Sauvie Island farm will offer free auto parking for island bike riders

(Photo courtesy Bella Organic)

Sauvie Island farm Bella Organic has started a program it says aims to reduce miles driven in the rural area northwest of Portland: it’s offering free auto parking to anyone driving to the island for a recreational bike ride. The owner of the company is also encouraging anyone who rides a bike on the island to use their parking lot and farm store as a rest stop.

“We’ve had lots of customers tell us, ‘We wish there was more parking out here and it were more accessible,'” farm owner Sofia Kondilis-Hashem said Tuesday.

The island already has a small, free lot near the Sauvie Island Bridge that Kondilis-Hashem said is sometimes targeted by car prowlers. Bella Organic, meanwhile, has room for 100 cars to serve its u-pick berry and pumpkin farm and produce store about 1.5 miles from the bridge. Kondilis-Hashem said it only ever fills up on a few October weekends, and the farm wants to put the space to better use.

“The parking other than that is way down in the back of the island and it’s kind of scary,” Kondilis-Hashem said. “It’s not exactly easy for people to get to.”

Because Kondilis-Hashem and her family don’t live on site, the offer applies only during the farm’s operating hours, which are 9 am to 6 pm from June to September. The farm is also open on October weekends, but Sofia Kondilis-Hashem said she can’t offer parking then because the lot is so busy.

Services for bike riders are also hard to come by on Sauvie Island. There’s a portable toilet in the main parking lot near the bridge, but it’s locked and only usable by TriMet operators. There are other restroom facilities at Kruger’s Farm north of the bridge and at a wildlife viewing area in the middle of island. Having another place to stop and take a break on the south end of the island is welcome news.

Here’s the route from the bridge and its parking lot to Bella Organics:

Parking in the wildlife areas of Sauvie Island is also possible but requires a permit that costs $7 per day or $22 per year.

Kondilis-Hashem said the farm is looking to build its relationship with Portlanders with measures like this one, which she hopes will make bike rides on the island more convenient.

“You don’t have to go six miles to get to parking, drive six miles to get around on your bike,” she said. “We are pro-bike on an island that is not so pro-bike, so we thought it only made sense.”

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