A dip in a cool river on a hot day feels so much more refreshing after a bike ride. Thanks to Portland transportation advocacy groups The Street Trust and Bike Loud PDX, those inclined to bike to the river for The Big Float could arrive in style and show fellow floaters that biking to the river is the best way to get there.
I tagged along with The Street Trust Sunday on their ride from the hot Lents Town Center to the refreshing Willamette River for the event. We rode about six miles, with The Street Trust’s Madi Carlson (who was lugging a cargo bike full of life vests) leading the way, before meeting with a group of cyclists from Bike Loud, who had their leader Kiel Johnson carrying another impressive bundle of life vests on his cargo bike. Together we created a bike parade across the Hawthorne Bridge, waving to the beachgoers below who were preparing to hop on their floats for the 10th and final Big Float.
The Street Trust chose the Lents Town Center as their meeting spot because it’s one of the places in Portland where residents suffer the most during heat events. A lack of tree canopy coverage and a wealth of asphalt turn this area into an urban heat island (read more about this here). Juxtaposed with the cold Willamette, the heat in Lents becomes even more apparent.
The Big Float is an event the Human Access Project (HAP) has put on annually for the last 10 years to promote their mission of making the Willamette a swimming space open to all and “helping people embrace, cherish, and preserve our river.” This was the HAP’s final Big Float, though their river advocacy will continue.
For a city with limited outdoor swimming pools, Portlanders sure have some excellent floatation devices, so see if you can find your favorite and get inspired to appreciate our beautiful river.