Tall Bike Story and Critical Mass Portland Story
Old News and Good News...
Yesterday, a friend of mine came over to borrow my tall bike for the Saints for All parade in Queens. This is an annual parade designed to include all groups unlike the main St. Patrickâ€™s Day Parade in NYC, which is rather exclusive and does not recognize all the diverse groups that New York City has to offer.
The Tall bike was made in a last ditch effort at the New York Bike Show in May. (2004) Thanks to the fine welding of the boys at Chunk 666 I was able to make a tall bike at the show at the Chunk welding workshop.
The Bike, which is rather tall was sitting in my rat infested basement, waiting for warmer weather, therefore it was totally available for someone to borrow, especially to take to a parade which would feature other tall bikers.
Since it is two adult old school ten speeds welded on top of each other...it is tall for a tall bike. I had to take both wheels off to cram it into the basement; mainly because the super was complaining about all the bikes I had stacking up in the hallway.
So the tall bike was forced into hiding. Like a dope I forgot a few bolts when taking off the back wheel and back derailleur.
Rich and I spent a good hour putting the tall bike back together. Hard work paid off and it was ready to ride. Unfortunately, Rich was a little unskilled in the fine art of tall bike riding so he needed some practice. The basic principle to getting on one of these contraptions it to coast it, try and find a nice straight-a-way with a bit of a downhill and coast the thing. You'd be amazed how much time you have to coast before ever having to be in the saddle engaging the pedals. But it takes some getting used to. I remember the first time I tried it with this bike. I kept walking around Williamsburg, looking for the right street to make my first attempt, one that didn't have too many people on it to watch me screw up. I could empathize with Rich as he struggled to give it a go. One time he just sort of let the bike go and it came down on the street with a hard crash. After a few more attempts he did it!! Then we inspected the bike...there was a huge crack in one of the welds basically rendering the bike un-useable. Thus ended the tall bike coming out party experience. It was back into the basement, just in time for the exterminator to show up and we could talk about the giant rats in the basement.
So now I'll be looking for Chunk or some other welder to fix the bike, but its low on the priority schedule.
In some old news, but good news...
Portland Oregon has to be the most bike friendly city I have ever been in. No surprise their mayor decided to go to Critical Mass in January...here is an article from the Oregonian...
Potter pedals with Critical Mass to test his political (Headline)
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Tom Potter's Friday? Well, there were the suit-and-tie meetings about the Portland mayor's upcoming trip to Japan and his recent takeover of the city's bureaus. There was a quick visit to a new Toyota import plant.
Oh, and at nightfall, he took a spin with the city's two-wheeled pirates.
At least that's how many cops and motorists see the bicyclists who participate in the monthly Critical Mass protest ride through downtown.
Pedaling punks. Gear-shifting anarchists. A bunch of hoodlums with no respect for traffic laws or rush-hour motorists trying to get home after work.
But Friday night, Potter -- a man who won by 23 percentage points without taking a donation over $100 -- once again showed that he takes his mandate as the city's new mayor seriously.
He pedaled his Recumbent, a bike resembling a lawn chair on wheels, through a steady rain with about 250 Critical Mass demonstrators.
At the first stop sign, Potter, 64, squeezed the brakes until he noticed the rest of the pack rolling through the intersection. "I'll just follow you," he told another cyclist, chuckling.
The next three stops signs were a blur.
The same could be said for his first month in office, when Potter showed he isn't afraid to ruffle feathers. He angered public-power opponents by supporting a city takeover of PGE. He took over day-to-day operation of the bureaus from the city's four commissioners.
And now, he's cruising with Critical Mass.
Several people e-mailed City Hall to berate Potter for his planned ride. It was tantamount to supporting one of the city's biggest menaces, some complained.
"This is just a bike ride," Potter said as he answered a barrage of questions from TV and radio reporters before the throng of cyclists departed from their gathering spot near the North Park Blocks' giant elephant. "I don't see the big deal."
Potter said he was simply keeping a campaign promise.
After all, he was running for mayor of the city rated as North America's best for bicycling. So, meeting with the biking community while campaigning was pretty much a must.
Over and over, bicyclists approached him with complaints about what they saw as police harassment during the Critical Mass protest. He pledged to look into it.
But was he bold enough to take a spin with Critical Mass? If elected, candidate Potter pledged, he would ride.
"It's one of the reasons I voted for him," said Kronda Adair, a 33-year-old project manager at Kinko's. "If anyone is going to stop the cops from harassing us, it would be him."
Critical Mass started in San Francisco in 1992 to make a statement about cyclists' rights. The rides have spread to more than 200 cities globally, and generally occur on the last Friday night of the month.
A news release from the mayor's office made Potter's planned ride-along sound like a midwinter spin through the city with a merry band of cyclists.
For Portland police, Critical Mass is a public safety problem, snarling traffic and frustrating motorists. Rogue cyclists have vandalized cars and attacked motorists.
An August 2002 ride exploded into confrontation, with police using pepper spray, firing a stun gun and arresting nine cyclists.
In recent months, the Police Bureau has assigned enough officers to issue as many tickets as necessary to dissuade bicyclists from violating traffic laws.
Riders say the ticketing is out of control. "There's a lot of heavy-handed, selective ticketing by the police," said Alex Pollock, a 27-year-old electrical engineer who has participated in Critical Mass rides as far away as Melbourne, Australia. Also, officers, especially those on motorcycles, have become increasingly confrontational, Pollock and others said.
Friday night's event, however, was a downright pleasant ride.
Zero arrests. Zero citations. Stop signs seemed to be fair game, but everyone braked for red lights, giving Potter a chance to chat with cyclists.
"Do you commute to work?" a bearded man asked. "I'm a fair-weather biker," the mayor admitted.
Coasting down West Burnside, following a string of blinking red tail-lights that extended to the glowing Unico U.S. Bancorp Tower, Potter waved to people who cheered him on from restaurant doorways and bus stops.
The former police chief plans to ride with officers to see Critical Mass from their perspective. But at the end of the ride, he sounded as if he had sided with the cyclists, saying he thinks too many police resources are dedicated to monitoring the ride.
As television news helicopters hovered above the riders, members of Potter's staff joked that it took a bike ride for him to get decent media coverage.
As Sara Culp put it: "I hope we get this much attention for school funding issues."
Joseph Rose: 503-221-8029; email@example.com