The City of Tigard is planning a major, region-wide “mock emergency” exercise on Thursday and they want to include cargo bikes. Tara Harper, a consultant working on the event, was inspired by her involvement with the Disaster Relief Trials in Portland last summer and says cargo bikes would be uniquely suited to the task.
The exercise is based on a bioterrorism attack that creates a massive public health emergency. The entire population will be at risk unless they receive medicine that’s doled out at a “Point of Dispensing station”. Tigard will test the POD station concept for the first time on Thursday and officials from many other regional jurisdictions will be on hand to observe it. The medicine would be flown in from other areas and the challenge is to get the boxes of treatments and supplies to the POD stations as fast as possible. With traffic jams and other unforeseen circumstances, vehicles are needed that can operate regardless of traffic conditions.
“Everyone’s going to die if they don’t get medicine,” Harper shared today, “I have to have backup plans. Traffic might be snarled and I need a way to get around traffic and cargo bikes can easily ride around traffic jams and ride on bike paths.” The cargo biking volunteer would be dispatched to a helipad on the outskirts of town where they’d pick up boxes of medicine and deliver them to a POD station.
Harper said she’s looking for at least one cargo bike operator to be participate in the exercise; but so far she hasn’t found anyone on the west side. “I’d really like to have the ability to demonstrate the use of cargo bikes and not just say to the commanders, ‘We could use bikes but I couldn’t find anyone to volunteer.'” Harper said she loved the concept of using bicycles in disaster response situations after seeing it first-hand at last June’s Disaster Relief Trials. In an emergency, Harper says, “Bikes are one of the best individual grassroots resources you can have.”
If you’d like to participate in this exercise, contact Tara Harper at via email at until [at] tarakharper [dot] com or call her at (503) 545-8140.