The Portland bike news that flew furthest in 2013

Posted by on December 31st, 2013 at 12:40 am

Policymakers Ride - Gorge Edition-3

Overlooking the Gorge at the Policymakers Ride in August.

Like building a better city, making a good news website these days is a lesson in the fact that it’s the quality of the traffic, not just the quantity, that matters.

A few years ago, the news stories that drew a lot of readers were the ones people wanted to read. Now, things have changed: the biggest stories are the ones people want other people to read. Sometimes that’s because they’re funny, sometimes because they’re shocking and sometimes because they’re awesome.

As we look back on this year, we’ll let you add the categories yourself. (Click on the headline or photo for the original stories.)

1) Best of the World Naked Bike Ride 2013 (NSFW photos)

2013 proved (as every year does) that nothing draws clicks quite like photos of naked people having a great time. Or possibly just the letters “NSFW.” Hard to say for sure. (As usual, everything we wrote about the WNBR wound up as one of our most-viewed stories, but we’ll treat them as one.)

The Finch Family

In a sad follow-up to our hugely popular story last year about a Southeast Portland woman who ditched her SUV for an amazing cargo bike setup that she and her six kids use to get around, we shared the news last month that the Finch family’s bakfiets has been swiped. Unfortunately, the thief and the vehicle are still at large.

Mistakes get attention, ours included. In April, we apologized for prematurely reporting a story that a group of (mostly white, like both Jonathan and I) anti-climate-change activists suspected a man (who was of Asian descent) of being an undercover policeman. He wasn’t. We should have gotten through to the police bureau before publishing. Jonathan followed up by meeting with the officer for which the man was mistaken.

Speaking of apologies, Kalama legislator Ed Orcutt, the ranking Republican on the Washington House Transportation Committee, earned one too after he made the claim that people who buy bikes should have to pay a $25-per-transaction excise tax on their sale because of the pollution they cause by breathing carbon dioxide.

“If I am not mistaken a cyclists has an increased heart rate and respiration,” Orcutt wrote in an email to a constituent.

(Photo: Paul Anderson)

Wrong turn, ma’am.

Graph of “commute well-being” from a presentation poster by Oliver Smith.

Portland State University’s Oliver Smith devised a system to estimate relative happiness of people about their commute mode. It turns out that people love biking — and they loved reading about Smith’s finding, too.

A Type by Detroit Bikes-1

The “A-Type” from Detroit Bikes.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A $550 city bike with a lifetime frame warranty, imported to Portland from Detroit, had readers across the country cheering.

As one reader noted, Amtrak employees picked on the wrong person when they angrily but incorrectly ordered a pair of folding bikes out of a Texas sleeper car. (Fortunately, the rail company is now laboring to make things right with local bike writer Elly Blue and the many folding bike users like her.)

The story of a late-night pursuit and tense, videotaped confrontation with the man who swiped Kevin Collier’s bike was a big hit, too.

In a year when other cities’ efforts to follow Portland’s lead on bike infrastructure began to very clearly pay off, we looked at four reasons (other than bike lanes) that what Portland has been doing has been working. The best part of this post: The terrific comment thread.

It’s been an important year for BikePortland, and it’s not quite over yet. Stay tuned later today for a list of Portland’s most underrated bike stories, and tomorrow for a few predictions for 2014. In the meantime, here’s to another year of watching Portland work.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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    Scott December 31, 2013 at 9:04 am

    How did “Misguided ‘Lifestyle’ Columnist Pens Derogatory and Sexist Rant Extolling Her Virtues Solely To Belittle Others” miss the list?

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    Christopher December 31, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Seriously folks, let it go. Greatness is only found in the ability to take risks. Jonathan and his team took multiple risks with their publication, and some of them worked and some of them didn’t. BikePortland is still the one of the world’s greatest news sources for active transportation!

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      Case December 31, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Much like Steve Jobs.

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        Pete December 31, 2013 at 6:54 pm

        You wouldn’t be singing his praises if you had to bicycle around the construction of his legacy building in Cupertino these days… 🙁

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    Scott December 31, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Please explain where you find “risk” in this site.

    I am honestly interested.

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    Paul WIlkins December 31, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    The biggest risk is leaving the comments open.

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    Sam J January 2, 2014 at 9:54 am

    You simultaneously raise the bar and allow me to drink at my own height. Looking forward to the best of 2014 with every post.

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    Elly January 2, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    An update on two of these stories: Emily Finch reports the Amtrak employee who helped her load her Brompton onto a train last week told her that he had not previously known that folding bikes were allowed as carry-ons, but someone had recently told him that they were. Nicely done, Michael.

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