They say it’s never as good as the first time, but somehow Sunday Parkways seems to just get better and better.
This weekend marked PBOT’s 25th Sunday Parkways. Six years ago (to the day) PBOT tried this experiment for the first time on the same streets we enjoyed yesterday. Since that day in 2008, the event has grown in both frequency and attendance and Sunday Parkways has become a revered civic institution that shows Portland at its finest — a living, breathing, example of active community building unlike any other event on the calendar.
Given how short the event is — just five precious hours — I started pedaling the loop at exactly 11:00 am and soaked up every second until the “road closed” barricades started coming down at around 4:00.
As I rode and looked out at the mass of pedaling Portlanders streaming through the streets, I saw a cross-section of our community I never see in the bike lanes when I’m riding to work. It’s the same cross-section we’ll have to see more of if we intend to meet our goal of 25% bike ridership by 2030. In some ways it seems daunting to create a city where people from 8-80 years old can cycle in such a relaxed and enjoyable way — any time of day, any day of the week. But in other ways, it seems tantalizingly simple: just create spaces with little to no contact with automobiles and create enticing destinations along the way.
The result is an environment that transcends mere transportation. While these “open streets” events originated from transportation visionaries, their benefits and impact go way beyond simply getting from a-to-b. There’s an immense amount of good that radiates from this event. It brings us closer to ourselves, our neighbors and our neighborhoods in thousands of (mostly) tiny ways that add up to something that feels much larger.
My only quibble about Sunday Parkways is that we don’t do it more often, in more neighborhoods, and for more hours each time (can you imagine it on a warm summer evening?).
For now, thank you PBOT for 25 amazing events!
Check out more photos below…
This was the second (of five) Sunday Parkways for the 2014 season. The next one is in northeast Portland on July 27th. See PBOT’s website for all the details.
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