“The city is allowing us to discourage cars from using Alberta with signs and posters asking them not to drive on the street during Last Thursday.”
–Magnus Johannesson, Alberta Street neighborhood activist and business owner.
The City of Portland, TriMet, and a neighborhood activist are moving forward on an effort to discourage cars from driving on NE Alberta Street during the monthly Last Thursday event.
Last month, Alberta Street neighborhood activist and business owner Magnus Johannesson drove two junker cars onto the street and created a temporary carfree zone before tow trucks and the Police Bureau showed up.
After that incident, Commissioner Adams’ office told me they were not interested in pursuing a carfree Last Thursday because of what they perceived as existing tensions from local residents that the event had gotten out of hand.
Adams’ Chief of Staff Tom Miller told me two weeks ago that, “A lot of work remains by those who seek to close the street before anything can happen”.
But in a complete reversal in recent days, Johannesson has been meeting with Commissioner Sam Adams’ public safety staffer Jane Ames, representatives from TriMet and the local police precinct, PDOT traffic engineers, and others to move toward a solution that works for the neighborhood, maintains public safety, and recognizes that the event is overflowing with pedestrian traffic and that car traffic could lead to a safety problem.
Now things seem to have changed. This Thursday, TriMet has announced they will reroute their buses off of Alberta and will instead use NE Killingsworth from MLK Jr. Blvd. to NE 30th and Johannesson says that the city, while not backing a completely carfree solution this month, “the city is allowing us to discourage cars from using Alberta with signs and posters asking them not to drive on the street during Last Thursday.”
Johannesson also has a creative idea for dealing with any cars that do choose to drive down the street. He’ll put Alberta’s famous clowns to work, ferrying cars through the pedestrian traffic with tall bikes.
“I’m working with Dingo the Clown and he’s going to bring in his tall bikes and pilot the few cars left over down the street.”
In addition to the tall bikes, the plan is to have volunteer pedestrians walk ahead of the cars to make sure that not collisions or interactions take place between cars and people.