Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 14th, 2007 at 9:04 am
the Piedmont neighborhood, 8/2/05]
OK everyone, here's your chance to let the City of Portland know that volunteer, neighborhood bike patrols would be a new program worthy of their support.
First, some background.
I recently met with stakeholders from the Mayor's Office, the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, the county District Attorney, and the Police Bureau.
This meeting was based on my thoughts after hearing and reading the community response around recent attacks on cyclists. The meeting was put together by John Canda (former director of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods and current head of the Mayor's Office on Youth Crime Prevention) after a conversation we had a few weeks ago.
Everyone at that meeting shared my enthusiasm that bicycles could be a great way to lend a hand in their efforts to strengthen Portland neighborhoods.
Now the City of Portland is willing to add bicycles into their existing Community Foot Patrol program... a very exciting possibility!
But before they do, they've asked me to gauge public support for the program. Before I ask if you'd like to be involved, I'll share more details of the bike patrols concept.
The concept of volunteer bike patrols is simple; to get more people active and engaged in our neighborhoods. Think of volunteers as bicycle-mounted neighborhood ambassadors.
Their role would be non-confrontational (I only use the word "patrols" for clarity) and the focus would be community building, not community policing.
How can bikes build community? Well, it's not really about the bikes...it's about the people.
Volunteers in this program would be out in the neighborhood meeting people, answering questions (who do I call for graffitti removal? abandoned cars?), passing out information (like where and when monthly neighborhood meetings are), picking up trash (I plan on pulling a trailer), helping older folks cross the street, and just about anything a nice person ought to do anyway.
And of course there are spin-off benefits to getting more people on bikes in our neighborhoods; bikes are infectiously fun, their presence slows down cars, they're a great way to get healthy, and a program like this would have a valuable PR benefit for this City's bicyclists.
It all sounds good, but before the City moves forward they want to know your answer to this question...
If a neighborhood bike patrol program were available, would you get involved?*
Please leave your answers (and/or questions) in the comment section below. And don't forget to mention which neighborhood you're from. Thanks.
- Take a look at the Community Foot Patrol Manual (PDF here). The most important page is the last one, the Volunteer Agreement. Your adherence to those eight basic rules, and a two-hour training session, is all the City officially requires in order for you to volunteer.
- Regardless if there is sufficient interest to move forward with bike patrols, I still plan to hold a community meeting to talk about issues that have been raised around this topic.
- The Skanner, a local community newspaper, has a story about this in their current issue.