Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sunday Parkways

2008_0622_007_sunday_parkwaysAs we pulled out of the garage at 8:15 Sunday morning, on our way to Portland's biggest block party, Jess announced, "It's raining out here."

So. Typically. Portland.

Well it's also typically Portland to carry on in the face of raindrops, so after going back for our jackets, which we had hoped to retire for the summer, we set off. J's friend T had left the house in optimistic shorts and T-shirt attire. She turned down the offer of my extra jacket, then reconsidered, but by then she was already soaked. Not only was it rainy, it was pretty chilly too.

We joined the route at Arbor Lodge Park on Bryant St and there were few people to be seen aside from organizers and booth staffers. We worried that turn out might be low for the event, but I felt that A) the weather would improve and B) if you're going to live here, you learn to do things in whatever weather is offered. It was still early after all.

After collecting some Cliff Bar samples and a few of the awesome new N/NE PDX bike/ped maps (thanks Timo!), we continued on over the Bryant St bridge to Peninsula park, which would be our station for the next several hours. T had an engagement, not to mention she was miserable, so she headed home. I chased down a guy on a Big Dummy to pick his brain about it before picking up my volunteer T-shirt and reporting to our post.

$5 Life Savers

We had volunteered to help sell and fit helmets, which were being sold for $5 each through Trauma Nurses Talk Tough at Emanuel hospital. Helmet fitting doesn't seem like it would be fun, but I actually quite enjoy it, and I'm good at it. Things started out slow, but soon there was nothing but a sea of heads waiting to be fitted. I had a blast seeing how happy people were to get a new helmet and in some cases, find out how comfortable they can really be. I also had parents bring their children over who already had helmets, just to ask if they were properly fitted. It's such a better feeling than seeing all the naked heads on bikes and resisting the urge to lecture them.

Speaking of naked heads, if you or someone you know has one that needs covering, the trauma nurses are holding more sales on the following dates:

Emanuel Hospital Atrium: 2801 N Gantenbein Ave - Portland, Oregon

June 26th (That's tomorrow!)
July 17th
August 14th

Legacy Mt. Hood Medical Center Kids Fair: 24800 SE Stark St. - Gresham, Oregon

Saturday September 13, 2007 10 am to 2 pm

Helmets sizes in toddler to adult. Spread the word.

Two old family friends showed up and I settled their helmets over their considerable cushions of hair and they left smiling. I fussed around the tiny head of the most patient two year old I've ever seen. I met 'mystery black guy rider' Ernie, who I see around in the neighborhood but never actually got to meet. I hope the little guy (maybe 8 or 9) with dreadlocks eventually submitted to a fitting--when I got distracted with another customer, his dad was lecturing him about how he couldn't 'be like the racers' unless he had a helmet. The first person we met when we arrived was Nancy, a feisty red head who was in charge of taking the $Lincolns. Later, she was outted as Janis McDonald's mom--no wonder she was so cool. Jess wound up on the channel 6 news (0:58).

Time flew by and before I knew it, our shift was over and the sun was starting to peek out of the clouds. By the time we made it back onto the route, it was truly a summer day. The streets were completely packed with happy people. We bought a few baked goods for Obama, ran into people we knew and thanked all the cops at the major intersections who waved us through, while pausing the auto traffic.

Over at the SEI stop, we said hey to our Little Red Bike friends Evan and Ali and I discovered the African American Outdoors group (my people at last? Maybe...) Our last stop before the route re-opened was the Kaiser stop, where we sat in the city maintenance truck to get a perspective from life on the other side. It was good to get an idea of what truckers see (or don't see) as we share the roads.

I will definitely be writing and agitating to the proper folks to get another one of these going ASAP. Maybe one day we can be like Bogota, Columbia and have millions of people taking back the streets to play every Sunday.

Thank you Portland, may we have another?

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