Recently I was planning the route for a Puddlecycle ride called “The Two Bridges” that goes over both the I-5 and I-205 bridges staying on the Vancouver side of the Columbia River. The goal was to stay as close to the river as possible. This was initially easy, as Vancouver has the Renaissance Trail that you can hop on right after coming off the Interstate (I-5) Bridge. The trail seemingly ends a mile later at the Kaiser Shipyard where they built Liberty ships during World War II. But you can ride to the North around that yard on a wide sidewalk, and the trail picks up again on the other side.
But about 4 miles from the Interstate Bridge the path does come to an end at a gated community. Thinking I could ride around it and get back close to the river, I rode up to Old Evergreen Hwy and took the next road down to the river. But here’s what I encountered – another gated community, and no way to get down to the Columbia.
And it turns out that East of this there is a third gated community blocking access to the river. At that point I was getting close to the I-205 bridge and opted to stay on Evergreen Hwy. This got me wondering if the Renaissance Trail could be extended right on the bank of the Columbia, but as the following picture shows, this is unlikely to ever happen. Some of the houses are quite close to the water and others have private boat docks.
So why does Vancouver have gated communities, while they appear to be absent in the city of Portland? Taking to the Internet, I came across a 1997 Arizona State University article titled “Divided We Fall: Gated and Walled Communities in the United States” that describes the negative effects of building gated communities, which are pretty prevalent in other parts of the country like California and Florida. Here’s one of the concluding statements from the article:
Keep in mind this article was published in 1997 and has nothing to do with bicycling, yet it cites what have arguably become the two most bike-friendly cities in the country, Portland and Minneapolis. Mere coincidence, or has the lack of gated communities been a contributing factor?
And by the way, that Puddlecycle ride is happening this coming Saturday at 1pm. But the direction has been reversed, so we ride North over the I-205 bridge and then West to the Interstate Bridge. The Red Lion Jantzen Beach is hosting a 100th birthday party for the Interstate Bridge from 3 to 6pm, and we’ll arrive there to attend that event. More details are on the Facebook event page.
– Full Divided We Fall article (PDF)
— Post by BikePortland Subscriber Tom