Green Loop gets city moving for Sunday Parkways
Why can't it be Sunday Parkways every day of the week?
It might seem fanciful, but city leaders hope to make the car-free urban path a permanent fixture of Portland's street grid. Plenty of residents got their first taste of the foot-and-pedal proposal — known as the Green Loop — on Sunday, July 22.
Bikes filled the boulevards of the inner east and west sides, with an estimated 15,000 making the trek between the Broadway Bridge and Tilikum Crossing as they cruised from Portland State University to the North Park Blocks and on to the Rose Quarter and the Central Eastside.
"I like that there's some shade every now and then, and there's plenty of places to go," said Brenna Belezos during a pit stop in front of the Moda Center. "It's really fun. I really like riding."
The six-year-old's dad, Tom, says the family tries to participate in two or three Sunday Parkways a year, but didn't realize that this route was a rough draft for the six-mile Green Loop. The Milwaukie resident says he supports investments in pedestrian infrastructure — but also wants the city to tackle the traffic.
"I want both. I want the option to ride my bike safely, and I want to be able to drive my car efficiently," he explained.
While plans for the Green Loop date back to 2012, the concept wasn't officially embraced until June 6, when the City Council unanimously adopted the project as part of the Central City 2035 plan.
The document calls for construction of the Sullivan's Crossing bike and pedestrian bridge at Northeast 7th Avenue over Interstate 84, new bikeways along the North and South Park Blocks and the soon-to-be redeveloped Post Office blocks, as well as at the I-405 off-ramp at Southwest 4th Avenue and Lincoln Street.
Mayor Ted Wheeler has become an enthusiastic booster of the plan, though he's hinted he doesn't expect to be sitting in City Hall when many aspects of the Green Loop come online in the next 10 to 20 years.
"As Portland continues to grow and thrive, we need new ways to help Portlanders travel safely and easily," Wheeler said in a Tuesday, July 17 press conference announcing the new route, according to a prepared copy of his remarks. "That is what the Green Loop is all about."
Westside Portland resident Katie Chang could see herself commuting across the river for work using the Green Loop.
Chang tried out a Biketown cycle for the first time on Sunday, and while some naysayers have forsworn the neon orange behemoths, she said using the bike was a breeze.
"I wasn't planning on riding. They made it easy," she said. "It feels very safe to ride on these streets."