Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on September 15th, 2008 at 1:45 pm
through downtown Hillsboro.
Video report below
(Photos © J. Maus)
My family and I made the trek out West (thanks to the MAX) for our first foray into the Hillsboro bike scene.
As the crowd milled about, kids on BMX bikes raced around the parking lot (playing a two-wheeled version of tag), Bruce Buffington and volunteers from the Northwest Bicycle Safety Council fitted helmets, gave a brief traffic safety presentation, and then we were off.
“We were expecting 30-50 people…but we got 170 and 32 familes.”
— event organizer John-Michael Kowertz
As waves of riders embarked on the Tour, one of the event’s organizers, Nancy Nelson stood on the side of the road with a proud smile on her face. Nelson — who is also the woman behind Pedigreen, a company that sells pedestrian and safety products — admired the crowd and said, “Not bad for sleepy old Hillsboro huh?!”
I’ll say. Not bad at all.
I was impressed not just with the excellent organization and planning of the event, but with the general enthusiasm and rider turn-out. I got the sense that there’s a pent-up demand for bike events in Hillsboro. One woman I rode along with for a few minutes, Andrea Korsen, agrees.
“Hillsboro is really changing,” Korsen said as we pedaled down Main Street. She’s excited about Hillsboro’s 2020 Vision plan and she’s hopeful more folks will start biking (she’s a fair-weather commuter herself), but added that, “There’s just nothing like this (ride) here.”
Another Hillsboro resident I met was Todd Harple. Harple was on the ride with his 9 year-old twins, Sean and Hailey. As they rode ahead of us, Harple told me he and his kids love biking but that, “There’s not a whole lot of friendly place for kids to be biking here…not a whole lot of bike lanes, not a whole lot of bike trails.” Harple said he’s forced to pack up his car to take the kids somewhere to ride safely.
With large groups of others riding with him, Harple said he and his kids felt much safer. “If something like this was organized every other week, or every month, it would be great for us…we’d do it together.”
Maybe it’s time for a Kidical Mass ride in Hillsboro?
The ride twisted and turned through gorgeous parks and wide, low-traffic, and smooth residential streets before making it’s way to the plaza in front of the Hillsboro Civic Center. Some took immediately to the fountain and others participated in several fun activities the organizers had planned. There was a slow bike race, a Zig-Zag skills course, and my favorite, the Paper Toss event.
One of the organizers, John-Michael Kowertz said he expected 30-50 people to show up. He ended up with nearly four times that amount and the crowd included 32 families and riders of all ages and styles. With this success, Kowertz hopes to make the event larger next year and has plans to include a longer loop (possibly out to the Vernonia-Banks Trail) and even a criterium race in downtown Hillsboro.
Hear more from an interview with Kowertz, see some Paper Toss action, and ride along with the Tour de Parks in my video report below: