IN A CITY that boasts the most bike commuters in the country, it’s not all that surprising that we also have our very own PDX Bike Wildebeest Militia. Spelled out in handmade fliers posted throughout the city, their goal is to provide free bike escorts to any cyclist, anywhere, anytime. Seems like a safe, sensible, only-in-Portland idea (especially in the wake of our recent spate of unsettling cycling accidents). Right?
Well, sure. But it may only work if you’re extremely anal. The Wildebeest Militia (yup, that’s what they call themselves) requires that requests for their services be submitted, via e-mail, generally at least 24 hours in advance. If you know that you’re going to be working late in a sketchy part of town, those dark solo treks home just got a lot less spooky. But then there are those other late nights when you wouldn’t mind company, the ones that happen spontaneously. After all, who plans—a day in advance—to be outside a dive bar at 2:30 a.m.?
We figured the PDX Bike Militia were just the folks to answer that question, so we sent an e-mail to their undisclosed HQ. However, they declined, politely, to chat with us. So we turned to their posting on www.indymedia.org for help, and ended up only more bewildered. In it, the Militia offers to see you safely home while casting "silvery magicks" on the way. Uh-huh. At least they also note they like eating cookies.
We still think the escort service is a fine idea, but frankly, in the time it took to unravel their mission statement, we could’ve just called a cab.