clear yesterday: They love bikes!
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Tired of reading headlines about local business owners and associations coming out in opposition to bike access improvements, the folks at Portland Design Works wanted to change the narrative. They knew that on N. Williams Avenue, there are numerous businesses that love all the bike traffic on their street. To demonstrate the support for cycling on N. Williams, they organized an event called Rider Appreciation Day (RAD).
During yesterday evening’s commute, 22 businesses on Williams rolled out the red carpet for people on bikes. They offered gifts, discounts, food, drinks, and even live music — all simply to show Portland that there’s at least one street where businesses love bikes and the people who ride them.
“There are so many bikes on this street. I just wanted to say hello, let them know we’re here.”
— Sadie Morrison, owner/operator of Las Primas Peruvian Kitchen
There was a party-like atmosphere on the street. Instead of the hurried, stressful, and sometimes tense experience of riding on a street busy with people in cars and on bikes trying to get home as fast as possible, the RAD event helped add fun and smiling humans to the streetscape.
Portland Design Works (PDW) just happens to be headquartered at the southern tip of Williams Ave. As riders rolled up to their corner, PDW’s Kevin Murphy yelled through a megaphone, urging folks to stop for free hot dogs, cold lemonade, brownies, prizes, and more.
Just up the road at N. Page, Greg Hudson with Corsa Concepts handed off frozen Otter Pops to passing riders while Metropolis Cycles did free bike checks and handed out water bottles and other goodies.
At N. Fremont, Abraham Sutfin, owner of Abraham Fixes Bikes, stood next to the bike lane out in traffic in order to greet each rider face-to-face. He passed out patch kits and discount coupons to his shop. “That’s for riding your bike,” Abraham said as he gave out his freebies, “Thanks for supporting our businesses!”
Moving north to the most crowded section of the street, several businesses teamed up to cheer and thank riders as they passed by just south of N. Failing Street. Ristretto Roasters had free iced coffee, Natalie Ramsland from Sweetpea Bicycles gave free saddle height checks and bike fits, Jude Kirstein from Sugar Wheel Works handed out coupons, Michael Wood from Tinymeat gave away cool bike-themed wallets, and Mariel Zamora from Cha! Cha! Cha! mexican restaurant handed out colorful musette bags and had ice cold water on tap.
Sherifa Roach, who just opened Black Bird Bicycle Repair in the alleyway on Failing between Williams and Vancouver, sat on the sidewalk offering bags of popcorn with her shop’s flyer attached to the outside (I’ll have a full profile of this cool new shop later today!)…
Up at the Hopworks Bike Bar, owner Christian Ettinger hired a live band and passed out water bottles. Several folks stopped in for a pint and enjoyed the music. Bike Bar general manager Bill Dickinson (in photo below) was smiling ear-to-ear as the sidewalk in front of his business filled with people on bikes. “This is why we moved up here… We love it… We’re right on the bicycle boulevard,” he said.
United Bicycle Institute provided a much-needed service; free lube jobs…
Sadie Morrison, the owner/operator of Las Primas Peruvian Kitchen was busy serving bike riders free french fries with pepper cream sauce, churros, and ice-cold limeade. A relatively new business on Williams, Morrison saw this event as a chance to connect: “There are so many bikes on this street,” she told me, “I just wanted to say hello, let them know we’re here, and let them try some of our food.” (I went home with a coupon for a free empanada!)
This was a fantastic even on many levels. I loved how it forced people to stop and take some time to chill on their way home, meet new people, and get to know new businesses and the folks that run them. It was also neat to see how the smart businesses used the event as a way, not just to show they appreciate bike-based customers, but to actually use the event to actively market their products and services.
I think the guys at Portland Design Works might have started something here. It’s just a matter of time before other smart business owners on other streets do the same thing. Let’s get RAD on SE 28th, Mississippi, Alberta, E. Burnside, N. Denver (in Kenton), on NW 13th (in the Pearl), etc…!
Thanks to all the awesome businesses who stepped up to take part…