Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Updated: Cars create (temporarily) carfree Last Thursday

Posted by on June 30th, 2008 at 4:07 pm

[Updated at 8:02pm on 6/30 — see end of story.]

Two cars created a carfree zone
on Alberta Thursday night.
More images
(Photo: Stephen Upchurch)

In a brilliantly ironic bit of activism, two strategically placed cars helped created a three-block stretch of carfree streets during last week’s Last Thursday event on Alberta Street.

The event was first reported by Stephen Upchurch, who shared what he saw on the Shift email list.

He noted that the cars seemed to be, “painted for the occasion,” and that they were stopped in the intersections of NE 24th and 27th streets. This, wrote Upchurch, “effectively created a three block car free zone.”

It didn’t take long for the busy Alberta Street crowds to take advantage of the situation. “The newly created space filled with people, enjoying the Thursday Parkways vibe.”

Calls for a carfree Last Thursday have bounced around the community for years.

Has Last Thursday outgrown the sidewalk?

A living room on the street in 2006.
(Photo © J. Maus)

In July of 2006, a group of concerned citizens took over a car parking spot on Alberta Street and asked passersby if Alberta had “outgrown the sidewalk.”

A few months later, I reported that there were so many people on the street that an impromptu dance party started.

Then, last April, another dance party that erupted in the street resulted in a bit of a fracas which was then reported in some media outlets (and treated by the police) as a riot.

In this most recent incident, Upchurch snapped several photos of the cars and the crowd they attracted before police and a tow truck arrived.

One photo shows a note taped to the windshield on one of the cars. The note (text below) explains much more about the motivation for this guerrilla action but says nothing about the identity of the individual or group behind it (besides an email address).

Here is the full text of the note:

“We’re blocking off the street!

As an act of advocacy for Last Thursday, we declare the NE Alberta Street is closed to all motorized traffic from 7pm — 10pm tonight (June 26)

Why are we doing this?
Last Thursday has become so popular that it is just not safe for cars and busses to coexist with vendors and the crowd of thousands…

Last year, TriMet voluntarily re-routed their buses during Last Thursday because they recognized it was just impractical to run bus service through such a large crowd. However, the City made TriMet resume their normal service as a method of crowd control. We believe this is absolutely the wrong direction to take, so we are taking the street back ourselves.

How will this work?
We will block the street on 15th Ave and 30th Ave to prevent East/West traffic. All side streets will be open to traffic going North/South.

Can I help?
Yes you can. Here are some suggestions:
— Enjoy Last Thursday in the same spirit of respectful community celebration you always do.
— Be responsible for your safety…
— Be polite to drivers and event attendees. If a driver comes onto the street, you might let them know the street is closed and suggest they take an alternate route like Killingsworth.
— Call it quits at 10pm. Last Thursday officially “ends” at 10pm. It is a weeknight after all, and people that live here need to get up and go to work tomorrow.

What do I do if…?
— A driver wants to know how to get through?
Tell them they can cross Alberta St. going N/S from 15th and below and 30th and above. All other E/W streets are open.
— A car refuses to turn away?
Let them pass peacefully. Most cars will find an alternate route.
— A police officer tells me to leave?
Follow their instructions.

So, what happens next?
We hope that this small action helps convince more people in the community and the City that not only does closing Alberta St. for Last Thursday not end the world, it makes the event safer, more enjoyable and encourages it to grow into an even more wonderful celebration on Portland’s cultural calendar.

[Update] The person behind this act of carfree advocacy was Alberta street property owner and self-described “founder of Last Thursday” Magnus Johannesson.

He says the closure was the culmination of two years of negotiations with the City that ended with a “strongly worded” letter from Commissioner Sam Adams’ office.

Johannesson claims that Adams wrote him a letter saying that PDOT has reviewed doing an Alberta Street closure for Last Thursday “on several occasions” and that, “unfortunately, no street closure has been authorized… and no street closure approval is planned for any time in the foreseeable future.”

I’ve got to follow-up with Adams’ office and Johannesson to find out more, but with the coalescence of the local carfree movement thanks to the recent Carfree Cities conference, the success of the Sunday Parkways event, and with existing efforts like this one, perhaps the time has come to finally make Last Thursday on Alberta carfree.

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  • Coaster June 30, 2008 at 4:17 pm


    did they tow the cars away? how long did it last?

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  • Bob New June 30, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Did anyone get photos of the stilt walkers during Last Thursday? We are looking for good photos for the Ship of Fools outing. It was our first sail!

    Please send any photos or links to bluenew0804@hotmail.com

    bob new

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  • Donna June 30, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    It seems to me that if the city made Last Thursday car-free, it would go a long way towards alleviating some of the pressure to create more Sunday Parkways right now (when there isn\’t the budget for it). IMO, that would be a politically astute move…

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  • Paul Cone June 30, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I heard from someone in the know that Sunday Parkways will happen again, but not this year, not only because of budget reasons, but because of the time and resources needed to plan for it. But I also agree completely with Donna\’s comment… no time like the present to satisfy what the masses obviously want and stop this ridiculous must-keep-cars-flowing mindset at Last Thursdays. (And did anyone notice they brought in TWO fire trucks this time?)

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  • gabriel amadeus June 30, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Someone mentioned on the shift list that it would be nice to set up a temporary fund to pay for the towing/ticket costs that these modern day Robbin Hoodists racked up liberating OUR streets. I think it\’s a great idea.

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  • chris June 30, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    gas @ $4.50/gal
    Sunday Parkways, free
    Alberta Street carless, free

    Living in Portland as cars are going the way of the Dinosaur?


    I see this spreading and growing with time into a 24/7 carfree network across Portland. People will pay more for houses on the streets without cars. Greed and self interest will make the network grow. Portland will show the country how it is going to be done.

    *blink* what? did I have another vision? gotta get more sleep…MCBF be darned…

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  • T Williams June 30, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    It seems that every time a city creates a car-free zone, there\’s an initial outcry from businesses and other, well, \”less inclined\” folks. Then, once the area has thrived and foot traffic has increased exponentially (making for much more $$), people can\’t remember why they took so long to implement it.

    Here\’s a quick link for other car-free areas (I hope the html works. I\’m a neophyte at it):

    Google Search

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  • bicycledave June 30, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    There are many examples of streets around the world that have been closed off to cars. Every one that I\’ve visited has been filled with people and thriving businesses.

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  • diddy June 30, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Motorists were pissed fo sho! What else is new. Go empowered hippies! YAY.

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  • a.O June 30, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    I was walking my dog around my neighborhood (Sellwood) this weekend and I came across three kids who had found some road barriers left lying around from all the construction. They pushed them into the street, and set-up their kiddie pool right in the middle of the road!

    So, just a reminder that this sort of thing can be done *anywhere* and with pretty much *anything.*

    What\’s the bill for leaving your car in the road (citation for illegal parking + towing charge)? I\’m guessing around $500?

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  • bikey Mama carie June 30, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Hmmm, World Naked Sit-In?

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  • Liz June 30, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    We were on 24th and Alberta when the Stop/Yield painted car \”parked\” across the road, and then wondered down to 27th after that car arrived, picked up some take-out, and sat on the curb eating until the tow truck arrived to remove the car on 27th. Probably took 40 minutes for that car to be towed. The first police car we saw encounter the car on 27th was driving West on Alberta, talking on his cell phone, and laughing. He drove away without stopping. The bus driver behind him, however, was quite annoyed.

    Looked like the car had expired tags, and our assumption was whomever owned the cars had no intention of getting them back. My husband saw the guy who parked the car on 24th walking around and talked to him a bit. He was quite pleased that he\’d managed to get the street closed for 20 minutes at that point, and considered it a success. There were definitely some others who were getting a little verbally confrontational with the police officer who was placing a number of tickets on the car, claiming the car was freedom of expression, rather then blocking a public roadway, as it was from the officer\’s point of view. I was impressed that the officer walked away, and said something to his partner to the effect of, I\’m not going to say what I really think because there are million video cameras around.

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  • peejay June 30, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Hey Sam, shortest honeymoon ever! You\’re not even mayor yet, and you vote for the CRC, cancel the Flanders Street Bridge (1/1000th the cost of the CRC) for \”budgetary\” reasons, and now say that ALberta must continue to be a street that prioritizes cars over people. Please, Sam, help me figure out why I passionately supported you. So far, it\’s not because of your transit policies!

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  • Evan Reeves June 30, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    I had a chat with some fellows on the Hawthorne bridge for the breakfast stop about this. Most everyone who I\’ve talked to about it seems more than willing to donate some money to help get whatever cars out of the tow yards and to pay whatever tickets come as a result of this. I think it\’s a brilliant idea and I fully support it. I think that there would be plenty of Thursday-goers who would no doubt chip in a few dollars to bring the street closure to fruition.

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  • Scott June 30, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    A bit of a fracas?


    Be thankful you don\’t live here. I sure wish I could call a surging mass of drunk hipster shits throwing bottles at cops, treating out neighborhood as their favorite toilet and trash can was a \”bit of a fracas\”. I think my favorite part was those that don\’t even live here telling those of us that do that we should move if we don\’t like it.

    Last Thursday was fast becoming an embarrassment before the Police wisely showed up. I hope they\’re here to stay for a long time.

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  • brian b June 30, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Go Magnus!

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  • Mr DeJerk June 30, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    really? magnus?!

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  • becky July 1, 2008 at 12:13 am

    – Enjoy Last Thursday in the same spirit of respectful community celebration you always do.

    do I laugh or do I cry at this statement?

    I haven\’t seen the respectful community celebration at a Last Thursday in many moons.

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  • davey July 1, 2008 at 12:46 am

    I was sitting at the corner of 27th when the first car/barrier was pushed into place. Unfortunately, the organizers had not coordinated the closing at both ends, leaving several cars unable to go either forward or back. Several eventually drove onto a part of the sidewalk to get around the barrier.

    Some time later, once all the cars had cleared in the 3 block zone (though buses were still stuck), I witnessed an interaction between two black women and one of the organizers (perhaps Magnus?). They challenged him on several points (I\’ll paraphrase as best I can): \”What do you mean you\’re taking back the streets? These aren\’t YOUR streets. We\’ve grown up here and lived here our whole lives. There are people on those buses that are stuck here and they can\’t get home because of this.\”

    There are a lot of gentrification issues at play in Portland right now, and I have to say, there was some arrogance in this act. We live in a diverse community, but have all the resources available to bring about thoughtful and progressive change to our city. We can\’t just force whatever we think is right.

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  • BURR July 1, 2008 at 12:47 am

    sam adams needs to grow some bigger cojones if he really wants to represent the car free faction

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  • BURR July 1, 2008 at 12:50 am

    re. Sunday Parkways – please email / write City Council and tell them you want this to be a monthly event at different locations throughout the city, and it needs to last longer, e.g. 8 AM to 6 PM. and no reason it can\’t start NOW!

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  • wsbob July 1, 2008 at 1:57 am

    Closing the streets for something like this seems to cost a lot of money. From O writer Dylan Rivera\’s story about Sunday Parkways:

    \”Sponsors covered the city\’s $150,000 tab for Sunday\’s activity.\”

    $150,000 for what was it…8 hrs? No wonder Adams is taking pause. I seem to remember someone responding to a question about the Sunday Parkway cost by explaining that it represented the entire cost; pre-event planning plus day of event expenses; police overtime and all.

    Still, closing Alberta for last Thursday also probably involves expenses. Hopefully something much, much less than $150,000, but even if it was $5000, that seems like a lot of money someone\’s got to cough up. Who will pay?

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  • Zagreus July 1, 2008 at 6:49 am

    People who demand that others obey the letter of the law when their own desires are concerned, but who disregard the law by taking into their own hands when it suits them, regrdless of the rights of others, are pure hypocrites.

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  • jeff July 1, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Last Thursday has outgrown itself, drunk little sh*ts from all over town disrespecting the neighborhood.

    I\’m 100% for making this car-free every Last Thursday, but there\’s a bus route there guys. Fine, cars can go around, but the busses cannot. Stupid, selfish.

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  • Paul Cone July 1, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Don\’t forget that the busses WERE going around until the City decided it liked them better as crowd control.

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  • Also from the neighborhood July 1, 2008 at 8:36 am


    I\’m not sure if you read any of the story, but trimet set up an alternate route to accomodate Last Thursday and the city forced them to reinstate the original route. Seems like buses aren\’t really the problem. If last thursday isn\’t your scene, maybe you can set up a neighborhood event for all you older folks who enjoy \”dancing with the stars\”, coin collections, and talking about white wine. You could even do it early in the morning before all the \”drunk little sh*ts\” people wake up.

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  • Stephen Upchurch
    Stephen Upchurch July 1, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Thanks for flushing the story out Jonathan! I await your follow up with Adams\’ office.

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  • jeff July 1, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Hey Also,

    No I missed that. But the point is that there was a bus route running on Alberta when this happened? Yes?

    Nice little dig there, if that\’s how you want to think of me, great. It has nothing to do with folks drinking, having a good time, staying up late, making noise. Awesome. It\’s about respect for the neighborhood and everyone there, something lost long ago on LTs.

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  • Meep July 1, 2008 at 9:59 am


    I don\’t associate that phrase with bicycle activism – I associate it with reducing violence on the streets. It might be the same thing.

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  • Scott July 1, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Also from the neighborhood,
    Part of treating others with a modicum of respect is NOT demanding that they live your life or clean up after your laziness. You don\’t blast your music, you don\’t leave your dog\’s shit in their yard, you don\’t litter, you don\’t piss in my yard, you don\’t howl at 3 am (or 9 am), etc. Many if not most people have jobs that require them to be up and out of the house before 8 am. This isn\’t about being \”old\”, this is about being an adult. I know that\’s boring.

    This is a city of sorts. I expect a certain amount of dirt and mayhem. But that in no way excuses disrespectful behavior.

    One of the divisions we\’ve noticed in how people react to Last Thursday is between those that own or have lived here for a long time and the \’new\’ renters. While I\’m speaking in generalities, the latter are more transient, younger, and thus understandably less invested in this community as a comfortable quiet place that once could raise children and so on. As we see a resurgence in families in the area, and there are more and more strollers to be seen, don\’t be surprised if there\’s a stronger push against the so-called \”fun\” and those that want to party all the time and let someone else clean up their mess.

    Having said all of this, I\’m much more interested in addressing the drug problem that\’s still an issue in much of our area.

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  • Stripes July 1, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Last year, TriMet re-routed all of their busses off of Alberta, & onto Killingsworth a few blocks to the north.

    TriMet were at the meeting with Commissioner Adams, & had decided, of their own accord, irregardless of whether Alberta went carfree for Last Thursday or not, to remove their busses, due to liability issues (aka, they did not want to get sued for one of their bus drivers hitting a pedestrian forced into the road because the sidewalks were too jammed with people).

    When did TriMet put their busses back on Alberta again then for Last Thurs?? And why??

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  • peejay July 1, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Civil disobedience is the alternative forced upon people when their government does not respond to them. It\’s a tricky strategy, because it can breed resentment and backlash if not properly handled. The organizers should have pulled in more members of the local community on this one.

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  • Diogo July 1, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    The whole idea that it costs a lot of money to close a street for a day is a big joke. Closing a street shouldn\’t cost a single dollar – what it does cost money is to pay for all the beaurocrats and other types of vampires that keep sucking on society\’s blood. You may as well live in communist country, since the public here really has its hands tied, the state creates a real gridlock for any action.

    In my opinion this is the most disappointing thing about Portland: the widely accepted idea that manufactured problems are a real thing; and that you can\’t \”take a piss\” without having to ask for permissions, wait for months of deliberation and pay a lot of money.

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  • Zagreus July 1, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    peejay, Civil Disobedience, as practiced by Gandhi and Dr. King, was practiced ONLY after all alternatives had been exhausted, and only when the aggieved party was denied basic human rights, not simply because the government is not \”responsive\” to you–it may be that your desires conflict with the rights or desires of others.

    Also, Civil Disobedience means winning over your enemies by blessing where you are cursed. Dr. King never expected or advocated Civil Disobedience as a get out of jail card–he taught that everyone needed to respect the law enough to pay the penalty for disobedience.

    Civil Disobedience during the Civil Rights movement was justified because citizens were denied basic human rights based on the color of their skin, and during the Vietnam and two Iraq wars because millions of innocent people were being unjustly and unneccearily killed.

    Wanting to take over someone else\’s neighborhood for a party is not the same thing.

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  • steve July 1, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Your votes only have power BEFORE you use them folks. The time to pressure a candidate is while they are still campaigning.

    You all gave sammy adams a free pass, cause he wears little glasses and blows sunshine up yer bums. Same thing with obuma, minus the glasses.

    Now that they no longer need you, their true masters take the reigns. Suddenly they veer rightwards, singing the praises of the corporatocracy.

    Write all the letters and whine all ya want. Maybe have Elly organize a useless protest or something. Try and get some more grant money for leeches like scotty bricker to slurp up. Or..

    Perhaps next time around you will pressure a candidate to make ironclad commitments, BEFORE you vote for them. You know, while you can still vote for someone else.

    This country is filled with slaves and cowards.

    Wake up!

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  • finamin July 1, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    last thursday on alberta
    is the epitome of portland
    in all its blissful freakishness,
    better enjoy it now before
    it turns into what first thursday
    has become, as an artist i love
    being able to display my work
    right out on the street without
    a license, and i believe it would be
    more enjoyable without car traffic,
    we need to find a way to make it
    happen, people obviously love this
    night there, the sidewalks are
    overflowing, if the streets were
    closed to cars they could wander
    around happily with ease,
    how do we make this happen?
    if we don\’t i\’m sure the city
    has some ideas for changes there,
    can you say pearl district?

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  • Syn And Mys July 1, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I do have to give kudos to those behind this action. I do hope it gives more people the motivation to advocate for a car free Last Thursday.

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  • peejay July 1, 2008 at 2:55 pm


    That\’s why I said it was not properly handled. And don\’t forget: a lot of the people who celebrate Last Thursday also live there, so there already is some local buy-in. That said, you have to admit that for all the talk of Portland being responsive to the car-free culture, there\’s very little effort to try to do without cars on a given street. The people are leading on this issue, and our leaders are playing catch-up. I totally agree with Diogo that the argument that street closures are expensive is a smokescreen. It\’s the excuse that Sam & Co are using to get out of actually making an effort on this.

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  • peejay July 1, 2008 at 2:55 pm


    That\’s why I said it was not properly handled. And don\’t forget: a lot of the people who celebrate Last Thursday also live there, so there already is some local buy-in. That said, you have to admit that for all the talk of Portland being responsive to the car-free culture, there\’s very little effort to try to do without cars on a given street. The people are leading on this issue, and our leaders are playing catch-up. I totally agree with Diogo that the argument that street closures are expensive is a smokescreen. It\’s the excuse that Sam & Co are using to get out of actually making an effort on this.

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  • Paul Cone July 1, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Maintaining streets to keep cars flowing through them is also expensive.

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  • Donald July 1, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Who gets to decide when the street outside the Schnitz is car-free?

    (just saying, there seems to be precedent)

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  • Paul Cone July 1, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    PCPA has a revocable permit (per a City Council ordinance from 1987) to close SW Main St west of SW Broadway. They can close it after 6:15 pm on the evening of a performance, and also on weekends.

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  • zagreus July 1, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    peejay, your original post defended this as an act of civil disobedience. It is not. Not everyone in the city of Portland wants it to be car-free. You may, but your desires conflict with others. If you decide to take the law into your own hands, others have an equal right to do the same thing.

    I happen to believe that I should be able to use anything and everything that my tax dollars pay for. If I choose to commit an act of civil disobedience by driving in a bike lane, or taking a motorcycle onto a bike path, I will bet the farm that you will not defend by right to civil disobedience–you will call for my arrest and defend the letter of the law.

    Dr. King rightly pointed out that civil disobedience is a slippery slope, and should only be used as a last resort to acts of tyranny, and that the person resorting to civil disobedience should be willing to pay the penalty that the law dictates. Thoreau certainly did when he went to jail rather than pay taxes to support the Mexican War.

    I believe in sharing the road. Unfortunately too many people on this thread do not believe in sharing, but wish to take exclusive possession of them. That will lead to conflict and quite probably violence.

    No one has the right to violate the rights of others. By blocking a public road, what of people victimized by delayed police or medical response to an emergency? What about the rights of people using public transportation to get to work and earn a living? What about the rights of Jeff and Scott to live in their own community? Are they simply cardboard cutouts?

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  • a.O July 1, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    zagreus, I disagree with you. I think it was an act of civil disobedience.

    You may feel that it was different in important respects from those acts by MLK and Gandhi, and you may disagree as to whether this act was justified, as you apparently have, but none of those disagreements, and in none of your explanations for them, have you given any reason why it was *not* an act of civil disobedience. It was.

    And, as an aside, I think you\’re exaggerating the seriousness of the potential negative consequences of this act (i.e., delayed emergency response) a little. I also think you\’re mis-characterizing the beliefs of people with respect to sharing the road.

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  • wsbob July 1, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    People should check first before insisting it doesn\’t or shouldn\’t cost money to close a street such as Alberta for an evening community event. I\’m not sure off the top of my head where to check, but seem to recall the expense for doing this for Alberta has been determined and was reported last year.

    It shouldn\’t be too difficult to understand why it costs money; Alberta is a major through street. Preparations for closing such a street require planning and staffing and equipment to notify, block off streets, and redirect vehicles and transit riders. These things often cost money. Is it completely lost on everyone that an event like Sunday Parkways cost $150,000 to do? That seems like an atrocious amount of money to me, but I can easily understand that some expense was involved.

    Volunteers might be able to make up some of the expense here. Someone might ask what\’s been done in that respect to make Last Thursday free streets happen.

    It\’s been awhile since I\’ve been to it, but I\’d say Last Thursday is definitely much more a community event than it is a party. The fact that a party element may have been allowed to dominate the tone of the event shouldn\’t be allowed to diminish the importance of what Last Thursday can do for that neighborhood. Alberta should be closed for Last Thursday because there\’s just too many people for it\’s narrow sidewalks. Another problem: not enough streetlights.

    I guess it\’s o.k. for some property owner like this guy, Magnus Johannesson, to let his car get towed away to make a statement. He\’s probably got the money to burn, but aside from the fun element it remains to be seen how much a stunt like that in this neighborhood will do to actually realize the creation of Last Thursday free streets. He might have accomplished more by taking the money he\’ll be paying in fines and and whatnot to help cover the inevitable expenses involved in creating a feasible plan Last Thursday free streets.

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  • joe July 1, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I was fortunate enough to be walking around the area when it happened; the two car method yielded a car free environment for a little over an hour. It was terrific to experience it!

    The first four police officers who responded were in good humor – it was not until about 8:15pm when there were about 20 of them marching up and down the street commanding people off the road that their tone changed. Between the police and the fire department, there must have been over 80 manhours devoted to towing two cars. Surely the city could be involved in a carfree last thursday in a more cost effective manner?

    Alberta street was closed to motorized traffic from 11am to 6pm for the Art Hop.

    Artsonalberta.org did it with the help of the city. Someone could get a sense of the cost from them.

    my understanding, from reading the links that were in this article, is that Sam Adams opposes letting this happen. It will be interesting to see how he explains this.

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  • Diogo July 1, 2008 at 9:08 pm


    You can spend as much money or as little money you want in any project. You are basically just saying – \”someone said how much it costed and where the money was spent, therefore it means money must be spent\” – but it doesn\’t. Governments are spending money uselessly (is that a word?) all the time.


    Civil disobedience is not a sacred sacrifice for a higher good as you seem to suggest. Thoureau went to jail but he certainly didn\’t consent or accept the justice of it – so not sure what you mean by \”the person should be willing to pay\”. Civil disobedience means simply that you don\’t respect the law because it deem it unfair, so CD presumes conflict and a chalenge to the established order – not just of tyrants but of the rest of the society that supports that particular state of affairs. Civil Disobedience is not a right in the sense of the law – it is a self-proclaimed right to be agaisnt the law.

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  • wsbob July 1, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    You are basically just saying – \”someone said how much it costed and where the money was spent, therefore it means money must be spent\” Diogo

    No. I\’m not saying that, and that\’s not what I mean. I\’m saying if people want free streets for Last Thursday on Alberta, they\’re going to have to figure out a way to make that work. If these people want the city\’s paid employees to do the work involved in putting it together, it\’s probably going to cost money.

    Money is just a medium of exchange used to obtain labor, goods and services. Something like the Alberta Last Thursday free streets might be able to be mostly accomplished without money, through donations, bartering and volunteerism, but it take lots of energy and co-operation to do it. Lots of people would be giving of their personal time to make something like that happen if doing so wasn\’t part of their paid job.

    That neighborhood has a lot of energetic, creative people, so it could probably make it work. There\’s just more to it than someone throwing up their hands, driving their car out into the middle of the street, parking it and proclaiming \’Free Streets\’!

    Joe in #46 mentions Artsonalberta.org. Those people might be a great resource for finding out how to proceed on something like this.

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  • BURR July 2, 2008 at 2:08 am

    the point is that car-free streets should cost a lot less than the city\’s overtime for a bunch of popo to unnecessarily hassle people

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  • joe July 2, 2008 at 6:21 am

    \”There\’s just more to it than someone throwing up their hands, driving their car out into the middle of the street, parking it and proclaiming \’Free Streets\’!\”

    wsbob(call artonalberta (503) 972-2206) – I hear you on the funding concerns. perhaps you did not read the background to this story(which jonathan did a good job of linking to within the article). There has been an amazing amount of work by many people trying to petition the city to do this including addressing funding concerns. Sam Adams has said \”no\” and I would like to hear more from him about why.

    What the two car method did was to show a glimpse of what Last Thursday could be with full access to the street…can the full vision happen in a few weeks?

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  • Zagreus July 2, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Ao, there is a fine line between criminal behavior and civil disobedience. Would you consider it civil disobedience if a group of like minded individuals toos it upon themselves to establish a bike free zone, or would you conisder it criminal and a violation of your rights? Double standards are at complete odds with civil disobedience.

    If you were the one who needed an ambulance or a cop, I don\’t think that you would consider it an exaggeration if help was delayed.

    Diego, you did not answer the question I asked. If an act of civil disobedience as you define it was directed at YOU, would you call it civil disobedience or a crime? You do not seem to know the difference. If all of us were to act as you do, you would not like the results, and would be among the first to want a cop to restore order. There is a big difference between being the victim of a crime sanctioned by law, which is the justification for civil disobedience, and simply acting like a spoiled 6 year old who wants his own way no matter what.

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  • B.C. July 2, 2008 at 7:49 am


    You make some excellent points and I completely agree with you. The best point is that if a group of people wanted to make a street bike free, all of the cyclists here would be up in arms.

    I absolutely think the streets on Alberta should be shut down during Last Thursday; however, they currently are not allowed to be shut down. I do not think that renegade Last Thursday goers should block the street because they deem it appropriate.

    What should happen is petitioning and working with the City on how we can close the streets, because until then, it is the law.

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  • Zagreus July 2, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Amen, B. C.

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  • wsbob July 2, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Joe, no, sorry, this time I didn\’t follow the links and read the background therein. I\’ll try do some of that today after work. I\’ll also be interested in hearing what Adams has to say.

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  • Diogo July 2, 2008 at 9:35 am


    If someone is doing harm to me (real harm, not just picky inconvenience) I would defend myself as I could. The least of my concerns would be how to call their act.

    But Civil Disobedience is a rejection of the principle of government in itself. It is an anarchist ethic and strategy. Thoreau makes it plain clear with the opening words of his \”Civil Disobedience\” manifesto:

    “I heartily accept the motto,—‘That government is best which governs least;’ and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,—‘That government is best which governs not at all;’ and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.”

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  • Diogo July 2, 2008 at 9:50 am

    I think the best example of civil disobedience for this context and debate is People’s Park, in Berkeley, CA. Whoever doesn’t know that story I recommend looking it up.

    Basically in 1969 about 100 people from all over the Bay Area came together to DEPAVE a parking lot belonging to the University. They didn’t ask for permission or anything. They just came, broke the concrete, planted grass, trees and other plants, and formed People’s Park.

    Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, sent the National Guard in to restore the concrete and protect the parking lot. People rebelled, fought the cops, big riots in the streets. At least one person was killed by the national guards, who even employed helicopters releasing chemical weapons over the crowd.

    In any case, there were many battles over People’s Park over the decades. The authorities would manage to close it down for a while, and then people would open it back. Last major fights happened in the 90’s, with more riots and what not. But the Park is still there, and once in a while the authorities try to restore control over that area, just to see people reject their interference and reaffirm the community’s amorphous sovereignty over the park.

    A good story that should be repeated as much as possible!

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  • B.C. July 2, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Great idea. Let\’s repeat (as much as possible) having people killed over a park.

    Why don\’t you give us your address? I think a park would go really well right where your house is. I will bring the bulldozer.

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  • zagreus July 2, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Diego, if, in your opinion, civil disobedience means rejecting government itself, then you cannot possibly support bike boxes, bike lanes or any other law that benefits you. If you are saying that you can selectively obey laws, then every felon in every prison in the worls is simply a practitioner of civil disobediencs and a revolutionary, and not a criminal. Your logic is flawed.

    Are you both a person who rejects that aughority of the government, but would call the police if you were assualted, your bike stolen, or if you were struck by a hit and run driver?

    My South Carolina Quaaker ancestors practiced civil disobedoemce by participating in the Underground Railroad, and would have been put to death if discovered. They did not also reject the concept of law itself, but were very law abiding citizens who refused to sanction a crima against humaity that had social and legal sanction.

    Taking over a street on your own initiative to have a party is not a comparable situation.

    I have read your pssts, and you do not reject the authority of the state itself. You support it when it benefits you, and reject it when it is inconvenient. That is criminal thinking, not civil disobedience.

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  • Diogo July 2, 2008 at 11:45 am


    Why do you imply that those building the park caused the death, when it was actually exactly the opposite: those defending the law were the ones who killed people over a parking lot!!!

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  • a.O July 2, 2008 at 11:50 am

    \”Taking over a street on your own initiative to have a party is not a comparable situation.\”

    Again, this is your *opinion.*

    And *my* opinion is that 43,000 deaths caused by people driving motor vehicles each year is a pretty serious problem and a deprivation of the basic human right of traveling safely around one\’s community. And every act that helps end that inhumanity and take back the streets is a small step in the right direction.

    By the way, welcome to Portland. Pretty much everywhere else in America you can drive your car through residential neighborhoods, community parties, and everywhere else without even any concern for the rest of the people trying to use the public space without getting killed. Not here.

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  • Schrauf July 2, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    #52 – \”You make some excellent points and I completely agree with you. The best point is that if a group of people wanted to make a street bike free, all of the cyclists here would be up in arms.\”

    I doubt it. If there is a reason to close a street to bikes, and cyclists are given convenient alternatives during the closure, there would not be a peep. Similarly, every time a street is closed to cars, the drivers always have ample alternatives.

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  • Diogo July 2, 2008 at 12:07 pm


    I would say that a good criteria to differentiate crime from civil disobedience is the element of conscience – most murderers and similar felons do so without thinking that murdering is right. However, even if they think that, that wouldn\’t imply that I must accept its legitimacy – its not their conscience that counts, but mine. I guess the difference resides on the observer\’s eye (and I\’m fine with the lack of an absolute truth or morality).

    For me, to select which laws to obey is the only right thing to do. I do actually reject the authority of the state. If I happen to support bike boxes is not because it is the law, but simply because I think it makes sense. I would support it even if it was done illegally. The same applies to asking the cops’ help. I would do it if I need it (but I avoid doing so); if they weren’t there, I would resort to whatever other means I’d have to (such as asking the help of another armed group).

    Does that mean that I don’t make any distinction between right and wrong, between crime and legitimate action? Not at all. I just use different criteria than the law (my conscience and critical thinking, for example). I understand that the law does not reflect right versus wrong – what it does reflect is the distribution of power in a given society, and all its underlining injustice and incoherence. And this distribution of power can be changed by many ways – of which disobedience is the most effective, especially in everyday life actions and decisions. Besides, even if a law is not in itself unjust, the totalitarian nature makes the majority of laws either unreasonable or oppressive; which justifies the reasonable disobedience in concrete situations (such as running a red light in a bike when there’s no traffic).

    Rejecting the principle of government doesn’t mean rejecting everything governments do, but it means rejecting the idea that their judgment should be an absolute guidance for my actions.

    To quote our man Thoreau again (I love that guy):
    “Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. (…) Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.”

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  • a.O July 2, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    \”…if a group of people wanted to make a street bike free, all of the cyclists here would be up in arms.\”

    Most streets already are bike-free. The vast majority of people are afraid to ride on them because motorists use their vehicles as weapons to intimidate the few who dare, risking the lives of people on bikes to enforce the unwritten social law that you will see expressed here and elsewhere \”Cyclists should stick to the back roads. They don\’t belong on the main roads.\”

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  • chris July 2, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Our government exists for our service.

    They are here to serve the needs of the majority.

    I would postulate that Portland has reached a tipping point and the type of people that make up the majority has changed. Many of them ride bikes.

    Ballot initiative anyone?

    For years cyclist have bemoaned the fact that the world was built for cars; it was, because they were the majority. Time to turn the table and use the same logic. There are more cyclist friendly folk than people know in some areas of Portland, IMHO.

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  • Zagreus July 2, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Diego, everyone else has the same right that you do to decide what is right and wrong, and what is important or not. If I don\’t agree with you that bike boxes are a good idea, does tha fact that I don\’t agree give me the right to violate the law, since I would only be following my conscience? If everyone shared your view of selective obedience to the law, the world would be much more violent and chaotic than it is now. And, by the way, I made no comment about the Park in Berkeley.

    Remember, in quoting Thoreau, he did not resist arrest when jailed for failing to pay taxes to support a war he considered immmoral (as did both John Quincy Adams and Abraham Lincoln), but went to jail gladly. He resepected the law enough to obey it, and to accept the consequences for disobedience. When Emerson asked him \”What are you doing in there (jail)\” Thoreau answered \”What are you doing out there?\” That is the essence of nonviolent civil disobedience.

    Ao, bike advocacy groups are indeed up in arms about places they believe are hostile to bikes. As for the fact that taking over a street to have a party not being equivalent to risking one\’s life, safety, and liberty to oppose genocide, slavery, military invasion, or second class citizenship, you are right, that is my opinion. It is also an opinion shared by most grown ups.

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  • a.O July 2, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    \”As for the fact [sic] that taking over a street to have a party not being equivalent to risking one\’s life, safety, and liberty to oppose genocide, slavery, military invasion, or second class citizenship, you are right, that is my opinion. It is also an opinion shared by most grown ups.\”

    So what?

    Your original point was that it was not an act of civil disobedience, partly because you have belittled the cause as \”having a party.\” But I see you\’ve wisely backed away from that indefensible position.

    And retreated to the argument that they\’re \”not comparable.\” But you are once again wrong. I\’m about to do it, watch: At the time slavery was illegal in the US, \”most grown ups\” didn\’t consider helping fugitive slaves civil disobedience, but \”criminal thinking.\” The same may be true now with respect to closing roads to ensure the safety of the community. Or it may not – once again, you\’ve shown an inability or unwillingness to distinguish between fact and opinion. Regardless, there\’s a comparison for you.

    Obviously, if we followed the majority on everything, slavery would still be illegal. So yours is a pretty bad argument or its simply an irrelevant statement.

    By the way, welcome to Portland.

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  • BURR July 2, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    I think you mean legal not illegal w/r/t slavery

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  • a.O July 2, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Yep. Thanks BURR.

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  • Zagreus July 2, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Ao, I did not back away for my argument, nor did I advocate majoritarianism in all things. I simply pointed out that everyone has an equal right to selectively obey laws. If I choose to drive in a bike lane or through a bike box, or run a red light, and I committing a crime or am I practicing civil disobedience? Would you defend my actions as civil disobedience, or would you want the police to stop me? By your logic, every person who defies the law, from a jaywalker to a rapist, is practicing civil disobedience.

    You are not making the distinction between criminal behavior and civil disobedience. People practicing civil disobedience are opposing laws or policies that are inherently unjust, such as slavery, racisn, or war, and are willing to risk everything for what they believe in.

    What did you risk by taking over a steet, and violating other people\’s rights, simply to have a party?

    Other people have the same rights you do.

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  • Bjorn July 2, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    #51 it isn\’t like there aren\’t already miles of streets in portland that are bike free 24 hours a day, places like the westbound fremont bridge where riding over on your bike requires negotiating your way through several lanes of freeway traffic. Those places are bike free for safety reasons, kind of like Alberta should be car free during last thursday for safety reasons.


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  • B.C. July 2, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    You are also not allowed to ride your bike in the middle of the Amtrak lines, but that would be stupid anyways.

    My point was that people take over a place that has been designated for bikes. What if car dealerships wanted to block off all of the bike lanes on N Vancouver and N Williams in order to advertise all the cars they need to sell? People already get bent out of shape when someone parks in the bike lane or when a bus pulls into the bike lane for a bus stop.

    I would be VERY pissed if someone did this. Which is why I don\’t think it was right to block off the streets with proper approval. I hope that we WILL be able to close down the streets legally, like for the Sunday Parkways or for the Art thing on Alberta a couple months ago.

    We need more of a common respect for other people in the neighborhood. The actions taken by the people who closed down the streets seems very self-serving. If they really want to make a point of living car free, there are much better ways to go about doing it.

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  • joe July 2, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Zagreus, with all your maneuvering this issue, you may want to consider joining one of the local bike-based dance troupes :0. At least your standards(for what constites Civil Disobedience) are high. Can we agree that we have beaten that point into a self-imposed hunger strike?

    Public safety and the danger of fair goer/car collision is what is driving this effort in the first place. What do you people think should be done for the Last Thursday in July?

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  • Diogo July 2, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Zagreus, it’s a complicated matter, no doubt, the issue of conflicting convictions. But is it any different now as things stand? I would argue that most people already do practice selective obedience to the law – or do you know anyone who obeys all laws all the time?? Unfortunately there is a lot of hypocrisy about this.

    I really don’t think the world would be a more violent place. If you look at history, you can see that long are gone the times when most atrocities were committed by rogue individuals – the tragedies of our times are usually calculated and rationally and systematically implemented, most often with the blessing of the law (wars, global warming, etc).

    Disobedience to the established order and its law is THE ONLY way to change things. It has been like that from the beginning of times and it won’t be any different in this case of Portland’s urban vision. The government and laws are in place exactly to guarantee that things remain as they are and if they concede is usually only to preserve their position and avoid further challenges from the populace. And even when that is not the case, the government nature is such that it works as a real gridlock on society’s evolution. I think Sunday Parkways is a great example – a year of planning, a ridiculous amount of money and a lot of self-congratulatory talk – even The Oregonian engaged on it – but for what?? It looks like this will actually be an isolated event; which means it is the lamest thing ever!! One day of bike recreation is a very mediocre accomplishment for a city boasting to be the best-whatever in the nation. It really is. If people sidestep the official bureaucracy and take the matter in their own hands – just like they did in Berkeley in 69 – then maybe something meaningful will happen.

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  • a.O July 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    \”People practicing civil disobedience are opposing laws or policies that are inherently unjust, such as slavery, racisn, or war, and are willing to risk everything for what they believe in.\”

    Once you come to understand the difference between an opinion and a fact, you will understand…until then, your dance bores me!

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  • zagreus July 2, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Agreed. Until you understand the difference between criminality and civil disobedience, this will be a waste of time.

    You never did answer a single question.

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  • a.O July 2, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Here\’s one final clue for you: The people blocking off the street *do* believe the City\’s policy prohibiting it is unjust.

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  • Paul Tay July 2, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Bikey momma carie, #11, even better…World ALMOST Naked Parking Space SQUAT! Skimpy speedos, brief bikinis, AND water blasters!

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  • steve July 2, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Ya\’ll are engaging an obvious troll in a semantic debate. You are not going to enlighten a laughing 12 year old living in his moms basement.

    Jonathan, are B.C. and zagawhatever posting from the same address?

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  • wsbob July 3, 2008 at 12:07 am

    I did manage to read Magnus Johannesson\’s story as posted on the website \’Tribe\’ via the link above in this thread\’s lead story. Didn\’t call Art on Alberta, but checked their website, which seems to be pretty good.

    A couple questions: Does anyone here know if Magnus Johannesson is a member of Art on Alberta, and if he works with them, and what does he do? Also, has anyone read, as editor Maus quotes him, the \”…“strongly worded” letter from Commissioner Sam Adams’ office.\”?. That is, the letter Johannesson says he got back from Adams. That might be interesting to read. Maybe he would give his permission to post it here for everyone to read?

    From his story on Tribe, Johannesson sounds as though he\’s genuinely interested in seeing a Last Thursday free streets happen, but a statement like this: \”The people have spoken. It is now the obligation of the City to fulfill the wish of the people.\”, in the context of the rest of his story on Tribe leaves me wondering whether he really understands what\’s involved in making Last Thursday free streets happen.

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  • steve July 3, 2008 at 2:25 am

    Actually bob, it looks like Magnus is the only one who understands what is involved.

    You block the street off. Done and done. Children could figure it out. It takes obnoxious yuppies and politicians to make something so simple, so absurdly difficult.

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  • joe July 3, 2008 at 8:11 am

    the only people who don\’t want this are the ones at 1120 SW 5th.

    If those people were as good at blocking road as they are at procedural road blocking, the street would have been car free years ago. If Sam wants to release the letter, he can.

    As great a job as Magnus has done, this is not about him. It is about doing more next time…

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  • B.C. July 3, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Steve #78:

    I am all for closing the streets and I think we would be better off without cars, as I don\’t even own one myself. But, I am also a fan of obeying the law. We as cyclists experience people (drivers and cyclists) breaking the law daily, which endangers our lives, because the law inconveniences them, whether it be driving in a bike lane to make a right turn or blowing through stop signs and red lights on bikes.

    Now this is my opinion, and you don\’t have to accept it, but I feel that if I don\’t respect the law, I can\’t expect anyone else to respect it either.

    And I know that blocking off the streets does make it safer for people on Last Thursday, but it is not a matter of life and death.

    And no, I am not the same person as Zagarus

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  • steve July 3, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Blind adherence to laws is naive and foolish. A simple review of laws that have come and gone is all a thinking person should need to question laws and the authority behind them.

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  • Magnus July 3, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Hi everybody,

    I am Magnus. I closed down Alberta Street to car traffic during the June 2008 Last Thursday. It worked out exactly the way I had it planned and I deem it a very successful event.


    I have been involved in neighborhood politics since the 80’s and learned very early on that any project can be realized and funded if the powers to be want the project to happen. The opposite is also true. If the powers to be want to kill a project the project gets killed. No judgment. Not good or bad; that’s just how politics works.

    Talks about closing down the street for LT have gone on for many years. Serious discussions started in early 2007 which included a meeting at Sam Adams’ office that was attended by many stakeholders including a number of government agencies, Art on Alberta, bike advocates, myself and of course Adams’ staff. The tone of that particular meeting was very much one of co-operation and a desire by all to expedite the closure.

    Some time after the meeting in Adams’ office the powers to be decided that they did not want the closure plans to proceed. A number of City people got together in early May, 2007 and devised a plan that would in my opinion neuter the event. They successfully implemented a similar plan for First Thursday a number of years ago. Does anyone remember how exciting First Thursday was at one time?

    A number of “community leaders” was called to a meeting later in May, 2007 and were asked to approve the City’s plan. I felt that we were asked to rubber stamp their thinly veiled coup attempt and at the end the plan was not approved by the group.

    Discussions continued with the City, but nothing constructive came out of those discussions as far as I can tell. I finally got tired of the City trying to have it both ways. I forced the Mayor and Sam Adams’ office to take a public stand, which they did with a letter from Adams’ office that was partially quoted in the above article. The “strong words” did not refer to foul language but meant to show that the letter was not vague, but said straight out that the closure is not going to happen anytime soon.

    I decided to close the street on my own shortly after receiving the letter and did so during June’s LT, as we now know.

    A few tidbits:

    Why did I not gather a strong group of allies? First, as we can see from the comments on this site, even allies have a hard time agreeing on specifics. I didn’t want never ending meetings. I wanted to just close the street down. Second, one of the main reasons the City has given for not closing the street down is the effort and cost involved. I realize that more effort and cost would be involved to do this by the book, but allow me to point out that there were no incidents or any danger to any participant from what I could tell. This was without any monitoring or barriers on the side streets. The entire event cost about $600 which included the cost of two junk cars and the cost of painting those cars. The scrap value would most likely exceed the $600. Of course I realize that there are costs associated with what the police did after the street was closed, but those costs were avoidable. I would have been happy to push the cars back off the street at the end of LT.

    Why I did it:

    I prefer the term Civil Disobedience, but also recognize that it might be a lofty term for what I did. More then anything I wanted to jump start the dialog about how to get the street closed for cars. The event is hugely successful and has long since outgrown the sidewalks. Common sense dictates that the street needs to be closed for car traffic. How the City or anyone else can suggest anything different baffles me. Now is the time. Let’s get it done.

    Final thought:

    I have no desire to lead this effort. I hope a champion will step up to cause the permanent closure to happen, so that I can return to obscurity. Until that champion emerges I’ll keep working towards the closure. A message board designed to keeping the dialog going will be set up within a few days. I’ll post the information on this site once it is up. In the mean time I can be reached at lastthursdaypdx@gmail.com


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  • B.C. July 3, 2008 at 10:53 am

    I am not talking about blind adherence, I am talking about respect for the law. For example, I respect traffic laws because they are there (mainly) to ensure smooth traffic flow and maintain our safety. Sometimes this doesn\’t work, but in most cases, one can get where they need to go with relatively little hassle.

    Now obviously everyone breaks the law sometime, whether it is speeding 1 mph over the limit or jaywalking. For this, I am guilty as charged. But I try to do it only in cases where it does not infringe on others.

    Also, you say \”question\” authority, which I do. Do I think bikes should have to stop at stop signs? No. Should red lights be yeilds for bikes? Yes. Do I think Alberta should be car free on Last Thursdays? Yes. Am I too lazy to start a petition, advocate to our local government to get the laws changed? Yes. So what do they do? I obey the laws as they are.

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  • N July 3, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Thank you Magnus, for all your work and enthusiasm. The closure was wonderful. It gave us a peek at what Last Thursday can become. We need more of this. I\’m looking forward to your site going up.

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  • wsbob July 3, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Magnus, thanks for the explanation in comment #84. \”… one of the main reasons the City has given for not closing the street down is the effort and cost involved.\” Magnus

    I suppose most of that effort and cost is labor. If it can be demonstrated to the city that a Last Thursday volunteer crew or other crew that doesn\’t draw from the city\’s budget can be trained to effectively assume the effort, duties, and responsibilities of running a Last Thursday free streets, than officials concern about effort and costs might be resolved.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 3, 2008 at 11:45 am

    \”I suppose most of that effort and cost is labor.\”

    it\’s nowhere near that easy.

    after talking with Commissioner Adams\’ office about this yesterday, it\’s clear that this closure is much more about politics than logistics. It seems the only way this will ever happen is if a major advocacy group/coalition can form and execute a comprehensive strategy to make it happen.

    think about it… PDOT spent a year planning the six-hour, sunday parkways closure in a residential n\’hood with nowhere near the social tensions/heated political baggage of Last Thursday.. more to come in a story soon.

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  • wsbob July 3, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    \”I suppose most of that effort and cost is labor.\” wsbob

    \”it\’s nowhere near that easy.\” editor Maus

    I wouldn\’t disagree with that. Labor is, after all, more than people setting up barricades and redirecting traffic. Notifying, planning, conflict resolution and on and on, are all part of something like this.

    The sooner that people so much in favor of free streets realize this, the sooner they may be able to put together the kind of group that can accomplish what what it takes.

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  • texan July 3, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    if the city has publicly stated that it won\’t happen, and, the city is the only group that can authorize a legal shutdown, what is the point?

    I look forward to reading the story.

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  • steve July 3, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    I say it is time for some jackhammers. I was at a protest in britain where stilt-walkers in long flowing robes had kids with jackhammers walking underneath them, hidden.

    Busses and cars were used to cork up the intersections, as Magnus demonstrated. Then the hammers went to work. Then trees were planted in the holes.

    Ohh that we dumericans were not so cowardly and timid. Or is it comfortable and lazy, I forget?

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  • Paul Cone July 3, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Did the Brits call in utility locates for that action? It sounds nice on the surface, but once you start digging…

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  • steve July 3, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    LOL, I am sure they had the appropriate permits. Inspections. Meetings. Conference calls. Mission statements. Press releases. Visioning retreats. Team building exercises and the like.

    Or perhaps they just did it cause it was awesome.

    No helmets or bells either, I am sure!

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  • kg July 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm


    Kids with jackhammers would solve almost everything. Anything that is left over can be taken care of by monkeys with blow torches.

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  • Paul Cone July 4, 2008 at 1:04 am

    NW 13th Ave was closed off to cars for a number of blocks this evening… how come First Thursday gets official street closure but Last Thursday does not?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) July 4, 2008 at 9:42 am

    \”how come First Thursday gets official street closure but Last Thursday does not?\”

    simple. Because NW/Pearl District has none of the socio-cultural political landmines (like gentrification) that are present on Alberta.

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  • wsbob July 4, 2008 at 10:16 am

    The Pearl District doesn\’t have gentrification? Wow! I must not be wearing the right kind of glasses! As I\’ve seen it, the Pearl IS Gentrification. It\’s gone baby…long gone to the wasteland of gentrification.

    Seriously, it\’s been some time since I read the specifics, but as I understand it, First Thursday in the Pearl District gets street closure because each of those vendors on the closed street pay a fee: $25-$50 to set up on the closed streets. I couldn\’t say any more without checking in terms of what the money is used for; whether the city is getting some of the money or all for services rendered, but I think it does.

    Keep in mind also that the closed streets in the Pearl and Alberta street are entirely different in terms of the traffic needs they serve to the neighborhood; The two to three streets closed in the Pearl (13th, I think) are cross streets. Alberta is a main street, almost a thoroughfare. It\’s a much greater undertaking to close the latter than it is the former.

    But speaking of socio-cultural political landmines as a reason Alberta doesn\’t get street closure, I don\’t doubt at all that it\’s still a factor in Alberta not getting it\’s streets closed for Last Thursday. Different interest groups wanting to stake out and sustain a claim to the particular lifestyle that suits their personal view of living, without regard or willingness to concede to those of the others.

    I can think of two major definable groups on Alberta all of this revolves around. One of them likely represents a far more tangible source of money income to the city than the other. That could be part of the reason why the city wont jump at the chance to close Alberta for LT.

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  • steve July 4, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Bob, that is the first post of yours I have ever agreed with!

    Jonathan, do you sincerely believe that is the hold up?

    kg, I will happily help you free the monkeys from OHSU\’s torture labs and properly arm them with blowtorches. Can anyone offer up a training site?

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  • […] car in the middle of the street to create a roadblock. The result of Johannesson’s stunt was a de facto carfree street where people could walk and stroll without fear of passing […]

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