80-degree temps brought out a huge crowd to the Thursday Night Ride (called “TNR” by the regulars) last night. I hadn’t been since October and I wanted to be there as a witness to history. Last night’s ride was #52, as in the 52nd week in a row that people have come together to ride bikes on the streets of Portland.
Last night was TNR’s first anniversary.
If you’ve ever tried to build a movement or been involved with street activism you know how hard it is to keep something going every single week for an entire year. That’s why I’m happy to report that TNR is here to stay and its spirit and purpose has never been stronger. In many ways it holds a similar place in the local bike scene as critical mass once did but without all the radical politics and police presence. It’s where anyone who likes to ride bikes can show up and find acceptance and friendship. It’s where less confident riders can feel what researchers and advocates call “safety in numbers.” And it’s an event you can rely on because it happens on the same day (Thursday), at the same time (7:00 pm) and at the same place (Salmon Street Fountain) every week.
Organizers says positivity is paramount. Here’s how ride founder Nathan Jones (of Ride Yr Bike bike shop) lays out the vibe and rules:
Thursday Night, the streets are ours. Come one, come all! Bring yr bike and your enthusiasm!!! We are going to RIDE, nice and easy in a big chill group. Slow pace, taking the main streets in the inner city, through downtown and around the main streets of N, NE, and SE. There will be a beer/snack/restroom stop near the end of the ride.
We are out to have fun, to celebrate life. We are out to get bikes into the street. Bring your friends, bring your excitement!!!
A MASS OF BIKES, OUT TO HAVE FUN.
EVERY THURSDAY WE DO THIS.
Rule #1 No complaining about the rules
Rule #2 Don’t be a jerk
Rule #3 Pack out all waste
Rule #4 Stay behind the ride leader
Rule #5 Don’t play chicken with oncoming traffic in any capacity
Rule #6 Don’t overtake cars, stay with the group behind vehicles
Rule #7 Be especially attentive if you are at the front of the pack
Rule #8 You not only represent the group, you represent my bike shop, see Rule #2
Rule #9 Newer riders, slower riders, and people who are chill by default roll at the front
Mutual respect is the law of the land. Respect each other and respect yourself! Make sure everyone gets home SAFE. We are out to bring positivity!
It should be noted that, unlike critical mass, TNR stops at red lights. That might be because the goal of this ride isn’t to make a statement to people who are driving, it’s about enjoying our streets with other bike riders in a safe and positive environment. In other words its purpose is internal, not external.
As usual the ride massed at Salmon Street Fountain. As the crowd thickened I walked around and talked to as many people as I could. I chatted with several old friends who I’ve seen at similar events over the years; but I also met a bunch of people. They were so much different the crowd you see at many other group bike rides in Portland. They were diverse in every way: skin color, fashion sense, body type, bike style, age, and so on. It was very refreshing to see all these new faces at a completely grassroots, unsanctioned, mass bike ride!
The presence of the people in the photos below is proof that TNR is living up to its goals:
And the crowd was very solid. Probably a few hundred people – enough to easily fill up the entire roadway for a block or two. We rode on Naito then up the ramp to the Morrison Bridge and onto SE Belmont. I peeled away and headed home at that point but the group rode over to Hawthorne and then ended up on the Waterfront for a post-ride chill session.
Here are a few shots of the crowd:
Big thanks to the leaders in our community who have made this ride happen every week. It’s an essential piece of the foundation of cycling in Portland and I hope it never stops.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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