Bipedal by Pedal #3: a History of Bicycle Activism in Portland, Oregon by Joe Biel

Okay ,so I do not bike, like, I really, actively do not bike. It is very not my thing ever at all because I would die. But I also live in Minneapolis, city of Bike People, and I volunteer at a bike-positive bookstore, so???? I am surrounded. It is semi-terrible, and sometimes I want to scream that having a bike is not a replacement for having a real personality, but ugh, whatever. Biking is good for the world, just not the whole world, remember that.

Fortunately, this zine (which was part of a package, not something I set out to buy), is not all about biking! It is also about how terrible the police are, which is way more interesting than biking! I mean, that’s terrible, but it was better to read about. This is focused on the Critical Ride happenings in Portland, and how the police being terrible lead these to stop happening. The police did all sorts of things like mess with people, and spy on groups. Apparently there is a division inside the Portland police that dates back to the red scare, and they got interested in Critical Ride, because bicyclists are so evil right? Bicyclists are basically terrorists and should be treated as such. Especially bicyclists who were also involved in protesting George W. Bush and other stuff. Apparently the way the police were spying on the bike people was illegal at the time, and they won a settlement, but also it probably would have been fine now under the patriot act? Which is hilariously sad.

The most interesting parts of the zine was looking at different examples of how police have infiltrated different organizations. It’s very funny/sad, and makes me feel really justified about being paranoid, which is probably Not Good for the world, but oh well. Honestly, conspiracy theory can be very comforting!

Bottom line: this is interesting if you like bikes or stories about organizing. If you’re into both bikes and organizing than this is the book for you! If you only like one then meh, it’s alright. It’s just a little zine, and it has some interesting information, and is all presented very clearly. Being a biker person is still not a replacement for having an actual personality! But it’s definitely possible to bike and organizing about bikes and that can be important work! But not actually important or threatening enough that the police should be spying on you, that’s just fucked up.

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