“A day on a bicycle is never a wasted day.”
This is a statement that surely resonates with anyone who has enjoyed the happiness and joy of riding a bicycle, and came from this month’s profiled Bicycle Transportation Alliance member, Ralph Goldstein.
Ralph is a retired schoolteacher and long time supporter of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. He first got involved with us in 2006 when he volunteered for the then BTA-run bicycle parking at the Waterfront Blues Festival.
Ralph had tried joining riding clubs and going on long supported rides, but he found that he wanted to find an organization that did more than just encourage people to ride. Ralph says when he learned about our advocacy work, he found what he was looking for: an organization that advocates making roads safer by creating a safer riding environment.
“We’re a minority out on the road,” he says, “I think of the BTA as somebody who has my back when I’m out there pedaling.”
Ralph, like many people, learned to ride as a kid, but he really committed himself to bicycling in college. He says the first long ride he took, he hopped on his bicycle to go see a friend 50 miles away. He was completely unprepared for such a journey, with no water or special gear, just him and the bicycle. This was only the beginning of his life as a bike commuter.
Ralph lives in Oregon City and he rides his bike 99% of the time, showing up to substitute jobs on his bike, and taking the long way to run errands. He’ll often leave the house to go buy some coffee and instead of going to the corner store in Oregon City, he’ll use his lack of coffee as an opportunity for a long ride to a Stumptown location in Portland, pick up a bag of beans and ride back.
Ralph also enjoys touring on his bike and has ridden across much of the United States, including trips from Portland to Illinois, San Francisco, Seattle to visit his daughter, and one in the works to Arizona next year (he says he’s looking for ride buddies if anyone is interested).
Most impressive, however, was a bike-hike-snowboard-bike day trip Ralph took with a friend last May up to Mount Hood. The two strapped their snowboards on their bikes, biked to Ski Bowl, hiked halfway to the top, rode down the mountain, and got back on their bikes and rode home. If that isn’t a love of adventure, I don’t know what is.
In between all his adventuring and touring by bike, Ralph is an avid volunteer and advocate. For the past few years he has served on Clackamas County’s Pedestrian/Bikeway Advisory and Active Transportation Committees, and participated in the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s advisory group.
Advocacy volunteers like Ralph help us keep up to date on local issues, attend local meetings, and speak up for safe bicycling infrastructure. He is also a regular volunteer with our Safe Routes to School program, and tries to come to as many rides as he can. Being a former teacher, Ralph really loves being around kids and riding bikes with them, where no matter your age, everyone is smiling ear to ear. His favorite classes, he says, are those with the newer, more timid riders. “When they take the lane or wave a car through an intersection, you get to see a wave of empowerment come over them. They’ll be better bikers, and in about 6 years, better drivers, and more sensitive to the road bikers.”
Inspired by Ralph’s story? You too can be a BTA super-supporter when you join the Bicycle Transportation Alliance as a member today. Members strengthen our voice to ensure local, state, and federal entities make key investments in active transportation infrastructure. You’ll also help us invest in the next generation by educating 2nd and 5th graders across the region how to get to school safely. And you don’t have to give money to help: become a community advocate like Ralph and stand up for bikes in your neighborhood, or join us at an upcoming volunteer event. Volunteers can even earn a membership with their donated time. We’d love to have you join us any way you can!