Who rides bikes in Portland? If you’re a veteran BikePortland reader you know the answer is much different than the caricature created by popular media, political narratives, and cringey stock photos.
It’s now been over 10 years since our first People on Bikes post. One reason we love sharing these images is because they can often prove popular perception wrong. The people on bikes in Portland are a very diverse bunch: Different styles, different bodies, different destinations, different bikes. And I think our bicycling population looks even more different because of the pandemic.
Since the mid 2000s, rush-hour bicycle traffic on commuting corridors in Portland was a given: Williams, Vancouver, Hawthorne, Broadway, Waterfront Park, and so on. But the pandemic changed all that. The last People on Bikes we shared was from Hawthorne in February 2020, right before lockdowns hit. With so many people working from home, our streets look a lot different these days. While there aren’t as many predictable platoons of professionals pedaling, Portland streets are still full of riders.
I captured a few of them over the weekend. One of them was Sheldon. Sheldon lives in a tent on Williams near Broadway. I met him on that grassy knoll on North Larrabee just north of the Broadway Bridge and struck up a conversation.
I asked Sheldon about his bike — a 20-inch BMX/flatland style rig. “I like this small bike,” he said, “Because I can fit it inside my tent and don’t have to worry about it getting stolen.” Like many of you, Sheldon said he loves his bike both for its utility and the social aspect. He uses it as a roll-cart (see photo above) and to haul giant bags of cans to the bottle drop. It helps him get around much quicker than walking or the streetcar. One of his favorite things about bikes is how they give he and his friends something to talk about. “It’s a common interest of people out here. We’ll trade parts to keep them running. There’s a whole barter system.”
Here are a few of the other folks who caught my eye:
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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