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Bicycling Mag: Portland no longer America’s top bike city

Posted by on April 6th, 2010 at 11:19 am

“There’s a lot going on in Portland, but there are other cities having more astonishing success at this point.”
— Loren Mooney, Editor-in-Chief Bicycling Magazine

Bicycling Magazine’s annual list of America’s top bicycle cities puts Portland in unfamiliar territory: second place. Since 1995, Portland has consistently been ranked as the #1 biking city, earning the title every year the rankings have been held since 1995 (1999, 2001, 2006 and 2008).

But this year, that honor goes to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Here’s how the top 10 rankings ended up (great to see Eugene in the 5th spot!):

    1. Minneapolis, Minnesota
    2. Portland, Oregon
    3. Boulder, Colorado
    4. Seattle, Washington
    5. Eugene, Oregon
    6. San Francisco, California
    7. Madison, Wisconsin
    8. New York City, New York
    9. Tucson, Arizona
    10. Chicago, Illinois

I usually don’t make much out of the various rankings that come out, but Bicycling has been doing their’s for longer than anyone else and Portland’s #1 ranking has become a cornerstone of our reputation.

    Top 10 Best Cities:

    Does this mean the Portland bike magic is starting to wear off? Maybe. But this is more likely a sign that bike-friendliness is on the rise in cities across the country and Portland simply isn’t as far out in front as it once was. I spoke with Bicycling’s editor-in-chief Loren Mooney about the rankings this morning and she echoed that sentiment:

    “I would say that in terms of our list, it’s nothing that Portland has not done right, it’s more that the striking thing that’s happened in the last four years is tremendous improvement from other cities around the country.”

    In straight comparisons of what Mooney calls “boring but important” statistics, Portland would be #1, but Bicycling gave the title to Minneapolis for their intangibles. Mooney said “we’re giving a lot of momentum credit here” and she acknowledged that the way Minneapolis’s community has bonded around the “winter riding spirit” figured largely into their decision.

    Mooney also shared this perspective on Portland:

    “It’s fair to say that, not to be negative to Portland, but there’s also the notion that Portland may not be moving forward at as rapid a pace as some of these other cities at this point. There’s a lot going on in Portland, but there are other cities having more astonishing success at this point.”

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Maurice TierneyGoodcrank-eIan BBikePortland.org » Blog Archive » A few things Minneapolis has that we don’t Recent comment authors
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todd
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todd

all you need to do is declare portland el numero uno, jonathan. and google news will pick it up, and boom: true! journalists do make news.

Nick V
Guest
Nick V

In that same issue, they also tout a Trek as the world’s greatest bike, so…..

carlos
Guest
carlos

haters

BURR
Guest
BURR

good, now maybe Adam the doosh from Minneapolis will go back home!

Daniel Ronan
Guest

Personally, I am glad that Portland did not make the top spot. I think we have become somewhat boastful of our accomplishments as a community, instead of continuing to push the pedals as hard as we should.

Here’s to finding our new focus!

Case
Guest
Case

Seattle is #4? Ridiculous!

Nick V
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Nick V

Daniel #5 is spot on. We’ve become known for smugly patting ourselves on the back and the magazine most likely noticed.

Patrick V.
Guest

I can see some truth to this. Portland is a great biking city but I have lived in other cities in the United States that are equal to or better. Nothing will keep us off the list, even if it isn’t the number 1 spot.

chad
Guest
chad

The editor nailed it, boring stat wise we are still #1.

Having very recently visited Minneapolis they are still quite a long way “behind” us as far as current bicycle infrastructure goes, but as far as momentum and enthusiasm they are giving us a very good run for our money.

I can’t help but see this new friendly competition as a good thing for both cities.

Game on 🙂

eric
Guest
eric

I am from mpls and moved back to portland a year ago. Both cities have a very strong bike culture, however, portland has much more in place in terms of cycling infrastructure. the article is correct in citing the winter riding. i rode all year round (-20) and it is incredible over the years how the number of riders during the winter has increased.

i think we should celebrate the fact that cities are striving to catch up to the bar pdx has set.

CPF
Guest
CPF

“Winter riding spirit?” Please. You live in Minnesota, you know what weather to expect. No extra credit, especially for a seasonal intangible. Compare that to some of the others that are hard work year ’round: hills (Seattle, SF), thin air (Boulder), heat (Tucson), crazies (Chicago, NY).

I’m fine with Portland being a number other than one. More leverage when pushing legislation.

are
Guest

why anyone even reads this consumerist rag

Kevin Buchanan
Guest

MPLS is doing some good work. We’re hoping it’ll rub off on us – the man who was behind the Minneapolis bike push, Don Koski, came to Fort Worth and put together our own ambitious bike plan which was recently passed.

dan
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dan

I don’t understand how we’re even in the top 10, since we only have what, 1/4 mile of singletrack here?

velo
Guest
velo

As a form resident of Portland recently transported to Minneapolis/St. Paul I’m not really sure how they did these rankings.

The Twin Cities are good for cycling and definitely getting better, but Portland they are not.

For commuting I think Portland still takes the cake, but the Twin Cities have created a lot of recreational infrastructure that I’m sure a lot of people find appealing. MSP has more in the way of off street paths and such. Sometimes they work for commuting, but they seem more targeted at recreational users.

rj
Guest
rj

Burr
As a former Iowan.. I don’t know how anyone in the Twin Cities could bike commute more than 3 months out of the year.

Paul Johnson
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Paul Johnson

The Californian factor. If Minnesota had Californian drivers, they wouldn’t be number one, either.

P Finn
Guest

guess what else is ‘boring but important’ and distinguishes an amateur blog from a professional one: grammar!

their’s…really?

call me if you need a hand with that,

Picky P

trackback

[…] nascent rivalry turn into an extended Jay-Z vs. Nas-style intercity beef, that makes two of us. But BikePortland's Jonathan Maus seems to be taking the news in stride, writing that "this is more likely a sign that bike-friendliness is on the rise in cities […]

MIndfulCyclist
Guest
MIndfulCyclist

I was actually very happy to see that my hometown of Billings, MT was #37.

Elliot
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Elliot

+1 to Daniel #5. This should be a reminder/source of motivation to pick up the pace a bit and not rest on our laurels. Competition is a good thing.

dan
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dan

LOL @ Dan #14

I think that Bicycling magazine is focused on how viable it is to use a bicycle as your primary mode of transportation, rather than a car. Miles of singletrack, DH facilities, and jump parks probably aren’t metrics they track.

Camp Bike Fun
Guest

ummm…
Davis? Berkeley?

BURR
Guest
BURR

LOL at Dan #21.

I think bicycling magazine is focused on how much unnecessary ‘gear’ they can sell for their advertisers.

PD
Guest
PD

Can’t wait for Adams to “find” another $20million at BES to help get back to #1…

We cyclists love sticking it to the taxpaying public for our infrastructure, and getting bumped from #1 will only help our cause…not hurt it.

I really think this is a good thing!!!

are
Guest

even if the trolls say so, it is true that bicycling magazine is promoting a view that separate facilities are inherently positive, rather than one that talks about sharing the existing facilities . . .

which, however, the trolls driving cars refuse to do.

joe adamski
Guest
joe adamski

For years my response to Portlands #1 status has been that we aren’t all that great,its just the rest of the country has so far to go. So apparently, the rest of the country is waking up. Good on them. I would like to see PDX struggle to be #3 or 10. And that the momentum is starting, nationwide. Distinctions from a magazine mean little. True success is a citys’ residents feeling comfortable and connected to their city, and able to access that cities benefits without the burden of car ownership.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Let me see if I get this right:
The objective statistics area Portland would be rank 1, but because of in possible to verify “intangibles”, the editor ranks Minneapolis? Riiight.. sounds like a hack job. Whats the point of computing all the statistics in the first place if you just disregard like a used happy sock.

007
Guest
007

Should get worse if Rex Burkholder is elected Metro president. I see gridlock…

BB
Guest
BB

I was happy too see The east valley rank 15 and 20. And then Tucson 9. Arizona has 3 spots all within the top 20.

They have some really exciting things many bigger cities don’t have. Co-ops which rock, trip reduction programs, shower incentives, parking requirements on new infrastructure, and bicycle lawyers.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

SHENANIGANS!

Erinne
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Erinne

Gosh, I remember when I lived in Minneapolis there was only one bike lane I knew of–in the center of Hennepin Avenue for about 10 blocks. I hate to admit, but it was pretty frightening to cross two lanes of cars and buses to get to it.

I also remember that bike part theft was rampant. I had my seat and rear wheel stolen on separate occasions. I started taking my seat in with me everywhere I went.

Erinne
Guest
Erinne

That was about 10 years ago, so Minneapolis must have made some progress since then.

Michael M.
Guest

Putting Minneapolis at #1 ahead of Portland is kinda like the Nobel committee awarding the Peace Prize to Obama before he actually did much to advance the cause of peace. It’s all about the perception, or the momemtum, or the perception of momentum, or something….

Red Five
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Red Five

No, Portland ain’t all that. Get away from the downtown or inner NE and SE and come out here to the east side of town where bike infrastructure hardly exists in some places, and where it does it amounts to a gravel and grass strewn mess a couple feet wide.

There is LOTS of room for improvement.

Marcus Griffith
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Marcus Griffith

Whats better than being #1 on the list? Not having to live in Minnesota…

On a serious not, nice that two Oregon cities some-what close together made the list.

Bent Bloke
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Bent Bloke

The rankings don’t really matter. Doesn’t change anything on the streets.

And Red Five, it’s not so bad out here in outer SE. There are plenty of bike routes on nice, quiet streets, but you have to carry a map to find them. No signs! So most people end up on the arterials with bike lanes, which aren’t very inviting, or safe.

EmGee
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EmGee

Portland has taken a major hit on the “intangibles” side of the ledger with the BTA’s recent problems. Mostly with the way the underlying problems, whatever they might be, are being covered up like painting over dirt.

Until BTA gets their act more together and wins back the trust of the community, or some other organization steps to the front, Portland’s strong objective showing is going to continue to be tarnished in these kinds of polls.

trackback

[…] Maus over at BikePortland.org has a story about why Portland dropped to number two and might explain why Tucson is behind cities like New […]

Pete Za
Guest
Pete Za

C’mon all my latex wearing brothas…let’s “woot woot” for Portland!!! Just a few more raids of public funding, a few mre “suck ups” to Adams, and we’ll be back to number one!!! Angry motorists when you “take the lane”…pee-shaw..let’s show those tax pay’n Portlanders whose boss, and let’s create MORE bike infrastructue at their expense….LETS BE NUMERO UNO….AGAIN.

Blah Blah Blah
Guest
Blah Blah Blah

Maybe Portland droppped to second because the cyclist seem to be focusing on studded tires lately, rather than real issues.

Adam R
Guest
Adam R

In my mind, Portland has not been the #1 city for bicycling in a long, long time. Cities like Vancouver BC up in Canada, or Berkeley, California, are shining examples of what we could, but are failing to achieve.

I think Portland needs to step up its bicycling infrastructure. And not just in terms of quantity, but more in terms of QUALITY.

Portland seems to “test” things a lot by building one of them, after which it get Streetfilms along to film Mia Birk or Mark Lear or Greg Raisman propped up on top of said new example of infrastructure (be it traffic diverter, traffic circle, bike box etc) to wax lyrical about it. Which would be all find and good, if it then constructed many more of them. But it doesn’t. As an example, the City’s traffic safety division is always going on about how awesome diversion is on our bike boulevards, yet there’s hardly been a single diverter constructed since, like, the 1970s! It’s so wrong. You only need to look at Portland’s, oooh, six or so traffic diverters on the ENTIRE bike blvd network to see this. Six? There needs to be sixty! Or six hundred! I would like Portland to be more bold about putting its money where its mouth is. If your traffic engineers are being filmed in Streetfilms videos talking about how necessary traffic diverters on bike boulevards are, then BUILD MORE OF THEM!!

This is where Vancouver BC & all the other awesome bike cities collectively kick Portland’s sorry ass. They invest in bike boulevard infrastructure (particularly diversion) that works, and they build lots and lots and lots of it.

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

Pete, bicyclists subsidize motorists, not the other way around. Let them eat cake.
http://www.vtpi.org/whoserd.pdf

Seager
Guest

Yay! Eugene is #5, beating San Francisco at #6! Corvallis is #2 for cities under 100k, also awesome. Lets hear it for Oregon’s little cities!

Being another midwest transplant (Iowa), I’m amazed that Minneapolis is so high. The weather sucks there.

Although Mpls (technically Bloomington, a suburb) is the home of Quality Bike Products (http://www.qbp.com/ace_advocacy.html) a giant in the bike industry and advocacy.

are
Guest

yo pete 41, which is it? angry when i take the lane or more infrastructure? try to sort out your confusions before trolling. no latex here, bro.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

In reading that Seattle is ranked higher than NYC – I find surprising having ridden frequently through the CBDs of both cities.

As of last fall – I found it way more relaxing to ride in NYC than downtown Seattle – sharrios are great but separated bike tracks/ bike signals and bike lanes are way better. Perhaps this lower score has as much to say for NYC doing a lot in lower Manhattan and perhaps missing the mark in other places or missing bridge links?

Frank Selker
Guest
Frank Selker

When Portland was first awarded numero uno I didn’t think we were that good, but I was still thrilled: tell a man he is brave, and he will be. Sure enough, we rose to the praise in many ways.

As others have noted, a big weakness is our lack of off-road cycling. So many towns all over the country find ways to create fun trail riding – just today there was an article about Medford doing this, and a few days ago another set of trails in Seattle. Let’s hope we can sooner or later emulate these success stories.

cold worker
Guest
cold worker

i don’t really care about these rankings. i’m gonna ride regardless. i lived for a couple years in mpls, 2002-04. i found it to be a generally miserable place to ride (and live, sometimes), no matter the weather. summer, hot and humid. winter, ridiculous cold and snow. like erinne mentioned, riding on hennepin; terrifying. the trails; maybe if your commute is just right the trails might be handy. the bike lanes that did exist all winter long were the debris lanes. etc. it must be better than it was, i hope so for the cyclists, my friends who still live there.

i’m glad i don’t live there anymore.

Barney
Guest
Barney

Once Portland implements my plan for a cyclist-only habitrail above the city, we can easily reclaim #1.

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

I suspect that in the May issue, there will be the following disclaimer:

“April Fools”