Vancouver readies for first carfree, ‘open streets’ event

Sunday Streets Alive website.

This article was written by our Vancouver contributor Madeleine von Laue.

Vancouver residents won’t have to cross the I-5 bridge to participate in a Sunday Parkways event this summer, nor will runners or skaters or anyone else; the City of Vancouver’s very own first Sunday Streets Alive will spin to life August 18, bringing fun and frolicking to approximately four miles of streets through downtown and adjacent neighborhoods.

“This is more than an event. We want it to be a movement.”
— Tricia Mortell, Clark County Public Health

“I’m so excited to see this event come together,” said Eric Giacchino, president of Bike Clark County. “Events like these are great for families and the host neighborhoods they travel through; each one takes on its own unique identity. Of course you could always travel to participate in someone else’s event, but Sunday Streets Alive keeps it local and provides an opportunity for new people to try it out.”

The event will feel a lot like Portland’s Sunday Parkways. Participants will be able to walk, run, skate (and bike, of course) along the 4.2 mile route, exploring downtown Vancouver, Uptown Village, the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and Officer’s Row as well as Clark College and the Marshall Center. The event will be from 11 am to 4 pm; participants can jump in whenever and wherever they want.

The route is just a few blocks north of the Columbia River, making it very accessible for Portlanders.

Six programming stations along the route will sport a wide range of activities, including obstacle courses, circus classes, Zumba, pet shows, juggling, stilt walking and disc golf. And of course music. Food booths and vendors will set up along the streets, and organizers are encouraging more organic activities such as neighborhood garage sales and lemonade stands. “Sunday Streets Alive is a great opportunity for people to see what opportunities there are for being active in our community,” said Clark County planner, Laurie Lebowsky.

It’s also a great opportunity for a first time visit to Vancouver. In addition to the sites and neighborhoods listed above, the route goes by the award winning Fort Vancouver Regional Library, a lively play structure at Marshall Center, and the acclaimed Esther Short Park, the oldest park in Washington, with its bustling Farmers’ Market.

For folks coming from Portland, the route and one of the activity centers are just a short five blocks from the I-5 bridge. Vancouver is also accessible by public transportation; the yellow line Max stop at Delta park has a C-TRAN bus connection to downtown Vancouver.

SSA is presented by Kaiser Permanente in partnership with the City of Vancouver, Bike Clark County, Clark County, Clark County Public Health, and the Destination Downtown program. Organizers hope the event will become an annual happening in Vancouver and would like to see other communities in Clark County launch their own open street events. “This is more than an event,” Tricia Mortell, an event organizer and program manager for Clark County Public Health said. “We want it to be a movement.”

Organizers are also putting out a call for volunteers. “Volunteers are the backbone of Sunday Streets Alive,” said Jenny Jasinski. “We need over 300 volunteers to make this event a smashing success. One of our greatest needs is for Intersection Superheros. Stationed at every intersection along the route, Intersection Superheros will fill a very important role by helping re-route vehicles as needed, help residents access their homes, and encourage participants to have a good time, all the while having fun themselves!”

To find out how to volunteer or get more information about the event, visit

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10 years ago

Will Vancouver’s friendly helmet laws be enforced?

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
10 years ago

After spending a little time in downtown Vancouver this weekend, I have to change my feelings about “Vantucky”. I was there during the Farmers Market in Esther Short Park. Obviously a lot of effort has gone in to enlivening the downtown area. A lot of trees, good crosswalks, etc. (Didn’t study the bike facilities). Heck, there’s even high density housing around the park! A friend and I walked from Esther Short, down Columbia and across the Interstate Bridge just for the heck of it. (Passed a brewpub on the way, too!)It’s an easy walk, and fairly pleasant. This Sunday event is further evidence that there’s certainly a movement to improve the non-auto environment in Vancouver.

It seems that we in Portland are tarring Vancouver with the same brush rightly, I would guess, reserved for it’s suburbs. Like many places, I’d wager that the suburban vote outweighs the old city residents. In Portland, the inner streetcar neighborhoods are a larger percentage of the vote, so the values of those folks predominate. In Vancouver, I would guess that the older neighborhoods are outvoted by the suburbs.

Something to keep in mind, if my superficial assessment is true!

Chris I
Chris I
10 years ago
Reply to  Doug Klotz

I think most Portlanders (at least those of us that grew up here) know that downtown Vancouver is a decent place. It’s the sprawling housing developments and strip malls in the rest of Clark County that earn “Vantucky” its reputation. It would be great if we had a light rail/pedestrian bridge that connected to downtown Vancouver, similar to the new one in Portland. The light rail should stop there, though. No need to waste money running it out to sprawling park and rides for the rest of Vancouver…

Paul in the 'couve
Paul in the 'couve
10 years ago

Thanks to all those getting this off the ground for year 1! It is a great route. I hope many cyclists from PDX and other interested people come out and visit us in Vancouver.