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The ‘Rainbow Road’ on SE Ankeny is Portland’s best distanced-dining street plaza

Posted by on June 26th, 2020 at 1:55 pm

A block of Southeast Ankeny at 28th has been transformed into a carfree oasis.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

When the Portland Bureau of Transportation launched their “Healthy Business” permit program, they encouraged multiple businesses to apply together. The thinking was that if there were several pubs and restaurants adjacent to each other, a combined application could lead to a larger, more successful street plaza.

Travis Preece took them up on the offer. As owner of two establishments on Southeast Ankeny just west of 28th — Tap & Table and Taco-ish (which share a building) — and co-founder of Gorges Beer Co. (which is right across the street), Preece found himself in an ideal position to take advantage of PBOT’s unprecedented offer of free road space.

The result is Portland’s best Covid-19-resistant outdoor dining plaza…


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The design of the space is simple, welcoming, and comfortable. It features about two dozen tables spaced across the entire width of Ankeny between 28th and 27th. Umbrellas keep the sun away and there’s even an ice cream cart parked in the plaza for good measure. The most striking part of it though, is the “Rainbow Road” that’s been painted on the pass-through lane adjacent to the tables.

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“The cyclist community has been a big part of the business at Ankeny Tap & Table for a long time, and now we have the opportunity to provide proper spacing for pedestrians, bicycles and diners.”
— Travis Preece, business owner

PBOT requires full-street plazas to maintain an 11-foot lane for bike riders, walkers and emergency vehicle drivers. Since the permit also calls for big barricades and “Road Closed” signs (a very unfortunate choice of words because the roads aren’t closed at all, they’re open to even more people than usual) some people might think they aren’t allowed to walk or bike through. That would be a big problem at this location since Ankeny is one of the most heavily used neighborhood bike streets in the city. The bright colors and placement of the rainbow not only encourage people to roll on through, they add an element of fun and whimsy to the experience.

Preece told me today he and his crew are doing everything they can to make the plaza work well for bike riders.”We are very excited about the promenade,” he said. “The cyclist community has been a big part of the business at Ankeny Tap & Table for a long time, and now we have the opportunity to provide proper spacing for pedestrians, bicycles and diners.” Preece added that the biggest challenge is keeping car users out of the street. “We aren’t permitted to paint arrows or otherwise direct traffic, so it’s been hard to signal to autos not to enter, while also showing bicycles where their 14′ wide open path is. All tables are off of sidewalks now, so pedestrians have plenty of space. It’s really just an adjustment, but most folks have been extremely happy and felt safe, and we hope that continues.”

We hope to see other plazas use paint to define the space. PBOT encourages it so much they’ve even worked out a deal with Miller Paint to give three gallons free to businesses owned by Black, Indigenous and people of color and a 30% discount to everyone else.

As per program guidelines these plazas popping up all over Portland are temporary and due to expire on November 1st. So check out PBOT’s map of current plaza locations for one near you and show your support.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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JR
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JR

So great to see this happening! I need to get out more and specifically to this location to get some lunchtime tacos!

alex
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alex

i enjoyed a pint there the other day on my way home! while a welcomed use of space, i do think that the width of the street was reduced too much and creates a bottleneck in a heavily used transportation corridor. it also creates a social distancing issue. remove the row of tables in the middle of the street and keep the ones where cars would normally park.

Middle of the Road Guy
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Middle of the Road Guy

Why would anyone vote this down?

David Hampsten
Guest

By keeping the lane to a narrow 11 feet and adding the striping, you get some of the same effect as a medieval European city street – cars can legally pass one another, but very few drivers are willing to try it – and so such streets are effectively car-free without needing to be completely closed off. Suggesting to widen the car area will only encourage more car drivers to try to use the street.

alex
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alex

the street is closed to cars. my concern is with narrowing a popular transportation corridor used by cyclists to get from a>b. there is not enough room to maintain 6 ft from a table and another cyclist moving in the opposite direction. i have also seen kids playing in the rainbow and walker/joggers going though.. great in concept but poorly executed.

David Hampsten
Guest

Does anyone have details on the paint or materials used and what’s durable, including cost break-downs? My city in NC (Greensboro) is offering a art-murals-in-the-streets program, with permitting waivers, but I’m not sure how much it would cost to do a pop-up protected lane or two nor how long it would last with bikes going over the paint (the city did suggest Sherwin Williams Setfast Latex Traffic Paint). People in my community are installing a permitted “Black Lives Matter” mural this weekend, in direct imitation of the one in DC but at half scale, on a very popular street; they did another called “One Love” on another street last Tuesday. https://www.wfmynews2.com/video/news/one-love-mural-in-downtown-greensboro-on-davie-street-is-now-complete/83-5c690e65-33e5-4282-89f0-018835ada894

Josh
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Josh

I’m not affiliated with them, nor have I ever done a street painting project, but in doing some research for one, I found this set of FAQs on The City Repair’s website helpful (scroll down to Paint Logistics): https://cityrepair.org/street-painting-faq

David Hampsten
Guest

Thank you! This is super helpful!

Harald
Guest

For a cost estimate for a durable mural in the roadway, this is the estimated budget in Madison: https://madison.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=8179434&GUID=A943AED7-CFC0-41EA-BE87-029FB744DF04
$10-18/sq ft for MMA paint; $30-40 for thermoplastic.

pg
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pg

Portland at it’s best! More, please.
Stay well.

Johnny Bye Carter
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Johnny Bye Carter

This is proof that confusing road design slows people down. I came through here last week and wasn’t sure if I was allowed to ride through the rainbow, thinking there might be some special event that’s being set up that I would be spoiling. I proceeded slowly while I tried to figure it out.

whoru
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whoru

That’s right in front of the old Alpha Plasma Center where every donor got either Hepatitis C or and Aids and they were shut down after it was too late.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Oh crap! Now you tell me.

Echo
Guest
Echo

Nobody is wearing a mask in these photos.