Don’t miss this article by Jeff Mapes in today’s “inPortland” section of the Oregonian. Jeff (who is working on a book about how bikes are transforming cities around the world) accompanied the delegation of local bike advocates that went to Netherlands last month.
This discussion comparing Portland and Amsterdam is very intriguing to me. The article also gives insight into the thinking of the people that shape policies that affect our experience as cyclists in this city. Here are some of the quotes that stood out for me:
This one reminds us that our representatives were hard at work, not hardly working:
“Unlike many Amsterdam tourists, they (the Portland delegation) gawked at actual red lights, not the red-light district.”
This quote came from Sam Adams. It’s great to see he understands that we should go beyond anti-car rhetoric in our effort to get people out of cars:
“It’s not a question of browbeating single-occupancy drivers into submission. It’s developing options that are better.”
And here’s the word from a traffic safety expert in Amsterdam. And I’ll add that it is precisely the same point I make when people start complaining that bikes break traffic laws:
“When the speeds are low, the consequences are not severe,”
And this quote speaks to a fundamental difference in our laws and cultures:
“Dutch drivers can’t get a license until they are 18, and they have to spend thousands of dollars for instruction. They’re also assumed to be at fault if they collide with a pedestrian or bicyclist.”
And here’s my favorite quote. It comes from an Amsterdam traffic safety officer and echoes my argument about equal enforcement of bike and motor vehicle traffic laws:
“You can’t change that biker behavior,” he says, adding that the Dutch focus their resources on motorists because they do the most damage.
One final note. We’re lucky to have a guy like Jeff Mapes in a senior writing position at the Oregonian. This guy is the real deal and he completely understands the importance and potential of bikes to a healthy and sustainable future for our city. We’ll definitely be hearing more from him in the future.