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Pedalpalooza organizers ponder fate of 2021 events

Posted by on March 24th, 2021 at 10:54 am

Pedalpalooza Kickoff Ride from June 2018.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

2020 Pedalpalooza poster featuring a woman on a bike in the clouds.

2020 Pedalpalooza poster.

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.

Yesterday the organizers of Portland’s premiere bike festival, Pedalpalooza, shared an online survey that asked the Big Question: Should Pedalpalooza happen in 2021?

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.”

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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.

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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.

>>> Take the Pedalpalooza survey here.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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cmh89
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cmh89

By June, pretty much everyone should be getting their second shot. We know that outdoor spread is already pretty low, especially in a place like Portland where people reliably wear masks. We need this. Restarting outdoor activities should be a major focus of the administration. You can already see the cracks starting to form around mask wearing and social distancing. As more and more folks get the vaccine, they are going to start hanging out with their friends or going to bars and restaurants more.

The best thing for the state to do is acknowledge the reality that the threat is fading and give people stuff to do that is pretty safe like going on group rides, restarting kickball leagues, and other outdoor activities.

drs
Guest
drs

Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Oregon has still only vaccinated 14% of the population. We need to get well beyond 50% before we can start moving forward with business as usual. If projections hold out, we could be there by June. But there’s a whole lot of work left to do before we get there.

Jon
Guest
Jon

I’m a healthy person under the age of 65 and not a “front line” worker so I will able to schedule a shot on May 1. Everyone else in my position will be trying to do the same thing on May 1 so I’m betting I won’t be fully vaccinated and “safe” until mid July at best. All the available data says that riding in groups outside is very safe. I still won’t be doing indoor things besides critical needs like grocery shopping until we get the ok from the CDC. I’m guessing we will be wearing masks indoors the rest of this year.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

My hope is that Governor Brown drops this group nonsense and opens up vaccinations to everyone a lot earlier than May 1st. It’s beyond insulting that essential frontline workers who have put their health on the line for over a year can’t get a jab.

Thank god Biden won, I can’t imagine the disaster we’d be in if he hadn’t. I’m also hopeful that smaller states will be able to get fully vaccinated so we can shift supplies to larger states.

Jon
Guest
Jon

I totally agree about the frontline workers. I am able to primarily work from home but there are a lot of people where I work that can’t and they and other folks that are stuck indoors with other people for work like a clerk at a grocery store should have gotten access to a jab weeks ago. I and folks like me should be last in line.

Hobo
Guest
Hobo

Some rides do make stops and go indoors. Bar crawls, taco tours, and brewery rides to name a few examples.

Ray Atkinson
Guest
Ray Atkinson

The Pedalpalooza survey link near the top of the article does not work. The survey link at the bottom of the article does work.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest
Todd/Boulanger

Is there any value / opportunity to pushing the PP2021 period to September (like the old BTA Bike Commute Challenge used be held) which would allow more time for reopening process? As we know locally, September is a good month for cycling due to lack of rain and modest temperatures. (The only wild card are wild fires.)

squareman
Subscriber

More shrinkage equalization for WNBR! Actually, since we usually get a summer death rattle (aka, Indian summer) pop in temperature in late September/early October – that might be a pleasant way to end a possible PP2021 if it happened.

In all seriousness, I would be tempted to participate in small or capped rides – but personally, I would not be doing any shoulder-to-shoulder, get off your bike and walk, pinch-point rides like Bridge Pedal or WNBR until 2022 (as much as I really miss the latter).

D'Andre Muhammed
Guest
D'Andre Muhammed

I find it sickening that members of the Portland Trailblazers have been vaccinated before many essential and vulnerable citizens. I’d feel bad cutting the line like that even if I wanted it. Peace.

squareman
Subscriber

If vaccination opens up to everyone by May 1, it would only because there are enough doses to go around for everyone left – no need for anyone to wait, and there wouldn’t be any cutting. That’s why Kate Brown said they’re “working on it” and not that it’s happening. Agree with you 100% on Trailblazers being unethically, questionably vaccinated before other essential service workers. Ain’t nothing essential about professional athletes and the sports they play – no matter how beloved they may be to some people.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

How about a thread hijack ? The entire NBA depends on all participants being healthy for the league to function. It may not be essential for some to have entertainment during this dark time of isolation and boredom but society at large has determined that several hundred vaccines for sports entertainment providers is worthwhile. If you have seen all 546 episodes of Law and Order you might agree

Todd/Boulanger
Guest
Todd/Boulanger

Just to spread some Vancouver love to Bike Portlanders…my family has been telling me that the Tower Mall (up in the Heights) Vancouver WA has been experiencing a lot of ‘no shows’ and ‘low demand’ for the supply of Vax this month. So if you can think of any valid reason to get one then this is a place to try (restaurant or volunteer work). She got in on her first day and then had her food service staff get theirs the next day. Best go up before the start of April since the priority order changes again.

[IMPO: It is just best to use what surplus is available now before it goes to waste or some fool leaves the refrigerator door open over night ‘to spoil’ it…like on Maui.] https://www.kitv.com/story/43549221/a-total-of-2400-covid19-vaccines-have-been-wasted-doh-reports

Resources:
https://vaccinefinder.org
https://clark.wa.gov/public-health/more-covid-19-vaccination-appointments-added-tower-mall-site

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I assume this is only open to Washington residents, though?

Scott
Subscriber
Scott

Outdoor activities, particularly biking, are extremely low risk for spread. There really shouldn’t be any restrictions on outdoor recreation. It should be encouraged. It will be difficult to tell when it is safe to stop masking indoors, but it is already clear that it is safe outdoors.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

Please please Portlanders, get your shots please.

drs
Guest
drs

Outdoor recreation is not inherently risky. You are absolutely correct about that. But outdoor socialization in close quarters is risky.

Pedalpalooza events involve large groups, often packed tightly into relatively small spaces. There is often a great deal of socializing before and after rides and mixing of people from multiple groups and households. If people engage in conversation with multiple people at close distance and refrain from masking, the pre-riding portion of the event may be roughly as risky as large gatherings in indoor spaces.

Erik
Guest
Erik

“outdoor socialization in close quarters is risky” < citation needed.

Erik
Guest
Erik

Couldn’t agree more, except for the part about it being difficult to tell when it will be safe to stop masking indoors. There is no convincing scientific data on masks stopping the spread of anything, let alone even making a difference in the surgery room when doctors use them to block spittle and other things from entering surgical wounds. All restrictions should be lifted because the data shows marked increase in mortality from suicide and other non-covid related medical conditions due to lockdown policies and restrictions. The cure is literally worse than the disease, that effect bears out in every study on this all over the entire world, but too many people are failing to see it.

Chris Cole
Guest

People are just yearning to get back to normal. We took so much for granted until this whole pandemic screwed things up.