First Create a Commuter of 2012 – Sunny and Wonderful!
By Zan Gibbs, Adult Program Manager
On Sunday, February 5th, we delivered our first Create a Commuter workshop of 2012 to Portland Community College Workforce adults. It was a rare, dry and sunny day and all of the participants were eager to ride their brand new bicycles. We brought a fleet of custom built KHS bikes in various styles that were built to suit the individual needs of each rider. Some participants had bad knees, some were inexperienced riders, and others were in need of sturdier wheels to support their weight.
After a fun round of helmet fitting, personal safety checks and bicycle safety checks, we headed out for a short loop around the campus to test seat heights and comfort levels. One participant exclaimed, “This bike is so smooth!”. Everyone rolled with ease, and we practiced loading our bikes onto the Tri-Met bus bike rack. One participant was particularly thankful for this practice. She had seen many a cyclist struggle to figure out how to put their bike on the bus rack, and she didn’t want to be that person holding up the bus, not knowing what to do!
After this first ride, Janis McDonald from the City of Portland joined us for the remainder of the workshop. She came to assess the desire for a follow up workshop that could give the participants a chance to practice riding again as a group, learn detailed route planning, or bucket pannier building. This is a great opportunity for them, and a great demonstration of a three way partnership.
A few of the less experienced women practiced riding their bikes on the indoor trainers, so that they could learn and demonstrate the basics of shifting. One woman recently emigrated from Africa, and had never ridden a bike in the USA. She was grateful for the extra practice.
After lunch, we took a long ride to the Community Cycling Center at NE 17th and Alberta, riding along the Going Neighborhood Greenway. Folks loved the smooth, quiet street. One lifelong NE Portland resident expressed that the street did not always look like this. Once we arrived at the bike shop, this gentleman realized he had been there before, many years ago. He reflected on how much Alberta Street has changed, and really enjoyed meeting all of the mechanics at the shop. Many participants purchased water bottle cages and leg straps for their pants. We took a group shot by the mural, then rode back to 42nd and Killingsworth via the Holman Neighborhood Greenway. Janis McDonald provided excellent ride sweeping (guiding the group from the back of the line) thanks to her extensive experience leading the Women on Bikes program.
We finished up with flat tire repair and map reading, encouraging everyone to find a great route from their home to their job. One woman was sad that she had driven her car to the workshop that morning – she was so energized that she really wanted to ride her bike home. Her peers joked that she should leave her car in the parking lot and ride home anyway. No one complained that they were missing the Super Bowl… and how could they? They had brand new bikes, lots of new skills and information, and a beautiful sunny day!