Courting disaster

Words by Adam Newman, photos by Howard Draper

This is it. The Big One. With no warning the Cascadia Subduction Zone begins to shift, resulting in a massive earthquake and tsunami that ravishes the Pacific Northwest. In Portland bridges are unsafe to cross, gasoline is being rationed and electricity is spotty. Luckily the city is filled with cyclists who can transport water, food, medicine and other relief supplies quickly and easily.

Ok, so the massive earthquake that threatens Western Oregon hasn’t happened yet, but if or when it does the local cycling community will be well prepared thanks to events like the Disaster Relief Trials (DRT). A checkpoint-based bike race with a cargo-hauling twist, it’s designed to promote resilience in the face of the inescapable. In a handful of cities on the West Coast, the event simulates a supply run on cargo bikes (or whatever bike can handle the load).

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I joined dozens of other first responders, cargo bike fanatics and curious participants for the Portland edition of DRT, which fanned out 30 miles across the city. From a central hub we raced to checkpoints where we picked up supplies including a case of food, a big bucket of water, a wooden pallet and a fragile egg. Along the way we had our manifest checked off and our cargo inspected. Different categories separated payload weights along with e-bikes or team efforts.

Cooperation was key in many respects, of- ten for route finding but also to lift the bikes over a four-foot wall and push them through a difficult uphill dirt section. All the participants were eager to help each other and the volunteers manning the checkpoints were helpful and friendly.

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The variety in bicycles represented was astounding. I’ve certainly never seen such a collection of longtails, bakfiets, trailers and trikes. Most were Yubas, Bullets and Surlys but there were also quite a few handmade bikes. I borrowed a beautiful, Portland-made Metrofiets for the event and, despite my limited experience piloting such a craft, it turned out to be a great platform for the day. Even with a massive front end, the bike handled well and shrugged off my 100 pound payload. All I had to do was pedal—and remember that the Shimano Alfine 8 shifter is backward…

Event founder Mike Cobb said he felt a wave of emotions after an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010. While the quake itself was unpredictable, the secondary disaster of homelessness, famine and disease that followed was entirely preventable. Fueled by “anguish motivation,” Cobb knew he had to do something. Intimately involved with the with cargo bike com- munity (Cobb’s day job is at Splendid Cycles, a Portland-based cargo bike shop) he began to brainstorm how a cargo bike democratizes disaster relief. Professional disaster response teams are reliant on infrastructure to complete their duties, but bicycles can aid in citizen-led community resistance.

“I was suddenly struck with incredulity,” he said. “Why aren’t cargo bikes considered a top tool of community disaster resilience? Why isn’t ‘Do your neighbors have cargo bikes?’ one of the common questions posed to communities seeking resilience?”

“There are always resources not too far away from a given disaster but the normal infrastructure that allows you to transport recovery resources is usually destroyed and there is never a budget big enough to have emergency tools in place to overcome all infrastructure obstacles with a motor when the time comes. I just envisioned a decentralized approach in addition to the massive traditional approaches.”

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Cobb said that most people’s supplies will run out after about three days, and “Day 4” supply runs are where bicycles excel. Whether it’s fetching clean drinking water from a community drop point or providing pedal power to charge radios, lights and mobile phones, cargo bicycles are perfectly suited to infrastructure-independent self support.

“They are inexpensive, small and light, they require very little maintenance, and so they lend themselves to mass distribution across the landscape,” he said. But Cobb knew getting buy-in from policymakers would be difficult.

“I know most of the civil servant decision makers view bikes as toys,” he said. “I knew that the first task for making the case for cargo bikes’ relevance in disaster recovery was to display their abilities in dramatic style and to stimulate design technique by hosting a race. Competition is always a great way to stimulate design and technique, and I knew nobody was really working on optimizing cargo bikes for disaster recovery.”

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After a few years the event started to get the attention Cobb wanted. He secured sponsorships from the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management and assistance from FEMA’s Region 10 that covers Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska. Partnerships with Portland’s Neighborhood Emergency Teams and San Francisco’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams blossomed. Founded after the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, these community-based groups train and equip volunteers to take the lead in disaster situations and keep a small cache of tools and supplies.

“A cargo bike leverages the NET abilities by allowing you to survey your neighborhood faster, distribute tools and materials faster and by allowing you to go outside of your neighborhood to collect resources and bring them back to your neighborhood,” Cobb said. In the future he hopes cargo bike volunteers will get priority for training and given extra responsibilities suited to their bike.

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The Disaster Relief Trials is expanding to Memphis, Tennessee, this year, and organizer Cort Percer explained that not even his city is safe from seismic activity.

“Memphis is in the heart of the New Madrid Seismic Zone in which the last major activity of 8.1 magnitude was said to have rang bells in Boston. The zone is predicted to erupt every 200 to 300 years. The last major quake was in 1811.”

The city isn’t waiting around for that to happen before it gets to work. Percer said the response from local emergency management agencies has been positive and the event is attracting national sponsors.

“I think of bicycles and the DRT like an 8 mm Allen key,” Percer said. “Not every multi-tool has an 8 mm Allen, but when you need it not much else will suffice. And the 8 mm is a part of the whole, along with the Office of Preparedness, the Office of Emergency Management, FEMA, the Red Cross, the fire department, the parks department, the faith-based community, etc. They all make up the multi-tool.”

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Of course, racing full speed around the city with a giant pallet strapped to your bike doesn’t really simulate the hazards and challenges of an actual disaster situation, but it does help the visibility of the cycling community as a resource that should be considered in disaster planning. On hand were emergency personnel and first responders from several local agencies were practicing communication and operations while a disaster relief information fair was being held next door.

At the end of the day I was exhausted, sore and satisfied. I certainly hope I never have to put any of the experience I gained into use in an actual emergency but, in the meantime, I had a lot of fun.

“Fun is one of the most powerful ingredients in advocacy,” Cobb said. “Advocacy that’s entertaining is powerful.”

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IKEA launches pilot program in Portland to encourage bike sharing

Words by Jeffrey Stern. Photos courtesy of Spinlister. 

Aimed at individuals who use their bicycles to commute, run errands and get around town on a daily basis, the new program launched in conjunction with Spinlister hopes to get more people in the already bike crazy town not only riding, but sharing their new IKEA SLADDA bikes.

Starting on Earth Day last month (April 22nd), IKEA launched their one-of- a-kind SLADDA bike partnership with Spinlister in their Portland, Oregon at 10280 NE Cascades Parkway location.

Alessandra Zini, the IKEA Portland store manager said, “Portland knows its bikes. We think Spinlister offers a great opportunity for our customers to try SLADDA before they buy it.”

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With Portland already boasting the highest rate of bicycle commuters in America and Earth Day being associated with green initiatives such as alternative modes of transportation like cycling, this geographic specific test-launch doesn’t come as a surprise.

Details on the Portland launch running from April 22nd to July 22nd are as follows:

Portland area IKEA Family members receive a $150 discount on the SLADDA bike bringing the cost down to $349. Once the SLADDA is purchased, owners can list their bikes on Spinlister with 0% listing fees until the entire cost of the bike is recovered from rentals. Spinlister normally takes a 17.5% listing fee on the daily rental price. Sounds like an easy way to pay off a sweet new commuter, right?

Offered with front and rear racks, a cargo trailer and powered by an automatic 2-gear belt drivetrain integrated into the rear hub, it looks like quite a few Portland cyclists have taken advantage of the offer already, posting their bikes for $5/hour, $20/day or $100/week making the return on their investment quite swift.

“We’re thrilled to be able to introduce the SLADDA bike from IKEA to the Spinlister community,” says Marcelo Loureiro, CEO of Spinlister in a press release from IKEA.

“Providing sustainable and affordable urban transportation is a core facet of the Spinlister platform, and partnering with IKEA offers us the opportunity to share that vision with more riders. By adding their new SLADDA bike range to Spinlister’s global marketplace, IKEA is staking a bold position at the forefront of the bike sharing economy,” he continued.

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Typical bike rental prices run upwards of $25 or more per day on Spinlister, so the SLADDA price is a good deal that should entice more users to the bike sharing platform based in Santa Monica, California.

It’s important to note that the actual location of the IKEA Portland store is not easily accessible by the current bike routes in the city. Perhaps if the pilot is successful, not only will more stores around the country be featuring the Spinlister SLADDA deal, but it could spearhead better bicycle infrastructure in the surrounding neighborhoods as well; a win-win for all parties involved, getting more economically friendly bike options on the road throughout the country.

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Path Less Pedaled x Bicycle Times: Gladys Bikes

Ed. Note: Path Less Pedaled x Bicycle Times is a video series by Russ Roca and Laura Crawford of The Path Less Pedaled. Stay tuned to the Bicycle Times website for more of this regular collaborative content. 


Laura of Path Less Pedaled stops in Gladys Bikes, a female-owned, women-focused shop in Portland. She chats with owner Leah Benson about what makes this shop unique and what it was like to start a bike shop.

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Review: Orp headlight / bell / smile machine

What the heck is Orp? Well, it was born in an industrial design studio, was incubated through a crowdfunding session, and now represents a really fun and useful way to stay safe on your bike. The idea started as a horn, a 96-decibel electronic noisemaker, to be exact, that emits a rather obnoxious sound to alert drivers, pedestrians and wandering animals to your presence. It can also emit a friendly bell sound if you’re feeling pleasant. Press up on the Orp’s tail for the happy sound, down for the angry sound. Both sounds also flash the built-in light.

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The LED light is more than bright enough to make yourself visible and can be turned on and off independently of the bell sounds. It can operate in steady or blinking mode, emitting 70 lumens on steady and 83 lumens when flashing. The Orp’s plastic body is water resistant, and generally “accident proof” to make you “splatterproof,” and comes in eight fun colors. The whole unit straps to your 31.8 mm handlebars with its built-in stretchy rubber mount, and the packaging includes a rubber shim to fit smaller-diameter handlebars.

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The Orp isn’t always on. Because it relies on battery power, you do have to remember to turn it on and off. Because the light and horn operate independently, I found that if the light is off the battery has enough juice to last a week or more if you forget and leave it on. There is no indicator light to tell if it is on, but a quick press of the tail will let you know. It also has a cute power-up or power-down sound. With the light on, Orp claims three hours of run time with the light in steady mode and 11 hours in flash mode.

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The best way to make the Orp super practical is to pair it with the “Remorp,” a wired remote that places the controls at your fingertips, either on flat bars or drop bars. It plugs into that black port you see above.

I only had to charge the Orp every couple weeks with the included Micro-USB cord and found it super fun to use, finding excuses to ring the distinctive happy bell sound all over town. If it’s not cute enough for you right out of the box, you can add Orp’s mustache stickers to personalize yours. Stop taking cycling so seriously.

The Orp sells for $65, plus $15 for the remote.
More info: orpland.com

 

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Nike signs on to sponsor Portland bike share system

Despite being known as the most bike-friendly large city in America, Portland, Oregon, is also one of the few major cities without a bike share system of its own. Now, thanks to a $10 million commitment from Nike, its bike share system will launch this summer with 1,000 orange bikes bearing the classic swoosh. The color is the same shade as the original Nike shoeboxes from 1971.

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The system and the bikes will be known as Biketown, which is fitting as Nike had previously branded its birthplace of Eugene, Oregon, as Tracktown. The bikes will be bright orange and Nike will oversee their design, as well as that of the stations and the system’s digital presence.

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The system is set to launch in July 2016 and will be operated by Motivate, a bikeshare management system used in New York, Chicago, the Bay Area, Washington D.C., Boston, Seattle, Toronto, Melbourne, Australia, and more cities around the world.

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The bicycles themselves will be created by Social Bicycles (SoBi), a Brooklyn-based transportation technology company. A second-generation system, it has the renting and locking mechanisms built into the bikes themselves.

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Cargo bikes to the rescue at the Disaster Relief Trials

Photos by Howard Draper

This is it. The Big One. The Cascadia Subduction Zone has shifted, resulting in a massive earthquake and tsunami that has devastated the Pacific Northwest. In Portland bridges are unsafe to cross, gasoline is being rationed and electricity is spotty. Luckily the city is filled with cyclists who can transport water, food, medicine and other relief supplies quickly and easily.

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Ok, so the massive earthquake that threatens Oregon hasn’t happened yet, but if or when it does the local cycling community will be well prepared thanks to events like the Disaster Relief Trials (DRT). A checkpoint-based bike race with a cargo-hauling twist, it’s designed to promote resilience in the face of the inescapable. In a handful of cities on the West Coast, the event simulates a three-day supply run on cargo bikes (or whatever bike can handle the load).

I joined dozens of other first responders, cargo bike fanatics and curious participants over the weekend for the Portland edition of DRT, which fanned out 30 miles across the city. From a central hub we raced to checkpoints where we picked up supplies including a case of food, a big bucket of water, a wooden pallet and a fragile egg. Along the way we had our manifest checked off and our cargo inspected. Different categories separated payload weights along with e-bikes or team efforts.

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Cooperation was key in many respects, often for route finding but also to lift the bikes over a four-foot wall and push them through a difficult uphill dirt section. All the participants were eager to help each other and the volunteers manning the checkpoints were helpful and friendly.

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The variety in bicycles represented was astounding. I’ve certainly never seen such a collection of longtails, bakfiets, trailers and trikes. Most were Yubas, Bullets and Surlys but there were also quite a few handmade bikes. I borrowed a beautiful, Portland-made Metrofiets for the event and, despite my limited experience piloting such a craft, it turned out to be a great platform for the day. Even with a massive front end, the bike handled well and shrugged off my 100 pound payload. All I had to do was pedal—and remember that the Shimano Alfine 8 shifter is backward…

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Of course, racing full speed around the city with a giant pallet strapped to your bike doesn’t really simulate the hazards and challenges of an actual disaster situation, but it does help the visibility of the cycling community as a resource that should be considered in disaster planning. On hand were emergency personnel and first responders from several local agencies practicing their aspects of communication and operations while a disaster relief information fair was being held next door.

At the end of the day I was exhausted, sore and satisfied. I certainly hope I never have to put any of the experience I gained into use in an actual emergency but, in the meantime, I had a lot of fun.

Gallery

Click on the magnifying glass to see full-size photos.

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First look: Sage Cycles

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David Rosen is a passionate guy. So passionate, in fact, that he has devoted himself—and a larger portion of his garage—into creating a new brand that represents his vision of the ideal performance bicycle. After a few false starts, Sage Cycles has started rolling with two models of titanium bikes that are 100 percent unique designs, but crafted by the Ti experts at Lynskey Performance Designs in Tennessee. [Editor’s note: Take a factory tour of how Lynskey bikes are made here.]

Quality, performance and durability are the hallmarks of two bikes currently in the line, and it’s not hard to imagine a Sage Cycles customer as someone who is as meticulous about the details as Rosen. Based just outside Portland, Oregon, the brand’s raison d’être is a good match for a city where cyclists take their bicycles, and racing them, quite seriously.

There are two models in the line: the PDXCX and the Skyline. The former is a purpose-built race bike, designed to be flogged week in and week out through the season; while the latter is the road-going version of the same, an all-purpose race bike that can also put in some serious training miles.

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Rosen has also teamed up with Portland-based Ruckus Composites to create a unique, removable cable guide that can accommodate both cable and electronically controlled derailleurs without ugly holes, unused protrusions or other compromises. As pictured it holds the derailleur cables, but the whole piece can be removed thanks to a small set screw underneath through which the electronic routing enters the frame.

It’s this attention to detail that Rosen says set Sage Cycles apart, including from Lysnkey’s own designs.

“Lynskey builds amazing bikes and they have the years of experience to back that up. However, a Lynskey bike is not going to perform the same way as a Sage bike due to the differences in design characteristics.”

Sage bikes are available as stock units, with stock build kits, though one of the merits of small batch manufacturing is that if you really want a feature tweaked, it can likely be accommodated. New for 2015 Sage will also be offering customized build kits that can be configured through the new website currently being built. Customers will complete the basics, pay a deposit fee, then get a phone call from Rosen himself to hammer out the details.

“People want to be able to do something on their own,” he said. “It becomes a very personalized, intimate process.”

Creating a new niche in the market between big brands and the ultra-luxury offerings from the likes of Moots and Eriksen can be treacherous, but Rosen is confident that there are customers looking for something unique.

“I want to make the customer comfortable as possible knowing they’re getting something that is absolutely going to blow their mind.”

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Gallery: Grill By Bike at Pedalpalooza

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One of the best things about opening the new home office as the Portland Bureau of Bicycle Times is that I’ve landed right in the middle of Pedalpalooza, Portland’s month-long celebration of bicycles, eccentricity and the joyful intersection of the two. Among the dozens of events schedule are a Prince vs. Bowie dance party ride, a Doctor Who ride, a Traffic Signals Wonkery Ride and of course, the World Naked Bike Ride. Last night I joined the Grill By Bike Ride, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Grillin’ out and drinking beer while riding bikes?

Sign me up.

We started in Ladd’s Circle where I’d estimate roughly 200 people showed up. After an hour or so it was on to Laurelhurst Park (after a beer stop, of course) then finished up along the Springwater Corridor for a dance party meet-up with the Silent Disco Ride.

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While everything went fairly smoothly, it should be noted that only trained professional would ride a bike with burning charcoal shooting flames and sparks all over the place.

Anyway, on to the photo gallery, and let us know which is your favorite Pedalpalooza Ride!

See the photos here.

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How bikes make cities cool

Fresh from the Kona Productions Crew, How Bikes Make Cities Cool – Portland, is a five-minute mini documentary that explores the thriving bicycle culture resident to one of North America’s most progressive metropolises. Filmed entirely by bike, with support from longtime Kona Portland dealer Sellwood Cycles and resident Team Kona athletes Erik Tonkin and Matthew Slaven, we spent the better part of a week talking to commuters, following kids to school and capturing the friendly vibe and funky nature of a city that embraces self-propelled commuting at the heart of its identity.

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Movers and Makers Vol. 1 – Christopher Igleheart

We’re excited to announce the launch of the Movers and Makers video series, a partnership with Swobo highlighting inspirational figures throughout the bike industry. Episode 1 profiles Chris Igleheart, who has been building frames since forever. Igleheart was recently hit by a car while riding his bike and Swobo helped organize a fundraiser. This footage was shot before the accident and we hear he is on the mend.

Read more about Igleheart and the Movers and Makers Series here

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Fundraiser for Chris Igleheart this Friday in Portland

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Chris Igleheart is one of the longest-tenured and most-respected names in custom framebuilding. From building his own bikes to working under contract with brands like Cielo, Chris has built some amazing bikes. He even appeared in a two-page spread in Issue #11.

Recently Chris was hit by a car in Portland and fractured his left tibia. Swobo, Rapha, Chris King and other Portland-area businesses are all kicking in to host a fundraising party on his behalf to help offset medical costs. We hear he is going to be ok but has a long way to go before he can work or ride a bike again.

Learn more after the jump. Read the full story

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