Southwest Portland welcomed Sunday Parkways yesterday in a festive event that was a perfect farewell to summer. The route was a two-mile stretch of streets, partially connected by a walking path (the first time a walking trail has been included) between Gabriel Park to the north and Spring Garden Park to the south. And in between? Capitol Highway, of course.
The Multnomah neighborhood cannot celebrate its newly redesigned Capitol Highway enough. Some neighbors sold lemonade, a trio of men played the music from the Nutcracker Suite from their front porch (on saxophones!) and hundreds of people hit the streets on all manner of wheels. Folks were really happy.
As has been the case for many years now, the event was sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and hosted by PBOT, who organized the first one in 2008. The entertainment lineup PBOT pulled together included live music at Gabriel Park and Multnomah Village. Not to be outdone, Portland Parks & Rec had Zumba happening at Spring Garden Park. Everywhere you pedaled or walked there was some sort of activity going on. The streets really come alive during these events and southwest Portlanders — who have fewer bike lanes and sidewalks than any other part of the city — were eager to take back their streets.
It’s been nearly a decade since a Sunday Parkway has taken place in southwest, so there was considerable pent-up energy for this one. Sunday Parkways in the southwest have had a shorter route than in flatter parts of the city because of the need for a route that minimizes elevation changes. But the distance was fine, the crowd turned out, and there were tons of kids.
Newly hired PBOT Director Millicent Williams and her boss, City Commissioner (and mayoral candidate) Mingus Mapps, added themselves to the crowds. They began their day at Gabriel Park by walking the marketplace and hob-nobbing with passersby. One of them was dedicated Portland cycling advocate David Stein, who just happened to be cycling by. Stein is one of the locals testing out the California-made Bike Lane Sweeper and both Williams and Mapps seemed very interested in it as he ran through its features and answered their questions.
Director Williams and Commissioner Mapps then hopped on bikes for a short jaunt to Multnomah Village. Williams was on a blue “HSD” e-bike sold by Tern Bicycles. Its a new addition to PBOT’s vehicle fleet, so it’s available for any employee to use. And Mapps was on a Specialized “Haul” e-bike, another cargo-centric model.
Given the unprecedentedly poor state of the PBOT budget, it’s notable that the two most powerful people at the agency showed up at Sunday Parkways. Many folks feel like this program is likely on the chopping block when budget proposals get hammered out later this month. In brief remarks, Williams mentioned the “hard” conversations that lie ahead. We’ll be watching closely as both of these leaders reveal how they plan to dig PBOT out of their funding hole. The fact that they attended together tells us they are fans of Sunday Parkways and that they have a solid working relationship — both of which are good signs if you want these events to continue next year.
And Mapps wasn’t the only member of Portland City Council who biked at the event. Mayor Ted Wheeler also took advantage of the open street to have some fun on a perfect Portland Sunday…