Tales from Portland Sunday Parkways

Recently, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to head down to Portland to check out their Sunday Parkways. That's Portland's version of Ciclovia, Sunday Streets, Summer Streets, or whatever you want to call events that close streets to cars and open them people.  At times, I can be a little cynical when people talk about Portland and Copenhagen. Really guys... it isn't that much better, is it? Get over it.

But after last Sunday, I am swallowing my undying Seattle pride. Portland's Sunday Parkways event was an incredible experience. Picture Bicycle Sunday but bigger. Much bigger.

The event took place in North Portland on June 26, one of Portland's first sunny weekends. The city open an eight-mile loop to bicycle riders and walker. The roads were packed with people riding bikes. And they were people of all ages, shapes and sizes. This loop was not for the fast bicyclists out there. This ride was all about a relaxing sunny Sunday ride with the family. And thousands of other families. Tens of thousands! The city of Portland estimated that 31,600 people biked through this free event.

In planning for the event the Bureau of Transportation looked at routes that were relatively flat, low car traffic and part of their neighborhood greenway system. Due to a smart route choice, people can and will continue to ride this route that has been highlighted by the Sunday Parkways event. In the words of the Sunday Parkways organizer, Linda Ginenthal, "Everyday can be a Sunday Parkway."

I know what you are thinking right now. I really do. You are thinking "Yeah whatever. Serena, everything you are writing is great and all, but I want this in Seattle. What can I do?"

Well fine reader, you have asked the right question. You can do a few things. First, if you have never attend a Summer Streets event or a Bicycle Sunday, check them out!

Second, after you have attended and had a good time let the organizers know. One of the largest lessons learned for me being in Portland is that we all need to tell our stories better and having public support makes the stories have a larger impact. If you want to see changes in the event, let them know too.

Lastly, after you have attended and sent your feedback, please volunteer. It took over 300 volunteers to make that event in Portland happen. Let's work together to bring something like Sunday Parkways to Seattle.

See more photos over at the Sunday Parkways Flickr pool.