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How to make Bike Month matter in Portland

Posted by on May 1st, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Great idea from Portlander Russ Roca: when you
patronize a bike-friendly business this month, draw a bike on
the receipt and share a social-media photo to thank them.
(Photo: The Path Less Pedaled)

Much like Arbor Day, and for basically the same reasons, National Bike Month has long been a bigger deal in Nebraska than it is in Portland.

But, though it’s a little harder to spot around here, May is indeed Bike Month in the United States. And there are lots of great ways to celebrate it locally.

First, here’s a wonderful idea from Russ Roca of The Path Less Pedaled: All this month, patronize businesses that you know to be bike-friendly, and thank them for it by drawing a little picture of a bike on your receipt. Then share a photo of the receipt on your favorite social media account with the hashtag #bikenomics.

Here’s Roca’s pitch:

A lot of the great changes that are happening in our cities is because of the work of passionate advocates – but they do not operate in a vacuum. Supportive businesses and business improvement districts are also helping accelerate change, and this month we’d love to flip the script a little. …

Let’s give thanks to the businesses that support biking this month! Let’s frequent the restaurants, pubs, hotels, and retail shops that are supportive of bicycling. I had a creative writing professor tell me that “it’s always better to show than tell,” so in that vein draw a little bicycle icon or thank them for supporting bicycling on their receipts this month and take a photo of it and share it. If you are on Instagram or Twitter, tag it with #bikenomics. If you are on neither, you can email us the photo and we can post it for you.

Including the social media handle of the business in question might be a great way to spread the idea.

The City of Portland is organizing lots of events for bike month: most notably the first Sunday Parkways of the year, in East Portland on Mother’s Day, May 11th, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in East Portland. Other great stuff on their docket includes a free “Quick Fix” event at SE Lincoln Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue on Tuesday, May 6th from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. It’s a great way to get your chain lubed up and your tires pumped for peak commute season.

On May 16, Regence Blue Cross-Blue Shield is hosting the free Portland Employers Bike Summit, an afternoon mini-conference for employers looking to get and share ideas for supporting their bike-commuting employees. We’re one of the sponsors. If you get your boss to show up and they credit you for getting them to go, I’ll personally send you a prize. (It’s a surprise, but I promise you’ll like it.)

Every May, Portland State University (one of the nation’s seven bike-friendliest, according to the League of American Bicyclists) organizes its Bike to PSU Challenge, which lets students and employees compete, in teams or solo, to log the most miles or trips. Here’s a PSUer who won a new bike in a contest by the Bike Hub, the university’s on-campus bike shop:

Here’s to another bike month in Portland — a time I always try to use as an opportunity to be grateful that I’m about to get a whole summer’s worth of the warm, dry weather that Nebraska (among other states back east) only sees for about four weeks.

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  • James Sherbondy May 1, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    If anybody was handy with stamp making, a “word bubble” with a “this money brought by bike” would be pretty cool! Might be a bit illegal to deface money, but what’s a little rule bending hurt.

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  • dp May 1, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Great idea Russ!

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  • AlanG24 May 1, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    I *LOVE* Russ’ idea!
    Why not let ALL businesses know that you arrived by bike by doing the same thing everyday, all year ’round??

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  • dachines May 2, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I too love Russ’ idea.

    Yet, wouldn’t it be just as beneficial, or perhaps more so, to bring that same idea to work at the businesses that are not known to be openly supportive of bicycling? It would be a great way to let those businesses know in a positive manner that people who ride bikes already are or may become their patrons, and that a bike rider’s money is just as green as everyone else’s!

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  • Kevin @ Pedal PT May 2, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Great idea Russ! For us, and as we did last year, Pedal PT is offering our ONLY sale of the year on Bike Fitting for PDX Bike Month- only $99 throughout the month of May! Support your local bike-friendly businesses this month, and share your experiences!

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  • John May 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I’ve been tossing Russ’ idea around in my head this morning:

    In addition to thanking my favorite pro-bike businesses (specifically, those on 28th Ave.), I think I’ll also keep any receipts from Ken’s, Navarre, Pambiche, etc… and then at the end of the month deliver photocopies of those receipts along with a politely worded letter to some of the *other* businesses (Dove Vivi, La Buca, Tapalaya). Imagine if a few dozen people did the same thing – that’s potentially thousands of dollars just over the course of one month. Who knows, by the end of the month maybe I’ll be less bitter — but in the meantime I’m saving my receipts.

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  • Steve Hoyt-McBeth-PBOT May 2, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Michael: thanks for the story but there is one important error to be corrected: Regence created the Portland Employer Bike Summit in 2012 and continues to organize and host the event. PBOT, BTA, Go Lloyd, and the Westside Transportation Alliance are on the planning committee, but this is Regence’s event.

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    • Michael, BikePortland May 3, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      Thanks, Steve. You’re right, of course. Fixed.

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  • Ted Buehler May 2, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Another thing you can do — reach out to a friend who might like to commute by bike but doesn’t. Make a Sunday morning date with them to ride to their workplace. Show then the route, go out to lunch, and enjoy the beautiful Portland streetscapes at the lowest-traffic hours of the week.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Mossby Pomegranate May 3, 2014 at 7:43 am

      Yes! I leave my house at 5:30 AM…aside from dodging unlit ninja cyclists, its the most peaceful stress-free time of my day.

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