(Photos © J. Maus)
On Saturday, the Bureau of Transportation installed new signage and infrastructure on SW Ankeny and officially made it carfree from SW 2nd to SW 3rd Avenues.
“Do Not Enter” signs are posted at each corner and a bike corral has been installed on the east end of the closure (at SW 2nd). The grand opening is scheduled for July 21st and preparations from businesses are already evident.
I stopped by on Sunday evening for a closer look.
The bike corral does great double-duty as both bike parking and a barricade to prevent any through motor vehicle access (it will work even better as it gets filled up with bikes). There’s nothing on the street itself yet, but tables and chairs for adjacent businesses are set to come by this Thursday.
There were a bundle of posts in the street that one shop employee told me were going to be used to divide up the seating areas.
Another employee of a business on the street told me she has mixed feelings about the change. She’s taking a “wait and see” attitude.
I spoke with an employee of Voodoo Doughnuts, who was enjoying the quiet street on her lunch break. Voodoo just finished an expansion onto the corner of SW 3rd and Ankeny and a huge line doubled over itself at the west end of the street. The employee said Voodoo doesn’t have plans for putting tables and chairs on the street, but the lack of cars will make the ever-present line much easier to manage.
The Voodoo employee sat and enjoyed her lunch on a bench while looking out onto the empty street. “It’s actually pretty nice,” she said, “I won’t have to breath any exhaust during my breaks anymore.”
Even though the street is off-limits to cars, strangely, most people still walked on the narrow sidewalks. I guess old habits die hard. I think once word spreads that the street is carfree — and especially once it’s filled with walkers and diners — folks will begin to spread out and treat the street like the plaza it now is.
PBOT and the businesses have set this Thursday, July 21st, as the official grand opening. Adding to the festivities on Thursday, Portland Afoot, the awesome news zine and wiki about low-car life, is celebrating its first birthday. Stop by Valentine’s (232 SW Ankeny) from 6:00 to 8:00 pm for food, drinks, and “great conversation with fellow transportation aficionados.” (See Facebook page for more details.)
If you stop by to enjoy the carfree ambiance, remember that this is still considered just a “pilot project” by PBOT. They plan to re-open the street to cars on October 21st. Of course, if the public and business owners deem it a success, I imagine they’d go ahead and make it permanent. One other thing, bikes now have limited access as well and people are expected to dismount and walk their bikes on sidewalks.
— For more, browse our Carfree SW Ankeny story tag.