The coronavirus has changed a lot of things about our daily lives, but it hasn’t stopped Portland’s bike-inspired street culture from blossoming.
If you’re not from Portland, it’s hard to understand how deeply ingrained bikes are in many people’s lives here. People get married to their bikes, they get married on their bikes, they move their homes with their bikes, worship on their bikes, and so on. You get the idea.
So when a neighbor on our street turned 50 years old yesterday, bikes worked their way into the surreal celebration.
I live a few doors away and heard about it, so I walked over. I thought it’d be a couple folks on her sidewalk shooting the breeze. But as more friends rolled over on their bikes (the birthday girl is super-bikey and so is her job), I realized in a time of social distancing, it’s impossible to have a gathering with more than a few people unless you stretch way out into the street.
So that’s what happened…
And we’re very lucky to live on a city-designated neighborhood greenway that has a very low volume of car drivers right now.
So there we were, enjoying our street and seeing familiar faces. We did our best to speak loudly enough so the person standing 6-10 feet away could hear what we were saying. It was nice, but sort of strange and unsettling at the same time. Should we be doing this at all? Are we standing too close to each other? Why isn’t everyone wearing a mask?
Then a group of four more people rolled up on their bikes. Each bike had a sign that spelled out a “Happy Birthday” message. Then another person grabbed a guitar, someone gave a quick speech, and they started to sing a pandemic-inspired tune you might know: (They Long to Be) Close to You by The Carpenters..
The song, the people, the sun, the street. Life goes on.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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