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  #1  
Old 09-19-2006, 01:57 PM
bbstanley bbstanley is offline
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Default Cycling in Chicago vs. Portland

Okay,
I joined this forum in order to seek out information about my friend Mike Kalan who was killed on West Union Road Friday, September 15th. My husband and I live in Chicago and visited Mike & the city of Portland this past July. We fell in love with the city, people and lifestyle and now are considering a move.

We are both avid cyclists and ride the streets of Chicago and Northern Suburbs daily. Believe me, we get harrased quite a bit. My husband has been doored, hit by a bus and had countless objects thrown at him. I've been verbally abused, swerved at and also had things thrown at me. Its no picinic but I love to ride. I'm not trying to make Chicago sound like a cyclists nightmare, but its not ideal. BUT, the cycing community here is AMAZING. The mayor really promotes cycling and has done a lot for the community.

We have always wanted to go West and were originally thinking Seattle, but found Portland more our speed. Since Mikes death, and joining this forum, I have done some digging around and am beginning to re-think this move. Riding in Chicago has its dangerous days but after reading many posts on this forum, I'm a little concerned. Granted, we are not planing a move soley on the bike factor, but it does play a large part.

Does anyone feel safe riding/training in Portland?
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  #2  
Old 09-19-2006, 02:01 PM
Rixtir Rixtir is offline
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Sorry to hear that you lost a friend. I don't think your should take the postings about incidents as evidence of an unsafe cycling environment. There are bicycle/car incidents in every community in the U.S. If anything, the fact that you're reading about it here indicates that there's an active cycling community here that's doing everything it can to make Portland the best cycling city in the country.
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  #3  
Old 09-19-2006, 02:28 PM
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donnambr donnambr is offline
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My condolences to you for the loss of your friend. He sounds like someone we all would have enjoyed knowing.

Rixtir's absolutely right. I grew up in metro Detroit, and one of the first things I noticed when I moved here was how members of the community didn't put up with certain things that I was raised to accept as inevitable and unchangable. Excessive litter and grafitti come to mind. Based on the number of citizen complaints, you might come to the conclusion that Portland is one of the filthier cities in the US. That's far from the truth - people just have higher standards here. The other interesting thing about Portland compared to many large eastern and midwestern cities is that when you complain to the appropriate city/county/regional government, something frequently gets done about your problem. It seems to me that there is less entrenched corruption in our various local governments as compared to the Detroit area. Perhaps it is also true for Chicago.

You can translate that to the cyclist deaths that have happened here. They occur much as I imagine they would anywhere, though we have a lot more cyclists on the roads here than just about anywhere in the US. We have a large, vocal group of people in the area who are accustomed to going to local government with a problem or concern and getting it addressed. We don't expect anything less when the issue is relevant to cyclists. Thus, it seems Portland is a dangerous place to ride a bike, when really, we just have a lower tolerance for the danger that some motorists cause us.

If you decide not to relocate to Portland, this shouldn't be the reason.
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Old 09-19-2006, 02:54 PM
knary knary is offline
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I'm so very sorry for your loss.

The reason there are so many tales of woe is two fold.
1. As the other posters 'said', it's because we have high, but reasonable, expectations.
2. There are so many cyclists and so many that are involved in the community that it becomes a numbers game.

IOW, With the number of riders and the large role cycling fills in this city - at least compared to others - there are many more opportunities for conflict and people will, as they should, be vocal about those conflicts. I'd bet that if you worked it out to incidents per miles cycled, this would be amongst the best cities, if not the best city, to ride.
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Old 09-19-2006, 03:31 PM
bbstanley bbstanley is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donnambr View Post
My condolences to you for the loss of your friend. He sounds like someone we all would have enjoyed knowing.

Rixtir's absolutely right. I grew up in metro Detroit, and one of the first things I noticed when I moved here was how members of the community didn't put up with certain things that I was raised to accept as inevitable and unchangable. Excessive litter and grafitti come to mind. Based on the number of citizen complaints, you might come to the conclusion that Portland is one of the filthier cities in the US. That's far from the truth - people just have higher standards here. The other interesting thing about Portland compared to many large eastern and midwestern cities is that when you complain to the appropriate city/county/regional government, something frequently gets done about your problem. It seems to me that there is less entrenched corruption in our various local governments as compared to the Detroit area. Perhaps it is also true for Chicago.

You can translate that to the cyclist deaths that have happened here. They occur much as I imagine they would anywhere, though we have a lot more cyclists on the roads here than just about anywhere in the US. We have a large, vocal group of people in the area who are accustomed to going to local government with a problem or concern and getting it addressed. We don't expect anything less when the issue is relevant to cyclists. Thus, it seems Portland is a dangerous place to ride a bike, when really, we just have a lower tolerance for the danger that some motorists cause us.

If you decide not to relocate to Portland, this shouldn't be the reason.

Thank you for all the great replys. Its good to know that there are so many active cyclits in Portland who won't take "no" for an answer. The lower tolerance factor is a good point and I didn't think of it that way. In fact, that makes me want to move even more and also take part in playing an active role in the community.

You would indeed have liked knowing my friend, and even though he hadn't even been in Portland 1 year, he was excited to call it home and get involved in the racing scene and local community.

At any rate, thanks to all for shedding some light on the situation. Hopefully we can make the move work!

Safe Riding!
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Old 09-19-2006, 03:47 PM
SEA_poseur_n_PDX SEA_poseur_n_PDX is offline
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I'm sure you've heard this a few too many times this week - I'm truly sorry to hear about your friend's death. the more I read about Mike the more I feel that his loss is a loss to everyone in this community.

--

I must congratulate you on your decision Not to move to Seattle. as a recent transplant from Seattle I can say with all candor that (if you do end up moving to the west) Portland is, for so many reasons, a much better place to land. the cycling community here is definitely one of those reasons.

having lived and biked in Austin TX, New York City, Stamford and New Haven CT, the bay area, Seattle, and now Portland Portland is hands down my favorite cycling community. there is such a large number of cyclists per capita here compared to other cities; and your average Portland resident is much more involved in the local cycling scene. it's amazing; and was a revelation for me after spending 15 years in Seattle and never really finding my stride with the cycling community there. spend a little time going through the bikeportland.org archives to see what I mean. there are so many great cycling events here, and so many people participating. and yes, it may seem like there are a disproportionate number of bike fatalities reported lately. really I'd guess that more incidents actually Do Get Reported (certainly more than I saw in Seattle). and the outrage expressed and community response to incidents make it seem doubly so. I'll just echo Rixter and donnambr's comments when I say that the tolerance level for driver negligence is much lower in Portland cycling community and they (I suppose I should start saying we) are a lot more proactive about making Portland safer.

for myself, I ride to work every morning and home every evening in downtown Portland for the last six months. I have yet to experience a moment where I didn't feel safe riding here.
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  #7  
Old 09-19-2006, 04:25 PM
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Jonathan Maus Jonathan Maus is offline
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bbstanley, I too am sorry for your loss.

I really appreciate your contributions to these Forums. You are exactly the type of person I was hoping to serve when I created them...coming from out of town and looking for a place for general insight into the Portland bike scene.

that being said, here's my .02.

I agree with what has been said above, please don't assume that the recent news coverage of crashes means that it is unsafe to ride in and around Portland. Statisically it is a very safe place to ride and stats also show that as more people ride, crash rates decline.

We are also lucky to have a lot of intelligent, energetic people here (citizens, bureaucrats, etc..) who are committed to making this the safest, most comfortable, and most fun place to ride a bike in the world (notice I compare us to the world, not just the USA).

thanks again for seeking advice in these forums, I hope you continue to post and good luck with the move!
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  #8  
Old 09-19-2006, 06:26 PM
bbstanley bbstanley is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEA_poseur_n_PDX View Post
I'm sure you've heard this a few too many times this week - I'm truly sorry to hear about your friend's death. the more I read about Mike the more I feel that his loss is a loss to everyone in this community.

--

I must congratulate you on your decision Not to move to Seattle. as a recent transplant from Seattle I can say with all candor that (if you do end up moving to the west) Portland is, for so many reasons, a much better place to land. the cycling community here is definitely one of those reasons.

having lived and biked in Austin TX, New York City, Stamford and New Haven CT, the bay area, Seattle, and now Portland Portland is hands down my favorite cycling community. there is such a large number of cyclists per capita here compared to other cities; and your average Portland resident is much more involved in the local cycling scene. it's amazing; and was a revelation for me after spending 15 years in Seattle and never really finding my stride with the cycling community there. spend a little time going through the bikeportland.org archives to see what I mean. there are so many great cycling events here, and so many people participating. and yes, it may seem like there are a disproportionate number of bike fatalities reported lately. really I'd guess that more incidents actually Do Get Reported (certainly more than I saw in Seattle). and the outrage expressed and community response to incidents make it seem doubly so. I'll just echo Rixter and donnambr's comments when I say that the tolerance level for driver negligence is much lower in Portland cycling community and they (I suppose I should start saying we) are a lot more proactive about making Portland safer.

for myself, I ride to work every morning and home every evening in downtown Portland for the last six months. I have yet to experience a moment where I didn't feel safe riding here.

Yes, we all have truly lost a great asset to the cycling community. That said, can anyone help me out with as to how I could get a ghost bike displayed in the spot he was killed? My husband and I really want to do our part to memorialize him and his family, and I think a ghost bike could be a good start. Since we live in Chicago, its a bit tough. While I know some aren't too keen on the bikes, I really think they are a good idea and will make people think twice.

On another note, thanks for the tip on Seattle. To be honest, we just didn't feel like there was a close knit community either, and from the first step into Portland, we knew that it would be a great city. I about fell over when people just started talking to me on the street and smiling in passing. We don't really get that too much in Chicago these days.

Jonathan, this site is wonderful. Thank you so much for creating it. Every city needs something like this. I will continue to post and look forward to getting involved if/when we make our pilgrimage!
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  #9  
Old 09-19-2006, 09:34 PM
HillSlug HillSlug is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbstanley View Post
Yes, we all have truly lost a great asset to the cycling community. That said, can anyone help me out with as to how I could get a ghost bike displayed in the spot he was killed? My husband and I really want to do our part to memorialize him and his family, and I think a ghost bike could be a good start. Since we live in Chicago, its a bit tough. While I know some aren't too keen on the bikes, I really think they are a good idea and will make people think twice.
Washington County Department of Land Use and Transportation

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* Public Affairs 503-846-4963
* e-mail lutdir@co.washington.or.us
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  #10  
Old 09-20-2006, 08:59 AM
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Haven_kd7yct Haven_kd7yct is offline
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"Does anyone feel safe riding/training in Portland?"

Well, I don't really ride in Portland itself, although Tigard is considered part of Portland. So technically, I guess I do ride in "Portland".... and I have to say that I feel safe riding and training in this area.

I consider myself an intermediate-level rider, and commute by bike as often as I can, and so far I haven't had any issues.

I've done a number of the organized events around the region, and also haven't had any issues with other road users, unless you count pedestrians and other riders. But even those issues aren't ones I would consider a barrier to my continued riding.

I'm biased, having lived in this area most of my life, so I'd say move to the Portland area!
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