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A bikey birthday gathering in the time of Covid-19

Posted by on April 8th, 2020 at 3:01 pm

A guitar player wearing a Sunday Parkways mask leads a surreal serenade during a birthday celebration held on a north Portland street yesterday.
**Watch the video below.**
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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…

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And we’re very lucky to live on a city-designated neighborhood greenway that has a very low volume of car drivers right now.

A responsible bike rider demonstrates proper mask-wearing technique.

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 jonathan@bikeportland.org
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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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el timitoJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)JasonqPat Franz Recent comment authors
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Dave
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Dave

Guitarist should be playing “Hideaway” by Freddie King and “Keep Your Distance” by Richard Thompson.

middle of the road guy
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middle of the road guy

My favorite song from Richard Thompson 🙂

todd.boulanger
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todd.boulanger

I think I recognize that masked guitar player.

‘Ole Senior TimoLandia! !Ole!’

el timito
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el timito

Hola M. Boulanger! Just make sure I get my señor discount!

Pat Franz
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Pat Franz

Nice! And amazingly similar to another birthday get together next door to our shop yesterday. Bikes and distancing and sidewalk chalk in the street, all very spontaneous. The perfect weather helped too, I’m sure.

q
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q

I love seeing the street used as a neighborhood gathering space. Cities were once built that way. Sidewalks are such a horrible invention in many ways. All my favorite streets for walking have no sidewalks. Seeing the people in the street reinforces how token the sidewalks in the photos look. The party couldn’t have worked (even without social distancing) if people had had to keep to the sidewalks.

Jason
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Jason

Hey Jonathan, hope you’re well. My bone to pick: “the age of coronavirus” is misleading. Since Coronavirus is a family of viruses that include the common cold. Perhaps Sars-Cov2 or COVID-19 would be more accurate.

Jason
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Jason

I appreciate your response. 😀

COVID-19 has been somewhat generalized to “Coronavirus”. So, it’s easy to get swept up with the trend. To some, the distinction may not be important. Thoughtfully presented stories give Bike Portland the curated feel though.

All that aside, it’s a very touching gesture that these folks did.