Bend Bikes in the time of COVID-19

People crossing many intersections on bike, by foot, or in a wheelchair no longer have to first push a pedestrian crossing button to cross the street in North and West Vancouver. Photo credit: North Shore News | Paul McGrath.

A time for change and transition.

Much like our community, Bend Bikes has been in the midst of a swirl of changes and transition. The beginning of 2020 began with countless volunteer hours by our board members who engaged with City staff, elected officials, active transportation advocates, Bend Bikes members, and really, anyone who would listen to advocate for the inclusion of meaningful and connected cycling infrastructure in the transportation bond. That all came to a screeching halt with the COVID-19 pandemic as City Council put off the transportation bond until May 2021.

In the midst of all of this, we have had some huge changes to our board of directors. As most folks already know, Ariel Mendez stepped down as the president of the board last June after being elected to the board of Bend Parks and Recreation District. Founding board member Lucas Freeman also stepped down from the board effective March 2020 after dedicating more than 6 years to making Bend Bikes the grassroots advocacy organization it is today. Luckily, Bend Bikes will still benefit from Lucas’ vast experience as he will stay plugged in as a volunteer with our advocacy team. 

In the wake of these departures, we are long overdue in welcoming LeeAnn O’Neill as the new president, Elisa Cheng as the new secretary, and Emily Eros as a new at-large board member. As a small all-volunteer grassroots advocacy organization, we are giving ourselves some grace during this time to rest, rebuild, and rebrand Bend Bikes as an advocacy organization and taking a break from some of our turnkey events like Bike the Bridges and Holiday Lights Ride.

Advocacy during a pandemic.

With warmer sunnier days and fewer cars on the road, we are seeing more families out riding bikes than ever before. Grab a pannier or throw a backpack on, make sure you pack your mask and hand sanitizer, and get a quick pick-me-up from your cabin fever by biking to the grocery store! Or take advantage of the new temporary pop up Stay Healthy Streets on our neighborhood greenways which will allow for physically distant walking, wheelchair rolling, jogging, and biking! Get some bonus points this week and celebrate Earth Day by wearing a plant/animal/insects/mythical creature costume while biking to any of these destinations and submit your photos to the Virtual Earth Day Parade by our friends over at The Environmental Center!

People biking on Slow Streets in Oakland. Photo credit: AP | Jeff Chiu.

In the meantime, we have reached out to the City to ask them to protect people who bike and walk by automating crosswalk signals and are always looking for ways that we can advocate for the safety of people who bike and walk in these times. Are you noticing excessive traffic on the Stay Healthy Streets? Are you seeing other communities implementing innovative pandemic policies that support and prioritize people who bike and walk? Shoot us an email at [email protected] and we will see what we can do!