Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

If you could change one thing about Sunday Parkways, what would it be?

Posted by on July 28th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Sunday Parkways northeast 2014-23

Sunday Parkways is pretty darn great. I know these two guys wouldn’t change a thing.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Sunday Parkways is a rare government program that enjoys nearly universal support. It has no detractors — or at least none that would risk the political and social fallout that would surely come if they shared their opinion. And what’s not to love? Carfree streets, free entertainment, and a huge helping of smiles and civic pride all rolled up into one event.

But even still, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels. Here in Portland, we should always “do it better” (as our Zoobomb friends like to say).

In that spirit I asked my fellow Sunday Parkway citizens a question during the event yesterday: If you could change one thing about Sunday Parkways, what would it be?

Sunday Parkways northeast 2014-37

Ben: “I wouldn’t mind if it started an hour earlier. I’ve got my kids biking with me and it’s hard for them to do the whole route in the time given. At Sunday Parkways north we just barely made it back to our start point.”
Sunday Parkways northeast 2014-36

“Ohh, I don’t know. It’s my favorite bike event that happens in Portland… I come because of the mixing of different groups of people and it gets people using the parks that you don’t see in any other event… Honestly, I can’t say there’s a thing I would change.”
Sunday Parkways northeast 2014-38

The Robins family and friends: “More food. They ran out of safe, kid hot dogs for example. They only have the hot (spicy) ones. And do it more often. Like ciclovia maybe. The safety for bicycles is great, we don’t necessarily need the fair environment.”
Sunday Parkways northeast 2014-39

Paul and Brooke Garrett: “Nothing. It’s perfect. Maybe a few additional food vendors because the lines are very long.”
Kiel Johnson: “Have one every month in each neighborhood. So it just repeats the whole summer.”
Steve Bice: “I would try to do more bike-related kind of education stuff and less try-to-sell-you-something booths. That, and more bike-themed things in the park like mini bike races for the kids. I went to this one festival in New Mexico where they had a flat-tire changing contest. That sort of thing.”
Sunday Parkways northeast 2014-41

Tim (a.k.a. “Diablo”): “Get rid of the southwest one and bring it back to northwest. There’s no loop on the southwest one. It’s ridiculous. I’d also not have the first one in May on Mother’s Day. Don’t do it on a major holiday like that.”
Sunday Parkways northeast 2014-40

Max (12 years old): “Nothing… Actually, sometimes it’s a little congested here and there; but everything else is perfected. There’s not that many cars. It’s all you could ask for.”

We also heard from several of our friends on Twitter…

Thanks for sharing your opinions everyone.

So… What (if anything) would you change?

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

  • Garlynn July 28, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Make it weekly, all year long!!

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    • dan July 28, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Yep, weekly in the same location, maybe the North / South Park Blocks. An occasional event is just a fun diversion, a weekly event might start to change transportation choices.

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  • Ilan July 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Include some main streets in the route. Mississippi,
    Belmont, Dekum, etc. It’d be great for some of the business on the streets.

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    • q`Tzal July 29, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      I don’t know if this has been proposed but a Sunday Parkways route through a retail street suffering from heavy auto fatigue would be a GREAT time and place to try out car-free prototype designs.

      Just for a day to see if works. Mainly to convince Car Head business owners that it CAN work.

      Involve the PSU transit/city planning departments and maybe even local theater set crews to make mockups of planters and concrete barriers as real looking as possible.

      Afterwards actively solicit feedback from the affected businesses about what would make it better other than “cars today, cars tomorrow, cars forever”.

      Public feedback would be useful as well regarding the esoteric stuff: “how’d it feel?”, “was it convenient?”, “would you shop preferentially in a place like this again?” and “did you feel safe?”

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  • Spiffy July 28, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I would love to see car-free routes… but I won’t get my hopes up…

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  • J_R July 28, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Use it to teach people the benefit of proper cycling etiquite (e.g. keep toward the right, don’t stop in the middle of the street).

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    • encephalopath July 28, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      I was thinking the same thing, but I’m not sure it would help. These are likely the same people who put their grocery cart on one side of the aisle and stand next to it to look at shelves on the other side of the aisle.

      They are incapable of getting it or just don’t care.

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  • Shoemaker July 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Go for connection instead of isolation in route design. Make a route that connects all neighborhoods every time.

    How are the “interested but concerned” people supposed to safely enter and exit the Sunday Parkway? You see it each time – they do it by car. Is that intentional? Is that what we want?

    I think the current route design is like a poorly designed bike lane that magically begins and just as dramatically disappears leaving people right in the path of the motor vehicle again.

    I think the route should be extended to be as close to as many people as possible and not be some destination that requires a drive across down to reach. (It’s about the journey, no?) What’s the point of keeping it locked up in a loop that goes nowhere? It can and should go through real areas that people like to visit and allow, at least once a week, an actual safe route across the city.

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  • Champs July 28, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Thus far I’ve had to miss them all this year, so… check my schedule first?

    More seriously, how about some bike paddocks? It’s better to roam the parks without a bike. A drop zone is more secure, gentler on the trees, and leaves more shady space for sitting.

    I’ll second using busy streets *like* Mississippi, although that specifically isn’t a great candidate. Might alleviate some of the pressure on food carts.

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  • Ben July 28, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I second the idea for routing along more main streets (like Dekum from 8th to 17th yesterday, if possible). Those are the streets we want people to better understand how convenient it can be to bike to anyway.

    Also, both a positive and negative in one: My compliments to the Intersection Superhero volunteer on NE Cully yesterday. She was very poised and calm when a person in an automobile started berating her for the request that the driver divert two blocks out of the way in order to cross the S.P. route at a designated crossing, not a small side street. However, I wish the young children biking around didn’t have to hear the 4-letter words the driver launched in response to this request. Hopefully any kids who heard it grow up to be highly conscientious streets users no matter what mode they use.

    All in all, yesterday’s Parkways was amazing. Thanks to all the people who help put in on.

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    • Alan 1.0 July 28, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      My compliments to the Intersection Superhero volunteer…

      Seconded for all the Superheros. I saw several of them helping drivers at blocked intersections, and getting neighbors in or out. The afternoon Superhero at 60th & Killingsworth did a great job at chilling out two tough-acting guys that had to walk a WHOLE BLOCK to their buddy’s apartment (wait, I thought you guys were tough?), and the city guy directing traffic at 42nd & Ainsworth kept everyone safe from some geezer in a pickup forcing his way through the corked intersection (if only a cop had been there…).

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  • Alan 1.0 July 28, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Five times a year I’d allow cars to drive s-l-o-w-l-y around a short loop with restricted bike access.

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  • shuppatsu July 28, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    More live music would be nice.

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  • Eric July 28, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    I’m with the earlier time or just longer hours. I know it’s 5 hours, but that hardly seems like enough especially with kids that want to stop at every park.

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    • Middle of the Road guy July 28, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      It’s just 5 hours for the riders. It is closer to 8 hours for those of us who volunteer for the whole event.

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  • Carrie July 28, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    While I LOVE the activities at the parks, I also think it would be great if there could be one each week where the main point is to have the streets closed to cars and it be about a nice bike circuit. So more emphasis on the riding and less about the “fair”. But, honestly, Sunday Parkways is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen a city do, from a community standpoint.

    And my family got asked by two separate groups in cars what the event was, how to find out about it, and that they were going to be at the one in SE.

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  • Dave July 28, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Even for someone old, fat, and slow like myself, Portland has a much longer riding season than the three summer months–some people might prefer riding in 50 degrees to 85.

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  • Brian July 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Beer sprinklers.

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  • m July 28, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Going back to a 10am start like they used to have would be great.

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  • Aaron July 28, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I really love the input so far. The most common is what i agree with most. More frequent events and not on a major holiday. Bogota started this trend with a whole lot less $$$. Can’t America do something without it involving tons of cash? We don’t need tons of vendors driving vans full of free samples and products to parks. It’s about the fun.
    Start earlier for longer hours. This is about having fun, not racing to finish before it ends.
    Include education not only of bicycling etiquette for ‘newbies’ but opening dialogue on how to be less car dependent.
    I don’t think having it on arterials is wise because more drivers will be inconvenienced meaning more push back. But on the other hand, if more businesses are given an awareness of how much they stand to benefit from bike/ped friendly cities, then they’ll be more supportive in the future. (see my earlier comment on having less vendors in parks)

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    • 9watts July 28, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Yes. Yes.

      My suggestion would be to exhume the original rationale with which this whole thing started: doing something about global warming.
      Here’s the unedited list of goals from 2008:
      “The primary Sunday Parkways goals were to:
      • Reduce auto trips and improve air quality
      • Increase the health and activity of residents
      • Increase awareness of global warming and the role transportation plays
      • Increase neighborhood awareness and raise acceptability of bicycling and walking as modes of travel
      • Increase trips by walking and biking
      • Increase neighborhood mobility and livability
      • Create community within neighborhoods
      • Provide residents an opportunity to discover and appreciate neighborhood Parks

      Global warming is mentioned throughout this document, and was specifically emphasized in the surveys that preceded Sunday Parkways’ launch.
      “Given the large amount of media and outreach conducted for this project, it is expected that there will be a significant shift in awareness of air quality issues among Portland residents and an increased likelihood of behavior change stemming from the increased knowledge of global warming and peak oil.”

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      • spare_wheel July 28, 2014 at 8:18 pm

        unfortunately sunday parkways have become hell for pedestrians.

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        • q`Tzal July 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm

          Elaborate please

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        • Suburban July 30, 2014 at 8:58 pm

          If you want to just go walk the route, maybe holding someone’s hand, you have become a special event vulnerable road users. This event does kind of suck for the peds, particularly wee ones.

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  • Jordan July 28, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    The sticky pavement yesterday made a mess of my cycling shoes. A earlier start time would be nice too.

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  • Daniel July 28, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    more and more often
    Add Downtown just close it up a la Bogata and watch the people swarm

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  • Bill Stites July 28, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Would be nice to remove the parked cars along the route.

    It appears that now the residents are asked – but not prohibited – from parking in front of their houses. Clearly, there are no consequences. Why not provide a disincentive by ticketing, if not towing?
    Parking around the block once a year for 4 hours is NOT too much to ask.
    Many streets would then be 2x wider, and we need the space with the big crowds.
    It just strikes me as yet another example where a major citizen/community event suffers from the lack of will to remove car parking from our public space.

    Otherwise – great event!

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    • Middle of the Road guy July 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Uh, certain sections along the route did indeed have no parking signs.

      Also, people living on the route have a right to be able to leave their houses when they want. How would you deal with handicapped people?

      Are you sure you really want to build up an animosity in the neighborhood to the event by having an enforcement activity? I can’t think of a better way of getting rid of the event than by angering the neighborhoods you wish to have the event in.

      The reality is that the cars on the route are very well managed. You may have a minor inconvenience once in a while, but overall things go just fine. I have seen far more accidents from cyclists riding ignorantly during the event than anything from a car.

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      • Spiffy July 29, 2014 at 10:12 am

        Also, people living on the route have a right to be able to leave their houses when they want

        do they have a right to leave via motor-vehicle?

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        • q`Tzal July 29, 2014 at 5:28 pm

          If they’re handicapped: yes.

          Please, less with absolutist no exceptions mindset. The world is made of nuance, gradations of extremes and exceptions to every rule.

          If we decide that all decisions must be made by simplistic, binary either/or rules then we might just as well turn our lives over to robots right now.

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        • Middle of the Road guy July 30, 2014 at 11:21 am

          Yes. Parkways has no actual authority to force people to do anything.

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      • Mij July 29, 2014 at 12:15 pm

        So last month, when Ted Buehler described a “priviledged-looking white male” pushing him out of the way with an SUV and you responded that this has happened to you several times by “hoodlum-looking individuals” while volunteering for Sunday Parkways…you’ve seen worse by cyclists? Please share with the class.


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        • Middle of the Road guy July 30, 2014 at 11:23 am

          I am objective and enjoy pointing out hypocritical thinking in others. Also, look up “hyperbole”.

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        • Middle of the Road guy July 30, 2014 at 11:29 am

          Also, one need only open their eyes to see the infractions by cyclists…if they are objective.

          My comment and example was more about the term “privilege” and how stereotypical it was – it was more an assignment of class by the observer (and hence their own issues) than the person in the SUV.

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  • Psyfalcon July 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Its always a huge mess where the route meets the actual parks. Even if you’re skipping a park you end up walking as someone careens from one side of the road to the other or just stops completely in the middle of the road.

    If the road is east- west, consider setting up at least some of the vendors on the N-S roads. Maybe route the ride on the biggest street that goes past that park, giving everyone more room to pull over or start up.

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  • Zimmerman July 28, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Forest Parkways edition: out & back on Firelane W.

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  • Josh July 28, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Right now Sunday Parkways feels a lot like a (great) advertisement for neighborhood greenways (which are also great), combined with a street fair atmosphere. But I’d personally like to see more major streets included — give people a chance to see what it’s like to bike on Burnside, Division, Cesar Chavez, etc. One of my highlights of big Pedalpalooza rides such as the kickoff ride is always the chance to ride on the less-commonly biked major streets. Give people a taste, and they’ll want more.

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  • Darin Wick July 28, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Like many others, I’d love to see an event that’s more transportation-oriented. Focus on corridors that connect different neighborhoods, or connect residential to commercial areas. Try car-free or car-light street designs in different parts of town.

    That said, it’s an awesome event for cyclists, and I’ll continue fixing bikes at Parkways with the Bike Farm regardless of what form it takes!

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  • WendP July 28, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    I’d not have the majority of the parkways during the hottest months of the year. Middle of July? Middle of August? To convince new cyclists & pedestrians to give up their air-conditioned car comfort? Seriously?

    I’d like to see this event close down car-popular roads for a few hours so the bikes & skates & walkers can take over.

    I’d like to see more bike parking up so people could walk around and enjoy the parks and events.

    I’d like to see wider paths in some areas. There so too many people riding in wide bikes (trikes & others) as well as next to each other in some of the skinnier paths that if anyone wobbles or slows even a little, you have the potential for a massive wipeout.
    Same goes for parents having their little kids biking – I’m all for the family bike trip, but neither you nor your kid need to stop right in the middle of the path to point out the cool bug that just flew past. I almost ran into half a dozen kids and more than a few parents because of this.

    And another echo – thank you to all the cops directing traffic for these events. We tried to say thank you to all the ones we came across. Please tell all the rest too!

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    • Esther July 29, 2014 at 10:26 am

      In case you didn’t notice, the majority are not in July or August. There are 3 events in May, June and September, which are usually MUCH cooler (and often rainy in May).

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      • WendP July 31, 2014 at 11:40 am

        Read the schedule again. One in June, one in July, one in August.

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        • Alan 1.0 July 31, 2014 at 4:52 pm


          East Portland Sunday Parkways
          May 11, 2014

          North Portland Sunday Parkways
          June 22, 2014

          Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways
          July 27, 2014

          Southeast Portland Sunday Parkways
          August 24, 2014

          Southwest Portland Sunday Parkways
          September 28, 2014

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  • germaine July 28, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    This Sunday was my first time! I didn’t even know about it before this June. Somehow I expected that it would feel more like an utopian alternate reality *world without cars* thing. But it was mostly the same as my usual experience riding on those roads, just slower and with more tiny children. Which is fine. Tiny children deserve space on the road, too.

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    • Anne Hawley July 29, 2014 at 11:29 am

      That’s exactly my experience of the event. The only two times I’ve participated have been accidental–on my way to something I was riding my bike to anyway, so I slowed down and joined the fun for a few blocks. Both times I’ve thought, well, this must be at least a tiny bit like what riding in Amsterdam or Copenhagen is like. I love seeing the really little kids out there, too.

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  • gutterbunnybikes July 28, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    I’ve always loved the Parkways. Always will.

    Though I got to agree, with a few of the comments here.

    1)Fairs not on the main route. Though the Root beer floats were awesome, and frankly I would have missed it if it wasn’t on the route. Thanks Oregon Public House.

    2) A few side routes, making smaller loops for kids on bikes. Perhaps a bigger one for the more experienced riders, perhaps even a few that duck down some alleys, smaller trails, unimproved roads.

    3) More varied routes, connecting different neighborhoods and different routes each time. They really haven’t changed very much in the last few years.

    4) More education stuff. Why not bring in people to talk about the effects of bike riding on personal economics, global warming, safe road use, packing groceries, how to use Trimet with a bike, or even simply how to ride a bike for kids and another for adults, skill courses, etc…the list goes on.

    5) Have it end at dusk with the last event being a bike “drive in”with the Moves in the Park program. Though unfortunately I can’t think of a bikey movie that I’m glad I watched the first time, let alone sit through them a second time.

    And I too would like to thank (especially those that were too busy for me to say thank you as I rode by) all the organizers, volunteers, police officers, and the people that live on the routes for doing such a good job with this. It really is amazing.

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    • Brian July 29, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      Pee-wee’s big adventure?

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      • gutterbunnybikes July 29, 2014 at 8:48 pm

        Yeah ok…The one I’ve seen more than once, and still like to watch (speaking of which might have to dust off my VCR now-wonder if it still works).

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  • TOM July 28, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    I went to all of them one year and haven’t been back since. Love the idea, families and fun , BUT although I go slow … it’s kids doing sudden stops in front of me , family’s grouping and blocking the path. Felt like the time stopped about equaled the time moving.

    Learning to get out of the way when you stop s/b part of biking education. I guess it’s just the nature of the events ?

    My preference is to ride alone and be responsible for my own actions.

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    • dan July 29, 2014 at 10:12 am

      Sunday Parkways are not for cyclists, they’re for families to play on bikes with their children. That’s why they have zero impact in my mind on promoting bicycles as transportation. I think it’s a fine event, but it has no more of an impact on transportation policy than does movies in the park.

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      • Dave Miller July 29, 2014 at 7:46 pm

        Children biking joyfully with their parents in the street summer after summer will have a huge impact on transportation policy, just not in the short term time frame you are probably thinking about.

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  • chasingbackon July 28, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    I want to thank all the coordinators and volunteers for another fantastic Sunday Parkways.
    I would love to see the closed street / ciclovia applied to one lane on Naito Parkway, 2 sundays a month in the summer and 1 sunday a month in the winter as a continuous ongoing event. The Neighborhood events could tie in or be standalone events with extras since the regular Naito event would be more about biking and less about “the fair”.

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  • Max July 28, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    Come on out to Creston Kenilworth!

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    • gutterbunnybikes July 29, 2014 at 5:18 am

      I like that idea, and perhaps one out east of the 205 as well.

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  • Max July 29, 2014 at 8:21 am

    It already exists – check out Sunday Parkways East!

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  • Stephanie B July 29, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I would like to see it last later. Summer evenings are so pleasant and it stays light late. We haven’t been able to make it to Sunday Parkways yet because it’s practically over by the time our kids are done napping.

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  • mikeybikey July 29, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    The one thing that would fundamentally improve Sunday Parkways is to make it one HUGE route that connects all or most of the neighborhoods and then repeat that loop throughout the summer. It would be great if the mega-route could also include some neighborhood main streets.

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  • spare_wheel July 29, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    My suggestion would be to make a 2-3 hour block bike free so that pedestrians and the mobility-compromised can enjoy the route without being buzzed or harassed by clueless cyclists (.

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    • Psyfalcon July 29, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Maybe, but the whole thing is poorly set up for walking. Shorter routes on roads with more businesses might be better.

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  • Spencer July 30, 2014 at 7:49 am

    1st time I’ve gone probably my last. While neat family event etc was totally apalled at the number of people riding without helmets (adults, adults with the kids in helemts & kids without) & the total lack of any regard riding safely. Perfect opportunity to teach where to ride as well as signal when turn right in front of other riders or pull out. Blowing that opportunity.
    Blocks away from the ride families were riding backs to ther cars on open roads with kids completley on the other side without any concern. Almost saw one get it when a car made a legal right turn off killingsowrth into a kid he couldn;t see.

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