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Learn more about Portland’s new bi-weekly ‘Rush Hour Alleycat’

Posted by on July 23rd, 2015 at 9:24 am

alleycatposterdates

The bike scene in Portland is a wonderfully dynamic thing. It never stops evolving and there are always new people, ideas, and events coming into it. As they do, they keep the scene healthy by forcing it to re-invent itself and absorb new perspectives.

Part of my job is to monitor this ecosystem and understand the role that each piece has on the greater whole. One such piece that I’ve recently heard about is the Rush Hour Alleycat.

Like many new things that appear on the Portland bike scene horizon, it starts with some tweets or maybe at text and email or two from the organizer. Then it might gain a Facebook page or website. The event might fizzle out. Or, if enough people link into it, it might sustain itself and build into something special.

(Side note: Have you noticed how big the weekly Thursday Night Ride has gotten? Organizer Nathan Jones (proprietor of Ride Yr Bike bike shop) started it as a way to keep the Pedalpalooza spirit strong. Now it attracts well over 100 people every week. It meets at 7:30 tonight at Salmon Street Fountain if you’re curious.)

Now, back to this Rush Hour Alleycat…

I was curious about it, so I contacted the organizer. His name is Michael and he’s lived in Portland for four years. He moved here from “betw­een the suburbs” surrounding New York and Boston. Michael is currently looking for a job (in food service or sales) so he started creating and printing flyers to occupy himself and earn some extra income. That turned into Gorilla PDX, a business he calls a, “Bicycle powered, street level advertising firm.”

So, why did he start the Rush Hour Alleycat? I’ll let him explain:

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“When I got to Portland, I resumed bic­ycling for the first time as an adult an­d found riding in the city center to be ­much less intimidating than I would have­ expected. I was still shy about riding­ around rush hour, but when forced to co­nfront it, that too was easier than anti­cipated. I strangely felt more confiden­t than at other hours.The cars which p­reviously were passing me too close at 3­0+, were now stacked into neat little ro­ws.

The bicycle is the most free a huma­n being can be in the congestion of a ci­ty center. After learning about Lucas Brunelle on YouTube, I discovered Alleyca­t Races, and it clicked. Here was a way­ for me to celebrate my new found freedo­m, and find other people like me. With t­he same dumpster dive sourced printer, a­nd my amateurish graphic arts skills, I ­set to work ripping off Disney cartoons ­and creating flyers.”

Michael told me his goal with the Alleycat is to find other people who like to ride confidently in rush-hour traffic — like we’ve all seen in those crazy Lucas Brunelle videos. It’s a riding style Michael says is “often maligned.”

While his Alleycats are a race, Michael wants everyone to know that it’s more about participation than competition and that all skill levels are welcome. He even gives out a “really awesome prize” for last place.

So far it appears he’s onto something. Tonight will be the third Rush Hour Alleycat. Just three people showed up for the first one and 12 showed up to the second one. Who knows how big it will be tonight.

Oh, and did I mention that after the Alleycat everyone rides together to the Thursday Night Ride?

— Learn more about alleycats here and get all the details about the Rush Hour event at GorillaPDX.com or on Twitter at @gorillapdx.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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dan
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dan

Lucas Brunelle is the bicycle equivalent of hooning your sports car through city streets…the riding style is “maligned” for good reason.

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

So, I’ll put you down as “maybe” then? 🙂

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

For those concerned, a recap of the race here:
https://gorillapdx.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/rush-hour-alleycat-iii-july-23rd-2015/
might clear things up for you, it’s really not that scary.

I promise, the last thing I want is anyone to get hurt. I’m very, very clear about that expectation at the race briefing. Thank you all for your support, and the not support, I guess we’ll call it “concern”. Believe me I’m reading and listening to you all.

J_R
Guest
J_R

So, Michael’s goal is to “find other people who like to ride confidently in rush-hour traffic.” He admits is a style that is “often maligned.”

I think what he will actually accomplish is fodder for the bike haters in this community. I don’t need any more angry motorists around me and my kids when we’re riding bikes.

Frankly, Jonathan, I wish you hadn’t provided any publicity for this “event.”

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Meh, it doesn’t sound overtly confrontational like Critical Mass. Unlikely it’ll attract the rabble rousers and Hart Noeckers of the bike community.

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

I’ll thumbs up any post that starts in meh

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0
Kyle
Guest
Kyle

To the contrary, I think it’s great that a *variety* of riding styles, races, and events are being promoted. I feel like your argument, J_R, is strikingly similar to the “follow all the rules to the T or you’ll make us all look bad” argument. It’s really a false argument; if Portland is to be a top-tier bike city we need to celebrate ALL levels and styles of people who ride bikes equally, from a houseless person on a beat-up mountain bike to a racer in full-on lycra. And we need to be loud and visible to show that biking is growing and will not be going away. I think Jonathan and Michael, among many others, have done a fantastic job spurring support and getting more people on bikes in recent months and we need this momentum to continue.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“follow all the rules to the T or you’ll make us all look bad”

Yeah I don’t care for that one either. Reminds me of the expectation that black people, gay people, women behave in certain ways, not draw undue attention to themselves.
http://www.amren.com/news/2013/06/toure-on-proper-negro-fatigue-no-matter-how-good-i-am-at-it-i-still-know-i-may-end-up-dead/

Elliot
Guest
Elliot

Stop comparing bicycling to any basic human rights issue, ever.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I was comparing expectations people have about the proper behavior of certain groups, and the pitfalls of doing so.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

I sure hope nobody kills a duck during one of these.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

You had to open up old wounds and bring up that poor mallard who was senselessly slaughtered. : (

are
Guest

access to the commons is a basic human rights issue.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I disagree with this. When a driver (Melanie Souza) who texts and kills a bicyclist (Stan Wicka) and leaves the scene of the “accident” doesn’t lose her license, but a driver who blows over 0.8 does so in order to prevent the possibility of killing someone, it becomes an issue of human inequity in my view.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

Stop comparing bicycling to any basic human rights issue, ever.

never stop fighting discrimination…

J_R
Guest
J_R

I think there is a huge difference between “following every rule to the T” and flagrantly breaking almost every traffic law while deliberately putting innocent bystanders at risk. Have you watched any of those videos? Racers swerving in and out of pedestrians, causing motorist to lock up their brakes. If the ONLY ones who would be injured were the racers, I’d shake my head and mutter “go for it.” However, they are putting other citizens at risk, including elderly folks and infants who if knocked, down may suffer a permanent disability.

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

To be clear JR, these clips are cobbled together from the craziest of crazy rider’s, most daring stunts. We may disregard traffic laws, but I’ve only ever skitched up a hill once, and it was holding on to the bumper of a city truck guy who was going very slowly, and seemed quite amused. If someone is crossing the crosswalk I can either stop or go behind them. Even if I could go in front of someone walking who doesn’t see me, i always choose to go behind them. Then I check to see if there is oncoming traffic and proceeded. It really only offends people who are running late from work or are super eager to get home.

I tried riding with in the lines, following all the rules, I ended up getting doored then sideswiped by a careless driver. Now the cars HAVE to see me because I’m most often taking up their whole lane. I’m not hiding in the bike lane, sucking tailpipe in bumper to bumper traffic with a bunch of unhappy people, operating the only machine that can kill with the push of a button with a higher death toll than guns!

I’m going to go ahead and keep looking for my own little island of open road with traffic bottled up behind me, and enjoying it whenever I possibly can.

Joe
Guest
Joe

one yr left 😉

Joe
Guest
Joe

just rider ur bike, and let ppl live 🙂

CRAIG
Guest
CRAIG

Bike people of Portland, please don’t show up to “race” through traffic. This is such a bad idea on so many levels. Do the Thursday night ride instead. Don’t flaunt traffic laws on purpose. Stay alive. Please.

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

davemess
“Also, I think that we should note that the rule breaking cyclist risks their own life with their suicidal tendencies. A rule breaking motorist is driving a murder weapon that has a kind of homicide named for it.It’s fundamentally unfair to equate the behaviors.”Until a cyclists blasts up the right side of a line of stopped cars downtown and crashes into a pedestrian and breaks the pedestrians arm or hip.Rule breaking cyclists are just risking their lives. While there is a much lower chance that they’ll kill someone else, there is still a very real chance that they will injure someone else (in addition to themselves). They aren’t consequence free.Recommended 2

And let’s be clear, as the organizer of this race. Pedestrians and fellow vulnerable road users are our top priority.

Me personally, I like to ride on the dotted line. Tall enough that I can see pedestrians crossing. I have an aggressive riding style but it isn’t reckless. I preserve my own life, and others around me. While allowing myself to be the final judge on what to do to avoid injury, not the law, and not the hecklers at the lights behind me. Who are eager to floor it for 20 yards just to slam on their breaks at the next block.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“Pedestrians and fellow vulnerable road users are our top priority.”

Sorry man, but if that were truly the case you wouldn’t have these “events”.

Jessie
Guest
Jessie

I am totally NOT in favor of encouraging ANY sort of “racing” mentality when it comes to the city streets (whether by car, bike, walking, or any other means). Especially not during rush hour when people are already stressed & not at their best. Just too damm dangerous.

soren
Guest
soren

then think of it as getting from point A to point B really fast.

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

Update: we have more women signed up than ever before (read up to 3 from 0)

I’m expecting at least 15 people to show up today!
A reminder to please Email GorillaPDX@my.com if you wish to register so we can have a Manifest ready for you and get you all the relevant info so you’re not unprepared.

rainbike
Guest
rainbike

I’m glad that most event organizers don’t use bp to so relentlessly promote their events.

are
Guest

i gave that a thumbs up on the assumption it was ironic

Captain Karma
Guest

Insurance investigators will probably read this discussion sooner or later, after a claim or lawsuit is initiated. Maybe good? Maybe bad? Who can say.

felix
Guest

What a bunch of Debbie downers! This ride sounds awesome!

Stumpyjoe
Guest
Stumpyjoe

Bottom line this will end badly. I am sure Mr. GorillaPDX has a huge liability insurance policy to cover all the potential injuries caused to and by the participants.

Pete
Guest
Pete

…and some of you folks claimed Strava was bad!

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

Oh don’t worry, we use Strava!

Burk
Guest
Burk

I would love to see the flyby of this race!

Liz
Guest
Liz

Thursday Night Right’s got their act together.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

So many lawns to shoo the kids off, so little time.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

From all the small tent tribal negative reactions here, I see why Portland has totally stagnated in terms of butts in saddles.

stephen salter
Guest
stephen salter

I concur. Anytime anything remotely radical is posted on here these same people jump up in arms seemingly in defense of a system that endangers their lives by putting them in vulnerable situations and treats them like second class citizens. These same voices always push towards a hyper-conservative riding style/dress/attitude as though their way is the only acceptable way. It just strikes me as a privileged few trying to impose their viewpoint and stifle outliers.
just ride your bike and let me ride mine!

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

Happy to see the late night comments are more reasonable.

The race was a great success in case you guys were wondering. For those of you who were casting voodoo curses on these poor people, you may be blessed with dark magic. Because a young rider named, and I shit you not on this, Karma, took a small spill.

Unfortunately for your argument, Naysayers. This was as a result of not being used to his recent switch to fixed from singlespeed. He absentmindedly stopped peddling on a downhill and took a tumble, he still managed to finish 8th with only a little road rash.

All participants agreed to respect pedestrians and be safe. All in all its a lot more easy going then I think some of you are fearing. We had many different ages and skill levels show up, and they all had fun.

Next race is in 2 weeks time, August 6th.

Ecogreenman
Guest
Ecogreenman

What happened to bikes being an alternative and environmentally healthier mode of transport, to get from A to B … safely? Personally, this type of cycling promotion just makes me feel concerned and sad.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I began riding bikes as a way to jump over the most bricks, wheelie the longest, and beat my friends from point A to point B. Though I also use bikes for transportation, I find it a hell of a lot more fun to have fun on them.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

I’m sad you think bicycling should be as utilitarian and unenjoyable as a car commute. There’s no way anyone could take it seriously as a transportation method if it looks like you’re having a good time, right?

jered
Guest
jered

What happened to biking being just like when you got your first bike as a kid – that joy you felt as your world expanded, as your freedom increased, that feeling of catching air, and hockey stops. For the love of the bicycle please, please, please, load up your commuter, check your brakes, pedal hard into a dirt patch and lock the back brake, spray dirt everywhere, plant your foot, raise a fist and let out a loud exclamation of joy – seriously, these are machines of fun! it is an added bonus that I can get to work on them!

Pete
Guest
Pete

Well, we used to play hockey and basketball in the middle of some streets as a kid too…

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

So you’re saying I should sponsor an adult bicycle street hockey event?

I love it!

davemess
Guest
davemess

And yet how many times have people on here railed against the “joy of driving”?

I know I know, cyclists can never hurt people and cars are death machines……

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

Man, you’re right: the only way to be taken, very, very, very seriously is to hate everything you do during all kinds of transportation.

I’m about to go for a mountain bike ride, grimly.

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

For the record mountain biking terrifies me. I have nightmares about flying over those little wooden ramp things and falling into a jagged piece of wood that impales me right between the balls and butthole.

But I support you, man.

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

Gee could ya be more graphic?

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

The taint, or perineum is a small, vulnerable bit of flesh, occupying the territory between the aforementioned balls and butt-hole. The skin here is tissue paper thin, and bleeds profusely if punctured. The proximity to the pelvic opening known as the, obturator foramen, could result in the puncture becoming an impaling wound, resulting in the patient taking on the appearance of a gory, immobile stick figure.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Where?

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

If no trails are open, all the trails are open.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Ah, good idea. I’ll probably wait until we have legit legal trails in the area, sometime around 2025.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

Jonathan, you linked the Lucas Brunelle videos that Michael’s stated are his inspiration and model for the “Rush Hour Alleycat”.

Those videos don’t depict “confident” riding, they depict specifically reckless riding that endangers everyone on the road–knowingly, intentionally–and particularly dangerous other vulnerable road users.

I’m surprised you didn’t address this at all in your story.

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

Wade
And please, for the sake of the children, wait until they are safely tucked away in their beds until you view any Lucas Brunelle videos!Recommended 0

Check out #rushhouralleycat on Instagram for pictures people took during the race. None of us rides like exactly like lucas brunelle, this could be more correctly described as an Alleycat style race. Or a scavenger hunt on wheels.

I give out prizes for people who finish last. I really am meeting fellow confident riders. People who look at a list of 8 statues downtown and think o could get there during rush hour traffic

I personally witnessed the winner waiting patiently at a red light to cross Natio. We break laws only when its safe to do so for ourselves and the vulnerable road users around us.

I’m a defensive rider at my core, and the best defense is always a good offence. I’m an active part of each road I ride down, and people SEE me. I am not going back to following all the rules, trusting people piloting 1 ton of steel, to do the right thing.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

Thanks Michael for adding that description – I didn’t get that from the story. I’d hope that the “I dominate-!-and-f*ck-the-rest!” Lucas-style riding is left behind.

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

I was just being honest about my history and influences. Didn’t want to give the impression that I was an east coast messanger or a daredevil. I just put my own safe crossing of a road before the law. So much so that often, I just look if its clear and don’t notice if its red or green, same habbit I have as a pedestrian. Just because the little white man (always telling people what to do) is there, doesn’t mean a truck isn’t coming. And the stern glowing red hand doesn’t mean that it is not safe to go. Those signals are meant for the least agile and moblile, who are also the most bulky and obstructing. Notice any parallels to the road signals for cars? I don’t have a roll cage, bumpers, crumple zones, mass, saftey restraints, airbags or anti-lock breaks. I do have my own judgment, so I am constantly exercising it.

soren
Guest
soren

is this fixed only?

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

all bikes all abilities, soren

next race is this thursday. briefing starts at 6:15

soren
Guest
soren

Shift calendar says Fri.

Rush Hour Alleycat
Guest

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
Dyslexia is a hell of a drug.

Wade
Guest
Wade

And please, for the sake of the children, wait until they are safely tucked away in their beds until you view any Lucas Brunelle videos!