02 March 2010

New Article in Momentum Magazine about Portland, Oregon

Bicycling in portland, Oregon – if all goes as planned – is doomed to become as mundane as vacuuming your house. Or so the experts would have you believe.

As more Portlanders climb on their two-wheeled steeds for their everyday travel around North America’s most bicycle-friendly city, fewer would identify themselves as “bicyclists.” Portland is becoming that rare place where cycling is taken for granted and this evolutionary stage could portend the future face of cycling in other cities.

At Family Bicycle Transportation Day, part of Oregon Manifest 2009, folks try out a custom cargo bike made by Portland-based Joe Bike.Photograph by Jonathan Maus, www.bikeportland.org

That future is anything but boring. The politics, engineering and wild and woolly grassroots culture have become deeply interwoven into Portland’s surprisingly dynamic and participatory scene. If Portland could speak, its message to the world might well be: “If you’re going to get serious about bicycling, you may as well have fun doing it.”

If anything is bigger than Portland’s bike scene, it’s the hype about Portland’s bike scene.

There’s truth to the buzz. Under the leadership of a bike-friendly mayor, an idealistic crew of planners and engineers are rapidly reshaping the city: green bike boxes proliferate and business owners race to replace their street parking with bike racks.

Cyclists coming off the Broadway bridge start to outnumber vehicular traffic while waiting for the lights.Photograph by Jonathan Maus, www.bikeportland.org

Creative, determined citizen activists spout off statutes and the Highway Code just like pros. The bicycle economy is booming to the tune of $80 million USD each year.

Meanwhile, federal policies and funding are looking better for bikes day by day. As a bicycling revolution sweeps the nation, other cities are looking to Portland as an example to aspire to – and in the eyes of some, there’s a competitive gleam.

By now, whole swathes of the city embody this idyllic reputation. In Inner Southeast, you can sail along idyllic bike routes with few cars, few stop signs and seamless crossings. Entire cycling families wave and ring their bells as you pass by.

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