Disaster Relief Trials (overview) (wittco posted on April 23rd, 2012 )

DRT logo banner

In 2001, the Nisqually, Washington intraplate earthquake reminded the Pacific Northwest that we live in an earthquake zone. The 2011 Tohoku 9.0 earthquake, and the destruction that resulted, was another reminder. Most recently, the 6.9 in the Gulf of California that we live in an earthquake zone. We live with these reminders. Some people prepare. Others continue life as normal.

But normal life will not last forever.

In this Pedalpalooza event scenario, the Cascadia subduction zone fell, resulting in a 9.1 earthquake that spread quickly through the region, resulting in Portland area destruction and a tsunami that hammered the Oregon coast and felt as far as Japan.

It is day 4, your Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) just heard on the HAM radio that recovery supplies have been palleted and are ready for pick up, but obstacles exist. The transportation infrastructure is compromised and fuel is rationed or not accessible.

When this tragic event hits Portland, it will destroy a good deal of the city. However, because of preparation and organization, Portland will be ready with a powerful team for disaster relief, bringing with them supplies, food, medicine, communications, and support. Filling in the gaps between city and government aid, will be relief teams that will arrive by cargo bike.

The Cascadia earthquake will happen. The issue is whether we will be prepared. To start that conversation with real action, we have constructed the Disaster Relief Trials (DRT) event for Pedalpalooza 2012.

NET Bikes

Enthusiasm for the DRT has spread like … well … like the aftershock of an earthquake, but without the destruction, as people have posted their thoughts on this event: see the extended reading list at the end of this post.

We did not plan on sharing event details until early May, but given the interest we were pushed like … well … like a seagull caught in a tsunami, so we have endeavored to give you a glimpse of the particulars.

June 17, 2012
10 am – 6 pm
Location of start/finish is Velo Cult
1969 NE 42nd Avenue, 97213

Selected RIDERS can expect a 30+ mile course with challenges and a total payload weight of 100 pounds. Contact us to be a rider.

SPECTATORS can expect an entertaining and informative afternoon. Head out to one of the challenge locations and see how rider and bike face the situation. Hang out in the staging area to see the riders race off and return.

At the staging area, we will have disaster preparedness information from local organizations and groups. View the riders and bikes before and after the event. Several cargo bike shops and builders will be on-hand for test rides or information. Lots of photo opportunities. Food will be available through cargo bike related vendors.

The event is 100% KID FRIENDLY as many who use cargo bikes do so for family reasons.

THE COURSE, generally speaking
* Staging area at Velo Cult
* Head to Oregon Food Bank
* Down Marine Drive
* To Cathedral Park
* Over St. Johns Bridge
* Cross Burnside Bridge
* Arriving back at Velo Cult

There will be Obstacles:
* “Rubble” obstacle, forcing all riders to dismount and separate payload from vehicle
* Off-road section(s)
* Bumps and hassles

* Various food aid in boxes or buckets
* Medical aid
* Propane tank
* Fuel
* Tent/supplies

Disaster Relief Trials PDX

* Alley cat style, except all traffic laws must be followed
* Helmet mandatory
* “Cargo bike” means any bike that hauls cargo (clarified April 24)
* Trailers welcome (added April 24)
* Human powered
* Self-sufficiency, i.e., rider fixes all mechanical break-downs
* One rider, i.e., rider rides the whole course on same bike
* Pre-race bike safety check
* LeMans style start, with disaster-specific complication, causing riders to break up
* Two, 15-rider waves: Citizen Class (non-competitive), Open Class (competitive)
* Committed rider, rain or shine

If you are interested in being a rider or lending support, leave a message in the comments, or contact us at transportPDX[@]gmail[.]com

The out-pour of support and generosity from businesses and the bike community to make this event possible illustrates the enthusiasm that the Portland area has for its beloved cargo bikes.

Some of the riders this year (added May 22)

We will post four+ additional articles on this year’s Disaster Relief Trials: (a) specific course and payload, (b) riders and their bike set up, (c) invitation just before the event, and (d) a recap of the day’s adventure.

We will use the hash tag #DRTpdx (May 14, hashtag changed, thanks @TacomaBikeRanch) on the day of the event to communicate up-to-the-moment details. Sign up for our RSS/email feed to learn about this and future activities.

Extended reading list where Disaster Relief Trials is mentioned

Pedalpalooza calendar of the Disaster Relief Trials event

Joe Bike shared the idea and garnered interest among the cargo bike world

BikePortland followed with a focus on the Neighborhood Emergency Team

Bike Snob NY poked fun at Portland, twice, and then cited Portlandia

Homeland Security News Wire shared the vision

FOX12 television even gave the event a head nod
with some interesting comments below their post (worth checking out).

(added May 2) Emergency Management: Sustainable Practices Created Disaster Resiliency in Portland, Ore.

(added May 14) Map of Event

Anita, thank you for the subtle revisions (May 28)

27 Responses

  1. KYouell says:

    I’m in, in, IN! Citizen class, but very excited!

    I keep telling myself that this won’t be so bad as the kids are about 90lbs & I pedal them all the time, but the more I say in public I want to do it the more I worry that I’m asking too much of myself. Can you address the “oops, she bit off more than she can chew and realized 1/3 of the way through” fear?

    • wittco says:

      KYouell, there is no worry and no fear. You do what you can do and that allows for analysis, reflection, and conversation on what worked and did not work. In the end, it helps us all better prepare for being useful.

      In addition, the 100 pounds will be collected on the route so there will be mileage that is not loaded, and not fully loaded. A specific course and load list will come at a later time.

  2. Stacy Canterbury says:

    In a big subduction event, utility poles and live wires are likely to litter the streets. Has this likelihood been taken into account in the scenario? Not being critical, just curious.

    • wittco says:

      Stacy, great question, and the answer is “yes.” There are several spots that provide moderate to great challenge, signifying, in this first year event, some of the problems that would exist. To address your question specifically, there is a spot, after riding for awhile and having nearly all of the cargo, where the cargo will have to come off the bike, and the bike and cargo (separately) will have to go over a barrier several feet tall.

      We will provide specifics on these sorts of things in a future post on the course. Thanks for asking, and we appreciate your interest!

  3. Shetha says:

    Well, I’m thinking I should probably do this. Big pink should show people what she can do. (that’s not me – that’s the bike!) Also, just past the food bank is a prison which is right across the street from an armory. Are we supposed to be armed in preparation for this? Just curious…

  4. Matt says:

    This sounds awesome (and completely realistic.) I’ll be there representing the Tacoma bicycle community with my Xtracycle. Thanks.

    • wittco says:

      Yay! Matt will be there, in the horde, on the road, with his cargo bike, carrying a 100 pound load! T-town represents!

  5. Paul says:

    Hej Guys,

    that’s a fantastic idea to make a group of bicycle aided support for a catastrophie.

    keep the energy.

    • wittco says:

      Paul, thank you for the support. It has been quite a process for us. We have learned a great deal on how events are orchestrated. It has also been great to have so many people, shops, and companies throw in their support.

  6. [...] more: Disaster Relief Trials Overview [...]

  7. Ryan Good says:

    My cargo bike and I so want to ride in this! Let me know what I need to do.


    • wittco says:

      Ryan, we have a full group. Two groups of 15 each. However, there may be some drops or we may be able to do some wiggle room. We will contact you. Thanks for the interest. In the meantime, do you have any questions about the event and what is required of the rider?

  8. [...] Disaster Relief Trials 2012 overview _________________________________________________________________________ Words by Mike Cobb, co-organizer of DRT. Photo by Reuben Deumling (who appears in the photo) Tweet [...]

  9. [...] 17, Sunday, Disaster Relief Trials 10 am – pm http://transportland.org/2012/04/disaster-relief-trials-overview/ Velo Cult staging area Watch as riders leave to navigate a course to pick up supplies for disaster [...]

  10. [...] more information? Check out the Overview [...]

  11. [...] (Father’s Day!) there’s a Pedalpalooza event I’m really looking forward to: the Disaster Relief Trials (DRT). It’s been remarkable to watch how the event has gone from an idea among Portland’s [...]

  12. [...] inaugural Disaster Relief Trials (DRT) was a big success on many [...]

  13. [...] to help the local Emergency Management Department plan for potential disasters. For more info see here. Matt Newport took his family and his xtracycle to participate. You can find his report on his blog [...]

  14. [...] Blue of Taking the Lane and Joe Biel of Cantankerous Titles. This photo is from an event put on by TRANSPORTland. This has to be the best idea for a bike race ever. 30+ miles, with obstacles and 100 pounds of [...]

  15. [...] cargos ont défilé lors de la Parade Lumineuse de notre ville. Cet été, nous avons organisé les Disaster Relief Trials (exercices de secours sanitaire en cas de catastrophe naturelle). Durant ces épreuves, les [...]

  16. [...] It was an eerie devastation that was trumped by Sandy months later. There needs to be a talk about Disaster Relief with bicycles. These regions could have used some community cargo bike [...]

  17. [...] cargos ont défilé lors de la Parade Lumineuse de notre ville. Cet été, nous avons organisé les Disaster Relief Trials (exercices de secours sanitaire en cas de catastrophe naturelle). Durant ces épreuves, les [...]

  18. [...] down? Portland explored how bicycles could help in just such a scenario during last year’s Disaster Relief Trials and more recently in the real world, bikes played a big role in Sandy [...]

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