Every Sunday in Bogotá, Colombia, the city briefly transforms. Miles of roads are free of automobile traffic, allowing residents to bike, walk or roller-skate across the city unimpeded. Inspired by Bogotá’s weekly event, Portland’s Sunday Parkways began in 2008, closing streets to cars and opening them to people. Sunday Parkways is an annual event series that’s offered on one Sunday a month from May–September. Perfect for riders of all skill levels, these community rides let cyclists take their time and roll through the neighborhoods that make up the heart of the city.
Pedaling through Portland on two wheels is a summertime must. With almost 400 miles (650 km) of bikeways woven throughout the city, Portland is consistently listed as one of the most bike-friendly cities in America. Portland’s bikeways are made up of bike paths, designated bike lanes and neighborhood greenways where bicycles and pedestrians are given priority over cars. In just a few minutes, cyclists can go from riding beneath a canopy of trees in Ladd’s Addition to biking along the Eastbank Esplanade and watching the sun set over the Willamette River. If you don’t have your own wheels, Portland’s many bike rental services and Biketown bike-share program have you covered.
Sunday Parkway routes
Sunday Parkways are set routes throughout the city, opening up streets to people-powered wheels (including skateboards and bikes) and getting pedestrians out for a good stroll. They offer a refreshing momentary imagining of what a city could look like if it prioritized people over personal vehicles.
In 2019, five Sunday Parkways are scheduled from May–September:
- Southeast Portland: May 19 (7 miles/11.3 km)
- North Portland: June 30 (9.5 miles/15.3 km)
- Outer Northeast Portland: July 21 4.8 miles/7.7 km)
- Green Loop (Downtown/Central Eastside): Aug. 25 (7 miles/11.3 km)
- Northeast Portland: Sept. 22 (7.6 miles/12.2 km)
Green Loop Sunday Parkways (Aug. 25)
Every route has its own worthy points of interest, but the Green Loop may be the most accessible for visitors. Based on an ongoing city project to create a 6-mile (9.7 km) multiuse path connecting the central city, the Green Loop is the only Sunday Parkways route to cross the Willamette River. Cyclists will travel over the Broadway Bridge and Tilikum Crossing, a car-free bridge carrying light-rail trains, streetcars, bicycles and pedestrians. (It’s the only bridge of its kind in the nation!). The Green Loop event also includes walking tours of the central city.
North Portland Sunday Parkways (June 30)
The North Portland loop also boasts an extra-special feature. For the second year, a section of the street near Harper’s Playground — Portland’s pioneering playground for kids of all abilities — will be taken over by Every One Rides, an organization enabling free access to adaptive bikes and other assisted devices. Participants will be able to test out adaptive bikes and devices in a space free of other riders.
What to expect at Sunday Parkways
Each Sunday Parkways route is closed off to cars and other motorized vehicles from 11 a.m.–4 p.m., allowing cyclists full access to the city streets. Dozens of volunteers are stationed along the route, directing traffic at busy street crossings and providing additional safety measures (and encouragement) for young and less experienced riders.
Each ride passes through a number of “activated” city parks filled with local food vendors, bike repair stations, community booths, kids’ activities and much more. Visitors can also expect live entertainment, including music, DJ sets, circus performances, Shakespearian plays and Zumba. Unofficial concerts, snacks and yard sales also tend to appear outside the residences along the route — be sure to bring quarters for the many adorable lemonade stands that inevitably pop up!
Sunday Parkways is a reminder of how city infrastructure can help make neighborhoods more bicycle- and people-friendly. Wandering through Portland by bike on a lazy Sunday is an ideal way to get to know the city and the people who live in it. Learn more on the Sunday Parkways 2019 website.