Sunday Parkways fans, get excited: the Portland Bureau of Transportation just released some details about this summer’s open streets events. Where will the city close streets to car traffic so people have more space to walk, bike, roll and play? Drumroll, please…
The first two Sunday Parkways this year will repeat routes from last summer, taking place on May 7th in east Portland (Gateway, Hazelwood and Mill Park neighborhoods) and June 25 in northeast (Cully and Concordia neighborhoods). Then, on September 10, Sunday Parkways will head to southwest Portland for the first time in eight years, temporarily transforming streets in the Multnomah neighborhood between Spring Garden and Gabriel parks.
We reported at the end of last summer that PBOT planned to permanently cut back their Sunday Parkways programming from five events a year, as was the tradition pre-pandemic, to just three. Additionally, PBOT announced the open streets events would be held in the same locations three years in a row to help the neighborhoods gain familiarity with them. (In the past, they’ve rotated around the city each year.)
The decision to cut back on Sunday Parkways days has been criticized by advocates and fans of the city’s marquee open streets days. Sunday Parkways are an annual tradition all about embracing active transportation in Portland, and they’re one of the only times the city supports shutting down streets to cars on a large scale, so it was disappointing to some supporters to see PBOT eliminate two of them. PBOT attributes the change to their oft-discussed budget woes and says they’re focusing on highlighting parts of the city that haven’t historically been sites for these types of open streets events and generally lack active transportation infrastructure, like east Portland.
One person excited about this year’s event schedule is David Stein, a member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee and southwest Portland resident. In an email to BikePortland, Stein said he was pleased to see the event scheduled for SW.
“Sunday Parkways is the biggest encouragement program that the city has for walking, biking, and other low carbon modes of transportation. The void of this program in SW was a signal of just how treacherous this part of the city is for people who aren’t using a car or truck to get around,” Stein said. “Bringing it back will highlight some of the investments made is this part of the city and show people that it is possible to get around Multnomah Village [using active transportation].”
In a press release about this summer’s events, PBOT stated the SW Sunday Parkways is intended to feature new sidewalks and bike lane infrastructure along SW Capitol Highway.
PBOT also stated in the press release that they will work to increase public safety at Sunday Parkways this year. This could be in reference to the incident that occurred at the east Portland Sunday Parkways event last August, when an angry driver brandished a gun at volunteers and attendees, yelling that people on bikes were “taking over everything” so he couldn’t get home.
“It’s important that everyone feel safe as they explore new ways of getting around, especially on streets that prioritize people walking and biking. Based on learnings from last year we will incorporate more public safety tools including updated volunteer/staff training, road closure notifications and suggested alternatives for motorists living along the route.”
There’s time to get involved in this summer’s Sunday Parkways if you want to support these open streets days. You can take the pre-season survey to provide your thoughts about the events (and potentially win some free merch) or sign up to volunteer.