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Alice Awards gala lives up to hype

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

A horde of Oregon and Washington’s “who’s who” of cycling showed up at the BTA’s Alice Awards and Auction Saturday night.

Last night over 700 people poured into the Oregon Convention Center to raise a glass and toast the work of the BTA and honor Oregon’s “bike heroes”.

It was the 12th annual Alice Awards and Auction, the party and fundraiser that has grown into the gala event for Oregon and Washington’s bike glitterati.

Before the festivities got rolling, BTA co-founder Rex Burkholder told me there were a mere 35 people at the first Alice Awards, and they crammed into a back room at Kell’s Irish Pub in downtown Portland.

My how things have changed.

Last night was a shining testament to the depth and breadth of support that exists for cycling in Oregon.

I *heart* Rex Burkholder.

Burkholder, who now sits on the Metro Council, showed up in good spirits and the most memorable outfit of the night; a Keith Haring body-painting inspired jumpsuit (which he borrowed from his son).

Perhaps it was a metaphor for the bright ideas and bold action it will take for Portland to become a truly world-class biking city? Um, yeah, that’s it.

Other party-goers had more obviously Amsterdam-inspired outfits. I noticed a Team Holland soccer jersey, a woman with a delightful Dutch hat, and of course there were clogs, compliments of bakfiets owners and Europhiles Scott Mizee and Todd Boulanger.

Felted tulips, like the one worn here by Todd Fahrner, were hand made and passed out by PDOT traffic safety expert Greg Raisman and his lovely wife Beth.

Yes, fabulous fashion was everywhere as the silent auction action heated up…

Emily Wilson and
Jack Newlevant.
Crocheted bike gloves.
Way to accessorize!
Ben Salzberg looked
quite dapper.
Egon Dubois and
Elicia Cardenas

The room was jammed with people and loads of great prizes of every imaginable sort. You could bid on everything from a bike inspired tile mosaic to a day in the life of a bike messenger.

Eventually the silent auction and socializing gave way to salads and bread as the scene spilled into the banquet room for dinner.

BTA Board Chair
Hugh Bynum.

BTA Board Chair Hugh Bynum started off a string of speakers that warmed up the crowd for the main attraction of the night, the live auction.

But before the auctioneer took over, we were treated to yet another one of Evan Manvel’s entertaining speeches. Evan’s words ranged from how bikes are saving salmon and polar bears to a skit that involved a new invention called the iBike and a phone call from Steve Jobs’ lawyers (sorry, you had to be there).

The live auction followed and bidders got excited about everything from a custom Ira Ryan frame and fork to a cycling vacation in Umbria, Italy.

I didn’t get into the action myself, but it’s quite inspiring to see so many people step up and support cycling.

Once the adrenaline of the live auction subsided, BTA events diva Michelle Poyourow took to the stage and introduced the five winners of this year’s Alice B. Toeclips awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Michael Ronkin, ODOT’s recently retired bike and pedestrian chief, was honored for his long and successful career. I will forever be a Michael Ronkin fan after he personally addressed an issue raised on this site and changed an ODOT policy as a result (thanks Michael! Good luck in retirement.)

And the five Alice Award winners were…

Yes, it’s sort of weird to report on yourself, but last night I became the lucky recipient of an Alice Award. After a very kind introduction I took to the podium and tried to say something meaningful in 60 seconds or less. I’m a rookie at public speaking, so I hope it all came out OK (it was all blur to me).

Kudos to the BTA, their sponsors and all the volunteers (including the bike parking crew) who made it happen last night.

With all the energy and support demonstrated last night, maybe becoming the Amsterdam of the U.S. isn’t so far-fetched after all.