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bikes and disasters

Disaster Relief Trials bring cargo-bike heroism back to Portland

Saturday, July 13th, 2013
Photo by Al Hongo.

Portland's 30-mile catastrophe-themed urban bike competition returned for a second year Saturday with a splash and a lot of grunts.

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What to expect at the Disaster Relief Trials

Friday, July 12th, 2013
It's here! The biggest event of its kind in the world.

One of the most interesting and influential bike events in Portland starts with a kickoff party tonight. The Disaster Relief Trials was first held last year at Velo Cult Bike Shop in Hollywood and since then the event has ridden a wave of interest, gotten attention from local, regional, and even national agencies, and has spawned imitators in Vancouver (BC), Seattle, Eugene, and other cities.

This year's event features two big parties, the Trials themselves, and the "Cargo Bike Fair" — a huge gathering of cargo bikes and the people who love them. I'll share more about what's on tap, and highlight a few of the bikes and riders below...
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Cargo bike responders wanted for Tigard mock emergency drill

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
Disaster Relief Trials -90
Cargo bikes to the rescue!
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Tigard is planning a major, region-wide "mock emergency" exercise on Thursday and they want to include cargo bikes. Tara Harper, a consultant working on the event, was inspired by her involvement with the Disaster Relief Trials in Portland last summer and says cargo bikes would be uniquely suited to the task.

The exercise is based on a bioterrorism attack that creates a massive public health emergency. The entire population will be at risk unless they receive medicine that's doled out at a "Point of Dispensing station". Tigard will test the POD station concept for the first time on Thursday and officials from many other regional jurisdictions will be on hand to observe it. The medicine would be flown in from other areas and the challenge is to get the boxes of treatments and supplies to the POD stations as fast as possible. With traffic jams and other unforeseen circumstances, vehicles are needed that can operate regardless of traffic conditions.
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Disaster Relief Trials back (and bigger) for second year

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
Disaster Relief Trials -84
Joe Partridge competing in the 2012 event.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Disaster Relief Trials, an event that showcases the capabilities of cargo bikes in disaster response, will be bigger and better and this year. After a successful inaugural event last year (which has already spawned similar events in Boulder and Seattle), organizers have loaded up the event with new sponsors, new events, a larger expo area, a new location, and much more.

The idea behind the DRT is to put cargo bikes and their riders through a series of tasks that simulate how the bikes would function in response to a major natural disaster (such as an earthquake) when fuel is rationed and roads and bridges are impassible by motor vehicles. Last year, 30 competitors participated while a HAM radio-powered command center tracked their movements via a home base at Velo Cult bicycles in Hollywood.
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Emergency expert now consultant for using bikes during disasters

Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Joe Partridge at OATS
Joe Partridge at the Oregon Active
Transportation Summit yesterday.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Following the tsunami in Japan in 2011, the idea of using bicycles in response to major disasters has quickly gained momentum around the country. Now the former Deputy for Planning and Preparedness for Multnomah County's Emergency Management Disivion, Joe Partridge, has left his job at the County to launch Genevieve Consulting. One of the main focus areas of Partridge's new company is, "integrating bikes and active transportation into emergency management"

You might recall Partridge's perspective on bikes and disasters from an interview we published with him back in May 2011. Now Partridge is combining his expertise from 15 years of working in emergency management with his respect and appreciation of bicycles to take his ideas to the next level. Partridge had a booth at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit yesterday and is already making connections with government agencies and advocates throughout the state.

Here's more about his new business: (more...)

More from the bikes/disaster front

Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Disaster Relief Trials -77
Ready for the apocalypse.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Along with women on bikes, another major biking theme that has gone from trend to full-fledged movement in 2012 is the connection between bicycles and disasters. From our local efforts here in Portland, to national attention thanks to hurricane Sandy, this is an idea whose time has come.

Check out the developments below, all of which underscore the momentum the bikes/disaster connection has going for it.

Local filmmaker Joe Biel of Cantakerous Titles is working on a documentary about last summer's Disaster Relief Trials event. Joe filmed the event while being pulled in a cargo trailer and earlier this week he released a trailer of the forthcoming documentary: (more...)

City of Portland releases video about bikes in New York City after Sandy

Thursday, November 29th, 2012
"Bikes prove useful in Sandy aftermath,"
reads PBEM home page.

The idea that bicycles can play a large role in how cities respond to natural disasters continues to gain momentum. What started as something of a niche curiosity here in Portland, has matured into a serious topic of discussion among bike advocates and the national media (thanks in large part to superstorm Sandy). Now it seems city governments are taking note. And again, Portland is taking the lead.

The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management has just released a video about the role bicycles played in Sandy. I thought they were making a more general video about bikes and disasters; but it turned out to focus entirely on my post-Sandy experiences in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I was happy to share my perspectives on the topic and I'm excited that PBEM has taken such a keen interest. Watch the video below... (more...)

National spotlight shines on role of bikes in disaster response

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
Screen grab of The Rachel Maddow Show last night.

It's been a good year for the idea that bikes are the ultimate disaster response vehicles.

What started as a niche thing here in Portland (promoted by a few emergency preparedness hobbyists with a penchant for cargo bikes), spread east to New York after superstorm Sandy; and then last night the idea made its big, prime-time national cable TV debut.
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KGW TV: "Bikes can be a lifeline" after disaster strikes

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
Screen grab of Woodlawn's cargo bike disaster response unit.
- Watch video below -

KGW TV (Portland's NBC affiliate station) ran a feature segment last night about how cargo bikes will play a role in our disaster response plans. It's a story we shared back in March, and after superstorm Sandy proved once again that bikes are the most reliable and resilient form of transportation after a major natural disaster, the story is even more timely.

"When roads are wiped out, and supplies scarce," noted KGW reporter Abbey Gibb, "bikes can be a lifeline... Cargo bikes, and bikes in general, are the simplest answer." (more...)

While Sandy recovery continues, signs of hope on two wheels

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Times Up bike charging station -4
East Village residents happily hop onto a free bike-powered charging station provided by activist group Times Up.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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