Better Block PDX
It’s the cheapest bridge project ever completed in the Portland region. For just $20,000, the city’s Bureau of Transportation has changed the face of an iconic and historic part of town. And they’re sort of bragging about it, which is awesome.
At the ribbon-cutting event for Ankeny Plaza today, City Commissioner Steve Novick delighted in how his Bureau of Transportation has radically transformed the streets between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Old Town/Chinatown. “This is incredibly awesome,” he bubbled, before making a reference to Martha & The Vandellas’ classic tune, “Dancing in the Streets.”
This weekend, the City of Portland plans to remove the temporary multi-use path from the eastern side of Naito Parkway so the space can be used by cars instead.
You know Portland is getting its groove back when the Bureau of Transportation creates a large new public plaza and it takes us nearly a week to get it up on the front page.
A local organization that arranges for Portlanders to teach one another niche skills and information is offering a four-week introduction to do-it-yourself street transformation.
From Better Block’s temporary bike lanes to City Repair’s beloved intersection murals to Depave’s manually removed asphalt, Portland is rich with the spirit of “tactical urbanism,” an umbrella term for fast, flexible changes that make city streets better for people.
Now, Portlander Claire Vlach is offering a four-session crash course through the year-old Portland Underground Grad School. Cost: $99 for the eight-hour class.
The International Open Streets Summit will bring many people who work to humanize street space to Portland State University from Thursday, Aug. 18 to Saturday, Aug. 20. The draft program includes speakers from Philadelphia; Dallas; Los Angeles; Missoula; Toronto; Cape Town, South Africa; and Santiago, Chile, among others.
The “tactical urbanism” thread is newly added to this conference, reflecting the fact that fast, flexible changes and demos on city streets are a growing trend among community groups and city governments alike. Mike Lydon, a planning consultant helping produce this conference, literally wrote the book on that subject.
The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation will make significant changes to 2nd and 3rd Avenues in downtown Portland this summer.
2nd, which is one-way northbound, will be re-striped with a parking-protected bike lane from SW Stark to NW Everett and there’s a new public plaza coming to the intersection of SW Ankeny and 3rd.
I’ve been out on NE Broadway several times this week. And I love what Better Block has done with the place. The transformation of the street from auto-centric thoroughfare to a pleasant street that welcomes a mix of uses has been nothing short of amazing.
But I’m here to let you in on a secret: Not everyone is pleased. I’ve heard from several sources that the project is coming under fire by people whose hate equals my love.
Much of the anger is apparently coming from people think Broadway should remain a fast, crowded arterial mostly for driving on. While people out on the street are supportive and Better Block PDX has many fantastic neighborhood partners, there are some (who just so happen to have very powerful voices) who see this temporary street transformation as evil incarnate.