A missed element of the Obama rally

By Jonathan Radmacher of Portland, Oregon. Jonathan describes himself as "a lawyer who lives in SE Portland with his two kids, who usually rides his bike to work, and who tries to stay up with all things political."

Lucky to live in Southeast, my six- and eight-year old daughters and I took a Sunday afternoon stroll down to see Barack Obama. This is not without some angst, mind you. Ruby is an ardent Hillary supporter, or as she puts it: "Hillary is my candidate." I try to avoid rubbing in the fact that she won't be voting for a while, particularly since her world was so shaken when she learned that only white men used to be able to vote. As for the rally itself, Ruby asked whether she might hug Obama, but still announced that she had not abandoned her candidate.

Obviously the event was remarkable, in a hundred ways. Those hundred ways have been detailed in local and national media, and frankly, what thing of value does one voice of 75,000 add to that detail? Bikes. The bikes were streaming by us as we walked to the Hawthorne Bridge. Just as we reached the end, we began to really see the bikes. Bikes locked three and four deep to the bridge railing, to the point of really interfering with the human bottleneck. Then off the bridge and onto First. And more bikes. Ever handrail on every set of stairs was covered with bikes. Sometimes four bikes on each side of the handrail, all the way up, and some angled over the top. From the end of the Hawthorne Bridge until we got to the security chutes, I don't think I saw an affixed piece of metal that didn't have bikes locked to it.

In all the hype, all the beautiful scenery, all of the crush of humanity listening with rapt attention to the person we hope is the next President... In all of that cacophony, it might be that people missed the beautiful crush of bikes, that silently speak to Portland's culture and resolve for change.

Comments

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Attaching bikes to bridges and stairs!!!!

    Well, hells bells. Way over here in Crook Co., and you folks in Portland might be a little interested in this, we got this new fangled thing - a bike rack. Got 'em at the schools, got 'em at the library, hell - we got 'em just about everywhere one could be expected to park a bike on a regular basis.

    If Portland is truly going the way of the Chinese, and biking everywhere, you might want to think about the needed infrastructure.

    Poor city slickers never heard of a bike rack. Well, I just never knew how backwards you all were.

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    Luckily we here in the big city are having bike congestion problems. Our lanes are too narrow, our racks are insufficient for the numbers, and so forth.

    It's a good problem to be having. But if you want to come install some more racks for us Steve, come on by!

  • Mike Austin (unverified)
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    I work downtown and a lot of buildings have rooms for bike storage. In addition, in many of the smaller companies in smaller buildings, employees bring their bikes up to their office. Finally, Waterfront Park is not a destination in the sense that people do not leave their bikes there and go off someplace else. (The park is actually a decent walk from the core downtown area.) Consequently, there is no real need to have bike racks anywhere near Waterfront Park.

  • Mike Austin (unverified)
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    I work downtown and a lot of buildings have rooms for bike storage. In addition, in many of the smaller companies in smaller buildings, employees bring their bikes up to their office. Finally, Waterfront Park is not a destination in the sense that people do not leave their bikes there and go off someplace else. (The park is actually a decent walk from the core downtown area.) Consequently, there is no real need to have bike racks anywhere near Waterfront Park.

  • Dave O'Dell (unverified)
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    Over on bikeportland.org they estimate there were 8000 bicycles locked to the seawall alone. I'd guess there were at least another 4000 locked to the bridges and around town. Bet there aren't enough bike racks in all of Crook County to lock up 1/100th of those.

    You're right Steve we do need more bike racks in Portland. Especially with all the new riders we'll be getting considering the direction of gas prices.

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)
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    In the bottom of the building I work in, Standard Insurance provides a secure cage/room for locking up bikes, for employees and tenants. Last year it was starting to overflow, so Standard increased the size by something like another 30-40%. Now maybe it's just the great weather, but it was pretty packed this morning (maybe 80 bikes?)

  • Unit (unverified)
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    there is no real need to have bike racks anywhere near Waterfront Park

    Unless you happen to notice the waterfront bike/ped path, the frequent festivals, the residents who bike down to relax in the park, or any other of the uses which bring hundreds, if not thousands, of bikers through the park on a given day.

    The park could, as could many places, use more bike racks. But there will never be enough racks for an event hosting 75,000. Hence the usefulness of the bridge rails. If those 12,000 bikes were cars, you would need 100 blocks of parking lots in downtown to accomodate them.

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    Steve, I thought way over there in Crook County it was pronounced "Y'all"? Senator Obama did mention bikes in his speech when talking about our progressive, forward-thinking Oregon modes of transportation, along with mass transit, light rail-- hey he forgot the sky tram!

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Well that was fun wasn't it!

    Little old Crook County has a population of about 26,000 at this time. So, we don't have near enough bike racks here to really help "Y'all" out.

    Back when I was a student at the UO many more years ago than I care to claim, I transported via bike. The City of Eugene then had a bike license, kinda like a dog license.

    Does Portland license bikes? Could be a source of revenue to increase bike parking and other bike amenities.

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    Oh, stop it, Steve. You're not exactly Deadwood out there. :)

    I always thought that the 1% rule pumped it up around the whole state for bikes, thus being able to do Cycle Oregon just about wherever you wanted to, no sweat.

    Put it this way, Cycle Florida would have body count.

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    I'll be more likely to bike around town when Portland starts holding people accountable for running them over. Until then, I'm sticking with 4 wheels, sad to say.

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)
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    Cars run over people and cars run over/into cars, just like cars run into bicyclists. If there's any difference in accountability, I think it's that bike accidents get a lot more media play.

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    I think there is a need in the city for some kind of covered bike parking lot--a real pay-by-the-hour lot (although it should be way cheaper than parking a car, which requires more space). I'd also like to see space rental by the month for us daily commuters. My building has no bike parking, so I haul my bike up into my office, where it's often in the way.

    Since I ride all winter, I don't like to leave it on the street every day to rust.

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