Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Armed with legal training, the ‘Bike Swarm’ plans petrol protest

Posted by on February 27th, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Event flyer

The PDX Bike Swarm is alive and well. Since we last checked in with them, they’ve been holding regular meetings and have swarmed on a number of occasions.

On Wednesday, the bike swarm plans to take a major role in Occupy Portland’s “F29” protests. Specifically, the swarm plans to use their bikes to “blockade” and swarm local gas stations. According to organizers, the goal is to, “bring awareness to the fact that BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell made over $73 Billion in 2010.”

Here’s more from the Swarm’s Facebook page:

“Join PDX Bike Swarm for an unprecedented paradigm shift, a display of velocipede direct action techniques, and also a dash of preposterous tomfoolery as we spread a jovial message of a lifestyle free of the combustible engine.”

The Bike Swarm’s “Tour de Petro” is part of a larger day of action aimed at a shutdown of major corporations. Occupy movements in 70 cities around the country are planning a variety of protests.

Last week, a group of Bike Swarm regulars got an education about how to protest by bike. Local lawyer Charley Gee informed the activists about their legal rights while bicycling.

Bike swarmers listen as lawyer Charley Gee outlines how to bike in protests without breaking the law.
(Photos © Katherine Ball)

Bike swarm organizer Katherine Ball says they discussed tactics they can use to ride within the law, but also prevent and slow down traffic from entering gas stations. One of the legal tactics is called the “chainsaw.” They’re keeping the strategy secret, but given my understanding of chainsaws and pacelines, I assume it would be performed by constantly rotating a line of riders that takes up a lane and blocks vehicles from passing through.

Check out PDXBikeSwarm.org for more info on the Tour de Petrol. You can also join them in the big march planned for 1:00 on Wednesday that leaves from Waterfront Park.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Jerko February 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    It’s kids like these that make me not want to be a part of the portland bike community this is really immature.

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    • Hart Noecker February 27, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      No, immaturity would be breaking the law. Maturity is learning how to combine cycling with protesting safely and legally.

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      • middle of the road guy February 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm

        Maturity would be how to influence someone’s thought process in a constructive manner and without causing a hazard.

        This is just childish – the only thing it is only to do is built anti-bike sentiment and start a confrontation. Someone is going to be a beating…..and likely they will have earned it.

        You don’t like gas stations….fine. You make that issue someone else’s problem? Good luck with the result.

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      • q`Tzal February 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm

        And yet this protest is trying to turn an act of pure irritation in to something good.

        It’s like going out and yelling “BIKE MY SHINY METAL ASS!” and expecting happiness, cooperation and rainbows to appear.

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      • q`Tzal February 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm

        Sorry “BITE MY SHINY METAL ASS!”

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        • middle of the road guy February 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

          We need a frame builder named Bender

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          • q`Tzal March 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm

            Now I want to see a steel frame made of one continuous tube with no welds.
            Extra points if doesn’t weigh as much as a battleship but is still durable.

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  • Jerko February 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Also makes one wonder what would happen if a bunch of drivers blocked the entrance to your local bike shop to prevent you from buying petroleum based tubes, tires, and brake pads.

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  • Uncle Muscles February 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    I can’t think of a worse way to exacerbate already-strained bike/car relations in Portland. These protests aren’t the way to get people to start using alternative modes of transport in the city. It’s only outcome will be pissing people off at bikes for weeks and having absolutely no impact on the global oil market. Fantastic

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  • Jerko February 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I have to agree with Uncle Muscles.

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  • Indy February 27, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    What a horrible horrible idea. This will eventually get people killed (needlessly) that think they are doing something progressive.

    This just isn’t the right climate to hold this type of protest.

    The political alignment of Occupy protesters and bikers that want better biking facilities doesn’t seem quite on the same level.

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  • Quentin February 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Blocking access to local gas stations is not an effective way to decrease fossil fuel dependence. This will only serve to antagonize and annoy drivers and reinforce negative stereotypes about cyclists. It is infuriating that oil companies make obscene profits while holding our transportation infrastructure hostage, but blocking cars with your bike is just plain juvenile.

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    • A.K. February 27, 2012 at 6:48 pm

      Indeed. So, is this swarm going to be smart enough to target a corporate-owned station, or is it going to in fact hurt a local small business owner who just happens to own a franchise? To that end, does the swarm even care?

      I think those people need to take a hard look at their own lives before they get all self-righteous on folks pulling into the station to fill up. I wouldn’t take lightly to some smug arsehole trying to tell me what to do – you know nothing of my life, what I do, or why I might be choosing to drive on a given day. And frankly it’s none of your business, either.

      Further, I would *love* to read a well-written analysis of the gas industry, pricing, distribution chain, and so on from someone participating in this. I’m sure it would be a HOOT. The website is, sadly, devoid of any sort of deep-thought analysis on this subject. Shocker.

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      • tonyt
        tonyt February 27, 2012 at 6:55 pm

        “I wouldn’t take lightly to some smug arsehole trying to tell me what to do – you know nothing of my life, what I do, or why I might be choosing to drive on a given day.”


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      • middle of the road guy February 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm

        These people probably boycotted Arizona Iced Tea, also.

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  • tonyt
    tonyt February 27, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Specifically, the swarm plans to use their bikes to block access to local gas stations. According to organizers, the goal is to, “bring awareness to the fact that BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell made over $73 Billion in 2010.”

    Actually you’ll just bring awareness to the fact that some people on bikes can be self-centered jerks.

    Seriously, this is a horrible idea.

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    • Hart Noecker February 27, 2012 at 11:22 pm

      Hey, if petroleum is so great, let’s have the free market decide. No more subsidies, no more corporate welfare. Let’s see how long people keep driving when the REAL cost of $15.00 a gallon is on the sign at the gas station. On F29 we’re riding our bikes in opposition to A.L.E.C. corporations attacking climate legislation while promotion oil-hungry sprawl development. If you’re not down with that in a town like Portland, I hear there’s some nice property over in Vancouver for sale.

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      • Indy February 28, 2012 at 8:06 am

        Link to that? As far as I know there are few subsidies for oil production, but there are many for driving/road building. Europe and the rest of the world pay a lot for gas because they are taxed heavily. The United states is a tax-hatin’ place that means increased taxes = political suicide.

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        • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

          Oil corporations receive between 4-10 billion dollars a year in welfare subsidies.

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          • indy February 28, 2012 at 1:26 pm

            So not even a blip on the radar in terms of all the money that is involved in energy production. Hardly seems worth worrying about it given our current deficit is 15+trillion.

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            • spare_wheel February 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

              A 15 trillion deficit that has accumulated over many, many decades (and much of it due to un-payed for tax breaks and medicare programs). If you were to multiply 10 billion (inflation-adjusted dollar) by 20 you would get a more relevant comparison to national debt. And why does tax-hatin’ capitalist america feel the need to subsidize some of the wealthiest corporations on this planet. Especially since these very same companies repeatedly underestimate the enormous risks of oil production (at tax payer expense).

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          • Scott February 29, 2012 at 9:34 am

            Which is one quarter to roughly half of the agricultural subsidy. Please ride you bike away from Portland and Swarm Iowa. You are doing the same thing the Oregonian does in creating a rift. No middle ground can be found in a rift.

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            • spare_wheel February 29, 2012 at 11:47 am

              Logical fallacy. Agricultural subsidies are in no way relevant to this topic.

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              • Scott February 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

                If the goverment is paying money to keep crop prices down and they are paying money to keep gas prices down, explain the difference.

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      • Uncle Muscles February 28, 2012 at 8:50 am

        I work in the alternative energy industry and so I get to do a lot of study regarding government subsidies by source type. While it is true that subsidies for oil and gas are much higher than those for other sources, they are only higher because oil and gas make up a much greater percentage of total U.S. energy usage. If you look at proper statistics like subsidy $/mWh then you would see that oil and gas subsidies are some of the lowest. The biggest culprits are actually biofuels and clean coal while solar and wind remain somewhere in the middle. Of course, the issue is that oil and gas are not renewable and some of these other options are. We can’t eliminate subsidies just yet because they’re aiding technological development in the field of alternative energy.

        Tl;dr: don’t make local gas station owners bear the brunt of your selfish need for attention

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      • middle of the road guy February 28, 2012 at 3:09 pm

        when you consider that that total is for worldwide consumption, it’s not so large.

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      • middle of the road guy February 28, 2012 at 3:10 pm

        Same could be said for healthcare……

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  • Andrew Kaiser February 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I’m all for protesting. Heck, I’m all for protesting right in front of a gas station. However, blocking access to said gas station is a REALLY bad idea. All it will do is create anger and resentment.

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  • dirt_merchant February 27, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    I agree it’s a poor idea. Not much bang for the buck here, and you can BET YOUR LIFE that the local media will give this all kinds of overhyped car/bike war coverage.

    Simply riding your bike is the best solution here.

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  • Anthony February 27, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Cool! I was JUST trying to think of a way to get more drivers to harass me on my daily commute. Thanks Bike Swarm!

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  • Chris I February 27, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    The best way to “protest petrol” is to smile and wave as you ride past your local gas station. Blocking access is just going to piss people off. Most drivers already understand that the oil companies make obscene profits. Only the most ignorant, extreme right-wingers think that “greenies” are responsible for the high pump prices. This will accomplish absolutely nothing.

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  • Zaphod February 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Please re-think. I need the streets to be safe as I ride for business, for pleasure, for transport of my children. It seems, from posts here, that not only will you anger motorists you will also alienate those you’d assume are inherently on your side: cyclists.

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  • BikeEverywhere February 27, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I’m just an average middle-aged woman trying to getting to work and back safely on her bike.

    Please stop making me look bad.

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  • Suburban February 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    “Fear” is one threshold required for PPD to use crowd control tools. They may have already received reports that Anarchists with weapons will be among those protesting… It is reasonable to be fearful of Anarchists with weapons; so.. that’s how it goes.

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  • Dan Kaufman February 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Hey, I totally get the concern here. Last thing we want to do create any more animosity. We can leave that to the Oregonian.

    I won’t speak for the swarm but let me clear things up as I understand them.

    First, and for the record, the plan is not to blockade. This will not be antagonistic. It WILL be clever. Swarm can and will move on. So, FEAR NOT! We will not be putting gasoline companies out of business on F29. It just won’t be business as usual.


    If you’d like to discuss your concerns further please join me for #BikeCheck at 9pm on CrankMyChain.tv you can call 503 683 1666

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    • Andrew Kaiser February 27, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      yes, but the PDX Bike Swarm says, “PDX Bike Swarm will be blockading local Portland gas stations to bring awareness to the fact that…”

      So if you guys have no intention of blockading, why does your website say otherwise? The language you are using on your own website is enough to give fodder to the anti-bike crowd. Maybe your actions will end up being clever, but so far your words aren’t very well chosen.

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      • Hart Noecker February 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm

        Maybe we can call it an ’embargo’? Would that be more appropriate ?

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        • Scott February 29, 2012 at 9:37 am

          Emabargos are voted on. So yes, please call it an embargo and open it up to a mass vote. Perhaps we could even get Jonathan to facilitate the vote.

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    • Chris I February 28, 2012 at 6:23 am

      You obviously don’t speak for the swarm, because they clearly state that they will be blockading, while you claim they won’t.

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    • Barney February 28, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Dan you say that the plan is “not to blockade” the stations. The article states that:

      “Specifically, the swarm plans to use their bikes to “blockade” and swarm local gas stations”

      Either the article is wrong or you are spinning the intent of the action. Perhaps because of the overwhelming negative response that is being demonstarted here you are trying to put a happy face on the action.

      Do what you need to do to satisfy your personal political needs but think of the others that your are also affecting. Regular people who commute to work, school or for recreation will all be impacted negatively by what you are doing. If you are okay with tarnishing the image of cyclists in general and the negative affect it will have on future cycling programs then go for it. You sound just selfish enough not to care!

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  • Doug February 27, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Why not just swarm gas stations with hybrids?

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  • Elliot February 27, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    That’s funny, the people in the photo look like they’re in their 20s and 30s… I got over this stuff when I was 16. I guess these folks didn’t ever finish working out their childhood angst.

    This is a waste of time that will only create more divisiveness between everyday people. ***deleted by moderator*** tactics like these will turn potential allies into enemies.

    If you really want to get people out of their cars, how about striking up a conversation with people at the pump about how expensive gas is, then hand them a coupon to a local bike shop?

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    • Elliot February 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Oops, didn’t realize that word would be too harsh. Didn’t mean to name-call. I meant to say I think that these are “rude and unfriendly” tactics…

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  • Hart Noecker February 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    America is addicted to oil. It’s time for an intervention. It’s okay, America, we love you, but we need to have a little chat about all that petroleum you’ve been abusing.

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    • Chris I February 28, 2012 at 6:25 am

      Yes, and we need to raise the gas tax. Raise the gas tax, and consumption will decrease. More people will look for alternatives. I don’t see how this blockade is going to help with that cause.

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      • A.K. February 28, 2012 at 8:47 am

        This can be boiled down to doing what is “right” vs. what is “easy”. Doing the HARD WORK of convincing the state to change the way it taxes gas is a true uphill battle. Applause to anyone engaged in that battle.

        On the other hand, you can miss a little work, ride to a little protest, and pat yourself on the back for “making a difference!!” at the end of the day. That is doing what is easy.

        Commuting to work via bike and not bragging about it or making a spectacle of yourself, leading by example and living with a bit of humility? That’s the style I think is best, but others may not agree.

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        • Geoff February 28, 2012 at 11:30 am

          I agree 100%. Just like the Occupy Movement, meaningful change will not be accomplished unless “protest energy” is translated into “political energy”.

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    • middle of the road guy February 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      The market will make that decision for us soon enough…..and the reality is, that is the only thing people will react to.

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  • Peri February 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    If all y’all haters want to change bike swarm tactics, get off your asses and come to bike swarm.

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    • Chris I February 28, 2012 at 6:24 am

      I have a job.

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      • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 7:45 am

        So do we.

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      • peri March 1, 2012 at 8:58 am

        Obviously your job (like mine) isn’t so time consuming that you don’t have spare time to waste dicking around on a comment board. I’m sure you’d find you have time for bike swarm if you wanted to. I’d love to see you there.

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  • J_R February 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Seems like a good way to make even more motorists hate cyclists even more than they already hate oil companies. Seems like a really great strategy for making friends.

    The bike swarm will be letting motorists with “Share the Road” llicense plates through, won’t they?

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  • Giro Protagonist February 27, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    If people can’t stop for one second to consider why they should’t buy gasoline then how can we expect them to consider it any other time. We will end up block”AID”ing the gas stations by buying gas and tipping the attendants. We aren’t terrorists, take a chill pill folks.

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    • rain bike February 28, 2012 at 8:32 am

      Careful. I’ll have to check the Patriot Act, but suspect that an act is not defined as “terrorism” by the perpetrators, but by the targets.

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  • Zed February 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    The presentation is improving, the word may need some rewording, but the cause was always inspiring:

    awareness to inequality.

    I imagine more of you will be joining us this summer at $5 a gallon.

    In fact, you should even do it better in true Portland ethos.

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    • Chris I February 28, 2012 at 6:27 am

      I will be extremely happy to see $5 per gallon gas this summer. I sincerely hope that it happens. I won’t be protesting at a gas station, though. I will be riding my bike to work, and encouraging as many people I know to ditch their cars and start commuting by bike.

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    • q`Tzal February 28, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      Every dollar the gas goes up gives even less of a reason to do a protest like this.

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    • Scott February 29, 2012 at 9:42 am

      Despite making more than enough to buy cars at will, I gave up driving when I was 18. Not because of some oil dependancy chalk talk, but because I wanted to have two slices of cake after dinner instead of one. This is not going to be a problem soon. The market is going to make more people choose bikes, and then we will see the line between rich and poor turn into a gap.

      Your over-educated enaction of white male privelidge is serving no greater good. It is only fanning flames.

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  • kiel johnson
    kiel johnson February 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Looking forward to it!

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  • kernel loose-nut February 27, 2012 at 11:47 pm




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    • q`Tzal February 28, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Lie back and think of England

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  • twistyaction February 28, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Counter bike-swarm if you care enough to not have these people on bicycles represent you as a cyclist.

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  • o/o February 28, 2012 at 2:50 am


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  • Tourbiker February 28, 2012 at 5:20 am

    Critical Mass v2.02 …bad Idea regardless of legality.
    Swarm OPEC if you need to revolt.

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    • Chris I February 28, 2012 at 6:35 am

      Or swarm the refineries to try and shut them down. That will drive the prices up. That would involve leaving Portland, though.

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      • meh February 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm

        Anyone want to carpool?

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  • J_R February 28, 2012 at 7:00 am

    Apple made billions of dollars last year, too, and its the largest company in the world. Apple’s market capitalization is $460 billion with Exxon Mobil in number two spot with market capitalization of $396 billion. Check it out at: http://www.theonlineinvestor.com/large_caps/

    It seems bike swam should go for Apple stores.

    -sent from my iPhone

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    • rain bike February 28, 2012 at 7:23 am

      Great idea. Even more to the point, that whole industry relies on “conflict minerals” such as Tantalum. Mining is a messy business too. All those users of iThingies are contributing to armed conflict in places like the Congo with each tweet.

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      • middle of the road guy February 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm

        yeah, but that would require a rational thought process and self-reflection. These ding-dongs like to point out the shortcomings in others while willfully ignoring their own.

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    • peri February 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      Yes, J_R, bike swarm should. I stand in solidarity with you. I’ll swarm the gas stations tomorrow, and hope to see you at the next bike swarm event to work out your Apple swarm idea.

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  • Randall S. February 28, 2012 at 7:15 am

    Honestly, this seems a little to me like trying to solve the crack issue by blocking access to crack dealers. I understand the problem, I understand the urgent need to fix it. This isn’t the fix.

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  • Stretchy February 28, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Can’t wait to see the swath of graffiti, vandalism and, broken windows that always seem to accompany these occupy protests.

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  • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 7:47 am

    PDX Bike Swarm Tour de Petro solidarity demonstration with #F29 National Day of Action Against ALEC (A.L.E.C.)

    On Wednesday 29 February 2012 concerned cyclists and Occupiers in Portland, OR will take part in a coordinated National Day of Action to Shut Down the Corporations:



    The bike swarm has specifically chosen area gas stations as their target. No station local or corporate will be ignored by the swarm. Locally-owned stations may, however, “get off easy”. The bike swarm will be demonstrating within its legal rights and with no plan for an illegal blockade.

    Occupations have been preparing a variety of decentralized actions in response to Occupy Portland’s call to target the American Legislative Exchange Council.

    We specifically call on people to target corporations that are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The biggest corporations in America, like ExxonMobil, Bank of America, BP, Monsanto, Pfizer, and Wal-Mart use ALEC to buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves only the interests of corporations and not people. They then duplicate and spread this corporate legislation in Washington, D.C. and in state legislatures across the country.


    ALEC has worked on behalf of oil companies to undermine climate change proponents (Source)

    See here for more about why we protest corporate power and how ALEC seeks to erode our democracy, undermine workers rights and attack unions, destroy our environment, obstruct efforts to address climate change, undermine public education, pursue destructive agricultural practices and fuel the prison industrial complex:

    Feb 29th: Shut Down ALEC from Kontra on Vimeo.

    Contact Hart Noecker: Phone 517.202.1322 or e-mail the swarm at pdxbikeswarm@gmail.com

    Follow on twitter @PDXbikeswarm and hashtag #TourDePetro

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    • Chris I February 28, 2012 at 8:09 am

      Can you swarm some of the gas stations out by my work in outer-east Portland? I think a critical mass might make drivers more aware of cyclists and make the roads a bit safer. “No station will be ignored” Right?

      131st and Sandy
      165th and Sandy
      181st and Sandy
      Costco on NE 138th

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      • NF February 28, 2012 at 8:54 am

        Seriously. I’ve always thought Critical Mass could come back to Portland in the form of Outer East Portland bicycling awareness campaign. Imagine a mass of bicyclists occupying a lane along 82nd avenue, as a form of protest for the lack of bicycle facilities along the street.

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        • Spiffy February 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm

          I’ve occupied a lane on 82nd by myself quite a few times… you get about 1 angry driver every couple miles…

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      • ric February 28, 2012 at 9:26 am

        Can you please not swarm the gas stations I pass on my commute. I’d rather not be mistaken for one of you.

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  • NW Biker February 28, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I sincerely hope that my car engine isn’t “combustible.” I’d be very unhappy if it caught fire while I was driving. 🙂

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  • Lance P. February 28, 2012 at 7:54 am

    This is just a bad idea. This is just going to add to the ‘O’ bike vs. car flame. Is this really want you want? How will this help the city or the progress bikes have made over the years? How about a better idea. Don’t by gas, ride your bike to work/store/play and then talk about how peaceful and stress free it can be. Do this enough and some of those people buying gas may join you/me one day.

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  • Stretchy February 28, 2012 at 7:58 am

    I’d also like to point out that the headline for this post begins with the words, “Armed with…” This is hostile language and serves only to raise the tension between cyclists and drivers for the sake of a gratuitous headline.

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    • Chris I February 28, 2012 at 8:12 am

      I do think that Jon was fishing for a lively discussion here, but honestly, how many “drivers” as in, people that only drive cars, do you think read this blog?

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      • meh February 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm

        you call it fishing others call it inflaming.

        last week it was “carnage” now its “armed’ just report without the sensationalism.

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  • Granpa February 28, 2012 at 8:13 am

    What better way to perpetuate the “Us vs. Them” conflict between cyclists and drivers than to deny drivers their transportation fuel with a taunting, gloating cycle dance. All the better that many of “them” will be bandana masked like criminals. This campaign of annoyance will not even put a blip on the radar of the oil companies, but it will disrupt the lives ordinary schlubs (“Us”) You could not do better to turn hapless housefraus and feckless office-men into bike haters if you wrote editorials for the Oregonian.

    For the fun of it, run your swarm at a gas station on 82nd st in Clackamas County, That is the epicenter of Portland’s car culture. It would be too easy to swarm the Chevron in the liberal, guilt ridden NW at Lovejoy and 21st.

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  • Stretchy February 28, 2012 at 8:29 am

    This whole thing reminds me of those, ‘Nobody buy gas on Feb 29, that’ll show those evil oil companies we mean business’ emails that circulate every so often. They never suggest to do anything to reduce your actual consumption though, therefore having no effect on the big evil oil companies bottom line.

    So, if you blockade the gas stations, drivers will still buy gas. Except, they’ll actually be burning more gas while they sit idle in the roadway trying to get into a gas station. So, instead of buying 10 gallons from the big evil oil company, they’ll be buying 10.1 gallons. That extra little bit of gas burned while idling will further contribute to global warming without actually producing anything of value (ie. moving someone from point A to point B.) The big evil oil company will reap just a few more pennies in profits that I’m sure they’ll use to back republican candidates and, do other nefarious things.

    So, congratulations on helping get Dick Cheney elected “oil dictator for life” in 2012.

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  • DK February 28, 2012 at 8:36 am

    “bring awareness to the fact that BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell made over $73 Billion in 2010”

    -So what!

    It’s not illegal for a business to make a profit. If you want to protest
    -the destruction of our environment through the burning of fossil fuels
    -or the security issues that arise from dependence on foreign oil imports
    -or the inequities in our transportation infrastructure
    -or the tax incentives given to the already profitable oil industry…these issues carry weight.

    Protesting a business’ right and ability to make a profit…Ridiculously silly.

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  • Andrew K February 28, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I really like one of the ideas mentioned above.

    Instead of going out and annoying drivers, why not head to gas stations and hand out coupons for commute bikes? PDX Bike Swarm could partner with a local bike shot (or several…) and hand people a coupon for 10% off a commute bike.

    So instead of of coming accross as compative you instead gain friends and people sympathetic to your cause. Even if someone just crumples up the coupon and throws it in the back seat they aren’t going to drive away thinking, “what jerks!” In fact I imagine most people would put some real thought into it if they’ve just spent $50 or more putting gas in their car and then suddenly get presented with an opportunity by a friendly person handing out a coupon.

    Even if only one or two people end up taking the coupon and buying a bike for the first time it will have more of an impact over annoying everyone.

    As an added bonus it would drive some business to bike shops improving our local economy. It would be a win/win all around!

    It’s not too late to change your strategy guys.

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    • bikeyvol February 28, 2012 at 9:43 am

      YES! This a great idea, IMHO! Less antagonistic, helps the local bike shop community, maybe gets another bike commuter or two!

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  • Lazlo February 28, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Thanks for the advance warning, I’ll make sure to fill up my tank today.

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  • tonyt
    tonyt February 28, 2012 at 8:53 am

    If shifting perceptions and enlightening people is the objective, this completely unscientific forum/focus group should demonstrate that this action will entirely miss the mark.

    Those planning this can dismiss the naysayers or they can see us as giving you a pretty good idea of how this will be received.

    This is a PR effort. On this forum the swarm folks should be able to rally support pretty easily. But somehow the vast majority of people here find this idea misguided at best.

    Rethink this. I’m off to ride my bike to work. In my opinion that’s the best PR possible.

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  • Merckxrider February 28, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Is it possible that these people are provocateurs on the payroll of Fox News or the Oregonian?

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    • A.K. February 28, 2012 at 9:34 am

      The thought of an astroturf campaign of epic proportions did cross my mind. But that would just be silly. Wouldn’t it?

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  • Dan February 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

    bike swarmers: if this is how bikeportland.org readers respond to your protest plans, imagine how poorly understood your message will be at the gas stations tomorrow. please come up with a more positive way to communicate your thoughts on this issue. the oregonian & tv stations don’t need more us vs them fodder. thanks.

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  • kerry February 28, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I hope y’all plan on writing a note to Big Oil because I assure you, they won’t notice this. The 99% will, though. You know, the little guys. How is irritating people supposed to help?

    I second the motion to protest at gas stations with signs focused on the price, and bike shop coupons. “Tired of $50 a gallon? We can help!” What if we doubled our bike share this summer? Big Oil might actually notice that (probably not, but a girl can dream)

    Ultimately, though, campaign finance reform. When they can can use their profits to buy politicians and stop transpo options, or anything else for that matter, we the people will NEVER succeed in changing anything.

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  • Blake February 28, 2012 at 9:30 am

    This bikeswarm idea is the worst approach. I don’t even think I can think of a more effective way to make drivers be rude and inconsiderate and feel justified doing it than this.

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  • Dan Kaufman February 28, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Reminder: There is perpetual war going on over energy resources. It is also directed against our environmental and economic well being. It’s directly caused by seriously ignorant and corrupt energy policies/practices that WE ALL play a large role in.

    The Obama administration, Governor Kitzhaber and The Oregonian, and many the commenters here may like to wringing and waving hands about it. I am done waiting quietly. Peak oil HAS happened, climate change and massive species die-out ARE real!

    Reminding people of our energy disaster is a not a public relations campaign. It’s shock therapy. Don’t like the swarm tactics? Do it better!

    Consider bringing a gas can. Many of us will be (GOD FORBID) buying gas in an act of cognitive dissonance and civil obedience.

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    • Andrew K February 28, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Interesting that you refer to what you are doing as Shock Therapy, a medical practice that has proven over and over to be innefective as a treatment.

      Seriously, we agree with you that oil companies suck. We also agree with you that our government isn’t doing much to fix the problem. However, your current approach isn’t going to be effective either. In fact, you are becoming part of the problem!

      When it comes to protests, you need to be inclusive not divisive. Otherwise you are just preaching to the choir and turning people off to your message.

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      • Dan Kaufman February 28, 2012 at 9:55 am

        Andrew, you are cordially invited to come along and help make sure it’s not too divisive. Regardless of weather you can attend, I will take that into consideration tomorrow. Thanks for the advice.

        By the way, shock therapy is still used with varying degrees of success. I can tell you what we ARE currently doing IS NOT working.

        Seriously, if you think this is such a bad idea help us come up with something better. I have seen several constructive ideas so far, thx.

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        • Andrew K February 28, 2012 at 10:05 am

          I’ve given you a far better idea in my posts above.

          I have no desire to align myself with your protest in its current form. I consider myself incredibly liberal in my political leanings but one thing that annoys me to no end is events like this that do far more harm than good. You wonder why politicians are doing nothing, and yet you are handing them all the excuse they need to run far away from our causes.

          The outcry of people on this forum telling you how terrible of an idea this is should be a major wake up call for you. Your efforts should be spent inviting people to ride bikes, not making them feel bad for driving a car. Any guilt a person might feel will quickly turn to anger and frustration at the bike community. Is that fair? No, of course not, but it will.

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          • Dan Kaufman February 28, 2012 at 10:33 am

            Andrew, go right ahead and do your liberal and polite bike ride. Those are fun, too.

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            • Fred February 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

              Would it be less effective of a protest for your movement if you just called it a swarm and made the title sound more open to everyone and sound less like “bike riders vs. whatever we don’t agree with”. Not trying to be negative or get anyone upset just trying to brainstorm.

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              • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm

                The title of our action is Tour de Petro. It’s gotten a highly positive response.

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  • craig harlow February 28, 2012 at 9:39 am


    This is a blatantly aggressive bike vs. car activity, as the riders are provoking motorists who are trying to access a gas station.

    Riders are using their soft bodies to try physically blocking out 2-ton steel rolling machines. There is high potential for lots of BAD to come of this. You may feel that you have your legal bases covered, but that assurance will be no consolation if/when one of the swarm is swatted by a car.

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  • Josh C. February 28, 2012 at 9:40 am

    And we wonder why individuals are throwing carpet tacks on the Williams street bike route.

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  • Merckxrider February 28, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I’m not starving and it would be worth $50 for me to ride my bike past this lame attempted blockade to whip out the Visa and pay for someone’s gas–just to annoy the hippies.

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  • Jesse February 28, 2012 at 9:58 am

    I keep hearing the same “arguments” set up towards Occupy and protests like these, but I think people are failing to realize that these are protests and in particular protests of the civil disobedient type.

    They are not suppose to be 100% legal, they are not supposed to be pleasant, they are not supposed to be specific. People are mad, we are being ripped off and this is a way to show our anger and show people that a LOT of people are angry and then maybe you’ll ask why are there so many angry people. Once you get that through your head, arguing that protesters aren’t doing things legally or nice is moot. It’s not the point.

    Arguing that the bikes to be used to block gas stations have petroleum products in themselves is a false argument called deflection. It’s matter or scale, anyone reading this website should know that. Just because a person can’t be 100% petro-free doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to reduce.

    Arguing that “they’ll make biking look bad” is also a false argument because it brings up the idea that all cyclists are the same and have some sort of cycling dogma, club passwords and secret handshakes. Some of us ride bikes for fun, commute and necessity. Others do it for all those reasons and as a way to reduce carbon use. And some of THOSE might be angry enough at some of the largest corporations in the world raping the earth may decided to be angry and protest them directly. Anyone who is mad at ALL cyclists because of these few are idiots. Anyone who wants to play it safe and stop this sort of action because of the perceived blow-back shouldn’t leave their house then in order to avoid life, action and consequences.

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    • Brad February 28, 2012 at 10:27 am

      You assume that the majority of people stop to deeply reflect on the bigger issues when they see a protest like this. That assumption is wrong. Tomorrow, someone (perhaps many) will go to gas up and get blocked or delayed, they may then be late for work, an appointment or getting a child to school and be angry about it. What is their likely reaction – “Wow! Big Oil and Wall Street really are hurting the planet and its people.” or “I hate those %&$# bike riders!!!”?

      If the Bike Swarm massed at gas stations (without blocking it) with a positive message about “A Better Way”, I would wholeheartedly support it and it might even gain converts as fuel prices rise rapidly. Sadly, seeing some of the names attached to this group and its most vocal supporters here, it will be a collection of rebels without a clue looking for edgy “bike fun”. This is less about effective citizen activism and more about attention whoring.

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      • Jesse February 28, 2012 at 10:43 am

        You’re first paragraph was valid, but your second getts a little derailed and insulting, which isn’t productive. To your first point: I don’t assume that at all. Movements tend to be a collection of actions and energy and not just one bike swarm protest. A LOT has been going on over the past few months with Occupy and related efforts. Eventually, I hope, people will actually stop a moment in their anger and somehow see that, “well fuck, a lot of these things are happening, nearly every week…” But maybe not, the dicks will be dicks and blame ALL cyclists for ALL problems.

        To your second more name-calling words: aren’t protests about attention? And I’m sorry but you can’t assume you know anything about the organizers. Hell I don’t, I’m not one of them, but I support the actions and understand they can’t all be perfect nice actions.

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      • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 11:36 am

        Tour de Petro is gonna be the least of your worries if you’re concerned about being late to work tomorrow. There’s a whole lotta streets that are getting blocked on F29.

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    • Straybike February 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Nicely said.

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      • ric February 28, 2012 at 11:38 am

        Your third argument ignores that to many non-cyclists, all cyclists are the same, regardless of how or what they ride. We can tell the difference between the kid on the fixie running red lights wearing a bandana over his face and the guy bringing home his groceries with his cargo bike, but the average driver, the kind likely to be angered by this blockade, may not see the distinction.

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  • KRhea February 28, 2012 at 10:33 am

    It’s amazing how much good this misguided energy might provide if directed in different direction. It’s more than obvious that these folks want to be on the 6pm news with their acts of civil disobedience instead of doing something that might just really throw a drivers mind into a tail spin like handing them a coupon and saying “have a nice commute to work”. Sometimes the softest sound makes the loudest noise…
    And now to read that he’s asking everyone to bring to gas can with them…wow, anyone else think that one of the “fringe” riders might get the “cool” idea to light one of those or throw it or drop it and let it run into the closest drain etc etc.
    Does anyone remember the quiet acts that raised the most awareness like, simply sitting at a lunch counter or merely riding in the front seat of a bus or going to school or drinking from the wrong fountain or even driving after dark. None of those acts “screamed” anything. They were quiet ways of doing normal things that made a point loud and clear.
    A couple days ago this site was crazy over the Oregonians headline targeted at bikes/cyclists. Many folks said how it would continue to cause friction between drivers and cyclists and maybe even up the ante so to speak. We were all up in arms ready to rally against “the man” and here we are a couple days later getting ready to interfere with folks who are doing their best to survive, driving to a job they feel lucky to have in this economy in order to provide for their family(s) in a car that requires gas from stations who are legally selling it. They want to get to work on time so they don’t get fired or reprimanded and they need $5 worth of gas to get there and they’re dealing with folks on bikes “circling the wagons” in an effort to slow them down. Wow. Doesn’t make any sense to me to affect innocent people’s lives to make your statement.
    As someone mentioned way back in this thread, it’s legal to sell gas, it’s also OK if you choose not to buy it or use it.
    I’ll be sure and thank the swarm the next time I’m riding home, in the bike lane, with a front and rear light, helmet on, using hand signals, not running stops signs and I STILL get yelled at or called a name for simply riding my bike due to your freakin’ swarm.
    To the person who had the coupon idea , nicely done, you should be leading the swarm…in the right direction.

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    • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 11:25 am

      Why on earth would you assume we don’t already plan to do those positive things? Have a little faith that we share as much imagination as you do.

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  • Straybike February 28, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Bike Swarm! political activism, peadeful civil disobedience, and pain in the behind, I like it! The last 10 years just kind of slipped by with people complaining and pointing fingers, not much changing going on. Now how does that happen? Civil obedience, keep doing what your told, nothing to see here , move along. Dont cause any disruptions and make anyone mad please …sound familiar? Yes ALEC notices this more than writting a letter and its pretty harmless other than annoying. Remember Corporations are people and people do not like being annoyed.

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  • mikeybikey February 28, 2012 at 10:45 am

    BikeSwarm: the vote in my house is unanimous – you are magnificent, no, freakin’ magnificent.

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  • Goretex Guy February 28, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I’m in agreement on your goals, but your tactics will just piss off more drivers. As a daily commuter I’m trying to make friends for cycling, but after this stunt I suspect any good will I may have created will be gone. I agree with the contributor who said that if the negative feedback from fellow cyclists looks bad, wait till you see what most of the drivers and Oregonian readers say. They won’t take a lot of time to understand your agenda, they WILL react emotionally, and negatively, towards all cyclists. The biggest story on the news will be the poor independent station owner and how he’s trying to survive while a mob of stupid cyclists is blocking his entrance.

    Stupid, Stupid, Stupid.

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    • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 11:21 am

      You don’t know any of our tactics, you’re only speculating. And that’s kind of what we were hoping for anyway. 😉

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  • SJ February 28, 2012 at 10:54 am

    The seemingly overwhelming sentiment here is that this is a bad idea. I agree. It will 1) change nothing, 2) piss everyone off, 3) spread no actual information people don’t already know–not to mention the totally hypocritical: those involved with Swarm use more oil than they’d care to admit, in more ways than they understand, each and every day, and they derive full benefit from it. If you’ve ever worn clothes, eaten food, received medical care, called an ambulance or cop, used a computer, used any technology for that matter, you have used oil and have loved the leisure time it has created for you to . . . protest it.

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    • tboy February 28, 2012 at 11:06 am

      Don’t you want to change that?

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      • A.K. February 28, 2012 at 11:14 am

        Sure! Tell me again how the swarm will do that?

        Oh, right then. Back at it..

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        • tboy February 28, 2012 at 11:18 am

          Tell me how not doing anything and posting comments from your mom’s basement online is going to change things?

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          • Chris I February 28, 2012 at 11:29 am

            It’s going to hopefully stop a poorly thought out act that will do no good and has a potential to do great harm both directly and indirectly. Go back and read articles about inclusive outreach rides. You won’t see negative comments there.

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            • are February 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm

              the ride of silence always attracts negative commentary

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          • A.K. February 28, 2012 at 11:37 am

            My day job focuses on providing environmental resource data to those who need it in order to make a difference in our environment, make better use of our existing resources, and save lives. MANY MANY people do this sort of thing day in, day out, effecting far greater change than the swarm ever could hope to achieve. Sorry, but that’s reality – quite the opposite of doing nothing.

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      • SJ February 28, 2012 at 11:29 am

        Just stay with me for a moment: Do you have a tattoo? any friends who might “swarm” with a tattoo?

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  • tboy February 28, 2012 at 11:04 am


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  • Dave Cary February 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Andrew K, you have more insight and creative intelligence than this whole swarm combined. I’m ashamed that the original article was written in a way that encourages this stupid divisive kind of display of stupidity. Hey Swarmers, read all the above comments and then stop to think for a moment about what your likely effect will be. Or is that too much for somebody who gets all warm and giddy over screwing with other people just trying to pursue happiness in their lives?

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    • Andrew K February 28, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks! 🙂

      I guess my knee jerk reaction to this event is really two fold.

      The older I get the more clear it becomes that most people really don’t know how to effectively protest. It’s a skill and it needs to be learned. Going out into the street and creating a ruckus is really just not good enough. It never was in the past and is even less so in today’s short attention span culture. When one looks back at the civil rights movement and to folks like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bayard Rustin they didn’t know how to protest effectively at first either. But they took the time to learn.

      I understand the need to feel like you are doing something, and events like tomorrow’s Bike Swarm can certainly fill that need for some folks. What I want to see is that desire turned into something positive rather than negative.

      I firmly believe that perhaps the biggest act of defiance one can do in our modern culture is to ride a bike. Just the simple act of using peddle power instead of fossil fuel to go about your daily business is a huge departure on what our society considers to be the norm. So if there is going to be collective energy used to protest fossil fuels the message should be “hey, come join us!” not “hey, we are going to shock you.” More than likely people in their cars will see the Bike Swarm on the street and think to themselves, “thank goodness I’m in this car and I don’t have to talk to these jokers…”

      Something that would really affect change would be a newspaper headline that reads “Portland Sees a 20% Increase in Bike Commuters From 2011 To 2012!”. Now THAT would be something politicians and oil companies couldn’t ignore. THAT would be memorable and effective.

      I’ve long thought one of the most effective campaigns out there to get people out of cars and onto bikes is the black and white ads River City puts out there. After all, nobody likes shelling out cash to fill up their tank. Nobody likes sitting in traffic. Nobody likes getting fat and lazy. We accept it though because we are used to it.

      Those ads are a great, quirky, and simple way to re-orient your thinking. If the Bike Swarm just stood silently along Burnside every ½ mile holding up big pictures of those ads I think people would pay attention as they zoomed on by. The news would pay attention because it was unique. Best of all, it would be really hard for bike haters to complain.

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  • Straybike February 28, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Bike Swarm ! Hoowaaa

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  • tboy February 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Oh no, some people might get pissed off…get over it!! Don’t be pissed at the people doing the protest, be pissed at the corporations that caused the protest. If you focus on the real problem, we could actually change things. Stop your dependency on oil and make this world a better place for all.

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    • middle of the road guy February 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm

      What people really hate is when other people (like you) think you know what is best for others.

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  • sw resident February 28, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Mr. Kaufman et al., here’s a suggestion: be more creative in looking for allies (i.e., outside of the Red and Black Cafe) who want to change the dependence on foreign oil, reduce petroleum consumption, who favor public transportation, and want more liveable communities, for example: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/cpt/
    You’d be surprised but Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader recently appeared together on CSPAN and see eye to eye on many petroleum and foreign-policy related issues.

    They, and Crunchy Con types, are starting to gain headway in influencing policy on petroleum consumption. They do not use divisive tactics like the ones you propose. You need to make friends on this issue to effect change. If you think your tactic is not confrontational and will influence the average person, go to Winco or Washington Square Mall and do some advance opinion polling among the 99%.

    BTW, the forecast calls for snow and rain so be careful not to slip and cause a multiple-bike crash that might necessitate calling a gas-guzzling ambulance.

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  • Daniel R. Miller February 28, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I rode all night with the original bike swarm on Nov.12-13, and also N17 and at the Ports. All those actions felt right. I was glad to be part of them.

    This action however feels extraordinarily misguided to me, and I do not plan to take part. Just way too much antagonism (even if unintended) of ordinary workaday people who could/would otherwise be sympathetic to the goals of liberative social change (and bicycling.)

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    • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 11:45 am

      This is just one of many Shutdown protests that will be taking place on F29. Some people always get upset when streets are shutdown by protesters, but if you worry about everybody liking you you’ll never make any progressive change, you’ll wind up being just another ineffectual .org that promotes helmets and shies away from opposing freeway expansions.

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      • Erik February 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm

        I have commuted by bicycle since 1981 – in other words my whole adult life. I do not own a car. Tomorrow, ‘N29’ however, I will borrow my neighbor’s F250 to drive 7 miles to work and back. I will keep it in 4 wheel drive the whole way. You are having an effect. I will miss my bike for a day, but I want you to feel like you are having an effect.

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      • bikeyvol February 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm

        You do understand what the majority of comments against the swarm are stating, don’t you?? My reading your repeated comments of “big bad oil, teach them a lesson” is showing me you’re not getting what the 99 are saying – which is, you’re projecting the WRONG MESSAGE.

        When Occupy gets it right, it’s done great things (bank transfer day, SOPA/PIPA legislation, etc). More often than not Occupy appears to send a mixed or confused message. What is joe-average going to see? Cyclists preventing folks from getting gas, because big oil ( and thus anyone driving) is evil. They’re really not going to see or care what you’re trying to bring light to.

        Is this the message you want to pass along? You need to rethink your PR strategy…

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  • Alec shutdown February 28, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Support the oil companies that have put a strangle hold on our economy while boasting huge profits and sponsoring legislation that works against education healthcare immigration reform and all those conservative things that conserve nothing for tomorrow. Eat a taco they’re delicious.

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  • JF February 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I understand this is for an F29 protest, but i wish the bike swarm would have used a tactic around another entity than gas stations to rid people of the “bikes v. cars”.

    I think the idea of the bike swarm to target an industry that enables driving during an F29 protest will interfere with what is actually going on. Therefore, i do not agree with the Bike Swarm targeting gasoline stations.

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    • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      Bike Swarm has been working closely with Portland Action Lab in planning this action. We are targeting ALEC corporations in 70 cities around the country demanding and end to companies writing our climate laws and breaking labor unions, we’re riding in protest of institutionalized bribery.

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      • JF February 28, 2012 at 3:27 pm

        I am not opposed to protesting in support of F29.

        I just don’t agree with the swarm singling out gasoline stations because it would pass the wrong message of bikes vs cars to people who are not aware of what F29 is. Most people will probably see it as a mini-critical mass, which F29 is not.

        The real message of F29 is to make people aware of what ALEC is doing behind closed doors. My opinion is the actions the swarm are taking will not help get this message across.

        If the swarm wants to really make a difference on F29, go protest at the gasoline terminals, go protest at company headquarters/offices associated with ALEC, go protest with the main F29 group associated with Occupy!

        My interpretation of the Bike Swarm action is that they are acting on their own interests and not in the interests of F29. Just saying.

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        • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm

          If the issue was bikes vs cars, we’d be swarming a dealership. Read up on the links to the American Legislative Exchange Council and you’ll understand why we’re doing what we’re doing.

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          • JF February 29, 2012 at 8:47 am

            You missed my point. I have read up on ALEC. I am not opposed to F29 protests.

            If the bike swarm wants to go support the main Occupy demonstration on F29, great!

            I am opposed to the bike swarm singling out gasoline stations. Since you have been so vocal about “go read up on the ALEC…” to justify what the swarm is doing, just emphasizes the fact that many people are confused or don’t know the issues. Because of that, many people would interpret the bike swarm actions as Bike against Car. The bike swarm idea of protest does not bring what ALEC is doing to the forefront of conversation.

            Therefore, i think the actions of the bike swarm are misguided, despite their intentions.

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  • Nick V February 28, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    It is smug, pretentious, holier-than-thou stuff like this that makes me soooooooooo glad I left Portland. I now live in a city where bikes are used for hobbies and transportation instead of divisive politics and, in Bike Swarm’s words, “preposterous tomfoolery”. Get over yourselves and don’t complain to the cops, whom you also probably hate, after you get your rear ends kicked.

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    • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      Actually, we’ve had a very positive working relationship with the police in order to maintain safety and legality during our actions. Incase you missed it, the content of this article was about the LEGAL CLINIC we held in preperation for F29.

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      • middle of the road guy February 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm

        Have fun with your legal clinic…..I doubt it is going to stop several of the impending physical beat downs.

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  • Ron February 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    The people who should be really pissed off about oil company profits are drivers. They’re getting reamed.

    But the effect is they’re buying less gasoline. They’re driving less, they’re buying smaller, cleaner cars, and some are even taking up bicycling.

    Cyclists should be happy about this.

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  • Jeremy Cohen February 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    I am totally amazed at the number of knee-jerking fear mongers here. I have been impressed with the creativity and over-all appropriate use of the bike swarm. In this instance, I am going to withhold my judgement until the action happens.

    When comments on this forum compare this action to the actions of historical past, it is important to try to keep the context. You can be sure when MLK and the bus boycotters were gearing up there were plenty of people that argued how a boycott would hurt the very people they were trying to help, how the boycott would just upset white people even more, how the boycott would make the bus company fire a worker or two (and hurt his poor family’s income). Sound familiar? If protest doesn’t inconvenience the powerful, if only a little bit for a short while, it isn’t protest, it is compliance.
    I ride my bike everyday, everywhere I go. While I think I am doing my part to change the paradigm, I also know better. As long as I quietly keep to my tiny slice of the road (when I even have it) I am doing nothing.
    Finally, the bike swarm’s action shouldn’t have any effect on your ability to stand at gas stations all day and hand out fliers encouraging bike commuting. In fact, I am sure they would appreciate it. Before I criticize those acting, I should be sure I am prepared to act as well.

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    • Andrew K February 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm


      You are expressing exactly why the tactics of Bike Swarm in this particular case are not going to be effective. You’re right; we do need to be hurting those in charge, i.e. the Exxon Mobiles and the British Petroleums of the world. However, blockading (the term used by Bike Swarm) every-day folk from getting into a gas station is not going get the decision makers to take notice.

      Using your own example, when black people during the civil rights movement boycotted public buses they did just that…refused to use them. However they DID NOT create a physical barrier keeping white people off the bus. If they did, the common every-day folks who just wanted to get to work and home would have turned against them.

      So using history as an example, the goal should be to get more people to boycott oil companies and instead ride bikes. You don’t achieve that goal by jumping in front of people and making that decision for them. You do achieve that goal when you help people come to that decision on their own.

      I guarantee you not one single oil CEO will even notice this event. I also guarantee not one single politician of any influence will back it publically. Even worse, I guarantee that not one person who gets in their car every single day will see this and say to themselves, “hey I’m going to stop driving tomorrow.” Not one.

      I am all in favor of their goals, but this is preaching to the choir at best, and building resentment between modes of transportation at worst.

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      • middle of the road guy February 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm

        It’s akin to PETA people throwing paint on someone with a fur coat (often fake).

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  • Mike February 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I will fill my car, truck and motorcycle tomorrow just to show support to the local people who work at the gas stations (often earning in excess of $10/hr!).
    I will do my best to visit 3 different stations targeted by the bike smarm.

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  • are February 28, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    one hundred something comments mostly to the effect that “you’re doing it wrong.” i would like to just mention that how occupy and bikeswarm and any anarchic, grassroots, consensus-driven direct action works is,

    people who want to get involved show up and shape the thing through their creative input.

    so each of you who has complained here that dan kaufman or whoever is “doing it wrong,” i will invite you to put forward what it is you intend to do tomorrow, so the rest of us can tell you why whatever it is you are doing is wrong or insufficient.

    and thanks, dan.

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    • JF February 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm

      I am writing a letter to my congressman and supporting the occupy F29 protest. I will be riding my bike to the protest and coming dressed for the weather.

      If members from the bike swarm will come and support the protest, that would be great.

      If the bike swarm wants to go somewhere else and protest something, fine. I just wish they went to protest something on bike that was already not in conflict with bikes themselves. That is why they are doing it wrong. The Swarm’s idea of what to protest has diluted what the message of F29 is.

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    • Andrew K February 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      Have you ever wondered why the anti-bike crowd calls us smug and elitist? This is why…

      So what will I be doing tomorrow? I will be putting on my riding gear and going to work. I’m going to work because I need to support my family, put food on the table, and a roof over our heads. That’s what most of the “99%” will be doing.

      Does that mean you should just dismiss our feedback because we can’t be there? I would certainly hope not, but that is how you are coming across. If you want to win support toward your goals you have to stop thinking that way. Again, protestors have to be careful as to who is getting the message.

      If you read up through this thread you’ll notice a lot of good ideas were thrown out there. I personally put out two which I thought were pretty good if properly fleshed out.

      Here is another one:

      Instead of sending the Bike Swarm to gas stations – institutions run by us normal folks barely scraping by, not by CEOs or politicians – why not send the swarm down to Salem and stage a sit in at the State Legislators office or the Governor’s office? Decide on a singular concrete do-able demand and speak with a unified voice.

      How about you do this and demand the gas tax be raised? Or how about demand the state of Oregon up it’s requirement of bio-diesel from 5% to 15% by 2015? That would put a thorn into the profits of oil companies and get them to take notice.

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      • are February 28, 2012 at 11:09 pm

        okay so my point is, you are telling us what you are planning to do on F29. do you want a bunch of people on some blog comment board to jump down your throat because of the decision you have made? dan kaufman and bikeswarm have offered a framework in which people can be creative in expressing something or other about petroleum profiteers taking advantage of ordinary folks. if you disagree with the specifics, offer something else, but don’t disparage their efforts. they have explicitly offered a venue in which people, including andrew k, can create their own expressions. what the hell else do you want?

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  • KRhea February 28, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Andrew K
    You are expressing exactly why the tactics of Bike Swarm in this particular case are not going to be effective. You’re right; we do need to be hurting those in charge, i.e. the Exxon Mobiles and the British Petroleums of the world. However, blockading (the term used by Bike Swarm) every-day folk from getting into a gas station is not going get the decision makers to take notice.
    Using your own example, when black people during the civil rights movement boycotted public buses they did just that…refused to use them. However they DID NOT create a physical barrier keeping white people off the bus. If they did, the common every-day folks who just wanted to get to work and home would have turned against them.
    So using history as an example, the goal should be to get more people to boycott oil companies and instead ride bikes. You don’t achieve that goal by jumping in front of people and making that decision for them. You do achieve that goal when you help people come to that decision on their own.
    I guarantee you not one single oil CEO will even notice this event. I also guarantee not one single politician of any influence will back it publically. Even worse, I guarantee that not one person who gets in their car every single day will see this and say to themselves, “hey I’m going to stop driving tomorrow.” Not one.
    I am all in favor of their goals, but this is preaching to the choir at best, and building resentment between modes of transportation at worst.
    Recommended 6

    Well said and exactly what I meant with my reference to the civil rights struggle Andrew. Thanks for reiterating that point.
    Protests do have a place in our society, however, with the current state of bike/car relations in Portland it seems very shortsighted and narrow minded to use the bike swarm to essentially “harass” drivers when cyclists are feeling threatened more and more every day. Drivers will have absolutely no idea what’s going on or why it’s happening. They’ll only see random people on bikes making their lives more difficult and slowing them down.
    Organized confusion/organized chaos is a powerful tool when pointed at the right “target(s)” at the right time.

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    • Andrew K February 28, 2012 at 8:29 pm

      Thank you KRhea.

      I think your points are well worth considering.

      I also think something that often gets lost when it comes to protesting is the fact that an organized effort doesn’t have to come across as angry or even disobedient. Some of the most powerful acts of courage that have caused people to wake up and re-consider their point of view have also been some of the most peaceful.

      The example that instantly comes to my mind is the protester in the sixties who put flowers in the gun barrels of army soldiers. That was an action that caused people to pause and hold in their breath. It made a simple flower seem more powerful than a gun.

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  • q`Tzal February 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I’m thinking it would be less inflammatory to actually set fire to all the top 3 worst gas mileage SUVs in the Portland Metro than to block access to gas stations for everyone.

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  • q`Tzal February 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Dan Kaufman
    Last thing we want to do create any more animosity. We can leave that to the Oregonian.

    Hey, that animosity creation goes both ways.
    Just because the Oregonian is wrong does not make blockading gas stations “right”.

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  • q`Tzal February 28, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Walking protestors wearing sandwich board signs from local bike shops and hand out coupons for commuter bikes and associated gear.
    A few humorous jokes at the expense of gas stations in general.
    A few simple cost comparisons of average cost per mile for bike vs car vs SUV.
    My particular favorite: pointing out the ridiculousness/redundancy of driving from work to the gym and then home versus just biking home.

    Educational instead of irrational,
    Friendly instead of confrontational,
    Peaceful instead of inciting to riot.

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    • Hart Noecker February 28, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      Those are all things we’re planning on doing, only difference is we’ll be on bikes. I don’t see where all the hatred is coming from.

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      • are February 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm

        that was the point i was trying to make, thanks

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      • J_R February 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm

        It’s not “hatred” that your reading, it’s concern that your actions will be interpreted, perhaps incorrectly, by the a significant portion of motorists as hatred of them by bicyclists. Many motorists already believe, incorrectly, that bicyclists get special treatment, pay nothing, are elitist, are scofflaws, etc. And, now, with your actions some motorists may blame bicyclists for making their already-difficult lives even more difficult. There is concern that enough motorists will be pissed off that they will directly or indirectly retaliate or at least not support things desired by bicyclists.

        I think that’s why many commenters wish you would choose some other method of trying to cause the changes you (and many of us) believe would be better for all.

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        • Hart Noecker February 29, 2012 at 12:21 am

          We can’t worry about misinterpretation, we can only worry about our own actions. If we do disrupt business as usual for a few gas stations for a few minutes I would remind you that ALEC has been disrupting fuel efficiency standards, climate legislation, workers wages/benefits, and clean air/water standards for almost 40 years. Please consider the big picture and not simply on how our actions reflect upon you as an individual.

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          • q`Tzal February 29, 2012 at 8:33 am

            Misinterpretation is at the heart of everyones’ negative reactions here on this issue.

            We cyclists, with PRO-cyclist and ANTI-angry driver leanings, are able to easily misinterpret this bike swarm as a selfish act designed specifically to piss off as many non-cyclists as possible.

            How are the non-cyclists supposed to interpret it?

            You can’t just throw feces in people’s faces and then claim that it wasn’t a hostile act but in fact a friendly act of neighborhood soil amendment.

            Protest the fuel not the user.

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            • Hart Noecker February 29, 2012 at 11:52 am

              We got a very positive response from passing “non-cyclists”, your fears were in vain, sorry.

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  • katherine ball February 28, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    I have gathered from reading many of the comments that many people are disapproving of the swarm’s upcoming ride.

    I guess that I want to say:

    1) This is not a blockade and in no way are we trying to endanger anyone or the reputation of cycling

    2) I come at this from a point of wanting to do something good for the world. I am really concerned about the world, the environment, and the lives of the almost 7 billion people we share this planet with. When I think about what the future will be like if we keep consuming oil at our current rate—climate change, more wars for oil, environmental disasters like the BP gulf incident, and people, like the Ogoni people, whose lives and lands are being destroyed from drilling—it brings me to a place of sadness and also makes me feel like I must try to do something to try to stop these atrocities from happening. I don’t want my children to ask me what I did to try to stop these things and say, “Nothing” or “I got rid of my car and rode my bicycle.” I am trying to do what I can to have a bigger impact that in just my daily activities, and participating in the bike swarm is just one of the ways I’m trying to do this. I’ve done other things too, like ridden my bike across the US and interviewed people about solutions to climate change. This is a much more positive approach, that a lot of the dissenting commentors would probably agree with. The thing is, the bike ride (www.solutionsrevolution.org) didn’t get nearly as much attention or rider participation as the swarm, plus when my fellow cyclists and I met with 20 legislative offices in DC, they shrugged at the solutions we had gathered and said that nothing could be done because of there isn’t enough political support. That brought me to think that maybe I need to experiment with a more direct, political tactic, hence participating in the bike swarm. I don’t pretend like I have the “right” answer on how to fix this conundrum we are in, but on days when people criticize me for my actions, I try to stay optimistic that at least I am trying to do something. It might not be perfect, but at least I’m attempting to sound the wake up call. That said, I totally appreciate people’s constructive criticism and would love it if you would come to a bike swarm meeting and help us brainstorm future things we can do to create positive change. We can only do this together.

    Thanks for your time, input and consideration,

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  • harvey February 28, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Apple is sitting on 80Billion in cash at the moment with a valuation of $500,000,000,000 Five hundred billion. People are killing themselves right and left at the Apple production facilities in China which have less than “American” working conditions….

    Yet these guys want to protest petroleum companies by screwing with small business owners, franchisees who slave every day to make their living, because the companies that own their franchises made some money on something totally legal? Really?

    These small business owners did not create the demand, what they do is legal and has been for more than 100 years. I can appreciate the need and want for change, but this is absolutely the wrong way to go about it.

    How many people wrote their comments on this site on an Apple product? Why doesn’t this crowd take the iPad money and fly to China and protest there?
    Or at the very least protest at the Apple store?

    Lame. Myopic.Bicycles are better than this.

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    • Hart Noecker February 29, 2012 at 12:16 am

      We can’t be everywhere at once, but we’re working on it.

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    • spare_wheel February 29, 2012 at 11:27 am

      I wonder why you prefer to preach at “strawpeople” instead of discussing your own attempts to live a more ethical and productive life.

      PS: I do not own an apple product and never will.

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  • harvey February 29, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Anarchists untie!

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    • rain bike February 29, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Whether you meant “unite” or “untie” makes no difference. I love it either way! Thanks, harvey, for giving me a reason to pause and think this morning as I warm up from a miserable moring bike commute.

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  • Deeebo February 29, 2012 at 7:48 am

    In summary:
    Everyone – “this is a horrible idea that will not influence companies in any way and will just piss off and make enemies of the very people Bike Swarm should be trying to win over”
    Bike Swarm – “haters”

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  • JRB February 29, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Despite the many posts it’s still unclear to me whether the swarm intends to impede people attempting to purchase gasoline today. If so, however laudable the goal, it’s a counter-productive tactic. “We need to piss people off” and “nothing else has worked” are not in and of themselves reason to employ such a tactic.

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    • sw resident February 29, 2012 at 8:34 am

      Bike Swarm’s failing is that foremost they are a tactic and therefore: When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

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      • Hart Noecker February 29, 2012 at 11:50 am

        Actually, our tools were bikes, dancing, signs, costumes, smiles, and good cheer. All around a wonderful morning with a very positive outcome.

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  • Zaphod February 29, 2012 at 9:21 am

    My life is the very essence of what you are trying to promote. I’m car-less and run a business that relies entirely on bicycle infrastructure for local PDX deliveries.

    I want *NOTHING* to do with this. No association, no connection, nothing at all. And I’m well beyond busy such that I’m not going to join in the absurdity to change or influence what I know will be a train-wreck of an endeavor. So while there’s momentum for this tactic and you’re all pumped up to do it, know that you are alienating me, one who is completely on-board in the value of alternative transport.

    Instead of fighting and arguing for your position, show wisdom and rethink it…please. Find another way.

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    • BikeEverywhere February 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

      Thank you for your message and for what you do, Zaphod. YOU are someone who is really inspiring change in the way people think about bicycles. Amazingly, you are able to do it without threats, intimidation, or forcing your will on others.

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      • spare_wheel February 29, 2012 at 11:17 am

        So protest is now a *THREAT*.
        When exactly did our democracy die?

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    • spare_wheel February 29, 2012 at 11:19 am

      Anyone who has this kind of attitude about peaceful non-violent protest is exactly the kind of person I want nothing to do with. If you post your real name I would be happy to avoid you and your business.

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  • Granpa February 29, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Anarchists have broken windows at banks this AM,.

    I suspect there is a significant overlap in anarchist and bike-swarm activists.

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    • Hart Noecker February 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      Your suspicion was incorrect. Maybe join us next time so you can enjoy in all the musical bikey fun, you’re invited.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 29, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Hey folks… I just got back from rolling with the Bike Swarm at several gas stations. As expected, it was very innocent and there was a positive vibe throughout. No one was prevented from getting gas… protesters even purchased gas at each station (except when refused service). Overall it is a positive event in my opinion. Photos and recap to come.

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    • Hart Noecker February 29, 2012 at 11:48 am

      From passing motorists we got waves, smiles, and lots of honks of support. Nobody tried to beat us up or run us over, nobody was confrontation. The station attendants seemed to tolerate us fine and some even danced to our music. One exclained, “You guys just made my day!”

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    • craig harlow February 29, 2012 at 11:52 am

      Remember, (it seems to me) all of the objections raised in this thread were in response to this line from the article:

      …the swarm plans to use their bikes to “blockade” and swarm local gas stations…

      Did that occur?

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 29, 2012 at 11:59 am

        That’s not the only reason ppl responded to the story the way they did Craig. It seems to me people are simply uncomfortable with the style of activism that bike swarm and Occupy do in general. But to answer your questions about “blockade”… it depends how you define it. In some ways, yes, the presence of bicycles at the pumps impeded access to the stations… But was it an all-out blockade with angry protestors telling people in cars to get lost/back up!? No. not at all.

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        • Hart Noecker February 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm

          It feels very much as though cyclists’ fears of what motorists thing of them is what defines their animosity towards Bike Swarm. Maybe it’s time for us to do a little outreach to that the bike crowd understands our goals and tactics a little better.

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          • JRB February 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm

            I think you and Jonathan mischaracterize much of the concernt that was voiced. Yes, some folks chose to express concern how motorists might react to cyclists after the swarm. It seemed to me, however, that most people were concerned that the tactic to be employed for this particular swarm was unnecessarily antagonistic and counter productive to achieving the stated goals of the protest. The protest was repeatedly described as a “blockade” and based on that description I shared that concern. It’s still very unclear to me, however, what form the protest actually took and I will withhold judgment while I await more information.

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  • Dan Kaufman February 29, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Many of you will be disappointed to know that no BikeSwarmers received any beat downs today, arrests, or even a raised finger. We had many thumbs up, as well as, truckers and motorists honking in support, plenty of smiles, and one station attendant dancing while he pumped gas into our gas cans (…also sorry to disappoint those who thought they’d piss us off by buying/using gas today we actually bought and some swarmers of used gas as well. Imagine that, all you hobgoblins of consistency -it must blow yer mind!)

    And just wait ’til you see the pictures and videos!

    One thing I just kept reminding myself when I heard all the pussycats and complainers yowling here was this: Haters gotta hate, lovers gotta love.

    I love all of you. So there!

    PS That’s why I am doing this.

    PPS hoping for an equally successful march and rally this afternoon. #BikeF29

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 29, 2012 at 2:02 pm
  • peri March 1, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Ahhhhhhh…I LOVE the smell of haters in the morning!

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