Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday Parkways Preview: North East

(I'm a big fan of Sunday Parkways; I have been since they started 2 years ago. This year, I'm planning on doing a preview of each of the 5 routes, sharing my experience and opinion on the route, as well as ebike-related points of interest along the way. Conveniently, I was test-riding a Pathfinder ST ebike over the weekend, and had a chance to check out the NE route. Also, please consider volunteering to be an Intersection Superhero - it's fun and a great way to help out!)

Sunday Parkways, Portland's signature summertime neighborhood event series, launches May 16th. The Northeast version is one of my favorite routes. Last year, we hosted a backyard bbq for the extended family and fielded a crew of ~25 on a wide variety of bikes, skateboards, scooters, etc.; logistics prevent a big production this year, but we're still planning to ride. You certainly don't have to ride to every park on the route, but here's what I'm looking forward to.

A big change for this year's NE Sunday Parkway is the new Woodlawn Park loop - adding a 4th venue and additional mileage is a great change to this route, so I'm starting there this year. With a well-developed play structure, ample picnic tables, and wide grassy lawn, Woodlawn Park and the cluster of restaurants on nearby Dekum St. is a little-known but much-loved part of the neighborhood. While here, be sure to check out Soup Cycle - Jed and Shauna will venture out of Souplandistan to offer the best in soups and salad. They also deliver weekly via ebike. Entry and exit to the park across Dekum St will be interesting; I'm sure the SP team will have it under control.

I'd recommend riding south up 8th Ave to Ainsworth; 8th is a little wider than 13th, and it maximizes your time on Ainsworth. Ainsworth can be a challenge to share with cars, as there's not much room to pass, but car-free, its a divided 2-way dream to ride. If this year is like last year, there will be Otter Pops in the median.

I think Alberta Park is going to be the center of the action this year - it's central on the route, has a solid roster of vendors and musicians, and will again feature the bike skills course. The skills course is fun to watch, but challenging to ride. It seems there's always one spot I can't get past, but I've been practicing. While in Alberta Park, check out The eBike Store, and grab a free map from the Columbia River Crossing folks.

From Alberta Park, I'd recommend back-tracking to 17th and heading south. This will take you by the Community Cycling Center on Alberta Street, a great chance to top off your tires, or grab something you didn't know you needed from their dollar bin. Beyond Alberta, we start climbing to Going St, then turn east to follow the ridge. The roads are wide and fairly shady, and as I recall from last year, a fun ride. An intersection mandala at Shaver and 37th marks the turn to Wilshire Park.

Wilshire Park offers the most food vendors of any of the parks on the NE route. Best Buy will be there, talking about their electric vehicle offerings. Pedal Bike Tours, who offer ebike rentals and ebike options on their tours, will also be in Wilshire Park this year.

From Wilshire, I'll head north up 37th Street to Fernhill Park. This is the longest straight leg of the route, and traverses the tricky s-turn at the intersection with Prescott. It's nice to pass through this intersection while heading downhill, so I'd recommend the counter-clockwise route on this loop. Also, 37th isn't as shady as 17th; last year I recall it got pretty warm riding uphill, ie southbound, on 37th.

Fernhill has a great off-leash section for the dogs; for Sunday Parkways, they'll have food vendors and an array of vendors, including a climbing wall. Be sure to check out Singing Planet's electric bike rentals. As the picture shows, the grass is filling in quickly at Fernhill.

Logistically, Wilshire and Woodlawn Parks have the most picnic tables, but last year there were temporary tables set up in several parks, so seating shouldn't be an issue.

"I Love This Route!"s
Alberta Park
The bridge in Woodlawn Park

"Keep an Eye Out For..."
Intersection at Prescott and 37th
Intersections at Dekum/7th and 13th


  1. Thanks for the info. Would your be interested in carrying the Pedego brand? We have numerous inquiries from customers who want to test ride the bike before they buy. We forward all referrals from your area to the local dealer. Please call Don at 949-336-8333 if interested.

  2. Thanks, Don, but I'm not a retailer, just an enthusiast, and Portland has an existing Pedego dealer.