Thursday, April 3, 2008

News from South of the Border, pt. 3

Bike culture is alive and exceptionally well down in Portland.

No matter the neighborhood, I was surrounded by bike riders of all shapes and sizes. From old ladies on cruisers to the ubiquitous hipsters on fixies, Portland is leaps and bounds ahead of any American city in the sheer number of folks using bikes to get around.

This is a mural on the walls of the Community Cycling Center, one of a number of non-profit organizations in Portland with a bicycle-centered mission. The exact principles vary from project to project, but generally all of these orgs broaden access to bicycling by recycling bikes, offering hands-on programs, organizing volunteer projects, and selling affordable bikes at neighborhood bike shops. As the CCC's mission statement holds: "We believe bicycles are a tool for empowerment and a vehicle for change."

Couple of cool events I came across: Zoobomb is a gang of bike folks who meet every Sunday night at the Portland zoo metro station. They ride from the station to the top of the hill, get prepared, and then “bomb” down the steep, winding road through the park to the bottom. A subset of zoobombers rides children’s bikes exclusively.

And finally, Portland City Hall is curating the "Carfree Cities Art Show" in June 2008 which will feature an installation of Mail Art from around the world, and which will become a travelling exhibit for other cities. They are inviting artists everywhere to send original art "celebrating freedom from car culture." More about the show, including details for submissions, at the Car Free Portland website.

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