“Portland doesn’t have the same level nightlife of San Francisco, so they tend to make their own fun here, and the result seems to be a large community of bicyclists that has become very engaged with the struggle for street equity.”
–SF Bay Guardian reporter Steve Jones, after a ride in Portland
Steven T. Jones is a city beat reporter with the San Francisco Bay Guardian who recently got a dose of Portland bike culture.
Jones was sent here cover the Toward Carfree Cities Conference, but he ended up experiencing much more and has shared his thoughts in an article titled, From geeks to freaks, a look at Portland bicycle culture.
During a mobile workshop on the last day of the conference he joined the Transportation Geeks Ride to get a look at Portland’s innovative bike facilities and wallow in what he calls “transportation geekspeak”.
When that ride converged with several other, less-geeky Pedalpalooza rides (Sexy Cyclists Ride, the David Bowie vs. Prince ride, and others) for a solstice celebration on Mount Tabor, Jones founds himself face to face with a “vivid display” of Portland’s “rich and varied bicyclist culture”.
Here are a few excerpts from the story he published shortly thereafter:
“As the shortest night of the year began, colorful cyclists seemed to take over the streets, pedaling in small groups and huge, slow-moving packs…
The rides converged into one as they ascended volcanic Mt. Tabor just after midnight, still several hundred strong and acting as if they owned the night, which they really seemed to.”
“…late night bike rides with young, carefree, carfree Portlanders was a welcome chance to just pedal, dance, and enjoy the city. Some of this is not about struggle, but about love…”
“Portland doesn’t have the same level nightlife of San Francisco, so they tend to make their own fun here, and the result seems to be a large community of bicyclists that has become very engaged with the struggle for street equity. And there are enough of them to cover multiple events and fronts.”
I think some of Jones’ observations are spot on.
Much Portland’s bike culture has nothing to do with activism, a “cause”, being anti-car, or anything like that. What is special about what happens here (and I think should provide a lesson for those in other cities) is that “bike fun” (a term that is common parlance thanks to Shift) and a simple love for riding are what brings people together and gets people on their bikes.
Read Jones’ full piece on the Bay Guardian’s Politics blog.