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Bike-cultural exchange: Sister city extends to cycling

Posted by on July 7th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Eugenio Arriaga Cordero during
a recent bike ride in Portland.
(Photo: Jessica Roberts)

For over two decades, Portland has had a sister-city relationship with Guadalajara, Mexico. In addition to supporting Portland’s Latino community through a variety of cultural exchange programs, the partnership puts on Portland’s annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta.

Now, a new initiative will have the two cities exchanging bike smarts as well.

Representatives from Guadalajara’s transportation office were in Portland during the recent Towards Carfree Cities Conference to iron out the plans.

A participant in Guadalajara’s carfree,
“Via Recreativa” event.
(Photos: Rex Burkholder)

Greg Raisman, a traffic safety expert at the City of Portland’s Office of Transportation says, “We’ve had some great preliminary discussions with the Guadalajara Mayor’s office in expanding the relationship to specifically focus on bicycles.”

Raisman says they are still “vetting out” all the ideas, but says some of them might include having certain days each year when the city’s mayors conduct all their daily business by bicycle and exchanging (and translating) educational materials (like this Share the Path brochure).

Raisman adds that Portland also wants to learn from Guadalajara’s experience with their highly successful, Sunday Parkways-style event, the “Via Recreativa”.

The new, two-wheeled courtship is already making news in Guadalajara. An article published Saturday in the Guadalajara Reporter — Portland the paradigm for Guadalajara’s bike dreams (reg req’d) — says that city’s mayor, Alfonso Petersen, is using the relationship to help bolster public support for bike facilities and help his transportation staff carry out his ambitious bike plan:

“Portland, Oregon, the United State’s most bike-friendly city… is providing inspiration and guidance as local transportation officials break ground to make Petersen’s plan a reality.”

Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder
in Guadalajara in May 2007.

Part of that plan is to re-think their bike network and Guadalajara officials are in negotiations with Portland-based Alta Planning to help them do it.

Eugenio Arriaga Cordero, coordinator of Guadalajara’s Non-Motorized Mobility Program, told the Guadalajara Reporter that,

“We need to change people’s attitudes and their habits. We need to stop associating driving a car with a symbol of success. We need to show that cars cause problems, financial, environmental and for health. We need to convince people that walking, biking and public transportation are preferable modes of transportation.”

Last spring, Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder visited Guadalajara and gave a presentation about how bicycles fit into Portland’s transportation system. While there, he also took part in their Via Recreativa and I published a story about his impressions of that event.

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  • Stripes July 7, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Until I attended the Towards Carfree Cities conference, I didn\’t even know Portland **had** a sister city!

    Now I\’m really excited about it, and made several new great friends from Guadalajara, via the conference.

    Very exciting to see this taking shape!

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  • Stephen Upchurch
    Stephen Upchurch July 7, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    The representatives from Guadalajara\’s Transportation Office weren\’t the only folks from that city to attend the Towards Carfree Cities Conference.

    We were also very fortunate to have representatives from Ciudad Para Todos a citizen activist group who, in words I have translated from their website, \”seek to influence the building of a healthy city, where there is urban mobility and inclusive environmental sustainability.\”

    They are somewhat critical of \”the indiscriminate promotion that has been done on the use of private cars to solve the transportation needs in Guadalajara and believe that the automobile privilege over all other forms of transport, not just contributes to road chaos, but also a significant deterioration in our health, loss of employment and working time, loss of quality of life, creation of environmental problems and overall irreversible effects on the planet.\”

    Additionally, from what I know there is not an existing \”bike network\” in Guadalajara but the city is moving toward developing some type of master plan. Our friends at Ciudad Para Todos are attempting to influence the city government to create something that is the product of citizen input as well as good planning and governmental collaboration.

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  • Stephen Upchurch
    Stephen Upchurch July 7, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Here is the link to Ciudad Para Todos:

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  • Stephen Upchurch
    Stephen Upchurch July 7, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I tried.

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  • WAW042 July 8, 2008 at 6:36 am

    Well I wasn\’t the only one then. Don\’t know if that makes me feel better or not.

    The IP Lookup I did indicated that it came from Amsterdam but that could be wrong also.


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