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Neighborhood "Bike Bus"

Early in April, Sam (Coach) Balto asked me to help him out with an April 22, Earth Day event he was planning. I had never heard of a “Bike Bus” so was intrigued and agreed to lend a hand wherever he needed me. The day before the event, Sam dropped of a vest and school flag used by the crossing guards by Alameda Elementary – causing me to reminisce about my actual crossing guard days just a short 60 years ago. To say the least, I didn’t fit into the vest all that well, but it served the purpose.

At 8:00 AM, I planted myself at the corner of Alameda and Fremont to aid any participants meeting up with the main group a block south at Klickitat. The first couple of child /parent groups were very appreciative of having me help out with crossing Fremont; I think my presence gave a little extra formality to the start of their adventure. In addition, some early morning biking stalwarts coming up from Klickitat gave me some warning that I was in for a treat.

After helping 6 more groups cross Fremont, I biked south on Alameda to join up with the “Bus”. I heard the music before seeing the full crowd of more than a hundred or so folks on their bikes, reacting to words of encourage and an Earth Day message led by Coach Balto. You could feel the excitement, as the participants fed off the great turnout and energy generated, as well as the neighbors that came out to take pictures and cheer on the “Bike Bus”. So off we went following Coach Balto as “Happy” by Pharrell blazed from the amp on the back of his bike. I stayed behind with younger riders who weren’t ready to take on the hill on Klickitat and trust their braking skills, and opted to walk their bikes down the hill. Therefore, I got the full view of the group stretched out over three blocks of Klickitat on their way to Alameda School, a truly impressive sight.

One purpose of the event was to give some kids confidence on biking to school, as well as, connecting this activity to helping the planet to a healthier future --- from what I saw – the “Bus” ride was more than a little successful.

Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland

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