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Carless Zone in Portland?

Could it work? Where? How could we make it happen?
I had a brainstorm with a friend a few weeks ago: why not have an area of Portland be carfree? The streets could be minimized down to bike size, gardens could grow out into where the streets used to be- the possibilities are endless! Imagine, stepping out of your house, into a place where there were no zooming cars, no stinky exhaust, kids running around everywhere, carefree, carfree, like you were in a gigantic park? Hmmm... sounds pretty friggin' rad to me! And this is just the town to do it in.


1) People who love their cars.

2) Businesses that wouldn't know what to do with themselves.

3) City ordinances/resisitance from city council.

4) Emergencies and how to deal with them.

5) Supplies, ie. food, appliances, building, etc.

6) Design of area- must be very forward thinking for growth.

I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that came to me.



2) Low noise, pollution, aggravation.

3) Pedestrian paradise which means kids become GODS!

4) What amounts to one gigantic park with houses in it.

5) Less money spent on oil, car work, etc. I know this one seems weak but at this point in the game every little bit helps.

6) International recognition would stimulate tourism, and you know how the businesses start drooling when you talk about incresing tourism.

7) Communities strengthened, health improved, the list is literally endless, which makes me think that this would be a spiritual benefit beyond value.

What areas could this work in? I'm envisioning Ankeny maybe, or the Belmont and 33rd area or some areas up in Northeast. Imagine: starting a carless street that's near two parks- increasing the size of the carless area until it hits those parks then BOOM! It's bonus round- the area incorporates those parks and has instant growth.

Sure some business will poo-poo it, but screw them. Let them go to LA. Imagine the kinds of stores that would thrive: shoe stores, bike shops, park cafes, it's really up to the imagination. A group of intelligent people could slap something like this together and entice some savvy entrepreneurs to sponsor the whole thing!

My thought is that the best bet would be to find a sympathetic neighborhood and try to get everyone on board for at least one block, buy up all the real estate on the street and then shut that stinky-ass street DOWN!

Anyone else have any ideas? Done been tried before? What's the pitfalls, what's the hurdles, what's the impossibilities, but most of all, are there any reasons for not TRYING to do it?

Downtown Portland should be a Car-Free Zone 10.Jul.2005 13:03

the resident

Downtown Portland should be a Car-Free Zone, and The Tri-Met Transportation System, and the StreetCars should be Free.

Considerations 10.Jul.2005 14:24

George Bender

I would love to live in a car-free section of town, since I can't afford to own a car and I don't like the traffic noise on the street in front of my apartment. One key to making it work would be to put a lot of dense housing in the area with food stores, entertainment, etc. that people could walk, bike or take public transit to. Streetcars might be essential. Some place at the edge where people could park their cars if they really must own one. Some cheap way to get out to the woods. Small electrical carts people could use to get around if they're not physically capable of walking or biking. A nearby park.

I live about a 20 minute walk from downtown Eugene and the library, and about 15 minutes from Safeway. This forces me to get some exercise on a regular basis, without which my body would fall apart. (And so will yours.) I use a folding metal cart or backpack to carry my groceries. Sometimes I bike. I'm 65. What I'll be able to do in ten years I don't know. Sometimes I take the bus but it feels like too much trouble. I suggest when you retire you try to live close to whatever interests you. When I lived in Portland I could only afford to live about half an hour from downtown by bus, and I would often not go to things, like writers' readings at Powell's, because it seemed like too much trouble, especially in the winter. I took the bus for years and got by without a car in Portland, but it needs to be made a lot more convenient. Put cheap housing downtown, instead of way the hell out in the suburbs.

I should point out that this has been tried before. During the 1960s new shopping malls on the edge of cities drained the life from their downtowns. Some cities tried turning their downtowns into malls by closing off streets. I saw it tried in Riverside, California, where I used to live, and in Eugene. It didn't work. I don't know if that's because people were unwilling to walk a few blocks, or if the downtown malls just couldn't compete with the edge of town malls. Eugene has since opened its downtown mall streets up again, although downtown is still pretty dead. There is constant talk of "revitalizing downtown." I would like to see more interesting stuff downtown, like a good movie theater, but there is something to be said for leaving it low-key. We're a small city with the downtown of a small town.

The Free Share-a-Segway Program 10.Jul.2005 15:35

xyster xysterstode

We should round up investors interested in starting a free "Share a Segway" program.

The Share-a-Segway program can continue where the yellow share-a-bike program left off, allowing everybody free access to safe, environmentally-friendly, 12.5 mph transportation through-out Portland and vicinity.
Just hop on your Segway, plug it in at the nearest outlet if it needs a charge, use it for as long as you need, then drop it off anywhere for the next person to use.

A simple and sane solution to save our city's soul.

Yes!!! 10.Jul.2005 17:28


And the Sellwood bridge.... (about to fall into the river) should be included in this zone. It would connect the new east side bike path to the older west side one!

Yes to carfree zones 10.Jul.2005 22:53

walking freek

There are two reasons why Eugene's carfree zone didn't work:

1) At the same time that they removed the cars from downtown Eugene, the city approved a large shopping mall outside of town! People just drove to the giant mall, which is where the giant corporations that had the advertising power and name recognition to attract shoppers choose to set up shop.

2) They didn't do anything to provide attractive housing for residents right in the carfree zone.

Portland had the perfect opportunity to create an area that was entirely carfree--the Pearl District. But instead Mayor Katz gave the whole project of redeveloping that area over to one greedy developer, who of course choose to provide for more cars and thousands of new parking spaces to provide for the corporate businesses going in.

In downtown Portland, we're actually going in the wrong direction--the carfree bus mall is now being converted back to having auto lanes. The reason? Some so-called "experts" from out of state, whom Vera Katz enlisted, said that lack of access to cars was responsible for the dissatisfactory level of success that downtown businesses were experiencing. Obviously, these "experts" have never been to Europe, where people flock to the carfree zones.

Where in the city would you propose this initial zone?

a few notes... 11.Jul.2005 08:18

worn sole

"5) Less money spent on oil, car work, etc. I know this one seems weak but at this point in the game every little bit helps."

I think this is a big point, actually. Tons of *taxpayer* dollars are spent on infrastructure for CARS... Roads, highways, massive bridges, parking lots, etc. Then there's related costs, like cleaning oil spills, the damage paved surfaces wreak on our watersheds, car related injuries, etc. All of this stuff is expensive -- and would be diminished with a carfree zone.

Also, as far as "3) City ordinances/resisitance from city council" being a problem... Yeah, I think we'd face a good deal of questions and a bit of ignorance, but I think this administration would warm up to the idea quickly. Tom Potter and Erik Sten would definitely be into it, and it's likely that Sam Adams would be, too. And Dan Saltzman oversees the Bureau of Sustainable Development, so you could play that card with him. That's 4 out of 5 Commissioners!

Awesome ideas! Keep IMC posted!

a few answers/ideas 11.Jul.2005 09:22

Metal Pancreas

to walking freek- I mentioned SE Ankeny as a potential area, because it is already kinda car-unfriendly, plus it has City Bikes which would obviously be a great choice of business. There's also the area directly to the south of Belmont and 33rd which I bring up because the residents there seem to be interested in alternative choices for neighbothood living. And part of me (the part that lives in NE, I would imagine) would love to see something happen up in NE somewhere.

I also forgot to point out that mass transit would be a must along the borders and also safe car "storage" spots, essentially parking lots where people could park their cars and go into the zone. But they wouldn't have to be lame ass parking lots, we could use the same kind of creativity to create them that we would for the rest of the project.

Worn sole- yes, I do agree that this administration would be friendlier to it than probably any other city council in the US. That's kinda what started me thinking that it was a possibility after the initial idea. That's also another reason to try to get the ball rolling before we lose this admin. to another more conservative, more "business friendly" (typically read: community unfriendly) one.

And very good point on the taxpayer "subsidy" on cars and roads. I would hate to see how much this country spends every year on car related maintenance: pollution fighting, road repairs, injuries, etc.

I guess the reason why I put this up in the first place was, of course, to air it out, but also to see if it would draw out people who are familiar with this kind of project, people with experience in implementing rather collosal ideas like this. For once, an idea that deserves the energy it calls for!

what about 12.Jul.2005 09:52

some youth

wait what about the area around the new New Seasons. it's expensive but there are a lot of good people in the area and the there is other good stuff around there. or what aobut clinton corners. just an idea

Yes to no car zones! 12.Jul.2005 13:41

von ycheng@mrss.com

I think this would be a GREAT idea. With such a dense area of living, I believe that it would also be greath for youths to find something that they can be passionate about. A lot of today's youths are engrossed wtih television and lack ambition and interests. Hopefully, having a downtown area such as this would provide activities and entertainment.

As for Riverside, California, I am currently as resident and student at UC Riverside, I'd like to point out that their downtown sucks ass and the city is basically a dirt hole until you reach the edges, far far away from the downtown area. Also, the city on avg. reaches temps of 96 during the summer, you wonder why people didn't walk.

von 12.Jul.2005 15:15

George Bender

I lived in Riverside from 1964-68. When I moved there it was a small, pleasant city. By the time I and my family left it had gotten so smoggy we couldn't stand it. I stopped briefly in Riverside while on a trip in the early 90s. The city had gotten noticeably more Mexican, poor and security conscious (big mirrors in stores). I do not say this to be racist -- I don't blame Mexicans for moving north to escape extreme poverty, although I don't think it's good for our job market to allow them to do it -- just an observation. Riverside seemed rundown.

I don't remember the summer temperatures, but it has been a long time.

I spent a few years at Riverside City College, which was okay. Briefly tried UC Riverside but couldn't relate and left. At a time when the country was in an uproar over the Vietnam war and city ghettos were exploding, one of my sociology professors said that "the study of sociology is not the study of twentieth century America." That pretty much sums up the problem I had with college.

Since I left Riverside I've had a few dreams about being back there. Strange how the nervous system remembers. Any place we live in for years becomes a part of us.

how about a potluck ? 12.Jul.2005 18:50

david riversong

the ideas you express along with others are so beautiful and at the same time very realistic. remember the grandmothers who took to the asphalt down in sanfran! there are so many ways this could benifet everyone. why not after tossing this around a bit more,have a potluck where we could hold council and figure out which directions to go forward with and realistically take those steps towards making this happen? also i think, although car free zone downtown would be great,i think and feel that to begin with somewhere over here in SE.would be a easier and more realistic beginning. that is only my opinion though, which is another good reason for a get together. peace.d.riversong.

Down to earth 12.Jul.2005 19:56

George Bender

I think David has the right idea. There always seems to be a gap between the good ideas discussed on this website and actually making anything happen. If I lived in Portland I would be interested. Start small and demonstrate that the idea can work. Maybe go door-to-door in a block and see how many people would go for closing the streets in that block. Some of the old street space could be used for parking, the rest turned into community gathering places and gardens. Maybe the City Repair Project --  http://www.cityrepair.org/ -- would be interested. Seems like this would be right down their alley.

The Oregon left has become extremely demoralized in recent years. We need a success, however small. We need to demonstrate that some of our ideas can actually work. We need concrete projects that bring it down to earth and out of the realm of the theoretical. Our physical surroundings that we experience every day have a lot to do with how we think about the world. We need benign spaces to live in. Some place to relax and relate. Last January I heard Mark Lakeman of the City Repair Project do a slide show talk in Eugene. I was moved to tears. These are people who understand community.  http://www.cityrepair.org/about.html

I also wonder if there would be some way to link this idea to the need for low-cost housing, discussed on another thread.  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/07/321104.shtml

homes with alleys 12.Jul.2005 20:43


There are streets with alleys leading to backyard garages in NE and is SE, sorry for leaving out the West side I, just don't go over there enough to know the backways, but the thought of the city and it's people actually allowing that idea to work even one block while still allowing the citizens to maintain their cars, which there will always be atleast 1, a lot of people in Portland are progressive, but it's doubtful that a whole city block on both sides of the street would be willing to park cars far from their homes.
Just a thought and please keep with all the good ideas.

gigi 12.Jul.2005 21:14

George Bender

People wouldn't even be willing to walk a block from their cars to their homes? Are most of us really that physically helpless? If so, there is a large price to be paid for that in obesity, unattractiveness, early disability and death. The human body was not designed to be completely sedentary.

excellent idea 13.Jul.2005 01:46


Your idea is excellent. However, there's a good chance that it will be monumentally difficult if not impossible to pull off. As George Bender points out, the trend has been to shut down pedestrian malls, not create new ones. But the flip side of this is: if it can't be done in Portland, then where in this country could it ever be done? Also, the power of even one successful example like this, however small, would itself be monumental. In this culture, even the smallest demonstration of a working alternative to motorist supremacy is monumental.

I'm reminded of that quote, "The impossible may take a little longer." So, with that in mind ... let's get started right away!

response 13.Jul.2005 05:17


greetings and thank you george for sharing. i understand all to sadly and far to much more sadly about the gap you speak of concerning that which some are so quickly to speak about such real concerns yet do nothing more than to be ,so they feel, to be really doing something,and the only thing that most are doing is bieng able to listen to their own abrasive words that end up bieng only important to themselves.when you say maybe go door to door, maybe???!!! there is as you do know no maybe about it, it is actually what you speak of when you voice how are physical surroundings have alot to do with how we think about the world,i think though, no i know, that is life, for myself it is not a matter of having that space,space,space.......because that space is already here. i truly appreaciate your nrg. i also appreciate your bieng moved to tears expieriencing m.l,s presentation. those tears are what represent part of the truth. please continue sharing.blessings.d.riversong

si si 13.Jul.2005 08:09

stingybrim stingybrim@hotmail.com

motorcycles exceptionally louder then cars speeding by, scooters louder then lawnmowers buzzing up and down side streets, dangerous mobile multi thousand pounds of moving mass being jockeyed through my neighborhood by people desperate to get home from work. 30th n Belmont, you would think this intersection was the convergence of an on ramp to a hi way. im all for such an idea of a nauseous fumes free Portland. we have such a great city and it is already situated to handle more convenience, more diversity, fewer engines, more bikes, and certainly more gardens... where do i sign? for the nay sayers, keep it possitive, keep building your own reality by reinforcing the lack of possibilities, this is certainly possible. live love

Meeting-my place 13.Jul.2005 08:56

dana danahighfill@gmail.com


I would like to start a group make this happen.
It is imperative that we bring our values to the top of the priority list in this country. It is not sustainable to consume gas like we do. We are losing health and life to obesity and heart disease. In cities like Copenhagen, Denmark most of the population uses bicycles or public transportation to get around. The cities are cleaner, the people healthier...ok, I realize I'm preaching to the choir.
Let's meet at my house next Friday. We can brainstorm and see who has connections with organizations that may be able to help.
My own skills are in drafting (CAD) and non-hierarchic leadership.
I'm capable of drawing up plans to show a visual proposal of a carless section of town. I'm sure everyone who wants to get involved has something to offer.
I would like to start an e-mail database to send out the time and place of the first meeting.
Please e-mail me if you are interested in attending.

Thank you.
: dana :

Yes, now is the time. 13.Jul.2005 10:35


Now is the time to pursue car-free zones. With four cyclists killed by vehicles in the last month in Portland, the outrage is there. Let's turn these tragedies into something positive. We have in Tom Potter a mayor who might actually be receptive to the idea. And it's better to get used to living car-free now when we have the choice as opposed to sometime in the future when we won't (peak oil anyone?) Let's get the Bicycle Transportation Alliance involved as they have played a large part in making Portland more bike and pedestrian friendly over the years and they have good connections.

Good luck, keep us informed 13.Jul.2005 13:20

George Bender

People walk all over downtown Portland and don't seem to mind. They walk around the big indoor malls. So why would there be so much resistance to walking a short distance from home to car? What comes to mind is shopping and then having to move your purchases some distance when you get home. I suggest giving that some creative thought. Perhaps some kind of simple carts. I use a folding metal cart which holds two bags of groceries. I believe I bought it at Fred Meyer and it cost around $25. Having very little money, I do very little shopping. The average person would probably need a larger cart.

Even closing a single street to cars would be a start.

You would need to be able to show people tangible benefits, like quiet, beauty, gardens, park space, more room for their kids to play. They would have to be able to see these benefits as outweighing the convenience of being able to drive to their front door.

Drawings would be good. 3D virtual reality might be better, a scene you could move around in. Don't know if it still exists, but there used to be a graphics program that would take photos of buildings and redraw them in 3D. I always thought that would be cool to create virtual reality cities from the past.

carts 14.Jul.2005 06:56

d.riversong tuncarv@aol.com

george,hello. you brought up the question of carts,mobility etc.. one idea might be to have a few? good ole horseless carridges,that bieng with a bicycle in front instead.(nothing personal about horses!i love them) anyhow just an idea,keeping in mind our elders and those that need a means to get around with help. peace.d.riverong

Carless potluck 7/22 7pm 14.Jul.2005 08:57

dana danahighfill@gmail.com

The first meeting is set for Friday, July 22nd at 7pm.

Meeting Location: my house

It will be a potluck, please bring your ideas and a dish of your choice. Beverages will be provided.

We already have volunteers and lots of ideas.
Everyone has something to offer so come on over for an evening of brainstorming, list making and grub.
Oh, and please mention this meeting to all who may be interested.

A reminder announcement and address will be sent out by e-mail as we get closer to July 22nd.

Please e-mail me with your preferred contact info and I'll add you to the list.

Thank you.

: dana :
PS I have plenty of bicycle parking space at my house. :P

Neighborhood organizing 14.Jul.2005 14:19

George Bender

I would take a look at how the City Repair Project --  http://www.cityrepair.org/ -- organizes its neighborhood projects. They do things like redesigning intersections to make community gathering places. Perhaps they could send someone to your organizing meeting.

After your organizing meeting and the formulation of a plan, you will need to organize the neighborhood. You might try hanging a leaflet on doorknobs -- roll it up and put a rubber band around it and the doorknob; a fanny pack worn in front works good if your leaflets are half sheets -- describing the basic idea and announcing a neighborhood potluck to discuss it. If you do that, be sure to have a good presentation to offer, as visual as possible, followed by discussion. This would not be the time to just brainstorm. Do that beforehand with a few serious activists. People like to see a plan. A physical model like architects use would be helpful, anything that would help people visualize it.

Part of the City Repair Project's strategy is that if you start with neighborhood projects, that kind of bottom-up democratic organizing will eventually spread upwards to the whole city, and hopefully beyond. This idea has long been a part of American radical thought.

I suggest thinking not just in terms of closing streets, but consider alternate uses of that space that would bring people together. American society is set up in such a way that you have to make an appointment to spend time with people outside your household (which often only has one person in it). This is so cumbersome, and depends so much on being an extravert, that it mostly doesn't happen. We need informal spaces that automatically bring people together, without making appointments, something like a village, a small town or a college campus.

This has been done elsewhere in U.S. 14.Jul.2005 17:31

Aaron Aaron@yourbodypower.org

Car free zones have been done elsewhere (even in business districts). This is the supportive comment.

Check into the Santa Monica Promenade. What used to be a 'normal' street has become a tourist meca with chiq stores and street entertainment.

Europe Does This 14.Jul.2005 20:59


This concept is about 60 years overdue. Car noise and fumes deeply suck, especially to the unfortunates who can only afford to live on
busy streets. The human race needs to reclaim its world from the
spawn of petroleum-man. Single-occupant infernal-combustion devices
have more rights and property in urban areas than living, (barely)
breathing humans. In Europe, streets closed to traffic are magnets
for calm and quiet introspection, not to mention magnets for
tourists. Portland would gain notoriety by closing some downtown
streets to cars, and would surely be imitated by other cities.
I was thinking about this very topic yesterday. I am angry that
cities aren't intersticed with Springwater Corridor-type bike/pedestrian roads, so sane people can commute and recreate in peace, withoug being molested by some SUV baboon. Why in the fuck can't I easily ride a bike from Beamerton to downtown?
It is time to start fighting back. Calling Tre Arrow!

Corridor, not zone 15.Jul.2005 14:10


A corridor, rather than an entire zone, seems ideal for the eastside layout. Residents would still have access to their homes via auto, but at a reduced level of accessiblity.

carless zone 15.Jul.2005 15:09

carfree wife

Yes. The sherrit intersection in the sellwood area just east of the bridge is a good community project model to base this on...I've got MY fingers crossed.

another possibility 16.Jul.2005 22:33


A good place to turn into a car-free zone is one that already has lots of pedestrians and where cars are already a nuisance. One place that strikes me as such is NW 23rd. Every time I go by there it seems like the sidewalks are *way* too small for all the pedestrians and the cars are just loud, smelly, and dangerous.

The two lanes on 23rd would be better benefit the stores and pedestrians by opening them up to people. Imagine how much the restaraunts could expand their outdoor table areas if they could use up a lane of the road (I've seen pictures of similar places from Europe and it looks great).

The Streetcar already goes to the corner of 23rd and Lovejoy; that is 7 blocks from Burnside so on average people would have to walk 3.5 blocks to get to it, but consider that most of them have to park their cars further away anyway due to traffic (and Trimet could have another streetcar line go up 22nd St).

One more suggestion - perhaps BTA/Shift/et al could work together and/or fund a study on Car Free cities and places, and present this to the city. Something like a whitepaper showing how other cities have benefitted and how Car Free zones could be implemented in Portland and how they would benefit all parties involved (bicyclists, businesses, and pedestrians). (The only folks not benefitting would be the auto-industry I suppose, so the whitepaper may want to address that and convince folks that the auto-industry doesn't help our local economy or something.)

Great ideas everyone! Lets make Portland rock!

act locally 16.Jul.2005 22:46


I would recommend that everyone try to make their own neighborhoods car free. How can you do that? Just get the neighborhood to stop driving! ;)

One thing that I have and continue to do is to make friends with neighbors and then get them into bicycling. Sometimes people just need a little encouragement and support, especially when bicycling is new to them. Start with little things, like simply putting cycling in a positive light by talking about how much you like it, how fun it is, how it helps you stay healthy and how much money you save ("Gas prices are up again? Oh, I wouldn't know."). Then try to get them to ride with you. When they are back on a bike and ready to take the next step, help them get their bike ready for commuting and get them a free copy of a portland bike map[1] or even offer to ride with them to work.

1: available online here:  http://www.portlandtransportation.org/Bicycles/bicyclemaps.htm or at the PSU Info Center in the Urban Center plaza at SW Mill and 6th. cheers!

Also, ride for the hell of it 16.Jul.2005 23:06


One more thing I think will help. I was out riding today and noticed how many other folks were riding. One one stretch of pavement I probably saw three times as many cyclists as cars. It was amazing, almost as if there had been a huge critical mass and everyone spread out all over the city.

I think that the more people driving see masses of people cycling for fun and for transport, the more they will realize that people on bikes aren't just a few "abnormals", they are everyday people like them. I think that the more people driving see peole like them riding bikes instead, the more they will think "hey maybe I should be doing that". And I think the easiest possible way to increase the perception that there are lots of people on bikes all the time is to simply take the numbers of cyclists we have now, and get them all to bike even more, even if its just for the hell of it. Think about it - if everyone went out and rode around twice as much as they normally do, then not only is everyone much stronger and healthier, but also it suddenly appears as if there are twice as many bikes on the streets.

if you want other folks to ride with -
and psu students:  http://www.cycling.pdx.edu

another Bike Fun link 17.Jul.2005 20:45


A lot of folks already know this, but there is a group that promotes Bike Fun consistently, and has an event (with rare exceptions) every week, often several per week. Shift to Bikes is all about getting on your bike with other bike peeps:


Currently, "Pedal Potluck Picnic" rides are meeting every Tuesday at Hawthorne Hostel, to ride to a different and secret park location for some eatin'. That's just one example of what's happening.

Yes! Let's make this happen!! 18.Jul.2005 22:09

Jeremy alovesupreme@myway.com

Man, I have been thinking so much lately about how there should be a carless area of Portland. It is awesome to see that I am not alone. As someone who mostly bikes, but does own a car, I agree that the only way to make this work is to allow for very limited auto access (and access for emergency vehicles). There must be many examples of how this can be done. I cannot make it to the July 22nd meeting, but I would like to attend any future meetings that come up. Let's keep this discussion going and update one another about future meetings. Thanks!


Contact List 19.Jul.2005 07:44

dana danahighfill@gmail.com

Thank you all for you posts and e-mails. We have a nice sized contact list so far.
I've done a bit of research and will bring my information to the July 22 meeting.
If any of you out there have more information, ideas, or insights about carless zones, please come to the meeting and share or send me an e-mail and I'll add it to my info.

I don't have all the answers (yet), but there have been carless zones built in other cities.
Yes, it does boil down to a lot of money, but organizations like The City Repair Project and our own fund raising can help us cross that bridge. The more people that are involved, the more likely we will be sucessful.
What we really need to make this work is great advertising. Not advertising, per se, but creating an awareness of how this could positively affect Portland. An effective way to let people know that the long term benefits of a carless zone far out weigh the challenges of getting used to a new life style. We all know our current system is unsustainable, and gathering a group of like-minded people together can only help us move toward a healthier lifestyle.
Every little (or big) concern that pops up as an obstacle should be brought to me or the group so we can discuss how to arrive at a solution.

Just to reiterate:
Meeting Time: 7pm Friday July 22, 2005
Meeting Place: My house in North Portland (near Peninsula Park)
Meeting Agenda: To discuss the pros and cons of a carless zone in Portland and possible locations.

The meeting will be a potluck. Bring a dish and your ideas. Beverages provided.

Thank you for caring.
: dana :


Forgotten Emergency Services 22.Jul.2005 13:12


As always, good ideas, though welcome, must be thought out. If you had streets small enough for bikes only, what would you do in case of fire or other emergency. Most city regulations for street sizes are not based on traffic needs rather on the need to get emergency vehicles to any particular site. Solve this problem and I'd go along with a limited plan of this sort.

Meeting Minutes from 7/22/2005 25.Jul.2005 08:49

dana danahighfill@gmail.com

Meeting Minutes 7/22 from 7pm-9pm

Attendees: Stephan W., David P., Guy B., Todd F. and Dana H.

We discussed many types of car free zones and their potential impact on Portland.
Topics wide-ranging from one car free intersection in a residential neighborhood to the international appeal Portland could have down the road as a Green Zone with local shops, community and tourism.

Most importantly is for us to bite off something we can chew and let it grow from there.

Our next meeting will be held at the intersection of 33rd and SE Yamhill on Friday the 19th of August. We will spend the time playing soccer (or Frisbee or whatever) and asking people passing through what their thoughts are on a car free zone in Portland.
At the end of the meeting we will discuss a time line and what steps are needed to reach our next goal.

We have a yahoo group set up to post ideas and provide a forum.
See  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/carfree_portland
Add yourself.

Ideas that came up in the meeting (in no particular order):
- A section of Portland car free for 1 Sunday a month (or week).
- Posts on 4 sides of an intersection, creating a closed off residential car free area with special access for utility and emergency vehicles. This would be dependant on cooperation of the residents, of course.
- Reclaiming public space so people can use them for community or recreational activities. Spontaneous use of intersections is a great way to show how people can reclaim public space (actions speak louder than words).
- Approach people about a car free zone and get the word circulating.
- Give out our ideas and collect people's reactions. Gather allies. Present ourselves as well informed, not pushy.
- Encourage people to meet their neighbors.
- Note other intersections, dead ends, and cul de sacs in Portland as examples of value added to the neighborhood when cars are limited.
- Find out: 1. What would you add to this space? 2. What is your vision for the neighborhood in the next 10 years? 3. How has this space affected the neighborhood?

Pros of a Car Free Zone:
- Less noise, air and water pollution.
- Quality of life rises in car free zones.
- Help us abandon our addiction to oil.
- Create more community.
- Create new business based on local products/services.
- Sustainable.
- More desirable for families to live in car free zones for the safety and health of our future (aka children).

Cons of a Car Free Zone:
- Not appealing to the elderly or disabled.
- People love their cars. The American car culture is hard to change.
- Businesses that wouldn't know what to do with themselves.
- City ordinances/resistance from city council.
- Emergencies and how to deal with them.
- Design of area must consider future growth of the area.

We need people to research examples of car free places and share with the group.
- SE 9th & Sherrett - "Share-It Square - Sellwood neighborhood
- SE 33rd & Yamhill - "Sunnyside Piazza" - Sunnyside neighborhood
- SE 19th & Washington - "Labyrinth Piazza" - Buckman neighborhood
- SE 8th & Ankeny - CityBikes kiosk and Virgen de Guadelupe shrine - Buckman neighborhood
- SE 47th & Ivon - neighborhood park - Richmond neighborhood
- and anywhere else you might know of...

So far we have successfully gathered and discussed change. Our next step is to do our homework on other examples of ways to create value in neighborhoods. Then we must talk to the people (the goal of our next meeting at 33rd and Yamhill). After these 3 steps are accomplished we will develop our next plan of action.

Check out:
- Division Vision
- In January 2000, the Portland City Council established City Ordinance #172207, the first "Intersection Repair" ordinance, which set a precedent of allowing neighborhoods to develop their own public gathering places in certain street intersections. Through a process of creative involvement, neighborhoods are now legally empowered to design and build public places that reflect their local culture.
Intersection Repairs are currently governed by the most recent applicable ordinance, #175937 (9/19/01).
- The Library Dewey Decimal #s 385-388 Transportation, 307 Community Building.

Please feel free to respond or add to this document.

Thank you to Stephan, David, Guy, and Todd for attending the first meeting and helping to get this rolling.