Carl doesn’t have an account on our blog yet so this post, though written by Carl, is posted under Michelle’s name.
I love kid bikes. My favorite, most waved-at bicycle is an old Schwinn Sting-Ray Jr. with red 80’s mag wheels. My first volunteer experience in Portland was wrenching 16″-wheeled wonders with wild names like “Superstar Little Misty” and “Micro-agressor” for the Community Cycling Center’s Holiday Bike Drive. The best Sunday nights I’ve spent in Portland have been “Zoobombing” down from the Zoo in Washington Park on tiny bikes. Now, as a new Safe Routes to School Coordinator for the BTA, I am thrilled to be working with the people for whom kid bikes were actually designed — kids.
Since starting the job a few weeks ago, I have enjoyed distributing Clif Bars and stickers to young bike commuters as they get to school, I’ve smashed eggs against walls before astonished and delighted Kindergarten classrooms at booster seat assemblies, and I’ve practiced crossing the street safely and legally. I’ve also met with city engineers, studied intersections and speed tables, and scrambled to get up to speed in an office full of unfamiliar acronyms and protocols.
Thankfully, the faces around the office are not new to me. Volunteering for the BTA is one of the many bike-based activities in which I’ve been drowning since I moved to Portland in March of 2006. I’ve never made more friends faster than I have here in Portland thanks to its incredibly welcoming bike community which includes many past and present BTA staffers.
- Serving Breakfast on the Bridges with Shift
- playing bike polo at PSU
- organizing the Multnomah County Bike Fair
- losing and organizing alleycat races
- sitting by fires with the Dropout Bicycle Club
- helping with the Towards Carfree Cities Conference
- co-hosting the KBOO Bike Show
- trying to race cyclocross (yeah…that’s me in the cotton)
- working with the city to build a new bike rack for Zoobomb
- helping to organize the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show
…Portland has showered me with so many amazing opportunities and friends, it’s overwhelming.
Here in Portland, the Safe Routes to School program doesn’t just teach young people about street safety, encourage healthy living, and improve our transportation infrastructure. It introduces kids to one of the most active and exciting bike cultures in the world and I’m honored to “do the introductions.” Having met some of these kids, I can safely say we are lucky to have them as our youngest community members. I can only imagine the impact they’ll have on this city.
I can’t wait to ride kid bikes with them and I’m thrilled to be a part of the BTA team.
Photo credit: Jonathan Maus (top), Sauce Applebaum (bottom)