The Portland City Council unanimously passed a resolution today making the bicycle industry a recognized and targeted part of our economy.
Mia Birk, principal at Alta Planning and Design (and former Bike Program manager for PDOT) presented her firm’s recent research to Mayor Potter and Commissioners Adams, Leonard, Sten and Saltzman.
Lining up to testify and show support of this resolution were myself, Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves, Bill Stites of Stites Design, BTA Director Evan Manvel, the CCC’s new Director of Development and Communications Alison Hill, and Chris Smith from Portland Transport.
It was an important day because we weren’t their to lobby for new bike infrastructure or to oppose anti-bike policies. Instead, the Mayor and Commissioners listened to our testimony about the importance of fostering bicycle-related industry in Portland.
While it may not be as fun as Pedalpalooza or naked bike rides, getting bikes on the map as an economic “target industry” is a very big deal.
I liked Chris Smith’s testimony. He encouraged the Council to consider the potential of positioning Portland as the place for the bicycle industry given the realities of Peak Oil and global warming. Smith realizes that given these issues, the bicycle industry will continue to grow in size and importance and Portland is well positioned to take advantage of this.
I didn’t take great notes, but I remember something Commissioner Saltzman said:
“Let’s take this strength and turn it into an economic asset.”
This is big picture thinking. Nothing against small framebuilders and mom-and-pop bike shops, but we need to complement our innovative bike infrastructure and policies with cutting-edge ideas on how to grow our bicycle-related industry.
Of course we’ll never compete with China for large-scale manufacturing and production, but there’s vast potential in many other areas. We’ve already got the most important ingredient; tons of smart and entrepreneurial bike geeks just waiting for the right place to put their passion.
As I sat in Council Chambers and listened to the testimony, I felt as though we’re at the start of something big and we just took the first of many exciting steps.
[You can get an up-close look at an important part of our local bike-conomy at tomorrow’s bike show at City Hall. In addition to one of our largest local bike companies, you can meet and view the work of nine local bike builders and a bevy of bike artists.]