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Alice goes to Paris with inspiring style

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Monsieur Timo Forsberg at the
Alice Awards.
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(Photos © J. Maus)

Neary 800 bike advocates from all over Oregon spent Saturday night toasting each other’s accomplishments at the 13th annual Alice Awards and Auction held at the Oregon Convention Center.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) hosts the event and they made sure there was enough bike parking — and it’s a good thing they did because nearly half of the attendees rode to the event. Volunteers staffed a valet bike parking area that parked over 300 bikes and racks in front of the building still overflowed.

Those who didn’t ride, likely did so to make sure they could carry home their winnings.

As the BTA’s largest annual fundraising event, Alice attendees bid on a wide variety of silent auction items and gift packages with all the proceeds going to help the Portland-based non-profit with their mission of bringing bicycles to the masses.

With election season in full bloom, and perhaps a symbol of the growing importance of bicycling in our region, the crowd featured many policy-makers and politicians. Among them were Portland City Council hopefuls Amanda Fritz, Chris Smith, Jim Middaugh, Jeff Bissonnette, and John Branam.

(L to R) State Rep. Jackie Dingfelder,
Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams,
Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves.

Also in attendance was perhaps Portland’s most high-profile bike backer, City Commissioner (and mayoral front-runner) Sam Adams. Former Portland Mayor Bud Clark was in the crowd, as was Metro President David Bragdon and Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder.

Oregon State Representative Jackie Dingfelder (who’s now running for the Senate) and State Senator Ginny Burdick, both long-time bike supporters (and former Alice Award Winners) were also there.

And, fresh off his rousing speech at the Barack Obama event on Friday, U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer stopped by briefly before heading off to another event (1000 Friends of Oregon, a land-use advocacy group, held their annual dinner on the same night).

It was packed.

But Alice is much more than an event for political schmoozing, it’s really about basking in the glow of all the inspiring bike advocacy going on in Oregon.

And, of course, it’s also a great excuse to have fun. The crew from River City Bicycles had their share.

Without their boss David Guettler knowing it, (he was deep in conversation at the time) they raised his auction card high and won the bid ($2,000) for a new Trek Portland. Why is that funny? Because River City happens to be one of the nation’s top Specialized dealers, which is a competing mega-brand with Trek. Shaking his head with a smile, “Very funny guys,” was Guettler’s response once he realized what they’d done.

Back to the action up on stage we were treated to the debut of a new video about the BTA and their work. BTA staffer Tricia Satterlee said the professionally produced video will be used to educate potential partners and donors about what the BTA does and why they need more money to do it (if and when it’s available online I’ll let you know).

The crowd heard the BTA’s appeal for help loud and clear. The organization that “opens minds and roads to bicycling,” was also successful in opening up wallets. But the BTA wasn’t the only winner on Saturday night; six dedicated bike advocates added their names to the esteemed list of Alice B. Toeclips award winners.

And the winners were:
Chief Jon Zeliff

Sergeant Jeff Britton

(Read more about Chief Zeliff)
Sergeant Jeff Britton accepted the award on Zeliff’s behalf. In his acceptance speech Sgt. Britton said he was a bona fide, “bike nut” and, with help from the BTA, they’ve purchased a fleet of Giant bicycles and are working on a bike safety education program for kids.

Ann Donaca-Sullivan and Patty Verazani

(Read more about them here.)
Ann Donaca-Sullivan teared-up on stage as she shared her gratitude and her story. She credited support from the community with helping her establish a program to teach disabled kids — including her 12 year-old son with Downs Syndrome — how to ride a bike.

Cycle Oregon

Jonathan Nicholas

(Read more about Cycle Oregon.)
Accepting on behalf of Cycle Oregon was Jonathan Nicholas. He reminded us that the ride he founded over 20 years ago is now working in an advocacy role to make sure that, “Oregon will be known as America’s best bicycling state.”

Floyd Prozanski

Oregon State Rep. Jackie Dingfelder

(Read more about Sen. Prozanski.)
Accepting for Sen. Prozanski was State Representative Jackie Dingfelder. Dingfelder spoke about Prozanski’s dedication to passing laws that improve bike safety and how his interest in doing so was piqued by the recent death of his friend Jane Higdon while she rode along a country road in Eugene.

Mel Huie

Metro trails planner Mel Huie

(Read more about Mel.)
Mel Huie is a trails planner with Metro who has worked tirelessly to complete many major trail projects in and around Portland. Huie, who likened the Alice Awards to, “Portland’s version of the Golden Globes,” said his goal is to have 900 miles of trails in our region.

Bud Clark Lifetime Achievement Award – Jay Graves

Jay Graves’ commitment and efforts to encourage bicycling, not just in Portland but throughout Oregon, is unsurpassed. His generosity (much of it anonymous) takes myriad forms and touches many facets of what make our region such a great place to ride. From pumping up tires for strangers during Bridge Pedal to sitting on the State Parks Commission and lobbying for bikes in the Hall of Congress, there is simply no one else like Jay Graves and we’re all lucky to have him in our community.

Thanks Jay for everything you do.

And on that note, swimming in an aura that was a mix of inspiration, optimism, and excitement, we pedaled off into the night, riding confidently into the future to continue the work that this night so perfectly celebrated.

See my 2008 Alice Awards photo gallery for more of the faces, outfits, and images that made this event so memorable.