Three Sunday Parkways events coming this season

Big crowds flocked to carfree streets in Multnomah Village for Sunday Parkways on September 11th, 2023. (Jonathan Maus – BikePortland)

The City of Portland will put on three Sunday Parkways events this year. The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced the dates and location last Friday.

The events will be held in east Portland on May 19th, the Cully neighborhood on June 16th and in southwest on September 22nd. For the uninitiated, Sunday Parkways are open streets events that began in 2008. We were inspired by the Ciclovias in Bogota and were one of the first cities in North America to launch such an ambitious event. That first year we had just one event and it was a massive hit. PBOT expanded it to three Sundays in 2009 and by 2010 we were doing five events per year — including a route in northwest.

PBOT organized five Sunday Parkways events each year through 2019. Then we skipped two years due to the pandemic and returned with just two events in 2022. We’ve had three events per year since.

Finding funding for Sunday Parkways is a perennial issue. PBOT has had to hold donation drives and plead with City Council to keep it funded. Currently, the events are made possible thanks to grants from Kaiser Permanente and other sponsors. The Portland Clean Energy Fund has also provided a lifeline for the program as Sunday Parkways was part of a $112 million injection into PBOT announced back in December (but still not finalized).

Check out more details (via PBOT) about each of this year’s three events below…

East Portland – May 19th

The East Portland 3.3-mile down-and-back route will feature Gateway Discovery Park, Ventura Park, and Lincoln Park. More details here.

Northeast Cully – June 16th

The Northeast Cully 6.2-mile looped route rises significantly as one travels from north to south stopping along the way at Fernhill Park, Kʰunamokwst Park, Wellington Park, and Roseway Parkway. More details here.

Southwest Portland – September 22nd

The Southwest Portland route will feature a 2-mile multi-modal route along with a separate 1.5-mile walking route. Start anywhere on either route and bike, walk, or roll as you explore the four featured stops. More details here.

Here’s to another great Sunday Parkways season! I just wish we could figure out a way to spread the love and have them in more parts of the city more often. A measly 15 hours of carfree streets per year after 16 years of success just doesn’t seem right.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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blumdrew
blumdrew
2 months ago

Excited about going to the events this year, but extremely bummed that there are only three and they are all in the same spots as last year. And I have to say that the SW route is extremely lacking – it’s just 2 miles long, at least 20% of which is not really rideable since Multnomah Village is so busy. I like that Multnomah Village was a bustling place during Sunday Parkways last year, but I do wonder if sponsoring a yearly neighborhood street fair is really the best we can hope for with the Sunday Parkways program.

I know I’ve gotten on the “we need to actually take inspiration from the original Bogota Ciclovia” soapbox before, but it’s worth saying that the original inspiration for this event closes hundreds of miles of streets every week, year round. We get 15 total hours on less than 15 miles of streets. Or hey, if Bogota is too much of a stretch, we should at least aspire to beat Los Angeles! They close down major portions of major roads for their CicLAvia events (like Venice Blvd next month) and manage to have 8 events throughout the year.

PBOT can cry to the heavens about budget shortages, but this is also a reflection of the bureau’s priorities. When Commissioner Mapps says “back to basics”, that’s just about the “basics” of maintenance and such for automobiles – nothing for the basic human mobility that an event like Sunday Parkways promotes. We have the money for streets we can all love and cherish, but there won’t be room for unfettered automotive access.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Portland is simply out of ideas.

blumdrew
blumdrew
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

“We’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas” should really be Portland’s official motto

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

How many miles are closed for the annual Bridge Pedal?

blumdrew
blumdrew
2 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

That’s a paid event, so not entirely analogous to the ciclovia type ones. I think it’s about 10 though – keep in mind that only half of I5/I405 is closed, and some of the areas aren’t closed at all (Sellwood Bridge for example). Most of the other closures for non-freeway roads are partial as well.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago

The route thru SW is really lame – I won’t be joining in.

Also let’s hope PPB is enforcing the routes this year, so we don’t get young MAGA men in trucks threatening people on what should be closed routes. Or drunk old people, like the guy who drove thru barricades onto the course of the Shamrock Run.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
2 months ago

If(?) the goal is to have Portlanders reimagine our communities without cars, then I would much rather have regular car free Sundays on say Mississippi Ave or Alberta, and other main shopping entertainment districts.

This could show businesses that when we close streets to cars – look at all the people that come out.

This is just a bike ride through the outer burbs which is fun, but it’s not really reimagining our shared spaces like Bogotá’s weekly ciclovía

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

This could show businesses that when we close streets to cars – look at all the people that come out.

If we closed Mississippi every Sunday, how many people would still be riding there after 6 months, still buying things and bringing business to the local shops? It’s not an inherently interesting place to ride, and I think it wouldn’t take long for the novelty to wear off and the street to be dead.

Maybe I’m wrong, and I’d be happy to run the experiment on someone else’s street.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yep – you of the “All cars, all the time” wing of PB commenters.

You hit the nail on the head with your last sentence: 95% of Portlanders expect – no, DEMAND – to be able to drive everywhere, all of the time. You should have heard the verbal abuse from motorists at the SW Portland Sunday Parkways event when it first came to SW. You’d have thought PBOT deprived these people of life and liberty.

When motorists whine, PBOT hears their cries. Cyclists – not so much.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Or, to paraphrase: When 95% of Portlanders whine, PBOT hears their cries.

Just because I point out why an idea is unlikely to work doesn’t mean I’m pro car. Like I said, let’s try it.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You could try biking all over Portland during National Night Out, which is normally on the first Tuesday in August (August 6th for 2024), though some neighborhoods do it on other nights. During the event streets are closed off, food carts and BBQs are open, fire trucks are on display – and this is free, all over town.

blumdrew
blumdrew
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I think Mississippi is a pretty interesting place to ride, but I have a penchant for historic streetcar commercial districts that I suppose isn’t universal. I’m not sure what crowds tend to be like, but if it were Hawthorne – a place where Sunday often means overflowing sidewalks – I think it would be a smashing success.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Would you and enough others really go over there and ride the same short segment of street week after week? I share your penchant, but might do it once. Let’s try it out and see if you’re right.

stephan
stephan
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Alberta is closed to vehicles the last Thursday June-August, 6-9pm (https://www.lastthursdayalberta.org/). The street is packed with people walking around during that time. That model could be replicated on other streets, like Mississippi and Hawthorne.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  stephan

It would be interesting to know how much commercial traffic businesses along the Bridge Pedal or Sunday Parkways get from all those thousands cyclists passing by. My guess would be not none, but not a huge amount either.

Personally, my chance of popping into a shop is much higher if I’m wandering around on foot than if I’m riding by on my bike, but others may differ.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  stephan

And Lombard through downtown St. Johns.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
2 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

All three of these rides are in Portland proper, in thriving Portland neighborhoods where lots of folks live and ride. It’s only “the burbs” if your circle is restricted to downtown and the inner east side.

JP
JP
2 months ago

It’s disappointing that still not one of these events is close-in. It’s good that PBOT is showing some love to neighborhoods further out, but come on.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
2 months ago
Reply to  JP

The location of the current routes – and the fact that the same routes are being repeated this year – is strategic and intentional. This will be Sunday parkways 17th year, and for most of its history the focus was on inner NE, inner SE, and NoPo – the places where Portland cycling culture is most established and ingrained into the transportation ecosystem.

All three of the 2023/2024 routes traverse relatively new bicycle & pedestrian infrastructure in neighborhoods where active transportation is less well established but where the groundwork is being laid to make it much more accessible to the community.
A big purpose of Sunday Parkways is community outreach; planting seeds in fertile ground, so to speak.
So if you care about growing active transportation in Portland communities where it has a lower mode share, one simple way you can help is to participate in a Sunday Parkways event that’s NOT in your neighborhood.
Btw – I rode from my home in Montavilla to all three events last year, and they’re all relatively easy to get to by bike from anywhere in Portland.

Beth H
Beth H
2 months ago

Parkways lacks funding because everything in the public interest lacks funding now. And while it would be great to have more Parkways events, it would also be great if the police presence returned at intersections, and more people signed up to volunteer, and intersection volunteers were better supported in terms of safety, and car drivers weren’t so irate about their neighborhood streets being closed down for a few hours, thus their “right to drive.”

We live in a time and place where dedication to the common good is losing ground.
I’m not sure how we turn that around in this time and place, especially after a devastating global pandemic.

Perhaps the thing to do is just to ride your bike when and where you can, whether or not a volunteer is holding the streets car-free for you, and persuading more of your friends to do the same.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 months ago
Reply to  Beth H

We live in a time and place where dedication to the common good is losing ground.

A lot of public events prior to the pandemic were dependent on large pools of free volunteers, particularly from church-based and faith-based groups (there’s a difference between the two I won’t go into). The pandemic hit certain populations harder than others, but church choirs for some reason got hit real hard as did the elderly in terms of deaths and long-term covid. Interestingly enough, church-going and “faith” also declined during the pandemic, even in so-called Bible Belt areas.

The long and short of it, I think, is that we as a society are gradually shifting our social alliances away from faith-based groups (declared atheists in the US were rare before 1960) and towards other types of associations – modal-based groups, neighborhoods, political groups, coops, corporations, trade unions, and nonprofits – and if one is trying to put on a public event that needs a large pool of free volunteers, one has to not only try to reach out to such organizations, but likely already be a member of such. I’ve even heard of organizing groups “paying” for volunteers, either with direct stipends or indirectly by giving grants to the organizations with the pools of “free” volunteers.

Chrystal
Chrystal
2 months ago

I am so excited to see that East Portland route!