Portland Parks & Rec considers ‘Unicycle Bastards’ on park paving stone

Portland Parks & Rec considers ‘Unicycle Bastards’ on park paving stone

Kidical Mass - August-26.jpg

Jeff Lauten, shown here with his
daughter at the site of the future Harper’s
Playground, where he hopes to donate a
paving stone with his club’s name on it.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Unicycle Bastards, a local unicycle riding club, wants to help build Harper’s Playground in north Portland’s Arbor Lodge Park. The group came up with $260 to purchase a paving stone in the forthcoming playground; but their request was denied when Portland Parks & Recreation felt uncomfortable with printing the word “Bastards” in a children’s area of the park.

The club was informed of the decision last week and they have since requested an appeal of the decision.

Jeff Lauten, a 47-year-old Overlook Neighborhood resident and member of the Unicycle Bastards, says they think it’s unfair. “We’re just a small, old, silly group of unicycle riders,” he told me on the phone last week. “We love Harper [the young girl who the playground is being named after] and the playground and we just wanted to be a part of it.”

The effort to revamp the playground at Arbor Lodge park — and name it Harper’s Playground — has galvanized the community and enjoys broad support. Lauten has been going to the park for years with his 4 and 7-year-old children and he’s disappointed that he and his riding buddies can’t lend their name to the list of supporters. (Note: Unicycle Bastards is listed as a supporter on the playground’s website).


Unicycle riders at a cyclocross race in 2007 (Lauten is third from left).

Lauten says the group was first dubbed Unicycle Bastards in a film made by Burk Webb for the Filmed by Bike film festival in 2005. Since then, the group has grown to over a dozen core members. They meet to play unicycle polo regularly, they race in the Cross Crusade cyclocross series, they have participated in many Pedalpalooza rides, and Lauten — the group’s unofficial leader — was even named as a juror at Filmed by Bike this year (which is quite the honor in local bike scene circles).

Lauten says 12 of the Unicycle Bastards pitched in money for the $260 paving stone. “We’re not trying to cause trouble, that just happens to be our name. What if we were the Hell’s Angels?.. It seems unfair that we were shunned just because of a pretty tame word.”

PP&R media relations staffer Mark Ross says the adopt-a-paver application clearly states that “wording is subject to approval.” Ross says PP&R is in discussion with the executive director of Harper’s Playground, Cody Goldberg, about the issue.

“We realize that Unicycle Bastards means well and has only the best intentions,” Ross says, “But the site is a children’s playground; and wording is subject to approval.”

Lauten says they’d consider another name; but they really hope to keep Unicycle Bastards. They have filed an appeal with PP&R and the City is currently considering the appeal.

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