Tuesday, August 21, 2007

File under "Not very good ideas"

I've been meaning to mention this for several days, but one thing has refused to lead to another lately, so I'm a little behind schedule.

Last week I wrote about the Bridge Pedal, and how 20,000 participants simply overwhelmed the route despite the best efforts of planners, volunteers, police, and ODOT. I kicked around some possible remedies, and so did commenters, but my feeling is that it's going to take some pretty extensive restructuring of the event to make it work with so many people--more extensive than any ideas I've heard so far.

But one reaction to the Bridge Stand Around (as I've heard it called in some quarters after this year) should definitely be left by the curb to be picked up and composted: The Oregonian editors suggested that those riders who weren't able to complete the ride because of traffic congestion should get a refund on part of their entry fee.

Although this problem didn't pop up overnight, calling for refunds if the experience didn't work out right misses the point of the event. The O huffs that behind the community event is a business, and they're right. (They call for more openness about where the money goes that sponsors and participants contribute, which is reasonable but irrelevant to the 20,000-riders problem.)

But let's get a grip: At $25 the Bridge Pedal is by far one of the cheapest charity rides in the northwest. (The minimum fundraising target for Summit to Surf, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association, has doubled. And have you checked what it costs to enter LiveStrong ride lately?) It's a good deal, and the people who got short-changed this year--and that includes me and my team--shouldn't be worrying about refunds, any more than if they don't like this year's ride T-shirt. As far as I'm concerned, it's worth $25 once a year just to see the top deck of the Markham Bridge covered with bikes, and to remember that sight for the next twelve months when I go over it in a car.

Fix the Bridge Pedal, but dump the refund idea.

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