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Bikepooling anyone?

Posted by on October 3rd, 2006 at 7:41 am

Community exchange bike club ride
[The morning commute]

Everyone knows about carpooling, but what about a bikepool?

Transportation activist and BikePortland.org contributor Elly Blue thought it would be fun to start one, so for the last three Monday mornings she has invited folks to join her on her morning commute from Southeast Portland into downtown.

Elly says she thought it would be fun to try out carpooling by bike, “as a way to break up the monotony of going downtown, meet people, and reach out to new cyclists.”

In a recent message to the Shift email list, she recapped the first three weeks:

Week one: Three people showed up in the pouring rain. Myself, someone who rode to meet us before riding with us back to his house where he works, and one actual nine to fiver going to work. No new faces but a fun rainy ride.

Week two: Three people again. The nine-to-fiver again and myself had a nice cup of coffee. Just as we were about to leave, a woman came up and asked if we were with the bike group. She wasn’t actually going to work, either, but wanted to meet experienced cyclists. She had lived in Portland for a week and had never biked in a city before. We hooked her up with maps and gave her all sorts of conflicting advice. (We gave her contact info for the Bike Buddy program — hope she got in touch with you!)

Week three: Five of us zoomed down the hill together. Two were actually commuting to work. The other three of us headed to do some thrift shopping. There were two new people — the regular commuter is already pretty bikey but not yet on the Shift list; the other shopper had also just moved here and wanted to meet other bikey folks.

In summary: it’s fun to have a weekly morning ride, and we’ve been pretty successful so far with reaching out to new folks — two in three weeks. The same thing might go over pretty well in other parts of Portland, and for other commutes.

Elly also has some advice on how to start a bikepool near you:

This is super easy to organize, consisting of one email and one (very rudimentary, hand-scribbled) sign. The two brand new bikers who showed up both did because of the sign in the coffeeshop; everyone else heard via the Shift list. Maybe I’ll post on Craigslist too next week (and based on responses off-list, I’ll keep up Shift list reminders for another week or two).

This all sounds great to me…and riding with a group keeps you much warmer and more visible than riding alone. So, when do we get a special bikepool diamond lane?

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Comments
  • Becky October 3, 2006 at 9:50 am

    I’ve considered starting a bike bus to take my daughter to preschool, get families from the neighborhood to ride together. The trouble is that preschoolers aren’t exactly predictable, so having to meet at certain time could be challenging. I suppose the “bus” just goes if you’re not there. Hmm, maybe extra incentive to get dear child out the door!

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  • Jake October 3, 2006 at 10:31 am

    I think you’re on to something. We need to increase community involvement in new transportation paradigms.

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  • Greg Raisman October 3, 2006 at 10:33 am

    I’ve been to each of the Bikepools with Elly. They’re really great. The other thing that I think would really help is to get a short article in your neighborhood newsletter about your bikepool.

    I shared the news with my neighborhood president and he was very excited. The Sunnyside neighborhood will soon have a short article in their monthly newsletter encouraging people to meet us for coffee and a ride on Monday mornings.

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  • cb October 3, 2006 at 11:31 am

    How about a forum for bikepooling? Post your commute, let people connect?

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  • Jonathan Maus October 3, 2006 at 11:46 am

    That’s a great idea cb. I’ve created a new forum called “Commute Connections” where people can connect, create, and get advice on Bikepoooling.

    Check it out and start your local bikepool today!

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  • Bikeybunnygirl October 3, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    I love bikepooling. It’s not necessarily the fastest way to get somewhere (riding safely with a group of people takes some compromise, I’ve found), but it’s really fun.

    I work in Milwaukie, and like most of my co-workers I actually live in Portland. I’m one of only two regular, every-day commuters (out of about 90 employees), but during nice weather we get a handful of other people who are at least willing to try biking.

    So this summer I rallied with the other regular commuter and we hosted a couple of “ride to work together” days. I invited everyone at work, set up a day and time (and a safe route), bought donuts and juice and set up a little mini “breakfast on the Springwater” … and both times we got about 10 people. At first it didn’t seem like that big of a deal, then I realized that thanks to this fun little endeavor there were eight fewer cars being driven between Portland and Milwaukie that day. That’s actually pretty great! And the breakfasty part really seemed to make people happy and inspired. The second time it unexpectedly became more of a potluck … someone brought melon, someone else brought a thermos with coffee. Fun!

    So … it’s a bit of effort to do this sort of thing, but for the cost of a little effort (and maybe $10 spent on pastries and juice), it’s a great-big fun payoff. Everyone who came along had a great time, too. Also, both times there has been residual “bike fun” energy built up, which usually results in a few of the irregular cyclists riding in to work a few more times than they might have otherwise.

    Obviously, people live in different parts of town, so it wasn’t really practical that everyone who WANTED to bike would even live in an area that made joining up with this particular group possible. But I shot for the most central meet-up spot and posed the whole thing as a fun way for people to learn a good route to take in case they ever want to ride in.

    It also wasn’t really practical to try commuting back to town together (some people work later than others, etc.), but I did offer both times to ride back to town with anyone who felt unsure about their route. Going a little out of your way (and riding a little slower than you might be used to!) is a small price to pay for this sort of thing, in my opinion.

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  • Kirsty October 3, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    Hey Northwest Portlanders!

    If you’re new to biking, or if you just want some lovely morning biketime company downtown, & are interested in bike commuting into the city in the mornings from the NW Alphabet District, get in touch & let’s do it!

    Kirst x

    kirstyhall [at] gmail dot com

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  • Matthew Picio October 3, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    Hey, Bikeybunnygirl – I live just south of Milwaukie, let me know if you’re looking for more commuters. I’m also going to try to get a group going like Elly’s ride, same day, same spot, but an hour earlier.

    Further info will be on the bikeportland.org forum and the Shift list. Thanks.

    -Matt P.

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  • Google Maps ‘Bike There’ | BikePooling April 28, 2008 at 6:34 am

    [...] is like carpooling. Portland cyclist Elly Blue started one up in her Southeast neighborhood. I wrote about it on BikePortland.org and someone suggested a forum where people could [...]

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