While the City of Kirkland struggles with how to retain and even expand sidewalk cafes along Park Lane, we offer this example from our neighbors to the south as one possible alternative.
Note the use of sidewalk cafes along SW Ankeny Street in Portland, Oregon in the image above. The street is narrow and lined with restaurants including the very popular Voodoo Doughnuts. Some interesting aspects of this street make it quite friendly to visitors:
- The street is closed to automobiles
- Sidewalks remain open to pedestrians
- Restaurants create service areas in the CENTER of the street, allowing foot traffic to continue along the sidewalk
- Plantings and barriers surround the seating area
- Each restaurant has their own section of the street approximately in front of their establishment
- Patrons enjoy meals and alcohol within the service area served by restaurant staff
This is a great use of space and something we should consider for Kirkland's Park Lane. Consider the following for Park Lane:
- Temporary closure of Park Lane to vehicles during the summer months on Friday and Saturday evenings after 7pm
- Restaurants serve expanded cafe areas in the center of the closed street
- Pedestrians continue to use the existing tradition sidewalk areas
The result of such changes would be an expansion of dining al fresco and a unique draw for Kirkland over other Eastside cities. I can imagine something similar to European piazzas, open and bustling with activity. They are the place everyone wants to go. Park Lane could become a hub of activity bringing families, neighbors and visitors to enjoy the atmosphere, street music, dining and shopping.
I would welcome Kirkland thinking outside the box and boldly trying something new and exciting like this. What say you?