If I wasn't already madly in love with Portland, Sunday Parkways would have won me over. Once a month from May to September Portland shuts down auto traffic on several roads, opening them up to bicyclists and pedestrians. Over 20,000 people cruised along the route in NE Portland yesterday. There were tall bikes, long bikes, and short bikes. There were streamers, teddy bears, and unicorn helmets. There were bells and whistles, boom boxes and banjos. And everywhere there were smiles and waves. I especially loved seeing a man ride his X-tracycle with his sweetheart on the back playing a guitar. Their baby was in the seat between them.
Part of the afternoon I was helping with the fresh donut stand at Cully Grove with Orange Splot. Making donuts with Eli and Noelle's three year old was such fun! I'm not sure whether she or I got a bigger kick out of it "snowing" flour onto the table (and floor). Every time she'd scamper down from her chair to peek out the window she'd say "ooh! It's a party!" and she'd report the bikes she saw go past.
The groundbreaking ceremony itself was very pleasant with most of the future Cully Grove residents present. The festivities included writing letters and placing them in a time capsule, digging up little jars of dirt so that the families can have a little bit of Cully Grove with them at home while their future homes are being constructed, and, of course, champagne toasts.
I hadn't realized that my tiny house was going to be on the route, so it was pretty cool to see the swarms go past. After the groundbreaking I headed home again and found that there were still oodles of people biking by. I stood on my porch and a man on a tall bike hollered out "Look! It's a tiny house!" I replied "Look! It's a tall bike!" and he grinned. It seemed a quintessentially Portland swapping of novelty. So I decided to host an impromptu open house. For the next hour whenever someone noticed my house I invited them in and showed them around, answering their questions about everything from my RV shower to how often I grocery shop.
One woman turned to her nine year old son and said "It seems she has everything she needs as just one person. Can you think of anything she doesn't have?" He took a look around and said "Yup, no TV!" I told him he was right. "What in the world do you suppose I do instead?" I asked. He grinned and asked, "Do you like to read?" I assured him I do and I showed him my wee library and my Kindle.
It was such a delightful day and it got me thinking a lot about the relationship between community and streets. This evening PSU's Urban Planning Club hosted Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogeta, Columbia. He, too, talked about cycling, community, democracy, and transit. He talked about bus rapid transit and how a transportation network can be transformed overnight by restricting travel lanes to buses. It's given me lots to consider. My favorite new idea is to make all of our diagonal streets active transportation streets. Let's give the cyclists, buses, pedestrians a shortcut and make cars go the long way!