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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Parkways: not really a pedestrian thing

We cruised part of the Sunday Parkways in Northeast Portland today, on foot. We had done the same thing a year ago at the inaugural parkways event in North Portland, and back then it was a positively enchanting day. This time around, not so much. Part of it was because the novelty had worn off. But another part, not to be overlooked, is that pedestrians were pretty much relegated to sidewalks and had a hard time crossing the street -- there were that many bicycles. And many, many inexperienced riders, of course -- enough so that a walker couldn't really predict what the folks on wheels were going to do in a tight spot.

Wilshire Park was a fun scene, to be sure. An outfit called Circus Cascadia had a setup where average Joes and Janes got to try their hands at circus stunts -- some easy, some not so. A magician tried to wow some kids with rope tricks -- the parents seemed more impressed. A jug band (with a baby in tow) played along merrily. There was a surfeit of juggling activities. The food carts were completely overwhelmed, but we got the last two samples of the wares of this outfit, which looks intriguing.

Rather than venture back out into the endless river of bikes, we veered off the course and walked around Alberta Street, which was pedestrian-friendly enough on a brilliant summer Sunday afternoon. This place was particularly welcoming. And you can't go wrong here.

Maybe next time we'll take our bikes to Sunday Parkways. Otherwise, we'd rather go for a nice stroll in one of the thousands of other great walking places in Portland. Parkways is a gorgeous event, but it seems it's fast becoming a bike thing. Which is fine, if you're on a bike.

Comments (10)

I did the loop on bike and because -- as you say -- there were so many inexperienced riders, it felt unsafe. In fact, I feel safer commuting home in the bike lane on Barbur. I think kids (and their parents) should be tested before taking part in Sunday Parkways.

We did a short haul up to Wilshire park on foot. A times the bikes swarmed around you like a school of fish. And trying to "merge" on the the parkway from a sidestreet was like trying to get on a California freeway in a Geo Metro.

We caught the last band--"Don't Hurt Miles"--at Wilshire Park. Fantastic rock/ska band with some big horn sound.

All-in-all, a good walk. But, in Southeast, we will be one of the many families of "inexperienced" bikers.

I hope you signed the Adams recall petition while you were there. There were a numberov volunteers seeking sigs there, as I understand it.

If you didn't I can easily bring the form by the law school for you.

Let me know.

Love seeing the shout-out for Tonalli's. Those folks make a great donut!

For what it's worth: Many of the roads on this NE event felt much narrower than those used in N Portland. Even on a bike, it was a bit nerve-wracking to keep tabs my kid on his bike amongst a sea of inexperienced (or careless) adult riders who would swerve without warning or checking over their shoulders in their blind spots.

We went early, a little after 9:00 a.m., and didn't have any problems walking on the street. Hung out at Wilshire park for a bit, and by the time we left at 11:30, the roads seemed to be getting pretty crowded with bikes. Perfect weather yesterday, that's for sure.

I think right now bikes are uber-hip, and so for events like this, especially in N and NE Portland (if I may say so), everyone who wants to be anyone is going to dust off their bike for the event.

That means a lot of in-experienced riders.

What events like this will hopefully foreshadow though, is a greater opening of the streets to cyclists, more people then riding on a regular basis, and less in-experienced cyclists. I don't know if it will actually work out that way, but here's hoping.

We're in kind of a transition here with regard to transportation, and so there seems to be kind of a lot of turmoil around certain issues - hopefully things will even out a bit as time goes by and we all figure out how to live well with each other again.

Rather than rain opprobrium on the "inexperienced bicyclists" perhaps it can be stated that there were just too many cyclists. Sounds like no fun at all to me...

It was certainly congested, I had trouble crossing the street at my intersection on many occasions. But it was great to see so many people on bikes, *especially* all the beginners. The event is catered towards beginner cyclists, and if beginners have a good experience then they'll ride more often and develop skills and confidence.

Programming can be modified to better accommodate the numbers of people that want to be out in car-free streets and make it a pedestrian-friendly experience.

Some ideas:
* lengthen the duration of the event, from 10am - 4pm to 9 - 5, for instance.
* lengthen the route, from 6.6 miles to, say, 9 miles.
* add more loops in the route, and on boulevards like Ainsworth have bikes on one side, pedestrians & beginner bikes on the other.
* ask residents to move their cars to a side street for the day, if it would be convenient for them. Moving 2/3 of the cars would have been a big improvement.

Pasture Ted

I went to the one last year in North Portland as well as the one this past Sunday. There were a great many walkers last year in North Portland than the NE Sunday Parkways this year. Perhaps it's simply the difference in neighborhood demographics? I noticed there were far more yard sales and art displays in North Portland and more well-heeled looking kids selling lemonade in NE. Again, a difference in demographics, I think.

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