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Two blocks of Kenton’s main street will become carfree, Covid-resistant plaza

Posted by on August 3rd, 2020 at 2:29 pm

Volunteers began painting the street mural on North Denver Avenue this morning.
(Photo: Kenton Neighborhood Association on IG)

One of the most ambitious street plazas to come out of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Healthy Business program began taking shape today in the Kenton neighborhood.

With detailed plans (PDF) that will route car drivers to side streets and temporarily detour a TriMet bus line to Interstate Avenue, volunteers working with the Kenton Business Association (KBA) will transform North Denver Avenue. One lane will be painted with a colorful geometric shape pattern and remain open for (non-driving) traffic so bicycle riders, walkers, and others can get through. The rest of the street will feature a “public lounge” area with tables and chairs, a “fitness zone”, “sanitation station,” spaces for on-street retail shopping, and a public art installation titled “Hall of inJustice” by @SayTheirNamesMemorial that features portraits of Black people killed by police.

Hall of Injustice will be displayed as part of the Plaza.

KBA President Maureen Bachmann says she and her staff have worked on the project since May. “With the closure comes a safe, distanced plaza for neighbors and residents to come out and enjoy Kenton’s shops and restaurants along with creative amenities like a painted mural down the street and outdoor art installations,” Bachmann said in a statement.

Here are a few slides from a presentation created by Salazar Architect for the KBA:

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This stretch of Denver includes neighborhood institutions like Po’ Shine’s Cafe, Posies Bakery & Cafe, and a Multnomah County Library branch.

The KBA has set up a GoFundMe to help raise the estimated $15,000 it will take to make the space work. Supporters who wish to help can also Venmo @Kenton_Rules (with “Denver Ave Plaza” in the notes).

PBOT launched the Healthy Business permit program back in June as a way to help local businesses recover from pandemic-related losses and create physically-distant dining and shopping options. Since then, hundreds of Portland business owners have participated. Stay tuned for photos of the many plazas and parklets that have popped up citywide and an update on this popular program.

Kenton’s carfree plaza will be ready for use on Wednesday (8/3) and be open through September. Bike over soon and check it out! And follow the Kenton Neighborhood Association and Kenton Business Association on Instagram for updates.

— 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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Steve Hash
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Steve Hash

Time to step up downtown St.Johns…

Chris
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Chris

Are the bike lanes being kept open or are bikes expected to walk through?

David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

According to the attached pdf link, the part where they are painting in the triangles and squares is to be a 12-foot wide shared traffic lane, so my guess is ‘yes’, but you won’t be riding in the existing bike lanes on the two block sections. The diagrams do not show how bicyclists are supposed to merge in or out of the existing bike lanes onto the new 12-foot shared lane, nor does it show existing or new traffic controls at the intersections.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I passed through here earlier today. Noticeably more traffic on nearby residential streets as one would expect from having the main street cut off.

This might make Kenton’s businesses more usable and that specific space more enjoyable, but I definitely wouldn’t characterize the overall effect as contributing to any kind of transportation improvement.

X
Guest
X

*Negative induced demand, give it a little time!
*Interstate Avenue very close (with light rail line!)
*I 5 also very close, both parallel.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

The reason a lot of people take Denver is because Interstate is already fouled up at key times as is I-5. The unreliable and slow rail line will not be a big draw during a pandemic.

It will still be faster for drivers to take the neighborhood cut throughs. I have no doubt that the business on the street thing will be plenty popular while the weather is nice (expect people to park in residential areas as well as drive through), but anyone who think this will help shift transportation habits is kidding themselves.

Chris I
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Chris I

It’ll be fine.

bdlandoe
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bdlandoe

I’ve been commuting on the Max from Kenton for years and would hardly call it unreliable or slow. Ridership has plummeted during COVID, but so has traffic on I-5 and Interstate which would make the Denver bypass option less necessary.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Have also lived here awhile, I would call MAX both unreliable and slow.

A straight shot between Lombard and PSU runs over 40 minutes (about double what it takes on a bike), not factoring wait times or the frequent things that delay MAX (maintenance, accidents, protests, etc). Hot weather and cold weather muck it up, and lord help you if it snows — that line didn’t run for 8 days when we had that storm a couple years ago. Public transit is even less effective if you have to transfer.

Agreed that Denver traffic has dropped, partly in response to Interstate and I-5 moving just fine, so I see using street space as practical response to a temporary problem.

I was definitely seeing some spillover especially on the east side of Denver. This is no surprise given how long different detour scenarios take.

bdlandoe
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bdlandoe

Gotta say I’m incredibly impressed you can bike to PSU in 20 minutes! My office is right by PSU and it takes me about 40 minutes so I guess I never notice a difference taking the Max.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

MAX drives me nuts.

I’d rather jog than ride than something that doesn’t get me there faster — which is the case for that stretch.

There’s something seriously wrong when motorized transport isn’t significantly faster than what a 50 something can manage at foot speeds.

Stephan Vertal
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Stephan Vertal

I hope the people riding bus line 4 get early notice. This type adaptation sounds good until the winter rains. With people hesitant to dine inside it sounds like many businesses may have a matter of weeks to make money.

Maureen Bachmann
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Maureen Bachmann

This program will only run through September 30th. So yes, we have 2 months to make some funds. The 4 is rerouted just a block away. Hope you’ll come out and join us in the plaza for a day!

Lindsey
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Lindsey

This is an excellent idea! I love our Kenton neighborhood and I want our business to survive and thrive!

BLM Gremlins
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BLM Gremlins

Hall of injustice? How many of these people pointed a gun or shot at a police officer before being killed? Because only 9 unarmed black people were killed by police last year, and over 7000 were killed by other black people.

Peejay
Subscriber
Peejay

How many white people were killed by white people?
Jonathan, please don’t remove the above overtly racist message, so that we know what Black people in America are up against.
On second thought, remove it. Everyone knows, and the person who wrote it is not going to change, no matter how many people correct them on their statistical illiteracy.

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

What is “racist” about the message? Just the fact that you don’t like the data in it?

Cooper
Guest

For starters, saying “only 9 unarmed black people were killed” is racist because it argues that this is an acceptable amount of dead black people. The only acceptable amount would be zero.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Raising the issue of black on black crime when discussing systemic racism against black people in America is racist and will always be racist. Please.