PORTLAND Parts of Portland s Old Town neighborhood could become car-free on weekend nights.

The proposal calls for shutting down parts of Northwest 2nd Avenue and Northwest 4th Avenue, from West Burnside Street to Northwest Everett Street, during times that usually see a high number of pedestrians in the area.

There s a tremendous amount of folks down there at that time, said Lt. Mike Marshman with the Portland Police Bureau. It's just not safe, that s the main reason.

Supporters said closing the streets to vehicular traffic would make it a much safer place. The Portland Police Bureau proposed the idea as a way to accommodate the growing number of people visiting bars in the neighborhood.

My initial reaction was shock because I am more of a restaurant, lounge as opposed to a night club, said Hobos owner Andrew Guthrie. But at the same time, it s obvious that it needs to get addressed. People are in the street, there s vehicles, it s dangerous.

The closures would take effect Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. The car-free zone would also include skateboards and bicycles. Cab drivers would have a designated staging area that they could enter, similar to what exists outside airports.

The Old Town Chinatown Neighborhood Association held a meeting Wednesday to discuss the matter with the public.

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