This month’s Last Thursday on Alberta was notable for several reasons: the clowns, the cops, and the crowds.
First and foremost, it was the last month in a long run of action at the Alberta Street Clown House (they’re moving soon). By the time I left (just before sunset), the yard was already filling up and judging from these naked bike jousting photos on Dingo’s blog, it looks like they had a fitting send-off.
It was good to hear the Clown House t-shirts sold out. The design is by local Zoobomber/Sprockette/tall-bike jouster/musician/crafter Justa Phillips and they read, “The reign of the Alberta Street Clown House.”
The Clowns may be moving on, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them. Here’s a shot of Dingo riding down the street in his familiar costume and his favorite tall-bike.
Unfortunately, we also haven’t seen the last of the increased police presence at the event. Portland cops were out in force patrolling the streets and making sure the hordes of people remained (squished together like sardines) on the sidewalk.
They also ticketed this unlucky tall-bike rider for carrying an “unlawful passenger on a bicycle” (the passenger was on the rear deck).
I appreciate the need for the police to maintain public safety and traffic flow, but their attitudes and tone with many pedestrians and bicyclists seemed counter to the idea of “community policing”.
The big question on many people’s minds was, “Why isn’t this street closed to cars yet?!”. I overheard that refrain several times as I mixed with the crowds.
On that note, I noticed this parade which seemed to be advocating for a street closure:
I later heard that the Police asked the marchers to disperse.
So when will Alberta Street be closed for Last Thursday? Does anyone have an update? I hope that when it does, the Alberta Neighborhood invites Dingo and the Clowns back for an encore…
(Browse all 32 of my July Last Thursday photos in the gallery.)
How are parents able to use extra cycles to transport kids? For that matter, how can someone ride on the back of a motorcycle?
I hope that they contest that ticket.
Thanks for critiquing the fuzz on this one Jonathon. I hope you keep it up!
Didn\’t do-nothing Mayor Tom Potter get elected on a \”Community Policing\” platform?
Somehow I don\’t see another term in his future…
If the person on the back of the tallbike was not resting their feet on something the ticket is valid. There are actually two stays that bow out right below that deck that you can rest your feet on, if you are real short. The law specifies footrests.
Footrests for motorcycles or quads, but a bike only has to be \”designed\” or \”safely equipped\” to carry a passenger.
Skidmark, you are wrong. Here is the text of the statute:
(1) A person commits the offense of unlawful passengers on a bicycle if the person operates a bicycle and carries more persons on the bicycle than the number for which it is designed or safely equipped.
This is a ticky-tack citation meant to harass. Any other place, any other time the rider would be given AT MOST a warning. Though I seriously doubt even that much.
They should contest it. As the builder and designer of the bike they can assert it is equipped to carry passengers viz a viz the *big freakin\’ platform*.
I must have it mixed up with the laws pertaining to carrying a passenger on a motorcycle.
Topher built that bike, not the Clowns. As far as I know that deck is meant for a passenger and the stays right below the deck are intended as footrests.
I am apprehensive about contesting it because it will shine a light on tallbikes and freakbikes, and possibly cause increased harassment where there was very little or no harassment before.
Obviously it\’s up to the person who got the ticket and they should do what they think is right, no matter what anyone else might think, including me 🙂
And this is happening in the city with the Platinum Cycling City Status.
As long as your bike fits within the rigid parameters of what is \”normal\”.
\”This is a ticky-tack citation meant to harass.\”
Are there still people who actually (sincerely) believe that the PPB is interested in community policing generally or with respect to cyclists particularly? Their goal is strictly to show non-conformists and creative types that State power is in control. How many more people like James Chasse do they have to murder before people wake up? How can such a progressive City have such a fascist police force?
I was at Last Thursday and there were too many people there to be confined to the sidewalks. I felt like I couldn\’t stop to look at anything and when others did it would create a huge jam and I would find myself getting mad. This and the sight of cops harassing people really killed the vibe of the event.
Until they close the street to cars, I am done with Last Thursday.
I was put off by the police last Thursday. It was my first visit to the event, but I would be apprehensive about going again, because the cops looked mean and ready to harass at a drop of a bike. Everyone else seemed very nice. Who invited those guys anyway?
They tend to invite themselves.
I\’ll second giving Mayor Potter the heave-ho if he runs for reelection. He has clearly not lived up to his billing as \’bike-friendly\’; and, judging by the antics he, as police commissioner, has allowed the police to get away with vis-a-vis cyclists over the last two years, he really isn\’t interested very much in bicycle commuting, let alone creativity, fun or free expression.
Last Thursdays were so much more fun a couple years ago…
I stopped going this year because the crowds are out of control and obviously don\’t fit on the sidewalk. The street should be closed, it will benefit everyone. I\’d be happy to help in that effort.
I\’m no fan of the police presence, but the with all the booze flowing some of the public drunkeness really brings out the a__hole in people.
Closing the streets to cars is a no-brainer. Why not, when peds obviously outnumber cars? First off, people should stop driving down Alberta Street on Last Thursday! Second, what do we need to do to make this happen? It\’s apparently been an ongoing issue (I\’m relatively new to Portland) but it seems like a massive petition to the right people could do the trick (Commissioner Sam Adams?).
I asked some of the clowns (working the cash register) and they said they would still be around for one more Last Thursday in August.
Here\’s some fun discussion of last Last Thursday and that bogus ticket:
I\’ve never heard of any official action to close down the street for pedestrians and bike. Can we start a petition on this site? Good God do they need to shut down the street. I agree with people that said they are tired of last thursday due to the crowded sidewalks. Let\’s do something like we/you did with the bike master plan funding. We should be allowed to have some fun on last thursdays. Jonathan Maus for Mayor!
How to obtain a street closure permit \”to provide for special events such as neighborhood street fairs and community events that draw in participants from more than a few block radius.
Contact: Street Systems Management
It took me about 5 seconds to find this on the City\’s web site, so I am assuming that there is a reason why no one has gotten one for LT. Maybe because it is recurring, I don\’t know…
Where will the buses go? People in wheelchairs use them.
Am I mistaken, or is it just a question of someone filling out the form for a neighborhood party to close down the street? Or is Alberta too big/long to go about closing it that way?
The buses can go up and down Going, it\’s a through street. They setup temporary stops all the time. All of the downtown bus mall stops are temporary and people deal with it. The bus stops are no reason to scrap the whole idea. It just needs to be adjusted appropriately. We\’re talking about 4 hours a month.
I was there, and it was an obscenity. I estimate the volume of people being served (barely, at level of service \”F\” or below) by the sidewalk at ten times the volume being served by the street which officers believed it their solemn duty to keep pedestrian-free. The police behavior came off as authoritarian hazing ritual pure and simple.
motor vehicle access and movement is apparently sacrosanct to the cops in this town, most of whom are die-hard motorists themselves and live outside the city in the suburbs.
Trimet has already voluntarily re-routed for Last Thursday in the past. Doesn\’t seem like that big of an obstacle.
By the way, for people who say \”just apply for a permit,\” it may not be so simple. I know that for some streets it\’s virtually an impossibility. SE Division comes to mind, for example. I was once in a group that tried to organize an event involving temporary street closure there, and it requires multiple permits from state and local officials. It all depends on a hodgepodge of legal classifications regarding the status of the particular street in question.
Ok, so rather than having twenty people applying for the same permit, is there a leader-type who wants to take this on? I\’ll do it if no one else wants to, but I\’m hardly the best qualified since I don\’t regularly attend Last Thursday or have a personal history with the event. (I\’m just tired of hearing people complain about this, and I don\’t want the situation to escalate to the point where someone gets hit by a car or assaulted by the police.) But I\’m happy to do the research. Just say the word. It wouldn\’t be the first time I\’ve contacted the city regarding transportation-related problems.
Is there a lawyer that reads this site and knows about the legal process to help this along? I think I believe Antonio (comment 25) when he says it\’s a bit more complex for certain streets. I appreciate everyone that\’s been offering constructive advice. This is a good way to get positive things done.
Fewer drunken yahoos would make Last Thursday a lot more pleasant.
I\’m guessing most of the jerks drive to Alberta St.(including the yelling dude who bumped my neighbor\’s motorcycle with his car as he was leaving.) considering how clogged the streets have gotten recently.
If it\’s too complicated to get a formal street closure permit for an ongoing event for a big street like Alberta, then another approach would be to see if there is an ordinance that would allow pedestrians to legally walk in the right most lane of the street when the sidewalk is too congested for reasonable movement. If such an ordinance doesn\’t exist, then maybe it\’s time to lobby for one.
Another classic example of people being pissed off about a ticket that is thoroughly justified, and legitimate.
I have seen that girl riding \”Side Saddle\” on that same \”platform\”, which is in no way a seat. I thought it was a stupid thing to be doing in traffic.
To make it legal, why not just mount an actual seat on the platform.
As is, it is no more than a cargo bike.
By the way, some of the usage of the \”bakefits\” (I kinda hate those bikes!) is not legal either, in regards to passengers) unless it has seats and belts for a child, or even for an adult, it is just like riding on the handlebars.
Pay the damn ticket, and save the bitching for something legitimate!
And good luck getting the city, and Tri Met, and the Alberta business assoc. to agree on terms for a street closure. Especially once a month.
Too many bull headed people means it will never happen. Sorry to be the one to point this out.
By the way, I did see a Tri Met bus going the wrong way down Sandy, over the 205 overpass today. It went the wrong way down the road,( I mean in the opposite traffic lane) full of passengers, for no less than 5 blocks. Total idiocy, the driver should be fired, sadly, I did not get the bus number.
Dabby, you\’re such a killjoy! 😉
If it\’s a problem, the city should just pass a new ordinance that makes it easy.
Oh wait, city hall isn\’t listening…
Time to vote Potter out!
I actually think that passing an ordinance allowing pedestrians to use the street when the sidewalk does not afford them resaonable mobility would be a much greater accomplishment, which would address not just the problem of Alberta Street on Last Thursdays, but a much broader range of cases. And it is only simple justice and logic that pedestrians should be able to use the street when their mobility requires it. Afterall, pedestrians are not required to hire a motor vehicle to legally cross the street. So why should they have to do so when the sidewalk cannot accommodate their numbers? Streets should be for the mobility of people, period, not just people who have the means to purchase a private motor vehicle.
Naturally, when people have to walk in the street because the sidewalks are too crowded, then motorists too will have to slow way down. In that case, the responsibility of cops should be harassing motorists who drive too fast, instead of pedestrians who stray from the sidewalk.
Maybe you should run for office on that platform.
There is already an ordinance that covers that same subject. Although the wording is a little more negative, since it describes a crime.
I believe if you researched it, you would find that it is called \”J Walking\”.
In no way will the city put themselves in the position of inviting people to wander randomly off the sidewalks into the street.
This constitutes a huge liability, and will only be allowed through a permit process, which would require the signing off of all the businesses along NE Alberta, plus all affected residents, and Tri Met, which loves \”our\” all mighty dollar too much (mainly cause they can\’t stop spending it).
Don\’t get me wrong, I would love to see this happen.
But, I would also love to see a unicorn….. I guess I will just have to watch the director\’s cut of \”Legend\” over and over again……
When they held the Mississippi Street Fair a few weeks ago, the 4 line was re-routed to run on Albina for the 10 blocks or so that encompassed the fair. Cars were also diverted, so it is clearly possible. I didn\’t go to the Division Street Fair last weekend, but I imagine the situation was similar. I wonder if there is some superceding issue, such as the recurring nature of Last Thursday, that prevents the permit from being issued each month? I can\’t believe that no one who sponsors the event hasn\’t tried to close the street. Are there any business owners on Alberta reading this who have insight on the issue? I think Trimet\’s low-floor bus fleet could accommodate ADA issues, even on a street not constructed for bus service. In any event, City policy could certainly be tweaked to allow for Last Thursday to be car-free, which it really should be. Anyone from Adams\’ staff out there have any suggestions?
I hope you people realize that this is not a new idea and has been tried. Unsuccessfully. Here on Alberta. Of all places.
Where is Carl to help us out here?
He is Mr. Car Free…
Dabby, I must agree with Burr, you are being a killjoy. Lot\’s of postive changes have been made after many unsuccessful attempts. In fact the majority of changes in public policy are often difficult but they do happen. Anyone else with some good constructive ideas?
Dabby, (and others, just FYI):
\”Jay-walking\” is not a legally defined term in Oregon law. It does not mean crossing a street midblock. The Oregon
Vehicle Code states that it is illegal for pedestrians to:
–Cross a street against a traffic signal;
–Cross the street outside of a crosswalk without yielding
to automobile traffic;
–Cross the street outside of a crosswalk at an intersection; and
–Proceed in a crosswalk in a manner that causes an immediate
hazard to an approaching motor vehicle.
The right of way laws are:
–At crosswalks, marked or unmarked, drivers stop and
yield to pedestrians (ORS 811.015, 017, 020 & 028).
–At other locations, crossing is allowed, but pedestrians
yield to vehicles (ORS 814.040).
PERSONALLY, I think Last Fridays are no fun anymore, now that all the Pearl District-ites have found it to be the \’new thing\’ to drive their Hummers to. .. juuuust kiddding…(?)
If the street closure option does not pan out…how about just apply for no parking on Alberta during the event and then place the vendors (and cafe tables ala Mountain View CA) in the parking lane – except at bus stops?
\”How can such a progressive City have such a fascist police force?\”
Leadership starts at the top. Oh, wait, that would be Mayor Potter.
Didn\’t *he* used to be a cop. My, how politically incorrect of me.
I don\’t envy the cops – they\’re in a bad position, trying to do their jobs, short on staff, and hated by everyone. Then again, they\’re called to a higher standard, and if they can\’t meet it, then they either need to negotiate a new social contract with the community, or quit.
I respect them, but respect is no excuse for abuse, and there have been plenty of documented cases of police abuse in Portland.
Another option might be for peds to make extensive and slow use of the crosswalks thereby bringing motor traffic to a standstill. Make a permanent river of people crossing the intersections. That might be a perfectly legal method of gumming up traffic enough for the city to step in a do something about the problem.
I really couldn\’t enjoy my time there last week b/c of the tight crowds and especially b/c of the police yelling constantly at people to stay on the sidewalks. It was ugly.
\”I respect them, but respect is no excuse for abuse, and there have been plenty of documented cases of police abuse in Portland.\”
Respect is earned, and the police have not yet earned the respect of the \’bicycle community\’.
In fact, just the opposite seems to be true, everywhere you look, they seem to be going out of their way to harass, intimidate and target the bicycle community for a variety of imaginary infractions against auto-hegemony…
Here\’s an interesting quote from the Portland Tribune on July 10, from an article titled \”Pileups stall unpatrolled freeways\”
The Portland Police Bureau does not have enough money for regular freeway patrols either, said traffic division Cmdr. Mark Kruger.
According to Kruger, his division currently is six officers and one sergeant short of its authorized staffing levels. Its top priorities are drunken drivers and moving violations that lead to accidents on city streets, not patrolling the freeways, Kruger said.
“We do not have any dedicated (freeway) patrols,” Kruger said.
Kruger is convinced that a concentrated and sustained freeway patrol effort could reduce the kinds of accidents that snarl so many commutes.
Funny, isn\’t it?
Ahh yes isn\’t Kruger funny!
Well, no actually.
He is a violent and disturbed individual who has no business on the city payroll. I wish these links would be highlighted under \’the commanders\’ name whenever he is mentioned. He is an embarrasment to our city, and a shining example of what the cops (and our mayor) think of \’community policing\’.
Shame on all of us for allowing this sad little man to be on the public payroll.
I could see it being hard to block off Alberta, because it\’s such a major traffic artery. It would be cool if it could happen (and I\’m all for it), but perhaps there\’s other options?
There\’s a lot of street parking on Alberta. Could those parking spaces be roped off, making the busy blocks of Albert a \”no parking\” zone for the evening? Then people could spill off into the parking spaces, but not the street.
Also, what if a block each of the intersecting side streets were closed off, effectively flanking Alberta with a series of block parties? It wouldn\’t make Alberta\’s sidewalks any wider, but it might give the vendors and crowds somewhere to go, and relieve the pressure a bit.
How can Austin, located in the heart of car centric Texas pull this off-
And yet here in bicycle utopia, we can\’t get a small street well outside of the city center, closed once a month?
This is one of the most hypocritical cities I have ever lived in.
Oops, here is the link again-
You are being silly. The ordinance requiring pedestrians to yield to motor vehicles when crossing the street can be amended to deal with the very specific instance of the sidewalk being too crowded to allow for proper mobility of pedestrians. In that case, it is the motor vehicles that should be required to yield. This is not rocket science: traffic wardens direct the flow of traffic around construction workers in the street all the time. It\’s not like it is an everyday occurrence for the sidewalk to become so crowded that it ceases to adequately support the flow of pedestrian traffic. And this is not exactly such a subjective measure that we couldn\’t use common sense to establish when this is the case. Cops could still give tickets to pedestrians for using the street when the sidewalk was adequate for pedestrian mobility. But in the event of something like Last Thursdays, it would be easy to establish that such a ticket was bogus.
For anyone who is serious about working (yes, working, this will involve homework and legwork) towards getting Alberta closed to auto traffic on Last Thursdays, join this list and mention that you want to help:
We were planning this last fall and earlier this year, but there just wasn\’t enough person-power to carry it through. We\’re real busy lately with planning for the world conference of Towards Car Free Cities 2008, which will be hosted by Portland!
\”Respect is earned, and the police have not yet earned the respect of the \’bicycle community\’.\”
Well, that\’s fine, BURR, but I wasn\’t speaking for you OR the \’bicycle community\’ – only myself. I have respect for the police because I have a fairly comprehensive view of their perspective, challenges and responsibilities. They\’ve earned my respect, individually and collectively.
That does not excuse individual and collective bad behavior in the name of law and order, however – see my previous comment.
BTW, thanks for backhandedly implying that I\’m not a member of the \’bicycling community\’. Said community is neither unified nor homogenous. Long may it be so.