane anyway on Mississippi so its a wash in that regard.

    I sure looks more organic and people friendlier than parked cars. I like it. I do feel for the people who live on the surrounding streets though because it will make them more crowded. I have a friend who has lived a block off of Mississippi for years, before it was anything trendy and she said it is not pleasant.

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  • Aaron October 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    “Those who do ride bicycles on them are either strong and fearless enough to ride fast while taking the lane; or worse, they squeeze along the right side just inches between parked cars and moving vehicles.”

    I am on Mississippi a lot and I see neither of those. I see cyclists taking the lane and not stressing it, sometimes carrying a cup of coffee, and I saw one dude eating a sandwich.

    Even just coasting downhill from Skidmore to Shaver, I’ll catch up with cars driving that way.

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  • jim October 21, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    This is just bad. Mississippi already doesn’t have enough parking.

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    • 9watts October 22, 2012 at 11:00 am

      If there is perceived to be too little parking some people think that means it is too cheap. As our friend Donal Shoup has been writing for a very long time, charge people a carefully calibrated rate for parking, and ‘the problem’ goes away. It isn’t about the (absolute) quantity, it is about the overuse of something that shouldn’t be free in the first place.

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      • jim October 23, 2012 at 8:39 pm

        Oh Great for business’s, just make their customers go elsewhere. Great idea. Free parking is one of the reasons I shop on mississippi. I don’t shop downtown very often as the parking there is just too expensive.

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  • AC October 22, 2012 at 9:49 am

    As for the concerns that this program kills the option of a bike lane or cycle track, I really don’t think areas such as Mississippi, Alberta, etc. should be considered for thru-commuter traffic. These areas thrive as destinations, and while auto traffic isn’t going away, it should at least slow down enough to where a cyclist would be comfortable enough taking the lane. There are usually better options for commuter traffic nearby (i.e. Going, Ankeny, the Van-Will couplet), that it would be under-utilized by commuters anyhow.

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  • DK October 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    As a patron of one of these establishments, I don’t think I’d be too excited to be sitting on the street, so close to passing traffic without so much as a curb between us. Loud, stinky, and potentially dangerous. …Not for me.

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    • Paul in the 'couve October 24, 2012 at 8:14 am

      DK – I can see your point. I also don’t see the appeal of outside dining with walkers on the sidewalk looking at a my plate – certainly not for ‘fine dining’.

      But have you ever been on Mississippi? It isn’t a high traffic street, it isn’t a truck route, it isn’t noisy. The restaurants are mostly very casual with a lot of biking and walking customers. Also many of the spaces are pretty small, these are older buildings. On pleasant summer evenings I can really see the appeal to many people of having a seat outside vs. either being crowded inside or skipping it. And the seating costs pennies on the dollar for the restaurant to add vs. expanding indoor space.

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  • jim October 23, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Those spots should be truck zones so the trucks don’t have to double park in the middle of the street.

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