Beyond Bikestravaganza

So that’s it! Our tour ended last night in Pittsburgh on a high note. A packed event with good humored bike fans at the library ended with a ride on paths and city streets across town to a bicycle themed bar.

Want to revisit our presentation? Or did you miss the event and want a taste of what went down? Joe made this 20 minute movie of the tour, including some talking points, audience questions and declamations, and scenic shots of South Dakota.

Want to check out the other movies we showed? You can watch Martinis in the Bike online here, or buy the DVD (including more of Joe’s short films on non-bicycle subjects) here.

The trailer for Aftermass, Joe’s documentary-in-progress about Critical Mass is here. Watch for the movie release in the next year!

Were you smitten with the nerdy bike activists in Portland who take to the streets with cell phones and measuring sticks to educate themselves about lane widths and call in problems? Here’s that movie. (On a side note, we were charmed to learn that the week after we met Reno a new advocacy group was formed by people who were inspired by that part of our presentation there. Sweet!)

If you were struck by the scrappy People’s Department of Transportation and their battle against walls everywhere, you can see that first movie about the wall here, and a more in-depth follow-up with a neighborhood leader here. Stay tuned for more exciting developments on that front!

As for the photo presentation, that’s an offline only affair, but here’s a set of photos covering all things bicycle in Portland. Many of these were included in the presentations. You can also check out the photos I took in many of our stops on tour here. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like more information, are trying to track down a particular picture, or want to use photos for anything.

On the reading front, you can order Joe’s Bipedal, By Pedal zines about Critical Mass here, and Elly’s Taking the Lane zine on feminist topics in bicycling here. Thanks for supporting independent publishing along with bike fun!

We had a blast meeting you all and finding out all the different possibilities that bicycle friendliness can take across the country. Keep up the inspiring work, and stay in touch!

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Upcoming events out east (Updated)

Just a quick post to give y’all a heads-up on the three events during our east coast post-tour tour.

In Baltimore it looks like we’ll have two events on Wednesday 9/22. Our first event is a brown bag lunch:

Bikestravaganza lunchtime talk
Wednesday, September 22, 1pm-2pm
Rangos Building (855 North Wolfe St), Room 490
on the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus
This event will be FREE and is sponsored by the Graduate Students Association (GSA) and the Leadership Initiative for the Environment (LIFE) at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
(Non-Hopkins attendees are welcome; please sign in with the security guard downstairs.)

Our second Baltimore event will be in the evening:

Bikestravaganza! Off the Chainring in Baltimore
Wednesday, Sept 22, 6pm-8pm
The Windup Space, 12 W North Ave
$3-10 sliding scale at the door
(Facebook event listing here.)

…and we’ll be in Pittsburgh the next week:

Bikestravaganza! Off the Chainring in Pittsburgh
Wednesday, September 29th, 6-7:30pm
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 4400 Forbes Ave
Free; sponsored by Carnegie Library and BikePittsburgh
Followed by a bike ride to a fun destination.
(Facebook event here!)

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Back on solid ground


It’s good to be home! We wrapped up tour last night with a great crowd of friendly Portlanders. Joe played his 20 minute tour movie (it’ll be up online at some point) and some shorts, Evan and Melissa of Boneshaker Almanac did a crowd pleasing essay reading, and I showed pictures and sweated at people’s tough questions about what Portland can learn from other cities (join groups! don’t hate! support your local bike project!). The folks at Madison’s were super sweet, and a steady stream of familiar, smiling faces were the icing on the cake. Thanks, Portland!

We’ll be here for a week. And then it’s back out into the world, on the train this time, to the east coast to visit friends, sell books, and, of course, talk about bikes.

That’s right, we’re eking a little more tour out of this summer. This is our decompression trip. All the whirlwind driving and biking and talking and people and hospitality and adventure requires a gentle letdown. You all were good to us out on the road! Thank you so much. You know who you are.

When we aren’t holding down the Microcosm table at the Baltimore Book Fair, we’ll probably be riding bikes around that charming, difficult city. Or just cooking and relaxing and enjoying the company of old friends. We’ll also probably do an event or two, along the lines of tour—more details coming soon as that comes together.

Then we’ll head to Pittsburgh to visit another good friend and also to do an event at the library. Here are the details:

Bikestravaganza! Off the Chainring in Pittsburgh
Wednesday, September 29th, 6-7:30pm
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 4400 Forbes Ave
Hosted by Carnegie Library and BikePittsburgh
Followed by a bike ride to a fun destination!
Feel free to RSVP via Facebook

After that, we get right back on Amtrak for another four days of writing, editing, scheming, and looking contemplatively out the window. And then we’ll really be home.

Oh yeah, and you can watch some of the movies Joe showed on tour here, here, and here, and check out a bunch of my tour photos here.

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Snapshots of bike culture in unlikely places

The shop truck at Free Cycles in bike-friendly Missoula, Montana

We’re about halfway through our tour of what we’ve been calling the Upper West and one clever friend has more aptly dubbed Outdoorsia.

Along the way, we’ve been compiling photos, video clips, issues, and ideas from each town and city. We’ll present what we’ve learned back in Portland on September 10th. One thing I can say for sure is that no city—and no event—has been quite like any other. The most thriving and well-rounded bike scene so far has been Spokane, where the last three years have seen a huge boom in ridership, advocacy initiatives, and the all-important bike fun.

We were most surprised by the thriving scene in tiny Spearfish, SD, where fifty people turned out to ride vintage cruisers and homemade tall bikes jubilantly around town before settling down to hear about Portland bike infrastructure and plan the future of their own own over rootbeer floats with homemade ingredients (and in handmade mugs, no less!).

I’m writing this from our venue in Fort Collins, Colorado: Matter Bookstore, a volunteer-run book shop inside the ultra-bikey Bean Cycles coffeeshop. Bicycle art everywhere, a snazzy display advertising our event, bicycles and books covering the walls.

We’ve been hearing about Fort Collins’s famous bike culture since Cheyenne (and Portland bike funnists are well acquainted with the great folks at FC’s local New Belgium Brewing). A walk around earlier this afternoon took us past a Bike Library, a vibrant carfree commercial area, and more bike parking per block than I’ve ever seen.

It looks like we’re in for more serious, homegrown bike fun next week in Provo, Utah. And who knows what else we’ll find?

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Ten states in thirty days: The video

Joe made us a commercial!

(Higher resolution version here.)

You can find our schedule here and more details about what we’re doing here.

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Off the Chainring, Live in Minneapolis

It wasn’t planned this way, but it worked out that we got to take a mini-tour before our tour. Three weeks ago we took the train out to Minneapolis for this year’s Twin Cities Zine Fest. This was the trial run for our Bikestravaganza program, and we were relieved to find that it went smoothly. “The best program Zine Fest has ever had,” is how the organizer described it. And we had a blast!

We ran through our presentation, telling the story of the bicycle movement and recent transportation activism in Portland with photos and movies. A panel of four local bicycling advocacy rock stars joined us to discuss their work and Minneapolis’s rise to be anointed as the best bicycling city in the U.S.

The panelists covered the spectrum of the bike scene, including representatives of the statewide advocacy organization and a local community bike repair project. We were especially inspired by the work of Browning the Green, an organization of Latinos and Latinas working on environmental causes including bicycling. “Being able to focus on a single issue is a privilege,” pointed out speaker Jose Luis, describing his organization’s boundary-redefining efforts to train and encourage Latina teens to become bike mechanics. Continue reading

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Living in the future

The big news is that science fiction has come true and Amtrak has wifi. Not on all the trains or all the cars but here I am posting this as we hurtle up the California coast.

As for the tour, things are rolling right along. Individual events are starting to shape up, with each one reflecting the particular interests and character of each town. We’re looking forward to proving on this tour that there’s no such thing as a bicycle monoculture. In Bellingham, our event will be powered by a bicycle generator at a restaurant that specializes in raw, organic food. In Olympia we’ll be at the public library and in Cheyenne the parks & rec department Greenway Committee is hosting us. Meanwhile, in Missoula we’re hoping to confirm a bike shop to host our regular program and the next day we’ll join forces with a punk show. We’re hoping our broad appeal will help bring people together who have a common cause but might not otherwise meet in the course of everyday life.

I’m updating our events listing daily; some of these dates are coming together rapidly and others are staggering along, waiting for someone to step up and help us organize. If you can help us make things happen—anything from telling your friends to helping us find a venue and sponsorship—in any of these cities, please do get in touch.

We now have a beautiful poster designed by Microcosm in-house drawist Matt Gauck. You can download a smaller version to print out, or send your address and we’ll mail you a bundle of large ones. The poster is the same for every stop, with a white space at the bottom to add local details. Downloads, links, information, and everything else you’ll need to help publicize each Off the Chainring stop are on our press page. Thanks for helping spread the word!

And on a final note, we have a google map of our tour! See how it looks below the jump… Continue reading

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What’s in store on the Bikestravaganza tour?

Here’s a sneak peek at what you’ll see when the Off the Chainring tour comes through your town. Continue reading

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The Off the Chainring Tour is coming to your town!

Join our traveling bikestravaganza for an evening of bike talk, bike zines, and short movies about transportation activism! We’ll share ideas and inspiration about bike stuff in Portland, in your town, and in other places. Our focus is on bikes but also the big picture: buses, trains, walking, freeways, cars, housing, affordability, what works and what doesn’t.

Joe Biel presents a series of 3 minute videos highlighting the work of PDOT and talks about ways we can impact transportation infastructure in any town. He’ll also play new selections from his upcoming documentary, Aftermass, about Portland bike activism in the last five years (you can help the feature become a reality by supporting it on Kickstarter).

Elly Blue has a slideshow and talk about how Portland got to be one of the best places to bike in the US and also how much farther we have to go. Highlighted are the people, groups, organizations, businesses, and events that created the city’s famed bike culture, and discussion of how all these things and more could happen in Anywhere, Wyoming.

Dave Roche (joining us for the tour leg between Minot and SF only) warms all our hearts and minds through lighthearted stories followed by laughter. He reads stories from his various published works including his hit classic book On Subbing, newer zine About My Disappearance, and upcoming (!) unpublished (!!) works.

Oh yeah, and check out our list of tour dates. Want to talk about what’s going with bikes (or what isn’t)? Want to do something more wonky than Burning Man and more fun than the Rotary Club? Get in touch! We want to make some bike magic happen with you!

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