The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

City counts record 31,600 people at North Portland Sunday Parkways

Posted by on June 27th, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Sunday Parkways North 2011-37-36

Record crowds.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Last night I went out on a limb and said the North Portland Sunday Parkways was the largest ever. Well, turns out that it wasn’t much of a limb.

According to PBOT’s official count, an estimated 31,600 people were at the event yesterday.

Linda Ginenthal, a Program Manager for the Transportation Options Division within PBOT said she did the number twice, just to make sure they weren’t mistaken. “But this is the real number,” she exclaimed via email a few minutes ago, “This is amazing! Wahoo!”

I asked Ginenthal how they do the counts and here’s what she said:

“We have our Superhero Volunteers count at 7 intersections spread out throughout the route for 10 minutes on the 1/2 hour. That gives us information for 4 of the 5 hours (11:30, 12:30, 2:30 and 3:30). I then estimate 1:30pm by adding up the 12:30 and 2:30 numbers and dividing by 2. This is a low estimate because 1:30 is our peak, but I like to err on the side of a conservative number.

With that I have 5 hours of 10 minute counts. I multiply that number by 6 for the 60 minutes. I add these counts up for a grand total. I make one more assumption that we count everyone twice – so I divide this number in half for our participation estimate. Twice is because participants are there for about 2 to 3 hours. The counts are spread out far enough mileage-wise which also cuts down on the triple counts.

We miss some people altogether. But generally we are pretty solid with our counts.”

For comparison, Ginenthal said they counted just 19,000 people at this same event last year.

It’s amazing what some great weather will do, but you shouldn’t chalk this up to simply sunshine. PBOT staff has worked incredibly hard in the neighborhoods where the routes go through to spread the word and sell the benefits of this event. This is also likely a word-of-mouth phenomenon as this is the fourth year in a row that Sunday Parkways has gone through North Portland.

This is great news for PBOT as it should make their search for continued City Council support and sponsorship of the event that much easier.

Speaking of sponsors. Kaiser Permanente is the title supporter of the event and they couldn’t be happier with Sunday’s turnout.

Dan Field, head of Community Benefit for Kaiser Permanente Northwest tells us, “The partnership with the city is working out great. And when you look at the goals we have for Sunday Parkways: helping to increase physical activity for Portland residents, re-orient folks to use bikes instead of cars for transportation, and reach out to a diverse population with that health message, we hit them all in North Portland on Sunday.”

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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Fix On Your Bike June 27, 2011 at 5:28 pm


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Toby June 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    That’s a pretty big increase from last year. Wonder how it compares to other locations?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Hart Noecker June 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Yeah, and most of them drove their bikes there inside their car.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Paul Manson June 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      Who cares? A new rider needs to learn how to ease into the mainstream. All are welcome!

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm


      Why would you say something like that? I’d delete it without a thought but you’re a somewhat frequent commenter.

      Yes, there are some people who drive to participate in the event. “Most of them” is not even close to accurate.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Joe Adamski June 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm

      Yeah, some did. We are all at different stages of development. Sunday Parkways may be the introduction to new possibilities.
      I drove my car to volunteer at Yellow Bikes initially. I could justify ( distance, time,etc) but the experience put some ideas in my noggin and I saw new possibilities. So those that drove may be where I once was. Welcome.
      ps: one of the aspects of the cycling community,at least at that time/place was its inclusiveness. I believe we still have a good deal of that quality. I would hate to lose it.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • kerry June 28, 2011 at 8:32 am

      Given the amount of wobbly toddlers out there, I should *hope* many families drove their bikes there!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Forseti June 28, 2011 at 9:12 am

      I just happened to be staying Saturday night at a house on Willamette Blvd that was 2 blocks from the route. I sat on the porch for over an hour on Sunday morning drinking coffee. There were a few people who parked cars along Willamette, got out bikes, and started riding. But there was a huge stream of people riding bikes along Willamette to access the course. And that convinces me that most people rode their bikes to the event.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • middle of the road guy June 28, 2011 at 9:56 am

      hart, I know a couple of people who drove in from the suburbs (and even Eugene) for this. So what? I suspect some of the vendors drove there also. BFD. This was about getting out and having a good time on a bike. Stop being such a snob. Who cares how the got there……just as long as they took part in it.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • asagoducks June 28, 2011 at 11:54 am

      Sorry if I drove the 10+ miles there and offended you. Get over yourself – this event is about having a fun day and seeing new areas by bike.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • 9watts June 28, 2011 at 12:05 pm


        with all due respect, there’s a little more to Sunday Parkways than ‘having a fun day’. From the PBOT website:
        “Portland Sunday Parkways is about connecting neighborhoods and people: walkers, runners, bicyclists, seniors, adults, and children all enjoying streets filled with surprises, performers, physical activities and food – and traffic-free.”

        While I am happy folks came from all over and participated, it is hard to ignore the irony of driving to attend an event that is about experiencing, acting out the absence of car traffic.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • 9watts June 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm

          For a little historical perspective, In the Fall of 1973 Germany closed the entire country to car traffic on four consecutive Sundays in November and December. The only exceptions allowed to drive were doctors, taxis, and produce deliverers.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

        • middle of the road guy June 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm

          Even more ironic is the fact that the bike and parts you ride were delivered by a truck.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • 9watts June 28, 2011 at 4:17 pm

            what a clever comeback, dude.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

    • ron June 29, 2011 at 8:40 am

      Nice insight. Please share more of your brilliance for the rest of us. Please?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Brian June 29, 2011 at 10:21 pm

      My wife and I took the MAX from Beaverton. We also used the MAX to get to the Parkways East last month.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • 9watts June 27, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Hm. Travel across the existing I-5 bridge is dropping relative to CRC projections; Sunday Parkways participation is up, way up, relative to projections.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paula June 27, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Hart Noecker
    Yeah, and most of them drove their bikes there inside their car.

    Would be interesting to know how many did drive to the event. Personally, I biked from the Mt. Tabor area. Wasn’t that far and it was an awesomely beautiful day.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • matt picio June 27, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Congratulations to Linda, her staff, and the countless volunteers that made this event happen – Sunday Parkways is really taking off, and it’s great to see the city not only continue the event and expand it, but also to continue to find ways to support and promote it. Job well-done, folks!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • RC June 27, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I biked about 9 miles one way to get to the event. As I got closer more and more bikes were on the same path. I saw a few people getting bikes out of cars, but far more were riding to the event.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jason Brune June 27, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    It was a great community building event no matter how one got there.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ted Buehler June 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Great work PBOT and volunteers!

    At the Bike Temple’s corner (N Ainsworth and Delaware) we had a steady stream of bicyclists and walkers all day long. I only recall one time when we could look for a block in both directions and not see anyone.

    It was a great event, and many of these people are now well positioned to become regular bicyclists, thanks to Sunday Parkways.

    Ted Buehler

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ted Buehler June 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    At the “Sunday Parkways” tables at each of the main parks they have comment cards for feedback. I suggested that next year they close Willamette Blvd going in both directions so people can stop and enjoy the views.

    I’d suggest that everyone fill out a comment card at future parkway events, if nothing else to give them a written note of appreciation.

    Ted Buehler

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • jim June 27, 2011 at 11:59 pm

      I allways thought they should make a jogging path along the bluff

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe Rowe June 27, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    31,000 people who vote with their wheels if our society gives them a safe space. Think of the potential if bike and buses had more of the road and more equitable funding.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ben June 28, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Excellent…. thats a good healthy amount of people.,…nice!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Erinne June 28, 2011 at 8:46 am

    That’s amazing. That’s over 5% of the population of Portland! Glad I got to be a part of it!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • A.K. June 28, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I think it’s awesome that so many people showed up. Sure, it would be nice if it were truly a “car-free” event and no one drove to be there, but that’s just not realistic considering the type of people that this event is aimed at.

    Not everyone has biked across the city, or has the stamina to do so, and they may have little kids with them that would be unable to make the trip, do the loop, than bike all the way back home.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • middle of the road guy June 28, 2011 at 9:58 am

      Not to mention all of the vendors.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mmann June 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

    I rode to the event from east of Tabor with my 2 daughters. The 10-year old rode the whole way & back for a total of about 24 miles – her longest ride to date. The 5-year old was on the tag-a-long. Both were still smiling at the end of the day. Saw a lot of “car-toppers” loading up after 4, but I agree; at least they participated. I would encourage others to make a day of it and try to ride to future events.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • 9watts June 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

    “The 10-year old rode the whole way & back for a total of about 24 miles – her longest ride to date.” Hats off to you and your daughters!
    About the folks who drove there, well when gas becomes too expensive perhaps they’ll remember that most of the folks at the North Portland Sunday Parkways were on bikes, got there without the aid of a car, and they’ll know what to do.

    Not everyone biked to the naked bike ride naked. Some took their clothes off once they got there.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • middle of the road guy June 28, 2011 at 10:00 am

      there will always be people who can afford it.

      Not like you have any idea of what these people did afterwards. Maybe they were trip chaining or had to buy large items. Stop being a judgmental d-bag and accept that other people have other values than you and they are equal.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • PDXbiker June 28, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I personally know of an extended family and friends , 21 total , that all drove in together with a pickup truck and trailer full of bikes. All from Hillsboro. Just as the popularity of the Bridge Pedal has attracted many from out of Portland, Sunday Parkways is beginning to do the same. They participated, had a great time, and hopefully left with a greater awareness of how a bicycle can be more of a viable transportation alternative. Who cares how they got there.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • A.K. June 28, 2011 at 10:20 am

      Yes – the thing I hope most of all is that people who don’t normally bike but take part in a Sunday Parkways event is that they gain empathy for people who are out there on bikes when they are back to driving – maybe they’ll leave a bit more room when passing, or not honk at someone “holding up traffic” as they try and make a left turn. Nothing is better than “walking a mile in someones shoes” (as it were) to build understanding.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • FrenchieinPDX June 28, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Me and my husband rode our bikes from SE Portland and met up with our friends and their children in NE. It was a wonderful event. Lots of people and bikes of all sizes, shapes. Enjoyed the route and discovering parks I had never been to. Well done. Can’t wait for the next event in SE this time.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • roger noehren June 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    the Oregonian virtually ignored this event (after the fact) and the photo makes it look as though there was a paltry turnout:
    they did post bikeportlands’ excellent feature however.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • dmc June 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      lol roger. That picture does make the event look kind of weak. I was thinking about photo shopping the lady in the rascal chair and putting her in a barren salt flat in the middle of a desert somewhere and sending it back to the oregonian.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Liz June 28, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I biked up with a friend and had a blast!

    I do agree with others above however that biking to the event is not for everyone. It’s not even so much a matter of distance.

    Honestly? If I had a young family for instance, I would not feel one iota safe biking to north Portland, even on our bike boulevards. Despite a few tokenistic traffic calming measures once in a while, streets like SE Ankeny, & SE 41st still carry FAR too much auto traffic for a two year old to feel at all safe on a bike.

    That’s the reason Sunday Parkways is so successful, after all. There’s NO traffic on the streets. If only we could mimic that kind of environment on our bike boulevards, perhaps we would achieve that kind of bicycle critical mass seen at Sunday Parkways on THEM, too.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Paul Manson June 28, 2011 at 11:19 pm

      Spot on!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • J_R June 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    My family and I participated, riding from SE Portland. I like that it helps get people out and introduced us so some parts of Portland with which I’m not very familiar. It was nice to have the help from all the volunteers and the PPB.

    The methodology for estimating participants needs some work. I’m afraid there are some flaws in the methodogy. I’m hoping for a return call from Linda.

    Whatever the actual numbers, I hope it keeps going and becomes a more frequent series of events. Participation is so much better than observing.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • dmc June 29, 2011 at 8:40 am

    These are the reasons why I do not waste my time reading and posting on certain issues.

    Recommended Thumb up 0