The Classic - Cycle Oregon

This year, enjoy a carfree Peacock Lane

Posted by on November 19th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

A nearly carfree Last Thursday on Alberta-88.jpg

Now Portlanders can roam (or ride)
without worry at the annual Peacock Lane
holiday lights show.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Each year, for the last two weeks of December, residents of the little-traveled Southeast Portland street, Peacock Lane, deck out their houses with elaborate holiday light displays and invite the public to come enjoy the show.

Thousands of Portlanders flock to the event. Some walk or bike, and others even ride horse-drawn carriages down the street; but the majority drive cars. Cars roll slowly down the street amid large crowds with their headlights switched off as they gawk at the displays. This creates a real safety hazard for people walking and biking.

Thankfully, for the first time ever, on December 14th, from 5 to 11:00 pm, Peacock Lane will be closed to cars.

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According to Becky Patterson of the Peacock Lane Neighborhood Association, “possibly hundreds of people” in the past five years have requested a carfree evening.

The street’s usual opening day is December 15th, and that is still the published grand opening this year. In an email to BikePortland, Patterson explained,

“We chose to add a night rather than incorporate the car-free night into our normal schedule. We know that a lot of seniors and disabled groups plan bus rides down the street, as well as families with small children and we didn’t want to change the plans without enough advance warning. If the night is a big success (which we anticipate!) we will discuss how and if we change our schedule.”

Patterson adds that the neighborhood association is still deciding how to handle bike traffic on the street. They are considering making one lane of the street bike-only, but another idea on the table is simply to ask people to walk their bicycles, to remove the danger of “distracted cyclists running over distracted children.”

Earlier this year, the popular Last Thursday event on NE Alberta Street became completely carfree (on its own at first, then with official approval from PDOT).

First Alberta, now Peacock. With carfree momentum building from neighborhoods and from City Hall, this is a trend we’re happy to see.

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  • mbsf November 19, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    What a great idea… I just wished it would be more than 1 night!
    We had a great time last year listening to an impromptu concert there and we would have danced, if we would have had space on the street.

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  • Hart November 19, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Aww, but the smell of all the SUVs idling only adds the the holiday charm!!!!

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  • Daniel (teknotus) Johnson November 19, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    The carfree movement has gotten it’s foot in the door. Even if all we get are a few hours here, and there we used to get nothing. It’s hard to measure growth from zero to something, but once you have something you have something to track.

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  • Malex November 19, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    “Walk your bike” seems like the right thing to do. This is one of those situations where even riding your bike means you’re really in too much of a hurry!

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  • Donald November 19, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    PIR does a “vehicle-free” night for their lightshow as well:

    Doggie Walk Night!

    $5 per person – Dogs and Humans under 15 are free.

    December 1st from 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm is the Dog Walk Night. Admission is per person. The show is closed to all vehicle traffic, and open for pedestrians and dogs only.

    _No idea if they’ll let you perambulate with your bepedaled, though.

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  • Bill Stites November 19, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Alberta, Belmont, Peacock Lane, …

    Yes, slowly but surely taking back streets for people.

    Should be a beautiful night.

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  • Mark Allyn November 19, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    No problem walking bikes. . When I bring my lighted bike there, people love to look at it closely and have their pictures taken with it!


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  • eileen November 19, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    This is great, I never understood driving through anyway. You miss so much. Like the hot cocoa.

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  • Randy November 19, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Nice! Soon there will be more carfree days in the parks too.

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  • Blah Blah Blah November 19, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    I’m all for car free stuff, but where will all those people park thier cars that once drove to Peacock Lane.

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  • Ian Stude November 19, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Let’s take Sunday Parkways to whole new level = Holiday Parkways! I’m imagining car-free holiday events that connect Peacock lane and other brightly festive streets to major retail corridors like Belmont and Hawthorne. Or maybe a NW 23rd closure to let the shoppers go wild. (Not that I’m a huge fan of shopping for the holiday spirit, but you gotta admit it could bring out some crowds and reach a new audience…)

    Or how about a car-free Halloween loop? There’s something uniquely depressing about watching trick-or-treaters going door to door while a parent sits watchfully idling inside their SUV.

    All that dreaming aside, many thanks to the Peacock Lane Neighborhood for taking this great step forward. I can’t wait!

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  • Ayala November 19, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Ian (#10):

    I love the idea of a car-free NW 23rd holiday closure! Especially in conjunction with a free streetcar day. They would have to make some sort of allowances for ambulances to Good Sam, though.

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  • Jordan November 19, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    In response to blah blah blah…they can take the bus or walk or bike there. The 71 and 19 both have stops very close to the event.

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  • adam November 19, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    what a nice development this is! good job to those who made it happen. I have the avoided the peacock lane experience in the past due to the annoying traffic jam I would see. but, now, can’t wait!

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  • GlowBoy November 19, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Blah blah blah (#10), if Peacock were closed to cars every night that might be a major concern, but this is only one night. My guess is a lot of the people on 12/14 will be arriving by bike or on foot anyway.

    I don’t think the parking thing is a massive problem anyway. Even if it were every night, there should be enough on street parking within a few blocks to handle the number of people who would be there at any one time. For years my family and I have parked in the Walgreens lot and walked Peacock Lane. It’s more fun that way anyway. Can’t wait to do it without having to watch out for distracted drivers!

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  • Lisa G. November 19, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    And with two major bus lines that go by there (15 & 75) the idea is to get those who would have driven not to.

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  • Elliot November 19, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Aw, just one night? Shucks. My congratulations and compliments to the organizers, of course, but I expect they’ll expand it dramatically next year.

    As for parking, perhaps they’ve struck a deal with the Walgreens across the street to accommodate drivers. Maybe they could charge a fee to non-customers. 🙂

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  • Icarus Falling November 19, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Should be every night, perhaps with some sort of allowance for the handicapped and elderly.

    I mean, it is not even happening on one of the regular nights.

    While it is a good thing, it really does not change the car based viewing of Peacock Lane.

    Third verse same as the first.

    And the idea of walking bikes really basically makes it Bike Free also.

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  • matt picio November 20, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Blah Blah Blah (#10) – they’ll park on other nearby streets. Maybe they’ll even (gasp!) interact with some of the neighbors who live on those streets and talk to them! Anyway, it’s just one night of the lights festival – the cars still have the other nights to drive down the road.

    Icarus Falling (#18) – re: “bike-free” – sort of, but not really. We can walk our bikes alongside us, which you can’t do with a car. Even when we’re not actively riding a bike, the difference between humanized and motorized transport is self-evident.

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  • beth h November 20, 2008 at 4:51 am

    What an excellent idea! If it goes well this year — i.e., if we all go and make nice and make a good impression — perhaps the neighborhood association will be open to extending it next year.

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  • BikerinNE November 20, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    It should always be car free. You don’t get the true experience inside the cars.

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  • Angela Koch November 20, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    For all your folks with kiddos you can also meet at the Belmont Library (1038 SE 11th) at 4:30 on the 14th for a family walk put together by the BTA’s Safer Routes to School Ambassadors.

    Join us for our Holiday Lights Walk: meet at the library for cider and then walk to Peacock Lane and Laurelhurst Park for an encounter with Santa!

    Happy Holidays!

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  • Afro Biker November 21, 2008 at 6:28 am

    If it’s car free, make it bike free too. Pedestrians can be hurt pretty bad by cyclists as well.

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  • becky patterson November 21, 2008 at 8:28 am

    In response to Icarus Falling and the concern that it “isn’t happening on one of the regular nights” – we’ve been doing the lights on Peacock Lane since the 40’s (and some say the 20’s). Changing a tradition takes time. What “sort of allowance for the handicapped and elderly” would you suggest? The residents of the Lane are just trying to do a good thing for as many as possible.
    Thanks to everyone for the support, we honestly appreciate it.

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  • Roger Noehren November 22, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    another feather for the car free cities movement! I’ll be flying in from Buenos Aires just in time (and wiill have a years worth of carbon debits to begin working off). After all the smog & petrol fumes in the cities down here it will be a joy to walk my bike and sleigh down Peacock Lane.

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  • jim November 23, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    sounds like a golden opp. for the pedicabs

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  • […] favorite of ours, Peacock Lane, on December 14 for a car-free night. As previously reported at, the night before the official opening on December 15, will be for pedestrians of all sorts. […]

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  • Elly Blue December 3, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Great news — the permits have been secured for the Carfree evening on Peacock Lane on December 14th.

    The neighborhood has also decided to ask people who arrive via bicycle to enjoy the street on foot as well. So lock your bike, or walk it, but have fun, and watch out for roaming children.

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  • Scott Mizée December 14, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    I took a few photos that are available here on flickr.

    More photos by Aaron available here

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