Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Three things to be thankful for

Posted by on November 28th, 2013 at 8:00 am

When the wind isn’t at your back any more, it’s easy to get discouraged — especially when you know how great the place you’re headed is going to be.

Sometimes that happens to people who care about good biking in Portland. Even the ones who write for daily news websites.

But holidays are for taking your eyes off the handlebars of life for a moment and enjoying where you are. And though Portland isn’t making the rapid progress that it once was toward better biking, we still live in the safest, most interesting and (we think) most promising big city in the country to ride a bicycle. Here are three things we’re grateful for about riding in and around our favorite city.

1) Citizen transportation activism is as strong in Portland as it’s ever been.

Bike Parking Wonk Night-9

Citizen activists poring over parking policy at the Bike Parking Wonk Night in October.

We’re excited about the new Better Block PDX not just because it’s full of smart people with great ideas, but because we think it’s going to inspire other smart people with other great ideas. After a lull in urban bike fun, enthusiastic new leaders are stepping in. The success of Gateway Green’s crowdfunding campaign has smoothed out the future for a 38-acre urban bike recreation park and established a new way to help pay for projects Portlanders believe in. The city-sponsored Portland Traffic and Transportation Class, now about to wrap up 23rd year, is about to let loose its latest generation of well-informed, well-connected optimists on the city. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is working to diversify their partnerships and membership, the Community Cycling Center’s new CEO says his top priority is to make it easier for people from underserved communities to speak up on behalf of biking and Oregon Walks is building its entire organizational strategy around helping other organizations advocate for walking in their work.

And back in October, over 30 people showed up on a weeknight to discuss, dissect, and reform Portland’s bike parking policy.

In short, Portland has started talking to itself about bikes not just as a way to get around but at as a tool for changing lots of things in our city. We love that.

2) Our region’s rural riding renaissance.

Bullshit 100 ride-33

Not too far outside of Portland.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Car-free and car-lite spaces aren’t just for the big city. There’s a growing understanding in Oregon that people tend to have a lot more fun on bikes when they don’t have to worry about cars. Whether it’s carfree Crater Lake, major progress on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, the new momentum around gravel road riding, or Oregon State Parks’ always-maturing Scenic Bikeways program — lovers of the open road have a lot to be thankful for.

3) Velo Cult is the all-purpose community gathering place we never knew we needed.

Just another day at Velo Cult.
(Photo: Jeff Strange)

Can you imagine if a U.S. city, university or nonprofit advocacy group had launched a community center with regular free music, bike-themed movies in the basement theater, policy discussions and a constant flow of strange and wonderful community events — not to mention 12 interesting beers on tap and, oh yeah, a full-service neighborhood bicycle shop? It’d be showered with awards and toasted from coast to coast.

That’s exactly what the team at Velo Cult has done by moving in 2012 from San Diego to 1969 42nd Avenue here in Portland. It’s an incubator for good times and great ideas and there’s nowhere quite like it. Let’s raise our glasses to owner Sky Boyer and his entire crew!

There are surely more bikey things to be thankful for around these parts; these were just the three that were at the top of our minds. What do you think deserves a mention?

Publisher/editor Jonathan Maus contributed to this story.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Anne Hawley November 28, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Global climate change is a worrying thing, but I’m pretty happy about the absolutely splendid bike-riding weather it seems to have produced in October and November this year. Sunshine on Thanksgiving! In PORTLAND. That’s pretty great.

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  • Anne Hawley November 28, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Oh, yeah. And I’m very thankful for all the hard work you guys do to make BikePortland the fantastic resource it is.

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  • pdx2wheeler November 28, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I’m thankful that bicycles were invented.

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  • dwainedibbly November 28, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Any time I start to worry about stagnation and how much harder progress is getting here, I think back to when I lived in Gainesville, FL, arguably one of the best bicycling cities in that state, and how much worse things were (and still are) there.

    Bike Portland didn’t start the revolution here, but it certainly has become part of the muscle that is keeping this city moving forward, and I’m very thankful for that. I’m also thankful for the (mostly) thoughtful comments that the community here produces.

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  • jyl
    jyl November 28, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    I too am thankful for VeloCult. It is a great asset to our bike community.

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  • Brian November 29, 2013 at 10:11 am

    +2 for Velo Cult. I’m also thankful for the Sandy Ridge Trail system and the slowly improving mountain bike scene here in PDX. I’m hopeful that it will only get better and better, and that my son will have multiple places to choose from when he is older that he can access by bike every day!

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  • jen November 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    i’m not sure how i hadn’t yet heard of the transportation class, but i just registered (there’s a wait-list for 2014 already, but it’s worth a shot!). i’m thankful for this website, because i learn new things every day, and there are always new opportunities to get involved. thanks!

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  • Mossby Pomegranate November 30, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I’m thankful motorists allow me to share the road with them.

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  • 9watts December 1, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Mossby Pomegranate
    I’m thankful motorists allow me to share the road with them.
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    Did you say ‘allow’? Perhaps you were being ironic.

    I’m thankful for all the amazing people who write articles and post comments here on bikeportland from whom I learn so much.

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  • Joe December 4, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I’m thankful for all that bikeportland does to spead the love of bike transport and keep the roads safe for all users.

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