If you’re reading this you made it through our first serious heat wave of the season.
Heat is a serious issue and is becoming an even bigger deal as the planet warms up due to climate change. How serious? 72 people died in Multnomah County during the “heat dome” that happened one year ago this week.
There are lots of things we need to do to create more heat-resilient cities. One of them is very simple and cheap: Maintain and expand our tree canopy and access to shade. Planting trees sounds obvious and trite, but we should not underestimate the power of this simple act.
For those of us who use vehicles — like bicycles — that require human energy to propel and don’t have air conditioning systems, shade takes on even greater importance. It’s one thing to create shady destinations like parks and plazas; but for bicycle riders, a shaded journey is essential too. After all, streets are Portland’s largest public space.
That’s why we are so grateful for Portland’s street tree canopy and for our neighborhood greenways — a citywide network of bike-friendly streets that were designated as such in part due to having more trees and shade than larger arterials.
We’re also grateful for a nascent local movement that’s helping folks connect the dots between heat, trees, and mobility.
Heat Week is a new effort to commemorate those lives lost in 2021 and to raise awareness of the issue. It kicked off Sunday and continues with a bike ride tonight (6/28) as part of Pedalpalooza. The ride is organized by 350PDX and meets at Lents Park (SE 92nd and Holgate) at 5:00 pm. If you can’t make the ride, you can join the picnic starting at 7:00 pm at Colonel Summers Park (SE Clinton and 21st). Along the route you’ll hear from tree experts and experience the impacts of tree canopies firsthand.
So next time you’re riding under stifling sunshine and find yourself steering toward shade, remember it doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of advocacy and smart planning. Cool huh?
Check out our latest TikTok below to learn more and experience some of Portland’s natural air-conditioning: