A new bicycling brigade calling itself Bike Loud PDX has launched, and their inaugural ride has proven very much in line with the tactics and goals of protest rides from years past. Having come together out valid frustration with a bureaucratic status quo that puts cars first and people last, Bike Loud PDX first convened recently at Lucky Lab Pub in the heart of the quasi-industrial Buckman neighborhood.
As covered by Bike Portland, “Many Portlanders who care about bicycling want to find a way to create more urgency for bike-friendly changes. As we’ve been reporting since May, Portland – once a biking beacon that other cities aspired to – has lost its mojo. With our largest bicycle advocacy organization, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance choosing to take a more conservative role, some in the community want to start a new advocacy group.”
The call to organize was posted to the Shift calendar by Alex Reed, a transplant to Portland in 2007.
Having been a part of radical cycling groups with focus on livable streets and social justice myself like PDX Bike Swarm, I’ve much interest in seeing any and all bands of bicyclists succeed at their aims. I’m also aware of how groups looking to unhinge the status quo are prone to infighting, burn-outs, and mission creep. It’s genuinely hard to work for change, even with people you care about, and not run into internal and external conflicts that test one’s own commitment.
Yet there’s seemingly no easier time to exert energy then when a group is in its infancy. From appearances, Bike Loud PDX has the advantage of bringing together a few veteran organizers from the Portland cycling world. While I was unable to attend their first meeting due to a commitment to cover a Portland Street Art Alliance bike tour, seeing this new group take to the streets was something I didn’t want to pass up.
From their first event posting on Shift: “We’re going to do protest rides on Tuesday, August 26th to highlight the importance of keeping motorized traffic volumes low on bike boulevards. We’ll be riding up and down Clinton east of 26th slowwwly in a group. We’ll also have volunteers on the side of the street holding large hand-made signs to encourage drivers to do the full detour to Powell, and to inform everyone of ‘Bikes in Lane’ along Clinton.”
— PDX Transportation (@PBOTinfo) August 22, 2014
There were reports that the Portland Police Bureau were doing traffic stings along Clinton during the afternoon. The Portland Bureau of Transportation had warned of this, claiming the PPB would be targeting all mode users, despite cyclists riding on a bike boulevard posing no safety risk whatsoever.
The ride itself met outside K and F Coffeehouse at SE 26th and Clinton, where a few hellos and introductions interspersed casual conversation regarding the plan of action for the day. A local FOX News affiliate arrived. The group was reluctant to speak to them, leaving Reed to do press duties. As he spoke on camera, an endless line of cars cued up coming off of Division St to turn onto or cross Clinton.
Once everyone was ready, Dan Kaufman of Disco Trike fame turned up the James Brown and the group was off, pedaling East up the hill on Clinton. Truthfully, with as much regular rush hour bike traffic headed the same way it was hard to get an accurate head count as the ride looped back and forth.
True to form, Bike Loud PDX did indeed ride slow, and which motorized vehicles trying to use Clinton as a cut-thru became obvious, as many would impatiently and loudly turn off onto a side street, realizing they had no chance of passing the mass of riders.
Another member of the group had set up a table for passing cyclists to stop and fill out a post cart to PBOT demanding better bike infrastructure along Clinton. While the ride continued on from here, I had to cut off to attend another function. With a job well done, Bike Loud PDX seemed satisfied with the results of their first action: calming traffic, diverting cars, and asserting their rights to ride safely in the street.
Here’s to many future successes.