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David Byrne recap: Termite cities and Portland’s story

Posted by on October 1st, 2009 at 9:50 am

Outside the Bagdad last night.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Last night, author/activist/legendary musician David Byrne brought his “Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around” book tour to the Bagdad Theater in Southeast Portland.

The event sold out, people were standing in the aisles, and I even heard of a few skirmishes at the box office from people who forget to get tickets in advance. It remains unknown whether folks were so enthusiastic for the event due to David Byrne’s star power or because this town is just so full of bike geeks, but I think it was likely a combination of the two.

David Byrne at the Bagdad-2

Sign of a healthy bike culture.

Or, maybe people just figured it was a cool way to get a copy of Byrne’s new book, Bicycle Diaries (it was included with the $26 tickets).

With books and beers in hand, the crowd was treated to a whirlwind tour of the world by Byrne, who kicked the night off with slides and videos from his travels by bike. He shared a few short anecdotes of his travels, but kept mostly focused on his thoughts about the past, present, and future of cities and how their design impacts urban life.

Byrne shared visions of cities from the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, General Motors, Le Corbusier (who, I remember from college said famously, “Cities should be machines for living in”), and even termites. In Byrne’s mind, columnar termite mound cities could teach some urban theorists a thing or two.

Next up was Mia Birk — a woman who has lived the Portland bike story from her helm as bike coordinator under then Transportation Commissioner Earl Blumenauer — and who now is principal in a bike and pedestrian planning firm with projects going on in nearly every state in the U.S. and all over globe. Her presentation was funny and poignant. Birk — whose forthcoming memoir, Joyride, is in works — gave a sweeping overview of Portland’s bikeway development and peppered it with personal stories.

Bureau of Transportation staffer and Portland bike culture pioneer Timo Forsberg was up after Birk. Timo offered lots of details about the genesis of Portland’s “bike fun” movement (embodied by Shift) and he shared his perspective on what it feels like to experience Portland’s bike culture.

Then it was my turn. It was a bit daunting to share the stage with Mr. Byrne, and my highly respected friends Mia and Timo (both of whom have been sort of mentors to me). The topic I was given was bicycle activism. I shared my personal experiences with it and how it’s been something of an identity crisis to balance with journalism. I also tried to communicate how important citizen activism is — and has been for 40 years — to Portland’s achievements.

I wanted the crowd to know that while Portland has a lot to be excited and proud of we are far from where we need to be and that without strong and constant citizen activism we won’t get their nearly as fast as we should.

I really do much better in Q & A situations, so it came as a big disappointment (which I know was shared by the crowd) that Mr. Byrne felt we’d gone too long and couldn’t take any questions.

It was a great night and I hope everyone there heard things that were thought-provoking and inspiring. I know I did. Oh, and the standing ovation at the end was really cool too.

Where you there? What did you think?


If you missed it, Portland Mercury News Editor Matt Davis, has published a complete (nearly verbatim) recap of all the presentations (including a few of Byrne’s slides) on their blog.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

47 Comments
  • Avatar
    Steve October 1, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Hey Jonathan, you’ve got Byrne’s last name misspelled in the title of your post. Sounds like great fun, though.

    Hey Steve. thanks for catching that major typo. fixed it. — Jonathan

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    Nick V October 1, 2009 at 10:55 am

    I couldn’t go. Jonathan, did you get to pick DB’s brain one-on-one a little bit?

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    bubbaPDX October 1, 2009 at 11:17 am

    The evening did not align with my expectations. In her introduction, the m.c. described the incredible energy and interaction she had witnessed backstage in the green room; however, that energy / interaction did not seem to translate to the actual presentations.

    Mr. Byrne’s presentation did not seem at all calibrated to a PDX audience, and the subsequent presentations (though educational for me, a relative newcomer) wandered and chewed up the clock. The remaining opportunity for energy / interaction — the Q&A — got short-changed in the process.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 1, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Nick V,

    I talked with Byrne backstage for a bit. Tried to ask a few questions and get him talking about his new role as an activist now that he has this book out.

    We also chatted a bit about his life on the road and what it’s like getting out on a bike ride while on the grind of a music tour.

    Byrne is an interesting personality, but I didn’t find him super easy to chat with. I guess the musical genius/brilliant mind types are just like that.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 1, 2009 at 11:26 am

    bubbaPDX,

    i hear you and I agree with much of what you wrote. sorry you were disappointed with the event.

    the energy b/w Byrne and us and b/w him and the crowd was sort of strange.

    I think we could have and should have done a Q&A and felt Byrne’s decision to not do it was a bit premature (not sure if the Bagdad people told he we had to leave or if he was just done).. it made the end of the night sort of awkward and anti-climactic.

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    Matt Davis October 1, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I thought you did the best job of saying, “hey, let’s stop slapping ourselves on the back and being complacent,” Jon. But I think in general, Portland’s bike scene needs a heavy dose of reality check on all this.

    When an international star comes to town, let’s ask him what HE thinks of our city, instead of talking for hours (literally, over an hour) about how great we think we are. I did rather wonder if the standing ovation at the end was actually directed inward. An expression of smugness.

    I think the SHIFT guy really needs to hear this, too. Sarah’s piece this week about bike funding going up in Seattle shows we’re about to fall behind, and he’s pictured on the bridge resting on his donut 🙂

    http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/were-1-not-good-enough/Content?oid=1695064

    Portland, I don’t think, has ever been number one at ANYTHING for very long. We may have got here partly by coincidence, but for God’s sake, let’s do our absolute best to embrace people from outside who might be able to burst our self-satisfied bubble with some insights of their own.

    I think Byrne really gave us a big “f__k you” by refusing the Q&A. He was like, “you clearly think you have it all figured out. Well, stick it, then.”

    The audience seemed shocked when he showed pics of Portland sprawl, too. Like, “NOOO! MINE EYESSSSS!”

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    Rich S October 1, 2009 at 11:37 am

    I concur with BubbaPDX. I was there to hear some insights and anecdotes from David Byrne and see how they might align with our fair city and local bike culture. Byrne’s presentation was interesting, but in the scope of the evening it was way too short. Then the locals gave their presentations. Each was informative and at times entertaining, but no real conversation ever developed. I suppose if organizers and presenters had known that there was a hard time cap then maybe it would have played out differently. As it was, I appreciated the warm fuzzies we gave ourselves for our biking accomplishments, but was overall disappointed in the evening. I do look forward to reading Byrne’s book; maybe it can spark some future discussion without him.

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    gutter bunny October 1, 2009 at 11:46 am

    David Byrne is no Dave Chappelle.

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    joel October 1, 2009 at 11:47 am

    im kinda confused by the termite mound reference cited here and in the mercury article – was byrne saying cities with buildings like termite mounds would be a positive? or were the le corbusier/gm “ideal city”/wright “broadacre city”/bucky’s harlem examples negative ones? or both? if both, im really confused.

    the reviews ive heard and seen of this event really make it seem like more than a bit of a letdown, to be honest.

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    Mary Ann October 1, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I live in Austin and DB had a similar visit here, sort of disappointing, the local city cycling protagonists were much more interesting. He showed similar unflattering pictures of Austin. I think he is trying to draw people with his presence and wake more people up but then once the crowd is drawn, defer to local efforts to make improvements. I know ATX admires PDX’s progressive bicycling advances. You should stand up and applaud yourselves.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 1, 2009 at 11:56 am

    joel,

    Byrne was saying that some cities could actually learn from termite mounds (a way of pointing out how backwards and “antagonistic to their citizens” some cities are).

    And basically all the slides from the Le Corbusier, GM, Wright, etc… he was using as negative examples.

    The GM vision (massive freeways), he pointed out, because of their stature at the time as being the largest corporation in the world, had a big impact on American highway builders.

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    Patty Freeman October 1, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Yep, yep and yep. I guess I thought the local presentations were long given the agenda, and while often interesting, did not allow the interactive energy to happen. I didn’t make it to the end myself, and think it a legitimate decision to stop short, albeit disappointing. Maybe this is something to try again, with or without Mr. Byrne.

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    Andrew October 1, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I left the Baghdad bummed. Too many speakers. Timo rambled and rambled and rambled and rambled. Still do not understand his role in the evening. The powerpoints overlapped and were repetitive. I do think Byrne cut it off because he was the first to speak and then had to sit for what must have felt like forever. Remove Byrne and the free book and no way does the place sell out. Wanted to hear more from author and main reason for the evening.

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    craig October 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I felt that Jonathan did his best to pick up the pieces of a terrible situation.
    Bryne’s talk was “off the cuff” funny. The next speaker, Mia Birk, thought
    she was on a tour to promote her upcoming book. Timo Forsberg (BOT
    Staffer) forgot that this event was not about him and proceeded to bore
    everyone with personal anecdotes and inside jokes most were not privy to.
    His overly lengthy presentation sucked all the air out of the room and was
    the reason the Q&A got cut off.
    There is so much happening but so little was said. I don’t think Portland
    is that provincial. I’m sad that an evening with such great potential was
    ruined…

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    craig October 1, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Forgot Title: Train Wreck At The Bagdad

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    J Sexton October 1, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    I sure hope Mr. Byrne enjoyed his time in Portland otherwise. Matt Davis has it right about last night at the Bagdad. I was embarrassed for us.

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    Nick V October 1, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    @#13 Andrew,

    Ouch! Do you remember how long each person spoke? It was David Byrne’s name on the marquee and all over advertising, so yeah I would have expected the emphasis to be on him. And a Q&A session would have probably lasted another hour.
    Hopefully he didn’t want to just get out of Dodge.

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    LoneHeckler October 1, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    As a bicyclist and somewhat crazy fan of David Byrne, this event pressed all of my geek buttons and I was thoroughly happy to be there. That said, I was in front, ready with my question, when the proverbial curtain came down, and thus was a bit disappointed in the anticlimactic finish.

    By his own admission, Byrne is extremely socially awkward, even going as far as saying he’s “borderline Asperger’s.” I’ve seen him speak at other events, and he is always disjointed, full of non-sequitirs, and, well, strange. My wife and I find it endearing and entertaining, but I suppose we’re biased.

    One of my main digs against DB is he doesn’t inject a lot of himself into his writings or lectures. He presents his slides but doesn’t relate the “story” of how he came to be there or how he felt, say, as he road along the car-filled expressway. It’s like his personality; detached and aloof.

    Still, a great evening, with great speakers. Thanks, Jonathan for all of your activism and for this blog.

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    Howard Bales October 1, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Agree with LoneHeckler and Matt Davis. I haven’t read the book yet, but this was billed as a book tour, and the program even said that each speaker would have 10 to 15 minutes. When DB went long, that was OK. (his name on the marquee) But the others could have should have gotten their messages across within the given time. I was in the third row and Mr. Byrne was clearly struggling to stay engaged. We should have spent at most 30% of our time on past struggles and successes, for context only, and then proceeded with where do we go from now. And in the context of Mr. Byrne’s book. What is the future of getting around in Portland, and what is the role of the bicycle?

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    J. Free October 1, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Yes, I agree that the Q&A would have been nice, but some of those comments aimed at Byrne, are – once again – typically scathing. What’s up with all the hostility?

    At the beginning of the evening, the format was announced as basically being about 15 minutes per speaker, followed by a Q&A. The breakdown? David: 20 minutes; Mia: 20 minutes, Timo: 29 minutes; Jonathan: 20 minutes. If they were on a hard schedule, that means that the only way the Q&A could have happened – logistically, anyway – would have been if Jonathan skipped his turn altogether, since his 15 minutes were used up before he stepped up to the podium.

    I don’t feel that Timo brought anything useful to the discussion, by basically running down a roll call of accomplishments that ran longer than the aforementioned 15-minute time slots which were allotted for the speakers. That didn’t really leave anything for Jonathan, although the points he was still able to make seemed well-taken. I do agree that the sudden end to the evening felt rather anti-climactic, but the time frame was about the same as it would have been if everyone had spoken less, and the Q&A had taken place.

    At the very least, everyone paid the cover price for the book, and got to hear the author talk for 20 minutes. Personally, I was delighted to see Mia Birk as well, so even if she was promoting a book, I guess that didn’t bother me; I know I’ll pick up a copy. What is really disheartening is the amount of seemingly knee-jerk hostility coming from some sectors of the bike communities in Portland, though – most of which turns up pretty frequently in these comment sections.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    J. Free,

    thanks for the recap and thoughts.

    Wow. i really talked for 20 minutes? are you sure about that? I actually practiced and timed mine and it was nowhere near 20 minutes. but then again, it could have been different i guess when i actually did it.

    i hear you about being disheartened by some of the comments on this thread and others… but hey, it’s how people about feel, i don’t think it’s always just “knee jerk hostility”. not everyone is tactful when they write, and that’s O.K.

    i actually contacted timo beforehand, precisely worried that we would overlap. from a cursory conversation with him, i didn’t think it would happen — but of course now i realize I should have spent a bit longer talking with him about his talk.

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    steve-o October 1, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I could not attend, but I would still like to learn more about urban planning as envisioned by GM, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. Thus, I would greatly appreciate it if someone posted the slides mentioned in the article. It may be difficult to obtain DB’s because of copyright issues, but can the hometown heroes (Timo, Mia and Jon) post their slides?

    Thank You,
    Stephen

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    Curt Gardner October 1, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    My take on the evening:
    David – good, quirky intro
    Mia – good but a bit self-promotional and a bit too much about the Texas step-dad
    Timo – rambling, occasionally interesting
    Jonathan – good, more focused, a bit more critical.

    Disappointed that no Q&A happened, but it did feel like things had gone on awhile and the energy was subsiding.

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    Duncan Idaho-Stop October 1, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Aw, you guys are just mad because Timo forgot to thank the little people in his acceptance speech.

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    craig October 1, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    This is where a moderator comes in handy…
    (who’s running the show??)
    I keep forgetting that we lived through the “age of enlightenment” and we now have entered the “age
    of entitlement”……
    “times up, thank you for thoughts”…..
    Sometimes being “nice” puts you outside….

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    Elly Blue October 1, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    In defense of the speakers — Craig (#25, above) is right, panel discussions only really work, no matter how compelling or experienced the speakers, when they’re well organized and moderated. Someone needs to develop a clear vision for the panel, work with the panelists to make sure each one is contributing a clear, unique message, facilitate communication between them, and then be brutal with the timer. Without that, it’s rare for such a discussion to really click.

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    Matt Davis October 1, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    My dad went on a class on “how to present,” about four years ago. Best thing he ever did. The whole, “did I REALLY talk for 20 minutes” thing is pretty common for novice presenters. Jon, you did great. Just get a “presenting for dummies” book before the next one. We need you to represent us with more international megastars. And yeah, just shove a donut in Timo’s mouth after 12 minutes.

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    craig October 1, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Having lived (and bicycled) in both NYC and Portland,
    I can tell you the have have a ton of future (community/city) planning that needs to be addressed NOW…. I think this what DB’s presentation was all about……….

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    carye bye October 1, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    well said Elly – I wasn’t there. But it is my understanding that more moderation was needed and more specifics given to speakers. Everyone on the Panel is an amazing person who contributes greatly to my bikey town! The organizers are more at fault than I think individuals. And If there is one person that puts enthusiasm in bike fun here in Portland, it’s timo, I mean check out this photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/redbat/321440322/in/set-72157594418567602/

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    aljee October 1, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    the ride afterward was super fun and relaxing. nice and cool night. thanks for doing that, Emily (i think that’s your name?)

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    old&slow October 1, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Why would anyone think anybody from SHIFT would be interesting is beyond me. One of the lamest bike groups there is and Timo is a good example of how boing and pretentious this group is. WTF was he even there for? As awkward as Byrne can be, he is the reason people went there. a thoroughly screwed up format with the local “bike stars” ruining the event.

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    Greg Haun October 1, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Jonathan – I really liked your presentation. For the others a moderator would have been good. Responding to David’s comment about sprawl in Portland I really would have liked to hear some discussion about biking in the burbs. Many American suburbs could be perfectly bikeable– we’ve got work to do.

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    Pamalama October 1, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    On David Byrne’s website there was a description of the event at the Bagdad. It said that there was to be himself and 3 other speakers, speaking for about 10 minutes each. Each of the local people spoke much longer, spoke about the same thing, and even had the same pictures!
    Some of the speeches were vague and BORING- on such an interesting topic.

    I think some local leaders need to take a speach class. If they already have they need to take one again.
    To keep spreading the good news we need effective, clear, and concise communicators.

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    Tony H October 1, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    My wife and I went to the event, and were disappointed. Previous posters have pretty much said it all with regard to the time management issues, so there’s no need to to add to that. This may be reading way too much into what Mr. Byrne said, but it was as if he was showing us a choice: be mindless termites and live in sterile towers, or think about what sort of world of which you’d like to be a part. Funny how the GM model of “the future” seemed to resemble the termite colonies! Anyway, I thought that Mia contributed a lot by showing how it is possible to effect change in our local world.

    No blame here-just those pesky expectations!

    I absolutely enjoyed meeting my wife for dinner before the show, I look forward to reading the book, and our ride home was wonderful.

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    She October 1, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    The timing is interesting, if J Free got it right, because David and Jonathan did not feel like 20 minutes, Mia’s felt like a lot of information in 20 minutes, and Timo’s, well it felt longer than 29 minutes…a lot longer.

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    Faye October 1, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Putting aside the length of time each presenter took, I walked away from this night with new information and thoughtful ideas.

    Being fairly new to Portland, I appreciated the history and understanding of bike transportation in the area that Mia brought to the evening.

    Jonathan’s “inspiration by example” activism got me thinking about what ways I might add energy to further better and safer biking.

    David’s world view and “why it’s so” examples gave me pause to look around and wonder how it could be different.

    But, I do admit, Timo missed the mark for me. My husband and I consider our bikes a main form of transportation. Our bike culture is enmeshed with how we choose to live our lives. It is lovely that there are events to bring bikers together and encourage people to ride, but is that the entire culture? Really?

    I count myself among the disappointed that the Q&A session was so easily dismissed. We did look for Jonathan after the event, as he noted he would be happy to answer questions, but we couldn’t find that gathering, if it took place.

    Still, despite its’ flaws, this was a very worthwhile event.

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    Chris October 1, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Byrne was ok, a little disjointed, typical of an artist of his caliber.
    Mia did a great job, but I agree she was concerned about plugging her upcoming book.
    Timor was a complete mess. He went on and on and wanted to impress is vocabulary on us, but lost everyone in the process. Classic example of not paying attention to the audience.
    Jonathan was very sound, but unfortunate that he overlapped with previous speakers–I definitely agreed with his assessment that we have come a long ways, but we have a long ways to go and this is no time to become complacent.
    Overall the evening was a bit of a let down. Hopefully the book will be good.

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    He October 1, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    The whole thing was just tacky and embarrassing. Note to event organizer: Lead singers never give adoring fans the grip of the microphone.

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    wsbob October 1, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    I didn’t get to go. I would also have liked to hear more thoughts Byrne might have had in citing/name-dropping Corbusier, Frank Loyd Wright GM World of the Future, termites and so on.

    Critters such as termites, ants and bees are masters of organization and efficiency. They’ve done a far better job of using resources to build and run a world to serve their needs in a way that’s compatible with the health of the planet than human beings of the 20th century have done for themselves with the automobile technology. I’d be surprised if Byrne thought didn’t think so.

    Greg Haun #32, is right: “…Many American suburbs could be perfectly bikeable– ….” Beaverton is just as good an example of that as any other city. Unfortunately, they’re not even close to being ‘perfectly’ bikeable.

    In that respect, Byrne showing pics of Portland area sprawl is entirely appropriate. Ordinary people and visionaries from the past century fell for the illusion they themselves created, that cars could enable human beings to have everything that was good about models of efficiency in the insect world.

    The reality, know by many people for some time now, is that cars have fallen way short of that aspiration. They’ve made suburbs very difficult to travel by bike. Worse, is that the neighborhood grids they’ve fostered, now often stand as, to a large extent, impermeable physical barriers to the creation of routes that would enable communities to be easily bikeable. I wonder what idea for overcoming such barriers Byrne might encourage most.

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    Tony Fuentes October 2, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Didn’t make the event so I have no comment on that. I do have a comment on some of the comments.

    It sounds like Timo’s speech bombed. That’s too bad. Speeches bomb, some folks aren’t great speakers, sometimes expectations for presentations aren’t clear and blah, blah, blah…

    Regardless, I hope that we aren’t shallow enough to translate a poor presentation into being smoking gun evidence that Timo or SHIFT or what not is “lame” or “smug” or whatever else.

    With regard to bike activism, bike infrastructure development, bike business development, etc., do we pat ourselves on the back sometimes? Sure. Do we sometimes launch into absurd hyperbole about Portland and bikes? well…ok, I will give you that too…

    BUT I have yet to meet a person in Portland involved in these issues who thinks we are close to done or that we are doing enough.

    And yes, that includes Timo.

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    wsbob October 2, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Re; a statement I made in my last post: “Worse, is that the neighborhood grids they’ve (as in ‘cars’) fostered, now often stand as, to a large extent, impermeable physical barriers to the creation of routes that would enable communities to be easily bikeable.”

    Just finished reading a story in today’s Oregonian…actually it seems the O reposted it from the Seattle Times. It’s a story about efforts Bellevue is making towards making that city more walkable and bikeable. A paragraph from that story by writer Katherine Long:

    “For cyclists, the legacy of 1950s city-planning priorities makes Bellevue hard to navigate on two wheels. Many main roads have little shoulder space for cyclists. And most neighborhood streets aren’t plotted out on an old-fashioned grid, like Seattle’s; they twist and wind, sometimes ending in cul-de-sacs, and don’t offer alternative crosstown routes for bicyclists.”

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  • […] A couple nights back I went to a book event for David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries, which is a kind of travelogue of what he’s seen around the world on tour – he brings a bike along and gets a closer look at many cities where he plays.  The event at the Bagdad Theater in Portland featured four speakers, David starting, and then bike planner Mia Birk, bike culture pioneer Timo Forsberg, and bike activist/journalist Jonathan Maus (of bikeportland.org – where you can read about the event here). […]

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    carye bye October 2, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    comment 36:
    “But, I do admit, Timo missed the mark for me. My husband and I consider our bikes a main form of transportation. Our bike culture is enmeshed with how we choose to live our lives. It is lovely that there are events to bring bikers together and encourage people to ride, but is that the entire culture? Really?”

    Warning – rambles ahead…

    This comment is interesting to me.. because it seems like “bike culture” is changing, expanding, in leaps and bounds. It seems to me that when Shift came together in the early part of this decade to do bike fun activism, it was a pretty new concept for Portland – and many of us, like myself jumped right in (or in the case of Timo’s presentation – which I just heard about, I jumped off the bridge”. It was bike fun and bike socialness that got me to get on my bike. Soon I was commuting, and then bike camping, etc etc. I become 100% bikey as they say. There are more and more people in Portland biking every day, and are forming their own bike cultures – and in fact going to the Crank Art Show last night I ran into Timo and we both were like who are all these people, our little bike culture world is shrinking, as biking becomes norm. I think because we have lived through an era of bike culture that has changed our lives and has and continues to impact new folks to get on bikes, we are pretty proud of it. But yeah, there’s more to be done – more folks to get on bikes… and I’m sure if Timo had time to do his speech over, he could be really inspiring to each of us. At least ya’ll got a book out of the evening, there’s always that!

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    J. Free October 2, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    I thought I should amend my earlier comment, with regard to Timo Forsberg, who does seem to be taking a kicking in the comments here. I don’t think he bombed, necessarily, but perhaps went on much longer than the time constraints of the event allowed for. As a few folks here have mentioned, a moderator would have been useful.

    To be fair, Timo did add another facet of what might be considered “bike culture” in Portland. When I stated earlier that Timo “lost me” with his presentation, my intent was not meant to slam his obvious enthusiasm for the more celebratory aspects of bike culture. I enjoyed his initial reference, which compared the development of “bike culture” to the changing ages of man; an apt analogy for the growing pains some of us currently experience on the roadways.

    My personal interest is more aligned with the continued efforts at integrating our roadways, and further education of people who use them. Anyone who has read David Byrne’s review of Jeff Mapes’ “Pedaling Revolution – How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities”, might deduce that Byrne is far less interested in things like zoobombing, jousting, fixies, etc., than what Mapes refers to as “active transportation”.

    I think that Carye’s comment serves to remind all of us that each of us got into this part of our culture for our own reasons, and were introduced to it through different channels. I also think one thing most of us do agree on, is that there is indeed still much to be done, so that regardless of our individual motivations, we can all enjoy bike culture together.

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    BURR October 2, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    based on the comments, I’m glad I went to the artcrank show and first thursday instead

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    rev October 3, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    I think i caught a trend here: many thought Byrne was a poor speaker but he gets a pass due to his cryptic artistic ways.

    Timo, a bureaucrat, gets no such benefit of the doubt, regardless of his past artistic contributions to singing, song writing or baking.

    The ride afterward was excellent. great pace, great people, fun destinations, great music… doing it in the street the way it is supposed to happen.

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  • […] and civic attitudes change depending on where we live? Yes, I think so. After missing Byrne at the talking bike heads book shindig to  last week at the Baghdad, it was good to catch him being interviewed this morning by Jacki […]

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