Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 25th, 2005 at 9:11 am
If you ride around the Portland Metro area and the West hills out into Beaverton, you’ll notice a very wide range of bike-friendliness exists from one area to the next.
Inner Southeast has the most riders and bike facilities and infrastructure. At a recent session of the Transportation class I’m taking at PSU, a woman from Abernethy Elem. School said that so many kids/parents ride to school that they need to build a new bike rack! (Check out their crowded bike rack).
Southeast also has all the cool, experimental bike infrastructure and is home to the vast majority of the City’s bike advocates and activists (someone once told me that the last 3 heads of the BTA have lived in the same SE neighborhood!). However, as you head North and West to neighborhoods like Kenton, St. Johns, and Beaverton you see not only a lot less bikers, but also less bike infrastructure and attention given to existing facilities.
Judging from what I’ve heard, there is a growing feeling that some areas are definitely not feeling the love. A friend of mine from Hillsboro recently said, “if Portland is a bike oasis, Hillsboro is the desert!”. I also heard some emotional discussion about the lack of maintenance and facilities in North Portland during the Bike Safety Workshop I attended. Then, there was this comment to a recent post on this site:
“I doubt the west side would qualify for gold status any time soon. It’s too risky for bicyclists and too few people ride. There’s a lot the City could do, but so far they haven’t shown much interest. The focus historically has been on the east side. Granted there are more people on the east side and it’s easier to ride there, but the west side has still been neglected.
I don’t see any reason the west side shouldn’t be held to the same standards as the east side. There are other cities that have high rates of bicycle riding that have hills (in the US and Europe). The question is whether the City will decide to put more resources into making the west side a safe place to ride.”
I wonder what accounts for this discrepancy? I think it’s a mix of factors. The “squeaky wheel gets the grease” idea I’m sure plays a role. When the City sees an active bike community (like in SE) that shows up to meetings, bike events, makes phone calls and writes letters they of course will allocate more money and energy into that area.
But what if it’s a chicken/egg situation? If more facilities and attention were spread further out, would that help create more of a bike community? Or, does the community have to squeak before they get greased?