Bicycles Could Save the Day – and Bring Your Community Together

A recent cycling event in Eugene-Springfield, Oregon highlights how being creative and thinking outside the box could make all the difference during disaster recovery.

According to The Register-Guard, 60 cyclists got together on Oct. 11 for the second annual Disaster Relief Trials. This event was first held in Portland in 2012 and has since spread to Seattle, Boulder, San Francisco and even Victoria, B.C.

The riders were challenged to stop at seven checkpoints and do various things – resuscitate a dummy, drag litter, transport supplies, etc.

The scene was set with barriers, rubble on the streets and real-disaster necessities like IV bags and water jugs for transportation.

Essentially, it was a chance for cyclists to see what they could do in the wake of a real disaster with just a bicycle.

People rode in different categories – with different challenges – including the family “survival” class, where 15 cyclists carried a child or two for 10 miles, and the extreme “responder” class, where 13 cyclists each wheeled 200 pounds of cargo (jugs of water, pumpkins, saturated grain, car tires, IV bags, etc.) for 30 miles, according to The Register-Guard.

Andre LeDuc, a cyclist who oversees emergency management at the University of Oregon, told The Register-Guard that bicycles already have proven useful during Hurricane Sandy in New York and during the earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan.

LeDuc also said Eugene can expect a big Cascadia subduction zone quake.

“We know it’s going to happen,” he told the paper. “We know we’re going to be – as communities – on our own for a significant amount of time, so to have a bike corps is going to be critical. [The trials] are getting people aware they can play a role post disaster,” said LeDuc.

Another cyclist, Alex Hongo, said in the article that the success of the Disaster Relief Trials is due to Pacific Northwesterners’ “deep-seated belief that we’re headed toward some sort of war, famine, zombies, aliens, disease, economic collapse, whatever.”

According to the article, “the cyclists pedaled an astounding array of bikes, including long tails, short tails, cycle trucks, counter points and Dutch-style bikes with buckets in front. All were human powered; three had an electric assist – a little motor in a hub to give them an extra oomph on hills. Several were of their rider’s own design.”

Though the idea of disaster-recovery is serious, people had fun with the event – some even dressed up as superheroes, cycling in capes. Some participants also biked with their children.

Peter Berra, a bike consultant with Green Gears, brought his three-year-old daughter along for the ride. He told The Register-Guard it’s good to know what you can do for your family.

“If you can’t get gas and it’s a disaster,” he said, “you can haul your family out. You can haul groceries. You can haul water – whatever you need to do.”

The event proved a great opportunity for a community to unite and improve its disaster preparedness in a creative, fun way.


For more information, see the original article here: