I decided to make a detour on the way home and join Beaverton‘s Bike Advisory Committee in its first (hopefully annual) “Bike Beaverton” event. Mayor Rob Drake stood on a bench and gave us the official opening word (he also rode at the head of the peloton for a while), and then we set off on a 7-mile loop.
Word amongst riders was that there were 90 people who had signed up (i.e., signed waivers), including a good number of families with their kids. For the suburbs, it was a nice bit of civil obedience.
Jonathan Maus, who runs the Bike Portland blog, did a little advance journalism about the event:
Beaverton’s Senior Transportation Planner Margaret Middleton says the event came about because the advisory committee wanted to, “invite people to ride their bikes in Beaverton.” She adds that, “The ride will be a little bit of education, of course, a lot of fun and a lot of community interaction.”
That’s a pretty apt description of what happened. The most educational part of it for me was the cultural difference between riding in downtown Portland (where I work) and in Beaverton. On a seven-mile trip, I counted four cars that honked at us. In other words, in Portland there’s occasional friction between cyclists and motorists when sharing the road. In Beaverton, motorists are still secure in their delusion that they own the road.
I also watched one woman get impatient with a trail of cyclists at the side of the road. After honking, she decided to speed up, straddle the middle yellow lane, and pass all of them. That was dangerous, unbelievably uncool (you’re speeding? next to children riding their bikes!?), and also illegal. Oh, and that was so she could wait to turn left on the very next block.
Strangely, I was glad to be there for that. Why? A blogger named Colin Beavan, whom I admire, once mentioned that “biking on city streets is subtly activist (because statistics show that the more cyclists on the streets the safer it is for everyone).” So for this evening, even though I was riding at a fraction of my typical get-there commuting speed, I was happy to be one more cyclist by the side of that road, helping to complete the chain and being a subtle activist.
(One guy I was riding with had a sticker that said, “That SUV Makes You Look Fat.” That’s a bit too confrontational for me.)
But overall, the trip was still fun. One of the great things about cycling is you can ride alongside someone and chat. In a car? Not so much. I didn’t get to meet as many people as I’d have liked to, since I had to scamper home and have dinner and reset for the next day of work, but I was still glad I went.