Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

OPB essay on biking in Portland

Posted by on May 30th, 2007 at 10:28 am


A reader just sent me the link to an audio essay that ran on OPB yesterday. It was created by writer, and recent Portland transplant (from San Francisco via Boston), Elizabeth Moore.

Moore noticed some major differences between the cyclists in Portland vs. other places she’s lived:

“The first thing I learned in Portland is that the bikers here…tend to follow the rules. They wear helmets (I have since bought my first), they signal when they turn (I learned the motions); they equip their bikes with lights (and then use them). After being yelled at on three occasions, I broke down and did the same.”

She then makes a plea to motorists to consider, “biking a little more and driving a little less.”

You can listen to a short audio clip of the segment here.

(Thanks to Emily R. for the tip!)

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis May 30, 2007 at 10:41 am

    When I listened to this yesterday, I thought, “People here follow the rules *more* than they do elsewhere!?” Not sure whether that’s true re SF or Boston, but my experience has been that there are more folks here who go without helmets or break other rules (e.g., wrong-way riding) than in my previous home, Seattle.

    Regardless, this piece was great to hear. My favorite part was her consideration of how much you really get to know a place when you ride it and how wonderful an experience it is to ride instead of drive. I particularly like how she concludes that we’d *all* be better off if you (the driver) drove a little less and rode a little more.

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  • Tbird May 30, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Not sure I agree that not wearing a helmet is ‘breaking the rules’ ( unless your a minor) but I like the rest of the commentary. Glad to see more folks appreciating the cyclo-culture here!!!

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  • wyatt May 30, 2007 at 11:39 am

    I’ve ridden extensively in the Los Angeles area, and even more so in the Bay Area. Comparatively, Portland bikers are super-anal about following traffic laws.

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  • ME May 30, 2007 at 11:55 am

    I don’t think it’s a super anal biking community. I feel that more people are not just riding…but commuting by bike for the first time. And in order to join the mix- or the more experienced riders and commuters, the newer riders are being courteous and getting more acquainted with P-towns bike society as a whole…laws, lanes, riding in heavy traffic, etc…and are doing so, thankfully, with caution.

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  • wyatt May 30, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    I said “comparatively” super-anal.

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  • Austin Ramsland May 30, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    That was a great little essay.

    I loved the descriptions of Portland during the spring (The feel of my tire over fallen cherry blossoms in March, soggy with rain), and the gentle suggestion to get out there and ride.

    That’s good stuff.

    Isn’t her bumper sticker from BikePortland?

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  • Jonathan Maus / BikePortland May 30, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    “Isn’t her bumper sticker from BikePortland?”

    Yeah…I think she was referring to my “If you were riding, you’d be happy by now.” sticker. either that or someone has a sticker with a very similar slogan!

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  • Matt Picio May 30, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    Some group on Prescott has a new sticker that I really like, that says “Live Free or Drive”. That can go right next to my BikePortland stickers (my favorite is still “Welcome to Portland, now get on your bike”), and the sticker that says “Irritability is caused by too much stress and not enough bike riding”.

    Yes, my bike is a sticker collection on wheels.

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  • Maty October 14, 2008 at 12:06 am

    yeah this live free or drive we see around…do we know who’s affiliated? clever I’d say and also indicative of the political/psychological intentions or effects even of this that are so often overlooked.

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