The Portland bike news that flew furthest in 2013

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.)

2) Emily “Six kids and no car” Finch’s bike stolen

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.

3) Activists suspect ride participant is an undercover Portland Police Bureau captain

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.

4) WA legislator: ‘Cyclists’ increased respiration’ leads to air pollution

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.

5) Riders discover woman driving car on Glenn Jackson Bridge bike path
(Photo: Paul Anderson)

Wrong turn, ma’am.

6) Bike commuters are happiest (and other PSU research tidbits)
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.

7) Detroit-made, low-priced city bike set for Portland debut
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.

8) Citing nonexistent policy, Amtrak workers haul away Portlanders’ bikes

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.)

9) How a Portland man helped police catch ‘Santa Claus’ bike thief

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.

10) What caused Portland’s biking boom?

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.

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