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Portland reclaims #1 spot in Bicycling Mag rankings

Posted by on May 21st, 2012 at 8:27 am

Back on top where we belong.

Bicycling Magazine has just released their 2012 Bike-Friendly Cities rankings and Portland sits atop the heap once again.

Portland was ranked #2 in 2010, which was the last time the rankings came out. Prior to that Portland had earned the top spot every year since 1995. Our defeat to Minneapolis at the hands of Bicycling Magazine’s editors stung a bit; but it was clear that the decision was made more because of how our lead had begun to shrink, not that we were actually #2 (and I’m sure the attention and PR generated by making us #2 figured into the decision as well).

Minneapolis drops to the second spot this time around, with Boulder, Washington D.C., and Chicago rounding out the top five. Here’s the full top ten list (with 2010 rankings in parentheses):

    1. Portland (2)
    2. Minneapolis (1)
    3. Boulder (3)
    4. Washington D.C.
    5. Chicago (10)
    6. Madison, WI (7)
    7. New York City (8)
    8. San Francisco (6)
    9. Eugene (5)
    10. Seattle (4)

Like them or not, of all the bike-friendly city rankings published each year, Bicycling’s list carries the most weight. It might be because they’ve been doing them since 1995, or perhaps because it’s the most widely-read bike magazine on the planet.

To determine their top 50 rankings for 2012, Bicycling says they evaluated cities with populations of 95,000 or more, used data provided by the Alliance for Biking and Walking and the League of American Bicyclists, and they used input from local advocates and city bike staff. “To make the list, a city must possess both a robust cycling infrastructure and a vibrant bike culture.”

It’s worth noting that Bicycling seems to have put a lot more rigor into their analysis this year. In a press release about the rankings, Bicycling said, “Portland cyclists are ‘the vanguard of American cycling.’”

Bill Donahue, a Bicycling contributor who lives in Northeast Portland, wrote an entertaining paean about his hometown which explains why we deserve the #1 spot (emphases mine):

…Those of us who ride daily in Portland, we know. We know we are the vanguard of American cycling. No other city in the United States has more cyclists per capita, and no other town has a coffee shop like Fresh Pot, which boasts 25 chairs and parking for 26 bicycles. We have trains of elementary-school bike commuters, and we have Move By Bike, a relocation-company that trundles couches across town on overstacked bike trailers. Even our city’s noncycling Lotharios know it is a deal-killer to ask, at the end of a sprightly first date, “Can I throw your bike in my car and give you a lift home?”

Minneapolis? Please. Let’s ride—along the Willamette now, on the paved Springwater Corridor, where, off to the east, great blue herons and snowy egrets pick about in the reeds and the mud of Oaks Bottom. Three miles on, amid the grain silos and rail yards of north Portland, you can feel the industrial heft of the city, built a hundred-odd years ago on shipping and logging. In Forest Park—which, at 5,000 acres, is the nation’s largest urban preserve—there is a growing network of singletrack on the slopes of Portland’s west hills. But me, I like to take my road bike higher in those same hills, past gracious manses built by long-ago timber barons, until I am up on Skyline Boulevard with its horse pastures and country-road dips and turns. It is cooler up there—sometimes in winter snow whitens the bows of the evergreens.

But it is the locals’ bike zeal that is most dear. Once, when I called the city’s Transportation Options office to ask about airport bike parking, a guy there responded 45 minutes later via e-mail, with a 500-word personal treatise. (“There is a specific bike parking area,” he began, before discussing option B, the bike lockers, and riffing on the bike-guarding aplomb of Homeland Security.) Another time, when I found myself stooped by the roadside, muttering cuss words over a broken chain, a random savior materialized to offer assistance gratis. “I’m a professional bike mechanic,” he proclaimed, superhero-like. “What can I do?”

A mass ride in Portland is a Dionysian rite. Witness the Naked Bike Ride, through downtown, or the Cross Crusade Series, an autumn-long mud bath that last fall drew more than 1,500 competitors, including one whip-lean, bearded maestro who wore pigtails and a pink jersey reading “Keep Cyclocross Weird.” The Worst Day of the Year Ride, meanwhile, is a 17-miler which brings some 4,000 hardcores out into the gray gloom each February, to celebrate misery and self-flagellation. The route ends, of course, at a brewpub.

The party is on every single day. I know this because I happen to live on a designated bicycle street, and on summer evenings sometimes I sit out on my porch and listen as the bikes roll by, singly and in groups. There is a certain delight in the air then—the warm, dry days of summer are a sweet reprieve in Portland—and the riders’ voices seem silky somehow: soft and murmurous. I’m able to catch only a word or two at a time. I hear, “so anyway,” “and then he…” But always the larger story sings out in the dusk and the dark: We dreamed ourselves a strange and lovely city out here on the green edge of the continent, and we shook free.”

May has been a roller-coaster of emotions here in Portland. We’ve celebrated unseasonable warmth and sunshine and we pulled out all the stops for Bike to Work Month. Then tragedy struck last week and we had a vigil for Bike to Work Day in instead of a party. And now this.

Let’s hope the good news continues. And who knows, maybe returning to #1 will help Portland get its cycling swagger back.

— Read more about all the cities in the list here.

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  • peejay May 21, 2012 at 8:45 am

    “We dreamed ourselves a strange and lovely city out here on the green edge of the continent, and we shook free.”

    Yes!

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  • Alex May 21, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Why did Seattle fall so far?

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    • Brad Hawkins May 22, 2012 at 12:31 am

      Seattle fell so far because the local daily paper decided to use anti-cycling rhetoric to destroy the current mayor. McGinn then felt paralyzed to do anything for his ostensible main constituency for fear of being seen just paying back his buddies. This made him even less popular with the general electorate. Seattle is now a cycling backwater and I didn’t realize this until I spent a week in D.C. last week. The drivers are much more pushy and you can almost predict a foolhardy move by any car sporting Virginia plates but dang, the facilities are amazing there. The bike share and bike rental system is beautiful. We rented a Cargo Trike for the kids from Bicycle Space for cheap, and had a ball everywhere we went. Oh and the bicycle map! Wow!
      Seattle is a vehicular cycling town with mandatory helmet laws and police that will pull you over for it. Seattle has nasty hills, none of which have dedicated bike lanes, wait, I take that back, Pine Street; the only one. Seattle has a rabid anti cycling newspaper (the Seattle Times) television stations either owned by FOX or Bonneville that still treat every bicycle car crash as a report on the victim’s helmet usage, and a police force that is under criminal investigation, has not spent any time educating the drivers on the purpose and use of our bike boxes, and as a side note gave out more jaywalking tickets than failure to yield tickets in 2011. I recently went to the Queen Anne Community Council Hearing and they all decided that all of their problems could be pinned on the partial road diet on Nickerson. Embarrassing.

      I’m surprised we made the top 10.

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  • Andrew K May 21, 2012 at 8:59 am

    very cool.

    You know it is easy to forget just how good we have it here when it comes to riding a bike. True, we can improve. True, we should always fight to make it better. True, we should never rest and just call it good.

    But that being said we have a TON to be thankful for. Tonight I have a dinner date and it wasn’t hard at all to find a place both myself and the person I’m meeting could get to safely by bike. That is pretty amazing when you think about it.

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    • Chris I May 21, 2012 at 9:03 am

      It’s sad that so many people in this country cannot even ride around their block safely, let alone to a restaurant.

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  • Eric May 21, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Where is the ‘growing network of singletrack on the slopes of Portland’s west hills’ that Mr. Donahue mentions? Does he mean the .25 mile of legal singletrack in the nation’s largest urban preserve? Or is there a secret cache somewhere that I don’t know about?

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    • lil'stink May 21, 2012 at 10:37 am

      Shows how out of touch and meaningless these rankings are. Perhaps the Portland City Council gave the editors at Bicycling a gift basket replete with candy, free streetcar tickets, and $100 bills.

      I realize that most ‘cyclists’ will not go mountain biking, but to see an element of our sport/culture treated as being a criminal activity should preclude our fair city from even being in the top 5 (especially considering the vast amount of available park space that we can’t even get a modest singletrack system built upon).

      Also, who reads Bicycling magazine nowadays anyway?

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      • davemess May 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm

        Who reads Bicycling?
        Definitely not mountain bikers!

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  • Kiel Johnson May 21, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Great to see they listed bike trains and bike valet as reasons we are #1. Do I get a special prize for that? :)

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    • Steve B May 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      Yes, an Alice Award!

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  • Carl May 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

    It’s also heartening to see NYC moving steadily up in the rankings too. I was just there a couple of weeks ago, and the rate at which they’re putting in facilities is just incredible.

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  • GlowBoy May 21, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Minneapolis was ranked #1 last year because of the progress it was making (and because it has mountain biking, which Portland does not).

    It’s not that we weren’t the best city to get around by bike last year: we still were, and we still are. But the knee-jerk “how-could-it-be” reactions of many to last year’s #2 ranking told me we’re on the verge of getting full of ourselves — and that Bicycling made the right call. Minneapolis and other cities might have a ways to go, but they’re not as far behind as a lot of Portlanders seem to think.

    I watched Seattle grow smug and self-satisfied when I lived there in the 90s, and I think the result has been a lack of will to tackle big problems. I hope Portland will avoid this fate. We need to stay level-headed about our accolades, and keep the fire lit for more positive change.

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  • Brian May 21, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Bicycling Magazine includes mountain biking, but apparently it isn’t one of their criteria for this list. Too bad, it may actually inspire the leaders of this great city to make something happen for off-road enthusiasts.

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    • are May 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      they used to have a separate imprint called mountain bike, which still has a separate website, but they have folded the print version into the parent magazine, and the mountain-specific editorial content seems to have disappeared.

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  • Robert May 21, 2012 at 10:45 am

    It’s awesome….if you have no knowledge of traffic design. Of course, then you could probably work for the City of Portland.

    Straight thru traffic to the right of possible right turners….makes sense!…..only in Portland.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 21, 2012 at 10:48 am

      You can trash PBOT all you want… But we are the #1 bike city in America, with more people biking daily per capita than any other city, and we have very low injury and fatality rates. Yes, there are things we can do better… But we are learning and adjusting and moving forward.

      I’m all for being critical of PBOT when necessary… But I don’t agree with the tone or content of your comment at all.

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      • Carl May 21, 2012 at 11:16 am

        +1

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      • Joseph E May 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm

        “more people biking daily per capita than any other city”

        Not quite. We have more people biking daily per capita than any other BIG city. Some smaller cities, including Eugene right here in Oregon, have higher bike ridership per capita, according to the census; most of them are college towns.

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      • bikeyvol May 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm

        Would have to agree with Jonathan. The public may not agree with all of the engineering behind bicycle infrastructure, but how do you think it gets there in the first place?? Without City, State and metropolitan agencies to build infrastructure, it wouldn’t be here. I’m grateful they support this kind of thing – it’s not 100% heavenly, but it’s WAAAAY better than a lot of cities and towns have.

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      • Robert May 21, 2012 at 10:08 pm

        Jonathon,

        I disagree that you’re “all for being critical of PBOT.” You realize that the bike lane designs in Portland are controversial, at best. You also realize that many across the Country see the bike lane design as being flawed, and something that makes Right Hook crashes nearly unavoidable in certain situations.

        I’m sure you also realize that the Bike Boxes (whether painted or not) does absolutely nothing to lower this risk on the “green phase” even though they were sold to the public as a solution after the deaths in 2007.

        Yet, I’ve never seen you openly criticize or even actually explore this issue with anything other than a giddy optimisim that the next bit of tinkering would help. I realize that the folks at PBOT are sincere, and you’re likely friends with them, but with this many deaths and injuries the subject demands some exploring.

        While there will alway be risks anytime bicycles and automobiles/trucks are near each other, there are some factors of traffic engineering that just cannot be ignore.

        One of those is that motorists in thier rightmost lane expect to be able to turn right without a straight thru vehicle zooming past them, in thier blind spot, at 15 mph.

        The fact that you explored a solution being removing trucks from downtown Portland shows just how willing you are to cling to this odd bit of traffic design.

        I love the fact that Portland is exploring because too many people stick to the AASHTO design guidelines and we absolutely need to get more people bicycling. But let’s at least have a honest discussion about death, injuries, traffic principles and if it makes sense to have bike lanes to the right.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 22, 2012 at 9:23 am

          I’m sure you also realize that the Bike Boxes (whether painted or not) does absolutely nothing to lower this risk on the “green phase” even though they were sold to the public as a solution after the deaths in 2007.

          That’s not true Robert. Bike boxes were never sold as a “solution” to people being hurt and killed. They were sold as something that would make streets safer. And PBOT has said all along that they are not really made to do much during the green signal phase.

          The fact that you explored a solution being removing trucks from downtown Portland shows just how willing you are to cling to this odd bit of traffic design.

          I never explored “removing trucks from downtown” as a solution to anything. I reported that some ppl in the community had that idea. Big difference.

          “But let’s at least have a honest discussion about death, injuries, traffic principles and if it makes sense to have bike lanes to the right.”

          Honest discussion? That’s what I do here on BikePortland every day of the week for the past 6+ years. I am looking fwd to more coverage about the effectiveness of our road designs. I’m not sure why you seem so interested in being negative towards me/bikeportland; but I’d say just hang on and calm down for a minute. Don’t forget that this site is your best opportunity to actually have those discussions. Where would you be posting all your strong feelings if it wasn’t for bikeportland?

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          • robert May 22, 2012 at 9:44 am

            Fair enough. You’re absolutely right on several issues.

            First, the “solutions.” After after the deaths in 2007, and the injuries since, many people have felt that the striping of the bike lanes to the intersection is a mistake. The answer would have been to reconsider the matter entirely, and the bike box just appeared to be grasping on to the old idea even tighter. Those that don’t neccesarily understand the issue would think they are cool and solve the issue but many people recognized that it wasn’t going to help. No one said it was a “solution,” but they were brought about in reaction to these certain types of crashes.

            I would love it if you would investigate this issue a little more carefully. Perhaps take a look at what others think about it outside of Portland. This wouldn’t be to paint Portland in a bad light, but to try to figure out if there is another solution.

            For example, Adventure Cycling had a column about this issue a number of years ago. Maybe post that and have a discussion? That author is a hard VC type, so maybe that wouldn’t play well, but it couldn’t hurt to examine it a little closer.

            Green paint, flashing signs, trying to ban trucks are all ideas but it seems to me that the matter of bicyclists passing slowing and turning vehicles on the right is always going to incredibly dangerous.

            You talk about a movement…let’s make sure we’re moving in the right direction.

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            • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 22, 2012 at 9:56 am

              Thanks for that comment robert.

              And I have reported about that issue — and about that exact Adventure Cycling article you mention.

              April 2008: Magazine editor blames bike lanes for Portland fatalities

              You might also be interested in my article from October 13th, 2007: The media, the police, and bike lanes. That story was written during an intensely emotional period in our bike history and it was in response to a PPB officer who was spouting off in the media that Portland’s bike lanes were to blame for Tracey Sparling’s death. I felt that was entirely inappropriate at the time (and it’s worth noting that as a result of that type of conduct, that officer was reassigned out of the traffic division).

              After the tragedies of October 2007, we (this site, this city) had a very robust conversation about bike lane design. I might have evolved my thinking a bit since then, but what I felt back then was that 1) the Adventure Cycling article was horribly miscalculated, uninformed, and in bad taste and 2) say what you want about Portland, but we have the highest bike ridership per capita in America and our statistics for fatalities and injuries are not going up.

              And lastly, I totally agree with you that passing large vehicles on the right is always going to be a bad idea and one that can/will lead to tragedy. Again, we can’t build tragedy out of our system, we can only make the best decisions possible about the design of our system and then work to make the culture of the people using that system as considerate and careful as possible.

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      • Robert May 21, 2012 at 10:11 pm

        Jonathon,

        And here is the other issue….I realize that you’re not the New York Times here but you lose any shred of integrity of being a legitamate source of news when you say things like, “Yes, there are things we can do better… But we are learning and adjusting and moving forward.”

        Notice the word “we.” Shouldn’t it be “they?”

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        • Middle of What Road? May 21, 2012 at 11:20 pm

          Uh, no. Many of us like to think that Portland is a community posing as a city rather than the other way around. The use of “we” here seems to me to mean the general community (maybe I’m making an assumption here, but that’s how I’m reading it.) Additionally, referring to local government as “they” indicates you may not see them as part of your community. Which I find very odd. I get hating on politicians, but many of those working (not elected) in local government are actually looking out for the public good. Acknowledging them as part of the community isn’t analogous with doing their bidding. And folks like myself are going to have difficulty discussing better policy with folks who find all government as something alien and frightening.

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          • robert May 22, 2012 at 6:15 am

            I think it’s different if you’re placing yourself in public information role. For example, you wouldn’t want the local news saying “we” when discussing decisions that the Bush Administration or the Obama Administration did right?

            Again – Jonathon doesn’t pretend to be an investigative reporter but he also shouldn’t act as a cheerleader for *anything bicycle related in Portland, even things that do not make sense to many people and ***may*** be making things more dangerous for people.

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            • Middle of What Road? May 22, 2012 at 10:20 pm

              I can appreciate that view – but I think you are comparing extremes (“Jonathon doesn’t pretend to be an investigative reporter but he also shouldn’t act as a cheerleader”) rather than looking at this site as something in-between.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 22, 2012 at 9:28 am

          “And here is the other issue….I realize that you’re not the New York Times here but you lose any shred of integrity of being a legitamate source of news when you say things like, “Yes, there are things we can do better… But we are learning and adjusting and moving forward.”

          Notice the word “we.” Shouldn’t it be “they?”

          No it shouldn’t. BikePortland is different. I admire the NY Times immensely, but the writers at that paper are not part of a movement nor do they work with they city they write about to help make it better. I realize my role here can be confusing; but I’ll just say that I try to walk a fine line between being a part of the local team when it comes to improving traffic safety, while maintaining a healthy distance to suggest that we consider different plays every once in a while. And I’m also not afraid to talk back to the coach and criticize the team when I feel it’s necessary.

          And yes, I often use the “we” because my approach is that we — the citizens, the activists, the advocates, the city staff, the politicians, and so on — are all in this together and that we can do more when we all hold each other accountable for our actions (or inactions).

          Thanks for reading and commenting. You and I, we, will figure this out sooner or later.

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        • Bike Bend May 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm

          Robert,
          Writers for the New York Times are hired to be reporters who report the news and don’t opine. Jonathon operates a blog – not a place where one typically looks as to “a legitamate [sic] source of news”. Blogs are where bloggers get to write what (mostly) they want unfettered by a editor boss. If Jonathan wants to use “we” instead of “they” he gets to. (p.s. You might want to use your spell check when you criticize someone’s use of words.)

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    • Chris I May 21, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      Have you seen a traffic circle in The Netherlands? The only difference is that the drivers are better about watching for cyclists and stopping.

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  • patrick May 21, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Before we get back to patting ourselves on the back, let me give kuddos to Minneapolis. I’m not from there, just happened to live there for 2 years. I would say the biggest difference with PDX and Minneapolis is that we have more bike lanes and the Minneapolis has more bike paths, particularly coverted rails to trails. I was able to go out for a 2-3 hr road bike ride that was 80% paved paths. With multiple options to extend or vary the ride. When I moved back to PDX there were many more convert trails in the planning. Portland should take note. I was also regularly impressed to see hearty souls on two wheels when it was 10 degrees or more below zero braving snow and ice.

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    • oskarbaanks May 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Yes, lets give props to ALL community’s that improve. This tit for tat back and forth over us vs.them is silly at best. Yes Portland is awesome,but these articles are bit like reading the arbitrary studies that claim which city or state is the FATTEST every year,or which one has the best music scene. RIDE yer damn Bike!

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      • Andrew K May 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm

        Totally Agree!

        Any city that works to improve deserves praise.

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  • John Lascurettes May 21, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Interesting that the list only covers cities of 95K or more in population. I just spent my first weekend in the Bend and Sun River areas. I wonder where Bend (with a pop. of 80K+) would fall on the list. I was rather impressed with their cycletracks (elevated from the roadway and different color and fully separated from the sidewalks); that and their proper use of roundabouts (using yield signs instead of stops on two or more of the inputs).

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    • Bike Bend May 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      I live in Bend and while I generally love this town it has its serious bicycling challenges as do most smaller towns that have a large SUV and pickup truck driving population who still think that bicycles don’t belong on the road and sometimes not even in designated bike lanes.

      Most of my friends think I’m crazy to ride a road bike and claim that riding our fantastic single track is much safer. But ask the fellow from out of town who was recently air lifted with serious injuries to our local hospital after a high speed, airborne introduction to an unmoving tree that borders our Whoops trail if he thinks mountain biking is all that much safer. (p.s. I mountain bike regularly)

      And note that hardly anyone commutes by bike in Bend due to the mostly poorly designed and implemented bicycle commuting infrastructure. However, road and cyclocross racing is highly promoted as are Central Oregon’s Scenic Bikeways as this part of Oregon now is highly dependent on tourism since the real estate boom busted.

      Oh, and Sunriver is a tourist community that understood that having dedicated paved bike paths was an excellent way of keeping bicycles off of their narrow and confusing roadways.

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  • Ezra May 21, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Yes! I love bicycling in Portland. Hopefully this city can attract more and more cyclists until driving is a rarity. This city has true potential – let’s not spoil it.
    Be the change!

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  • Jeff Ong May 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Eric
    Where is the ‘growing network of singletrack on the slopes of Portland’s west hills’ that Mr. Donahue mentions? Does he mean the .25 mile of legal singletrack in the nation’s largest urban preserve? Or is there a secret cache somewhere that I don’t know about?

    Yeah, that’s just ridiculous. Portland’s mountain bikers are among the most underserved in the country. We just shut down Mt. Tabor, too, giving us a huge net loss in rideable urban trails for the year, and probably for the decade.

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    • davemess May 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      I really think NWTA needs to aggressively pursue trails at Powell Butte. The land is there, the park is totally underutilized, and there are a few decent mountain bike trails there already. It also has easy access from the Spring Water Corridor. As much as I love having the park to myself (especially at night in the fall), I think it could be the mountain biking area we need.

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      • oskarbaanks May 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm

        IMO, from listening to others voice their perspective on this,the NWTA is a bit of the red headed stepchild in the Portland area. There seems to be little support on some levels from the general cycling community for various reasons. Very few NWTA members (that I have had contact with) see the average reader of this forum as an ally so much either, for some reason. I could be wrong…?

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      • Brian May 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm

        Already accomplished! NWTA has been at the table with the redesign of the trail network from the start. The work for the new trail system is set to begin this Fall, I believe. The topic at the June NWTA General meeting will be Powell Butte. Come and grab a free beer from HUB and learn more. Cheers!

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    • dan May 21, 2012 at 3:33 pm

      Yes…but the Lumberyard just opened, which increases the amount of park terrain for MTBs by an infinite percent (and also incorporates an X-C trail)

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  • Andrew N May 21, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    “But always the larger story sings out in the dusk and the dark: We dreamed ourselves a strange and lovely city out here on the green edge of the continent, and we shook free.”

    Sorry to be a downer but to me this quote –despite its pleasing poetic lilt– is a glaring example of the yawning gap between mythology and reality in this city. Yes, we have made some important strides, but we are still a fundamentally auto-centric place. We have a long, long, long way to go until we can say that we “shook free”. I can’t help but feel like there is a correlation between all of the accolades and back-patting and the sense that we lack the political will to take things to a higher level, which would, at the very least (the words of Enrique Penalosa are ringing in my head), necessitate allocating a lot more public space away from automobiles.

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    • oskarbaanks May 22, 2012 at 2:30 am

      Auto-centric is correct. I’m glad someone else pointed out the absurd quotation on ” breaking free”! HA! Our city blocks are nearly 200 ft. shorter on average compared to most places our size, yet 80% of anyone living 80 blocks outside of downtown, in any direction still drive their cars EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME.

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  • John Landolfe May 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Wowza. Great shout out to the OHSU Bike Program’s favorite riding partner–Go By Bike! It really threw my Monday morning for a loop. Congrats to Kiel. This town is chock full of crazy-smart bike-minded innovators–any one of whom would make for a great teaser shot of Portland. Let’s keep it going for the next ten years and get shouts for Shift, PSU BIke Hub, BikePortland, CCC, Parkways and all the rest!

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  • anthony sands May 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Bicycling mag like it or not Is very widely read, yes the mountain biking hear leaves something to be desired but the rank is deserved, like most B.P. readers I’m out on the road a lot and the cycling here is fantastic compared to other cities. Yes there Has been a Backlash manufactured by the O, yes we get to big for skinny jeans(to many voodoo doughnuts?) Lets accept it humbly, and not rest until it’s the preferred mode for all portlanders. theres always room for improvement

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  • Robert May 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Yes, adjusting:

    The poorly engineered bicycle lanes that stay to the right at intersections led to Right Hooks so the City adjusted by painting them green.

    Then after more right hooks, they adjuted by making bike boxes.

    Then adjusted by painting the bike boxes green.

    Someday these adjustments will make sense by placing a bicyclist to the left of right turning traffic, or simply removing the bike lane before the intersection.

    When I’m in Portland, I ride with my butthole puckered the entire time because (a) I can’t leave the bike lane and (b) I know that any of those Trucks turning right could kill me.

    It’s the knly place where possible straight thru vehicles find them es tothe right of possible right turn vehicles.

    I’m not a Vehicular Cyclist, but this system makes no sense. No one has ever been able to describe how bike boxes worked on a green cycle….exactly when crashes like this often occur.

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    • Ian May 22, 2012 at 10:24 am

      You’re allowed to take the lane, and traffic is not so fast that it’s unsafe to do so.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Hogan46 May 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    I may be missing something in the rating discussions and criteria but I think a more relevant rating system would distinguish between “transportation” cycling and “recreational” cycling. I would make the case that as a alternative to car, fuel-based, carbon producing rides, bicycling is a huge quality of life improvement for any kind of transport in urban or suburban areas and needs it’s own category. “Rec” cycling is also a quality of life catagory but one of choice in my mind i.e. vs running, kayaking, skiing etc. and again it’s own rating. Maybe averaging the two to get the number one city.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Bike Bend May 23, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      I agree that there should be a distinction made between transportation and recreation cycling when rating communities. Bend, as an example, would most likely get very high marks for its recreation cycling – especially if mountain biking was included in the rating – but very low marks as a bicycle transportation friendly town. People think I’m nuts when I ride about 10 blocks round trip to check my PO box instead of driving but think nothing of doing a multi-car and multi-hour long mountain bike shuttle ride.

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  • are May 21, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    the current issue of bicycling magazine includes a review of “four best cars for cyclists,” including the range rover at 52k rated 18/28 mpg.
    http://www.bicycling.com/bikes-gear/bikes-and-gear-features/designated-drivers
    i actually do not care what they think is a good city for cycling.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • dwainedibbly May 22, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Orlando at 49 and Gainesville at 37? There is a huge difference between those two, leading me to believe that there are perhaps 40 cities where it’s safe to even think about riding a bike. (I lived in Gainesville for over 20 years. Hopefully this ranking will light a fire under someone there. It’s probably the only Progressive enclave left in FL, and not a bad town, but the realtors & developers are trying to change that. Orlando, OTOH, is a place you couldn’t pay me to live. And they tried.)

    The PBOT bashing only makes sense if you have never lived anywhere else and don’t really understand how the rest of the country bikes, or if you’re intentionally setting a higher standard.

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  • Ted Buehler May 22, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Minneapolis has by far the better infrastructure.

    Portland has livelier bike culture and a high % of bike commuters.

    Which is “best” depends on the metrics you use.

    I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis and periodically visit there. Their infrastructure blows ours away. Hands down. Most major streets, throughout the entire metro area, have bike lanes, and have had bike lanes for over 20 years. Minneapolis must have 50 miles of bike paths that are separated from pedestrian paths, and its been that way for 30+ years. And now it has bicycle freeways.

    May each learn from each other — may many ODOT/PBOT infrastructure folks make frequent visits to Minneapolis to see what they’ve done. And may the Minneapolis crowd come to Portland to do a few bike moves and Shift rides.

    Ted Buehler

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • oskarbaanks May 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      Ted, your avatar reflects your spirit!

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  • Ted Buehler May 22, 2012 at 5:28 am

    “Minneapolis? Please. Let’s ride—along the Willamette now, on the paved Springwater Corridor, where, off to the east, great blue herons and snowy egrets pick about in the reeds and the mud of Oaks Bottom.”

    Mr. Donahue — perhaps you ought to pay Minneapolis a visit sometime. Imagine the Springwater Corridor with all those egrets and herons, and, *three separate paths* — one for peds, and one for bikes in each direction. That way you can actually enjoy the herons because you’re not dodging other traffic.

    That’s Minneapolis.

    Ted Buehler

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Collin Whitehead May 23, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Chicago may be #5 in biking infrastructure but based on the behavior of Chicago cyclists and motorists, it should not be #5. I’ve been a regular commuter since moving here from Portland in September and can attest to the vast majority of cyclists not wearing helmets or obeying traffic signals or stop signs. Motorists are not courteous or even aware of cyclists. On a daily basis I observe cars and cyclists disobeying common traffic laws and rights of way in an accelerated exercise of social Darwinism.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Rol May 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Whether we’re “#1″ or not, it’s hard to take these seriously. Just some people’s opinions, written down. Kind of like the Bible. OHHHH! For all we know, their conclusions are based on “number of Bicycling advertisers who opened retail outlets in Portland” multiplied by “number of mentions by BikeSnobNYC.”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Supercourse May 25, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Do the judges only visit Minneapolis at night? Their infrastructure is so far beyond ours, this is impossible to believe.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

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