Friday, November 24, 2006

A sad thing and a happy thing on the same ride

Today an irresistible call pulled me to ride from NE to SE Portland, a route I've only ridden once before. (I’m usually riding from NE to NW, crossing the river.) My mission, should I choose to accept it, was to (1) work off some of yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner, and (2) get more of yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner. It only took forty minutes to get to my parents’ house. Last year I foolishly waited till Saturday to go over, by which time the other locusts had already descended and made off with all the leftovers – which to me are almost better than the actual dinner.

On the way there I saw a sad thing, on the way back a happy thing.

First the sad thing: Another ghost bike – on 42nd on Belmont. It was right on the bike route that’s marked on the bike maps as having very little car traffic. I don’t know the story, but it‘s discouraging to see that even in an area that appears to be safe, this can happen. This was right on the bike route that is shown on bike maps to have very little car traffic. If anyone knows anything about the circumstances of this accident, please post in the comments section.

Now the happy thing: another rickshaw. Only this one is so much more elegant than the one I wrote about last summer, which was fiberglass. This one was wood – no doubt much heavier, but immeasurably more beautiful. Most of the occupants of this amazing vehicle were scattered in the field in what looked like an extended-family soccer match.
Only this one kid that you see in the picture was there with it. She didn’t know the story behind it -- I think she said she and her family were visiting from out of town -- but obviously loved watching the game from this cozy nest.
I wish I could’ve talked to those people. Look at this thing! It looks like it even has wooden drawers that pull out of the back of it. I left them a note, and I’m hoping they’ll post a comment below with more information. And also, if they ever want to sell it, they should call me. I’m in the phone book. I would trade my car for this thing, right now.

PS: Any message posted to my blog gets emailed directly to me automatically.


At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad that we can't read others' comments anymore.

At 5:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Sorry to be so long getting back to you. Your note ended up in my pocket after that soccer game. We had to hose each other off from all the mud. Then it just missed the washing machine, wet but still legible. I think your site was down briefly when we first checked, then your note got buried on a cluttered desk.

The rickshaw is a becak (pronouned bay-shak or be-cak,I've heard both, accenting the second syllable). It is from Yogyakarta, Indonesia. We purchased it at a antique store here in town about ten years ago. Shortly thereafter, Lonely Planet published it's first coffee table book, called Chasing Rickshaws. Check it out at Powells, it has beautiful photography and profiles of rickshaws use in 7 or so Asian cities.

I'm impressed with your site and your observations of bike/car culture. I had the same leaf-day street awakening feeling the other day also. I've been bike commuting every day for over ten years now and could think of no other way.

The rickshaw often draws comments, and sometimes I have to bite my tongue when some describe in terms as a toy. I'd rather it be viewed as transportation and try to use it as such. It's a great get-around the-neighborhood vehicle. In one regular period, I used it to take my son to preschool a while back. I'd love to see more rickshaws cruising around. NE & SE Portland are good places since it's mostly flat. I've taken it downtown but there's more gradient there than you think. I admired a gentlemen name Jean Poulot a while back who had a short lived pedicab business in Portland. He told me his drivers did their best business in the Cirque de Soleil parking lot toting guest between their cars and the tent.

No, our becak is not for sale. A while back there were some available the basement of Cargo, a shop in the Pearl District. Each was badly need of repair and a little overpriced (more decorative than functional). Even ours required some extensive work to get it running smoothly. Check around on ebay if your're really interested.

Keep riding and writing

George Gardner


Post a Comment

<< Home