Slideshow below/Gallery (82 images)
(Photos © J. Maus)
Today was another amazing Bridge Pedal event. Thousands of people of all ages, sizes, and colors enjoyed a bike ride in places they can’t get to any other day of the year. The views from the bridges, the celebrations with friends, and the accomplishment of completing the route all add up to a nearly perfect Portland day.
I say “nearly” perfect, because like in years past, there was some confusion with the routes and there were several places where many people had to dismount and walk due to bottlenecks. There were also, unfortunately, a fair number of crashes. I saw the ambulance and fire truck in action twice and I saw three other situations where people were being attended to with first aid. (More crash coverage in comments below and in The Oregonian.)
It’s too bad that many people do not appreciate the real consequences that can easily come with riding too fast or without caution and consideration for others. I understand the circumstances are difficult: There are thousands of people with different biking skill levels all thrown together, and due to a route that changes each year — much of it highways and bridges usually closed to biking — no one really knows what to expect.
Speaking of closures. One acquaintance of mine, Jeff Wills, was perturbed that he was not allowed to start the 10-bridge ride because he showed up just after 7:00 am. I saw him on the ride and he followed up via email: “I arrived right at 7 and was turned away and told to join the 7 Bridge Loop. That’s not what I signed up for.”
I had a great day, but I think it’s worth sharing a few quibbles. Why is it that we can’t just fully close a road for half-a-day? Just one narrow lane south on McLoughlin to Sellwood, a narrow lane on the St. Johns Bridge. I would think that a ride that’s been going on 15 years, that people pay $35 a piece for, and that draws 20,000 people would be a big enough deal to warrant a full closure. It sort of puts in perspective how difficult it will be for us to ever get a real, Bogota-like ciclovia event in this city. If we can’t have non-motorized access to our major highways on Bridge Pedal Sunday, then when will it ever happen?
I also think given the size and success of this ride, the signage and the volunteer preparation could be much more professional. The 400 volunteers are great, but they might be more effective if complemented by some higher quality route signage and maybe even a megaphone or two.
My minor quibbles aside, I had an absolutely awesome time. Everyone was in such good spirits, I loved all the diversity in age and ethnicity, and the feeling of being on the 405 and the big bridges was exhilarating.
I spent 20 minutes or so hanging out on I-405 between Everett and Glisan. The Japanese Taiko drummers caught my attention and then the sheer joy of just hanging out on a highway took over. I bumped into my friend Jon Wood and he was equally excited to be there. “As a west sider, I’m used to how this [the 405] is such a barrier… It’s great to see it as a unifying force.”
Before riding home, I rolled over to the start of Kids Pedal. Hundreds of little ones, with faces that showed equal parts nervousness and excitement, ready to ride up and over the river with their moms, dads, and friends. After that, I rode back north through Waterfront Park and was treated to a kaleidoscope of bikes, smiling people, and other signs of Portland we have all come to hold so dear.
Thanks to everyone who supports Bridge Pedal and makes it possible. Our city wouldn’t be the same without it.
Here’s my photo gallery (click “next page” at bottom for all 82 images). Watch the slideshow below and make sure to share your experiences in the comments below.