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Portland’s bike economy in the news again

Posted by on January 9th, 2008 at 12:14 pm

In the shop with Joseph Ahearne

Custom bike and parts manufacturing, like these
freshly brazed forks by Joseph Ahearne,
are just one part of Portland’s emerging
bike economy.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

Portland’s National Public Radio affiliate, OPB, has a story today on the connections between Portland’s bike culture and our fledgling bike economy.

The piece is titled, Portland’s Bike Culture Creates Market.

The story, likely spurred by a similar article in the New York Times back in November, starts out with an obligatory mention of Zoobomb (they should get royalties every time a media outlet drops their name) and includes a brief interview with a local bike news publisher, and an employee from Beaverton-based rack manufacturer, Yakima.

In his story, Lindsey probes the question of just how big of an economic player bicycles could become in Portland. I told him that we’re already on our way, with the recognition of bicycles from the Portland Development Commission as a “target industry” subset of the athletic shoes and apparel sector. To that, he wondered:

But is this dream a reality? Could Portland become to bikes what Detroit was once for cars?

I’d sure like to think so.

Read and/or listen to the entire story on (it will be streaming audio later today). The story will also be heard nationally next week on the NPR program “Marketplace” which airs weekdays on 91.5 FM at 6:30.

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I\’m embarassed to know this, but \’Marketplace\’ has been moved to 6:30 pm on weekdays.


Those forks look brazed to me 😀


Marketplace is not on at 4:30 anymore. It\’s now All Things Considered from 4-6:30, THEN Marketplace.


If people keep dropping ZooBomb as a biggy in Portland bike culture I might actually have to get my sleepy booty to a zooBomb

gabriel amadeus

Your chance is nigh! minibikewinter is coming up Feb 14-17. Even more stoopidity and spectacle than usual!


Just remember, stupidity is in fact painfull.


stupidity is also tons of fun. 🙂



can\’t wait to get back to pdx and participate in a zoobomb. my body needs something to keep it in line since i stopped playing hockey. bastard\’s getting a little too comfortable in its skin.


\”Many repair shops thus found it worthwhile to make replacement parts themselves – not difficult if a man specialized in one kind of part, as many repairmen did. In this way, groups of bicycle repair shops were almost doing the work of manufacturing entire bicycles. That step was taken by bicycle assemblers who bought parts, on contract, from repairmen: the repairmen had become \’light manufacturers.\’\”

So wrote the famous urbanist Jane Jacobs, (copied here from an article on bikes/Portland, that appeared on the website

Jane\’s seminal works on cities, urbanism, and economies is must reading for Portlanders…for her the bike example was chosen to illustrate how cities can develop individual industries…Portland is not only doing just that, but in the very realm she chose for her example.
I had the great honor to meet her once, and told her of this, and she was very pleased.

Read: The Economy of Cities and the Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Matt Picio

Nitpick – on Lindsey\’s story, not Jonathan\’s. Detroit still *is* \”all that\” for cars. Detroit is the major force in all automotive development, just not GM, Ford & Chrysler. Daimler, Toyota, Nissan, and many other major manufacturers all have tech centers in metro Detroit, and the area is still the centerpiece in automotive development and design – but many of the companies doing the design have headquarters in other countries.

It would be equivalent to Specialized, Gary Fisher, Trek, and other major bike manufacturers having design centers in SE, the Pearl, North Portland and Gresham. I\’m not sure we want that (or do we?), but I\’d love to see more small independent shops open their doors here and produce product.