“Will the Green Loop have the bitterness of a bureaucrat’s utilitarianism and timeline, or will it be a place that embodies the slightly anarchistic spirit of Portland?”
“What is the Green Loop”?
That’s the question I got asked the most while tabling for the Friends of the Green Loop at the last Sunday Parkway as thousands of people streamed by. I always responded, “It is this, but all the time.”
Connecting the downtown park blocks across the Broadway Bridge through the Lloyd and over the soon to be built I-84 crossing on 7th through the Central Eastside and finally looping over the Tilikum crossing. It is a connected loop for walking, biking, reflecting, and enjoying our city. This past Sunday, tens of thousands of Portlanders got a taste of what that feels like on the Green Loop edition of Sunday Parkways. For me, it was a quiet exploration of the city full of the diverse faces of my neighbors.
Over 40 years ago, atop the Hawthorne Bridge Governor Tom McCall, facing growing protests, made the decision to remove Harbor Drive and replace it with a gigantic park. This decision, along with a few others, cemented Portland’s place in the history of great things cities have done. It made the 28th largest city in the United States a leader in urbanism and a draw for progressive-minded people from around the country who realize there is a better way then sitting in traffic.
The vision of the Green Loop is no less ambitious then removing Harbor Drive.
Will the Green Loop have the bitterness of a bureaucrat’s utilitarianism and timeline, or will it be a place that embodies the slightly anarchistic spirit of Portland? How ambitious will it be at removing parking from the cold dead hands of 1950s thinking business groups? How will marginalized groups of Portland help shape it? That future is up to you.
The Friends of the Green Loop is a grass roots non-profit advocacy group aimed at answering those questions. You can add your name as a friend and join us at our Green Loop socials.
Yesterday PBOT hosted the first Green Loop bike ride and I’m hosting a Green Loop Social on August 1st. Come meet other Portlanders who believe that we can still do inspiring things!
Unfortunately, over the past few years our vision of how transportation should be used to connect us has been dominated by the Oregon Department of Transportation and their freeway expansions. It is time for us to offer an alternative vision. Sam Adams was the last elected official who understood the political force in Portland of visionary, non-automobile centric transportation projects. All those tens of thousands of people who enjoyed this past Sunday Parkway are ready to vote for leaders who articulate and deliver that vision.
Join the Friends of the Green Loop and let’s help make that vision a reality.
— Go By Bike (a.k.a. Kiel Johnson)
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The Portland Tribune’s Facebook page ran a story yesterday estimating that at least 15,000 people attended the Green Loop Parkways event on Sunday. If this is an indication of public support fir the Green Loop idea, then Sunday’s ride may turn out to be an important turning point for the project.
One thing I realized during the ride on Sunday is that the green loop infrastructure between OMSI and PSU cannot handle very many riders. If we had that number of riders every day, we would have bike traffic jams.
Or really anywhere downtown. The frequent stops and long waits to cross block after block were super frustrating.
I, for one, welcome our future of bike traffic jams. Plenty of people to have conversations with whilst you’re waiting, unlike the steel and glass option.
The official count was almost 33,000.
The ride was a lot of fun. I only experienced congestion near the Rose Garden and assumed it was because the convention crowd got out for lunch but we started early, around 10:30, to beat the heat.
My wife and I did the green loop Sunday parkways on our tandem. My wife , who is an occasional cyclist and spends most of her time in the suburban autotopia of outer Washington county remarked as we neared the halfway point. ” This is so wonderfull, everyone is so happy, why is it not this way all the time.”
After 20+ years of Bridge Pedal followed by Sunday Parkways, you’d think that Portland would make these routes permanent. But they haven’t. One of the frustrations I have with Sunday Parkways and “Open Streets” events in major cities is that they are designed as temporary recreational activities rather than as permanent transportation installations – A day of Disneyland for bikes followed by 364 days of urban misery. I have yet to see any US city, including Portland, make any such routes permanent.
What would be a lot more useful from an urban design, bike advocacy and commuter safety point of view would be a similar loop with a controlled environment that allowed for all users, including cars, transit, and delivery trucks, to move at a slow prescribed speed, say 20 km/hr or 14 mph, with numerous impediments to keep faster vehicles and users from going faster, not just the (unusual) enforcement of lots of police and volunteers. Such impediments could include diverters, speed pillows, planters, traffic cones, and temporary bus stops, but they could also include temporary kiosks, food trucks, sidewalk cafe furniture, lawn chairs, fireworks displays, movie screens, bike share bike parked randomly, people sleeping in the street, panhandlers, etc.
By presenting a workable solution, it then becomes buildable and governments are more willing to fund and implement them.
The route Sunday was a little windy and narrow for the amount of people who came out, but hopefully got people excited. Looking forward to the happy hour!
GreenLoop was a fun way to see parts of town that we don’t usually ride. It needed about half as many stopping points. This wasn’t so much of a ride as it was a way to stop all over and hang out with your bike. There should be a way to opt out and ride past these stopping points. The tents should be moved out of the road to allow for people to go around. The frequent smell of urine made all the stopping even less fun.
I have to be honest, Sunday Parkways has always been about the places to stop, explore, relax and see what’s happening. It’s never been about moving fast.
I guess I would prefer if the places to stop were highlights along a route. As it is, the places to stop take up too much of the route in my opinion. In other words, if everything is bold, then nothing is bold. So many forced stops on a ride that there isn’t much of a ride left.
I usually love to complain about stuff (I’m an old grump), but really, I’m positive that the organizers put a heck of a lot of thought into these events and make the best choices available. I also thought, “Hey, some of these tents/booths should be in the grass instead of the road.” but then I immediately answered myself with, “I’m sure they thought of that, and there is probably a reason – legal or otherwise – that it wasn’t a good idea.”
I also wouldn’t consider Sunday Parkways a ride, really. The ride can be on the way there and back, but the event is just that: an event. Closed streets, tons of vendors and booths, and thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people enjoying themselves.
My wife and I tend to run the parkways. It’s not a ride when you have people walking and running the route. It’s an active outdoor event meant to explore the city.
My wife and I love Sunday Parkways and have ridden nearly every one since its inception many years ago. And the Green Loop? I am a big fan and back any and every effort to make this a reality, 100%.
To me Sunday Parkways is about low-traffic (I miss the days of PPB holding off the busy crossings and prioritizing the human-powered traffic over cars), but this last Sunday’s event was pretty awful in that regard. I realize it’s not a “fast” ride — and I don’t want it to be — but the stops at every intersection were ridiculous. It was slow, crowded, and cramped, and there was zero coordination through the Park Blocks/PSU between the volunteers holding back traffic.
If we’re serious about a Parkways we should be serious about truly stopping vehicular traffic through the route. This felt like cars were still prioritized through the city core. And don’t get me started on the Rose Quarter, which coincided with some Coliseum event with thousands of attendees. This Parkways wasn’t a bike ride, it was a long walk punctuated by short bursts of 1- or 2-block rides.
I’m guessing the Green Loop Parkways was a one-off, designed to showcase the route. If so, I will put my grumpy pants back in the closet and look forward to the next ride. And if & when some of this Loop infrastructure is implemented, I will be there! (Rant over)
PPB is pretty much not available for community events, except ICE protest cleanups and riot control.