Harvest Century September 22nd

Largest ever crowds for North Portland Sunday Parkways (Photos)

Posted by on June 26th, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Huge and delighted crowds swarmed the streets and parks of North Portland today. More photos below.
(Photos © J. Maus)

I don’t have an official count; but I don’t really need one (I did talk candidly with City staff who agreed with me). I’ve been to every Sunday Parkways since they began in 2008 and the one that happened today was without a doubt the largest ever.

While the Portland Bureau of Transportation did another stellar job on the event, I think even they’d give most of the credit for today’s turnout to mother nature. The sun showed up in perfect form for a city that has been waiting for summer to start since, well, last summer.

Today’s Sunday Parkways, which offered Portlanders a mostly carfree loop of streets to pedal and walk on from Peninsula Park to New Columbia, saw tens of thousands of people enjoy activities in the parks, food and wares from local vendors, and much more.

The thing that stood out for me today was the ethnic diversity of participants.

On other small note; the route on N. Willamette which put two directions of Parkways traffic on the southern half of the street. PBOT is working on improving bike access on Willamette and that arrangement is similar to what some in the community think would be a good solution so it was interesting to have a test-run. Cars were still permitted to travel westbound in the northern lane. I heard one “old guy in a Camaro” did not heed to police warnings and drove eastbound in the lane, only to be pulled from his car and arrested. Another man I heard I from via Twitter said, “Willamette not fun today. Cars fast. Too many bikes for two ways especially with young riders.”

I don’t want to overstate the Willamette situation. When I rode on it with my family, it was fine.

Congratulations PBOT! I think today showed Sunday Parkways — and our beautiful city — at it’s full and glorious potential and we owe PBOT (and the volunteers, police and title sponsor Kaiser Permanente) a lot for making it happen.

How was they day for you? Please share your experiences in the comments and have a look at more of my photos…

Sunday Parkways North 2011-6-5

Sunday Parkways North 2011-24-23

Sunday Parkways North 2011-44-43

Sunday Parkways North 2011-60-59

Sunday Parkways North 2011-79-78

More photos in the gallery.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

59 Comments
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    dmc June 26, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Wow… This was amazing. I have never been to a bicycle event of this caliber. I am very happy that I was there to witness it.

    Happy birthday to the little girl with the balloons five pictures down. We had a little chat while waiting at an intersection. She seemed quite ambitious to do the complete loop 🙂

    I aced the easy route of the NW Trail Alliance bike skills track on my second try at Kenton park. lol… it was a blast. I think there were a lot of adults/parents watching that wanted to try it but were too skerd. *coughs* my girlfriend *coughs*. ahahahaha

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      Bob June 26, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      Yes! Looks like alot of fun. I like the girl with the bike with the pink flowers (carnations and roses?) at picture number 10. You all are very lucky to have such fun! Have an awesome summer!

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    Justin Morton June 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    I live on Woolsey right down the street from Columbia Park, and there was throngs of bicyclists all day long. It was non-stop. And great. The street getting into Kenton Park was literally a bicycle traffic jam at some points. Never seen anything like it before. Wonderful event.

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    Carl June 26, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    It was my first Sunday Parkways, and I had a fantastic time with my daughter. The whole thing seemed well planned and smoothly run. The stops were fun, the food was great, the music and activities were fun. It strikes me as the quintessential Portland experience.

    One point of feedback: It seems like they should designate the route as either clockwise or counterclockwise. With so many people, it got pretty congested for two way traffic at certain points.

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    Chris Smith June 26, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Another tremendous event!

    I would agree that Willamette was the least fun part of the ride, but certainly not horrible.

    But I would point out another issue that I think we need to put some thought into. I saw a couple of minor crashes, and both involved young children who either couldn’t hold a line or stopped suddenly. Last year when I was an intersection volunteer the only issue at my intersection was also due to a young rider having trouble riding in a consistent way.

    The participation of our youngest riders is one of the best features of these events. But I wonder if we can think of some ways to keep them, and the people riding around them, safer?

    The good news is that speeds are slow enough that none of the crashes I saw resulted in any real injury.

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      Chris I June 26, 2011 at 9:46 pm

      What if they had a smaller loop within the ride for families with young children. When they are that small, they can’t make the entire loop anyway. I’m sure the parents would appreciate having a quieter safer place for their small children to try riding.

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        Alan 1.0 June 26, 2011 at 11:05 pm

        My closest Sunday Parkways call (not this time) was a kid about 10 who nearly rear-ended SO’s trike, parked at the curb. I got lucky and caught her bars to slow & steady her to a non-impact stop or it might have been painful. The point is, it’s not just the youngest riders who are unpredictable. Greg has it right: everyone at these mass events needs to ride super defensively and slowly, and be alert even when you’re stopped along the street.

        BTW, my favorite picture is that lady on her double S-tube Schwinn, with its wonderful patina of years of use.

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        beth h June 27, 2011 at 11:02 am

        Adding additional street closures to the alread-desognated ones would further tax an already-understaffed volunteer force. I was a roving mechanic yesterday and was shocked at the number of unguarded intersections that were blocked with white barriers and left unattended, a clear sign of a lack of sufficient volunteer numbers for an incresingly popular event.

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      Greg June 26, 2011 at 10:21 pm

      Chris to your last point about young people riding erratically, I would love to hear any suggestions from parents. I ride everywhere with my kids. We constantly talk about the rules of the road and straight lines; and yet my son nearly caused a crash when he turned around to get his Pilots flag that he dropped.
      I think we’re in a pickle with this one and just need to treat them like bad drivers, we should all ride defensively at these events.

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        dmc June 27, 2011 at 3:54 am

        Absolutely Greg. I couldn’t be more happy to say that I witnessed 100% defensive driving today. My <3 melts because of it. I saw the chillens do some things that chillens do, but they were surrounded by older children, teenagers and adults that were driving defensively and in a manner that sets a great example. It's a great environment to let the little ones learn first hand.

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        spare_wheel June 27, 2011 at 8:13 am

        I saw many young riders who had a hard time holding a line. I personally saw a child crash into a parked car and get scraped up.

        Parents, what were you thinking?

        There is a reason kids were banned from longer rides on the bridge pedal. We need a separate time slot for young children who are simply not able to ride their bikes in a thick crowd of adult riders. This can even be voluntary. I personally would do my utmost to avoid a “kiddie hour”.

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          Andy June 27, 2011 at 10:29 am

          I had the same problem with adult riders though. I saw more jolts and abrupt stops from unaware adult riders than kids. To be fair, my 4 year old swerved some, but we kept her away from the big crowds. The closed streets really made her feel comfortable riding.

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            q`Tzal June 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm

            Chicken and the egg problem.
            Most of the adults and children that were riding poorly were the sort that would be in PBOT’s “scared $#!*less” category. The only way the will get confident road riding skills is in a closed traffic environment.

            We, the skilled, should expect and encourage the unskilled to exibit their lack of skill in a social dynamic where they are the majority and thus comfortable.

            Might want to bribe a few extra EMS to volunteer though.

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      spare_wheel June 27, 2011 at 7:53 am

      I was hit by a young girl who swung very wide at a turn. No one was injured but I did get a nice scratch on my down tube. There was absolutely no evidence of any parental supervision. I also saw kids chewing up flower beds on their full suspension mountain bikes.

      Bridge pedal lite.

      I felt bad for the few pedestrians and runners who were swarmed by cyclists at bottlenecks. This cannot have been pleasant. I think its time to stop pretending that these events are in any way pedestrian friendly.

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        Kim June 27, 2011 at 9:08 am

        Couldn’t agree more!!! Maybe they should be called Portland Sunday Bikeways. The first year was tolerable, but still not that fun for pedestrians. After that, we stopped walking it, period.

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        rider June 27, 2011 at 9:21 am

        Why didn’t you just bunny hop her?

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        eli bishop June 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm

        totally agree: maybe there could be a separate walking section like at bridgepedal? there were relatively few walkers, but they didn’t look like they were having a good time, and nobody would stop for them at intersections. 🙁

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    Steve Hoyt-McBeth June 26, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Major shout-out to everyone who volunteered! Volunteers are really needed for the other events!!! (You can sign up at http://www.portlandsundayparkways.org)

    Great photos Jonathan. I rode from our house in Sabin over to work the info booth at Kenton Park and I was blown away by how thick the stream of bicyclists was on Ainsworth and onward to Kenton.

    Last year I recalled Kenton being fairly light with traffic but the vendors all told me they had huge days. It was just a wonderful way to kick off the summer.

    As I was riding I was thinking about the first Sunday Parkways in June 2008 and in the morning when we started (I believe the route opened at 8am) it was drizzly and pretty sparsely attended and I had a pit in stomach like ‘this will be our first and last Sunday Parkways’ and then of course folks came out in droves after a couple of hours. I remember the next day and everyone was just giddy with what had happened. It feels so good that something like Sunday Parkways is a Portland institution.

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    Jene-Paul June 26, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Great pix, Jonathan!

    Looks like it was another great rolling Portland party. How can non-cyclists see this and not acknowledge the value of bikes & community?

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    G. Tyler June 26, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Such a difference between the East and today’s even, so many more people, better weather and many more vendors.

    Took my MIL who was from out of town to volunteer with me in the morning and then did the loop, she had a blast. The Sunday Parkways volunteer T-shirt she got made a great souvenir for her visit. Yes, there were some erratic kids on bikes but plenty of room to give them space or to pass them safely.

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    Tom Kloster June 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Nice report, Jonathan! Great pics, too — a nice cross-section of North Portland along for the ride! I was out of town for this event, but would have liked to see how the partial closure on Willamette worked.

    That said, I’m scratching my head a bit that Willamette was left partially open. It seems like a full closure would be more in the spirit of Sunday Parkways, and there’s a long tradition of closing it for other events (notably, the Portland Marathon). Seems to work fine, and in the 19 years we’ve lived on Willamette, we’ve never heard of (or experienced) any major traffic issues on Lombard resulting from an event closure on Willamette.

    Maybe a full closure next time, PBOT?

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    Kirsty June 26, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    It was also lovely to see so many friendly police officers at junctions smiling and waving to all the cyclists too!

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    Paula June 26, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    This was the first time I have done the North PDX version and had a great time! I agree, the Willamette Blvd section was tough as I was going east. With the bike lane line, it basically created a wide west bound and narrow east bound lane configuration. Super weather and awesome to see so many people out.

    Big thanks to all!

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    eli bishop June 26, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    what perfect weather! i didn’t like the willamette 2-way, though.

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    Matthew Arnold June 26, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Even with the Willamette bottleneck and the under-supply of restrooms, Sunday Parkways always reminds me that we might live in a civil society after all.

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    e June 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    We visited from SF and had a great time!

    One question: Why were there so many parked cars in the street?

    It seemed like in a lot of places the full width of the road was needed. Plus wouldn’t drivers prefer to have their cars on an adjacent street so they can come and go as they please?

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      beth h June 27, 2011 at 11:08 am

      “One question: Why were there so many parked cars in the street?”

      Because getting people to give up their “right” to on-street parking, even for one day, is tantamount to inciting a near-riot.

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        MIddle of the Road Guy June 28, 2011 at 10:18 pm

        many of them didn’t know, also.

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    Hart Noecker June 27, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Didn’t do the whole rout this year due to having to make it to the Vegan Pride Ride, but todays Sunday Parkways was dope. Only downside was confronting the dude working PR at the pro-CRC booth. Not the best interaction. I definitely had some words for this corporate shill.

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    Scott Mizée June 27, 2011 at 1:37 am

    I loved the new extended route on Willamette this year! Although fully opening the entire width of the road to people walking and biking would be a big improvement. As Tom mentioned above, there is a long standing tradition of closing Willamette for events. Those of us that live in the neighborhood are used to finding a different route on Sunday mornings. Next time, lets just re-route all the cars to Lombard.

    I also really enjoyed all the little sandwich boards throughout the route with the encouraging photo scenes on them.

    I can’t believe this is already the 4th year! It is every bit as good as it was the first year in North Portland. Huge Thank You’s to everyone involved!

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      Jim Labbe June 27, 2011 at 10:42 am

      Yeah… biking Willamette Blvd was the tops!

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    Jason June 27, 2011 at 2:43 am

    I wished the route went on side streets rather than 2 way on Willamette. That stretch was totally out of place for a Sunday Parkways event.
    It was a great route otherwise, I saw places of Portland I’ve never seen before and had a blast. MOAR!

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    dmc June 27, 2011 at 3:25 am

    I have no clue. I don’t think they do. 🙂

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    Susan Hayden June 27, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Thanks to PDOT, all the volunteers, vendors and donors, and the original implementers for a wonderful day. This Sunday Parkways, John B. and I were with family and grandkids riding for the first time. The grandkids rode in a beautiful rented Nihola trike from Clever Cycles in great style. Family just moved from Denver, and enjoyed the beautiful parks and energy of the day. Yes, let’s keep coming up with suggestions for new and small riders to have an enjoyable and safe time.
    Here’s to wonderful Sunday Parkways to come!

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    NWKidchaser June 27, 2011 at 8:28 am

    What a great event! We drove from Salem to participate and loved every minute of it. My hat goes off to Portland for holding such a family-friendly, health/active event! While W Blvd. was my least favorite part of the route – I did appreciate the view as well as the volunteers along the way who helped things go smoothly. My six year old rode the whole loop with ease (and then took a deep-sleep all the way home in the car).
    While some ‘young riders’ are a hazard – the benefits of having the whole community together outweighs the negatives. Children who are embraced learn from the interaction – those put-to-the-side miss out on added learning. Truth be told: I saw just as many adults hazards (stopping mid-stream and passing too close). That’s the nature of a large mass of humanity. My apologies to any innocents hurt in a crash. May we all learn to be better neighbors/bikers in the future

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    .matthew June 27, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Yesterday was another example of why I love Portland so much.

    I participated in my first Sunday Parkways to assist my son with his Lids-4-Kids program at the Northwest Trails Alliance booth in Kenton Park. Delivering the helmets via cargo bike was a lot of fun. The Nutcase Helmets were very popular and we ran through them quickly. I look forward to the next Sunday Parkways.

    Thanks to all the volunteers, the Police Dept, and to the fine families of Portland.

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    dan June 27, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Props to the many police officers who directed heavy traffic so cheerfully. That said, I feel like Sunday Parkways tend to marginalize cycling as a transportation methodology and push people to put it in the toy/recreation/special non-everyday event category.

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      middle of the road guy June 27, 2011 at 10:14 am

      So what?

      maybe some people like it that way.

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      el timito June 27, 2011 at 11:14 am

      You’ve heard the term “gateway drug”?
      Most people don’t start out as transportation cyclists by commuting to work – they start out by doing fun rides, and then realizing that, Hey – 8 miles isn’t that hard on a bike!
      There’s a reason PBOT is the sponsor of this event.
      Sunday Parkways every day!

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    esther c June 27, 2011 at 10:10 am

    When you’ve got 4 hours to do 8 miles you can do it at pretty much walking speed on your bike so slow down and let the kids enjoy themselves. I saw a few lycra clad riders riding like they were training and my thought was what is the point of that in this crowd, it had to be frustrating as all get out.

    I thought the whole point of Parkways was that its a safe environment for families and kids to be out on the streets so lets keep it a safe environment for them and slow down. If the route is too long for anyone they can just ride 1/2 as far as they want to and turn around, that’s the beauty of a two way route. Older kids love the satisfaction of completing the loop.

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    are June 27, 2011 at 10:12 am

    there already is an event for kids and people who are not used to handling bikes on streets, and it’s called — wait for it — sunday parkways. this is an event, not a loop or a route or a ride or however you want to call it. the only reason there is an extended route is so everyone isn’t jammed up in the same place, and so it you wanted to go see the ice cream lady you could get there without encountering cars and get back to where you started without retracing your exact route. if you want to go faster than, say, three or four miles an hour, there is the whole rest of the city. a true cyclovia would close an entire section of town to motor traffic, not just a corridor with crossing guards. but it still would not be a place where you should expect to not have to watch out for children and incompetents. how you gonna get these people out on bikes if you don’t give them a safe space to do it in.

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    esther c June 27, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Exactly are. If riding at a snails past, and avoiding kids isn’t your thing then Sunday Parkways probably isn’t for you. I’m not a mom but I love watching the kids out there on their bikes learning how much fun it can be.

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    middle of the road guy June 27, 2011 at 10:20 am

    This is the third time I have volunteered for Sunday Parkways. As a Kaiser employee we are encouraged to do so.

    Sorry I did not have a chance to ride it though – I was just stunned by the turnout compared to other SP rides.

    My only issue with my intersection/corner was with those taking turns too sharply around corners and cutting other people off. It’s a joy ride, not a criterium.

    All in all, I though riders were VERY well behaved and most of the kids performed better than I had hoped for.

    Finally, thanks to all the people who thanked the volunteers when they passed us – it really makes it worth it.

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    SV June 27, 2011 at 10:55 am

    To put kids or slow people or people new to bikes or people who suck on bikes in some other lane or timeslot is totally the opposite of what I understand Parkways to be about. BTW its not just about bikes. Its not Portland Bikeways. You can walk, skate, roll, jump, skip, juggle, meander, whatever. And stop using the cry of “safety” to get your way. Out of the sea of humanity who participated, a few crashes or near misses is pretty damn good and doesn’t warrant a “change” to a perfectly awesome thing.

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    Andrew Berkowitz June 27, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Awesome ride! Thanks so much to all of the volunteers.

    I was shocked by the number of riders without helmets. A surprising number of people seem to think that a cowboy hat is adequate head protection. Insert your own joke here.

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    roger noehren June 27, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I was stationed on the section of Willamette Blvd that was open to cars and wondered why it was. It worked, but the festive atmosphere of the rest of the route was definitely toned down.
    I think two way bike traffic is right, because as you’re riding along, you see all the other participants (well half of them) going the other way. If everyone were going in the same direction, you’d only see the people around you (from behind) or those that were stopped. You’d miss all the smiles! You’d also miss seeing all the different styles of bike and the costumes etc.
    I was very impressed by all the young children, some with training wheels, happily (for the most part, although some were tuckered out) riding the route. I saw a few ride into the curb and fall over, dust them selves off and get right back on their bikes for more.

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    beth h June 27, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I enjoyed volunteering for my fourth season of Parkways yesterday as a roving mechanic. There were actually many more people to help this year (a sure sign of growth, IMHO), and everyone was gracious, kind and friendly on and off the bike.

    Sunday Parkways has grown in its four-year lifespan. But does growth symbolize Parkways as a vision, or simply as an event? If the former, a great deal still needs to be done:

    a. More people need to sign up to volunteer. I was shocked at the number of intersections I saw that were blocked but not staffed, and in several instances locals tried to drive right through these unstaffed barriers onto the route with their cars. Parkways cannot grow without much MUCH more people-power behind it. (Maybe it needs to grow its workforce into paid positions like Bogota’s Ciclovia?)

    b. On-street parking needs to be absolutely BANNED for the duration of the event. Have City Council make it a law if necessary, but for one lousy day a year, people living along a select Parkways route can stand to move their cars for five hours.

    c. Money needs to be raised on more than a private-sector, voluntary donation basis. It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on Sunday Parkways. Consider steering a portion of car-related tax revenues towards Parkways so that car drivers continue to get the message that there are better ways to make the shortest trips in our city.

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      metropoliscycles June 27, 2011 at 12:49 pm

      Vendors and volunteers also need to be more strongly discouraged from parking on the course. Many of the vehicles parked on Kerby next to Peninsula park belonged to people working the event.

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    Lisa C June 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I love love love Sunday Parkways. I love chilling out on my bike riding 4 mph and _gently_ dinging my bell as I come up along a wobbly kid and watching them straighten up their line and become a better rider. I love riding slow enough that I can view people’s gardens along the route. I love that it’s two way traffic for all the extra people watching. I love checking out a multitude of bikes. I hope that joggers/walkers still had enough room, the congestion in certain areas was crazy and I really wouldn’t want SP to become just another bike event.

    I was a part of the course set up and had lots of people in New Columbia ask what was going on. What a treat to tell kids that today was a day when you get to ride your bike/scooter/whatever in the street with no cars anywhere!

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    Michweek June 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I’m so bummed I missed out!!! I’m glad it was awesome for all those able to enjoy it. I hope I’m in town for the July Sunday Parkways.

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    Cat June 27, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I love Sunday Parkways as well! And I think this is the perfect kind of event for everyone who is getting more confident (big and little). I really enjoy the two way traffic, the ebbs and flows of congestion, and the big smiles! I have to remind myself to relax and go slow — watch out for wobblies — but then I feel super tough when I open up and ride with car traffic getting home.

    I rode Willamette twice b/c I love the views, and the one lane was a bit goofy.

    I do think it’s becoming an event for folks with wheels. I have tried to walk them in past years, and have ended up more as an audience member (which is fun!) than a participant.

    I’ll work on becoming a volunteer!

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    Steve-O June 27, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Still no coverage in the print Oregonian or oregonlive.com. What gives Joseph Rose?

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    chickie June 27, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I commute by bike all year long and do other bike events that require speed. I look forward to SP because I can ditch the lycra, slow down and enjoy the neighborhoods and people. What a great event to get people out of their houses, meet their neighbors, and perhaps discover an alternative to their car. I smiled all day long!

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    encephalopath June 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Interesting with how big the event was this year, the local media appears to have almost entirely ignored it. Not much at all on the local news sites, broadcast or print.

    It was popular, went well, and was generally appreciated… didn’t fit standard bike v car meme, I guess, so they didn’t know what to say.

    I love to see all the children on the ride. It really shows how much the kids are sequestered away out of fear of the automobile. We don’t often see how many children there really are in our own neighborhoods. With the predators gone, kids are free to move about in public.

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    Scott Mizée June 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    There was this one article in the Oregonian today:
    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/06/first_experience_at_sunday_par.html

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      steve-o June 27, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      The new attendance record should have been an easy choice for a front page article with in-depth coverage. Oh well, thank goodness for blogs.

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    jim June 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    When I got to willamette where the cars were it was uncertain if I should stay in the coned off area or cross over to the bike lanes across the street. As it turned out people did it both ways. There was a kid trailer that rolled over at the intersection there where bikes were trying to cross the traffic lanes to get to the bike lanes. Luckily it had a good roll bar and nobody was hurt

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    mmann June 28, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Had a blast with my girls. Big-time crowds. I was nervous for my 10-year old in the close quarters in some sections, but she handled the “peloton” like a pro. The only wreck I saw was on Willamette, riders heading opposite directions collided – nothing serious, but I post it so PDOT gets the message that there probably wasn’t enough room for the bikes/walkers there, or being right next to the cars was nerve-wracking for some.

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