Portland for pedestrians

This morning, as a culmination of the Carfree Cities Conference here, 6 miles of street in North and NE Portland were closed to autos so that people could walk or bike or skate or whatever around several neighborhoods. The organizers hope to make Sunday Parkways a regular event.

A friend of mine and I came over from Vancouver to join the fun, and fun it was. Not to mention good exercise. What I loved:

First, this is a gorgeous time of year in Portland. Everyone’s gardens were at their baroque best, with roses at their peak on every block. The Rose Garden at Peninsula Park is a true gem.

Second, it was a treat to explore neighborhoods that were new to me, mostly of modest but well-kept older homes, front porches, trees.

Third, to live in a neighborhood where public transportation and grocery shopping is within an easy walk on real sidewalks (Vancouver has a shocking dearth of sidewalks), means you really could live most of the time without a car. Bringing the MAX light rail line out Interstate has transformed North Portland.

Everyone was so happy and friendly. Serious athletes, little old ladies, dogs, kids, couples with strollers or kids in bike carts, policemen.

Oregon’s income tax rate is 9% (Washington has none), housing prices are steeper than in Vancouver for comparable properties, and their property tax is pretty high. But if I didn’t have to drive everywhere? If I could hang out on my front porch and meet my neighbors? Truly I am ready to move over there.

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