This is a long post. It’s about one person’s experience. And it’s the only thing we expect to publish today.
You have to feel at least a little bad for Todd Roll. All he wanted was to rent a few more bikes.
“WELCOME TO AMERICA’S BICYCLE CAPITAL,” his workers painted in six-foot letters on the wall outside his rental shop two years ago, channeling what seemed to be the voice of the city.
The bureaucratic tangle that led the huge, iconic sign to be painted over yesterday was complicated. But reason for its removal isn’t.
The reason the city lost Roll’s sign isn’t that it was too big, or that he had never bothered to get the city’s permission to create it (though he didn’t). The sign wasn’t lost because Roll’s claim was false — in fact, it’s probably still true — nor was it lost because the boast fostered public complacency about making the city better.
It was lost because Portland had already lost something much more precious — and much harder to replace.
I might never have discovered Portland if Lindsey hadn’t been such a good writer.
It was 2006 and I was working for the newspaper in Longview, an hour’s drive north. She was in Portland, coding for a software startup that sometimes made payroll and living in what she described as a far-flung neighborhood that I’ve since realized was Lents. We’d met at a party in Chicago, when we’d been dating other people. Now I wrote her an email, and she wrote back.
I started driving south once a week.
Lindsey was broke, or maybe just cheap. So were a bunch of her friends, whose jobs were worse. But I noticed, at some point, that this wasn’t a major problem. They couldn’t afford cars, so they went to their boring jobs by bicycle. Lindsey was a singer; when her band had a gig on Alberta, she’d book a Flexcar to haul their amps and hope the tips were enough to cover the four-hour rental.
In fact, I realized, very few of Lindsey’s friends owned cars. Neither, it seemed, did any of the interesting, dirt-broke people I seemed to meet constantly when I was in Portland.
I think we were aware, at the time, that biking was more popular in Portland than in other places we’d lived. We probably giggled about the World Naked Bike Ride. But it wasn’t until I got to know the city better that I realized the strength of the pattern: unlike my broke friends in Longview or Ohio, broke people in Portland had realized they could get by fairly well without cars.
Bicycles themselves did nothing for me emotionally — and if you have to know, they don’t today, either. But I was hooked on Portland. As soon as I could, I moved to this place I’d discovered where even the broke people could afford to be interesting.
One night in 2007, after Lindsey got a better job and moved to inner Northeast, she told us a story from the Last Thursday street festival.
Someone had gotten in a fight with a person on a bike, she said. A bunch of the young people in the crowd, not even knowing what was going on, rushed to the side of the biker.
Laughing, Lindsey said she’d heard that one young man had raised a U-lock in the air and shouted, “WHY DO YOU HATE PORTLAND??”
In retrospect, the anecdote sounds sort of ugly, and half-true at most. But it felt true. That was what bikes seemed to mean to the city at the time, at least to us young arrivals. Being in love with Portland, which all my friends were, meant knowing the story of the city. And the story of Portland, for us, was bicycles.
It wasn’t until later, after I started writing about bicycles for a living, that I realized that none of this was a coincidence.
2007 was the year that Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams returned from a trip to France and announced that he was setting out to create the country’s first credit-card-based public bike sharing system. Two weeks later we were named the first U.S. city to host an international conference about car-free cities. Meanwhile, the Portland Bureau of Transportation was looking into a new sort of event that had become popular in Latin America, the ciclovia. By summer, the concept had a new name: “Sunday Parkways.”
I caught scraps of these stories and the dozens of others that followed. It was impossible not to; bikes were in the city’s bloodstream. Every third news story seemed to be about them. Eventually, I would marvel at how quickly each of that year’s many announcements had followed on the last, and how unusual it was to live in a city whose leaders had decided, without actually reallocating much money, to make better bicycle transportation one of their top priorities.
I also didn’t realize at the time that between 2002 and 2008, bicycle use in Portland had tripled.
But what no one in the country would have predicted was that three years later, Portland’s bicycling boom would be over.
I rolled into downtown just after 10 a.m. yesterday, camera in my saddle bag. Just in time.
Lota LaMontagne, the Pedal Bike Tours spokeswoman, had said the “Bicycle Capital” mural was scheduled to be painted over in late morning. I arrived as the shop’s handyman, Jose Martinez, was getting set up.
While I wandered around the parking lot below the mural, testing camera angles, I watched the passers-by – delivery workers, tourists, day laborers. Almost all of them looked up at the mural as they walked by.
They don’t know it’s about to go away, I realized. People look at it this way every day. For two years, everyone who walks past this sign has been looking up at it and, just for a moment, thinking about it.
Two hours later, the sign was illegible. As I snapped a few final photos, I watched the passers-by again.
No one was looking up any more. There was nothing to see.
One passer-by noticed me and pointed at the mostly-covered sign.
“What did it say?” he asked.
Like many cities, Portland started taking bike transportation seriously in the early 1970s. But it didn’t see a major payoff until the late 1990s, after a Bicycle Transportation Alliance lawsuit prompted Transportation Commissioner Earl Blumenauer to hire Mia Birk and her sidekick Roger Geller to stripe bike lanes along many of the city’s major streets.
The decade-long tidal wave of bikes that followed made Portland famous. Thousands of Portlanders, I’m sure, know the story of this tidal wave by heart.
But now, in 2014, it’s time to add another chapter to Portland’s bike history: the moment our bike wave crested. The day that Portland started to fall out of love with its story.
In retrospect, the date is obvious: Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010.
That afternoon, Mayor Adams did something he enjoyed very much: he said yes to a big idea. With his backing, Portland had prepared the most progressive bike plan in the country, an unfunded concept for how to spend $600 million — about 1/3 the cost of the Orange MAX Line that’s now in construction through Southeast Portland, or 1/5 the cost of the scrapped Columbia River Crossing highway-rail project — on a citywide grid of separated bike lanes and neighborhood greenways.
In all its future transportation projects, the plan declared, the city would prioritize walking above biking, biking above mass transit and all three above driving. The result: by 2030, biking would be more popular than driving for trips of three miles or less. Portland’s victory over auto-dependence would be complete.
Though these ideas would be strange and alien in City Hall today, council members at the time saw a political winner. So they started tripping over themselves to fund it. And then everything fell apart.
Commissioner Dan Saltzman proposed one funding plan. Adams, who couldn’t stand Saltzman, proposed another. Bizarrely, the two began feuding over whose bike funding plan was best. In the absence of a unified city effort to explain the obscure policy issues involved, the conflict spilled into pixels, print and finally television, with a mostly false but highly compelling narrative capturing the public imagination: Portland was raising sewer fees in order to pay for bike lanes.
Adams, struggling to debunk the myth, expected political cover from bike advocates. He felt it never came.
It was, insiders now say, a private turning point for Adams. Portland didn’t realize it yet, but bicycling had lost its yes man. And though there were many factors involved over the years, the city had, in a fundamental way, lost the story it once told itself about bicycles.
One of the interesting Portlanders I met, around the time all this happened, was Carl.
A smallish, roundish thirtysomething who drinks milk with dinner and probably uses his architectural history degree less frequently than he takes in a game of bike polo, Carl is in many ways the moral center of Portland’s bike community.
You’ve heard of the World Naked Bike Ride? Of course you have. I’ll tell you a secret: the ride happens without a police permit. Every year, the Portland Police Bureau donates its officers’ time for traffic control during the massive, world-famous event.
The theory is that the ride will happen with or without city permission. But if police wanted, they could shut the event down until someone put up tens of thousands of dollars for a permit. And if that happened, the ride’s entry donation would become a larger mandatory fee. And if that happened, far fewer people would show up. And if that happened, millions of people would never know that Portland is a place where the extraordinary happens – a city where people of every shape can love their bodies and celebrate them together in motion, by moonlight, on one night every year.
Carl is the guy on the WNBR’s tiny team of volunteer organizers who has maintained the ride’s 12-year truce with the cops.
Carl’s day job is with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, but his influence on Portland is far larger.
When it snows, Carl is the guy who heads home early and stands on his street corner offering hot toddys to bike commuters on the way home. When dozens of young people decide to show up in an abandoned industrial warehouse and ride in circles with ropes and sticks while trying to knock each other off of their bike trailers, Carl is the guy who always makes sure to attend just in case the authorities show up, to convince the police that everything will be fine.
Somehow, Carl is also the guy who can successfully convince them that it will.
And even more extraordinarily, Carl is right. The event’s volunteer referees intercept the worst of the weapons. A few ribs get cracked, but volunteer medics tend to them and nobody sues anybody. Everyone has a wonderful time.
If you’ve ever heard that Portland is a city where people have fun on bicycles, you’ve probably been touched by Carl’s work.
The last time I spoke with Carl, last month, was at a late-night meeting.
Carl was sitting on a committee tasked with improving bike access to the commercial district on East 28th Avenue. The project manager had just announced, after months of debate, that he was pulling the plug on a proposal to add a bike lane to the area, because the city had decided that preserving on-street parking spaces on the street was more important to the future of Portland than a comfortable on-street bikeway.
It was the latest in a long string of high-profile decisions by the city to prioritize the continued speed or storage of cars. I asked Carl what he thought.
I’d never seen Carl more exhausted. The bags beneath his eyes had deepened into dark loops. As he talked, in despair, about the city’s failure to create a single all-ages bikeway through any significant commercial district, I noticed something I’d never seen before: Carl was losing control of his tongue. His S’s were slurring into Th’s.
Despite my better judgment, Carl’s wavering voice and temporary speech impediment shook me up. For a moment, I didn’t see the brave and driven man I know. I saw someone he might have been: a shy boy with thick glasses, slipping down the hallway to see the speech therapist.
I don’t know what it was in Carl’s life that cracked him open that night. But for a moment, I saw who Carl might have been if he had never found his calling – if he’d never gotten excited about the things bicycling can do for the people of a city. I saw Carl if he ever lost his inspiration to be extraordinary.
I saw the city that Portland has, as far as I can tell, become.
The advantage of a city that believes in its ability to be extraordinary — a city that knows its own story — isn’t that all things become possible. It’s that cities create people who do extraordinary things.
Only in a city that knows its own story would a guy with an architectural history degree discover his genius for explaining bike fun to the forces of order.
Only in a city that knows its own story would a handful of visitors from Vancouver BC, one summer in 2002, decide to hang posters around town saying that there would be a naked bicycle ride that evening and that anyone was welcome to join.
Only in a city that knows its own story would four friends with a clever idea to start importing box bikes from the Netherlands launch a business to sell them, for the first time, in America.
Only in a city that knows its own story would a 31-year-old bicycle coordinator co-found the first American planning and engineering firm dedicated entirely to biking and walking.
Only in a city that knows its own story would a young dad decide to quit his marketing job and start reporting local bike news full-time on a blog.
Only in a city that knows its own story would a shop owner decide to spend thousands of dollars to make a huge, audacious and essentially noncommercial declaration on the wall of his building without asking for permission.
Individuals only take odd, useful risks like these when they believe their city has their back.
If you took a big risk, tomorrow, to improve this city, would the people of Portland be behind you?
Could you inspire them to be?
Sometimes, when you lose something, you can get it back.
A few weeks after I started dating my fiancee, Mo, someone stole her bicycle.
She’d decided to stop driving her 1989 Honda Civic when its engine started cutting out unexpectedly at stoplights. So, to get to her clinical rotation at the hospital, she’d hauled her bicycle out of storage. One day Mo decided to pack a cable lock rather than the 15-pound chain she’d brought with her from Brooklyn. Bad choice. The bike was gone by midafternoon.
It could have been the end of her bike-commute career, if the guy she was dating hadn’t been into bicycles. The next Saturday, we walked together to the Community Cycling Center and picked out a new bicycle.
Last Wednesday, over dinner, Mo told me about a conversation she’d had at a CPR recertification course. She and another participant had been preparing to head home on their bicycles when the 60ish instructor shook her head.
“I worry about you,” she told the younger women.
It’s not actually so bad, the other participant said.
If we had better bike infrastructure, Mo told her, you wouldn’t have to worry about us so much. What if more of the bike lanes were physically separated from traffic, for example?
“Wouldn’t you feel safer?” Mo asked.
The instructor thought about it.
I guess that’d be different, she said.
Mo never got her old bicycle back. Her new one is better. And Portland won’t ever get back the story about bicycling that it lost a few years ago.
The next story we tell ourselves will have to be a different one. A new one. I don’t know what it’ll be.
All I know is that our slate has been wiped clean.
But whatever our next story is, it’ll grow out of moments like this one: three Portlanders, talking with each other about what a better city might be like.
– Michael Andersen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction 5/14: Lindsey got in touch to correct some details, tweaked above. The most important is that she owned a nice laptop, so wouldn’t describe herself as “broke.” I’ve changed to “broke, or at least cheap.”
Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.
Thank you, Michael.
We’ve convinced ourselves that we are the bike capital of America and we have become complacent because it is a foregone conclusion that the “bike lobby” runs the city. Instead of the types of new infrastructure being built in NYC or Chicago, we have 2 stripes of green in downtown for East-West and nothing good for North-South. And the problems radiate out from there.
We can get back to more sensible planning and infrastructure development, but we have to break the idea of the bike lobby within the city’s politics and most importantly within our own minds. Things won’t get built unless we demand them and don’t give up when there are headwinds.
I agree. The bicycling community actually has very little or no representation in city hall right now. Mayor Hales seems to view cycling as an “extra” and not a necessity of our transportation system. Leah Treat seemed promising but has been timid in her execution of making Portland the city we know it should be. Worst of all, Amanda Fritz actively opposes cycling every chance she gets. While she tends to automatically vote “no” on most issues, she has tried to be a champion for equity and health. Rather than see cycling as an obvious tool to achieve greater equity and health among Portlanders, she sees it as a challenger; something not worthy of funding, representing only a fringe group of citizens. We deserve much better representation than her and she does not belong in city hall.
I think there may be tremendous gains for active transportation that occur along with a generational shift in power – its beginning to happen in city all over the country. Unfortunately, some people are so set in their ways that they fail to recognize obvious solutions when they are right in front of them.
Amanda Fritz for mayor of suburbia.
Amanda Fritz is not anti-cycling. I have talked with her about cycling, walking, transit, etc. She has said that the city may be neglecting pedestrians and mass transit riders due to bicycle program funding, and that more transpo dollars should be devoted to constructing new sidewalks to make walking safer.
“neglecting pedestrians and mass transit riders due to bicycle program funding”
Are you being serious?
this is what you get when everyone not in a horseless carriage gets to fight over the crumbs.
Thanks, Michael. I hope that piece inspires the discussion the issue deserves, here and elsewhere. It’s huge.
My teeny, tiny impression of the new paint itself: It’s so much less attractive than the simple block letters and aged patina of the raw brick.
(Could you add a tag to this whole series of posts so they link together?)
If it were April fools we could just write that the new downtown Target had bought the red advertising space. The bike symbol would be allowed to stay.
That was beautiful. I hope that the stability of the family biking community can help birth Portland’s next bike story.
KYouell, I believe that the more of you out there hauling rugrats around on bikes, the better things will get for all of us. People will have to start seeing cycling for what it is, a normal even mundane part of life. Thanks and high fives!
The best Michael awesome post! lost for words… but thank you
and thank you riders.
A requiem for Portland’s almost-was, Never Never Land of bicycle acceptance.
“Stay in the Bike Lane!” they shouted forever more.
So why are we removing this sign (sorry bisy)
Thank you for this story, Michael.
I love some of Portland’s emerging stories that are currently being woven into the tapestry of this city. Cully. Jade District. EPAP. And that there is a pride in Lents and Parkrose that I don’t remember existing when I was younger. Cities change; change is tough. Some change sucks and needs correcting. Some change is awesome. Portland’s got something for everybody, and never a dull moment. 🙂
Excellent post, Michael. I moved here because of the city’s bike infrastructure. I stuck around and bought a house for the same reason.
So what do we do now? How do we prevent the plateau from becoming a downturn? How do we take the next step forward?
We ride our bikes. We ride as much as we can. We talk to people about riding. We help others ride. We go to meetings where bikes are on the agenda. When bikes aren’t on the agenda, we contact the respective chair person and ask that the agenda include bikes. When we can’t be there in person, we write to councils and committees and representatives. We support bike advocates and advocacy groups with money and time and words. We vote for representatives who support bikes, and we let them know how they’re doing and how we feel about their actions. And again, most importantly, we ride our bikes.
Well said. I would add, we get our kids on bikes and support local organizations that work hard to do the same.
We could put together mountain bike ride on Wildwood.
Free Forest Park. MTBing is not a crime.
That would just move us backwards. There would be well deserved backlash–there should be places for walkers to find solitude.
And for mountain bikers to find the same. Solitude isn’t something found only while wearing boots, or running shoes. No one is asking that all trails be multi-use. There could also be new trail built, or some of the really deteriorated trails could be given to mtb’ers to revitalize. Something. Anything.
This is an awful idea. Wildwood is one of the most well-utilized trails for hikers and joggers. Pedestrians are our allies in promoting a car-free Portland. The last thing to do would be to disenfranchise our allies because recreational mountain bikers can’t be bothered to use existing trails. This is a very divisive and polarizing topic. I once *walked* my bike partway along Wildwood to meet some friends and I got chewed out.
There is no backwards when there is already no meaningful access.
For what it’s worth: finding “solitude” on Wildwood is like searching for chastity at a brothel.
As for this article: I moved to Seattle and there seems to be far less backslapping or hand wringing, there’s just work getting done. I really like bicycling here. Good luck down there.
At this point I completely disagree. Are you aware the current status and the road blocks that Houle/Fritz have put in place? At a certain point you just need to do things to show the need is there and it isn’t going away.
Surely we can come up with a more creative, and effective, ongoing act of civil disobedience to try and affect change.
At this point, I don’t think there is one. Can you come up with one? I honestly see it as part of Portland’s proud tradition…know the history of Burnside skate park at all?
I do know about it. I wish I had an answer.
Have you read this?
You can even see wsbob show his true colors in the comments…good stuff. Forest park is a great resource that is underutilized and over-protected by zealots. The city is ignoring input from the majority of the people in the city, ignoring science and just putting up red-tape to stop recreation in the park based purely on a few political players. I didn’t hear about the meetings or anything about the whole process of limiting usage – did you?
The whole point being is this: nothing will change if more pressure is put on the park. The only way to do that, at this point, is not through committees and trying to attend meetings that they don’t tell you about, it is about direct action – and I am not talking about sitting in FP with signs.
I have, and I don’t disagree. Someone who disagrees with bikes in FP on this website once commented something like “you and your bike are welcome in Forest Park, just not while riding it.” Good idea. Bike swarm to Wildwood, then just walk them on the busiest section of trail. Repeat. Nothing illegal. May attract many more people who believe in more local cycling opportunities and creating a better overall bike culture (not just mtb’ers).
The best and most effective way is to replace Fritz, then outlaw cars that go over 20 miles an hour on side streets and within 1 block of school buildings like 26th and Powell. Contact the school board for that.
Remember! The speed limit justification only applies when there is no peds or cyclists involved. Then it is 50% of all traffic including peds and cyclists, not not 85% of motorists speeds. Next, it is not supposed to be 10 MPH over the speed limit for a citation it is 10%. This indicates 22 MPH in a school Zone or Greenway, not 10MPH over. Citations are issued for 21 in Beaverton by the radar van. My wife got one. She does not drive anymore.
Raise gas prices to where they need to be.
This is a fine piece of writing. Thank you.
Very moving post with the text and photos. I have fully embraced cycling since moving to Portland 8 years ago. I used to be the the guy that would drive a block to buy a gallon of milk before moving here. It has completely changed my life mentally, physically, and financially. This blog has been a big factor in teaching me bike relating things. In fact today I biked from North Portland to Beaverton over the west hills thanks to a blog post a few months back that told me about the route to take….and it was fun!
“Bicycles themselves did nothing for me emotionally — and if you have to know, they don’t today, either.”
I share this sentiment. I like bikes, but what I love more is not having to rely on a car to get around. Freedom comes in a lot of flavors.
Still, I bike and the idea of not being “America’s Bicycle Capital” – self declared or otherwise – hurts a little bit. But maybe that’s fighting the last war.
Yup. Yes. Uh-huh. s’truth. Sing it. Amen.
What many car drivers don’t realize, or understand, is every dollar you put towards the cheap-in-comparison bicycling infrastructure, reduces car congestion by much more than the same investment in car-only lane-expansion. Bikes take up so much less space than cars. That space difference allows for many many more bikes (people) to get through a smaller, tighter space than the same equivalent in a car. ESPECIALLY in an urban environment. As a biker and driver, I want to have more investment in biking pathways so that my driving, when it does occur, happens more efficiently. This is a pretty difficult concept to understand, it requires thinking beyond one’s own self-advantage. By helping OTHERS be more efficient, you see the secondary benefit!
The funding for biking(most efficient form of transport, by a longshot) and pedestrians(livability) should be a priority for this city. It benefits all other forms of transport as a secondary benefit!
Well put, indy. Improving things for cyclists improves things for everyone.
or focusing on safe streets improves bicycling conditions! It is a fine point, but I think this a good time to advocate for City-wide safety improvements (reduced speed limits and increased enforcement, regular street sweeping and line painting, drunk and distracted driving enforcement) combined with raising fees from parking(surface lots, increased meter fees, greatly expand the meter program). This fee system has the added benefit of discouraging SOV commuting, further improving cycling conditions.
Michael — very well stated.
Folks, we have the extreme good fortune of living in the bicycling world envisioned and created by advocates and staff of the 1990s and 2000s.
Now it’s time to pay forward, to dream bigger than ever, and make Portland of 2030 4 times as good as the Portland we have today.
Talk big, dream big. Conspire. Speak out. Write. Organize. And support all the others working in this cause.
I think the important thing to remember is that the Portland of 2030 is so much more than the central city and inner SE/NE. There are places in Portland that still have bike facilities that are 1990 Portland, and places that haven’t seen any help for bikes at all. People (and, in my observation even more commonly among established bike advocates) are quick to make excuses – annexation, county planning and zoning…but these parts of the city have been Portland since the activism started, and they’ll be Portland moving forward.
Is it more challenging to do projects in underdeveloped areas? Perhaps. But, that’s where creativity and growth comes from.
“So what do we do now?”
Get involved. Question folks in office now, any chance you get, and candidates for any relevant position, how they feel on bike issues that matter to you. Then vote accordingly.
Hi-ho. “Moral center of Portland’s bike community,” here!
(Geez Michael. Thanks but am I EVER going to live that down?!)
A couple notes:
– I’ve certainly put time in on “Team Diplomacy” but before people who were there point this out: I didn’t get involved with the police when that cherry bomb went off. I just stood with my friends in the pouring rain and waited for the fun to begin again.
– 28th? Yeah. I was feelin’ down because I’d seen that failure coming for months and knew there was nothing we could do about it. Rough night.
– I mark April 29, 2008, the day Portland “went Platinum” as the day Portland’s bike network really started its descent into compromise and back-patting. That’s just me, though.
– Sadly, these days I use my architectural history degree more than I play polo. Happy to spectate, though!
– Deadline for the Pedalpalooza print calendar is 5/23! (Had to sneak that in.)
Thanks for the heartfelt and honest article, Michael. I hope our new blank slate provides us with some exciting new opportunities, new leaders, and new fun. I’m glad to know you’ll be there to chronicle it, no matter how it goes.
Thanks, Carl (in every way). I misinterpreted something you said about the cherry bomb – I’ll fix.
I’d second the Platinum as being The Problem. It lined up almost to the day when street level activism disappeared in Portland.
Can we give back the “platinum”, ask for a tarnished bronze or a rusty cast-iron in its place?
thank you, carl, for everything you do. and thanks, michael, for this thoughtful post.
a subtext here is that the cycling “community,” by and large, has been content to rely on a handful of individuals to do all the heavy lifting. and not just since april, 2008. always.
if even one-tenth of the hundreds of people who post comments here complaining about some letter that some business owners on 28th signed off on actually showed up at the project planning meetings, or volunteered a few hours here and there in grassroots efforts to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods — urban gardening, worker and consumer cooperatives, nonprofit service providers, whatever — a lot could get done.
instead we sit around and complain someone else is doing it wrong.
next week, wednesday, may 21 is the ride of silence. worldwide, except in portland.
the ride of silence is intended to be a grassroots effort. but in 2008 it fell to the BTA to put the ride together, and because tracy sparling and brett jarolimek had recently been killed the ride was well attended. over the following five years, the ride was put together by one or two or three individuals. fifty or sixty or eighty people always showed up.
this year no one has stepped forward. you still have a week.
In the past, there were a smaller number of advocate voices and they were more or less unified in what they wanted for cyclists and cycling.
Now there are lots of voices which are often in disagreement – e.g. bike lanes vs. separated facilities, neighborhood greenways vs. access to arterials in business and commercial districts, sharrows as wayfinders vs. sharrows as shared lane markings, etc.
We should not have to be picking and choosing between these false options, these are all tools that should be used when and where appropriate.
But above all, for cycling to really go mainstream it has to go main street, and not be hidden off on some ‘alternative’ parallel route, and there still needs to be much better connectivity to the network as a whole.
a cyclist recently died in portland. eugene, salem, and corvallis have rides planned.
“dream bigger” indeed
Wow…wonderfully written post. Best yet. You (unfortunately) hit the nail on the head with this one.
We could have it all back if Carl would just start showing up for bike polo again! j/k What a wonderfully done piece. Thank you, Michael.
Yeah, the problem with thinking that you’re the only group that matters is sometimes you’re reminded that you’re not. And when you don’t get your way– it hurts.
That mural was an unsanctioned advertisement. So BikePortland’s now pro-visual-pollution? Oh, right of course not. Only when the pollution supports your agenda.
You can’t tirelessly promote Portland as a cheap / liberal / progressive / eco friendly city and then expect it to not experience growing pains. We’re bigger, more expensive and more economically competitive now.
Furthermore, those young idealists who showed up ~10 years ago grew up too. They started making families and developing careers. And guess what? No matter how a bunch of armchair advocates want to deny it, bikes don’t work for all people and all tasks.
So yeah, spout some more polarizing rhetoric. I’ve long since abandoned “bike culture” as a bunch of policitally correct dittoheads advocating for their own interests above all others, and as BikePortland limps forward, I don’t see this trend changing.
All I see here lately is complaining about how X has failed bicyclists. But I don’t think we need to compete with any other city. We’ll find our own transportation solutions. And if that means a plateau– well, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe we’re not ready. Maybe our current needs are met. Maybe you’re grasping at straws.
Without irony, maxadders: I love your attitude. And though I’ll be working for BikePortland and serving its community as well as I know how, I’m also eager to wrap my head around the next thing that makes our city extraordinary. You’re right – it doesn’t have to be the bicycle.
Segways. Definitely Segways.
South Park adequately addressed these nightmares already. Mr. Garrison would be so pleased with this.
I have to agree. The tone of bicycle advocacy in Portland — influenced heavily by BikePortland — has changed from “this is how and why we should make things better” to “cycling in Portland is dangerous and generally sucks, and it is all the fault of (pick one or more) people who don’t commute by bike, transportation departments, elected leaders, businesses who think about ALL their customers, etc”. Negative messaging may motivate your base, but it will not convert people to your cause. Since transportation cyclists are still very much a minority even in Portland this is not a recipe for success.
Thanks, Dave. Getting enough “positive” stories is something J and I think about a lot, FWIW. We’re always learning, from commenters and others, where the lines are.
This post or something like it has been clogging up both our brains for a while, and it’s possible that finally getting this in one piece will help clear the mental pipes. I know I’ll be making an effort, especially for the next few weeks, to share stories of things that seem to be moving in a welcome direction. Fortunately, that’s a pretty easy job in Portland in May. 🙂
Kudos on a lyrical and moving post. Having said that, Sam Adams is/was a sleazy liar who tarnished the bicycling movement with his association. Hopefully when Novick becomes mayor we’ll get the honest advocate in City Hall that we need.
And nobody in city hall has ever lied since.
Lying in politics is just table stakes, as far as I can tell. Using your position as mayor to weasel away from a likely DUI charge goes above and beyond. Having a monument building obsession that makes leaving your mark on the city your highest priority regardless of other concerns…now, that’s how you inspire people that might have been solitary grumblers before to coalesce against you.
You don’t think Bud Clark ever pulled a DUI stunt… you are really funny grinding YOUR axe on this. PREDISPOSED ASSESSMENT?
If Novick becomes mayor things will get even worse. He talks out of both sides of his mouth.
It’s far too easy to stop dreaming and settle into a malaise of hopelessness. When all you see around you is failed ideas and mediocrity, it’s easy to feel uninspired to push for anything more. I certainly fall into that category. This article is a great reminder that each moment is a new opportunity to create something new.
Don’t get angry, get busy. But get busy doing what?
Here’s what I’m working on: bikeportland.org/2014/01/10/citizen-activists-work-to-fix-narrow-bike-lanes-on-interstate-ave-99687
Busy asking for Fritz’s resignation?
You can certainly feel free to criticize Fritz. But in her defense, she made the quite reasonable point that rules are rules and the city’s code enforcement must be content-neutral.
IMO, it all makes perfect sense right up to the point where you replace something that’s mostly a popular civic icon with something that’s mostly an ad.
But as Jonathan says below, I don’t intend to relitigate the argument over this sign. I want us to turn the page, as a city, beyond the bike boom that was and start thinking about the next big thing.
Part of it might just be that I’m using Fritz because I need someone to blame. But on the other hand, I think she symbolizes the people that are standing in our way and keeping us from turning the page and starting the next big thing.
Amanda Fritz picks and chooses the rules that suit her agenda, witness Right 2 Dream Too, which I actually support but still. I will give her credit for her consistency in hating bikes. She is honest and straightforward about it.
Thank you for the post. That is the best thing I have read on your site. Keep the faith!
New slogan for the wall: “BIKES WILL SAVE THE WORLD”!
Thanks for this, Michael. I think that for many of us, the mural’s demise had a powerfully symbolic, and perhaps a bit cathartic, element to it. You’ve captured that sentiment beautifully in this essay.
“If you took a big risk, tomorrow, to improve this city, would the people of Portland be behind you?”
Politicians will only take risks when they believe that bike advocates have their back. While it’s convenient to place all of the blame on muckraking journalists, IMO, bike advocacy in Portland has also contributed to stagnation. Some bike advocates have helped journalists propagandize the *DANGER* of cycling. Some have helped reinforce stereotypes that everyday bike commuters are “weird” or “others” (e.g. the fearless 1%). Some advocates have helped promote the idea that misbehavior by cyclists is a major contributor to lack of progress/support. Absurdly, some advocates even imitate bike-hating cranks by lambasting people who cycle on commercial streets.
I recently attended two transportation town halls in the Sunnyside and Buckman area and in both cases the majority of comments were anti-active transport. Two neighborhoods with cycling mode share in the teens and the conversation was dominated by bike-hating cranks! Until cycling advocates is willing to aggressively confront the angry minority that dominate bike messaging in Portland, stagnation is a best case scenario.
I don’t need to confront the angry minority, they confront me real-time while I’m biking…
Enjoy those freshly paved streets!
I live in Copenhagen now, used to live in Portland in the mid 90s. It’s late here and I’m sleep deprived thanks to a baby who doesn’t sleep, and I need to go to work tomorrow. But first I had to read this great post. I miss Portland, and as I cycle in the daily urban peleton here in Copenhagen I often think of Portland and its strong cycle culture. But with this article I am reminded that my thoughts are merely fantasy, and that a shitload of work is required still. I remain hopeful. Keep up the good work, Portland cycling friends. Stay strong! X
it’s just a sign folks. I still rode to work today, just like I do every day.
I’m guessing another one will pop up and all of the kiddos here will be happy that their “movement” is recognized again in paint…on stone…
the only question to really ask is…do you seriously need a sign to make yourselves feel better about the place you live?
Thanks for the comment… But just so you know, this post isn’t really about the sign at all. We just used it as a visual representation of a larger idea.
a bit dramatic, ain’t it?
maybe for you. but others are obviously having an emotional reaction to it. try to connect with why that might be.
I’m trying. Yep it’s just paint on a wall. Just like bike lanes are just paint on the street.
it’s paint on a wall, what is there to “connect with”? I mostly spend my time connected to pragmatic reality, not fluffy internet prose.
How will we know that we’re “weird” unless we’re constantly reminded of it?
We’ve got you?
Thank you for a very well written version of what has been going though my mind these last few weeks. Thank you Michael, Thank you Carl, Thank you everyone who took a chance in the past and Thank you to those who will step up in the future. Portland is Portland because of us.
That is some damn fine writing, Michael.
Beautifully written observations and analysis of a moment in Portland’s history. And in the long run, it is just that. A moment.
Moments are strung together to make up days, weeks and years, and then a lifetime. Portland’s lifetime is continuing, and it changes as the people who live here change — in demographic, age range and the multitude of choices we all make.
Portland’s bike culture may have reached a zenith. It may be in a transition to Somewhere Else. But Portland’s is not the only story.
Next month I will be in the Kansas City area for a monthlong teaching residency. I will be living in the midst of a community that is known for its higher levels of wealth and education and for its car-centric lifestyle.
And I will be getting everywhere I need to go by bicycle. Because in my contract, I negotiated that they either pay for me to ship a bike of my own, or that they arrange for a bicycle in my size to be made available for my daily use. They are also kicking in a loaner trailer so I can tow my guitar and teaching supplies back and forth. This will be my fourth visit to this community in a year, and now everyone there just calls me the Bicycle Lady. They are looking forward to seeing me again and are already asking if they want me to join them on some scenic ride to this or that park or sports facility or coffeehouse. I will be happy to. Because many of these families never considered their bicycles as actual transportation before they’d met me and learned that, in Portland, I live without a car of my own.
So maybe Portland’ bikeyness isn’t dying. And what we need to do is to take it other places and invite people in those other places to consider what a more bike-oriented life might look like.
Lately, I’ve taken to avoiding the 5pm Cat 6 race up Williams to my home in Woodlawn. I swing wide-north, over the St. Johns Bridge, and through deeper N. Portland via St. Louis, eventually connecting back over to MLK and crossing Columbia and Lombard to my place just off Dekum. There’s a bike lane, but it feels appropriate and not boastful. I like this. I like the reminders that Portland is not America’s Bicycle Capital, but a medium size town of many still diverse neighborhoods. I’m reminded, riding from the Pearl, over the train tracks serving the businesses on Front Avenue, and the view of the docks from the St. Johns that Portland is a city of new and old industry. When I swing through Peninsular Park, I recall the shots often fired. I am not sure where I am going here. Something about the key to Portland is in better neighborhood strength and presence (not merely a marketing convenience for realtors) –protecting the identities and leveraging against the central city bureaucracy. The future is not about bikes; it’s about livable communities. It’s about not alienating everyone who doesn’t drink coffee, nurse IPAs, and ride bikes. Yes, bike infrastructure has a net effect, but the guise of bike infrastructure is too damning to Portland, the city that is so much more. I’d much prefer for the net effect to be bike infrastructure. I’m a white, long time (Fred) cyclist, from the southern roots of America. I didn’t move here for the bikes. I moved here because I love our neighborhoods east of the river. I love the culture. I hate working in the Pearl and I hate the infill of studio apartments on Mississippi and Division. I like apple pie, front porches, the smell of freshly cut grass, and seeing families and old good friends gather at an event in one of our beautiful parks. If I weren’t a sap for all the good that ain’t bikes, beer, and dives… I’d move to Hood River or Bend.
The future is not about bikes; it’s about livable communities. Yes, bike infrastructure has a net effect, but the guise of bike infrastructure is too damning to Portland, the city that is so much more.
If we don’t enhance our public/active transport options traffic congestion, urban sprawl, un-safe streets, and pollution will make our metro area less livable. Many metro areas (PDX is *not* a medium-sized town) in the “southern roots of america” are good examples of this.
It’s about not alienating everyone who doesn’t drink coffee, nurse IPAs, and ride bikes….If I weren’t a sap for all the good that ain’t bikes, beer…I’d move to Hood River or Bend.
I don’t think you are going to be able to avoid micro-brews, espresso and boho transplants by moving to Hood River or Bend.
I typed: If I weren’t a sap for all the good that AIN’T bikes, beer, and dives… I’d move to Hood River or Bend. –Insinuating that Portland is really so much more than how the country and world perceives us.
Again, I do not believe bikes are the answer. In part because they alienate many other cultures (right or wrong). Cycling, more so than automobile driving, is a culture to identify with and direct at. So yes, we need to enhance our public / active transportation options, but not for the cyclist and close-in community. Rather, for the greater good of this city and all its cultures and peoples. I truly believe the wrong rubbings, we as cyclist have given much of the Metro area, is in making it personal and not relating to all the cogs that make Portland’s east side special. Bikes first gained a footing in this town because the grid allowed it. The underpinnings of the city that fought the Mt Hood Hwy and prompted the removal of Harbor Drive dig deeper than bike transportation. Our rally cry should not be for bike lanes because bikes need bike lanes, but because our porches, rivers, churches, family BBQs, schools, music, YOUR way of life, My way of life, and the history of this city need not be further separated by the need to travel further faster. Still, I’d much prefer bikes not be the cause any more than cars be the cause, because, at the end of the day, technology will change how we commute, but Portland should always be Portland. I guess what I am saying is, as an example: we have to stop thinking about how we can get grandma, the church organist on a bike, and rather how we can keep grandma, the church organist, in the city of Portland.
Really? Can’t we keep our bike/ped infrastructure moving forward (which has much more to do with the things you keep saying you like about PDX than you seem to realize) AND keep striving to keep the city diverse? Not sure where you’ve been that perpetuates car culture yet keeps the front porch etc livability you like so. (certainly nowhere in the South) In cities where all the grandmas drive to church you have massive dead zones and the old neighborhoods you love are pretty well trashed. Coast to coast, north to south. I hope you eventually can make the connection between the perpetuation of bike/ped living here with the traditional neighborhood vibe you elevate. Your false dichotomy isn’t really making sense.
I can make the connection with how we sell bike/ped culture in Portland and it is not entirely about the things I mention –it is too often about bikes (and the middle class who rides them). The wall painting put such sentiments in ALL CAPS. My entire point is we need to keep it all moving forward, but not on the backbone of something that alienates much of the community and supporters we need. Bikeportland.org has grown with our cycling community, but the sign was a testament to both how far we’ve come from the days of Critical Mass and how we still hold that same pompous attitude when it comes to our views of this cities –both in success and shortcomings. I believe it is time cyclist understand, like the death of Critical Mass in Portland, we’re nearing the end of what we can accomplish alone. We need buy-in that won’t come with more bike lanes at the expense of parking spaces. We need to not infill with pricey tiny studios that our bike friendly, but to reassert the city’s culture in the outers where neighborhoods have become refuge suburbs for those who could once afford to live in a family size bungalow with a porch in the inners.
“Again, I do not believe bikes are the answer. In part because they alienate many other cultures (right or wrong). Cycling, more so than automobile driving, is a culture to identify with and direct at. “
Does walking alienate people? Are sidewalks controversial? There is nothing inherently alienating about riding a bike. Bikes have a bit of a PR problem in Portland but the majority of citizens support cycling facilities and cycling as a transportation mode.
Our cities are increasingly congested with low occupancy vehicles and the trend towards density is only going to make our physical, emotional, and environmental gridlock worse. I have no patience with those who want to ignore our current dystopian reality by pining away for the “apple pie” good old days. Our freeways are packed with stressed-out people who pay an ever increasing amount of their income on a transportation mode that is poisoning our planet. Bikes may not be *the answer* but they are certainly part of the solution.
i strongly agree that we should “keep grandma, the church organist” in portland but i don’t think that is going to happen until we reform zoning, development and tax policies that favor wealthier people. moreover, pedestrian and bike facilities in outer pdx would help the “grandmothers” who were evicted from inner portland. active transport is not the problem, the problem was city policy which encouraged displacement of people from their neighborhoods (again).
We’re totally on the same page. Bicycles cannot underwrite our current concerns or our future. Actually, part of me believe bicycles for all the good they’ve done for the city, our partially responsible for the displacement of grandma the church organist (example: who do local politicians court?). The culture is one of its own and not always in compliment to others. I’m not sure city-hopping on a bike should be a culture (as opposed to racing, touring, mtb, etc). I keep running a scene from a Renior film I cannot remember, where a couple rides a bike along a river path in France in the 1930s. I cannot think of the film, but the scene is not about bikes. The same scene would make top billings in the narrow scope of Filmed By Bike.
I’m only trying to stir conversation.
Wonderfully put TJ. Thank you.
And the NWTA/Lumberyard skills course was so popular at Sunday Parkways that after it was stolen a group of volunteers got together to rebuild it in time for last weekend. There are things to be celebrated, but much work still to be done in all arenas of cycling in and around PDX.
Wait, what? Someone stole the skills course?
The NWTA trailer was stolen with the course inside. Course was rebuilt and sounds like it’s better than ever!
Ah, yes. I remember the story about the trailer getting stolen – didn’t recall that this equipment was inside it. Thanks.
For me, riding a bicycle has never been “a thing” so its best days aren’t behind me and I don’t think they are for Portland. It’s a well written and thoughtful piece but a bit overly dramatic. Keep looking at ways, old and new to increase ridership and keep improving the conditions that allow for people to return to, or to start commuting by bicycle and using it as general transportation, but it feels premature, and a bit defeatist, to speak of Portland and the bicycle in the way people speak of Peak Oil or Parachute pants. Just ride your bike as often as you can, adapt for careers, family and age, stop thinking of it as a thing and just make it a way of life, and everything will be alright.
I rode my bicycle to work this morning from Arleta… I didn’t have any bad encounters with drivers… maybe they’re as happy for the sunshine as we are… we’ll see how my commute to Vancouver is this evening…
Take it from someone who moved to Portland after college in 1998 and moved away with young kids in tow in 2011, I think you need some perspective. The making of Portland as a bike Mecca was long in the making and won’t be undone any time soon, even though some planning decisions didn’t go ideally for the bike community. You have a solid seat at the talble, and for the BTA, an organization that sued the city at one time, that is a big accomplishment. Maybe you need a new activists org to do smite pushing. There are always factors to balance, political and otherwise. All of the self reference as the country’s bike capital is pretty new and doesn’t change the facts: it is one of the best places to ride a bike, and has been since the mid 90s. Take the long view, that is what has gotten Portland where it is today.
I believe it is time (and I have seen some encouraging signs!) for Portland to take some bold steps toward discouraging SOV car commuting. It is great to build bilk lane, greenways and cyclotracks, and I love have MAX, streetcar and buses, but our streets are full of people driving around by themselves! WE need serious parking reform; taxes surface lots, increase parking fees, expand meters, tow improperly parked cars, etc. Combine this with lower speeds, enforcement of drunk/distracted driving laws, and start a robust street-sweeping regime (that also involves towing for cars improperly parked). This would create a street environment that is safer and more inviting to bikes, and be revenue-positive! I also thinking fighting the street-user fee being pushed by City is important to keeping our streets available for everyone. Portland needs money for our streets, but it can get in in an equitable way that benefits everyone, charges users proportionately, and works to create safer, streets immediately. City-wide safer streets would be huge boon to cycling.
Right!, maybe the next big thing is not getting something built, it is taking so e real steps toward taking our streets back ( for pedis, cycling, transit, play, etc) our streets are our largest public open space, and they represent who we are. When I look at the streets, I se a lot of great things, but they are mostly obscured by all the single people racing home from the bar while texting
Increase the costs for cars downtown by raising parking fees and the like and you run the risk of hurting downtown businesses and moving things to the suburbs.
I think downtown/pearl is established enough that that is unlikely. If a few car-dependent businesses move, more will move in and take their place.
There’s plenty of businesses that will support all the workers that prefer to work downtown (raises hand as one of those workers) and there are plenty of employers that want to be downtown because of the talent they can attract when they’re there. A minority of the close to 300 workers in the building I work in use a car to get here.
With all due props to JM for this site:
This was the best usr of photography to tell a story and set a theme I’ve ever seen on this site.
I’ve been lurking this website since 2006 nearly daily and it’s nice to see an occasional kick-you-in-the-gut long form journalism/advocacy piece.
We need to take this as a sign that we need to be more organized on every level. What did I do? I got elected as transportation co-chair of my neighborhood and have had significant impact just in the past six months.
We all need to just plug along. This is a stagnation of one administration…..let us look to the next and keep pushing this one.
Excellent post Michael. Indeed, one of the factors for my decision to move up here was that there was great bike infrastructure and culture. Little did I know that it would inspire to start up my own cargo-bike business. I think many of us in business have taken a lot of initiative in trying to drum up more business, and sometimes those initiatives bend the rules. I feel for Todd. I know that I have installed a shed closer to a property line than what the city wants, and have worked on a fence over 6-feet tall. I am guilty too of taking some liberties for the sake of doing something cool. We live and learn, and keep pedaling on.
“Multnomah ave. has proven what a real bike lane should be, and how well it functions (despite some drivers not knowing where to park).”
The last figure I saw was that the Multnomah bike lane had increased bike usage by a big, big 13%. In other words, a street with fairly light bicycling usage continues to be a street with fairly light bicycling usage.
I think that a political problem is that for the 94% of people who don’t commute by bike, transport advocacy has changed from simply trying to improve access for bicycles to additionally actively trying to make it more difficult for cars to get around Portland. Imposing “road diets” et. al, on streets with little bike traffic may be cutting into the base of political support for further bike improvements.
if a road diet slows motorists down to sensible speeds or diverts motor traffic from side streets back onto collectors and arterials, it does not need a bike agenda.
I had reason to be in the Lloyd District several times in the past few weeks and I saw absolutely no one using the Multnomah facility while I was there.
I am one of the MANY daily users of the crosswalk on Multnomah between 7th & 8th, which has been enhanced by this ‘facility’. The road is MUCH safer to cross now that we only need to watch out for one car moving in either direction rather than two.
I’m confused about the removal of the sign. There are clear violations ALL OVER of billboards that are not in approved places and there’s no man power to police them. A great example I can give from personal experience, and one anyone who’s lived in Portland for say at least 5 years will have noticed, is the billboard on the side of the Portland Storage Company. At least a decade ago the owners of that property petitioned the State Historic Preservation Office (where I worked) to have HUGE lettering on the side of the building that read PORTLAND STORAGE COMPANY. It was approved because it was the exact same size as the original John Deere sign almost a century ago. Well fast forward to a few years back when a billboard that was larger was painted over it. NOT APPROVED and YEARS later it’s still there.
Here is a pretty good synopsis of the situation… http://www.neighborhoodnotes.com/news/2009/10/portlands_public_muralsa_tale_of_intrigue_and_triumph/ I believe initially the city was hoping to keep the number of billboards down (good effort) and changed the sign code to hopefully get that result. It backfired as Clear Channel found the loop hole and won the lawsuit as they were being discriminated against under the law. Sad day for muralists…
Chris, my friend Michelle recently spent an inordinate amount of time researching that sign and three others right by it, and managed to (eventually) get it removed. It took tons of work, though, and the worst part is that there is no open data portal or searchable online map that citizen advocates can use to determine whether ads are permitted or not.
Not to distract from the absolute gorgeousness from this post, sidetrack, etc – while WNBR does have “the show must go on” philosophy”, however does obtain route permits, park permits for location, in compliance with the City for portapotties, etc. Because of its size, we rely on each and every organizer’s efforts for months in advance up until the night of to ensure that the protest runs smoothly.
People grew up, moved on, and fewer people took their places. The end.
The bike advocates/activists here are ideologically rigid and lacking in diversity. That doesn’t exactly motivate others to join.
And that’s exactly what Ted Buehler argued was the cause of Davis’ stagnation and eventual decline.
Is history rhyming?
My transformation from optimistic Portland Booster occurred when Nick Fish:
1. Ignored the recommendation of the public committee he formed to create single track in Forest Park
2. Ignored over 1,000 Portlanders who responded to a poll, with a majority favoring more MTB in FP.
3. Ignored over 350 letters he got from cyclists supporting more access – far more than letters opposing it.
4. Caved to the Sh*ty Club committee that knew nothing about cycling or the issue, and whose chair said “Cyclists have too much clout in city hall.” I guess Nick agreed, so Nick put him on the Parks budget committee.
And Fritz is not just blowing with political winds like Fish, but actively dislikes cyclists. With the nations biggest park and essentially no trail riding we keep getting accolades as a cycling city, which I now feel has little meaning.
So I ride, enjoy it immensely, and expect little of Portland.
If only you could bike on the Pacific Crest Trail or on land Portland owns in the Bull Run (only occasionally logged) Watershed. Bikes don’t belong everywhere.
You are wrong.
Huh? Are you saying the FP is equivalent to the PCT or Bull Run? That’s just laughable.
Yes, not everywhere, but definitely in FP.
free forest park 😉
Indeed. From cycling zealots if nothing else.
I see no reason why there shouldn’t be a trail given to, or built for, cyclists in Forest Park. I would love to be able to take my four year old on a nice trail in the city, without having to drive out of town.
It is for this reason (lack of quality trails within the city) that mountain bikers have been arguing against Platinum status since it was awarded.
you can ride on Leif Erickson
Yes, I can. And hikers can hike Leif Erickson and the Firelanes. And birdwatchers can see birds in their backyard and around their neighborhood. And joggers can jog on city streets or treadmills in the gym.
He said trail, not road.
The cycling zealots are the commuters in Portland, not the mountain bikers. There are definitely zealots controlling FP, but they aren’t cyclists. Please don’t confuse the two.
Some of the most pro livable street people i know in Portland are libertarian or republican. I know many anti livable street aging hippies here in Portland