Oregonian columnist sings praises of pedal power

Posted by on January 29th, 2007 at 9:57 am

[From today’s Oregonian.
Read the article.]

For the second time in a row, Oregonian columnist Renee Mitchell has devoted her column (which appears on the front page of the Metro section) to the power of the pedal.

Last Wednesday she wrote about how the community came together to recover Erin Greeson’s $2,000 stolen bike. Now, in this morning’s edition she again writes about the powerful potential of the bike community.

Today, in her column titled Putting pedal power to work on attitudes, she details the recent dialogue we’ve been having on this site about neighborhood safety and how bikes can be a part of community building in Portland neighborhoods.

A few people have told me that Mitchell has been less-than bike-friendly in the past (found this on IndyMedia), but her tone seems to be changing. To me, this confirms my belief that putting our activism to work in our neighborhoods (like the CCC has been doing for years) has great potential, not just for making our city a better place to live and ride in, but in bringing more (non-biking) Portlanders (like Mitchell) onto our side.

In addition to quotes from myself and John Canda (from the Mayor’s Office on Youth Crime Prevention), Mitchell has this bit about the exciting and long overdue work of the BTA’s Emily Gardner:

“Right now, inner NoPo has the city’s highest number of potential cyclists, according to Emily Gardner…

The alliance’s goal is to eventually create a public-awareness campaign to encourage more black residents to ride bikes as an effective strategy to improve their health. As a side benefit, the more that blacks ride bikes, the less they’ll view cycling as a whites-only activity.”

Besides dangerous drivers, unsafe roads, and common misconceptions about cycling, one of our biggest hurdles to getting more people on bikes is to convince the non-biking and/or anti-cycling public that we’re human, welcoming, and really not all that bad.

Using bikes to build community, reaching out to new parts of the population and strengthening our neighborhoods with pedal power is a great way to do that.

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Pretty good stuff, Jonathan. Nice to have your efforts as a positive ambassador recognized.

Keep up the good work.



on the front page of SOME metro sections. In Beaverton, we get Jerry Boone. So thanks for posting this!


Great work, Jonathan! Thanks for helping lead the discussion in a positive way.


A few years ago I showed up at a ride sponsored by a Portland biking group on my old 50 lbs. Schwin, wearing a Styrofoam helmet, tennis shows and cut off shorts. I kept up with the fastest riders but was shunned every time I tried to talk to the people in their sleek shinny stretch clothes, space age sunglasses and aerodynamic helmets aboard their super lightweight aluminum or titanium bikes. You would have thought that some of the riders would have been impressed with my riding strength or just the novelty of my bike. But no.
Recent experience shows me that nothing has changed. Biking is a great sport. It just seems to attract elitist A. Holes. Of course for balance, there is always Critical Mass.
Now some dark pigmented teenage girls attacked some bikers and the bikers go ballistic (figuratively speaking, we know that guns have never solved anything). Writers on this blog think is a racial issue and the talk turns to biker death squads to protect the anointed. What a hoot. Only in Portland. If the biker community wants to understand what the problem is, a little longer look in the mirror every morning might be revealing.
But instead the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s solution is Affirmative Action. If we can just get some of those people with extra skin pigment on a bicycle and, of course, some mandatory public education about the importance of bicycles, everything will be OK. I am just waiting for the proposal of a tax on SUVs to subsidized bikes for underprivileged dark skinned people.
And by the way, why is it so important that so many find it necessary to say that they are a humanist, or pacifist, or vegan or vegetarian, or feminist or an equalitarian? If you ride a bicycle you are already better than anyone else. Why lard it on?
Hey, don’t forget to go slow on sidewalks.



This column was 100% derivative of your excellent work, Jonathan. She didn’t do one bit of original reporting or offer a single new idea. Next time she should pay you for providing her with free content to fill her column inches. Weak.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)


Sorry you had a bad experience on a bike ride years ago. I know many cyclists that would have loved your outfit.

Not all cyclists are the same and I’m sure you’d have a different experience if you tried another ride.

Your generalizations are unfortunate, because if you really knew more about the bike community you would know we are just like any other community. There are assholes and elitists…and then there are some really great folks too.

There has been a mix of reactions to this story on this site.

Race may or may not have something to do with it… but I think we’re ignoring an important part of the story if we don’t talk about the lack of diversity of cyclists and the fact that the neighborhoods in N/NE are predominantly black.

And no one’s forcing anyone to get on a bike. Many cyclists simply believe that bikes can do a lot of good, in many ways.

They can make our neighborhoods healthier, more vibrant, safer, and more enjoyable places to be.

And besides that… they’re a lot of fun!


Patty. Have some fun with the shiny bike spandex and wrap around shades wearing bunch. When they rev it up and fly by you, do what I do. I just stay behind them and wait until they slow back down to their pre-passing speed. They think by having the top of the line bikes and gear, that that is all they need to blow by anything of lesser standard. By keeping pace with them, it only takes a couple blocks for them to gas out, or turn a corner to save face. The true, cruising speedsters will just keep on, and they’re the ones you let go off into the distance. You fakers know who you are.