Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

It’s Bike Month, and it seems like everyone’s riding

Posted by on May 1st, 2013 at 11:17 am

Traffic on Interstate Ave

N. Interstate and Skidmore, April 18th.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Today is the first day of National Bike Month. I don’t usually tend to make much of these things (every month is bike month in my world); but there’s so much going on around it in Portland that I feel this month-long recognition of bicycling is worth noting. Not only are organizations and businesses making a big deal about Bike Month this year (my inbox is full of PR pitches timed to coincide with it), there seems to be a major uptick in riding. Everywhere I look in Portland these days there are signs of bike.

Did you notice the Business section of The Oregonian on Sunday? There was a big article about how our local software sector is booming. And look how bikes became part of the story…

New Relic, a software startup in downtown Portland, lobbied the owners of Portland’s tallest high-rise so their employees could hang bikes inside their offices.

A love of bicycling by software and tech firms is nothing new; but then two days later I shared the story of Daimler Trucks North America — a major employer on Swan Island where they’ve had to install a covered bike shelter to respond to employee demand. And guess what? The people that showed up to park their bikes in it did not fit the young hipster stereotype many people associate with bike commuters…

Daimler bike shelter opening-30

Daimler bike shelter opening-20

And have you noticed the bike traffic out on Portland streets lately? I’ve seen platoons of riders during the morning and evening rush hour that number 20 people or so! In fact, according to the Hawthorne Bridge Counter, Portlanders made 37,071 trips over the bridge on bicycles last week. That’s the second highest weekly total since the counter was installed back in August (just 2,400 trips off the record). And given the amazing weather in the forecast, I bet we’ll top that this month.

Speaking of good weather, I did a great ride last weekend that was led by a PBOT staffer and a local urban greenspace expert (I’ll recap the ride and share more photos soon). What amazed me about the ride was who showed up. We had young kids and retirees riding side-by-side, exploring neighborhoods by bike.

Sharrows to Sparrows ride

Also on that ride was something that speaks to how bicycling touches so many aspects of life here in Portland. Despite the inexplicable positions often taken by their Editorial Board and their frequent tendency to simplify and sensationalize the narrative in a way that negatively impacts bicycling, The Oregonian employs a lot of people who love to bike. When I rolled up on the Sharrows to Sparrows ride, I was almost giddy to see three of my favorite Oregonian reporters: political reporter and author of Pedaling Revolution Jeff Mapes; transportation (and other things) reporter James Mayer (now retired); and columnist Steve Duin. While Mapes and Mayer were there just for fun, Duin was on the clock. I’ve rarely heard a peep about cycling from Duin, yet there he was on a Saturday ride, taking notes and doing interviews from the saddle! (Here’s the story he wrote a few days later.)

Oregonian columnist Steve Duin.
Mapes and Mayer

Oregonian reporters Jeff Mapes (left) and James Mayer (right).

And one last thing about The Oregonian. If you haven’t seen it yet, they’ve stepped up their focus on blogging about bikes with the new “Ocyclers” project. They’ve tasked a group of reporters to write daily bike news posts. So far they’ve shown a true commitment to do the topic justice.

One final note on National Bike Month… If you have friends, co-workers, or acquaintances who haven’t made a commitment to ride a bike more often, this is the perfect month to start.

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is in full bike promotion mode this month. They’ve got clinics, rides, and eight Bike Breakfasts that will be held throughout the city (starting tomorrow!). Keep in touch with all the fun via the PDX Bike Month Facebook page.

And on May 17th, Regence Health Care is hosting the Portland Employers Bike Summit. It’s a full day of excellent workshops on how to bulk up your company’s bike culture and the event will be kicked off by none other than author and advocate Mia Birk.

If you’re a PSU student, check out the Bike to PSU Challenge. If you have kids and you bike them to school, make sure to register for the BTA/ODOT Walk+Bike Challenge. And no matter what state you’re reading this from, you can sign up for the National Bike Challenge. These “challenges” are simply ways to bring more people into the fold. Biking to work, school, the store, the park, and so on is actually really easy. You just find a bike and start pedaling.

— For a great roundup on National Bike Month rides, resources, and tips, check out the League of American Bicyclists blog.

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  • Joe May 1, 2013 at 11:27 am

    indoor bike parking FTW! wish more downtown compaines supported this model 🙂

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  • kittens May 1, 2013 at 11:31 am

    even if the Oregonian is turning the page on “bikes v. cars”, there is still plenty to hate about it!

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    • Bill Walters May 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      Meh. The reporters are one thing. The page isn’t turned until the *editorial board* turns it — and keeps it turned. Until then, no doubt we’ll see more not-so-plausible attempts at deniability from reporters in the O’s comments.

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  • Kiel Johnson
    Kiel Johnson May 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    the bike valet has been pretty crazy this week. if things continue we will shortly be over our 200 parking spot limit :/

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  • nuovorecord May 1, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    I like the satellite dish protruding from Mapes’ helmet. 🙂

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  • rob May 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    yeah! tipping point?

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  • Jim Lee May 1, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Remember that Steve Duin, former sports reporter, complained about Dr. Jack Ramsey in 1977…

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  • Granpa May 1, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    High bike traffic volume. It seems like most of it is rushing to be first across the Hawthorn Bridge.

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  • Johnny May 1, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    The other 11 months are bike month as well. 🙂

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  • are May 1, 2013 at 5:32 pm
  • Ted Buehler May 1, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Re: the cover photo of N Interstate — that really says how crowded N Williams is, to get that many bicyclists on Interstate.

    Williams has gentler grades, wider bike lanes, much less truck traffic and provably wider car lanes than Interstate. It should be the preferred route for everyone but die-hards wanting the shortest distance from downtown to N Portland.

    But with lineups like that st rush hour, many folks appear to be choosing to brave the crowding of cars and trucks on Interstate rather than the crowding of bikes, cars and buses on Williams.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Nate May 2, 2013 at 10:29 am

      I think it more likely shows how many people from the peninsula ride their bikes. Why should I bike 15 blocks east out of my way to ride the zoo that is Williams/Vancouver. Instead, I can take a nice diagonal – Interstate – to the same spot at the Rose Quarter, or a shorter distance to the Broadway Bridge? Plus, Concord runs is there if you are inclined to parallel Interstate for all but the hill.

      That isn’t to say that I’d veto improvements to the narrow bike path, but I ride it nearly every day.

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  • Peter May 1, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Lots of new people out on their bikes, I have already seen two backwards helmets on newbie riders

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    • Mike Fish May 1, 2013 at 11:02 pm

      “You think fashion is safe, but fashion is danger.”

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  • was carless May 2, 2013 at 8:12 am

    My bell has been getting a lot of use while passing all those squeaky bikes and wrong-way-on-the-Hawthorne-bridge runners & walkers.

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    • davemess May 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      pedestrians can go either way on the Hawthorne, the only one way traffic is bikes!

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      • was carless May 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm

        Err, I’m talking about when pedestrians walk on the inner side of the MUP and force you to come to a dead stop as they won’t walk along the railing. They are most often walking right into bike traffic. It was pretty bad a couple weeks ago when all the fair-weather walkers started coming out, its died down now.

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  • L May 2, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Was under the impression runners and walkers can go either way on the bridge. Wrong?

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    • grrlpup May 2, 2013 at 8:55 am

      Pedestrians can go either way. In the morning I walk across the bridge to downtown the wrong-for-bikes way because it’s uncrowded and feels more peaceful.

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  • longgone May 2, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Het wait a minute now…, Those Daimler guys ARE hipsters ! They wore the original skinny jeans in ’77. You shoulda’ been there. 🙂

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