Breakfast on the Bridges turns 20 this month!

I’ve recently started using a new tagline for BikePortland: “Covering the world’s greatest cycling community since 2005.” I’m ready to debate anyone who thinks there’s a better bike scene than ours (no one has countered the statement yet), and one of the examples I’d make my case with would be Breakfast on the Bridges.

The beloved tradition of serving free breakfast on Portland’s Willamette River bridges on the last Friday of every month epitomizes what makes our local community of bicycle lovers so special: It’s just people who want to make bikers’ days brighter and a small token of thanks for choosing to ride. There’s no profit motive, no agenda, no cost to participate. Just community building at its finest — and at street level. It’s wonderful!

In the past, local politicians stopped by to nosh with constituents. One time, TriMet stole the idea to spread the word about one of their projects. At their 10th anniversary party in 2012, B on B veterans traded stories of romance and intrigue from 120 mornings of free breakfasts.

Lillian Karabaic and tools of her trade in 2013.

This month is the 20th anniversary and organizers are inviting everyone for coffee and conversation tomorrow (Friday) morning. They’ll be out at four bridges — Hawthorne, Steel, Tilikum and Flanders from 7:00 to 9:00 am sharing hot drinks and yummy baked goods and other snacks. All you have to do is come on by (and there’s bonus karma points if you stop and chat for a spell).

I heard from one of B on B’s veteran organizers, Lily Karabaic recently, and she said the event has survived not just because of dedicated volunteers like her and other selfless early-risers; but because of donations and support. B on B receives donations from coffee shops and bakeries as well as sponsorship funds from kind people and organizations. Recent donors include Trailhead Coffee Roasters, Spielman Bagels, Zupans Market, Berkshire Ginsberg, and Coco Donuts.  

Lily also reminded us that the first B on B happened during Bike Summer, the 2002 event that eventually morphed into Pedalpalooza. The first-ever event was hosted by Ayleen Crotty (who’s still in the scene as the founder and organizer of Filmed by Bike) and Amy Stork who thought it would be a perfect way to spread the word about group rides like Critical Mass. Remember kids, this was long before social media or even blogs (BikePortland wouldn’t pop up until three years later)!

Like most cool things in Portland’s bike scene, B on B is here because people step up and make it happen either as a volunteer or a supporter. Lily said they were recently able to add a new bridge to their line-up (Flanders!) thanks to a financial sponsor who helped them buy coffee pots and other supplies. Right now they plan to stop serving Hawthorne after tomorrow unless another sponsor steps up.

You can help B on B survive and thrive by visiting their website and hitting their donation link (it’s tax deductible) or sending an email to byobonb@gmail.com to ask about volunteer and sponsor opportunities. They are also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter if that’s your jam.

Hope to see you out there tomorrow morning to raise a mug for this big anniversary celebration!

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Cap'n Pastry
Cap'n Pastry
1 month ago

Here’s to the great volunteers who keep Breakfast on the Bridges going! BonB was my intro to the Bike Funnist community at Bike Summer 2002, and I enjoyed many wonderful moments in the time I served as a barista on the bridge.

It also provided the opportunity to meet the intriguing person who kept chatting me up over coffee, and who I later married. So many benefits of volunteering!

Joe Adamski
Joe Adamski
1 month ago
Reply to  Cap'n Pastry

Congrats to you and E and happy 20th to BonB. Lotsa stuff happened so quickly and have continued for over 20 yrs, with a constant refresh of ideas and energy. Whoodathunk?

Lance
Lance
1 month ago

To be clear, the bonb crew on hawthorn is moving on to the new Blumenauer bridge starting next month.

Ayleen Crotty
1 month ago

What an incredible bike culture we have. I can’t (but can) believe Breakfast on the Bridge is still going strong, and better than ever. THANK YOU to everyone who now carries the torch and has kept alive this ever-so-Portland form of bike advocacy and community building!