Kerr Bikes & Boats: Explore Portland With Surreys, Adaptive Bikes, And More!
As the festive sounds of New Orleans jazz fill the air, a vibrant parade is making its way down Mississippi Avenue in Portland. It is the annual Mardi Gras parade, and among the colorful revelers and sparkling beads, there is a unique sight to behold—surreys rented from Kerr Bikes & Boats.
The Mysti Krewe of Nimbus, a local organization with roots in Louisiana, has been using surreys from Kerr Bikes & Boats for their parade for several years. These four-wheeled pedal-powered carriages are decorated with Big Easy flair, from tinsel and twinkling lights to balloons and signs, and can seat up to six people. Angel Bouchet, a member of the Krewe, describes the surreys as the “floats” of the parade. “We rent a surrey for our grand marshal, and we have one for the king and queen of Mardi Gras, who we elect every year within our group.”
Not only do the surreys serve as eye-catching floats, but they also play a valuable role in the parade. Bouchet explains, “Our parade is not allowed to have motorized vehicles. The surreys allow us to be inclusive for all, and Kerr Bikes & Boats is a critical partner in making accessibility a reality.”
Located just off the Eastbank Esplanade, Kerr Bikes & Boats rentals add to the charm of Portland’s waterfront. With two locations overlooking the Willamette River at the Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the shop offers a variety of specialty and adaptive bikes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards.
But it is not just the unique selection of rentals that sets Kerr Bikes & Boats apart—it is the experience they offer—a leisurely way to take in the sights of Portland along the Willamette River. And best of all, proceeds from Kerr Bikes & Boats benefit Albertina Kerr, a local nonprofit that provides programs and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health challenges.
To increase cycling access for people with mobility challenges, Kerr Bikes & Boats, in partnership with the Portland Bureau of Transportation and Nike, also operates Adaptive BIKETOWN. This adaptive and inclusive model allows all abilities to enjoy cycling. For Steve and Karen Porter, renting a side-by-side cycle from Kerr Bikes & Boats was a way of reconnecting with a beloved activity after Steve’s medical diagnosis. “Being avid cyclists before Steve’s illness brought us so much joy,” Karen says. “The side-by-side bike was a kick in the pants. I could steer since Steve lost some of his vision from treatment.”
The location of Kerr Bikes & Boats is also convenient to the Spring Corridor Trail, with perfect shade on sunny days. “We’d get many smiles when people saw us biking side-by-side,” Karen says. “With all the medical hubbub going on in our lives, it was a place to anchor our sense of normalcy. We are very grateful to Kerr Bikes for giving us special memories.”
As one of only a few bike-share programs nationwide to include adaptive bikes, Kerr Bikes & Boats’ red shed location north of OMSI offers free parking, a safe place to store mobility devices, and proximity to the Esplanade and Willamette River. To reserve your unique pedal or paddling experience, visit kerrbikes.org or email [email protected].
To learn more about Albertina Kerr, one of the largest and oldest nonprofit human services providers in the Pacific Northwest, empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and mental health challenges to lead self-determined lives, visit AlbertinaKerr.org.