(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
The City of Portland says the 2015 Sunday Parkways season will break all previous records for attendance, so it’s fitting that it came to an end on a near-perfect day.
Thousands of people came out on bikes and on their own two feet to enjoy blue skies, cool and sunny temperatures, and the first-ever (and likely the last) Sunday Parkways to use the carfree Tilikum Bridge.
Typical Sunday Parkways routes are one big loop, but with the Tilikum opening just a few weeks ago it was hard for organizers to resist including it in their plans. So today’s ride looped through Westmoreland and Sellwood neighborhoods and then had a long northern spur along the new Orangle Line and up onto the bridge.
Sounds like a great idea, except for the fact that TriMet buses, MAX and streetcar were all on their normal schedules. That alone is no big deal, but when you consider that TriMet is already extremely worried about collisions between path users and trains in inner southeast, you can imagine their stress level today with thousands of Sunday Parkways attendees dawdling around the tracks. I heard from sources that TriMet initially wanted PBOT to use only the north side of the Tilikum path because they didn’t want people to attempt to cross over the tracks at the west end. Then PBOT posted a message to Facebook encouraging people to park their bikes on the east end of the bridge and walk across in order to “keep the congestion down.”
The bridge and traffic along the Orange Line from OMSI to the Brooklyn Neighborhood was packed all day. But a few bottlenecks are a small price to pay for such a great event. Going slow was interesting because it gave me a time to chat with people and watch how the new bikeways, signals and crossings were being used. That being said, I think in the future it might be smarter for them to use larger streets and arterials instead of funneling everyone on narrow paths.
But, I digress… Back to today’s adventures…
Before we started the ride I met up with one Portlander who had never done a Sunday Parkways before. His name is Ted Wheeler. Wheeler, whose currently serving as Oregon State Treasurer and who would like to become Portland’s mayor, showed up to the event with his nine-year-old daughter. Wheeler said he and his family don’t ride in the city. He’s an “avid cyclist” who competes in triathlons and only gets out on the road in the pre-dawn hours because he “doesn’t like to mingle with traffic.” In many ways, he and his daughter are the embodiment of what open streets events are all about: a way to experience city streets on a bike without the threat of dangerous driving.
Looking around at all the other families on bikes rolling by us, Wheeler remarked at how the event impacts our city. “It just shows what the greenway potential is, in terms of bringing the community together, getting people outside, getting people to mingle, and really humanizing our built environment.”
The built environment had plenty of humans in it today that’s for sure…
After rolling through the paths along the Orange Line and then the tree-lined streets of the Brooklyn neighborhood, we stopped at Westmoreland Park for lunch. Along the way we grabbed some fresh veggies from a free pile and scored some fruit thanks to BikeLoudPDX’s “banana handup” at the top of a little hill.
I spotted Mayor Hales at the park. He was proudly sporting the very first of Nutcase’s eagerly-anticipated new helmet featuring the Portland flag.
I always love seeing familiar faces along the road. It’s my favorite part of Sunday Parkways. I talked to tons of old and new friends today.
Here’s Citybikes founder Tim Calvert (who is no longer with the cooperative) riding his trademark tall-bike full of pannier buckets he makes and sells…
This is Angel York, a dedicated volunteer who helps several local bike organizations, including Bike Farm and BikePortland (she’s helping us with our birthday party this Friday!)…
Also ran into this very talented duo: Sprocket Podcast co-host Aaron Flores (L) and consumate activist and musician Dan Kaufman…
And this is BikeLoudPDX volunteer Emily Guise and her friend with their matching Bike Fridays. Sooo cute…
PBOT’s Sunday Parkways CEO (not officialy title) Linda Ginenthal overseeing another successful event. She’s extra-happy because of some news we’ll share on the Front Page Monday morning.
The sweetest thing of the day (literally and figuratively) were these two young ladies selling bicycling-inspired cookies and rice krispie treats…
Free piles are a time-honored Portland tradition, but a free car? That was a first for me:
“As is. You haul.”
Another first was spotting this cool little dude on the new mural at SE 8th and Division. I think I found my spirit animal…
Hope everyone had fun out there today. Thanks to the City of Portland, the volunteers and everyone who makes this event tick. We’re already looking forward to next year.
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