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

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.”

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