Why not? When you are five years old your bike is your freedom. It's the coolest thing ever. And since you have absolutely no clue about driving a car, that's not even an option. So why wouldn't they just close the streets like this every day and let me and everyone around me (a lot of adults) ride our bike with these wonderful happy smiles bursting the seams of their faces.
This past Sunday was the second chapter this summer in Portland's bikeaholic novel "Taking Back the Streets" - or subtitled: How to frustrate neighborhood traffic and make them end up enjoying it.
Actually it the expansion of a brilliant experiment from last summer called Sunday Parkways. Summer 2009 it expanded to 7+ mile ciruits in the NE ansd North Portland neighborhoods and will cap it off next month on August 16th with a 9 miles weave through the Laurelhurst, Sunnyside, Col. Summers, and Mt Tabor Parks streets.
I love the bike - all shapes and sizes. Sunday Parkways is why there is a Tour de France, a Paris Roubaix and a Giro, because people in Europe grow up with the beauty and passion of riding a bike in their communities. Last Sunday our streets were filled with people celebrating not just bikes but being in a community that cherishes civility, connectedness and sharing of a passion for this marvelous place we call home. The bicycle is one of the most delightful and personal ways to do that.
One of the added bonuses of the Sunday Parkway project overlooked is the incredible Portland Police positive PR this little street shutdown creates. I'm completely certain that many if not all of these officers have never been thanked that much in their entire careers, much less on a single day. I truly hope they appreciate all the genuine thanks these bi-pedalers cast their way. Especially the littlest cyclists - many launching their thanks from the tag-alongs and tandems while their parents negotiate the two-wheeled parade. Public policing, how cool is that. And hats of to the officers who removed their sunglasses when the opportunity was there. Again, kids saw faces, you were real, not just the voice and the badge making minivan mommy mad with a ticket.
"again tomorrow?", I wish! But there is one more chance, August 16th in South East, so get out the bike, take a deep breath and enjoy a "toodle" through your neighborhood remenescent of 1880's when the "saftey bike" was born.
(PS- one small rant - roadies, of all ages, leave your "kits" at home, along with your "need for speed" or take it somewhere else - like one of the Daily Rides I mention every week on this blog - you're a PAIN IN THE ARSE out there, and no one, especially the five year olds you whip in and around, are impressed.)