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Business group behind Gresham’s first open streets event

Posted by on May 8th, 2017 at 4:28 pm

(Map: City of Gresham/Gresham Chamber)

Here’s a sign that support for carfree urban spaces is growing: The main organizer of Gresham’s first-ever open streets event is its chamber of commerce.

Gresham is Portland’s eastern neighbor. On Sunday June 18th, from 10am to 2pm, the city will host what they hope becomes an annual Father’s Day tradition: an event they call Sunday Parkway. Inspired by Portland’s similarly named events that began nine years ago, the Gresham version will offer a relatively carfree, 8-mile loop with three “pit stops” where people can enjoy food, live entertainment, activities and more.

Here’s how they describe it:

Feel comfortable, safe and enjoy walking, strolling, bicycling and rolling along the city’s beautiful trail system and historic downtown… Slow down, play on our trails, connect with your neighbors, meet new friends and have fun on the trail…

Gresham Chamber of Commerce CEO Lynn Snodgrass told us she thinks it’s completely natural for her group to spearhead this event. She sees it simply as a way to have fun and promote the beauty of her city.

“By organizing this event we are advocating on behalf of the great city, businesses, and all chamber members we have encouraging all to get out and use a method of movement that allows for talking, healthy exercise, and ‘smelling the roses’ so to speak,”

Project Coordinator Matthew Barney said the inspiration for the event came from the 2016 International Open Streets Summit held last summer at Portland State University. Barney saw a presentation by Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and “It just spoke to me, the light bulb went off. I knew I wanted to do it in Gresham.”

Asked about their goals, Barney stressed that they see it as a regional event that aims to “introduce, entice, and activate” their neighbors.

The Chamber’s sponsorship materials say they expect about 500 to 1,000 participants. That might sound small (for comparison, Portland has five open streets events per year that average about 24,000 people each), but it would be a promising start of a new era in Gresham. If there’s one thing we know about open streets events it’s this: When planned well, they plant seeds that can bloom into all types of street-related activism and a shift in perspective about what streets can be.

Congratulations Gresham! And good luck. Maybe next year we can join forces and connect our loops!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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15 Comments
  • Ray Atkinson May 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    What does “relatively car-free” mean? Will the streets along the route be close to cars and open to other street users?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 8, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      Hi Ray!
      Well, most of the route is on multi-use paths so it will be mostly carfree. But as you’ve seen in the Portland version, on some larger streets they often keep one lane open to cars…. so it’s not 100% carfree all the time. I’m probably overthinking it and should just say “carfree”. hope that helps.

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      • Ray Atkinson May 8, 2017 at 7:52 pm

        Since Gresham doesn’t have as much street connectivity as Portland, I’m glad Gresham chose to route mostly on multi-use paths. I have experienced Portland’s version, so I agree with your perspective. It’s great to see Gresham trying something innovative like an open streets event. I hope it becomes annual like Portland’s version. Thanks for reporting on Gresham’s event!

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  • curly May 9, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Gresham is a favorite destination of mine because of the superb farmer’s market. Should be worth checking out!

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  • one@gmail.com May 9, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Please feel free to contact Mayor Bemis and let him know what you think about his lack of support for safer connectivity via an extension of the Springwater Corridor.

    https://bikeportland.org/?s=bemis%20gresham%20troutdale

    Phone: 503-618-2584
    MayorBemis@GreshamOregon.gov

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  • Patrick May 9, 2017 at 8:39 am

    I predict that they will get more people than they expect! I might go on out there to check it out.

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  • Cory P May 9, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I’ve been talking with every Gresham business that I visit about they mayor cutting the 40 mile loop out of Gresham. I really enjoy visiting the historic downtown when I ride the springwater. I would be more likely to ride the springwater if there were a loop option. Please revisit the 40 mile loop!

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    • SaferStreetsPlease May 9, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Don’t ask us ask their mayor:

      Phone: 503-618-2584
      MayorBemis@GreshamOregon.gov

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      • Cory P May 11, 2017 at 1:45 pm

        I have they tell me that they listen to their citizens first.

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  • fourknees May 9, 2017 at 10:04 am

    This resonates with me. As a westsider I would normally not go to Gresham, but am now am considering taking the family out to ride this loop.
    If marketed well, I can see many more participants than they are anticipating.

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    • Austin May 9, 2017 at 11:38 am

      Same! I’m from Beaverton, and I’ll probably take my family out to this event, too. The fact that it is on Father’s Day will mean that they can’t say no even if they wanted to.

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  • Ryan May 9, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Yay!!! Good to see some love for us east-county folks ;-). Will be taking my family there for sure!

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  • Lester Burnham May 9, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    It’s a shame inner-Portland residents look upon cities like Gresham with such disgust. Not sure what is so great about inner Tarp-landia anymore.

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    • Mossby Pomegranate May 9, 2017 at 7:44 pm

      LOL easy LB…just visit a bike chop shop and you’ll see these are folks just like you and me trying to get by.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 9, 2017 at 8:48 pm

      I actually love Gresham. Cute downtown with a cool beer store and a few nice restaurants; super easy to get to via MAX or bus. They’ve also got a few high-quality cycle paths.

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