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Rally for transportation equality (updated)

Posted by on November 8th, 2007 at 6:56 pm

[Updated: 11/9, 8:32am, 2:38pm – See update below about date/time change.]

[This article is by columnist Elly Blue]

“The event will be a peaceful, legal, and highly visible statement that we all belong equally in our roads and public spaces and that we are all committed to working together…”
–Elly Blue

In response to last month’s tragedies, we’ve seen a lot of amazing work done by Sam Adam’s office, bicycling leaders, and the community.

We’ve also discovered the inability of our police to appropriately respond to situations involving bicyclists. But this is not just about the police — this is a political problem, and a cultural problem, and its roots go deep. And it’s not just about bicyclists — we are *all* vulnerable road users every time we leave our homes.

We’ve all been itching to turn our indignation into action, and it turns out that a variety of groups and individuals, from Shift to OBRA, the Metal Cowboy, and others have separately begun working out plans for a major demonstration to bring home the importance of equality and justice for bicyclists and all road users.

Let’s all work together.

Two events are planned for next weekend: a press conference on Friday and a major demonstration on Saturday, which will be the focus of the weekend.

Friday, November 16th: Press Conference
12:00 noon: gather at the Justice Center (1120 SW 3rd)
12:15: the assembly will proceed to City Hall (1221 SW 4th)
12:30: Press conference and peaceful demonstration

Saturday, November 17th: Rally in Waterfront Park
12:00 Gather by Salmon Street Springs fountain to speak out about our concerns and demonstrate our commitment to justice, equality, and respect for all on the roads.

Friday’s event will be a chance for us to state our concerns to the press and to our city’s leaders, and make an appeal for change.

At Saturday’s event we will bring that message home and rally the entire community around the transportation issues that affect the safety, health, and quality of life of us all.

Each event will be a peaceful, legal, and highly visible statement that we all belong equally in our roads and public spaces and that we are all committed to working together to create a culture of respect.

If you have some time to spare to make this happen, or if you’re already in the midst of coming up with something similar, please RSVP to meet, plan, and make signs, please join us on Saturday the 10th at 5pm. [RSVP to eleanor(dot)blue(at)gmail(dot)com]

We have some amazing talents coming together already to carefully shape our message and distribute it effectively. But for this movement to succeed, this event has to become a real community effort — bicyclists of all stripes, and people who don’t ride bikes too. It’s safe to say that *everyone* has a stake in transportation equality.

Here’s a comment I received from someone recently that really captures the essence of what we’re trying to to:

“This is a discussion about how people treat each other, not about which mode should yield to the other. We need to get off our bikes and out of our cars, look each other in the eye, and realize that we all have a lot more in common than not.”

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

46 thoughts on “Rally for transportation equality (updated)”

  1. Avatar C9 says:

    The timing is unfortunate. I understand that you want to do it when City Hall is actually occupied.

    But to do it in the middle of the weekday when so many are unavailable is not going to yield the numbers, nor the, um, sociological cross-section, that would be anywhere near ideal.

    Better than nothing though, I suppose.

  2. Avatar Poe says:

    Great rally idea, bad choice of time.

    Bike commuters have jobs we can\’t leave at lunch.

    Let\’s brainstorm ideas, the only ideas we should reject are apathy and violence.

    my ideas to get equality:

    – boycott bikes day, all bike riders drive cars alone , and drive slow and legal. Should make Portland traffic Hell. Plan event on a Friday before a holiday weekend.

    – Legally take away right turns for cars on green. Have 10 cyclists walk our bikes legally in crosswalks so that cars can\’t make a right turn on green. Keep walking at the most busy intersections. There are so many intersections that would back up for 20 blocks if cars were not able to turn right on green. Current law says a car must vield to a pedestrian before turning right.

    – Protest at police stations

    – Vote out the politicans in city hall and vote in some humans with a backbone. The platform should be police accountability.

    all of the above should happen until cops give cars tickets when they break the law and cause a colision with a bike. No injury should be needed to justify a citaiton. Face it folks, the civil rights movement has to piss of the public to demand our rights. MLK believed this. Read his speech from Jail.

    Signed Piss off everyone,
    until there is equity.

  3. Avatar Joe says:

    #1 – Definitely true. I\’d love to attend but alas work.

  4. Avatar N.I.K. says:

    I can make the event but not this Saturday\’s work session. What should others like myself, who likely won\’t be able to attend pre-rally meetings, do besides show up next Friday? I want to ensure that we can still send a focused message, rather than seem like a disorganized throng of rabble-rousers skipping out on work.

  5. Avatar brodie says:

    I think that\’s why they did it during the lunch hour. Just tell your work the bento line was extra long.

  6. Avatar rixtir says:

    Just tell your work the bento line was extra long.

    By several block\’s worth.

    I\’ll be there.

  7. Avatar N.I.K. says:

    – boycott bikes day, all bike riders drive cars alone , and drive slow and legal. Should make Portland traffic Hell. Plan event on a Friday before a holiday weekend.

    Never bothered to get a car. Or a license for that matter. Guess I\’m out. 😛

  8. Avatar Jerry says:

    \”- Vote out the politicans in city hall and vote in some humans with a backbone. The platform should be police accountability.\”

    That\’s the only suggestion that will make a difference. The problem we keep having with a few bad cops isn\’t simply a few bad cops, it is a city government which wants them that way. In Portland we promote our bad cops. Until we start firing the people in charge of this mess we\’ll continue to have a redneck police force looking for any excuse they can find to punish and kill liberal Portlanders.

    If you think I\’m over the top, just look at the news this week, it\’s rape and murder week at the Portland police force.

  9. Avatar Ena says:

    Siobhan Doyle is so awesome! I\’ve been wanting to meet her and help her through this tough time. Is there anyway to know which hospital she is in as to meet her. I just lost a case against Marylhurst University regarding a bike accident. I\’d love to help show my support in any way I can!

  10. Avatar A.D. says:

    I think Joe was on the right track when he wrote of having the protest a little later in the day – maybe people can take off early from work, and meet at 4pm? We would still have daylight. Everything else sounds great.

  11. Avatar Daisy says:

    Thanks for all the thought and planning you are putting into this. I would agree, though, that the timing may limit the numbers. I second the idea of having it in the late afternoon if possible, so those of us who don\’t work downtown can try to get there.

  12. Avatar Elly says:

    Yeah — the timing is really hard. The weather and early sunset really limit our options. If people can\’t get off for the lunch hour, it\’s unlikely more people will be able to leave work early… maybe we should do it on Saturday? Or at 8am? I foresee obstacles with all of these too…

    I counted 150 at the lunch-hour bike safety press conference two weeks ago — hopefully we can draw even more people than that with a grassroots demonstration.

    But it really sucks to have a ton of people who want to come but can\’t. This is a community event — and it\’s been spread around a lot but not in hardcopy yet — if there\’s enough will among organizers to change the time, then change it we should.

    That would need to happen really soon, though, like tomorrow morning at the very latest.

  13. Avatar Nuada says:

    Saturday would rock.

  14. Avatar Scott says:

    Another vote for 4 PM.

  15. Elly and everyone – I\’m in Alb right now, but definitely want to say that everything is great about what you\’ve puit together and we can dove tail some of the ideas for the rally that I mappped out such as dispersing post ride/rally to all corners of the core cor portland and making as many people aware of thhe event and making it a chance to distribute our transportation equality/cyclists bill of Civil rights – But I have to say that I think the timing is our one big issue/challlenge right now – this is why peace coalitions stage marches on weekends because that\’s the only time the big numbers can show – I want to see us be really inclusive on this – I know I\’m just talking out loud here but my vote is for
    A) Either later in the day Friday – the idea could be that all the folks who could spare a half day could go in groups to intersections and do the signage awareness and bill of rights distribute before the rally – then hots the rally, ride around city hall at 4pm – i think a greater number of people could make that leave work a bit early time rather than the lunch hour – I\’m not ruling out or shooting down the lunch hour time but I think this is our first and best shot to get the media covering these rallies and showing them what we mean when we say portland communityof all stripes really wants changes – demands enforcement of laws on books demands funding andd demands that we all take responsibility for our behaviors behind a wheel or over a handlebar.

    B) Second choice is to do it on Saturday when we can pack waterfront or hall of justice with riders, walkers skateboarders etc.

    My two cents.

    People let us know what you think. I want to have a time and date to spread to all my contacts beyond shift, bikeportland etc. BTW – I don\’t think it\’s too late to change the time.
    Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie
    PS. Alb is bone dry and flat as hell when you\’ve just come from P Town – you call those hills?

  16. Avatar Carlsson says:

    I\’d vote for later on Friday, like 3 or 4. It would be cool if groups met up in various parts of Portland then rode to the meeting point. Just a couple ideas…

  17. Avatar erin g. says:

    Howdy Metal Cowboy, Elly, Jonathan, and Crew,

    Excellent idea-sharing; wonderful work on all fronts, everyone.

    Just as some might have a tough time leaving work during lunch hour, some 8-5-ers, including me, do not have the flexibility to leave very early on Fridays, despite this being a regular occurrence in Portland (when I first moved here from NYC, I was amazed by that phenomenon. People leaving work early to enjoy the weekend? God forbid!).

    I feel that a weekend time might be the next best choice, if folks feel that lunch hour is not doable. Someone made note that students/kids/families also find weekends more convenient. Great thinking! Joe is right on re: peace marches generally drawing maximal crowds when held on Saturdays or Sundays.

    With this possible added time (vs. a mid-day break), we might even consider incorporating a pre-ride (or a series of pre-ride options), perhaps traveling to recent fatality sites to refurbish flowers, candles, cards, art, and mementos at the ghost bikes before the demonstration. I\’ve been to Brett\’s memorial site twice and plan to go back before the mass assembly next week, preferably day-of. Anyone want to meet and ride with me? Anyone want to propose to lead/coordinate other pre-ride ideas? I think this concept is congruous with Metal Cowboy’s vision: various groups riding throughout town and convening at the demonstration. Count me in to lead one of the groups.

    I’m very pleased and very proud about how so many have come together to take some organized, well-thought action. Thank you, Elly, Jonathan, Joe, and all who have spearheaded this idea towards reality. In one of my recent posts, in response to some skepticism towards the concept of mass assembly, I said that ‘I believe in Portland’. Thank you all for reinforcing that belief!

    I’ll be in touch with the planning group via email. I’ve got some ideas regarding thematic on-event take-away/collateral ideas that people might consider making. If nothing else, the ideas might inspire other more artisitcally talented people to think of creative ways of reaching the audiences that we want to peacefully and memorably engage (beyond flyers, stickers, etc.).

    Keep up this excellent work, everyone! See you all next week.



  18. Avatar rainperimeter says:

    doing this on saturday would likely maximize the number of bikers available…weekdays are tough for lots of people no matter what time of the day.

  19. Avatar Elly says:

    Alright, how does this sound?

    Friday noon: Assembly and Press Conference — same plan as before, this will (hopefully) be an opportunity to give this message directly to our leaders.

    Saturday noon: Major march/ride where we really drive our message home.

    Rides to the Saturday event leave at 11:30 from sites of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities all over town. The march itself will leave downtown and visit places where people without cars are treated unequally — Morrison Bridge, anyone? And back over the Hawthorne, to request that cyclists\’ 25% mode share there be given its due, and that people on feet and two wheels not be squeezed in together.

    This is going to be big — all the major bike clubs coming out, schoolchildren walking with signs — please help spread the word.

  20. Avatar erin g. says:

    Hey everyone- Please use the numerous bike-related events happening this weekend as a great chance to begin the buzz. Tell everyone you see @ the \’cross races, handmade bike show, etc. I\’ll be at the races Sunday and will talk this up, big time.

    Pass it on to everyone one you know via voice, via email, via any way possible! And remember, keep the messaging consistent with the ideals that Elly framed out in her article/post.

    GREAT work, Elly et al.!

  21. Avatar chuck says:

    I\’d be able to make a 4pm rally, but not the noon. I think 4pm will be best as well, because it will be close to the height of rush hour traffic.

  22. Avatar JV says:

    would really love to be there with my whole family, but ditto comments about the timing. A second event? Another time? Thanks all, for your dedication.

  23. Avatar Daisy says:

    I love the idea of Saturday, Elly. Thanks for being flexible and hearing our input!

    A-la Dabby, though, I do feel nervous about the potential conflicts that a \”march\” around town could create, in terms of increasing the animosity of motorists. It\’s bad enough that local TV stations are running segments about \”turning the tables\” on cyclists and showing video of us running various lights and stop signs, and generally ignoring the rules of the road. (Did anyone see that? WTF?)

    I like the idea of arriving at a rally in small, organized groups from various parts of town. But I think the gathering itself would better were it a stationary, off-the-bike protest. I would feel really nervous about a mass \”march\” anywhere.

    Just my 2cents….

  24. Thanks everyone for your feedback.

    New details are:
    Friday (11/16) – Press Conference/mini-rally at City Hall

    Saturday (11/17) – Huge Rally for everyone at 12 noon.

    PLEASE NOTE: The main focus is on the Saturday rally. We need everyone to show up. Kids, skateboarders, motorists, motorcyclists, bus riders, etc…

    Stay tuned for meeting place and more details.

  25. Avatar Tasha says:

    I\’ll be at both. Yay. Thanks so much for putting this together. I love Portland.

  26. Avatar joel d. says:

    friday would probably upset motorists the most in the 3-5 range, and result in the most anger and aggresion. I believe this is the time when the most \’accidents\’ occur during the week, and also when the re is the most road aggression

    One thing that was a huge success with the WTO rally was that a large amount of information went out to the public in advance. I was impressed by the amount of telephone poles in downtown seattle covered with info. Checking dates on the posters, and how worn they were by the time i got there showed that there had been many waves of pre-informational flyers months in advance. Of course the event was massive, but everyone in seattle knew. The flyers got everyone talking, and all of seattle seemed to be very aware. This was not done in one day, or half a day but over months.

    a rally would educate US, and closing down intersections and hampering traffic might educate a few downtown, or make them upset. I just think with a little more time we could really engage portland, perhaps even market these ideas and create a wider discourse, and bring more onboard-joel

  27. Avatar peejay says:

    I don\’t mean to act like everyone\’s sixth-grade English teacher, but language is important. \”We are all traffic\” means \”all we are is traffic.\” What I think you want to say is \”We all are traffic,\” which means \”each one of us is part of that idea we call traffic.\”

    Please, for clarity\’s sake, correct this, and don\’t take offense. It\’s vital that we get our message out as clearly as possible – at least before the media outlets distort it for their own purposes.

  28. Avatar annefi says:

    Jonathan (and the other rally planners),
    What a brilliant idea to plan two consecutive events! A Saturday noon rally will allow many more people to attend. And the press conference on the preceding Friday garners media attention and gives everyone a heads-up about the Saturday rally. I also appreciate the invitation to all road users and the goal to keep the event peaceful and legal.
    I can already picture the amazing assortment of bikes, trail-alongs, bakfietsen, kiddie trailers, dog trailers, and many other modes of self-powered transport that will appear at the rally. This will be great!
    Portland can only benefit by the bicycling community showing its vast numbers and variety. Surely this will impress upon the populace that bicycling is a valid mode of transport that enhances Portland\’s livability for all and that bicyclists and other vulnerable road users deserve to have motorists make the effort to see them and the police to uphold the law and cite motorists who don\’t bother making that effort.

  29. Avatar Elly says:

    Some updates:

    Thanks PJ. We ALL are traffic it is!

    The Saturday rally will be at Waterfront Park, Salmon Street Springs fountain (near the Hawthorne Bridge). The people have spoken, and it will be a gathering, not a march. Rumor is we\’ll have some celebrity cameos, and Siobhan wants to be there.

    Some olive branch -themed fliers are being designed as we speak and will be printed and put up all over town — if you can print some, let me know and I\’ll send you the file.

    This is a real community effort — I can\’t tell you how many times the same idea or message has been proposed from completely different quarters. We\’re all on the same page, it\’s very exciting. Something\’s happening —

    I also want to repost someone\’s comment from another thread, which I think beautifully sums up the general feeling behind these events, and what we all need to keep in mind while addressing injustices in our transportation system:

    \”This is a discussion about how people treat each other, not about which mode should yield to the other. We need to get off our bikes and out of our cars, look each other in the eye, and realize that we all have a lot more in common than not.\”

  30. Avatar organic brian says:

    Suggestion: having a \”call-in day\” to PPB on Fri the 16th. This would be widely publicized, in coordination w/ the rally. We would call and email the PPB and ask that: dangerous motorists be investigated and prosecuted; enforcent of dangerous drivers stepped up to give the message that reckless driving will not be tolerated; the PPB take a strong stance against dangerous driving, and rather than blaming the victim they should urge the motoring public to understand what the law is and be responsible for they do with their vehicle.

    Comments? Ideas?

  31. Avatar Dabby says:


    \” The Saturday rally will be at Waterfront Park, Salmon Street Springs fountain (near the Hawthorne Bridge). The people have spoken, and it will be a gathering, not a march. Rumor is we\’ll have some celebrity cameos, and Siobhan wants to be there.\”

    Personally, this revelation about the event could not make me happier.

    Thank you.

  32. Avatar Carl says:

    Ditto Dabby. Knowing that it\’ll be a gathering I really feel like I can get behind this. Good call, folks.

    (Of course, when the gathering ends, there are only so many roads away from Salmon Street Springs…)

  33. Avatar Dabby says:

    Yet, with such a gathering, we will have the opportunity to stress the idea to everyone at once, how, not only when gathering, but also in leaving the event, and even the next day, and next week, how we are seen on the street (as in riding legally) can and will have a dramatic effect on the desired results.

  34. Organic Brian,
    For a call-in day I would suggest calling the Mayor\’s office or a city councilman\’s office. The PPB has enough to do without fielding political calls.

    That said, if you have a specific intersection where you\’ve witnessed dangerous behavior call the PPB and ask for a sting there. Keep in mind that it\’s only fair for them to ticket any law breakers they witness no matter what mode of transportation they are using.

  35. Avatar Zach says:

    so this isn\’t going to be a ride, \’cause dabby gets his pants in a knot about \’em?

  36. Avatar Zach says:

    so this isn\’t going to be a ride, \’cause dabby gets his pants in a knot about \’em?

  37. Avatar Klixi says:

    The media coverage will be minimized if it happens on a Saturday. By the time the Monday evening news hits it will be a 53 hour old news story and will receive minimal (if any) coverage – especially since that following Monday marks the start of a holiday weekend, which will dominate the news (shopping, sales, air travel ordeals, etc)

    Keep it on Wednesday if you really want to be heard.

  38. Avatar Dabby says:

    Obviously Zach you have somehow missed the point.

  39. On PPB:
    The problem is that, while the PPB is supposedly a mere instrument of law enforcement, where the law is set by elected officials, in practice the police have set themselves up as a coequal branch of government — but unlike other branches of government, they are not elected and not accountable to the public.

    What we need to do is insist that elected officials exercise their authority over the police, which they have routinely and almost uniformly failed to do, with but a few notable exceptions. If that is what we want, then it might not be appropriate to direct demands at PPB, given that it sort of reinforces their own self-appointed status as a coequal branch of government — but one which we have no power to control — exactly the state of affairs to which we object.

  40. Avatar Karen says:

    Page 10 in the Oregon Bicyclists Manual:

    Passing other vehicles
    You may pass on the right under certain conditions, but always do so prudently and if it’s safe to do so (changes to law allow passing on right effective January 1, 2006). Some drivers may want to turn right at the next driveway or street. They may not see you if they aren’t looking your way. Ride at a reasonable speed, and scan carefully for right-
    turning cars (see drawing below). If a car ahead of you is signaling a right turn, do not pass on the right. Do not pass stopped cars at a crosswalk or intersection – they may be stopped to let a pedestrian cross or to let another car through.

  41. Avatar Jim O'Horo says:

    Hey Ellie, Joe, Jonathan:

    Is the rally going to happen or not? I haven\’t heard any mention of it since last week. A number of us from Vancouver would ride down to add our bodies to the crowd in support, but it would be pretty frustrating to show up & be the only ones there. Do you want folks there at noon on Friday also? I\’ll be in town all day on other business and could spend a couple hours if it would help.


  42. Avatar Elly says:

    Jim and everyone,

    YES! Both events, press conference and rally, are still happening!

    See here for more details! We\’ll look forward to seeing the Vancouver contingent on Saturday — and the more participants on Friday the better!

    Thanks so much for checking back in.

  43. Avatar Elly says:

    Bob Mionske just published his latest VeloNews legal column — it includes details about the rally, and some shocking letters from readers about their own experiences with media and police bias in cycling incidents.

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