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Portlanders relish a warm, carfree Last Thursday on Alberta

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Nearby residents Gregg Lavender
and Nikki Kress steal a kiss
in the middle of Alberta
Street last night.
– Slideshow below –
(Photos © J. Maus)

Last night, warm weather and the onset of summer brought throngs of Portlanders out to enjoy their neighborhood and the riches of their City at the first carfree Last Thursday on Alberta.

It was the first of six months that the main stretch of Alberta Street will be closed to cars from 6-10:00 pm.

The impact of not having to worry about car traffic is profound. I brought my family along last night and, after dancing in the street with the March Fourth Marching Band, we came across several dancers, musicians, artists, and performers who shared their gifts right in the middle of the road.

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This scene from September 2006 shows
the dangerous mix of cars, people, and
bikes before the event was carfree.

I remember the tension and problems of previous years, when cops and neighborhood monitors spent the night telling people to get out of the street, get up on the sidewalk, and “keep moving along please!” It always felt so ridiculous that we were being crammed onto a sidewalk that was bursting at the seems, just so a few cars could muddle their way down the street at 5 mph.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I share my intense gratitude to the people from the Alberta neighborhood, the advocates who made this event a reality, the Police Bureau, and the City of Portland.

I realize (especially after chatting with cops, city staffers, and spearhead of the event, Magnus Johannesson last night) that the event is not perfect and there are still some feathers being ruffled, but I hope everyone can work together to continue this very important and special carfree event.

As usual, my eyes always turn to the many interesting bikes and the people that ride them. Below is a little slideshow of what caught my eye. Highlights include an Icicle Tricycle, a huge, wheeled trailer holding the soundsystem for a very cool rapper, the bike of Ruckus Components founder Shawn Small, some fixie-riding friends, and more….