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Reader letter: Let’s make our rides safe and fun for everyone

Posted by on March 2nd, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Sole Fiumefreddo.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This letter comes from Sole Fiumefreddo, a leader of Corvidae Bicycle Club, whose name is derived from the family of birds that includes ravens, magpies, and crows.

Dear Portland Bicycle Scene,

My name is Sole Fiumefreddo of Corvidae Bicycle Club, and I must ask you a favor.

I have been biking and commuting around Portland for more than 10 years. However, I didn’t find the community until 2015. When I did find you all, I completely immersed myself into weekly and monthly rides, curating the world I had been dreaming of with my wheels. There were freak bikes and battles and endless silliness. New pals, aimless summertime rides and secret Portland destinations lit up my life, and I am forever grateful that the light has grown with me.

Five years ago, I would’ve never thought I’d being a founding member of a growing bicycle club. With my best friends, we formed our club in 2017 striving for something different than the typical ride structure we’d all accustomed to. We aim to promote bike safety and accessibility, and to inspire biking as an alternative to fossil-fueled travel within Portland. But over the years, excessive alcohol and sloppy riders on big group rides turned me off from participating as much as I once did.

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As a “Momma Bird” I have eyes for predatory behavior, and it is appalling how often it happens in our community. I cannot sit idly by while I continue to be told that someone in my community was sexually assaulted or fears running into another rider. Big groups bring big problems and our community is growing even faster than it used to. It is simply unacceptable to ignore the ones who violate boundaries. I believe it is time for us to openly call out damaging behavior.

Ride Leaders and participants, Pedalpalooza is upon us (the calendar is already live!). We have a responsibility to ensure (as best we can) our fellow riders’ autonomy and safety. This means thoughtful routes, maintaining sobriety when leading, and keeping an eagle-eye on harassment and the vulnerable. There are new riders every day and I believe we have responsibility to lead by example. Set the tone for wholesome silliness, not blatant and blind disregard.

Bicycles are the one thing that brings our eclectic group of fun-seekers together and I demand we protect each other.

— Sole Fiumefreddo the Magpie

If you’d like to join CorvidaeBC, we meet every second Sunday at 2:00 pm at the Peninsula Park Rose Garden. Our next two rides are March 8th (International Womxn’s Day Ride!) and April 12th. Find us on Facebook or Instagram.

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JasonC PooleJoe A Fortinoclever_nameJim Lee Recent comment authors
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clever_name
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clever_name

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS. Look out for each other, advocate, and speak up!

curly
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curly

A great reminder to all…thank you.

Bjorn
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Bjorn

I get a little tired of the notion that the only answer is total sobriety. Our pub crawl is probably one of the top 5 longest running rides in pedalpalooza and we have had 1 injury in all of those years. We take safety seriously and I have had to ask people to leave the ride in the past which I do anytime someone is not following the rules we lay out. That is why it is safe, a sober person who isn’t actively managing their ride is far worse than someone who has had a couple of beers and takes safety seriously. I make announcements at the start and in the middle of the ride that include asking riders to do things like leave more space than they normally might between themselves and other riders because not everyone may have the same level of bike handling skills, and making sure that everyone knows that we will wait for them at intersections and that there is no need to take risks crossing to stay with the ride, then I monitor the ride to make sure people are doing those things. We also go pretty slowly between stops to make sure that it is easy to keep the group together. Just saying sober = safe ignores a lot of work that is important to keep a ride safe. I’d also warn ride leaders not to try and make your ride the biggest. A ride with about 40 people is pretty manageable with 2 ride leaders, get much bigger than that and the problems that arise are more about the sheer number of people you are trying to deal with than anything else.

clever_name
Guest
clever_name

Thanks for your hard work make to make your ride safer. The booziness of a lot (not all) of Pedalpalooza rides is what keeps me away from many of them, so hopefully this encourages other ride leaders to take the same actions as you do.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Corvids are really smart!

Joe A Fortino
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Joe A Fortino

yay Sole and bike fam 2020.

C Poole
Guest
C Poole

Well said! I’ve seen some pretty bad spills over the years. I don’t want to stomp on anyone’s fun but I have been concerned with the amount of ‘lubrication’ on some rides.

Jason
Guest
Jason

The important thing to remember is, riding a bike while intoxicated is a DUII. Oregon has one of the most open ended law DUII law. The definition of driving and intoxication are subjective and wholly up to the discretion of the arresting officer. And yes, it is an arrest from which you have three options: 1) call a friend or family member for a ride 2) pay for a cab, if you have cash in your wallet 3) the drunk tank. I mean, we all enjoy a bit of the old liquid lightning, but you don’t want to get caught out by the PPB on a slosh.

But I think the bigger issue is the predatory behavior. I feel like there needs to be a safe infrastructure for a loner to come into a scene and know they wont get taken advantage of. I would say there should be a cadre of vetted “buddies” that can be called on to employ the buddy system. Maybe think of it as the Bike Panthers, or Guardian Angels – with less satin jackets. I dunno, just an idea.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I’m hearing from several sources that Corvidae club rides are continuing. This is extremely disappointing. No amount of bike fun is worth risking someone’s life. Can we find out from “Momma Bird” if this is true?