I did Bridge Pedal again this morning for the first time in 12 years. And it was dreamy.
I used to do this massive event every year, but I got tired of the bottlenecks and the chaos. Or maybe I just became jaded. But I’ve felt a renewed sense of wonder and excitement about Portland’s cycling culture lately, and I just felt an urge to be out there again.
Bridge Pedal is like Sunday Parkways with guts. What makes it great is the thing Parkways is missing — an unadulterated cycling takeover of major roads and interstate freeways. I’m just as disappointed as many of you about the lack of progress we’ve made in getting more people to drive less, and the lack of big wins we’ve had fighting the freeway industrial complex. But my cynicism was no match for riding on these thoroughfares in relative silence, high above the Portland skyline and Willamette River on a perfect sunny morning alongside thousands of other people doing the same.
Today we rode on the bicycle highways we deserve! Routes that would slash hours off our weekly travel times and put cycling on a level playing field with driving. Since I last did this ride in 2010, suggesting such a radical shift seems much less bold given the crises we face if we maintain the status quo.
I ran into an activist who I’ve known for years on the ride, Ted Buehler. I was doing video interviews by bike (stay tuned!) and Ted talked about how Bridge Pedal embodies much of what he, I, and many other activists going back decades have always dreamed of. A city criss-crossed with bicycle highways full of a diverse slice of humanity — and without the loud toxic din of cars everywhere — wasn’t just what we dreamed about, it was what some of us actually thought would have happened by now. Whether we were naive, too idealistic, and/or bad at activism didn’t really matter for a few hours this morning. We had what we wanted. And it was wonderful!
A Portland that more closely reflects Bridge Pedal everyday is still my dream. And today’s ride has stoked my longing to achieve it.
Enjoy the rest of the gallery below, and stay tuned for a video of on-the-bike interviews!