Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Car-less Portland: what would it look like?

OK, here’s the surprise I promised yesterday: scenes of a Portland without cars. I had the luck to ride through northwest Portland last Friday morning on LEAF DAY! I couldn’t believe my good fortune to see this rare sight! Especially since their leaf “day” is only a three hour block of time, as opposed to a whole morning or most of a day, like in our neighborhood.

Northwest Portland is the most parked-up neighborhood in Portland. It was bad in the late 80s, when I lived there in this cool yellow apartment building [darn it, I'll have to add it tomorrow, Blogger won't let me post this one], but now it’s truly ridiculous. You go there in a car, you’ll spend twenty minutes (and who knows how much gas) circling to find a spot. On leaf day there were signs up everywhere saying Don’t park here between 7 and 10 AM. Somehow ALL THOSE PEOPLE managed to not bring their cars to this area for that whole block of time.

These pictures are not possible except on the two leaf-days a year. At no other time can you get full elevation photos of these buildings, many of which are gorgeous. Not only that, the feel of space and unclutteredness was absolutely liberating. This is what it would look like if we could only get rid of most of the cars. If they can make this happen for three hours, why not longer?
I felt so free and relaxed riding around and walking around taking pictures that it made me realize how stressful it feels the rest of the time to simply walk or ride down a street. We’re constantly half expecting to get wapped with an opening car door or run into by one of those moving metal deathtraps. And we’re all used to it, we think it’s normal. This is a crazy way to live. We are darting around like scared mice and we don't even know it. Cars rule all.
I have more and even better great photos of car-less-ness that I'll post tomorrow. Last chance to see certain beautiful Portland buildings in their unobstructed entirety.


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