Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 28th, 2010 at 1:55 pm
The 17 days of Pedalpalooza officially came to an end at yesterday’s Multnomah County Bike Fair. With nearly 300 free events in just over two weeks and tens of thousands of people taking part, Pedalpalooza — which is in its ninth year of existence, depending on how you count — is well on its way to becoming a proud Portland tradition right up there with the Rose Festival.
Before I share a few more thoughts about it, the first order of business is to give a big THANK YOU to all the amazing and dedicated volunteers who put this whole thing together. Shift is a loosely organized group with no real budget to work with and no paid staff. Yet, out of sheer love of community and a dedication to free bike fun, a core group of volunteers do most of the heavy lifting to make the ride calendar, the big events, and everything else run smoothly. I won’t list names, but you all know who you are. Thank you!
This was the seventh year I’ve participated in Pedalpalooza and it’s become increasingly apparent that it’s about much more than bike fun. I think most people hear about the costumed (and naked) rides and think it’s all about partying and raising havoc on the streets. It is, but the way I see it, there’s a lot more going on than the “nude and zombie rides” that get most of the headlines.
Here’s why I think there’s much more to Pedalpalooza than meets the eye…
Boost to local economy
How about the economic impact? How many thousands of dollars were spent during these rides? I’m talking about much more than simply beer sales (which don’t get me wrong were significant). The economic impact really hit me this year when I went on the Hott Sock Ride. Hosted by local sock retailer, Sock Dreams, the ride featured a stop at their Sellwood store. After we played a fun game in Sock Dreams’ backyard, people lined up to buy pairs of socks. The cash register was smoking!
And how about all the food that was purchased? The Taco Ride, the Epic Pizza Ride, and all the rides that began and/or ended at food joints brought lots of revenue in for local eateries.
There were many rides on the calendar that were either hosted and/or led by businesses and business owners. It was great to see the huge overlap of businesses that wanted to take part in the bike fun economy. I joked around this year that people should keep their receipts. I think next year we’ll add a “Total spent” field to the Ride Report form.
Bike fun and fitness!
I think it struck me during the Hammercise Ride — Pedalpalooza makes Portland a much healthier place. What other city festival includes so much activity? 17 days, 300 events, millions of calories burned! One of the most exciting things about Pedalpalooza is that it gets people moving.
You might be having so much fun you don’t realize it, but all that bike fun is a great way to stay in shape (of course it’s easily negated by all the tacos, donuts, pizza, and beer!).
Activists unite! Pedalpalooza is the new Critical Mass
I know that term Critical Mass has a lot of baggage, but the sometimes controversial event was highly successful in bringing bike activists together. Like Critical Mass used to be, Pedalpalooza is a place where people who care about biking can meet others with similar values. People new to Portland’s bike scene can do a few rides, learn about the city from a bike point-of-view, make personal connections — just like they used to do when Critical Mass was still going strong.
People as public space
In the last 17 days, Portland’s streets were transformed by humans on bicycles. Numerous daily bike parades moved through traffic as one large entity (thanks corkers!) and large groups of people congregated on roads and other public spaces throughout the city. It was like temporary human architecture that gave Portlanders a different perspective on our streets. The many smiling cycling faces were far from the “impersonal machine operators” that usually dominate our roads.
On the Get Lost Ride, we stopped and rode where ever the dice told us to: On the tiny curb adjacent to a major arterial, through a tunnel, and even across the intimidating Ross Island Bridge — which wasn’t so intimidating with 30 or so friends on bikes.
We posted 70 ride reports this year and many people said they plan to make their rides a monthly event. Who says the bike fun — and everything it brings to our city — has to ever stop?
Thanks everyone for following our 2010 Pedalpalooza coverage. Feel free to share your own thoughts and memories below…