Spring is bursting throughout Portland after a few sunny, warm(er) days, and so are thoughts about riding bikes together in the months ahead. After ride calendars went dark last summer with no organizers wanting to plan anything due to public health fears related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the lights are starting to flicker once again.
Just yesterday Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an update on the Covid situation. “As we work to open up vaccine eligibility to all Oregonians by May 1, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel get a little brighter,” she said. “But, we still have more work to do to reach the level of community-wide protection we need.”
As of today the three Portland-area counties of Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington remain in the “moderate risk” category. That’s the second best of four risk levels and means we still have moderate spread of the virus. The next risk-level update is due April 8th.
If the current trajectory of vaccinations and spread continues, it’s likely we’ll see more bike rides and in-person events on the calendar in the coming weeks and months. As the Pedalpalooza survey questions show however, organizers will have to navigate a delicate situation with some people concerned that if we let our guard down too soon, we could see infections spike again.
Planners of major organized rides like Bridge Pedal that require early planning and permits are still on the fence. That ride is planned for August 8th and registration has still not opened up. “If it is determined that we can safely gather, we will open registration no later than June 1,” reads a statement on their website.
As we shared earlier this month, the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association has a big season planned that will ramp up in the fall with cyclocross events.
The City of Portland is also grappling with the Covid question when it comes to the 2021 Sunday Parkways season. After last year’s open streets events were held online, a transportation bureau spokesperson told us last week they plan to make an announcement in mid-April (my money is on some sort of hybrid event where a carfree route is cordoned off, but without the usual food vendors, booths, live music stages, and so on).
Pedalpalooza was first held in 2004. It usually takes place in June and consists of hundreds of free rides that vary in size from a handful of people to several thousand. In 2020 organizers offered inspirations for solo rides.
One of the questions on the new survey asks if Pedalpalooza should be held later. Organizers are also considering a ride size cap and are asking fans of the festival what Covid safety measures would make them more likely to show up.
Judging from the BikePortland social media timelines and community-wide chatter I’ve heard, bike rides are definitely coming back this spring and summer. People are itching to get outside and ride together. Barring a major spike in Covid cases, we could be in for a serious biking renaissance.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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