I've lived in Portland for seventeen years, and of all the events, activities and festivals I've attended in the city, one of my absolute favorite is Sunday Parkways. The event is extraordinarily simple: several miles of urban roads are closed to cars and become the playground for bikes, pedestrians, strollers, roller bladers, unicyclists, anything BUT motorized vehicles. This year the Portland Office of Transportation in conjunction with ORBike and Metro have set three Sunday Parkways in three different neighborhoods of Portland. I missed the first one on June 21st in North Portland (and am now kicking myself for missing it), but did manage to attend the one on July 19th in North East Portland and it was exceptional.
In addition to over 7 miles of closed streets the Sunday Parkways also features mini park fests along the way with food, entertainment, activities and free bike servicing. The third and final Sunday Parkways of the year takes place in Southeast Portland on Sunday August 16th from 9am to 4pm. Unlike other cycling events in Portland (like Providence Bridge Pedal) the Sunday Parkways event is completely free.
The Southeast route is by far the best of the three parkways with a 9 mile closed course which includes a "5 mile relatively flat loop through portions of the Buckman, Kerns, Laurelhurst, Richmond, Sunnyside neighborhoods." and it connects to a " second, more challenging, 4-mile Mt Tabor loop will be optional to summit the only volcano in the City limits. The route will also cross the SE Hawthorne, Division and Belmont business areas"
There is not start or finish spot for the event. You can join in at any intersection and loop in either direction. A detailed map of the Southeast Sunday Parkways can be found here. There's also a complete breakdown of all the vendors and events at each Sunday Parkways park (the main park stops are: Laurelhurst Park, Mt. Tabor Park, Colonel Summers Park and Sunny Side Park). The Southeast Sunday Parkway also intersects the Hawthorne Street Fair creating one of the most unbeatable combinations of events I've seen in Portland.
Not only is this event free, it features a ton of goods and services which are offered free, including: Bike Empowered complimentary bike safety checks and repairs, BTA/Safe Route To Schools kids bike fitting and training (both at Colonel Summers Park), REI free climbing Wall and Portland Wheelman flat tire repair classes (at Laurelhurst Park).
I'm hard pressed to come up with a better example of an event that illustrates why Portland is such an amazing city, it's absolutely not to be missed. So do yourself a favor and make your way on Sunday to this amazing event.
For more information on Sunday Parkways: