pick her daughter up from school.
(Photos © J. Maus)
There has been a lot of talk and action around bicycle boulevards lately.
The term is used to describe low-traffic streets where bicycles are encouraged and supported through a number of engineering measures. They’re all the rage in the bike planning world and they’re one of the top priorities of the City of Portland in moving forward with its “transportation transformation.”
But lately I’ve noticed more and more non-bike and non-auto traffic on our local streets (skateboarders mostly) and have realized that the bicycle-centric term doesn’t quite do them justice.
Far from being just for or about bicycles, streets that are engineered to minimize motorized traffic (and to make it calm and predictable when it does happen), benefit everyone. Perhaps they should be called “People Streets”, “Safe Streets”, or “Healthy Streets”. After all, who could argue against either of those? (Not that bike boulevards have faced much opposition).
from the bars.
The reason I bring this up today is a woman named Marcella Red Thunder. I met Marcella, a 44-year old of Native American descent, as she pumped her Trikke scooter back and forth down NE 9th Ave, just south of Irving Park.
She rode in the middle of NE 9th (not technically a bike boulevard, but nice and calm nonetheless), undeterred by the threat of oncoming cars. I pulled alongside her and complimented her mode of transport. “Thanks!,” she said with a smile, “It saves me $99 a month plus initiation fees.” (A reference to the gym membership she doesn’t have to buy.)
I noticed Marcella had another scooter hanging from her bars. She was going to pick up her daughter from school. Marcella lives near N. Failing and Mallory and she was scooter-ing to Irvington School (at NE 14th and Brazee).
“I love riding my scooter,” said Marcella, “I’m feeling good, and it keeps me in the moment.”
If Portland can continue to improve its network of safe, efficient, and traffic-calmed streets, it’s not just people who ride bikes that will benefit. More people like Marcella will get to enjoy the satisfaction of being self-propelled and we’ll all be healthier as a result.