Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Five surprises in a comparison of Portland and Dutch travel choices

Posted by on October 21st, 2014 at 2:35 pm

split screen rotterdam

Portlanders and Rotterdammers have more in common than you might think.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Most city-to-city transportation comparisons are very simple: 64 percent of trips by car, 11 percent by bike, and so on.

But those broad numbers are really just blankets that have been thrown over the intricate topography of transportation choices that’s actually at work in our daily lives. To really understand how cities work, you also have to look at a second factor: How far are people going?

A motherlode of newly released data has revealed those patterns for Portlanders for the first time.

By comparing their answers with the ones given by people in Rotterdam — the Netherlands’ second-largest city, it has almost exactly the population of Portland — we can get a useful look inside the differences and similarities between our country’s bike-friendliest major city and our planet’s bike-friendliest country.

These results draw on an analysis completed last month by Metro staff, based on a local slice of the huge 2011 Oregon Household Activity Survey that asked people to report, trip by trip, the ways they move about their lives. Thanks to some comparative work by Nathan Wilkes, a planner with the City of Austin who’s been comparing Portlanders’ behavior and Dutch behavior to estimate the potential for biking in his city, we can see how we measure up against our friends in Northwestern Europe.

If we chart the distances people travel and the modes they use, here’s what it looks like in Portland:

portland master chart

Portland data: Oregon Household Activity Survey via Metro.

and in Rotterdam (important caveat: this data includes only work and school commutes):

rotterdam master chart

Dutch data: Infrastructure Management Agency via City of Austin.

There’s a lot to see here. Let’s look at these charts piece by piece.

1) Even in the Netherlands, most trips of more than three miles happen in a car.

driving comparison rotterdam

When you get down to the numbers, the difference in Dutch and Portlander driving habits is big but it really isn’t dramatic. Once trips get to three miles or so, most Rotterdammers start reaching for the car keys, too.

2) The vast majority of Dutch biking comes from short trips.

biking comparison rotterdam

Rotterdam biking rates peak at about two miles and drop off rapidly over three miles. It’s a pretty clear sign that for all the joys of pedaling, no amount of amazing bike infrastructure can make most people want to take daily bike trips of more than 20 minutes or so. But that’s where the second great gift of dense Dutch cities comes in: almost everything you need is reachable within a 20-minute bike trip. Dutch cities make density affordable by devoting less real estate to front lawns, parking lots, spare bedrooms and one-story buildings.

Another revelation here: though Portlanders’ biking rates also peak around the 2-mile mark (11 percent of those are by bike) they stay fairly steady until they get longer than six miles, at which point Rotterdammers’ biking is seriously tapering off. Maybe that’s because Portlanders who bike a lot are disproportionately athletic. Or maybe we’re just stubborn.

3) Dutch and Portland walking habits are very similar.

walking comparison rotterdam

Americans are so accustomed to being gloomy about our transportation system that it’s easy to forget: in the parts of our cities that were built before the age of auto-dependent planning, walking is actually pretty good and pretty popular. For trips of less than half a mile, humans generally prefer to walk. They always have and they always will.

4) In the Netherlands, transit is for the long haul.

transit comparison rotterdam

This chart gives the lie to my least favorite transportation myth: that biking and public transit are competitors. They’re complements. The density that makes Rotterdam great for biking also makes it great for transit, and the whole system works because the abundance of options lets people use the right vehicle for the right job. If you’ve got enough money to spend, it’s possible to create a car-lite city with mass transit alone — see New York or London — but it’s far easier to accomplish if bikes are helping, too.

Another difference sticks out here: commuter trains are a big part of Dutch life. Portlanders start abandoning TriMet when trips get longer than eight miles or so. (That’s about the length of the Yellow Line.) But Rotterdam transit is popular for 30 miles and beyond. It’s no coincidence that commuter rail, with its high speeds and small number of stations, is a particularly good complement to biking.

5) Portland is to most of the United States as the Netherlands is to Portland.

united states mode share by distance

In almost all of the United States, you either drive or you walk.

As a result, nearly half of all U.S. trips of one mile or less happen in a privately operated vehicle. For trips of 2 miles, 90 percent are in cars. Biking and mass transit are negligibly tiny factors in America’s transportation system.

Not every U.S. city is like this, fortunately; six or seven have better public transit than Portland and a few have comparable bike networks. But all these travel figures show that for all the progress we have yet to make in Portland, our choices so far have brought us a long way.

With thanks to Nathan Wilkes at the City of Austin, Lake McTighe at Metro and Roger Geller at the City of Portland.

Correction 6 pm: An earlier version of this post didn’t note that the Rotterdam data comes only from work and school commutes. It’s also worth noting that because these figures already control for distance, that’s a less important factor here than it sometimes is.

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  • Chris I October 21, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Land use policy is just as important as bike/pedestrian infrastructure. You could have protected cycle tracks on every street in Houston, and you still wouldn’t hit the bike modal share that we have in Portland.

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    • Edwards October 21, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      Chris, I totally disagree. I think it’s been made abundantly clear that “if you build it they will come” has taken Portland into a place that is a very strong argument for exactly that.
      Yes Houston is a bigger sprawl city which means the miles from point A to B will be farther but if they put in a protected bike lane/path on every street in Houston I guarantee that city would change overnight.

      Progressive thinking happens very quickly when you add the right tools to society.

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      • Jayson October 22, 2014 at 9:36 am

        Disagree. Land use policy IS the most important. If you don’t have a dense urban environment with more destinations clustered together, biking is going to be considerably less feasible. As the charts show, long trips are rarely taken by bicycle even in the most bike friendly of places – Rotterdam! If everyone lived in suburbs and worked in office parks 5-20 miles away, biking would simply not be a feasible choice. The UGB and state land use planning have been helping Oregon, but it’s still a far cry from where we should be to experience really feasible transportation choices.

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        • wsbob October 22, 2014 at 11:13 am

          “…If you don’t have a dense urban environment with more destinations clustered together, biking is going to be considerably less feasible. …” Jayson

          It’s community design philosophy, and maybe policy, rather than strictly land use policy, that conceives and builds communities that people can walk and bike in to meet basic needs in addition to recreation.

          Nice enough idea, but there doesn’t so far, seem to be much demand at all for that kind of community design in the U.S.

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        • iNLand fIEts October 22, 2014 at 7:41 pm

          Well I had a good laugh at that. Rotterdam is generally known as being on the low end of biking accommodation and mode share in The Netherlands. Consequently, it’s not too surprising to see similar data appear for both cities.

          Anyway, moving on. Land policy certainly CAN play a role, but it isn’t the be all end all. Some Dutch do bike for decent distances and even the most remote corners and small towns in The Netherlands come with cycletracks next to the [busy/main] roads. Certainly, they have done quite a bit to encourage compact development and mixed-use situations are also far more prevalent than here. But considering that a good half of all trips in America are for destinations within 3 miles despite our splayed land uses, it’s far past time for the “it’s too far” excuse to get purged from bike planning circles.

          This also ignores the fact that the Dutch do have sprawl. However, even with their sprawl, they go to great lengths to make sure that biking is still easy and convenient. There are dozens of villages strewn all about the countryside and they most certainly don’t have every single amenity available in all of them, requiring travel to somewhere where it is available. They also don’t have jobs for all their inhabitants and again, people travel some distance to reach jobs. While many combine bike with another mode, it is not uncommon to come across a Dutch(wo)man in the countryside driving their bicycle several miles from their little enclave to the nearest major town for shopping, work, visit friends, etc. Their children also do this (replace “work” with school”), cutting out a major contributor to familial driving: parents (usually mom) ferrying Jr. around to school, soccer, and the dentist.

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          • wsbob October 22, 2014 at 11:22 pm

            Inlandfiets…that’s it: U.S. communities could be linked to each other by basic, big, spacious, attractive to look at and use, cycle tracks and esplanades, but as things stand now, such a thing seems to be an alien concept to people here. Instead, the community design MO tends to be scrawny bike lanes whittled out of existing roadways’ right of way.

            What increased provision for vehicular road use is provided within existing road right of way through upgrades and reconfiguration, tends to go overwhelmingly in favor of additional motor vehicle use of roads. When completed, city leaders can stand back, look at the spiffy clean new bike lanes and exclaim about how the city’s livability has consequently been enhanced because of them.

            The reality, that the new bike lanes are directly adjoining roads whose motor vehicle daily usage has increased substantially, is much more sobering.

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    • shetha October 22, 2014 at 10:59 am

      I think this is not reflected in the portland-centric data. Other cities or suburbs have forgone even sidewalks (much less bike lanes). My mother, who lives north of Houston, is less than a mile away from her grocery store, but must drive unless she wants to comingle with 60-70 mph SUVs on foot or on a bike. Just… silly.

      And more proof is that even though the streets in beaverton/hillsboro/gresham have bike lanes, if the speed limit is > 35 mph or so, people will stick to the sidewalks on their bikes.

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      • Dave Thomson October 22, 2014 at 2:56 pm

        I seriously doubt that “if the speed limit is > 35 mph or so, people will stick to the sidewalks on their bikes”. I ride a lot in Tigard, Beaverton, Hillsboro and see very few people riding on sidewalks. Do you have any data to back it up?

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      • Dan October 22, 2014 at 8:02 pm

        I wouldn’t ride on the sidewalk on an arterial in Beaverton, but most kids and novices do. This ‘data’ is anecdotal, of course.

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  • Harald October 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    While this is an interesting analysis, it should be noted that Rotterdam is a rather atypical Dutch city with a comparatively low bike modal share. So I think it should be made clearer that you’re not comparing Portland with the Netherlands but with Rotterdam.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) October 21, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      Good observation, Harald. I actually wrote a version of this post that looked at Dutch national data and all the key points were the same. The bigger outlier, as I understand it, might actually be Amsterdam: a wonderful place but so different from the rest of the Netherlands that it shouldn’t be used as an indication of Dutchness in general.

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      • Amsterdamize October 22, 2014 at 2:16 pm

        Michael, the suggestion that the data for work & school commutes is sufficiently representative is not correct, other purposes (shopping, social life) represent a significant chunk of all trips.
        Contrary to international perception (and your assumption), Amsterdam is not the exception, nor the yard stick, at all. There are plenty of cities that show higher cycle rates than AMS, the same way there are cities (like Rotterdam) which show lower ones. PS: cycle rates in the 5 major cities grew between 35-50% in the last 20 years. 35% growth in Rotterdam, 50% growth in AMS. Zwolle was voted Cycle City 2014 (I was on the national jury) and has the highest modal share for bikes in NL, surpassing Groningen.
        Regarding distances: yes, land use and urban design in the last 30 years have secured close proximity of many destinations, but suggesting that no amount of high quality infrastructure would have someone cycle more than 20 min is utterly silly. The data points to the *average* distance cycled per trip, which is one clue, and things that are hardly ever qualified in NL cycle data are a) the nr of trips per day per person b) the multi-modal relationships, i.e. bike-PT, bike-PT-bike, PT-bike. And in conclusion for now (as I’m sure we’ll have more to talk about): 25% of all bike trips in NL are > 7 km…. negligible?


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        • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
          Michael Andersen (News Editor) October 22, 2014 at 3:25 pm

          Marc, great to hear from you! Obviously you’re far better informed than I am about these issues.

          I think you’re misreading my claim a bit, though: I didn’t say that no one is willing to pedal more than 20 minutes no matter the infrastructure, I said this suggests that most people don’t want to pedal longer than 20 minutes in a session or so on a daily basis. Would you question that generalization, too, even though the large majority of Rotterdam commutes of 3+ miles (and the large majority of Dutch commutes of 2+ miles) are in cars?

          I agree that the Rotterdam data would be much better if it applied to all trips, as the Portland data does, rather than just to work/school commutes. If you know where I can find that data, I’d love to have it. My impression, though, is that the single biggest difference between commute trips and other trips is actually distance, which is inherently controlled for in this way of looking at the data. That’s why I was comfortable using it as a proxy, but I invite your disagreement.

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    • Todd Boulanger October 21, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Perhaps the “otherness” of Rotterdam is that much of the city was bombed flat several times by different “teams” as control of the region shifted back and forth in the Forties…plus the large harbour areas and industrial areas create cycling barriers that boost riding times.

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  • PJ Souders October 21, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    “though Portlanders’ biking rates also peak around the 2-mile mark (11 percent of those are by bike) they stay fairly steady until they get longer than six miles, at which point Rotterdammers’ biking is seriously tapering off. Maybe that’s because Portlanders who bike a lot are disproportionately athletic. Or maybe we’re just stubborn.”

    This is land-use policy again. In suburbia (where I live) although I’m only a mile or two from good shopping options like downtown Lake O or Sellwood, it means riding on high traffic streets over janky bridges. Ironically it’s “easier” mentally for me to ride 12mi to work than 2mi to the grocery, because either trip will require girding for combat basically.

    Also suburban transit is oriented toward the city core, and only at commuter hours, so same problem. To get to Sellwood (2mi from my house in a straight line) I have to take a bus 10mi to downtown Portland first! …but not on weekends when the buses don’t run anyway.

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    • Paul in The 'Couve October 21, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      Exactly. I ride a lot, everywhere, but if I need to go to Walmart only 3/8 of a mile from home I’ll drive (I avoid going there as much as possible). It just isn’t worth the mental energy to bike or walk there.

      The real low hanging fruit right now is 1) new commercial development and a commitment and insistence that biking and walking be made not just possible but convenient and both safe and perceived safe (low mental energy) and 2) sucking it up to take on the political and financial lengths to make some key intersections multi-modal and safe crossings on arterials.

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    • Dan October 21, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      I never carry a lock with me. Never. So pretty much all of my rides are loops that return to my house or work commutes, where I have a locker. Fred Meyer & Home Depot don’t have lockers, so I drive.

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      • Dan October 21, 2014 at 5:10 pm

        And those stores are 1/15th the distance of my work.

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      • wsbob October 21, 2014 at 10:08 pm

        I’ve rolled my bike alongside me, while shopping in Home Depot, many times. Asked staff for help, they don’t blink an eye. I’m very conscientious of keeping the bike out of other customers way. At Fred’s in Beaverton, occasionally, people roll their bikes alongside them as they shop. A couple times, I’ve seen a guy bring his bike with a trailer attached, into grocery, though to me bringing a long rig like that in the store seems excessive.

        There are hours of day during which I don’t think it’s a big deal to drive rather than ride three eighths of a mile to the store. That would be hours when motor vehicle traffic has dropped to a tenth or less of peak hours. It’s during hours of the day when many people need to go somewhere, that more people accomplishing that by riding, could help improve conditions.

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        • Dan October 22, 2014 at 8:01 am

          Agree with you on the timing of trips. It’s the easiest way to preserve road capacity.

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      • Janet Lafleur October 22, 2014 at 9:58 am

        Why don’t you ever lock your bike up? Are you worried about theft? I keep an old bike around when I have to lock up places I think the theft risk is high.

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        • davemess October 22, 2014 at 10:05 am

          Think he’s saying he just never goes anywhere and leaves his bike outside. He only bikes to/from work and home.

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        • Dan October 22, 2014 at 11:41 am

          I don’t have any janky bikes that I wouldn’t want parts stolen from. Sorry, it seems bizarre to me that it’s necessary to own one of those nowadays. Does anyone own a beater car just to discourage theft?

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          • Paul October 22, 2014 at 11:56 am

            No, but people will often have a couple bike in the Netherlands – if they’re into biking for pleasure and they have a place to store a nice bike. They’ll leave the beater outside with all the other bikes. Though in the inner city it’s rare anyone would take a bike inside their home due to the incredibly steep and narrow staircases.

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          • J4son October 22, 2014 at 5:07 pm

            Yes. (theft . . . and damage, and anything else you wouldn’t want happening to an antique/or valuable car)

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    • davemess October 21, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      Some of the land use differences are not likely to to be overcome (ever or at least for a long, long time).
      I mean we’re comparing a city that is over 600+ years older than Portland. Built (and expanded) long, long before cars existed.
      Our densest cities in the US are also some of our oldest, I don’t think that’s a coincidence. (But even though cities have also see less density on there periphery as some of their biggest expansion took place after the car was invented)

      There are huge cultural differences to overcome (also not helped by the vast expansiveness of our entire country).

      I was riding through Portland with a Dutch coworker last year and he was amazed at how most of the houses have yards (granted Portland probably has more of this closer to downtown than many US cities, but many (if not most in this country) do value their space/land).

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      • Branko Collin October 31, 2014 at 2:20 am

        Note that the historic centre of Rotterdam was bombed out of existence by the Nazis. When it comes to land use, Rotterdam is no older than its suburbs. The latter only started to be developed after 1825, when the city walls were torn down.

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  • Peter R. October 21, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I still don’t get the anti-MAX sentiment often seen here on BP.org. It’s the key to my work/home commute.
    I do admit that there may be a few too many stops in certain parts of the line (downtown for instance). I could easily see over time a high speed commuter train with minimal stops as one key to get those people who are driving the 20+ miles outside PDX to get to work.

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    • Dan October 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      Yeah, I’ve never wanted to MAX because downtown is right in the center of my trip. Too many stops.

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    • davemess October 21, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      Many on here live pretty close in. MAX is not very speedy (as you point out), thus many would rather ride to where they are going (which is often quicker).
      I fall into that boat even though I live 5+ miles from downtown. It’s still a lot faster to bike (25 mins) versus bus or MAX (almost 45 mins. most of the time).

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    • Steve P October 22, 2014 at 9:03 am

      I’ve often wondered if it has to do with where the tracks were positioned in the street (the middle in most cases, I think)…thus less interaction with tracks when turning right. Curbside disembarking now means that the track occupies where cyclists are told to ride or weaves across their path.

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    • Todd boulanger October 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

      There may be some difference in the two eras due to: track placement (1920s street cars operated from the center of the street and stopped in the intersections or near intersections vs in curbside stops), bicycles then were more similar to Dutch city bikes (wider tires and more forgiving geometry) and streetcars / animal powered traction car facilities predated bikes (often paved / bricked the first portion of the roadway) so they had more status.

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    • Trikeguy October 22, 2014 at 9:53 am

      It’s just too slow – I ride home from SE 12th and Morrison to 117th and Center in Beaverton starting at 5pm. I make that trip faster on my trike I do by walking out the office door, catching a bus downtown (the 15 comes at 5:11) and catchng a MAX (if I’m really lucky it’s the Red Line turned Blue to Willow Creek, but I usually get up to Morrison just in time to see it leave).

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at my watch going through town or up the tunnel on MAX and thought “Dang, if I’d ridden today I’d already be blasting down Skyline now!”

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      • GlowBoy October 22, 2014 at 5:08 pm

        Huh? The combination of the 15 and MAX takes a total 37 minutes according to TriMet’s trip planner, including a 5 minute transfer.

        I’m having a hard time understanding how any cyclist can make it from SE Portland to central Beaverton in less than 37 minutes, unless they’ve got electric assist. That’s an 11 mile trip with over 900′ of climbing. Even on an e-bike, that is hauling ass.

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        • Psyfalcon October 22, 2014 at 7:31 pm

          I see 50 minutes if you leave at 5pm on a week day.

          That assumes everything goes right though. Even over the west hills, a bike can be faster. I’ve waited an hour before when a train has backed up.

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          • GlowBoy October 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm

            Get on #15 bus at 5:12pm, arrive SW 17th & Morrison 5:27pm, board MAX at 5:32, arrive Beaverton TC 5:49pm. 37 minutes to cover an 11 mile trip over the West Hills. I don’t think even Lance-on-dope can beat that.

            I’m not counting outliers here: yes, I’ve seen trains back up for an hour, too, as happens when Joe Biden visits or a drunk driver hits the train. Yes, there are days when I’m glad I have my bike with me as a bailout option on days when MAX is effed. But as a daily MAX rider I’d say those are less-than-monthly events, on average.

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            • Trikeguy October 24, 2014 at 8:53 am

              1. I leave work at 5pm. Just because the bus comes at 5:12 doesn’t mean my *TRIP* starts then.
              2. You left out the walk from Beaverton TC to my place. 5:55pm if everything goes right – and it frequently doesn’t.

              Last night I rolled out the door to Morrison at 5:04. I hit Fairview and Skyline at 5:34. I was doing a recovery day so I used my 27″ granny gear on the 2 steeper sections of Fairview (7mph at a nice spin). I got to Mayfield and Walker at 5:44 and rolled into my parking lot on Center at 5:48.

              Note: this was not my fastest trip home – it being a rest day I took it easy up the hill and I twice had to slow to a near stop on the 26 path for walkers spread across the width of the path. My fastest trip home is 42:12 elapsed time.

              That route is 10.5 miles with over 1000′ of climbing.

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              • wsbob October 24, 2014 at 10:31 am

                Commendable, but your ability and inclination to climb up over the hill probably wouldn’t fit a profile for an average type person that’s riding a bike for commuting purposes.

                Just because it can be done, doesn’t mean it’s what a lot of people with some willingness to ride some of their commute would do, rather than use the light rail to travel part of their route home.

                Since this story is about the comparison of riding characteristics between people in the cities of Rotterdam and Portland, I’m wondering how Rotterdam residents that ride, if that city had a big climb like the Tualitan Mtns, would respond to the situation. Would they climb it on a bike, or would the prospect of having to do so as part of their commute, have them choose to drive, bus it or take a train instead?

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              • GlowBoy October 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

                Holy jeebus. I guess you’re one of those guys who flies by me on the climbs, making me look like I’m standing still. I can’t even comprehend making that trip in under an hour.

                Given that, you probably should bike it most of the time. Meanwhile, for those of us who aren’t up to that standard of fitness, MAX remains a very acceptable alternative in terms of speed; it’s just that it’s too crowded to bring a bike on much of the time.

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              • El Biciclero October 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm

                Ehhhh…I could imagine it. I take the “central passage” over the West Hills (Montgomery/Patton/Hewett) from downtown, and poking along around and through the PSU campus sounds like it takes roughly as long as TrikeGuy’s run through town, and I get to the 26 MUP overpass at the cemetery at about the 30- to 35-minute mark. I’m guessing TrikeGuy dives left at Eastridge/Roxbury to bomb down to Lynnridge/Mayfield/Walker, while I finish my 13.5-mile trip by heading (back) over 26 to go out Barnes/Cornell. Typical time for me is 1:03, fastest was probably 58 minutes. And yeah, I’ll have guys burn me up Montgomery every so often. A group of ladies even dusted me once, but they looked they were on a training ride with their racing team.

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              • Trikeguy October 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm

                Yes and no, I think if a 47 year old guy on a recumbent trike can beat MAX when he has to go over the west hills, that means there’s a pretty big segment who can beat it on shorter/flatter commutes.

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              • wsbob October 27, 2014 at 9:49 pm

                Trikeguy at: http://bikeportland.org/2014/10/21/five-surprises-comparison-portland-dutch-travel-choices-112468#comment-5660909

                That a wide segment of people may be able to do, doesn’t mean they’re going to be interested, ever, in doing this as a regular commute. More specifically, a large percentage of people that bike in Portland, or Rotterdam, may not be interested in busting the hill on a bike, regularly, as part of their commute.

                Side by side pictures of people, in the U.S. and in Rotterdam, biking. People in the right side picture, if it can be said accurately that they’re typical of people biking in the Dutch city, don’t look like a type of rider that would want to regularly ride as part of their commute, over the hill in Portland, on a Dutch bike, a road bike, or a trike.

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        • Andy K October 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm

          The one time I left from SE this year I did it in 38 minutes but it wasn’t easy at all. http://www.strava.com/activities/199805424

          Downtown, (Pioneer square) to Beaverton TC should takes around 35 minutes at the same level of effort (versus 22 minutes for MAX).

          Trimet is great, but the best advantage bicycling has over TriMet is that it’s very predictable.

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    • davemess October 22, 2014 at 10:05 am

      In the 1920s there was no internet to complain on.

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  • James Sherbondy October 21, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    25% of trips 0-0.3 miles are made in cars in Portland! Sigh. No wonder we have the obesity rates we have in this country.

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    • Paul October 21, 2014 at 4:43 pm


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    • Dan October 21, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      How many of those trips are dropping the kids off at school?

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      • 9watts October 21, 2014 at 7:26 pm

        who are also increasingly overweight.

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        • Dan October 22, 2014 at 8:03 am

          But they are ‘safe’!

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        • Stevie Dee October 27, 2014 at 11:07 am

          I’ve pulled together the following data from various sources comparing children in England and the Netherlands (I don’t have statistics for the US, though according to a CDC fact page, in 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents in the US were overweight or obese. Another site, that of the National Conference of State Legislature, puts the 2011 childhood obesity rate of Oregon at 5-10%, less than that of all the others).

          Percentage of schoolchildren aged 7-11 obese or overweight
          Netherlands 11%
          England 27%

          The Dutch rate is among the lowest in Europe, the English rate among the highest.

          Percentage of schoolchildren aged 13-17 obese or overweight
          Netherlands 9%
          England 25%

          Again the Dutch rate is among the lowest in Europe, the English rate among the highest.

          The Netherlands (together with Denmark, which also sees much lower childhood obesity rates than the UK) has the highest rates of active transport among European kids. In other words, they cycle a lot.

          In the Netherlands, 49% of primary schoolchildren (age 5-11) go to school by bike. In the UK, 48% of kids want to cycle to school, but only 2% actually do. Although 47% of UK kids aged 5-10 walk to school, a growing proportion – 44% – are driven every day. For those aged 11-16, 38% walk and 26% are driven.

          That high uptake also means Dutch and Danish kids have a much higher degree of independence than those in the UK. They’re more likely to use their bikes for trips other than to school, while British kids tend more than ever to be driven everywhere.

          There is clearly a very strong correlation between a high uptake of active transport and reduced obesity in children. Other surveys regularly rank Dutch kids the happiest in the world.

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  • J_R October 21, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    There’s quite a bit missing from this comparison.

    Is it central city and central city or does it include suburbs?

    In Portland, is it only for trips the begin and end in Portland city limits?

    What’s the proportion of trips by distance for each city? This is different than mode split by distance.

    What’s the average distance of trips in Portland and Rotterdam?

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) October 21, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      Yeah, I agree that there’s still a lot of information not captured here. To answer your excellent questions: My understanding is that these numbers are from residents within the city limits, and that they include trips that cross the city borders. The data I’ve got doesn’t include proportions of trips by distance or average distance; that’d definitely be useful too.

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  • Jeff October 21, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Don’t forget topography as a factor. Highest point in all of the Netherlands: 1059 feet (nowhere near the coastal cities – at the borders with Belgium and Germany). Highest point in Portland: 1073 feet.

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  • Tim October 21, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    The Netherlands has suburbs too. People ride their bikes to the store and the train station, and take the train into the city for work or a show. Judging from the massive rows of rusting bikes near the train stations, train commuters leave bikes at the station for use when they go downtown.

    The big difference is that people ride their bikes.

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  • Dwaine Dibbly October 21, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Great article. It would be interesting to see seasonal variations as well. Are their winters anything like ours? My impression is that they aren’t much colder but are drier.

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    • Paul October 22, 2014 at 11:59 am

      Yeah, they have a bit drier winters, but the rain is spread throughout the year and they’ll get more snow.

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  • Gerald Fittipaldi October 21, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    One of the biggest differences between biking culture in Portland vs. Holland is the SPEED at which people ride. I’ve traveled a fair amount and nowhere in the world have I seen people bike at the speeds that Portlanders bike at. This is honestly a barrier for the “interested but concerned” group. They are very intimidated to bike on, say, the Hawthorne Bridge at 5pm. Nearly everyone is racing.

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    • Spiffy October 22, 2014 at 7:49 am

      just like cars aggressively tailgating me, I ignore those on bikes pushing to go faster… they can pass when there’s room…

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    • spare_wheel October 22, 2014 at 8:50 am

      mopeds blowing by cyclists on dutch bike paths are, imo, more intimidating than portland’s mostly polite fast cyclists.

      i also don’t see how cycling at higher speeds is intimidating if the cyclist passes safely and/or uses the adjacent motor vehicle lane. higher speed is one of the reasons longer bike trips are more feasible in portland. moreover, sprawl and lower urban density makes extending the range of bike trips almost a necessity in the usa.

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      • Gerald Fittipaldi October 22, 2014 at 9:43 am

        You do bring up a fair point about mopeds in Holland. However, I stand by my comment that *some* of Portland’s fast cyclists are intimidating. Many of the well-intentioned fast cyclists pass leaving very little room, and I’m talking barely 12-inches in some cases. This is especially apparent on Vancouver-Williams (thankfully the widened lane will help this). Also, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a speedy cyclist pass me on the right on a Neighborhood Greenway. Just because I don’t have clipless pedals and a mission to arrive at my destination all sweaty doesn’t mean I have to ride in the door zone.

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        • Tony Rebensdorf October 22, 2014 at 12:11 pm

          I agree with you. It is a common occurrence for me to be passed on either side by a rider who has not bothered to signal; either by calling out or with a bell. It seems like a simple enough courtesy. Personally, I would rather the person I was passing knew beforehand rather than risk putting them or myself in danger.
          I have come to believe that just putting a person on a bike doesn’t automatically make them any more conscientious than if they were to drive. The same people who fail to signal in their cars will probably fail to signal while on their bike, in my opinion.

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        • spare_wheel October 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm

          so the problem is bad passing…not speed per se.

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        • greg byshenk October 23, 2014 at 10:33 pm

          Dutch cyclists ride, and pass, -much- more closely than Portland cyclists. Though it is true that the average speed is significantly lower.

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          • spare_wheel October 24, 2014 at 9:25 am

            very true.

            someone passive aggressively riding in the middle of a path would also almost certainly hear a few choice words as dutch cyclists pass them.

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    • davemess October 22, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Have you traveled anywhere else in the US?

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      • Gerald Fittipaldi October 22, 2014 at 5:34 pm

        I lived in DC for two years, and I’ve traveled to the following “bikey” cities, among others: San Francisco, NYC, Boston, Davis, Seattle, Montreal, Amsterdam. I’ve never experienced cyclists biking on a bridge as fast as they do along the Hawthorne bridge.

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        • GlowBoy October 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm

          I think there is something about bridges that makes people want to go fast. I experienced the same thing decades ago as a student in Minneapolis, on frequent trips over the (car-free) upper deck of the Washington Avenue bridge.

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    • Matt October 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      But I need that Hawthorne Bridge KOM!

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      • spare_wheel October 24, 2014 at 9:25 am

        i hope this does not exist and i’m afraid to look.

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  • Suburban October 21, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Finally, someone who knows how to signal for a right turn! Correct, visible, and legal..
    It appears the rider behind her is illustrating the incorrect, less visible and not legal right turn signal. =road hazard.

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    • 9watts October 21, 2014 at 10:34 pm

      Funny you should mention that. I was thinking no self-respecting Dutch rider would ever use that signal, derived as it was from early car drivers’ inability to make their right hand visible to anyone else.

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      • Mindful Cyclist October 22, 2014 at 1:27 pm

        And turn signals/blinker lights became standard in 1954. Unless you are 70 or above, I doubt many people who don’t ride bikes would get it anyway.

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      • Suburban October 22, 2014 at 7:01 pm

        I don’t make the laws. Would it be ok for cars to use alternative signaling options while traveling in front of you?

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        • 9watts October 22, 2014 at 7:52 pm

          What are you talking about?

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      • Mike October 23, 2014 at 7:08 pm

        How would a self respecting cyclist signal a right turn then? I am not dutch so please enlighten me

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        • 9watts October 23, 2014 at 7:23 pm

          With her right hand extended, of course. This is the way it is done the world over, pretty much.

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          • Mike October 24, 2014 at 10:22 pm

            Thanks for the “of course”. That pretty much tells me that you really know what you are talking about. Now I will be more european and not such an american A@# H*%$.

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            • 9watts October 24, 2014 at 11:37 pm

              Sorry. I assumed you were being facetious.
              It’s just that the left hand for a left turn and the right for a right turn seems pretty basic, hard to get wrong. The only reason anyone ever diverged from that was because cars with roofs made it hard to see the driver’s right hand doing much of anything.

              But we’re not in cars, so it is hard (for me) to see why we should adopt a practice that arises from a constraint we don’t have.

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    • Joseph E October 21, 2014 at 10:59 pm


      “2) To indicate a right turn either of the following:
      (a) Hand and arm extended upward from the left side of the vehicle. A person who is operating a bicycle is not in violation of this paragraph if the person signals a right turn by extending the persons right hand and arm horizontally.”

      Bikes should signal right turns by pointing right, IMO.

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      • Suburban October 22, 2014 at 7:16 pm

        Thanks for the citation! I am 2/3 wrong. It is for the other road users I will always indicate R with my left arm. There is never ambiguity to drivers or riders about what’s up. Nobody gets a bent fork, everybody happy.

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    • Spiffy October 22, 2014 at 7:51 am

      “It appears the rider behind her is illustrating the incorrect, less visible and not legal right turn signal”

      it’s correct and legal, and my preferred way to signal a right…

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      • Paul October 22, 2014 at 12:02 pm

        And less confusing.

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        • Suburban October 22, 2014 at 7:17 pm

          Explain your confusion.

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    • Dan October 22, 2014 at 8:27 am

      IMO, signaling right on a bike is vastly overrated, unless you are taking the lane.

      I will signal down & to the left (and look back to check clearance) to indicate that I’m taking the lane, and I will signal left turns when I’m sitting in the lane. I will signal stops when I’m in the lane and stopping for someone in the crosswalk (and that is the ONLY time I signal my stops – I prefer to brake with two hands).

      Signaling right from the ‘car’ lane lets the cars know I will be out of their way soon, and not to try anything stupid like passing me on the right.

      What purpose does it serve to signal a right turn from the far right of the road? The only traffic I’m potentially crossing is pedestrian traffic, and they aren’t looking for my signal anway. The benefit of the signal is that it maybe gives cross car traffic a slight head start onto the road, and it looks good (there is one spot on my commute that is very visible to car traffic and it doesn’t inconvenience me much, so I make a good show of signaling there, even though it serves no purpose). But on the other hand, it encourages cars to try & turn right WITH you, which doesn’t give you enough room to turn safely, and, more significantly, it takes a hand off of your brakes, which is dangerous as you are approaching or initiating a turn.

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      • wsbob October 22, 2014 at 10:58 am

        “…What purpose does it serve to signal a right turn from the far right of the road? …” Dan

        Signaling, for turns both left and right, helps other road users to know what your intentions are, so they can prepare accordingly to help you make your turn safely. If signaling is begun sufficiently in advance of the intended turn, one hand off the brakes doesn’t have to pose a big problem.

        That’s why starting to signal a hundred feet back, as the law officially suggests, or even somewhat less, but still allowing enough distance from the actual turn to return the hand to the brake, is important.

        The person riding may want to reduce their speed to make the actual turn. Consequently, in some road situations, for example, someone driving behind them, may need to reduce their speed accordingly, to maintain distance until the person riding makes the turn. Works for people riding behind, as well. Hand signals are easy ways to let other people know what you’ want to do.

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        • Dan October 22, 2014 at 11:46 am

          So, I’m in the bike lane on, say, Murray BLVD, and it actually benefits someone that I use a right turn signal? If you can convince me of that, I think it would apply to pedestrians on the sidewalk turning right as well.

          Taking one hand off the bars, considering the way bike brakes work, is always an added danger, regardless of where you do it.

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          • wsbob October 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm

            Dan, earlier, you didn’t say signaling turns from the bike lane, you said from: “…the far right of the road…”. Some roads don’t have bike lanes, or even shoulders to speak of.

            Even in the bike lane, a signal for a right turn, if that’s the intended direction, can be helpful to other road users such as those beside or approaching from behind, because it lets them know the rider making the signal, is not going to be proceeding straight through the intersection. If the other road users approaching from behind, don’t have to wait for someone riding in the bike lane to proceed straight though the intersection, they can proceed to make the right turn they themselves may have in mind.

            As to the potential for danger relative to taking one hand off the brakes to signal for turns, I think there’s a number of variables associated. It’s not an unconditional danger to take one’s hand off the brakes, to signal, take a sip of water from the water bottle, grab a snack, and so on.

            There are skills and judgment necessary to be developed in order to be good at riding, especially amongst motor vehicle traffic. This being so, is why I believe that ‘in traffic bike riding skills courses’ be encouraged and available much more accessibly than they are today, as responsible preparation for riding a bike amongst motor vehicle traffic.

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            • El Biciclero October 22, 2014 at 2:49 pm

              “If the other road users approaching from behind, don’t have to wait for someone riding in the bike lane to proceed straight though the intersection, they can proceed to make the right turn they themselves may have in mind.”

              This is precisely why I DO NOT signal right turns for drivers behind me. Especially if I am turning right from a street with a bike lane onto a street without a bike lane. While I can appreciate Dan’s concern about loss of braking ability, I far more frequently used to have problems with “other road users approaching from behind…proceed[ing] to make the right turn they themselves [had] in mind”. Drivers who think they can make a right turn alongside me almost never can without scraping dangerously close to me in the process. Signaling right turns also invites left hooks by oncoming drivers waiting to turn left onto the same street onto which I am turning right; they think we can both make our turns just fine, since I have to hug the curb (right? Isn’t that the law? Huh, isn’t it? It isn’t? Whaaaaaat? I don’t know….) and they can drive wherever they want. They don’t think about whether there is a bike lane on the target street, or whether there is a parked car around the corner that will require me to move left even before the turn is completed, or what my turning radius might be. This is also precisely the reason that when I DO signal right turns for the benefit of cyclists behind me or drivers waiting to pull out from the street I’m turning onto, I use the more modern “right hand straight out” right turn signal. The modern version of the right turn signal is less visible to following drivers, but works fine for drivers waiting on my right to enter the roadway I am leaving, or any misguided following cyclists who thought they were going to pass me on the right. You will not ever convince me that signaling a right turn to following auto drivers is anything that could ever benefit me. I will signal when I intend to cross anybody’s path—I’m a scrupulous left-turn- and lane-change-signaler—or if the person seeing my signal cannot possibly cross my path.

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              • wsbob October 22, 2014 at 10:57 pm

                “…If the other road users approaching from behind, don’t have to wait for someone riding in the bike lane to proceed straight though the intersection, they can proceed to make the right turn they themselves may have in mind. …” wsbob

                As a rider, doing this always has worked well for me. Better than not signaling for right turns. Nobody is forcing you to do similar, so you can do what you think is best for you. For most road users, whether driving or riding, the more clear the communication there is between them, the safer everyone can be.

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              • El Biciclero October 23, 2014 at 10:05 am

                “the more clear the communication there is between them, the safer everyone can be.”

                Most of the time. Maybe you can explain that to the lady that pulled up on my left while I was stopped near the center line with my left arm straight out. “Communication” is a two-way street, and subject to all kinds of nuance. If I signal a right turn in my car, what I am saying to drivers (and cyclists) behind me is, “I’m planning on turning right real soon now.” What drivers behind me infer is, “this guy’s probably going to slow down, so I’d better slow down, too, and stay behind him unless I can edge over toward the center line and pass him while he’s mid-turn.” What drivers generally don’t infer from my car’s right turn signal is, “Awesome, now I can pass this guy and make the same turn at the same time!” When I make a right turn signal while riding, especially in a bike lane, the messages that drivers “hear” are flipped: they perceive no need to slow down if I am in a bike lane (might as well not be any communication at all, since it doesn’t affect overtaking drivers), and if they are turning right, as you note, they perceive an invitation to crowd me to the inside of the turn as they make their turn in parallel with me (this interpretation of my right turn signal can only be detrimental to me). So if “communicating” a right turn to following drivers either a) makes no difference whatsoever to them or b) if it does make a difference, it is only to my detriment and puts me in physical danger, I’m skipping it. I hope it continues to work well for you.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu October 22, 2014 at 5:05 am

    What would you expect the data to show?

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  • Alex Reed October 22, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Actually, isn’t the gender split of biking supposed to be pretty much 50/50 in the bike-friendly parts of Northern Europe? That’s a big difference from Portland, although I believe we are again better than the rest of the u.s. (33% women vs. 25% women – sorry, don’t want to dig up statistics on my phone). As to race, I dunno. I’m not even sure that the disproportionately-white stereotype of cycling in Portland is even borne out by the facts (the wealthy stereotype isn’t) and have no knowledge of it in Rotterdam.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) October 22, 2014 at 8:27 am

      In the Netherlands, women bike quite a bit more than men, especially in the core parenting years. I don’t know about race and biking there.

      In Portland, bike commutes are about 70/30 male, compared to 75/25 nationwide. According to the same survey used above, people of color in the Portland metro area bike for 3.3 percent of their trips, while white people bike for 2.7 percent. (The difference is even larger, however, in walking and transit rates.)

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  • Granpa October 22, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Finally, someone who knows how to signal for a right turn! Correct, visible, and legal..

    Someone call BikeSnob NY and tell them to stop the presses. There is an imperious scold on BikePortland

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    • Suburban October 22, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      Yer helmet is on backwards

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  • Shoemaker October 22, 2014 at 11:02 am

    What is considered a trip by mode? Is it one mode only? If you ride or walk to the train, how is that trip counted? If your ride, walk or drive to the bus or train, how is that trip counted?

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  • Dan October 22, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Dan, earlier, you didn’t say signaling turns from the bike lane, you said from: “…the far right of the road…”. Some roads don’t have bike lanes, or even shoulders to speak of.

    Far right of any road, with bike lane or otherwise. My opinion is the same.

    If the other road users approaching from behind, don’t have to wait for someone riding in the bike lane to proceed straight though the intersection, they can proceed to make the right turn they themselves may have in mind.

    Exactly why I don’t like that signal! I don’t want a car turning right at the same time as me. That can be VERY dangerous.

    It’s not an unconditional danger to take one’s hand off the brakes, to signal, take a sip of water from the water bottle, grab a snack, and so on.

    It is always objectively MORE dangerous to have one hand on the bars instead of two. I wouldn’t reach for a water bottle as I approach an intersection either.

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    • Dan October 22, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      Clearly I have not figured out how to use the quote feature. Nor have I figured out that it’s pointless to have a back & forth discussion with some folks.

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      • wsbob October 22, 2014 at 11:29 pm

        Sorry if you’re frustrated hearing a point of view that differs from your own. As long as you’re staying within what the law requires, you don’t have to follow the procedure I’ve described, or that of anyone else you disagree with. Discussions are ways to share information, from which people are free to make a choice that works best for them.

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        • Dan October 23, 2014 at 7:19 am

          My initial point was that signaling right when you are on the far right creates added risk for me that is not worth the benefit it provides to drivers. The biggest danger is right hooks & left hooks, which you have not addressed. Yes, there is purpose to signaling right when there is someone directly behind me, either in the bike lane, or when I am in the ‘car’ lane. But otherwise, it encourages cars to try & turn at the same time as me, which is generally a bad idea.

          I have a spot on my commute where I turn right from a bike lane onto an uphill road with NO shoulder or bike lane (westbound Cornell to 119th). Even though I’m only going to be on that road for a block before I turn left, I often end up with a driver behind me who is antsy for me to get out of their way. I need to proceed into that turn with some speed so that I can carry my momentum up the hill. There is also oncoming traffic from Cornell with a blinking left arrow. So if I signal right, I am not only encouraging the driver behind me to attempt to squeeze onto this road with me, I am encouraging the oncoming car too. It is FAR safer for them to believe I am going straight so that they give me room to make this turn and take the lane. And I know this because I have taken this turn hundreds of times, trying it both ways.

          Pointing out that more education is needed and that I’m okay as long as I’m following the law aren’t really counter arguments. I don’t disagree that more education is good, or that following the law is good. I disagree on what we are teaching, and what the law should be. I don’t think blanket laws that expect bikes to act exactly like cars are always beneficial.

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          • El Biciclero October 23, 2014 at 10:19 am

            Heh. I see we’re saying the same thing. Surprisingly, not too many years ago, I might have agreed with wsbob on this and a few other things. But over time and after much observation, I’ve begun to evaluate things—especially related to my safety on the road—on a more results-oriented basis. Withholding right turn signals in situations such as we are both describing was one of the first changes I made to my riding behavior—and I’ve noticed a marked difference.

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          • wsbob October 23, 2014 at 10:20 am

            “…Yes, there is purpose to signaling right when there is someone directly behind me, either in the bike lane, or when I am in the ‘car’ lane. But otherwise, it encourages cars to try & turn at the same time as me, …” Dan

            Lanes of the road are not “…car lanes…”: they’re main lanes, bike lanes, right turn lanes, left turn lanes.

            If someone driving is behind you, and you ahead, signal for a right turn, that gives them an opportunity to see your signal and safely prepare for you to make your turn. If you wait to signal for your turn, not before, but at the intersection, when the person driving has arrived directly alongside you, that’s too late for them to see your hand signal for a right turn.

            The safe practice is to be aware of location of motor vehicles near to you when approaching intersections, using a mirror if necessary, and signaling sufficiently in advance of the turn, so approaching road users have opportunity to see and be aware of your intentions so they can prepare for it accordingly.

            Space yourself so you’re not directly alongside a motor vehicle, at the actual turn, when they could turn also. Either be a car length ahead, or behind motor vehicles behind you. I think I know what situation you’re referring to when you say ‘left hook’, as in vehicle approaching from opposite direction and making a left turn. I don’t see that occurring much to the extent it would be a problem to a person riding and making a right turn. Left turns can be a problem when the person riding is proceeding straight through intersections.

            Though I may have ridden it at some point, it would have been awhile, so I can’t really say about your (westbound Cornell to 119th) example. Sounds to be at least somewhat of a unique situation. There are some situations, such as steep downhill grades, in which hand signaling can be difficult. In that situation, I look for traffic and do the best job I can to display a signal when I think the chance people driving will see it, is best. So the displayed signal may not be as far in advance, or for as long a time as usual.

            In general, I think vulnerable road users displaying hand signals to indicate intention to other road users, is a far safer practice for everyone’s safety, then leaving them in the dark about what the person on the bike is going to do.

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            • El Biciclero October 23, 2014 at 11:54 am

              “displaying hand signals to indicate intention to other road users, is a far safer practice for everyone’s safety”



              Given the observed behavior (granted, only by me and Dan) of drivers in certain situations where hand signals are given, and noting that said driver behavior is less safe, then how can displaying hand signals always be “far safer”? If your answer indicates that you don’t mean “always”, then we don’t disagree. However, if you think that signals that invite dangerous behavior by motorists should always be given anyway, that is where we will disagree. As I stated upthread, if my hand signal either a) makes no difference to drivers and/or b) invites unsafe behavior by drivers, it cannot be “far safer” to give such a signal—it will either be “no safer” or “less safe”. Neither result is worth the effort of scrupulously “communicating” with drivers.

              You may say that I’m not giving drivers a chance to anticipate and adjust to my intentions, and I’m surprising them with my sudden right-turning. If so, I would then ask how this makes anything less safe. Under what imaginable scenario would I be making things dangerous by not signaling a right turn from a bike lane? If you could answer this question and the two questions above about your quote, it would help me understand your position better. Keep in mind, I’m mainly concerned with signaling to overtaking and oncoming drivers, not other non-motorized road users.

              Now, if I am taking the lane (no bike lane) or there are cyclists behind me, I’ll signal my intentions all day long because it does make a difference and increases everyone’s safety. When I’m riding FRAP, however—according to Oregon law—signaling certain intentions degrades my safety. I’ll just add as an aside that the observed danger Dan and I have both noticed (I used to have trouble turning from Cornell onto Science Park, and from Millikan Way onto Schottky) in signaling right turns is somewhat artificially created by ORS 814.420/430.

              I also find it interesting that you promote careful fore-aft positioning (although I don’t know how I could ever position myself a car length behind a car behind me…) to avoid trouble at intersections. What you are doing with that strategy is compensating for the danger that you invite by telling drivers your intention to turn right. You’re inviting them to turn into you, but then getting out of their way so they can do it without hitting you. It sounds like you prefer to scrupulously follow the letter of the law, and then make other adjustments to regain the safety margin that you lost by following the law.

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              • wsbob October 23, 2014 at 12:22 pm

                “…In general, I think vulnerable road users displaying hand signals to indicate intention to other road users, is a far safer practice for everyone’s safety, then leaving them in the dark about what the person on the bike is going to do.” wsbob http://bikeportland.org/2014/10/21/five-surprises-comparison-portland-dutch-travel-choices-112468#comment-5653686

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              • El Biciclero October 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm

                That doesn’t answer anything… I have three specific questions that will help me know where you’re coming from here.

                In specific relation to your quote, do you think it is always “far safer” to signal than not?

                Why is signaling in the situations we’ve been discussing “far safer”?

                My follow-on question was related. If my failure to signal a right turn in the situations you and I and Dan have discussed here makes things more dangerous in those situations, please give a scenario in which greater danger is created (for or by drivers) by not signaling.

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              • wsbob October 23, 2014 at 3:33 pm

                El Bic at: http://bikeportland.org/2014/10/21/five-surprises-comparison-portland-dutch-travel-choices-112468#comment-5654248

                In your case, I think it may be safer for everyone on the road, if from now on, you stay off the road on a bike or driving a car, and ride the bus instead.

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              • El Biciclero October 23, 2014 at 4:31 pm

                Wow. OK. I’m just trying to find out the reasons you hold the beliefs you do about certain aspects of bicyclist behavior, applications of laws, etc., but whenever I ask a specific question or ask you to provide a rationale for your opinion, you can’t—or just won’t or don’t want to—provide one. I’m certainly not advocating behavior that I believe is going to put anyone in danger, and I’ve clearly (I think) explained why I believe some behaviors enhance safety and others don’t. Granted, I’ve used anecdotal evidence from my own experience, which is apparently corroborated by at least one other person, but at least I’ve used some kind of evidence—you have provided no reason, anecdotal or otherwise, to explain why you think my dislike for signaling right turns in certain situations means I should stay off the road altogether…?

                If you don’t want to tell me why you believe certain things are “far safer” than others, at least explain why you think what I’ve described about signaling right turns is so much less safe. I’ve given a specific scenario in which I have observed empirically that not signaling is “far safer”. Can you come up with even an imaginary scenario to refute my conclusion?

                Part of understanding others’ (and our own) viewpoints is asking “why?” Simply having a difference of opinion doesn’t really promote a real exchange of ideas on a topic. The interesting part is finding out why opinions differ. But to do that, we have to examine why we hold a particular viewpoint and be able to explain it to those whose opinions differ from ours. What fundamental principles are at work in forming our opinions and perspectives? I’ve changed some of my viewpoints and opinions after reading some of the discussions on this very blog—but the opinion-changers have always been able to elaborate in specific terms on why they hold the views they do. I’m trying very hard to avoid making snarky comments and I have a sincere wish to see you examine and lay out your reasoning on some of the topics that come under discussion here.

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              • wsbob October 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm

                El Bic at: http://bikeportland.org/2014/10/21/five-surprises-comparison-portland-dutch-travel-choices-112468#comment-5655162

                I don’t think I have anything else I can offer, that can help you to be a safer road user. If you’re unable figure out how to be a safe road user, as I said, it may be safer for everyone on road, if you ride the bus instead of driving or biking.

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              • 9watts October 23, 2014 at 4:53 pm

                “I don’t think I have anything else I can offer, that can help you to be a safer road user.”
                That is the best you can do, wsbob?
                El Biciclero did not ask for paternalistic advice but instead posed a set of questions tailored to your utterances here in this thread. It is curious that when pushed you have a habit of dissembling, wandering off course.

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  • gerald schuldt October 24, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Rotterdam was completely rebuilt after the destruction of WWII, and it did for a time become auto-centric but without the strip malls found in America with a new city grid due to planning. However since the 70’s and recent visit it’s cycling infrastructure has really blossomed. I believe for cross culture comparison with stated caveats it’s basically as close to a good comparison as possible.

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  • Trikeguy October 24, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Get on #15 bus at 5:12pm, arrive SW 17th & Morrison 5:27pm, board MAX at 5:32, arrive Beaverton TC 5:49pm. 37 minutes to cover an 11 mile trip over the West Hills. I don’t think even Lance-on-dope can beat that.

    Oh, and I know guys who can dust me on that run. There’s a guy who rides it pretty regularly who can make up a 1000′ deficit on me on Fairview when I’m working *hard*, then he turns uphill at Skyline and keeps going!

    He’s got an incredibly smooth powerful spin.

    And there’s the “guy in the orange tee” (I don’t know his name, even though we’ve chatted at Mayfield and Walker several times) – he really pushes me on the descents – he’s great fun to ride with.

    So, I’m by no means special in my ability to get over that hill, it doesn’t take “Lance on dope”. It takes a bit of hard work up Fairview and quite a bit of luck with lights going through downtown (a 2 minute swing is easy if you get the timing wrong).

    The best possible ride through downtown has just 1 red between being stopped at 7th on Madison and turning onto the Madison Trail off Jefferson (Jefferson at 2nd). I’ve never had a run through where I’ve made that light and all the others.

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  • GlowBoy October 24, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Yes and no, I think if a 47 year old guy on a recumbent trike can beat MAX when he has to go over the west hills, that means there’s a pretty big segment who can beat it on shorter/flatter commutes.
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    Actually, MAX averages in excess of 20mph. The reason your TriMet commute takes so long is because of the damn bus. Most TriMet buses are in the 8-12mph range.

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    • GlowBoy October 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      And MAX is 17 minutes from downtown to BeavTC. Not many cyclists manage to pull that off.

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  • Aimee October 26, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Funny here I was looking at the picture thinking they’d mention something about helmets vs. no-helmets! Anyhow, as for me, I’ve found that the introduction of Car2Go has negatively affected my bus & bike frequency a LOT – even when it’s 99.9% of the time more expensive to do so.

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