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Council passes carfree Ankeny ordinance; effective immediately – Updated

Posted by on June 22nd, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Portland’s new carfree street.

Portland City Council voted 5-0 this morning to grant a temporary permit that will turn one block of SW (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues) into a carfree street. The ordinance passed with an “emergency” clause which means it goes into effect immediately.

Businesses pushed for the plan and it got full support from PBOT. However, some concerns came to light from homeless advocates and Commissioner Amanda Fritz that delayed their plans.

On Monday, Fritz detailed changes she wanted to see in the proposal before she’d be willing to vote in favor of it. Specifically she wanted public seating to be installed, potentially a lane for pass-through bike traffic, and a report at the end of the pilot to assess how well it worked.

Despite Fritz’s concerns, the ordinance (PDF here) passed this morning with the “emergency” clause put back on (Fritz’s concerns led to the emergency being lifted last week) and without any changes from its original form. (We’ve asked Fritz’s office for comment and will update the story when we hear back. *Scroll down for update*)

Businesses on the street have agreed to compensate PBOT $5,000 for lost parking meter revenue and any other fees associated with the new arrangement.

The permit turns the entire width of SW Ankeny into a “Sidewalk Cafe” and expires November 1st. Biking and walking traffic will still have access to six-foot sidewalks on either side of the tables and chairs (and take note: riding a bike on the sidewalk in that location is against the law).

We’re awaiting a response from PBOT as to when to expect a grand opening of the newly carfree street.

*UPDATE: I’ve heard back from Commissioner Fritz. Here’s how she explains her vote:

“I voted for the temporary closure ordinance, with the emergency clause, because of the significant efforts to collaborate over the past week between the business owners, Sisters of the Road representatives, and my office. Chani Geigle-Teller, Sisters staff, emailed me at 9:26 p.m. on Tuesday, saying in part,

“we are pleased with the new level of relationship with these business owners, PBOT and especially with you and your office. We respectfully ask that you recommend reinstating the emergency ordinance and voting to allow the ordinance to pass and be enacted immediately. Please use this opportunity to share that these partnerships have been created in good faith and we will continue to act in the best interest of our community. We hope the businesses move forward in this way too.”

I appreciated the gracious response of all parties, including Mayor Adams who agreed to put the emergency back on. I found most of the comments on BikePortland remarkably thoughtful and helpful, too. And as the designated Council lead for the Sharing Public Spaces Advisory Committee, I can and will lead public discussion of the project and invite City staff to report on it after the pilot, without having to change the temporary closure ordinance to require such review. I’m glad this project has sparked thought and conversation about use of the public realm, and I hope it is successful for all.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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dmc
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dmc

win. 🙂

wsbob
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wsbob

“…into a carfree street.” maus/bikeportland

The temporary permit appears to be specifiying a ‘vehicle-free street’, rather than a carfree bike friendly street. As far as bike use is concerned, with this permit, it appears Ankeny will become a closed street.

Streets aren’t sidewalks. Businesses seating customers at tables set up on the street do not make a sidewalk cafe, but rather, a street cafe, food court, or something on that order.

At least call it what it is rather than giving the idea a bike friendly spin which it hardly deserves.

“…Biking and walking traffic will still have access to six-foot sidewalks on either side of the tables and chairs (and take note: riding a bike on the sidewalk in that location is against the law). maus/bikeportland

I’m trying to break the above sentence down into what it’s trying to say: Biking…will still have access, but riding a bike in that location is against the law? In the earlier story about this idea, it said that people would be allowed to walk their bike on the sidewalks. Walking a bike is considered to be ‘Biking’?

Carl B.
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Carl B.

It’s one block (2nd to 3rd) that almost nobody ever bikes on (or drives on) anyway. It looks more like an alley than a street. And it doesn’t go anywhere or connect anything. Ankeny is one way westbound in the closed block and one way eastbound on the other side of 3rd. There isn’t even a crosswalk across 3rd at Ankeny (there is at Ash, about 50 feet away).

Justin Morton
Guest

I like it. It will add something nice to that part of downtown. Hang some lights across the buildings and you’ve got yourself a classy little Parisian street. 🙂

Lisa G.
Guest
Lisa G.

It will be great not to have to to breathe car exhaust or deal with dangerous vehicle traffic coming through when sidewalks are crowded. I always walked my bike through there as it was. (I don’t ride my bike through the new concrete “park” across from the Fox Tower’s Elephant’s Deli, either.) It is a narrow, low-speed area and I don’t feel a need to ride through there. It will make everyone slow down which will be nice. I think we should push for that public bench, though. This is a start, albeit perhaps a shaky one. There is room for improvement.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…It is a narrow, low-speed area and I don’t feel a need to ride through there. …” Lisa G.

Have you thought about people that pedal their bikes with cleated road shoes? People do walk on cleated road shoes but it’s not really practical, unless cleat covers are handy (many people don’t carry them on a regular basis, if at all.), a pair of spare shoes, etc.

A 10′ throughway down the center of the Ankeny would allow cyclists and people on foot to slowly make their way along with few or no conflicts, likely even less than there would be with cyclists walking their bikes along the sidewalks.

David Parsons
Guest

Why not ride up Ash street? It’s not as if that block of Ankeny is a usable through route — about all you win going up that alley is a /slightly/ shorter walk to Voodoo donuts.

-J.
Guest
-J.

What do people with cleated road shoes do when they get to their destination? Walk I presume…if you are riding a road bike then I imagine that the extra exercise of riding a few blocks around will not be too burdensome.

As a side note, on a trip last year to Amsterdam I rode around by bike a bit. There are numerous streets that are closed to both motor vehicles and people riding bikes. Clearly marked signs indicate that you must walk bikes, and it completely makes sense, as the walkways are fairly crowded. Bikes don’t belong everywhere, and it is appropriate to have pedestrian-only access for this very small stretch of street.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Bikes don’t belong everywhere, and it is appropriate to have pedestrian-only access for this very small stretch of street. …” -J.

It’s generally regarded that streets are where the activity of riding bikes belongs. Ankeny St and its sidewalks could easily accommodate both outside cafe dining and conditional travel on bikes.

Businesses could be allowed full use of the 6′ sidewalks plus an additional 4′ out from them into the street. Pedestrian and bike travel could be allowed the remaining 10′ middle section of Ankeny St (Ankeny…building to building width is reportedly: 30′.)

Speed of bikes being ridden on the 10′ middle section could be managed by posted signs at 2nd and 3rd entrances to Ankeny St., and by barriers at those entrances that would oblige bikes to slow to walking speed before entering Ankeny St.

Ankeny is not a very small stretch of street. It’s close to average length; probably between 170′-200′ long; close to the length of a standard city block, and from a practical standpoint, too far to be walking on cleats.

Accessibility of Ankeny St by riding a bike isn’t just a utilitarian consideration. With the outdoor tables coming out, I’d imagine people riding bikes in the area might want to roll Ankeny specifically to see what’s going on there that might be of sufficient interest to them to take time to find a safe, secure place to lock their bikes up and come back to patronize one of the businesses.

Kernel Loose-Nut
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Kernel Loose-Nut

Year round cyclists comprise over 6% of Portland’s commuters. I’ll celebrate when we get our fair share. This one block comprises 6/1000 of 1% of Portland’s pavement, or less

It’s a start, I guess.

Kernel Loose-Nut
Guest
Kernel Loose-Nut

Oh yeah, it goes back to allowing pollution-based transportation modes in November. So I guess it’s a kind of like a start, but not really.

Clarence
Guest

So totally awesome. Hope someone chronicles this on film.

Steve B
Guest

Hey Jonathan– Just wanted to be clear that it wasn’t just “homeless advocates” who raised concerned. WPC & some AROW members also shared and supported concerns first brought up by Sisters of the Road & Amanda Fritz. The right for public space in a carfree street is not just a homelessness issue!

Ted Buehler
Guest
Ted Buehler

Yes, a success, hope to see it replicated elsewhere. It’s also a good policy-precedent for Parklets.

Agreed that it’s now a “vehicle-free street”. Or a “street-width sidewalk”. It’s not a “car-free street” like Sunday Parkways or Bridge Pedal”. We definitely need a different name for this so advocates can specify exactly what they want in proposals and the public knows what it’s going to get.

This is a “street conversion to active commercial use”. Or something like that.

Ted Buehler

Ted Buehler
Guest

Whoops, make that “policy-precedent for the private, commercial Parklet concept.”

To differentiate from the more desirable, originally proposed, more desirable, “open, public Parklet” concept.”

D.R. Miller
Guest
D.R. Miller

I fully support the general idea of a carfree block here and elsewhere, but it’s a shame if it really is the case that there will be no public seating and no actual bike access. Will be interesting to hear what transpired with Fritz for the expedited vote.

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

Regardless of how small this project is, we have to consider that it is the first of its kind and building it without public space is a dangerous precedent.

Allegeric to gas
Guest
Allegeric to gas

Portland has had a lot of success with bike test projects so this one being small isn’t that big of a deal. It will catch on, I’m sure.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

If there is some way that closure of this street to vehicular travel, including bikes, represents in some way, shape or form… “bike test projects”, somebody please explain what that might be.

Entirely removing access to the street by people that ride bikes by confining them to walking the bikes on the sidewalk, yet still continuing to refer to the street, transformed by this special permit as ‘car-free’, thus implying a heightened, bike friendly street environment, is confusing, maybe disingenuous. The comment of ‘Allergic to gas’ indicates there continues to be people under an incorrect impression about how Ankeny Street’s temporary use will affect biking.

If people really believe it’s worth barring bike use from Ankeny St to create a vehicle-free ‘street cafe-food court’…fine. Do it. Please though, do not erroneously imply that closure of the street to bike use, as this particular permitted use of the street will do, makes the street a ‘bike test project’, or allows it to be accessible to biking.

otis
Guest
otis

Commissioner Fritz,

It’s nice to know you are reading and responding to the comments of BikePortland readers. Thank you for listening to diverse constituencies and acting with reason and the best interest of the public in mind.

Tourbiker
Guest

“Mall`li`fi`ca-tion”

otis
Guest
otis

And thank you Jonathan for maintaining a media forum which is actually a productive component of democracy.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

This is not a win at all.
All we gained is a cash money opportunity for a few cafes.
Limited pedestrian access. Limited handicapped access. (considering the sidewalks will have waiter’s crossing them with trays of food, water etc.)

NO BICYCLE ACCESS!
I know people think it doesn’t matter to lose cycling through here.
But it does. It is a needed, tiny, key connector street.
Without it, cyclists are sent down sidewalks, which is quite illegal there. (or the wrong way down streets)

Screw the City Council and the big white horse they rode in on.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Cars got pushed out. Whenever cars get pushed out, especially in a precedent-setting way, it’s a win for those who oppose car culture.

I think it’s a win, but with qualifications.

Even with the qualifications, it’s a good start and the concept has the potential to be expanded to more of a “streets for people” concept.

My $0.02
Ted Buehler

John Landolfe
Guest

Okay, people on bikes, lets not screw this up. This is not a bike route. It’s just legal for you to be on your bike on this postage-stamp sized street. Lets take the street slowly, respectfully, maybe even walk our bikes when it’s busy. This is technically a win for people who walk… but that includes most anyone who bikes.

And if a car-free street happens to benefit a few particular businesses, I say “awesome; job well done.”

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…It’s just legal for you to be on your bike on this postage-stamp sized street. …” John Landolfe

John, you do realize don’t you…that as it’s been reported here at this weblog, the proposal that’s been permitted to make Ankeny St “…carfree…”, means that riding a bike on Ankeny St will not be legal.

Repeat: bikes will not be allowed to be ridden on the street where it seems the businesses’ will place tables at which their customers will be seated, or on the sidewalks next to the buildings. If they have bikes with them when they enter the permitted area of Ankeny St, the bikes must be walked on the sidewalk.

The street is not “postage stamp sized”. At 18′ wide, compared to 20′-25′ and wider, it’s somewhat narrower than many American city streets tend to be, but still a fully functional for motor vehicles and bikes, one-way street with on-street parking. I’m guessing it’s 150′-170 feet long, a little shorter than a standard Portland city block.

Mike
Guest
Mike

How is this a bike related story? Could it be that portland cyclist can turn just about anything into a reason to complain? How about park your bike, grab a seat at one of the cafes, drink a beer and stop being so damn serious!!

Halster
Guest

On August 28, 2000, I broke my right femur while negotiating past a van that was delivering to the restaurant on Ankeny. It was parked in the middle of the street with both doors open. I jumped the 1″ curb lip intending to go around the corner to the building I worked when the front wheel got to the deeply slanted curb cut and the bike wen out from under me. I went down and heard an audible snap that wasn’t my bike.

Almost 11 years and a loss of an inch of leg length later, I can say it is about time. There are several businesses on this block and removing parking will help deliveries to them, too. Had this provision been in place back then, I could still say I’m 5’10” tall not 5’10″/5’9″ depending on which leg I’m standing on. ;=D

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Halster….getting banged up is no picnic! It’s good to know though, that you were able to heal from the mishap as well as you have. Lots of people may take some hope from such an example should they ever find themselves worse for wear through falling.

If helping delivery drivers bring goods from their trucks to Ankeny businesses were one of the the benefits of removing motor vehicle parking from Ankeny St, that would be swell. According to reports about what use businesses there will be allowed to make of the street…placing their tables right in the middle of the street…it sounds as though delivery people may be hand-trucking all of their stuff in to the businesses.