disaster relief, events, press, What a Bike Can Do

KGW.com: Bikes can be key part of response in Portland disaster

PORTLAND — When Hurricane Sandy turned out the lights on the city that never sleeps, Jonathon Maus knew he had just the way to navigate Manhattan — his bicycle.

“There’s no subways, there’s no buses and the car gridlock was just terrible so getting around by bike was just a fantastic way,” said the founder of the popular bikeportland.org blog. “It was the most reliable transportation.”

Maus in New York for a convention and learned what many Japanese learned during their devastating earthquake 18 months ago. When roads are wiped out, supplies scarce, bikes might be your only lifeline. More: Maus writes about the 1st day New Yorkers go back to work

The bad news, Portland is set for the same size quake as Japan.

The good news, without knowing it, Portland might be one of the most prepared cities for such a disaster, especially with the abundance of cargo bikes that everyday haul kids and groceries.

Cargo bike enthusiasts have formed a disaster response group called Neighborhood Emergency Teams, or NET.

Ethan Jewett, a NET member, showed KGW how a cargo bike can be set up.

“We’ve rigged this bike up as a first response bike. You have the stretcher on it and the first aid in the back.”

Jewett will be on the front lines of a Portland disaster in a city that has quickly devolved into one that lacks basic amenities.

“Water mains will be broken, the fuel supplies will not come in, folks will essentially be camping out,” Jewett said.

The city of Portland is encouraging more NET teams, with more cargo bikes, and more volunteers to get the training and disaster supplies. A basic cargo bike runs about $1000, and the emergency gear several hundred more.

“It will translate into a more resilient community, one that can essentially take the shock of having our everyday luxuries interrupted,” said Jewett.

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