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Celebrate Bike Day in Eugene

June 6th, 2008 by dk

Published Friday, June 6, 2008 in The Register-Guard.

Each of us has our own version of Melissa’s story.

“I ride my bike to work most days. Winter mornings it’s often dark and sometimes rainy,” she told me at a Christmas party. “Last week I had to wait for a train. There must have been almost a dozen of us waiting on the path, in rain gear, in the dark, riding to work. I love that so many people use that bike path, every day, every season.”

Live here long enough and you begin to collect stories that this is not just any place — that this is a special place, a place unlike other places.

Bicycling is one of the healthiest alternatives we promote in Eugene. It’s not hard to find people who wish we did more, and there are occasional reminders like we had this week that helmets and other precautions are always a good idea. But bicycling remains a core value for Eugene.

We have more bridges for bicyclists and pedestrians than any town our size. As the new I-5 span over the Willamette River enters the design phase, we can only hope it will be as distinctive as the bridge that soon will connect bikers and walkers over I-5 between the Cal Young neighborhood and the Gateway area.

Willie Knickerbocker was such an avid bicyclist, one of those bridges got named after him, thanks to a campaign led by Register-Guard columnist Don Bishoff in 1978. Former mayor Ruth Bascom never wavered from her passion for bicycling over decades, and the riverfront path Melissa uses that now bears the Bascom name. It is the mayor’s most lasting legacy.

For some, including former Eugene City Councilor Paul Nicholson, bicycling is more than a mode of transportation. It’s a “Way of Life” and builds many sturdy local businesses. I’ve heard KLCC-FM’s Sunday evening jazz host Jeffery Ogburn apologize when he can’t play a listener’s request because his only copy of the recording is on LP and it wouldn’t fit neatly in his bike bag.

I’ve seen people carrying vacuum cleaners, empty aquariums, and spare bicycles on their bicycles. If Dr. Suess had ever written a book about bicycling, he couldn’t have made it more fantastic than a regular day in Eugene.

Therein lies the rub. What we see every day begins to claim the title of normal, and normal isn’t normally celebrated, no matter how abnormal it is.

Thank goodness for the Science Factory, where this Saturday they host the fourth annual Bike Day. If it has pedals and wheels, it will be celebrated during the all-day affair. Proving even bicyclists can celebrate diversity, the McCornack Elementary School unicyclists will lead the bike parade at 1:45.

Whatever your flavor of biking, your age or skill, the organizers have made it a point to include all things bicyclish. It starts with human power. The Boy Scouts will be there in the morning to serve pancakes, Ben & Jerry’s will be doling out free ice cream. Bicycle-powered smoothies will be available throughout the day.

Mayor Kitty Piercy and State Senator Floyd Prozanski will attend. A cycling racing team and a synchronized bike dancing troupe will perform. The BMX track will be open for all comers. The Eugene Police Department will register bikes against theft. Local bike shops will offer free bike safety checks. The local Joe’s Store will give away bike helmets. The Girl Scouts have built a bike safety rodeo, with prizes for every participant who completes the course. (The prizes are bicycle flashers and reflectors, donated by Lane Transit District. Education wrapped in entertainment — it’s the Science Factory way.) LTD is bringing a bus-mounted bike rack, so people can learn how to use it away from traffic, busy commuters, and other distractions.

Everybody’s gearing up. All day Saturday near Autzen Stadium. It’s healthy, sustainable, fun, and oh-so-Eugene.

After Melissa told me her only-in-Eugene story about how she loved that bike path, I had my own to tell, because Ruth Bascom was in the next room. I introduced them and watched them swap stories. I love being in a town where everybody gets invited to the same parties.


Don Kahle ( uses every mode of transportation except skateboarding from his home in south Eugene. He blogs right here and continues to collect only-in-Eugene stories wherever he goes.

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