“Livability to me is a town where you can ride your bike to the river and swim.” That’s a statement from Willie Levenson of the nonprofit Human Access Project, a group he founded in 2010 to get more people to swim in the Willamette River near downtown Portland.
This week Levenson completed a key part of his vision for a welcoming and swimmable downtown riverfront with the installation of 10 new bike racks on the Eastbank Esplanade at Duckworth Dock (you might recall our coverage of this project one year ago). The racks are located on both sides of the entrance to the dock, which is right at the bottom of the floating ramps south of the Steel Bridge.
Two of the new racks are installed parallel to the path specifically to allow larger wheelbase cargo bikes to be locked up without encroaching on passing traffic. The racks were funded by Go Lloydals, a transportation management association (TMA) funded through the City of Portland to encourage biking, walking and transit use. Travel Oregon paid for the permits, insurance, and installation.
The new bike racks are just one of the features of the new swimming area. Last year Levenson’s group installed ladders and swim buoys. They also successfully changed the dock permit from motorized to non-motorized use only in 2020.
“For me the bike racks were critical,” Levenson said in a phone interview Monday. “Because it just helps connect the dots from a landscape architecture and communication standpoint. ‘Okay, I see the bike racks. I see the ladders. So the idea is to bike to this dock then swim!'”
Levenson knows that too many Portlanders don’t have a connection to the Willamette riverfront and that, “If people aren’t able to get to the river’s edge, it’s going to be much harder to develop a relationship with it.”
If you want to get to know the river, Human Access Project is hosting a celebration on the dock Wednesday night. They’ll catch the famous Duckworth Double Sunset (see photo above) and will be the official end spot of the Pedalpalooza Yacht Rock Bike Ride.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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