They're called protest marches for a reason. Because people, you know... actually march at them. For a long time. And then sometimes, when they march in the street, they get arrested (or worse) by Portland cops for blocking the road.
Not Dan Kaufman and the PDX Bike Swarm—fixtures at nearly every major Occupy event since last November. They parade. They chant. They surge. They usually don't get arrested. It's a brilliant idea, and you can try it yourself.
"Bicycles are considered a vehicle, like your car," Kaufman explains. "So it allows you to use the street, where in some cases you might not be able to."
Kaufman, who's become infamous for his music-blasting "disco trike," continues: "And you can move quickly with a bicycle. You can scope things out—do reconnaissance, if you will—much quicker."
Of course, nothing's foolproof. Cops get mad when riders use their bikes to keep them from making arrests. And they've been known to take sudden interest in things like tail lights and hand signals. Kaufman once had his trike confiscated over a noise violation.
But that's rare, he says. Mostly, bikes make dull marches fun.
"It's almost like the cavalry."