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With shouts and smiles, Breakfast on the Bridges expands to the Burnside

Posted by on August 30th, 2013 at 11:22 am

Lance and Becky Poehler attempt to find takers for a very large Voodoo Doughnut.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The Burnside Bridge often goes unsung and unappreciated by bikers: Blame the slightly hairy merge with turning traffic on its west landing, or the awkward approach from the east. But as of today, the Burnside won’t be going unfed.

People biking west over the Burnside got a fun surprise Friday morning when a handful of bike lovers officially expanded Breakfast on the Bridges to the Burnside Bridge, with the help of donations from Voodoo Doughnut and the loyal Breakfast on the Bridges sponsor Trailhead Coffee Roasters.

Zavitkovski publicized the new tradition to passers-by with shouts as well as signs.

Lance Poehler and Paul Zavitkovski said they’re planning to serve fresh-brewed coffee and free breakfast for bike and foot commuters on the grassy area just north of Couch Street from 7 to 9 a.m. on the last Friday of each month. The pair have listed the event in the free Bike Fun Finder mobile app that Poehler co-created earlier this summer.

Poehler said he’d long been “jealous” of the Steel and Hawthorne bridges, where the volunteer bike-fun group Shift has committed the random act of kindness on last Fridays for more than 10 years.

A pair of bamboo cargo trailers became
an A-frame publicizing the event. Poehler
said he also plans to hang a tarp
from the nearby street signs for the
event this winter.

Passers-by (the bridge carries about 1,000 per day in each direction) were pleased.

“I have been a purveyor and enjoyer of Breakfast on the Bridges to the other bridges for many years, but this is the first time it’s ever been on my bridge,” said Francine Chinitz, an Ecova employee who said she sometimes goes out of her way to partake of the other breakfasts.

“Wow, cool,” said Paul Sari, an Iberdrola Renewables salesman who said he’s crossed the Burnside Bridge every day for three and a half years but never known about Breakfast on the Bridges or Shift. “Just for fun?”

Timo Forsberg, a Breakfast on the Bridges co-founder (and now Portland Bureau of Transportation employee) who showed up for the occasion, assured Sari that it was.

Chinitz said her dream would be for the event to take place every Friday during the BTA’s upcoming Bike Commute Challenge month. Poelher and Zavitkovski, who’d gotten up at 5:50 and 5:30 respectively to start brewing the coffee and setting up, weren’t making any promises. (Their wives Becky Poehler and Caroline Zavitkovski, also joining the fun for the first day, weren’t either.)

Before heading in to work himself, Forsberg held a brief benediction to officially recognize Poehler and Zavitkovski’s leadership by waving his coffee holder and awarding each of them a hand-colored Breakfast on the Bridges Superhero trading card. (Zavitkovski received “Jucie the Joyrider”; Poehler, “The Caped Crusader.”)

“May you live long and prosper,” Forsberg told them.

Forsberg anoints the new bridge event with superhero trading cards.

Thanks, guys.

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  • mezay August 30, 2013 at 11:32 am

    It was so fun this morning to add The Burnside to our tour of BonB! We drank coffee and donuts and bananas on all three bridges to complete a Trifecta of BikeFunnery!!!

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  • Lance P. August 30, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Thanks for coming out everyone! See you next month.

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  • Ted Buehler August 30, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Nice trailer sculpture!

    Thanks to Trailhead, Voodoo and volunteers.

    Ted Buehler

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Chris I August 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    You downtown commuters get to have all the fun. 😉

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    • Nate August 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      What about us suckers that keep it on the eastside?!

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
        Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 30, 2013 at 1:15 pm

        I don’t think Lance or Paul asked anybody for permission to start doing this … and I can at least promise that any and all further expansions of free food distributions would be newsworthy.

        Recommended Thumb up 5

      • BIKELEPTIC August 30, 2013 at 4:22 pm

        I think there needs to be a BOTB for the 12th Ave viaduct to the Lloyd District. . . you’d just need special equipment to fend off school kids.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 30, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Great job! And a thanks to the Poehler and Zavitkovsk clans.

    …who will step up to organizing the next new Breakfast on the Bridges for the bridges out in Portland’s “[breakfast] deserts”?…St Johns, Fremont, etc.?

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  • Mindful Cyclist August 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I was very pleasently surprised to see Breakfast on the Bridges this morning. Good to see the Burnside Bridge commuters get some love today. Thanks!

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  • Carl August 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I love commuting on the Burnside Bridge and now I love it even more! Nice work, Paul and Lance.

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  • LoveDoctor August 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Lance Poehler appears to be the inspiration for biking cartoon character (

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  • Adam August 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm


    I don’t work on the westside anymore, but this used to be my daily bike commute for many years. You are spot on – it is an unlovely bridge for bicyclists. It’s nice to see the bike love being spread here!

    One piece of advice I would give to the organizers – put up a big, neon sign advertising the free coffee/donuts a block or two up on Couch.

    The number of times I have biked past Breakfast on the Bridges, and only “clocked” what it was about a block later on my bike is…. well, a lot. Particularly on the Steel, where they don’t appear to have a single legible sign advertising what the hell they are doing. It just looks like some cyclists randomly standing about.

    In the bike lane, with heavy traffic, on the Burnside Bridge, you are not going to be able to to a U-turn very easily on yr bike to get to this event.

    Letting bikers know it’s happening a few blocks up is going to be crucial for this event to succeed, which I hope it does!

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  • Mindful Cyclist August 30, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Lance and Paul, along with the big A-frame, were very good about calling people over to come over. And, really, if you blow by and it hits you what it was, go up on the sidewalk where the crosswalk is, dismount and walk your bike back.

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  • Kirsty August 31, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Yay! This is my Friday running AM route sometimes. Will they give cups of tea to runners going across the bridge too, I wonder? 🙂

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