bikes and disasters

‘Disaster Relief Trials’ demonstrate biking’s potential after The Big One

by on October 17th, 2015 at 11:38 pm

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Competitor Adam Newman leads a group of riders on North Rosa Parks Way en route to the Oregon Food Bank checkpoint where they had to pick up a box of food before returning to the University of Portland.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

With interest in earthquake preparedness at an all-time high, the timing could not have been better for the fourth annual Disaster Relief Trials. The event, which was based at University of Portland, aims to demonstrate that cargo bikes can be an effective way to administer aid and help rebuild our communities after a large quake or other natural disaster. (more…)

Talk of a disastrous earthquake got you down? Just keep on biking

by on July 22nd, 2015 at 3:57 pm

People who bike together, stick together.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Bikes won’t save you after the Big One, but the community built up around them just might.

There’s been a lot of unease in Portland since the publication of a fascinating yet gut-wrenching article in The New Yorker that laid out the impending Cascadia earthquake in excruciating detail.

After I read the piece, I was sort of numb for a while. Then my mind wondered (as if often does) and I started to ask the default question I ask myself around any seemingly intractable issue or policy, “How can bikes fix this?”

Dates set for 4th annual Disaster Relief Trials

by on July 3rd, 2015 at 9:26 am

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Participants negotiate a water-carrying checkpoint at last year’s event.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s Disaster Relief Trials are back for the fourth year and there are some exciting changes in store. (more…)

Cargo bikes, community win the day at Disaster Relief Trials

by on July 21st, 2014 at 12:28 pm

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Competitors Ryan Hashagen (R) and Michael Jones work together to lift a loaded cargo bike over one of the many obstacles on the course.
(Photos by Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“I help you, you help me!”

Those aren’t the words you expect to hear during a competitive cycling event. But when the event — the third annual Disaster Relief Trials — is based around a mock disaster and the competitors are piloting 150 pounds or more of bike and cargo on a challenging, 35-mile course, teamwork takes priority over individual gain.

‘Disaster Relief’ and family cargo bikers join for major event this weekend

by on July 16th, 2014 at 9:14 am


Two major trends in cargo biking will come together in Portland on Saturday at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Organizers of the Disaster Relief Trials and the Fiets of Parenthood have joined forces this year in what is sure to the largest cargo bike gathering of the year.

Disaster Relief Trials bring cargo-bike heroism back to Portland

by on July 13th, 2013 at 11:03 pm

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.


What to expect at the Disaster Relief Trials

by on July 12th, 2013 at 11:40 am

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…

Cargo bike responders wanted for Tigard mock emergency drill

by on May 21st, 2013 at 1:09 pm

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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.

Disaster Relief Trials back (and bigger) for second year

by on May 7th, 2013 at 9:41 am

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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.

Emergency expert now consultant for using bikes during disasters

by on April 25th, 2013 at 9:55 am

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…)