No carfree open streets for Sunday Parkways again this year

Posted by on April 29th, 2021 at 11:52 am

A scene from a 2019 Sunday Parkways — something we’ll have to wait at least one more year to experience together.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Despite relaxed federal Covid guidelines for outdoor activities, the Portland Bureau of Transportation says it’s still too risky to have a full-blown open streets event, so Sunday Parkways 2021 will look similar to last year.

Today the bureau announced several initiatives that aim to capture the activity and fun of this beloved event without creating public health concerns.

It’s not the marked-off-carfree-route-without-the-activity-hubs approach we hoped for, but at least it’s something to inspire folks to get out and walk, ride, and roll through their neighborhoods.

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On May 1st, a slate of “Choose your own Adventure” activities will launch. Those will include “digital adventures” on the Sunday Parkways website and social media channels. Participants can expect various guest stars to host dances, fitness clinics, and more. PBOT will also host an online educational series that will help you learn bike repair, traffic laws, and how to paint intersections.

PBOT will partner with Sunday Parkways title sponsor Kaiser Permanente for a Sticker Hunt that will encourage folks to walk and bike all over the city to find treasures and win prizes.

New walking and biking maps are also in the works that will, “Encourage Portlanders to get out and get active in a safe, physically distanced way with their favorite COVID-19 crew.” These are likely to be similar (or perhaps the same?) as the routes we shared last week.

For more on 2021 Sunday Parkways, check out the official announcement.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Asher AtkinsonCityloverBicycling AlChris Isquareman Recent comment authors
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Vj
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Vj

I believe it’s “too risky” to close the streets to people, allowing a deadly stream of automobiles.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

ugh…. meanwhile copenhagen is having carfree city sunday. at some point our laurels are going to get sore from all this resting. https://cphpost.dk/?p=123443#:~:text=The%20idea%20for%20car%2Dfree,and%20cars%20in%20the%20cities.

David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

How about the city place a bunch of cardboard walkers and bicyclists at the Bob Stacey Memorial Crossing at 12th & Clinton, and have car drivers drive past so they can enjoy the sensation of passively participating in an Sunday Parkways open streets event?

squareman
Subscriber

I suspect the catch-22 here that acted as their lynchpin was that if they held a car-free, closed-street event, they’d have to fund it through some of the activity hubs with sponsors and vendors (and volunteer and donation stands). That creates bottlenecks that get people in close proximity and ups the risk from just simply riding. I’m only purely guessing. It’s sad regardless though.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Exactly. The “course” on Sunday Parkways would be 100% Covid-safe. The stopping points with food vendors, sponsor booths, etc would not be. It’s really unfortunate that they can’t just close a few streets 4-5 times per year on a Sunday so people can bike safely for a few hours.

Bicycling Al
Guest
Bicycling Al

This is it 100%!

Citylover
Guest
Citylover

What funding is needed? No stipends for performers etc. I ran events like this and the police were the biggest cost. Couldn’t Kaiser fund that part of it?

Asher Atkinson
Guest
Asher Atkinson

Sunday Parkways is a wonderful event and a great way to demonstrate our ability to return to near normalcy. Any cancellation is very disappointing. Does the announcement mean that all events for 2021 are canceled, or just May and June? If all are canceled this decision reveals either a naive or overly pessimistic understanding of where we are today in the course of this pandemic. The facts are that almost 80% of Oregon’s vulnerable population (65+) will be fully vaccinated in the next couple weeks. Anyone over 16 is now eligible and vaccine availability is quickly pivoting to an over supply, meaning anyone who wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated soon. If events slated for July and beyond are indeed canceled already this shows an utter lack of agility when comes to planning, and a misread of what people want, which is to make their own choices as risk continues to diminish.