Portland’s bike-friendly rep garners plenty of attention too

Suli Yu, a reporter for Voice of
America, working in SE Portland
this morning.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Even though recent local and national headlines have portrayed an image of uneasiness and tension between bikes and cars on Portland’s roadways, our bike scene is also getting plenty of positive attention.

I just spent a few hours with Suli Yu, a video journalist with the Chinese bureau Voice of America. Founded in 1942, the VOA is a U.S. taxpayer-funded news service that broadcasts to a worldwide audience of 134 million people.

Mr. Yu was in Portland to produce a feature on our bike culture for Cultural Odyssey, a weekly news magazine program. Yu said the show will be translated into 44 languages and shown via satellite in cities around the world (in addition to being piped into every major hotel in China).

Yu interviewed Commissioner (and Mayor-elect) Sam Adams earlier today and I chatted with him about all sorts of topics. I look forward to seeing the story.

Portland’s leadership in creating a bike-able city have also landed major national publicity from CBS News Sunday Morning, National Public Radio and others.

With Pedal Power, CBS focused on the trend toward two-wheels in several U.S. cities and said,

“The one that’s farthest down the road in making itself bike friendly is Portland, Oregon. Mayor-elect Sam Adams is Portland’s transportation commissioner. He’ll soon preside over the country’s biggest bicycling success story.”

And the NPR show All Thing’s Considered featured a story last week titled, Portland, Ore., Rides Bikes Around High Gas Prices. Here’s the lead-in paragraph:

“Americans want alternatives to traffic jams and high gas prices. Portland, Oregon, thinks it has found one: convincing residents to commute by bike. Cycling has doubled since 2001. And the city hopes this is just the beginning.”

On a smaller scale, Oregon’s NPR affiliate (OPB) made bikes the subject of their one-hour Destination DIY show. The piece focused on how several Portlanders have turned their love of bikes into a career.

These stories are just some of the recent attention on Portland’s bike-friendly status, and with gas prices in the news now more than ever, we can expect the trend to continue.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Forseti
Forseti
15 years ago

Portland is convincing residents to commute by bike? The problem with that quote is that it makes it sound as though the City government is actually encouraging bike commuting and I think that\’s misleading.

At best, the City\’s policy toward bike commuting (or biking generally) is ambivalent – despite what the politicians say.

Sure, they build bike boxes and make other useful engineering improvements, but they also don\’t enforce traffic laws that protect cyclists and do stings on minor infractions by cyclists.

Regardless, it does indeed sound like this is positive attention.

RyNO Dan
RyNO Dan
15 years ago

PBS was filming ZooBomBerz this weekend.

BURR
BURR
15 years ago

actually Forseti, the City of Portland has an excellent and active \’Transportation Options\’ program that does encourage new bicycle commuters, and is completely separate from their engineering / infrastructure program. But often I think that the left hand doesn\’t know what the right hand is doing over at PDOT and IMO, their so-called \’safety experts\’ are pretty clueless most of the time.

Forseti
Forseti
15 years ago

Thanks, Burr. I am aware of this and should have listed it as one of their \”pro-bike\” policies. I still think, and it sounds like you agree, that the overall policy put forth by the City is ultimately more than just amibvalent but perhaps downright schizophrenic.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the City spends money on a program specifically encouraging people to bike but, as I said, refuses to enforce traffic laws that protect cyclists knowing very well that traffic safety is the #1 factor keeping people from biking.

The cynic in me say that they want to capture the public relations value from the fact that so many people are riding, and to take some of the credit, but they don\’t really do very much per se to provide a safe City in which to bike – which is the single most important thing they *could* do.

In fairness, it seems to be mostly the PPB – of all the City bureaucracy – that has a firm anti-bike policy (regardless of what they say). But of course all the City bureaus are under the control of one City Council and subject to their control – right?

BURR
BURR
15 years ago

the PPB acts in coordination and conjunction with PDOT staff on the \’bike stings\’, and Sam Adams keeps his mouth shut because he knows there aren\’t enough cyclists in town to assure him victory in an election.

cyclist
cyclist
15 years ago

Forseti, I moved here in 1994 and have witnessed the huge transformation that has taken place here with regards to cycling infrastructure.

I came out here by train, assembled my bike at the Amtrak station, and cycled to my new home in Sellwood. AT the time there were few (if any) bike lanes, no set aside bike boulevards (or at least none that were signed), the portion of the Springwater along the Willamette wasn\’t there… the bridge crossings were much less friendly… I could go on and on.

While you may have problems with the PPD, I think it\’s difficult to refute that the city of Portland has done quite a bit to encourage cycling in this city. We may not be \”there\” yet, but we\’ve made huge strides and the city has been and is expending a significant amount of capital to make that happen.

bahueh
bahueh
15 years ago

yep, Portland hasn\’t done a single thing to help facilitate or encourage residents to bike…

nope, not a single thing..
http://www.portlandonline.com/TRANSPORTATION/index.cfm?a=58288&c=34814

the PPD isnt\’ out to get you, Forseti..unless of course you are out breaking basic traffic laws…I have yet to have a single conversation with a PPD officer while on bike in the last 7 years of commuting/racing/training.

do us a favor, go try to commute in L.A. or San Diego or Houston…and then let us know now you feel about PDX\’s city and infrastructure when you return..

Rick
Rick
15 years ago

I know of no city in the USA, that is a better place to cycle than Portland. I grew up in Chicago, went to college in Boulder, have friends in Davis & Austin. I have ridden in them all. Copenhagen is better than Amsterdam (both are the standard). Portland can improve, but we are lucky.

I agree the city can make some serious improvements in enforcing laws on both sides to help potential riders make the decision to ride their bike.

Forseti
Forseti
15 years ago

Boy, you guys don\’t read that well, huh? I never said the City didn\’t do anything to promote cycling. Check out Rick, at #8, he\’s paying attention.

cyclist
cyclist
15 years ago

Forseti,

You said:

The problem with that quote is that it makes it sound as though the City government is actually encouraging bike commuting and I think that\’s misleading.

I responded with:

While you may have problems with the PPD, I think it\’s difficult to refute that the city of Portland has done quite a bit to encourage cycling in this city.

I responded using the same word you did. I do believe the City of Portland has and is \”actually encouraging bike commuting,\” therefore there is nothing misleading about the article saying so.

Do you still think I don\’t read well?

Forseti
Forseti
15 years ago

Yeah. I think it was pretty clear from what I wrote there and elsewhere that I was not attempting to refute that the City has done things to encourage cycling, only that they also do things to discourage cycling.

Eileen
Eileen
15 years ago

Forseti, not doing enough to encourage is not the same as doing things to discourage. It will take time before Portland is bicycling paradise. But I do think the voices (like yours) that continue to point out how we\’re not there yet are what we need to get there.

SkidMark
SkidMark
15 years ago

I much prefer riding in Seattle, you don\’t have to sweat the cops at all.

amanda
amanda
15 years ago

Hey, this guy got a shot of my wheels this morning coming across the Hawthorne! Yay! Maybe my feet will be famous.