Organizers believe that safety measures will allow participants to have fun without getting sick.
The Providence Bridge Pedal is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary this weekend. While some feared that Portland's annual celebration of biking and bridges would be put on hiatus again due to the pandemic, organizers say the event can go on safely. With a little help from the participants.
Here's what you need to know about the annual Providence Bridge Pedal and its efforts to keep participants safe.
For those who might not know, the Providence Bridge Pedal is an institution in Portland.
This annual fundraising event is the only opportunity each year for cyclists to bike over the upper decks of the Marquam and Fremont Bridges. The bridges are closed to cars allowing Bridge Pedal participants to take in the fantastic views from the top.
This year's event is raising money for the "Better Outcomes thru Bridges" (BOB) program, one of Providence's most innovative programs. According to the event website:
The Better Outcomes thru Bridges (BOB) Programs focus on serving some of our most vulnerable patients. Our goal is to empower individuals on their journey toward better well-being by engaging with compassion, dignity and integrity. Using our own Collaborative Community Approach Model of care, the BOB team walks alongside clients to help ease their way literally and figuratively meeting clients where they are at. The Collaborative Community Approach Model focuses on using a person-centered approach, working collaboratively with our community partners and inclusive relationships that serve entire communities in which we work."
The Bridge Pedal is actually multiple events, including longer rides for more experienced cyclists, a "family-friendly" ride focused on the downtown bridges, and a special three-mile ride for the youngsters. But it's not all bikes, the event also includes the "Providence Bridge Stride", a five-mile walk crossing both the Marquam Bridge and the Tilikum Crossing.
Thousands of participants from the Portland area are expected to be involved in one or more of the events. This weekend's cooler weather is expected to encourage a flurry of last-minute sign-ups. After multiple weeks of hot weather, temperatures in downtown Portland are expected to be in the mid-70s for this Sunday's event.
With the Delta variant of the coronavirus raging through the state, fans of the Bridge Pedal may wonder if it's safe to participate in this year's event. After seeing the horrifying images of unmasked crowds at Lollapalooza in Chicago last weekend, that concern is well justified.
Fortunately, the organizers have been working hard to make this year's Providence Bridge Pedal as safe as possible. To that end, the Providence Bridge Pedal has made the following changes:
- Even though the event is outdoors, participants are "strongly encouraged" to wear a mask and adhere to social distancing at the registration area. Masks are also encouraged while waiting in the group corrals for the event to start.
- Organizers have adjusted the event start times and the configuration of the start line queues to minimize crowding.
- "Rest stop" volunteers will be masked and gloved as they offer refreshments, and participants are encouraged to bring their own water bottles to decrease the use of aid stations.
- Finish line activities have been significantly reduced.
- Participants are encouraged to be fully vaccinated.
In addition to pandemic safety precautions, participants should also use safe riding practices including: wearing a bike helmet, ensuring that bike tires are properly inflated, following the rule of the road, and being extra mindful of crowds that may include children and less experienced cyclists.
For Portlanders not involved in the event, expect to have delays on area roads, bridges, and freeways until at least noon. Portland bridges will be impacted as follows:
- St. Johns: will remain open in both directions
- Fremont: upper deck will be closed until at least noon
- Broadway: will remain open in both directions
- Steel: will be closed in both directions until at least noon
- Burnside: will remain open
- Morrison: will have lane restrictions until at least 11 a.m.
- Hawthorne: eastbound lanes will be closed until around 11:30 a.m.
- Marquam: upper deck will be closed until 11 a.m.
- Ross Island: westbound lanes will be closed until 10:30 a.m.
- Sellwood: travel lanes will be open, but the north sidewalk is closed until 9:30 a.m.
- Tilikum Crossing: will open to bikes, pedestrians, and TriMet vehicles
For more information about the Providence Bridge Pedal, check out their website.
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