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East Portland kicks open Sunday Parkways season (photos)

Posted by on May 11th, 2014 at 9:11 pm

A few years ago, not long after Sunday Parkways expanded into East Portland, I got an email soliciting volunteers for the event. “Don’t you think that out of this entire great city of ours, East Portland most deserves to experience Sunday Parkways?” it said.

Though there’s nothing wrong with that sentiment, it clearly wasn’t written by an East Portlander. The crowds enjoying the seven-mile loop during Sunday’s streets-as-parks festival made it perfectly clear: East Portlanders don’t just need Sunday Parkways. They want Sunday Parkways.


Though it wasn’t being promoted in any way, the route actually included a temporary redesign of Southeast Holgate Street to include a protected bike lane alongside the auto traffic. The people on bikes used it without even thinking, and the people in cars seemed plenty calm, too.

Much of the fun, of course, came in the events at the four parks, school and natural area along the route.

At Glenwood Park, Original Practice Shakespeare (“because Shakespeare should be a little dangerous”) performed The Comedy of Errors, mostly unrehearsed, with scripts in hand and a referee on stage blowing her whistle when they messed up:

As usual, there were plenty of unofficial vendors, including one man selling jewelry. “Even the display box is handmade, man,” he said proudly.

Though we’re right in the middle of a city election, I only saw one council candidate with a presence:

Brandon Rhodes of Rolling Oasis was riding the route with his trailer for his new home-delivery produce business. (In the middle of our brief exchange, a woman biked up to him and asked for more information — she’d written her thesis on bike-powered food delivery, she said. Portland!)

Sunday Parkways season will continue (PDF) with North Portland June 22, Northeast July 27, Southeast Aug. 24, and finally Southwest Sept. 28.

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  • Mark May 11, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    I drove down from Seattle with my family for this year’s event and it was super fun. Thanks, Portland!

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    • 9watts May 12, 2014 at 6:54 am

      drove down from Seattle…
      interesting.

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      • Chris I May 12, 2014 at 7:17 am

        You’re right; he should have ridden his bike. It’s only 200 miles, right?

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        • Mark May 12, 2014 at 7:59 am

          The irony of driving 200 miles each way to ride bikes with my family in a safe environment does not escape me.

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          • jocko May 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm

            Hey folks he had fun and was here to thank us. Don be a killjoy it SUCKS and makes you look a little less than nice and a lot like a legendary creature that commonly dwells under bridges.

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      • Zimmerman May 12, 2014 at 11:32 am

        What a boorish comment.

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        • 9watts May 12, 2014 at 11:53 am

          Zimmerman – we’re all entitled to our opinions, but I don’t think noting the irony of driving hundreds of miles to participate in a carfree event is out of bounds. Can you explain why you seem to think it is?

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          • Brian May 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm

            Maybe they were looking to participate and gather info to start something similar?

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            • Chris I May 12, 2014 at 1:43 pm

              This is what I was thinking. If he can act as an ambassador for the event, and work to bring something like this to Seattle?

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              • Michael Andersen (News Editor) May 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm

                Stop me if I’m wrong, Mark, but Seattle’s been doing small neighborhood Summer Streets events for seven years: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/summerstreets.htm

                And Seattle’s three-mile Bicycle Sunday event was the first open streets event in the United States, predating similar events in Bogota and Amsterdam. It’s been in continuous operation since 1965:
                http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2014/02/14/bicycle-sunday-dates-announced-when-will-we-hold-the-first-seaclovia/
                http://nacto.org/docs/usdg/smaller_open_streets_guide_final_print_alliance_biking_walking.pdf (p. 40 of pdf)

                That’s not to weigh in on your wanting to come down to ours, just to point out that Portland is the one that learned from Seattle in this case.

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                • davemess May 12, 2014 at 2:44 pm

                  Seattle had “closed” Sundays (quite a few) on Lake Washington Blvd, when I lived in Seattle from 2003-2005. It is already a pretty popular cycling route, so it was a nice program.

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                • Mark May 12, 2014 at 6:11 pm

                  Those are all factual statements, Michael, and Seattle is making great progress but Sunday Parkways is qualitatively better than what we have up north. Even without Parkways, Portland is a big draw for bike tourists like myself.

                  In all, my wife, my 11 year old son and I rode 53 miles across Portland over the weekend, only part of which was along the Parkways route, and it was really wonderful. Sunday Parkways and the relatively safe and comfortable experience of riding to Sunday Parkways from wherever we happen to be staying is what prompted me to become a part-time bicycle activist back home in Seattle. (Plus it was Mother’s Day and riding Sunday Parkways in Portland was my wife’s request.)

                  See you at Sunday Parkways North in June!

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          • Middle of the Road guy May 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

            Perhaps they had other things going on and the event was just one reason.

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            • Mark May 14, 2014 at 9:23 am

              Sunday Parkways was the main reason for our visit but we stayed in Portland for the whole weekend and found other things to do, like taking that cool North Portland ride Jonathan wrote about on April 22nd, eating at food carts, and spending way too much time at Powell’s. Normal tourist stuff.

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        • Reza May 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm

          Seems like it’s more of a comment on how the City of Seattle should provide this experience for their citizens so that they wouldn’t have to drive down here.

          Although they do have Bicycle Sundays: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/bicyclesunday/

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    • dwainedibbly May 12, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      Now, get back to Seattle, tell everyone how great it was, and push to get similar events going there!

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      • Mark May 12, 2014 at 5:51 pm

        Done and done.

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  • Granpa May 12, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I was dragging the dog in a trailer and two little girls, Maybe 8 years old, on bikes with 20 inch wheels passed me. They were really hammering it. On a hill, I dropped them like sacks of potatoes. Win one for old Freds. :)

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  • Joe May 12, 2014 at 9:14 am

    awesome love it! well I created my own Sunday parkways with my wife and girls in the burbs * Wilsonville * really wish everyone would do this every Sunday :) in cities around the world!

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  • Joe May 12, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Car free weekends ( some day I know it ;) )

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  • Peejay May 12, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I look at that map and I wonder why we can’t just do all five circuits, connected to each other in a city-wide network, and do it every Sunday all summer. People in cars get the other six days to drive on every street, so this is totally fair. Volunteers won’t be needed on every intersection because the weekly schedule will make drivers used to the route.

    Reduced-car Sundays! (A baby step towards car-free weekends)

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    • Middle of the Road guy May 13, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      Because it costs a lot to put on each Sunday Parkways.

      Also, good luck finding that many volunteers to show up.

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  • Joe May 12, 2014 at 9:45 am

    yessss Peejay future model :)

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  • davemess May 12, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Really wanted to do this, but my wife was too sore from biking to the Timbers game.

    Not to be too complain-y, but does anyone know why the East Portland Parkways was put on the most likely weekend to get rain? NE and SE are almost guaranteed to have great weather.
    I remember East Portland being in September a couple of years ago, which I think has a better chance of nice weather than May.
    Obviously we lucked out with great weather yesterday, but May still has a good chance of rain (and reduced attendance).

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  • Hart Noecker May 12, 2014 at 11:31 am

    We had a blast yesterday, thanks for the city council candidate nod, Michael. Here’s some of my own pics from yesterday: http://calebforcouncil.com/sunday-parkways/

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  • KRhea May 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Mark, thanks for coming down our way for yesterday’s Parkways event. It’s great that as a parent you thought enough of having fun with your kids and wife on a beautiful spring day to drive all the way down here “just to ride your bikes.” I salute you and say whenever you feel like taking your kids for a ride whether it involves driving to the start location or not “just do it!”. FYI, I live here in Portland and guess what, my wife and daughter drove to the event while I rode my bike over and met me there. We had a great mother’s day celebration doing what Portland does best, riding bikes. Not a tinge of guilt did I or my wife feel for driving over there. In the “real” world, ya gotta start somewhere. If driving to a fun event with so many like minded people gets my wife and daughter excited about cycling like I’ve been for years then I say “by any means necessary” including by car! By the way, we often drive to Seattle for the weekend, take our bikes and ride around Lake Washington or explore the wonderful Burke-Gilman trail. I realize the driving part is sacrilegious but I doubt my wife and 11yr old daughter are up for the 200mile ride up and the 200 mile ride back. I apologize for their lack of “gumption” 9watts.

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    • 9watts May 12, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      KRhea, I said nothing about gumption.

      It is clear that some people here see Sunday Parkways as an EVENT, a party, something you might even travel great distances (as a tourist) to participate in. As a statement about Sunday Parkways this is heartwarming. But it elides the (only slightly) larger POLITICAL context in which we are trying to carve out brief, small spaces without cars, move beyond cars, introduce people to the possibilities of a society where movement is not always contemplated or engaged in the shadow of the automobile. I submit that the whole idea of Sunday Parkways cannot be divorced from the need to, collectively, stop driving everywhere.
      Viewed in its POLITICAL context I don’t think it is a stretch to call attention to the problem of driving across a whole state to participate in Sunday Parkways.

      Why is this controversial?
      I didn’t insult Mark, impugn his motives, uninvite him or his family; I simply noted that his approach caught my attention.

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      • Granpa May 13, 2014 at 8:26 am

        “elides” Great word, thanks for using it. Your use of the work “we” in the political context of moving beyond cars is a bit of an overreach. Certainly it is not necessary to fire up the Denali every time one needs a gallon of milk, and paying off the costs of a fossil fuel driven economy will be harsh, but I venture to guess Most of the “we” who participated in Sunday Parkways were not making a political statement, but enjoying a beautiful day in a safe friendly setting.

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        • 9watts May 14, 2014 at 7:13 am

          “Most of the ‘we’ who participated in Sunday Parkways were not making a political statement, but enjoying a beautiful day in a safe friendly setting.”

          The ‘we’ I was invoking was meant to indicate some of the thinking that motivated the event, more than the sentiment of those attending today. Recalling the original motivation is important if only to remind those who came along later.
          Here’s the unedited list of goals from 2008:
          http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/274625
          “The primary Sunday Parkways goals were to:
          • Reduce auto trips and improve air quality
          • Increase the health and activity of residents
          • Increase awareness of global warming and the role transportation plays
          • Increase neighborhood awareness and raise acceptability of bicycling and walking as modes of travel
          • Increase trips by walking and biking
          • Increase neighborhood mobility and livability
          • Create community within neighborhoods
          • Provide residents an opportunity to discover and appreciate neighborhood Parks

          Global warming is mentioned throughout this document, and was specifically emphasized in the surveys that preceded Sunday Parkways’ launch.
          “Given the large amount of media and outreach conducted for this project, it is expected that there will be a significant shift in awareness of air quality issues among Portland residents and an increased likelihood of behavior change stemming from the increased knowledge of global warming and peak oil.”

          Similarly, the WNBR has political/oil origins which are no less interesting or important for having (perhaps) been forgotten or being unknown to those who might join today.

          Thinking about the tenor of the responses here in the comments section I find myself agreeing with Michael’s article from yesterday: something’s been lost–and I’m not pointing a finger at the City this time.

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      • Middle of the Road guy May 13, 2014 at 4:47 pm

        “I submit that the whole idea of Sunday Parkways cannot be divorced from the need to, collectively, stop driving everywhere.”

        Well, some people have managed to do just that and see it as an event.

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  • Matt May 12, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Three generations of our family had a good time riding. However, I felt like there were way too many people out promoting political causes or asking me to sign petitions. I also saw three candidates asking for votes.

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    • davemess May 13, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      Dan Saltzman was pandering at the Timbers game.
      I also thought that was lame.

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