After years of terrible national headlines that (inaccurately and unfairly in my opinion) portrayed Portland as a dysfunctional war-zone wasteland, last night there was a story that will help shift that narrative.

The mighty Alameda Elementary School bike bus that Portlander Sam Balto launched back in April, was featured on NBC Nightly News, one of the top news shows in America.

I hope what they said about the bike bus broke through to the 7 million viewers of this show. Here’s the text of the segment:

“Remember being in a bike gang you were a kid? Well, every Wednesday morning in the Portland Public School District, a small trickle of bikes forms around 8:00 am. They call it the bike bus and as it begins to flow through the neighborhood it gathers strength. Teacher Sam Balto is out front. Soon, a massive river of riders has formed. And that is when the feelings begin to overflow. On Wednesdays, the normal bus is mostly empty.

How do you convince parents that it’s possible to go from one bus to a bike? [he asks Sam]

We underestimate how much children love being social. Rain or shine. They’re motivated to see their buddies.

The effect on them is clear.

I could tell you here about the emissions saved by the bike bus, that it takes hundreds of cars off the road, and that it is very Portland. But the thing that sticks after so much stress and sorrow and loneliness the last few years, is watching all these kids floating to school on a vast ocean of joy.”

I hope this reminds folks that Portland isn’t “dying.” In these past few years we’ve embraced challenges, evolved, matured, and most importantly, planted seeds. We shouldn’t ignore what has happened and what we are still going through. But we should also acknowledge that the Sam Baltos of Portland and these bike bus riders have always been there. Some of us just chose to stop seeing them.

Portland’s “vast ocean of joy” is big enough for everyone. All you have to do is open your eyes.

Thanks Coach Balto and NBC News for helping us see again!


And this is just one of many national news stories about the bike bus. The Washington Post also featured the ride this week!





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