I awoke later than I should on Thursday (it is my "day off", after all.) What should I do? I wanted to go see a PBOT (Portland Bureau of Transportation) Bicycle Brown Bag presentation on European bicycling infrastructure at noon. However, I had (have) plenty of art deadlines to pull off this week, so would I have time? After some internal neurotic deliberation, I said "f--- it", got ready, and rode the Raleigh Wayfarer downtown.
As an aside, while the choice of bike was definitely appropriate for a presentation on European biking, I was worried if it would be appropriate for the weather. Though it was partly sunny and about 40F when I left the UAL HQ in momentous Montavilla, the National Weather Service predicted a chance of snow showers during the day. For that I thought I should mount the studded tire wheel on the front of the Long Haul Trucker, but decided against it. If the weather did turn to shit, I just would take transit home. I brought my rubber shoe covers and ice-grippers just in case. Thankfully the weather stayed good all day, getting up to the upper 40s and mostly sunny.
|Photo: Steve Morgan (from Wikipedia). An early (1982) view.|
The Bicycle Brown Bag was located in our city's very post-modern Michael Graves designed Portland Building. Upon locking up my bike I noted the collection of Dutch bikes parked out front, one of them belonging to the presenter Brett Campbell.
|Not a Dutch Bike.|
|Now that's a Dutch bike!|
Brett is a contributor to the Willamette Week and the Wall Street Journal, and took an extensive trip of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark a few years back. While he did talk about the bicycle infrastructure of those countries, the key point he was talking about was what those cycle-centric* countries thought of what Portland was doing. To most of our surprise, they thought we were doing good and we just needed more patience to pull it all off.
I ran into quite a few folks I knew at the Brown Bag, like Jeff from Exit Shoes/Animated Traffic Law, with whom I'm currently working on a project. Or my good friend Carl, a staffer at the BTA and big instigator behind Pedalpalooza. He also sent me this communique that I just received in my post office box:
|See, people can still use the mail!|
Yes Carl, I know.**
I also managed to finish one art project while listening to the presentation. Go productivity!
The presentation room also had a great model of downtown Portland:
Upon my departure, I ran into Brett Campbell in the bike parking area. Turns out he knew who I was and has been on some of my rides before. I wish I had a better memory! It doesn't help that my last Dead Freeways Ride had about 70 people on it, so remembering everyone on a ride is tough.***
I then headed over to Bike Gallery. As mentioned in a previous post, I'm on a fools quest for a 20" cream tire for my Worksman cycle truck. Bike Gallery is an Electra dealer, and I've seen an appropriate 20" cream tire on one of their kids bikes. So hopefully Bike Gallery would stock the tire itself. Nope. And the salesperson called up Electra to inquire, and found out that while they do put that tire on the bike, they don't sell it separately. Rats. Should I just give up?
Then it was off to Goose Hollow for several hours of coffee drinking and drawing at one of my fave coffee shops, Fehrenbacher Hof. And the bike rack in front of it**** still has my favorite all-time bicycling sticker:
Now you non-Portlanders***** may ask yourselves, "What the hell does 'Bud Clark is my mayor' have to do with bicycling?" Well, let me give you the short story, and why this sticker came about:
|Photo once again by Steve Morgan|
Bud Clark was mayor of Portland from the beginning of 1985 to the end of 1992. He was a left-leaning populist with a colorful personality, the counter to Frank Ivancie, the previous mayor who he handily beat in the 1984 primary. Besides being known for looking like Santa Claus, he's best known as the model of the "Expose Yourself to Art" poster from the late 70's:******
Oh yeah, he bicycled. In a decade not known for transportation cycling (after all this was the Reagan Years for the most part), Bud daily commuted to work on his bicycle, something even current mayor Sam "He gives those bicyclists too much already!" Adams doesn't do. Bud became known as The Bicycling Mayor.
Even though not a lot of stuff happened in regards to bicycling during Clark's tenure (most of the stuff that made Portland "America's Bicycling City" started under his successor, Vera Katz,) Clark is Portland's Bicycling Mayor. You can't think of Bud without beer (we'll get to that) and bicycles.
Fast forward to 2007. Our mayor is Tom Potter, former police chief (under Clark), a nice enough guy but lacking vision. Besides endless "visioning" processes, a disastrous attempt to rewrite the city charter to change our government from the "Galveston" style commission to a strong mayor system, he decides to cut funding for the Bicycle Master Plan. The response from cyclists, as you can imagine, was negative. So negative that he had to reinstate funding (with tail between his legs.)
When this happened, the "Bud Clark is my mayor" stickers popped up all around town. It was the ultimate vote of "No Confidence" from the cycling community.******* Who made these stickers? We may never know.
Many of the stickers were affixed to bicycle racks all over town. Many of them got removed, especially the ones in front of City Hall. But not the one by the Fehrenbacher Hof and the adjoining Goose Hollow Inn. And it will probably never be removed. Because Bud Clark owns both businesses.
I hung at the Hof for a few hours, made a stop at both Powell's Books and an art supply shop, and headed toward the waterfront, where I was greeted with a great view of the rising full moon that this photo will not do justice to:
And my final stop of the evening, the Annual Gala of the Willamette Pedestian Coalition. They've been around for 20 years. Though not as prominent as the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, they have been fighting the good fight regarding pedestrian rights, transit access, more sidewalks, and all that. And my friend Steph is the executive director! There were presentations, raffles, and all that. I got some free beer (maybe a little too much) and became a member of the organization.
It was getting late, so I hopped back on my Wayfarer and headed the 5 or so miles home under the full moon, where my sweetie was waiting. Quite the full day!
*Okay, Belgium isn't really a cycle-centric country, per se, but is more cycle-centric than the US.
**Taco Del Mar used to have a Sunday 99 cent kids meal special, and they never cared if you were a kid or not. Put two together and it equaled an adult meal. Though I think Taco Del Mar is mediocre, they are conveniently located across the street from my work.
***My boss somehow thinks I have a "photographic" memory.
****I've come to the realization that I need to get a bigger U-Lock for the Wayfarer because my current one is not big enough to fit front wheel, frame, and bike rack on most racks.
*****Or as we prefer to call you, "future Portlanders".
******As featured in the first episode of The Young Ones.
*******Ironically, Potter was the only mayor who ever rode in Critical Mass, declaring the ride "not a big deal."