No ‘Bike the Lights’ night at Winter Wonderland this year due to virus fears

Not this year.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“Social distancing from the comfort of your car.” That’s how the folks behind the annual Winter Wonderland event at Portland International Raceway are marketing this year’s event.

Since 2009 organizers have set aside one night of the five-week event where bicycle riders could enjoy the lights and festive vibes without the toxic emissions, noise, or threat of collisions posed by car drivers. But this year they’ve decided to cancel it. “Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, our special annual dog walking and bike nights will not be offered this year,” reads a statement by Sunshine Division, the Portland Police Bureau’s nonprofit arm that runs the event.

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Hundreds of riders light the night at carfree Winter Wonderland event

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A rare window of dry skies was an unexpected treat.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It was a perfect night to bundle up and enjoy the holiday lights at the annual “Bike the Lights” night at Winter Wonderland. With dry and relatively clear skies, hundreds of people (organizers expected over 1,200 based on last year’s numbers) showed up for a chance to pedal stress-free around the racetrack at Portland International Raceway.

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Two holiday rides worth doing (one of them’s tonight!)

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Riders at last year’s Bike the Lights ride. It happens again tonight (12/28).
(Photo: Tom Howe)

‘Tis the season to be jolly… But it can also be the season of eating, drinking and lounging around inside the comfy confines of your home with family and friends. Now it’s time to break that cabin fever, bundle up, grab your bike, and hit the streets.

There are two holiday rides in Portland worth doing. And one of them is tonight (Monday the 28th). Here are the details…

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Hundreds brave chills to enjoy ‘Winter Wonderland’ by bike

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
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Riding under the lights (and in the cold)
last night at PIR.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Note to event organizers: All it takes to coax hundreds of biking Portlanders to your event — even in temps hovering near the 20s — is to make it carfree and serve free hot drinks.

Last night was the first-ever bike-only night at Portland International Raceway’s annual Winter Wonderland holiday light spectacular. The folks at PIR create dozens of light sculptures and let folks roll around the race track taking in the festive sights. Usually it’s a treat only people in cars can enjoy, but this year, thanks to some persistent nudging from local bike advocates, they had a Bike Night.

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