We’re just one week out from the total solar eclipse and many people are freaking out about potential traffic jams. If you believe the Oregon Department of Transportation and local newscasts, roads will be clogged from Portland to Ashland for days.
What if instead of carmageddon, the eclipse spurred the largest mass bike ride Oregon has ever seen?
After all, this is Oregon! We love bikes and the outdoors and we’re not afraid of a little adventure. What if thousands of people scrapped their awkward and inefficient automobiles and rode their bikes into the path of totality? Imagine bicycle riders streaming happily by on highway shoulders as people sit idling in bumper-to-bumper traffic. (It’s not hard that to imagine since the same phenomenon plays out twice a day during Portland rush-hours.)
A new website created by a Portland man aims to make biking to the eclipse more doable for more people. “Don’t become traffic. Join the movement” reads the top of BiketotheEclipse.com.
“We knew that people could use support and the idea was born to create a route and an opportunity for people to join a common movement of bicycles all the way to and from the eclipse.”
— Neal Armstrong, BiketotheEclipse.com creator
The site is the work of Neal Armstrong and a crew of volunteers. Armstrong owns Axiom Event Productions, a business that counts the City of Portland’s Sunday Parkways among its many clients. Armstrong says he and his team have created routes and accompanying emergency action plans for nearly 100 organized events all over the country.
The idea for the website started as a way to offer his volunteers and staff who work Sunday Parkways (which happens this Sunday August 20th, one day before the eclipse) more information about how to bike down to see the eclipse. “As we started looking at this route and event, we realized just how many people had the exact same idea to bike the the eclipse,” Armstrong shared with BikePortland. “We knew that people could use support and the idea was born to create a route and an opportunity for people to join a common movement of bicycles all the way to and from the eclipse.”
Armstrong realized that due to many unknown risks, an organized Ride to the Eclipse wasn’t possible. Instead, he’s offering the website as a general resource and tool for collective organizing.
The site is full of tips and includes maps of bike-friendly routes to the path of totality.
Well-versed riders will probably have no trouble finding friends to join them for the journey. And others have already committed to guided rides like the ones we highlighted back in June. But for the average person who doesn’t think of themselves as a hardcore rider, this site could be just the thing they need to make plans — or to change their auto-centric ones.
Here’s an excerpt from the homepage:
If you have the skills and equipment to do it, biking to the eclipse is an opportunity for the adventure of a life time. But it’s also imperative that you be prepared to be entirely self-sufficient.
This website serves as a hub for people biking to the eclipse on Monday, August 21st to connect with others who had the same idea, ride a common route, and plan ahead to help each other. Meet up early. Ride safely in numbers. Support each other with assistance and supplies. Strengthen the community to help everyone who bikes to the eclipse enjoy the spectacle, and most importantly, to return home safely.
The site also offers a packing list and detailed time estimates to various viewing points depending on how fast you can ride. There are also suggested meetup times and locations to encourage people to ride together.
If you want to hitch onto an existing group ride, there’s one leaving the Safeway on Barbur Blvd on Sunday night.
Or if you plan to stay in Portland, consider joining the Human Access Project’s Eclipse Party on the Willamette River that’s being co-hosted by the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (who says the Willamette has a clean bill of health).
For more on how to bike the eclipse, see this article by BikePortland subscriber Tom Howe.
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