With shouts of “Happy Birthday, Clinton Street,” a group of grinning volunteers distributed about 225 balloons to passing pedalers Friday.
Nearby residents Kari Schlosshauer and Cari Threadgill teamed up to coordinate the balloon campaign as part of BikeLoudPDX’s SaferClinton campaign and month-long celebration of the street’s first 30 years as a designated bicycle route.
The two also took turns as Helium Bike Fairy in Chief, giving out 75 balloons at nearby Abernethy Elementary School Friday morning and setting up at the corner of 23rd and Clinton from 4 to 6 p.m. to brighten up the commute home and spread the word about the series of Clinton birthday events to come.
Schlosshauer took the front lines for the afternoon shift:
Hard at work just around the corner were Threadgill, a resident and volunteer at Abernathy; her father Bob Allen, visiting from Georgia; and Brian Sysfail, a veteran bike-fun organizer whose monthly social rides last year helped kick off local activism to urge the city to take action to control traffic speeds and volumes on Clinton Street.
Even as they enjoyed the afternoon, the constant flow of cars and trucks on Clinton had the group talking.
“I biked with Owen and his friend, so two six-year-olds, down Clinton Street,” Threadgill told Schlosshauer. “It was so stressful.”
A city review of nine years of traffic data, released in March, found that the inner Clinton neighborhood greenway is one of six such routes in Portland that clearly fail national standards for low-traffic bicycle boulevards. Local advocacy groups BikeLoudPDX and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance have urged the city to respond by installing up to three traffic diverters on the street, pushing through auto traffic to other non-greenway routes.
On May 17, a ride down Clinton will envision the possibilities for improving the street. A five-day event starting that day is intended to celebrate local retailers while also helping show how much of their business comes in on bicycles.
But on Friday, the main agenda was fun.
Though most people coming past in cars were of course not able to take advantage of the balloon offer without stopping, you didn’t necessarily need a bike with you to celebrate the bikeway. “Take it home and put it on your bike,” Schlosshauer advised this family.
Near the end of the two-hour period, Peter Siracusa came past and was so glad to see the effort that he joined the team handing out balloons.
“I really like it,” Siracusa said.
Meanwhile, further east, the rest of Clinton Street was enjoying a rainbow-colored spring evening.
Correction 8:40 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly identified the Helium Bike Fairy for the morning event at Abernethy.