A while back I was reading a bunch of music writing and was inspired to review bike routes as though they were records. I realized the other day that at least one of them is badly out of date. Here’s one update and a new review.
East 122nd Ave
Like the mixtape handed to you by a nervous, hopeful-eyed kid outside a club, 122nd has nothing going for it but grit, heart, and potential—enough of all of them that you keep returning to it again and again, each time hoping for a smoother ride. You can’t quite bring yourself to either love or abandon the faded bike lanes that cars swerve into before each stoplight or the cacophony of compromised mufflers, shopping carts filled with empty cans, and crowds of teenagers hailing each other across the street in multiple languages. Once enough white people with tech salaries figure out they can buy a house there, some city planner will notice the street is wide enough to turn into a real Dutch-style complete street, with separated bike paths and a light rail line. Nobody will miss the regular gruesome casualties, but by the time that mixtape kid notices that you cribbed his bass line without giving him credit, his apartment building will have long been torn down to build a newer, nicer one that he can’t afford to live anywhere near, and the whispering hum of espresso machines will dominate the street.
The Springwater Corridor (remixed)
Like when Jay-Z sampled “It’s a Hard Knock Life” or the Fugees made an Enya cut their own, this symbol of Portland’s enlightened prosperity—the crown jewel of our offroad path system—has been converted into an anthem of the most marginalized. Now it’s a different sort of symbol, as logo-covered roadies on impeccably-tuned steeds whiz by, eyes firmly focused on the path ahead, perilous inches from the front tent flap of a family just waking up, stretching, getting ready to go about their day. The critics are out for blood; but this song must have a lot of money and muscle behind it because it’s playing absolutely everywhere and it’s amazing how quickly you get so used to it that you barely even notice it anymore, or maybe even find yourself humming along.