PDOT is in the midst of updating their Central City Transportation Management Plan. As part of the update, they’ve asked city bicycle coordinator Roger Geller to draft a white paper that identifies the cycling issues in Portland’s Central City (more on that later).
In order to help explain various bikeway treatments to (non bike-geek) city planners and engineers, Geller places Portland cyclists in one of four general categories. I’ve listed them below followed by Geller’s description taken directly from a preliminary draft of the document:
The Strong and Fearless
The “Strong and the Fearless” comprise perhaps 2,000 or fewer cyclists in Portland, representing well less than 0.5% of the population. These are the people who will ride in Portland regardless of roadway conditions. They are ‘bicyclists” riding is a strong part of their identity and they are generally undeterred by roadway conditions—though likely few are courageous enough to venture too far up West Burnside into the West Hills.
The Enthused and the Confident
The “Enthused and the Confident” are those who have been attracted to cycling in Portland by the significant advances the city has made developing its bikeway network and supporting infrastructure over the past 16 years. They are comfortable sharing the roadway with automotive traffic, but they prefer to do so operating on their own facilities.
There are perhaps now more than 15,000 of this group riding their bicycles regularly in the city, comprising perhaps 25,000 Portland citizens, or 5% of the population.
The Interested But Concerned
A much larger demographic, representing the vast majority of Portland’s citizens, are the “interested but concerned.” These residents are curious about bicycling. They are hearing messages from a wide variety of sources about how easy it is to ride a bicycle in Portland, about how bicycling is booming in the city, about “bicycle culture” in Portland, about Portland being a “bicycle-friendly” city, and about the need for people to lead more active lives. They would like to ride more. But, they are afraid to ride.
There are probably 300,000 in this group (with perhaps 2,000 who ride regularly), representing 60% of the city’s population. They would ride if they felt safer on the roadways—if cars were slower and less frequent, and if there were more quiet streets with few cars and paths without any cars at all.
No Way, No How
Perhaps one-third of the city’s population falls into the last category of ‘cyclist.’ This is the “no way, no how” group who is currently not interested in bicycling at all, for reasons of topography, inability, or simply a complete and utter lack of interest.
I’m sure most of you are in the first two groups, but I thought these descriptions were interesting because they give a neat window into the mind of how PDOT thinks about bikes.
So, what type of cyclist are you? I’d probably put myself in the “enthused and confident” group.