Disaster Relief Trials – Cargo Bike Style

disaster bike

When it comes to being prepared for a disaster the unexpected could happen at anytime and at any moment and time of day or night, no matter what season of the year it is, Summer, Fall, Winter or even Spring – disasters are bound to happen, depending on which part of the United States or somewhere in the world, it’s a matter of time when.

A disaster is waiting to happen – are you prepared to survive three days without conventional food, water, medical help and professional assistance if a major disaster or were to hit the Eugene-Springfield, Lane County area unexpectantly?

Your likely answer is probably going to be, “no,” as many seem to say and think, it’ll never happen here in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1993, the upper Willamette Valley experienced one of the strongest earthquakes, just outside of Salem, Oregon in Scott’s Mills. It was later coined by geologist’s as, the “Spring Break Quake of ’93.”

On March 25th, during the early morning hours of 5:34 a.m. Pacific Time, a strong 5.6 magnitude earthquake rattled the Willamette Valley as the quake was largely felt as far away as Seattle, Washington and in the southern Willamette Valley in Eugene and Springfield, the Puget Sound in Washington – not to mention, Portland, Oregon also felt the ground move as many slept through the night and we’re awaken by the early morning jolt of earth.

The 45 second quake caused over $28 million in damages and no one was killed, but several people were treated at local hospitals for minor injuries after the quake.

2014 DRT flyer Last weekend, the Second Annual Disaster Relief Trials and Cargo Bike Fair was held at Alton Baker Park in Eugene. Participants in this year’s, Cargo Bike Fair and DRT’s showed the cities of Eugene-Springfield and Lane County, that bicycles and cargo bikes can be effective tools in the event of a disaster, any disaster according to Emergency Managers from Eugene and Springfield.

Emergency Managers say, “infrastructure in the event of a disaster can be severely snarled of directly cutoff from the outside world setting things back to the stone age, but having bicycles, especially cargo bikes can be an effective tool in a disaster for such needs as supplies, food and water to the effected areas that need them most.”

This year’s event netted nearly seventy participant riders registered for the various classes of Family, Citizen, Resilience and Responder classes in the trials that took more than thirty miles of race course and checkpoints throughout the city.

Not only was the DRT’s just an event, it was also a community event held at Alton Baker Park at the covered picnic shelters where a community fair in disaster preparedness and bicycle expo showcasing some of the local bicycle makers of cargo bikes were graciously displayed by local businesses.

With favorable weather for a Saturday morning stroll in the park and an afternoon cargo bike race, riders headed out under partly cloudy skies with mild fall temps and a nearly clear sky toward the end of the trials, all that mattered, the many who were challenged to the task of proving that bicycles and cargo bikes can make effective emergency responders in getting much needed gear and supplies from one location to another, if a disaster were to happen in the Willamette Valley, especially in the Eugene and Springfield area.

certlogoThe fleet of sixty-one cyclists proved just that and it was well worth it at the end. But, that wasn’t all, planning for the 2014 DRT came almost immediately after the first Eugene DRT took place last year in 2013 at Sheldon High School – this year’s venue was moved to Alton Baker Park to accommodate the larger response of riders and additional participant classes and vendors wanting to support the 2014 DRT’s, organizers say.

It was all about fun and it was all about coming together as a community, cyclist Alex Hongo said, during a RG Interview via a YouTube video taken at the Saturday’s event, said, “people in the Pacific Northwest are definitely pre-occupied with disaster preparedness, not just because we live near a fault line, but because of other natural disasters that can happen in the Willematte Valley,” he said.

Hongo’s statements ring true of the Pacific Northwest being vulnerable to disasters, the 1993 Spring Break Quake in Scotts Mills, Oregon makes a powerful statement in being prepared for the unexpected, many say, including Emergency Managers.

2014 Eugene DRT Alton Baker Park 1As a young child, I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area of Richmond, California, a familiar ground zero of one of the most devastating earthquakes to ever hit the West Coast in 1906.

“Disaster preparedness is not about the unexpected, but when to expect the unexpected,” I recently told a vistor back in the spring of this year at the National Neighborhood Conference in Eugene.

Being prepared is about being self-reliant and the unexpected, no matter where you are, there’s always the unexpected, something most people tend to think it would never happen to them or during the lifetime.

SF EQ 1989When the San Franscico Earthquake in 1989 took place during the World Series between the SF Giants and the Oakland Athletics, the battle of the bay became the battle for life and safety, as the destruction of the Bay Bridge and the I-880 in Oakland was televised nationally on literally every television network and the Marina District Fire that brought out throngs of volunteers helping the San Francisco Fire Department battle a raging fire that literally went out of control, the community came together to help those in need, especially the fire department.

“When all else fails, everyone should be prepared for the unexpected,” I recently quoted saying to a number of folks who came by the Eugene-Springfield CERT table during an outreach event at the Jerry’s on Highway 99 North two weeks ago with Lane Fire Authority hosting the community event.

“Rather your prepared or not, disaster can strike at anytime and anyplace where the unexpected can literally become a scary situation for all, now is the time to prepare yourself and your family, friends and neighbors, before the big one hit’s the fan,” Emergency Managers say.

As the laws of common sense says, “expect the unexpected, be prepared, don’t become a victim.”