I know we’re already getting down to business in 2011, but I can’t let 2010 slip away without reflecting on it a bit more. After all, 2010 gave us a lot to get excited about. Here are just some of the big ideas, projects, and events that defined the year.
2010 was another big year for Sunday Parkways…
With the third consecutive year of being massively successful, the carfree events have become a bona fide Portland institution (and they’re even on Google Maps!). Each time they roll through a neighborhood, they win over new fans and they show us all what our public spaces can look like when we’re not afraid to put people first.
Speaking of enjoyable streets, bike boulevards made huge leaps and bounds in 2010 (thanks in part to hundreds of newly installed sharrows). PBOT’s relentless work on these “neighborhood greenways” has spurred a quiet revolution in Portland mobility. On Going Street for instance, which PBOT refers to as their “marquee” bike boulevard, they’ve created a glorious, (mostly) stop-sign free, east-west bike corridor complete with a two-way cycle track and improved crossing of a major arterial.
Bikes with batteries didn’t quite sweep the city like some of us thought they would in 2010, but e-bikes definitely made ground on their quest for legitimacy. The eBike Store in North Portland celebrated a very successful first year in business and Kalkhoff found a healthy niche for their gorgeously made, German e-bikes. Mayor Adams and the City now count at least two e-bikes in their fleet and OMSI unveiled an e-bike charging station. I remain convinced that if/when an e-bike revolution really hits America, Portland will be the epicenter.
If you carry kids when you ride, you can relate to the need for a boost. In 2010, it seemed like more people than ever hit the bikeways with their family in tow. Families came out in droves to all the Sunday Parkways events, Kidical Mass came back from the dead (literally), and there was even the Fiets of Parenthood event. Family biking is ready to get event bigger in 2011; hopefully our bikeways will keep up.
The other place families loomed large was at the races. 2010 was a banner year for racing in Portland. The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association broke all sorts of records for participation and number of events. At the opening race of the Cross Crusade in October, there were a whopping 1,762 racers that lined up to compete — including 256 “Kiddie Crossers.” Expect to see even more events, more fans, more competitors — and of course even more families at the races in 2011.
Another piece of the Portland bike ecosystem with memorable change in 2010 was advocacy. The BTA went through massive changes for yet another year. In March, they hired Rob Sadowsky to be executive director, and then he oversaw resignations by their development and finance director within the next few months. The BTA Board changed too; with new faces elected in May and veteran member Doug Parrow, chose to resign after 13 years.
In 2010, it seemed like the BTA finally began to right their ship after several stormy years. Let’s hope that it’s nothing but full speed ahead for them in 2011.
2010 was also a year when smaller, upstart groups formed and came of age. The Northwest Trail Alliance further established itself as a regional force and fought its biggest battle to date — an attempt to get improved access for bicycles in Forest Park. The Willamette Pedestrian Coalition also had a banner year, which culminated in November when leader Stephanie Routh unveiled their Walking Safety Action Plan.
Several grassroots groups cut their teeth last year: Kiel Johnson (remember that name) single-handedly put “bike trains” on the local (and national!) radar; Owen Walz started Friends of Barbur to make more people aware of safety problems that exist on SW Barbur Blvd; and activists from Active Right of Way thrust themselves onto the scene with an (ongoing) effort to raise awareness of bike safety issues around streetcar tracks.
Another part of Portland’s bike scene that continued to grow, despite a downturn in the economy, were bike-related businesses. Eight new bike shops opened in Portland last year, bringing the total to about 60 city-wide. Bikes also impacted our local economy by spurring development along N. Williams Avenue. I noted the “bike-oriented development” trend at the outset of 2010 and was pleased to see it picked up by the Portland Tribune and then validated by becoming the subject of a panel discussion at the Railvolution Conference in October.
And these are just some of the big things that I’ll remember from 2010…
I conclude this 2010 recaps with an event that plays an important role in our city — the World Naked Bike Ride. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any bigger, a massive crowd turned up to ride back in June, making it by far the largest ride of its kind in the world. If you don’t remember anything else from 2010, remember this…
Thanks for reading and for sticking around to see what happens next in 2011…