Bikes. Me. Columbia City. Tomorrow.

By Erica C. Barnett June 24, 2009

The Cascade Bicycle Club will be hosting two screenings of VEER, the new film about Portland bike culture, tomorrow night at the Columbia City Cinema, 4816 Rainier Ave S. at 6:30 and 9 pm. Proceeds from the event ($10) will benefit Cascade's Major Taylor Project, which aims to "create a multicultural bicycling community where teenagers have equal opportunity to spend time outdoors and on a bicycle," according to Cascade's web site.

In between, I'll be part of a panel discussion on bike culture in Portland and Seattle, along with Cascade Bicycle Club uber-lobbyist David Hiller and VEER filmmaker Greg Fredette. This panel's especially timely for me, given that I crashed in a pothole on poorly maintained Jackson Street just yesterday (thanks, SDOT!)

VEER is a mixed bag—if you hate PBR-swilling white hipsters, you won't be a fan of the "subculture" segments, which feature downhill races on minibikes, tall-bike jousting and chariot duels, and a synchronized bike-dancing team called The Sprockettes.

Fortunately, those segments are offset by some smart reporting on folks who are trying to make Portland and Oregon as a whole friendlier to cyclists, including Gabe Graff of the Community Cycling Center (slogan: "The bicycle is a tool for empowerment and a vehicle for change"), which runs Bike Camp for kids. There's also a fascinating narrative about the fight in the Oregon legislature to pass the vulnerable users roadway law, which increases the penalty for hurting or killing a cyclist while driving recklessly.

One question I hope will come up during the discussion: Why, if Oregon bike advocates managed to pass the vulnerable user's law by an overwhelming margin, has it been so hard for a similar bill sponsored by Joe McDermott to even get a hearing in Olympia?
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