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City of Portland poised to make carfree Ankeny Street a reality

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

One block of SW Ankeny will be carfree
for four months starting in June.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The Oregonian reported yesterday that the Portland Bureau of Transportation has worked with business owners to negotiate a permit that will make SW Ankeny Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues carfree from June 21st to October 21st.

This block of SW Ankeny was the site of Portland Carfree Days back in 2006. Back in October, we flagged it as a perfect place to try a carfree street. Then, a few months ago, the Willamette Week reported on business owners on the street who also supported the concept. With full backing from new PBOT Director Tom Miller, The Oregonian reported yesterday that PBOT has granted a four-month permit to make it a reality:

“… spokesman Dan Anderson confirmed that the city created a permit to shut down the alley to car traffic from June 21 to October 31. Businesses on the alley will pay the city approximately $5,000 over that period in recompense to the city for lost revenue on six metered parking spaces…

The idea, which has been batted around for years, is to shut down the stretch of Ankeny between Second and Third avenues to car traffic, allowing restaurants to serve food and drinks to customers at tables flowing out into the road. Sort of like a Portland version of New York’s Little Italy.”

According to The Oregonian, seven businesses in the immediate area are on board and will share $5,000 cost. The paper also reports that, along with Miller, Mayor Sam Adams was “instrumental” in helping the businesses negotiate the permit.

“When business owners came to the city asking for a car-free SW Ankeny, we listened.”
— Dan Anderson, PBOT

PBOT spokesman Dan Anderson told us this morning via email that, “When business owners came to the city asking for a car-free SW Ankeny, we listened.”

Anderson says this will be a “trial street closure” and that the permit must still be passed by City Council before it’s 100% official (the odds are extremely good it will pass). The issue will be taken up at the June 15th Council meeting.

This is great news, and it could spur momentum for more carfree streets downtown. The Oregonian reports that the owner of Bailey’s Taproom, which is a few blocks west on Ankeny now wants something similar near his business,

“…Bailey’s Taproom, a craft beer bar at Southwest Broadway and Ankeny Street, has asked the city to look into shutting down the stretch of Ankeny near them (from Broadway to Northwest Eighth Avenue).”

If there’s one thing this story makes perfectly clear, it’s that when businesses talk, the City of Portland listens. Let’s hope they ask for this type of stuff more often.