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Opinion: Coming to terms with a changing Portland

Posted by on September 23rd, 2015 at 5:05 pm

My daughter and I at the 2006 Bunny on a Bike ride. I’m wearing the first-ever BikePortland t-shirt designed by local artist — and soon to be former Portlander — Carye Bye.

I fell in love with Portland in 2004.

It didn’t happen when I decided to move here from California. It didn’t happen when we bought a house on North Michigan Avenue. It happened when I got on my bike, rolled around town and saw a creative, exciting, and vibrant bike culture unfolding on the streets right before my eyes. I started blogging about that culture just 14 months after I moved in and I’ve been doing it daily ever since.

A decade in a sub-culture is a long time and I’ve seen a lot of changes. Groups, clubs, and events have come and gone and people have cycled in and out of the scene as time, jobs, family and other commitments have tied down their once free-flowing lifestyles.

For example, I used to be a Sprockettes groupie. Today I get all sentimental when I think about where that core group is now, over 10 years after they first performed at Colonel Summers Park. Many of them have moved away, one’s an accountant at a big downtown law firm, one opened up a successful cafe and coffee shop, several (including my favorite ex-Sprockette Juli Maus) work amid the beautiful bureaucracy that is the City of Portland. And my favorite story is the guy I met at bike jousts and on Zoobomb who now operates a MAX light rail train on the same route he used to ride late at night with his mini-bike up into Washington Park.


Those stories are simply about the passage of time, which we always expect and — albeit with reluctance — we’re mentally equipped as humans to understand and deal with. It’s the natural order of things.

But these days the housing crisis seems to be sharpening that curve of change and I’m struggling to come to terms with what that means to myself, my work, and my city.

Put another way, I’ve been wondering lately if I’d fall in love with Portland all over again if I moved here today.

Pedalpalooza '06 Kickoff Parade

Carye Bye dressed up like a Red Bat
at the 2006 Pedalpalooza Kickoff Ride.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The reason I’ve finally felt compelled to write this post is because Carye Bye, one of my first bike fun crushes, just shared on Facebook that she’s leaving town. Her reason? After 15 years, she decided it’s getting too expensive to live here on an artist’s budget.

Carye was a big inspiration for me and BikePortland. She was one of the artists at our inaugural BikeCraft event in 2005 and her “Bunny on a Bike” was one of the first themed rides I took part in (I couldn’t believe people would actually dress up like bunnies and ride around on bikes ringing their bells on Easter Sunday!). An early volunteer and instigator with Shift (the folks behind Pedalpalooza and Breakfast on the Bridges among other things), Carye wasn’t just a participant in the culture I was so enamored with, she literally created it.

She has led countless themed rides (a tour of Tiny Museums, the Pretty Dress Ride, and so on) and makes her living selling letterpress art and other crafts under the Red Bat Press banner. Over the years I’ve bought several pieces of her work, which still adorn the walls of my office and home.

I’m not particularly creative, so I’ve always felt like one way I can contribute to Portland is to share the wonderful things other people — like Carye Bye — are doing. That’s why this has been bugging me so much. At some level I get worried when people like her — people whose presence defines the Portland I fell for 11 years ago — decide they can’t and/or don’t want to live here anymore.

There will always be plenty for us to cover here on BikePortland and many of you who read this site today don’t recall what the local bike culture was like 7, 8, or 10 years ago. That’s fine of course; but I can’t help but feel sad that much of the creative street culture that made me so enthused for this work back in the old days is slowing fading away.

I guess I’m just lucky I was around to experience it (and lucky for you, much of it is documented in our archives).

What does all this mean for Portland? For bicycling? I’m not sure. I’m hoping you can help me figure it out…

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

  • carye bye September 23, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    aw thanks Jonathan! Bike culture in Portland gave me an amazing outlet as an artist and maker of things including curating themed tours. I moved to Portland as mostly a public transportation user and biked only a couple miles from home. I learned to bike tour 60 mile days over multiple states!!! I learned to bike camp, to deliver all my local stores by bike. I’m a changed person because of this hugely positive and influence in my life. What really got me to get on my bike was all the social rides and events by Shift — it didn’t work any more to bus to work and get home to get on my bike. I had to learn to also ride to work too. And then I was getting rain gear and bike bags and am completely and fully committed to getting around for all my needs by bike even on my my next journey out of Portland in the new year. xo

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  • John Liu
    John Liu September 23, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Lower income people, artists and otherwise, are being pushed out of increasingly popular and affluent cities, elsewhere as in Portland. My former home, the SF Bay Area, is a poster child for this. San Francisco is eye-poppingly expensive, Berkeley too, so many of the less (well-)heeled are moving to Oakland, Richmond, Hayward, Alameda. Some of these new destinations are turning into vibrant cities in their own right, Oakland for instance, while others lack the necessary density and other characteristics to be more than bedroom communities for the unwilling. In turn the even less-heeled there are being pushed out. When people flow from California to Portland, in reaction others move from Portland to Eugene, and then yet others move from Eugene to ???

    There is a flip side to this. The growth and jobs in Portland benefits many people, who now have more money to support their families. They just usually aren’t as vocal about their good fortune as others are about their bad luck. From a narrow bicycling perspective, I think it is neutral. The well-paid techie is just as likely to be a cyclist and to support bike infrastructure and bike culture as the struggling artist or cashier, and a new $3,000 carbon fiber roadbike is a two wheeled, human powered conveyance just like the old $100 patched-up mountainbike. To say otherwise is reverse elitism. And when you’re comfortable in an area at night, where ten years ago you’d have scurried nervously or simply avoided it, especially if you’re a woman walking alone, that is a positive. On the arts and culture front, more affluence may mean fewer of one kind of artist, but more of another. Maybe we lose street artists and small craftsmen, but gain more dance companies and theatre productions.

    I don’t know if any city has ever found a solution to this. Not just in the US, but everywhere, as a city grows economically, there are and have always been winners and losers. More of the former, and more power to them, but that doesn’t feel great to the latter.

    Not that proposals are ever lacking. Rent control, zoning restrictions, public support. I’ve just never seen it work.

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    • carye bye September 23, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      I lived in the Mission in San Francisco for 1.5 years prior to moving to Portland and the dance companies and small theater companies were losing spaces very fast because of commercial rent increases.

      I will agree with you that there has been lots of new business in certain sectors of Maker culture — and folks have always been supportive of local made here. Yay for Portland. But I am one of those kinds of artists that always make just enough and have enjoyed rather than getting a 2nd job, making my second job curating art show, bike rides, fests, sales, what have you. That’s just how I roll 😉 Unfortunately cost of living is moving to fast for me to catch up and while I think the city knows they need to address it, they aren’t acting fast enough.

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      • bark September 24, 2015 at 12:37 pm

        Do you see any solution? Do we discourage transplants, or do we build more housing? If the former: how? If the later: what kind and where?

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        • joel September 25, 2015 at 9:13 am

          i remember in 1985 the negative feeling towards californians for coming and buying houses just to flip them, increasing housing prices. i often remember hearing this. Perhaps a little of the Not In My Backyard sentiment.

          Yet at one point all of our families moved to portland. I think we are just so lucky to be in a city like portland already.

          Personally (even though i have no money), id like to build an apartment building and manage it- ive been dreaming on this for 8 years- something well designed, and something that could be run at old portland prices, and something that would benefit people… something that would let people get started, or keep going. rent right now is way too high.

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    • Adam Herstein September 23, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Well, there’s always Vancouver. I hear there’s a growing number of artists moving there. Or Gresham. Just because Portland is getting too expensive, doesn’t mean people have to leave the metro area. I agree that we need more affordable housing in this city, but there are still plenty of cheap places to live next door!

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      • JonM September 23, 2015 at 9:16 pm

        I am curious what you mean by more affordable housing? Do you mean where rents or home prices are artificially low relative to current market conditions? If so, how do you artificially lower those? If not, do you mean by requiring land owners and developers taking a haircut on property prices and a return on their investment? If so, how do you persuade them to do so without using the police powers of the state/locals?

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        • soren September 24, 2015 at 11:00 am

          housing markets in the usa have all sorts of built-in subsidies and distortions so suggesting that additional regulation might make prices “artificially low” is nothing more than a political value judgement.

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        • Shane May 13, 2016 at 1:08 pm

          I currently live in 15 West, a low-income property. I pay $754 for a 1bedroom that has a washer and dryer in it, a dish washer, a community garden space, and a parking spot for $50 a month. 135 units, studio to 3 bedroom, all low-income. You must make less than $35000 as a household.

          I live 1min from the Columbia River.

          By working and living in WA, I pay no income tax. For the last 5 years I worked in Portland, I had to pay %10 income tax, whether I lived in OR or in Clark County.

          They are building another low-income buil one called 13 West, and Mayor Tim Leavitt and the Vancouver City council have made affordable housing already a priority, with both the city in general and with the downtown waterfront project in effect.

          In two years Portland will be dead and all the people who have been classist and making rude suburban judgments might find them selves on OUR riverside, and you all better be grateful for the opportunities Clark County is making now. They will prevent egregious displacement in the future.

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      • BIKELEPTIC September 23, 2015 at 9:37 pm

        Vancouver stopped being affordable 5 years ago. Same as here.
        Anywhere within 30 miles is going to be able 800 – 1000 for a studio.

        Try washougal or troutdale. Maybe wilsonville.

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        • Mike September 24, 2015 at 8:47 am

          Two bedroom apartments are available in SE Tabor area for $900-1000.

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          • Todd Hudson September 24, 2015 at 9:23 am

            People who complain on the internet won’t to listen to reason.

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          • Brian September 24, 2015 at 10:04 am

            My buddy rents a 2 bedroom apartment on NE 53rd and Couch for $800, or maybe it’s $850.

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          • Mindful Cyclist September 24, 2015 at 1:40 pm

            Really? Because the cheapest thing I am seeing (granted only using craigslist) is $1425 for a 2 bedroom in the Mt Tabor area.

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      • Bart September 23, 2015 at 11:54 pm

        I just moved to Gresham and found twice the house for a fraction of the cost. To my surprise, there are actually some really nice neighborhoods (with great bike infrastructure even). Not sure about rental costs, but I imagine you’d get more for your dollar on that front too.

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      • caesar September 24, 2015 at 2:35 pm

        Vernonia! Most bike-accessible town in Oregon.

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    • Adam September 23, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      John, i agree with much of what you’re saying, but also have to disagree about “feeling safer” by myself at night. I think the astronomical cost of living has led to an explosion of homelessness that is only going to get worse and worse and worse.

      The aggressive and threatening homeless population that numbers now in the hundreds on Waterfront Park is testament to this.

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  • rachel b September 23, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Interesting post, Jon. And John, re: your also-interesting comment–for what it’s worth, I’m far less comfortable walking alone in more areas of Portland than I was ten years ago. I want to avoid most Portland parks–esp. Waterfront Park, the Esplanade, the Springwater, Oaks Bottom, downtown. And I’m struggling to think of great art that’s arisen from affluent artists. As a musician who has seen the ugliest decade + of diminishment of musicians, music, art and artists, I’m loath to promote the idea that poverty = good art (an easy excuse for the Kim Dotcoms of the world and the music-gobbling public who want to go on thinking the theft doesn’t hurt anyone). Nevertheless, much great art does seem to arise out of difficulty and struggle. Dammit. 😉

    A number of my friends who are also in the arts and who had lived close in are staying in Portland–just moving east, out past 122nd and into the 200s. I’m sorry to hear Carye is leaving and wish her well. I would leave if I could. It’s weird just how fast change has come in this past decade. It seemed in decades prior that change was much slower, much gentler, over a longer trajectory and with plenty of time to get used to it.

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    • eli bishop September 23, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      “I want to avoid most Portland parks–esp. Waterfront Park, the Esplanade, the Springwater, Oaks Bottom, downtown.” YEP.

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      • Dan September 24, 2015 at 6:59 am

        Holladay Park

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      • gl. September 24, 2015 at 12:12 pm

        THE SPRINGWATER! man! I’ve lived way out here for over 10 years now and after an incident yesterday I decided I would rather ride Holgate than the Springwater home. A homeless man was throwing knives at a telephone pole that were falling near the path, and it ended with him yelling “I’ll do what I want! Suck my dick! Fuck you, whore!”

        Too bad, because now the Tilikum Bridges makes it an otherwise incredible commute.

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        • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 12:59 pm

          !!!!!???? It boggles the mind that it was ever left to reach this level of insane. Glad you’re safe! And I completely understand your decision.

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          • Bald One September 24, 2015 at 2:09 pm

            And the local police are too busy trying to enforce traffic rules for cyclists down at the Orange Line cluster mess to do anything about promoting safety on the MUPs.

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            • Mark September 24, 2015 at 2:16 pm

              Yep. Those cyclists….gonna take down the train!

              Knife throwing…totally cool. Keep Portland Weird!

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            • gl. September 24, 2015 at 7:34 pm

              I even called the police and once the guy took off on his bike they said, “Well, if you see him again or if he threatens anyone, call us back.”

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    • JeffS May 1, 2016 at 9:45 pm

      We don’t like to admit it, but the middle class contributes very little creativity to society.

      As for city development… it’s practically textbook to encourage art in the more rundown part of town. They attract interest, money, business and are quickly priced out of the market. That may not be so bad after all, because the neighborhood, or city, is never “what it used to be” afterwards.

      Then again, by that time, many creatives have found jobs, car payments, mortgages, spouses and other reasons to accept their new lives in the bland middle class.

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  • Tony H September 23, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    It seems to be a constant refrain, I’m afraid. I lived in San Luis Obispo, California, for a few years (in the 90s). It seems that, one night whilst we were all sleeping, it became a millionaires’ town. There were many wonderful, creative artistic people that just could no longer make it work. They’d move to more remote areas of the county, or leave the area all together. And there’s that uneasy relationship between the artists and, for want of a better word, the patron class. A few talented and lucky artists would get discovered and be able to still live in their beloved area. The rest would struggle, and usually move on to other things.

    Perhaps all we can do is to savor those magical times while they are happening. Cliché but true: nothing lasts forever. People flock to a place to be a part of “the scene”. But that scene is now changed by the influx. New arrivals don’t want to be bashed for ruining everything (and, from their point of view, this place if great! Why are you complaining?). And the folks that were here are angry at being marginalized in their (formerly) own community.

    In the end, I suppose that it comes down to this: a finite planet with an exponentially growing population. Like John Liu, above, I have seen numerous proposals and ideas as well. They seem to do very little.

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    • rachel b September 23, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      Really nicely said, Tony H. “Cliché but true: nothing lasts forever.” I think, for many of us who were born here and have lived here all our lives, that’s the tricky part. Because Portland–in my lifetime–really did last a long long time as a good place to live with little drastic change and nothing worth mentioning for me (lucky little grub) to complain about. Until the past 6-10 years.

      I’m only verrrrrry slowly coming to grips with the fact that what I experienced–the long stretch of relative regional peace and stability–was not the norm, as cities go. Growing up here, I do remember wondering why Portland and Oregon were so ignored by the rest of the world when I lived for the fir trees and the fog and the craggy coast and mountains like Heidi and her Alm Uncle lived for the Alps. 🙂 I remember my sister-in-law moving here from the east coast and going “meh.” She liked a gentler landscape. The general response was “meh,” actually. Isn’t that weird? 🙂 That loooong stretch of Oregon/Portland living blissfully off the radar made the sudden influx of crazy-enthusiastic transplants a rude shock, and I do mean rude. I mean, it was like flipping a light switch. I blame the internet.

      I guess I should just count my blessings–as you say, “savor those magical times.” I’m beyond dismayed at what’s happened here, at what’s happening here. It’s depressed me deeply for the past several years and I’ve repeatedly run a rat’s maze in my mind to try to find a way to cope, even foolishly moving several times within the city in a (vain) attempt to escape the ever increasing noise, construction, people people people. And while I’ll admit I’m an Eeyore by nature, I also tend hopefully to look for ways out of the downward spiral. In Portland now, I keep looking and I keep failing. I can’t leave–my lovely job is here, and my lovely husband’s job, and my family. Yes, I’ve got other issues that complicate the depression. 🙂 But this feeling of displacement and marginalization (good word!) in my own home makes it a real challenge to keep the head up. Oregon and Portland used to be made up of a lot of people like me, by the way–not festival- and group- and restaurant-seeking extroverts, but quiet loners and introverts looking for the restaurant or bar that’s mostly empty to read a good book in, or (more often) staying in, staying home. Imagine how shocking the Portland of now is to us.

      Anyway–I liked your post, Tony H. Many thanks.

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      • Tony H September 24, 2015 at 6:50 am

        Thanks for the kind words, Rachel. Especially kind, considering that we (my wife and I), as relative newcomers, are part of the problem. Even in our 8 years here, we see more and more traffic: streets clogged with single occupant cars. To our credit, we moved here and quickly became car free. There’s that old saw about people “moving somewhere to get away from it all” – and bringing it all with them.

        There’s a Buddhist monk I know, that once spoke of two kinds of hell. One, the more obvious one, is being somewhere and wanting, perhaps desperately, to not be there. Then other, is to be in a situation and wanting it to always be as it is. To flippantly toss off these observations seems rude, somehow. And yet, is there anything to be done? To merely say that change is inevitable seems like a justification for callousness. Much like (too) quickly yelling ALL lives matter at a Black Lives Matter rally. Yes, change is inevitable, and, yes, all lives matter. But some compassion could, perhaps, be there as well.

        There is much good here. And much has changed. Perhaps our grandkids will be old one day, and grousing about how Portland was SO much better, way back in the (20)30s.

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        • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 1:47 pm

          I wholeheartedly welcome folks like you and your family and always will–coming here and giving up your car and being sensitive to the existing community. I don’t think anyone wouldn’t want to welcome that kind of human to their community! 🙂

          Your remark about “change is inevitable!” sometimes seeming like a justification for callousness is astute. I know it’s just human nature to want and to envy and to want an even playing field. But it’s the whole almost gloating “Well, now YOU know what it’s like! Did you think you could hog it all to yourself? Why don’t YOU move if you don’t like it? Raze the bungalows! Selfish! Change is good!” thing that kind of blows my mind. I mean, these are people who hated what happened wherever they lived, and moved here. You’d think there’d be more empathy–as you kindly express–and less bile. And also more worry over re-creating the hell they left.

          Despite having the good sense to be thankful for my good fortune, daily, I would say I’m definitely in the “being somewhere and wanting, perhaps desperately, to not be there” hell. 🙂 Circumstances keep me here, circumstances keep me in this house. I am a sleepy city person, a not-too-big city person, which is exactly what Portland was, and it suited me to a t. Portland was a perfect fit for introverts, most of its life. I can’t identify with Jonathan and Carye and the group activity fervor–I’ve never been a joiner and the influx of energetic collaborators and doers and collective-makers and organizers that seemingly moved in en masse completely baffles me and, I’m sure, other Portlanders from the dark ages. 😉 That just isn’t fun, for me. I like things to happen more naturally, but I don’t mean to begrudge folks their thing. It just brought a very different vibe and a very different crowd here. Extroverts, always looking for something ‘fun’ to do, the next new restaurant, the quirky event, when more of us used to keep to ourselves more or get together for no advertiseable reason at all. Portland feels very self-hypey and always ‘ON’ to me, now, and I’ve been against that sort of thing since I was 9. 🙂

          Anyway, the call to compassion is always a good one. Thanks for expressing it so generously, and for the good thoughts in general.

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          • Carrie September 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm


            I a newcomer to Portland (2 years now) so am probably part of the problem, but I am so grateful for your perspective and I thank you for sharing it with us here. What drew me here was that we could sell a car, spend hours in a pub reading a book over one beer, and walk or ride everywhere we wanted to go. But thank you for pointing out how much it has changed, just by us moving — it’s really been great to have your perspective.


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            • rachel b September 29, 2015 at 12:18 am

              Hi Carrie–I only just saw this, doh! A problem with my grousing about the changes in Portland is that it can lead to good folks like you being made to feel less than welcome. I’m sorry for that and welcome you wholeheartedly! I hope you see this, late as it is. And thank you for your very gracious response. 🙂

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      • Paul September 24, 2015 at 10:14 am

        “…people, people, people.”

        But, you’re in a city. Right?

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        • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 1:17 pm

          Yes, indeed. Portland is a city. Just a much more crowded city than it was most of its life. Or haven’t you heard?

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      • MaxD September 24, 2015 at 10:16 am

        rachel b,
        haven’t you been complaining about SE 26th and Clinton/Division? Is this where you moved to “escape the ever increasing noise, construction, people people people”?

        I think are plenty of neighborhoods in Portland that are changing pretty slowly or not all. There a re a few great old businesses along NE Halsey Weidler between 102- 112th with a new park on the way. This is a walkable/bikable neighborhood witha bunch of cool mid-century houses, and apartments. It has great MAX and bus service, too. Plus, virtually no construction. You may have to move beyond what is functionally the central city, and away from one the hippest neighborhoods in town since teh 90’s, but you can find your dreams.

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        • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 1:01 pm

          Circumstances I don’t particularly want to discuss here, MaxD. But thanks for your interest.

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          • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 1:03 pm

            ….and I would LOVE to move further out east, for what it’s worth. I grew up in east county and am a ‘scene’ avoider. Barking up the wrong tree, here.

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            • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 1:04 pm

              I am also the least hip person you will ever know. 😉 C’mon! Get to know me!

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              • MaxD September 24, 2015 at 1:45 pm

                Fair enough, and I hope you don’t take my comment as a personal attack. Although I don’t know you personally, I do recognize your name from your posts here, and I always take the time to read them because they are always well-written and thoughtful. FWIW, I hope you can make the most of living so close to so many great amenities along Clinton and Division, all the great bike and Park infrastructure in inner SE, and your proximity to downtown and the central eastside despite all of your new neighbors 🙂

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              • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 3:15 pm

                Appreciate that, MaxD. 🙂 Very nice of you to take the time to say that. Many thanks.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty September 25, 2015 at 11:44 am

          Up until fairly recently, 26th & Clinton was pretty stable and only slowly evolving, so it would seem a good place to “escape” to.

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          • rachel b September 29, 2015 at 12:26 am

            Good point, Hello! It’s changed really quickly–traffic seems to increase by the week, now. We’ve also owned this house for many years–it wasn’t a recent purchase. Gud knows how anyone can afford a recent purchase in this neck of the woods anymore…

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  • 9watts September 23, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Very thought-provoking piece, Jonathan.

    John Liu wrote:
    “The well-paid techie is just as likely to be a cyclist and to support bike infrastructure and bike culture as the struggling artist or cashier, and a new $3,000 carbon fiber roadbike is a two wheeled, human powered conveyance just like the old $100 patched-up mountainbike. To say otherwise is reverse elitism.”

    Perhaps if instead of looking at who might ‘support’ bike culture we looked at who ‘makes’ bike culture the asymmetry would show up better.
    I’d rather be surrounded by poor people than rich people. Their life experiences resonate with me and the challenges they face strike me as consequential, as real. I don’t know about reverse elitism, but on our regular trips to take cans and bottles other people have thrown out to the reverse vending machines at Fred Meyer and Safeway, and trying to persuade the employees at Walgreens to accept the bottles and cans those machines reject, my daughter and I learn a whole lot more about this town and the people who live and work in it than when we hang out with the comfortably situated.

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    • Dead Salmon September 24, 2015 at 2:52 am

      I’d rather BE one of those rich people. Then I could live where I wanted to live, and I could, if I chose, do something really significant to help the poor folks. As a poor person you are more limited in how you can help others. For example I might hire Carye at a wage she could live on comfortably.

      And I might even ride one of these $10K bikes:

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      • are September 24, 2015 at 9:09 am

        there is a difference between supporting yourself as an independent artist or craftsperson and working for a wage

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        • Dead Salmon September 27, 2015 at 9:06 pm

          That’s right. I hear you have to work a lot more hours as an entrepreneur, and it probably will make success more likely if you work harder and smarter also.

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  • David Lewis September 23, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    If it helps, Jonathan, I moved to Portland not quite 3 years ago because of the bicycle culture, and specifically because of the bicycle industry and bicycle education, and Portland is the only major city in America (the World?) where all of those things converge.

    I’ve been around the world, and I’ve lived in some of the bike-friendliest cities in Europe, and I am sorry to report that Portland’s bike boom appears to me to be an insular subculture, like crust punks or ravers or extreme sports nuts. Promoting bicycling as viable transportation for non-enthusiasts is much more important to me personally than promoting bicycle culture events and performances. I rarely go to any bike-themed events for the same reason I don’t go to carnivals; it’s not my bag. But that doesn’t mean I don’t count, or I don’t care.

    I founded Veteran Bicycle Co. to eventually start a bicycle factory (getting there, really!), and sell an American product that regular folks can afford. Today, building an American-made bicycle – finally possible with Paul Comp.’s disc brake calipers, woohoo! – would be financially impossible for most people, and so I personally believe – and maybe I’m wrong – there is no domestic industry for citizens to rally around. I think that’s priority #1 to raise domestic good will from government agencies (like DOTs) and the population in general. We need affordable, reliable access to bicycles not designed for racing (or compromised by poor design or workmanship).

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    • soren September 23, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      “Promoting bicycling as viable transportation for non-enthusiasts is much more important to me personally than promoting bicycle culture events and performances. I rarely go to any bike-themed events for the same reason I don’t go to carnivals; it’s not my bag. But that doesn’t mean I don’t count, or I don’t care.”

      Thanks for voicing this. I feel the the same way but was too chicken post that sentiment on Jonathan’s “bike culture” nostalgia piece.

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    • Brian September 24, 2015 at 8:06 am

      “and I am sorry to report that Portland’s bike boom appears to me to be an insular subculture, like crust punks or ravers or extreme sports nuts.”

      I live on NE Davis and I couldn’t disagree more. The number of “ordinary” people who I see riding by every day is very high. When family and friends come for a visit they are amazed that so many people, most who look like them, ride to work/school/wherever. Maybe it’s where you are situated within the city that is altering your perspective? Or, maybe it’s where I live that is altering mine?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 24, 2015 at 8:56 am

      Thanks David.

      I’m not placing any value judgment on the various types of sub-cultures and/or people who bike in Portland. I’m also not saying I believe in “promoting bicycling” in any particular way. I’m merely sharing personal thoughts about how a particular part of Portland’s vast and diverse bike culture is fading away. And I’m wondering what that means to our present and future as a city.

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      • Chris Anderson September 24, 2015 at 1:59 pm

        Maybe now is a time for the older generation of activists to invite newcomers to lead the cause?

        There is a wide gulf between the old guard bike community leaders, amazed at what we’ve accomplished, and the underwhelmed newcomers, who maybe moved to Portland intending to bike more but don’t. Many of them because we don’t have comfortable infrastructure even if you are willing to follow a special map.

        Until the folks proud of what we have, come to see it with the eyes of the underwhelmed, we won’t break through to the next level of progress.

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  • kittens September 23, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    This clearly the result of the grotesque income stratification ravaging our county. It is best addressed at the national and even international level. We all know how likely that is about to happen. But in the meantime we need a realistic minimum wage and some inclusive zoning in Oregon, stat! We need not be fatalistic about this.

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  • Tony T
    Tony T September 23, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    I’m constantly torn. I’m a landlord who is benefiting from this, but I drive an older car than any of my tenants and just bought my first new pair of shoes in 2 years. I yearn for the days when the Bridgeport Brewery was a pizza-serving dive with a fish meal smelling neighbor and I rode around town drunk and happy. But now with a kid, I’m glad to have better bike infrastructure and improving schools. I miss my friends who’ve moved on: to other friends, to other states, and beyond this world.


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  • Endo September 23, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Like others have said, the jobs are better and more plentiful, (how many bike-related businesses have opened here in the last 15 years?) we have much better bike infrastructure, and the increase in density and property values means we’re going to see more cool bike stuff coming our way. I’m liking the changes.

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  • gutterbunnybikes September 23, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    10 years ago Mississippi (your hood) was “it” now it’s not, it’s grown up and had kids, the neighborhood had aged and it’s residents priorities have changed with that age.

    The Portland “thing” is still here and alive, it’s just shifting to other parts of town. Foster, Lents, Monty, Gateway, Woodstock, Cully are the Mississippi and Alberta of 10-15 years ago – you are just too far away from it now to see it happening everyday. And eventually, they’ll develop into the lull of the other neighborhoods which were “gentrified” (which by the way isn’t new and has been the norm for this city for half a century).

    There are still vibrant neighborhoods in Portland, and there is still great bike rides, come on man – Tilikum? Is there a more spectacular monument to active transportation in country? Nope…

    Also you’ve been at the center of the the bike scene for a long while now, Short of an Ostrich on a penny farthing riding single track down Fire lane 3 while singing “raindrops are falling on my head” -what haven’t you seen? Can you honestly be impressed at this time? After all it’s all just bicycles – pretty much the same machine that been around for over 100 years, and really there is little if anything different or new about them.

    And really think about it – you just published an article about possible positive changes to 82nd. And you’re down?, less than a year ago some of us were getting belittled and mocked over even mentioning that we were dreaming of that – and it’s starting. Foster starts this year? Come on. It’s never – NEVER- been better here.

    Not to mention how can you keep your sanity up when surrounded by bureaucrats and us wackos.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 24, 2015 at 8:59 am

      Thanks for the comment.

      I think some of you read my post and think I am depressed at the state of cycling in Portland. That couldn’t be further from the truth! I am very excited about where things are going — not just for me personally in terms of being publisher of this site, but for our city’s commitment to cycling.

      Yes, I am troubled by the housing affordability crisis. No, I am not blind to all the other things we have to be thankful for as Portlanders right now.

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    • Todd Hudson September 24, 2015 at 9:27 am

      “The Portland “thing” is still here and alive, it’s just shifting to other parts of town. Foster, Lents, Monty, Gateway, Woodstock, Cully are the Mississippi and Alberta of 10-15 years ago – you are just too far away from it now to see it happening everyday.”

      Part of the problem of the people that comprise the “bike culture” here is it’s rife with elitism. A lot of these folks hold their noses at any mention of Portland east of 82nd Ave or south of Division.

      FoPo and Lents are the next to get huge. In ten years, those will be the hot places.

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  • Alex September 23, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    Jonathan, two pieces of advice for you:

    1. You’re just getting older. Chill out.

    2. You have to keep your spirit of the city alive, because no one else is going to for you.

    And one for everyone else:

    1. What Jonathan is describing is a variation on what every native Portlander over 15 experiences; remember that when you disagree with them.

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    • jeff September 24, 2015 at 2:29 am

      Native Portlanders do feel the same way, but look at people like Jonathan as the reason its all happening. Perspective. Complaining about something you caused is somewhat ironic.

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      • 9watts September 24, 2015 at 7:34 am

        I think you/we risk mixing up three different things:

        (1) inequality, the effects of extreme wealth disparities on a town
        (2) population growth and the pressures it generates
        (3) the arc of one lifetime and how my perspective changes as I get older

        We could do something as a society about the first two, if we wanted to.

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  • Chris I September 24, 2015 at 12:24 am

    We don’t need a bike culture to be a great biking city, we just need a lot of people riding bikes every day. Do they have bike craft and Pedalpalooza type events in Amsterdam?

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    • Bill Walters September 24, 2015 at 8:24 am

      Um…such places obviously have a bike culture — a deeply integrated, mainstream one — so I guess what you mean is that we don’t need a subculture that seems to consist mostly of wobbly cosplay-on-wheels or ride-in-a-plodding-bunch-and-gawk-at-stuff.

      Maybe not — though such folks, even though 20ish or 30ish, may function as pretty good volunteer proxies for the 8 and 80 ends of the age spectrum we hear so much about. And maybe that really has helped drive attempts to build better facilities.

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  • Dead Salmon September 24, 2015 at 3:14 am

    Be patient. Things are going to change in the not too distant future. The first 6 minutes of this video will give you a hint why, but the rest is good also.

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  • Dead Salmon September 24, 2015 at 3:24 am

    You might find some inspiration from the first 3 paragraphs found here:

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  • Barbara September 24, 2015 at 7:25 am

    It is sad.I moved here. 30 yrs ago and can remember when the BTA started and the 1st commute days. I can remember back to 90′ when there was taking back the streets committees we worked on.
    Rode my bike everywhere all year long and while in a minority only a few winter riders. Lament those days. Now I have to avoid many places due to all the bike conjestion, car road rage and very poor bike rding skills and rude or arogant bike riders.

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  • carye bye September 24, 2015 at 7:48 am

    I feel lucky to have arrived at (imo!) the right time and place to be part of that inaugural era in Shifty-bike fun and I’ve been able to lead bike rides pretty much continuous since my very first one– Bunny on a Bike ride 2004! This past Pedalpalooza I led or co-led three rides: Portland at Large (oversized mascots and murals), Hidden Portland Interactive, and Sweat for Sweets III. The latter two rides celebrated some of the current and new things in Portland–including sweets at a very unique paleo-food cart pod on Alberta and a visit to a small-batch chocolate bar company. In the hidden portland interactive tour we visited neighbor and community made projects for sharing — such as colorful painted murals at intersections, free libraries, parking strip shrines, and fill-in-the-blank chalk boards.

    Portland is going on in so many ways!!! I’ve delighted in celebrating it and sharing it via bike rides and an online facebook group I started called Hidden Portland for the Curious (Now I think 13,000 members). I bike every day, I’ve seen improved infrastructure and yes more opportunity for bikes — including bike business. We’ve done it, we’ve done good. We have more to do! I’ve also watched much of my original bikey culture move away from it and stop showing up as much — we get older and change, our interests change too. I have continued to join up on other bike funnist ride leaders like Tom Howe and Tom McTighe who started leading WEEKLY winter rides but again missed so many rides I had hoped to go on. Jenny Fosmire is another bike funnist who continued to lead her Architecture by Bike rides once a month. Pedalpalooza seems to only grow and the bike ways are filled with commuters and riders. Huzzah!

    Still — affordable housing is key and Portland’s rental costs have gone up way too fast. I thought about moving to Milwaukie or Oregon City but even now there, especially Milwaukie is no different to what’s happening in Portland. As a small business owner who has built my art press slowly over time and now pay for a studio on top of home rent. I can’t manage as both continue to go up in price so insanely rapbidly. I also just lost my housing — I have had a nice deal for the last 4 years — so at this time if I decided to stay put — I could yes find something cheaper farther out and ditch the studio so I could afford to pay for my housing — but I’ve already tried living 6 miles out from the city and I don’t own a car (and voluntarily gave up driving years ago) and it was much harder for me to make deliveries to stores and pick up supplies (all my suppliers are central still). Having a studio in the central eastside has made being a working artist a dream — but I’m watching that area be picked off one building at time (aka Towne Storage — home of 50 studios for artists is turning into condos). It’s closing in.

    And like I mentioned there is “the getting older” and having different interests. Yeah I definitely can’t do Midnight Mystery rides really anymore. I need my sleep. I’m 40 now not 26 or 29. So I don’t go to all the bike culture stuff so much either. I’m also not into the drinky scene — I tried it for awhile and ended up dealing with too much alcoholism and had some bad experiences. Some of our locally produced Bike Fairs I’ve enjoyed enough but I’m not a spectator of sport (even if it bike-jousting). I like to ride and participate.

    Yes we can each make our home awesome by doing fun things — sharing — creating community but we also need to take care of our citizens too. Of course there is more homeless people — what are people to do when their rent jumps like it has — it’s criminal. Instead of feeling fear of the homeless folks you see. Offer them a smile — a look of understanding — and get involved in homeless and housing rights!

    And what I learned from living in San Francisco prior to this, if you have to spend all your energy paying your bills and rent, you don’t have as much free volunteer time to contribute to a shared communal society… you have to only look out of no. 1. I worked with people who commuted 2 hours each way into work 5 days a week. I’m not willing to go there.

    Portland especially Bikey Portland will always be near and dear to my heart — and I plan to share and bring all I’ve learned and love with me where ever I go.

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  • Eric Leifsdad September 24, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Different people fall in love with a place for different reasons as time goes on, but these people also define the place and how it changes. How did people who fell in love with the Portland you had been part of change it, and why did they fall in love with it? When over half of the speeding drivers have a “heart Oregon” sticker, I wonder what or who is really changing.

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  • Granpa September 24, 2015 at 7:56 am

    We can’t bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell ’em stories that don’t go anywhere – like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. “Give me five bees for a quarter,” you’d say.

    Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn’t have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones…

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    • Forest September 24, 2015 at 8:28 am

      You forgot the part about the onion you were wearing on your belt!

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    • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      Hahahahah! 🙂

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  • Dennis September 24, 2015 at 7:56 am

    I was wondering when this article would come. Portland, like all cities evolves over time. I was raised here, and over the last forty years, the changes have been huge. some wonderful, and some really sad. We were a secret. For years, things got really nice here, and no one outside of Oregon knew. Then we got discovered. Once the secret got out, people flocked to Portland. This diluted a whole bunch of the wonderful. It’s gradually turning into a theme park version of Portland.

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    • SilkySlim September 24, 2015 at 8:47 am

      That “theme park” mention resonates with me. I swear I’m not exaggerating when I say arriving to destinations on Division by bike prompts sidewalk tourist/transplant discussions along the lines of “well look at that! with those side bags for carrying things too, my goodness he must bike around this town!”

      Not that I have any place to complain, only been here since ’07….

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      • Dennis September 24, 2015 at 10:35 am

        It used to be “People watching” Now it’s “hipster watching”. It’s sad, that we’ve become a parody of ourselves. Not sure where it’s going to end up

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        • soren September 24, 2015 at 5:40 pm

          i’m not sure what era of division you are recalling but when i moved to portland division was an arterial with grimey lots, buildings with bars in the windows, mysterious warehouses, industrial/mechanic shops, a hardware store, a bunch of seedy bars, a couple of restaurants, and a general aroma of decay.

          PS: hipsters are people and fun to watch.

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  • Brian September 24, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Over the last 18 years we have lost some things and gained some things (music venues, restaurants, Bike Taverns, etc). When I hang out in certain parts of the city (SE Division, especially) I feel like an outsider despite having lived here almost half of my life, but then I go to other parts of the city and feel like I did 18 years ago. The other day I as I was riding home on Belmont it struck my how much that street, between 32nd and 34th, has stayed relatively the same. The vibe is the same, it’s still a little dirty, and Wonderland is still alive and well. These days I stick to the places that brought me here in the first place, for the most part, and I’m happy. Though I do love the food at Bollywood and the free, classic video games for my little guy at the Sunshine Tavern are rad, too.
    It is what it is……

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    • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      I go to Tigard for respite. I am not joking. 🙂

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      • Brian September 24, 2015 at 8:27 pm

        I hear ya. I usually grab a beer at Velo Cult. You can usually find a chill spot there to read, chat, etc.

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        • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 8:53 pm

          (I am not divulging the name of my secret escape. But I raise my glass to you! Cheers! 🙂

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          • Brian September 25, 2015 at 7:59 am

            I’m gonna go ahead and guess the Reel Em Inn??

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            • rachel b September 25, 2015 at 1:00 pm

              That’s good, but I wasn’t kidding–it really is in Tigard!

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  • are September 24, 2015 at 8:40 am

    John Liu
    a new $3,000 carbon fiber roadbike is a two wheeled, human powered conveyance just like the old $100 patched-up mountainbike. To say otherwise is reverse elitism.

    or it could just be a neutral observation. recreation is not at all the same as basic transportation. also i have anecdotes.

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  • Jenkins September 24, 2015 at 8:59 am

    One point I was thinking about is that in absolute terms the housing shortage strikes me as manageable.

    –We just need some way to bridge the gap. I kind of think it won’t happen without some government policy change.

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  • Portland's Original Electric Bicycle Shop
    Portland's Original Electric Bicycle Shop September 24, 2015 at 9:09 am


    What if the weariness you are feeling is not with Portland, but with you?

    Yes, prices are going up and gentrification is happening and my intention is not to underscore those trends, but rather to speak to the emotional weariness you expressed.

    My experience leads me to believe that the lenses I use to view the the world around me play a huge roll -maybe the largest roll-in reality as I see it.

    Besides temporal emotions, I am beginning to believe that our mindset is deeply affected by our age.

    The mindset of a 20 something is chemically wired to embrace an ever expanding world and has a wonderful notion that it can make a difference in whatever it tries to do.

    A mid-30s brain is tempered. It has tried reaching for the stars and probably failed a few times (more than a few in my case). This mindset understands that time moves quickly and seeks to be strategic with the limited resources we all have. It is nowhere near as fun as the 20s brain chemistry in which there are no limits.

    40s – well shit – so far, I am of the believe that this mind era is ‘ground hog day’. doing things again and again until I get them right.

    Obviously, this is probably more about me than you, but I can’t help but wonder if you moved anywhere right now that you would be inspired with the youthful optimism you had in your 20s.


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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 24, 2015 at 9:26 am

      That’s great insight Wake. You are so right in many ways. Thank you.

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    • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      I think the wide, documented public dismay that runs across all demographics and ages re: the too-fast and destructive changes happening in Portland (and like cities) is a good argument for it not being all in Jonathan’s head!

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    • Bald One September 24, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      Reminds me of hanging out at the Sellwood Cycle Repair Collective with Steve Landon back when it was in the basement on Tacoma St – learning to fix my bike, talking about life, catching tidbits of wisdom from Steve…. It’s time to pass on the collective knowledge to the next generation. Learn from our mistakes; teach.

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      • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 3:20 pm

        “Sellwood Cycle Repair: What a bunch of jerks!” 🙂 I still have my old t-shirt from the Steve days–cracks me up. Eric was our fave and has given me, my husband and my sister so much help and kindness over the years. Haven’t been by in a long while but have fond memories. Great place.

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        • Bald One September 24, 2015 at 4:14 pm

          Lifetime membership has its benefits.

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        • Brian September 25, 2015 at 8:01 am

          I have two of those shirts. Been one of my favorite spots (new and old editions) for many, many years.

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    • Mark September 24, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      Wait for the 50’s. Knees, quads, back, wrists, they all start aching more and take longer to recover. The hills seem higher. Awareness of mortality kicks in. More driving for errands is not so bad. And reading anti-car comments feels different. I’m not looking forward to the physical aspects of getting older.

      My 50’s perspective on life is different. So will the 60’s. It takes alot of effort to not grow up. The world is much more gray now. Mentally I’m in a much better place than when I was younger.

      Lots of changes in the 25 years I have been here. For bikes I think it is overall much better. I remember the narrowness of the old Hawthorne Bridge sidewalk. But it didn’t matter much because there weren’t many pedestrians or cyclists. No Eastbank Esplanade. Very few, if any, bike lanes. Although there was much less traffic of every variety.

      Everywhere I ever lived is bigger and different now. And the world I die in will be much different than the world I was born into.

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    • Beth September 25, 2015 at 7:35 am

      Wake — spot on.
      I can tell you tht eventually, when you get into your fifties (!), you stop repeating things that no longer make sense for you and you really focus on fewer things that make more sense — for your life, your family, your soul.
      At the tender age of 52, I have now spent 40 years of my living here. In that time, I’ve gone from thinking the sky was the limit to understanding that, as I get older, certain possibilities are not only no longer open to me, but many of those possibilities are no longer appropriate to who I am, the values I hold dear and the life I live.
      For now, my partner and I are blessed to live in a tiny fixer-upper that’s still in need of fixing up, paying less in mortgage than we would in rent, and we will hang onto our little house for as long as we are able. The address alone is already worth far more than what we paid for our house 12 years ago, and we could not afford to rent anything anywhere in this town on our income as freelance creatives (writer and musician).
      There will probably come a time when we will have t leave Portland, too. And when that happens, I can tell you that being able to ride a bicycle everywhere won’t be as important as it used to be. Because I’m getting older, and so are my knees and my gut. The fact is that traffic has grown in density and intensity, and I am not as equipped to deal with it as I used to be.
      So when it’s time to leave Portland, I imagine we’ll be looking for a town somewhere back east with decent public transit and access to services for seniors. Because I, and you, and everyone, are all going to be senior citizens someday. And all this focus on a youth-centric “hipster” culture is a sure sign that Portland will not be a town for elders living on a fixed income, nor will its Millennial-majority demographic be all that interested in integrating seniors into their lifestyle until they forced to (i.e., when their parents need help).
      I still love Portland, and on some level I always will. But I am also thinking and planning ahead for the inevitability of having to leave when things get too expensive and I am unable to work full-time anymore. Because that’s the reality. Not only for me, but for nearly everyone not of independent means.
      Cheers and happy riding.

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      • rachel b September 25, 2015 at 1:02 pm

        Well said, Beth.

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  • Paul H September 24, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Everything flows and nothing remains.


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  • Jim and Becky September 24, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Cities evolve and devolve, depending on how you see it. We live not too far from the Bay Area, and I read comments daily bemoaning the loss of SF “culture” to gentrification and rich techies. Well, up until the 1950’s, SF was a pretty blue collar city. Shipping, military bases, just mostly average folks making their way in life.

    Then the Beat Generation happened, followed by the summer of love and the flower generation of the boomers. There was a cultural civil war of sorts, with the previous blue collar long time residents bemoaning the loss of SF “culture” to all the “unwashed hippies.”

    For the past 50 years, SF held on to that “earth shoes, brown rice, crunchy granola” attitude, but how the city is evolving yet again. Tech is driving real estate prices to science fiction levels, forcing out many to surrounding Bay Area cities, or other regions all together. They’re bemoaning the loss of SF “culture.”

    People move to a place that has what they want in life. But not everyone in a city wants the same things. Eventually, numbers push a city in one direction for awhile. Usually in a 50 year cycle.

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  • Josh Chernoff September 24, 2015 at 10:26 am

    It can be summed up to fleeting empathy.

    I was born at OHSU. I grew up in the greater SE. I later spent most of my adult life in NW/NE. I watched my mother help a family out of bologna joe’s as a child, I watched the rise and fall of the yellow bike as a teen. I watch as my school cut program after program and latter watched as our mayor sold a once a very vibrant port to fund a playground for the rich while the whole of the greater SE fell deeper in to ruin and poverty. I’v watched as the homeless and drug addicted multiply at staggering rates while at the same time watched as rent prices become a weapon for class warfare then used as profit margins and turned human beings into a commodity.

    Lets get one fact out there. This city does not love you, it loves your money. Our so called “Weird” personally came about from people who were not ok with the status quo and has lately only been adopted by the affluent as if it was a trend or style or a bumper sticker. Today we would rather pay for our identities vs trying achieve them.

    I’m not like you, I’m not from Portland anymore, that Portland and its people are gone. Stop trying to be like the old Portland and find what it takes to sustain a healthy tomorrow before we all lose what little empathy is left in this city. And if you think I idealize Old Portland, consider this. It was Old Portland that sold its empathy to the highest bidder and your just now seeing the true price of that.

    The solutions is simple: become accountable for the current state of this city and hold others equally accountable. IMO it was that lesson old portland tried to teach but later forget itself.

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  • Jessie September 24, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I too miss the Portland of my childhood and young adult hood (MANY years ago!). Nothing will ever be as good or exciting (in my memory). And the folks no longer with me will forever be young & shining, and dearly missed. But I embrace the New Portland wholeheartedly and stick with it, because in 20 years (if I’m still alive!) I know I will miss THIS Portland.

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  • Christopher September 24, 2015 at 10:37 am

    I appreciate the comments we have here, and the OP of course. But at what point are many of us simply falling into the typical old and tired conservative mantras? In this worldview, the past was always better simply because we idealize it. I believe this is human nature but I also believe it is not reflective of reality.

    As other posts have stated, Portland is changing, but so is the world, and both have been and they always will be. In my opinion we have to choose what we appreciate.

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    • 9watts September 24, 2015 at 11:10 am

      “the past was always better simply because we idealize it. I believe this is human nature but I also believe it is not reflective of reality. […] Portland is changing, but so is the world, and both have been and they always will be.”

      Part of what you say is (obviously) true, but in emphasizing how change is the only constant (ha-ha) you miss the flavor of change, of how money works, of where the failures lie, and who is responsible for them. Your comment is glib. There is nothing anti-conservative about shrugging it all off either.

      We could, however, use our smarts and our passion and roll up our sleeves and get to work making this a better place, not so we can have all the goodies and kick everyone else out, but to circumvent the tiresome zero-sum logics, to resolve some of these conundra on a much larger scale. Start having the larger, difficult, life-long conversations about all of this: growth, winners, losers, money, government, infrastructure, compassion, freedoms, constraints.

      To shrug at not just change in the abstract but change in the particular flavors we are experiencing you also have to be willfully ignorant of the big threats looming, bigger than housing affordability or bike infrastructure or even the potential for a massive earthquake. Instead of preparing for them (Climate Action Plan is an important but wholly inadequate start) we are, mostly, fiddling while Rome burns.

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      • Dead Salmon September 24, 2015 at 1:04 pm

        Is this it?

        $9 words and tongue twisters………

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        • Anne Hawley September 24, 2015 at 2:31 pm

          I’d class “conundra” as a five dollar word, tops.

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      • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 1:56 pm

        “To shrug at not just change in the abstract but change in the particular flavors we are experiencing you also have to be willfully ignorant of the big threats looming, bigger than housing affordability or bike infrastructure or even the potential for a massive earthquake. Instead of preparing for them (Climate Action Plan is an important but wholly inadequate start) we are, mostly, fiddling while Rome burns.”

        Beautifully said. Hear, hear.

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      • Christopher September 24, 2015 at 2:30 pm

        Yikes. My point was that we idealize the past, to our detriment.

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  • rebecca September 24, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Count me among the casualties of the rental market in Portland as I’m moving away at the end of October.

    In 2007 I moved to Portland sight-unseen, purposefully transferring from my job’s NYC office. I knew I’d like it, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I would love it. I was car free for my first two years here and though I’d ridden a lot in NYC, I really blossomed into a four season bike rider here in Portland. I discovered BikePortland in my first few months here. I bought clips in because I was riding up the Alameda Ridge a few times a week and wanted to get better at hill climbing. I went on many Pedalpalooza rides as well as longer rides outside of town on twisty two-lane highways.

    Professionally, these years in Portland have been rough – with the down economy, I faced numerous layoffs and have now been underemployed for a few years and thus deep in debt. And while I could find a job working crazy hours and making decent money, most of it would go to my living expenses, and that’s precisely why I left New York.

    So I am saying goodbye to Portland. But I’ve already found some promising cycling clubs in my soon-to-be new home and I look forward to bringing the lovely ethos of biking I learned in Portland with me wherever I go.

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    • 9watts September 24, 2015 at 10:53 am

      I’m curious where you and where Carye are moving to?

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      • Zimmerman September 24, 2015 at 10:58 am

        Wherever you go, don’t advertise it if it’s great.

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      • rebecca September 24, 2015 at 10:58 am


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        • Dead Salmon September 24, 2015 at 12:54 pm

          Iowa, home of the Decorah Eagle Cam!
          There probably will be eagles in the nest starting in about February….

          It’s tough to not let the current economy get you down. Try not to feel too bad. Your plight has been the same for tens of millions of Americans. Each month the government insults us with lies about the low unemployment rate. They tell us it’s 5% but the real number is at least 20%, maybe close to 30% (if you aren’t collecting unemployment you aren’t counted). The US is in a depression – it doesn’t feel like a depression because the food lines are at the grocery store via food stamps, welfare, etc so you don’t see many people lined up around the block waiting for food.

          Each month the government lies to us about the rate of inflation. They tell us it’s about 2%, at the same time that rents and health care costs are skyrocketing, the size of food containers at the grocery store are shrinking while the price rises, wages have been flat or declining for years, etc, etc, etc.

          In order to prevent a total economic collapse, which is the only thing that can make the economy better, the government pumps trillions of stimulus dollars into the system, borrows from other nations, etc. This money pumping results in mis-allocation of capital resources and has caused the bubbles we see in student loans, housing (just like 2008), the bubble in government employment (far too many people work for government, or on government funded projects – energy efficiency, solar, etc). It is not sustainable, but eventually there will be a painful reset, then we can get going once more.

          Biking will be an increasingly important part of life in America as the economy continues to spiral into the ground and Americans can no longer afford cars.

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      • carye bye September 24, 2015 at 2:21 pm

        San Antonio

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    • carye bye September 24, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Let’s spread this bike love around and live to work instead of work to live!

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  • JF September 24, 2015 at 11:28 am

    I’ve been in Portland for 16 years now — longer than I have lived anywhere. Portland was not a cool place to move back then. I have to admit that so much of what brought me here has changed, some for the better and a lot not so much. This is still a great place to live. I think, really, I have changed more than Portland has and am ready for something new. 6 years until the last one is off to college, then . . . .

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  • paikiala September 24, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    “The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.” – Marcel Pagnol, novelist, playwright and filmmaker

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 24, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      I appreciate that sentiment paikiala… But what I’ve observed and what I tried to share in the post are not simply my nostalgic recollections of the past, but the actual real facts and history. Which is that many of the creative people and groups that made this particular part of the Portland bike culture so interesting and colorful (IMO) have either moved away, moved on, or for whatever reason, stopped participating in it in the same way as they did 7-9 years ago.

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      • Todd Hudson September 24, 2015 at 1:14 pm

        “Which is that many of the creative people and groups that made this particular part of the Portland bike culture so interesting and colorful (IMO) have either moved away, moved on, or for whatever reason, stopped participating in it in the same way as they did 7-9 years ago.”

        It’s called growing up and moving on to new things in life.

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  • Dead Salmon September 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm


    Is it possible that your recent trips to middle and eastern Oregon has awakened your mind to a better way to live?

    Perhaps you liked being out in the wide open spaces, in places where it is common to have sunshine even in the winter, where you don’t have to worry so much that someone might assault you if you ride on this street or that street, and where you can go for a bike ride without a bunch of green paint, cops, and wall-to-wall traffic making it a tad unpleasant…

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    • Dead Salmon September 24, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      I know, have.

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    • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      That’s an interesting point, Dead Salmon. I certainly feel much more than I ever used to a kind of dread when returning to Portland from the wide open spaces.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 24, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      no and yes.

      I love Eastern Oregon and its wide open spaces and old-fashioned, rural living.

      And for the record, I don’t worry about people assaulting me in the street here in Portland and don’t find the green paint, cops or traffic a tad unpleasant. It’s just part of urban life and I embrace it all!

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  • Redhippie September 24, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Well I’ve been in Portland for 21 years now and I that’s been enough to see many cycles of growth and stagnation and growth again. Every time there are shouts of outrage as an area is transformed and then it settles down and something new and wonderful happens.

    A good example is NW 21 and 23rd. Back in the day the combination of historic apartment buildings and bars made for a wonderland to be in your 20’s. How I miss that 300’ft studio steps from everything that was dirty and fun. The late night bands and stumble home. Well, that grew up and out and became division, Mississippi, alberta in a kaleidoscope of different neighborhoods. It will happen again with Montavilla, St. Johns, Kenton and maybe Gresham. Maybe the people who do will be different. Less Country Fare and more Makers Faire. Look at what super-busy, high paid geeks do in the Bay area.

    Another quick example is food. Oregon has built a great combination of good, affordable restaurants. This in tern helped to foster local organic agriculture. Rents go too high for restaurants then carts came along. The great carts, then become restaurants.

    I would say, look forward to what we will do in the next twenty years and be part of it. Maybe you can’t make as much of a living selling art around Portland, then it is time to learn and grow and sell art to Seattle, NYC or the world. I have family who have had this exact dilemma and by exporting Portland have found great success.

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    • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      I’ve been here that long (longer) and witnessed all you describe too, Redhippie. And I maintain that what’s happened in the past several years far eclipses any of the growing pains and ebb and flow you cite from the past. Those were nothing, really negligible, compared to what we’ve experienced recently. At least in my book.

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    • barb lin September 24, 2015 at 4:45 pm

      OK but if $10 cocktails show up in my local bar thats it!!! Douchebaggery run amok. ; )

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  • Vanessa September 24, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks for writing this piece and also shouting out the amazing Carye Bye. I was bummed a bit to see she is heading south to San Antonio, but my favorite quote is “To young men contemplating a journey, I would say GO.” -Joshua Slocum….so, I can’t be too bummed.
    I am seeing a lot of my artist friends moving away, out of Portland.

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  • Mark September 24, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    The key to beating rent variability is buying. Period. For a long time between 2007 and 2012, Portland/Vancouver was cheap. Sure, some neighborhoods remained sort of they encompass all the Portland goodness…but people were literally selling pennies on the dollar. Now prices have caught up and folks who are profiting on Seattle/LA/Bay area are cashing in and moving to Portlandia.

    Portland isn’t building fast enough..and Nimby home owners are fighting hard to make sure they don’t. As another article mentioned, until building quadruples and density increases, there will be a shortage.

    Portland has a reputation across the country as a friendly place….which is true…just make sure you don’t cross a Mount Tabor or Laurelhurst home owner. Bike infra is better than most and almost passable for a newbie. Get ready for more 20 somethings…and that’s a good thing.

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  • Brian Sysfail September 24, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I think the city under Mayor Hales has been awful for the existing communities, it’s seemed like everything was fast tracked for developers…but people still waiting for a freakin diverter on Clinton St??? So now we have fancy BMW’s and Audi’s zipping past us…yay progress. I’m still surprised there’s NOT a vibrant Co-op housing community for renters. Change will happen, it’s how you deal with it. Best example of the change in the bike fun scene to me, was Solid Gold(OG zoobomb) coming to back from France for visit and went on the Dropout ride(still going strong after 10+ years) and he commented on all the new people he didn’t know. I said we embrace those new fun people cause that’s where the energy is, it’s not in whining about the people that moved on, being apathetic of doing anything, or hanging onto tradition at all costs. In the past a number of people in the scene would be very elitist, which I never really got…it’s riding bikes not serious business. Also to mention the bike culture around our social club PAZ which formed just alittle over 2 years ago is vibrant and we do alot of behind the scenes stuff like hosted MCBF on short notice when it was cancelled this year or having meetup to ride to all the Sunday Parkways, reclaiming bikes, hosting numerous benefits, or giving our traveling friends a place to crash/shower. We built the DJ booth trailer for Loud’n’Lit this year which was crazy awesome. But the reality is, we know PAZ is on borrowed time now the Orange Line MAX went in, and they will probably knock down our building down to build condos. 10 years ago I bought a house in FOPO for $150k, and I really tried to get some friends to collectively buy a commercial space w/two 2 br apartments attached near 56/foster…..sadly most thought that NOBODY would ever come out there because it was too far and I was like 10k short on the deposit on building for $225k(now probably like a million)….now some of those same people live well past it or have moved out of PDX all together. If I could give any advice to the people of PDX that want to keep it weird and shitty is start thinking collectively and build up collective ownership, put houses in land trusts. I’ve seen alot of apathy the last few years, and it’s not something I can to embrace. Sure it’s ok to complain about things once in awhile, but in the end just DO IT BETTER with a vision of 5-10 years down the road.

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    • soren September 25, 2015 at 8:10 am

      The existing communities of homeowners that were largely silent while we ethnically and socio-economically cleansed north and ne portland? The existing communities that repeatedly voted for establishment business-friendly DINOs like Hales?

      I welcome the new influx of youthful renters! If enough of them move here there is a chance we will see political reform of the council-neighborhood association system that supported and implemented disgustingly regressive and discriminatory housing policy.

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  • Paul g. September 24, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    What Jessie and Brian and Doug and RedHippie write above.

    It’s ironic that Jonathan considers himself a longtime resident after 10 years and is bemoaning change. My family moved here in 1977 and I’ve been back permanently in Portland since 2001. But in today’s Portland, 10 years seems like a long time. That’s perhaps reveals more than everything else.

    Already in 2001 it was clear to me that the city had changed enormously from when I was in high school and started at PSU. Some changes were good, some not so good.

    All I’d say from the longer perspective is that in my view, the bloom has been off the Rose of Portland for a while, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

    The City has been complacent for far too long, ignoring unemployment that remained stubbornly higher than comparable cities; ignoring a school system that wasn’t really adding much value beyond what you’d expect from a generally middle class population; ignoring growing disparities across the city (sadly I think because a lot of poverty in Portland is white and located in the far eastern portions of the city).

    I am NOT running the City down, but I thought these things were pretty obvious after a decade in a really booming, growing, ambitious part of the country (Research Triangle of NC).

    All I can say, Jonathan, is that a little bit of dissatisfaction can be a a good thing. You’re a lot older and maybe a bit more cynical, but you are also a lot wiser, wiser about how to move the levers of power and wiser about how to promote positive social change.

    Portland still has tons of potential, with super smart people (Joe Cortright as one shining example) but we also have to stop (again in my opinion) the constant rah rah about how great we are, and just be clear-eyed about where we need to work to improve.

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    • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      Well said–“the bloom has been off the Rose…” for some time. But I’ll repeat what I said to Redhippie–for me, it’s only been since about 2008 that the night soil REALLY hit the fan, and my severe allergic reaction to the city dating to @ that year after a lifetime of living here is my own personal gauge, anyway.

      In other news, it’s interesting that it’s the newcomers who are “rah rah.” So very rah rah, it flummoxes me. And Jonathan can’t be “a lot” older if you consider his 10 years here a short time. 😉

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 24, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      Paul g.,

      Be careful. I never said I consider myself a longtime resident.

      And again, I think you and many others are trying to make my post into a much larger/different statement than I mean for it to be. I’m not depressed about the future at all! My post was about how Carye’s departure makes me feel uneasy about the forces occurring in Portland today that led to her decision.

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  • Redhippie September 24, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I think many of the folks who have come here recently from other cities are rah, rah. One friend who moved here 3 years ago from Ohio via San Jose, can’t stop talking about how he loves it here. Basically going from “meh” ohio to living in a tiny, over priced box in San Jose. Now his company pays him his same salary and he just flies Southwest when he needs to. How he and his wife have a great life style, contribute to food and life style scene and want to raise a family here. He is brining his paycheck and investing it here.

    Talking with my realestate agent, he says that is the majority of his customer base for the last 2 years. So I say, bring on the young creative. They will be the energy that helps to fuel our town forward despite the critical lacks in education and infrastructure.

    rachel b
    Well said–“the bloom has been off the Rose…” for some time. But I’ll repeat what I said to Redhippie–for me, it’s only been since about 2008 that the night soil REALLY hit the fan, and my severe allergic reaction to the city dating to @ that year after a lifetime of living here is my own personal gauge, anyway.In other news, it’s interesting that it’s the newcomers who are “rah rah.” So very rah rah, it flummoxes me. And Jonathan can’t be “a lot” older if you consider his 10 years here a short time. 😉Recommended 0

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    • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      What does your enthusiastic friend create, just out of curiosity?

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  • barb lin September 24, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    JM: obviously touched a nerve here. I too have been struggling with this but I’m tired of being mad. I’m tired of wanting to yell at and give the stink eye to every out-of-state license plate I see. There are so damn many! I’m tired of wanting to grab every newly arrived wide eyed fool and shake them by the collar and ask “can you even fathom how easy it used to be to navigate this place before you and 10,000 of your friends arrived!?” But the anger isn’t good. I need to accept the new Portland.
    Several moving parts here:
    -cities evolve and change. Portland has grown up, nothing we can do about that.
    -we have changed and gotten older and our desires and level of excitement/activism changes with that.
    So now I won’t throw the family in the car in NE 15 minutes before I want to make a movie or restaurant in SE. Those days are gone, I have to just deal. I also have to deal with feeling like a lost tourist if I somehow end up in S. Waterfront or some parts of the Pearl, heck even Division and now Burnside. Remember before the recession when the Burnside bridgehead was going to be a Home Depot? The recession gave us a pause, a breather. Once it lifted we were hit with pent up activity. Everyone and their brother from N. Carolina to Vermont and westward who had been planning a move west all did it at once. We got slammed and yes it was shocking and fast. Hopefully we have a horrific Godzilla El Nino winter and 30% of them move away by April. I could live with that.

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  • Brian K Smith September 24, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I moved here in 2001 for:
    -Proximity to mountains, ocean, rivers, forested hills.
    -The glorious year-round profusion of the color green.
    -Cooler and wetter weather than almost all USA points south and east.
    -An honest-to-goodness regional government devoted to constraining suburban sprawl and a firm commitment to public transportation.
    -Lots of good places to eat.
    -Lower cost of living than other cities on the west coast.
    -Some friends wanted to move here too and live together.

    2015 review:
    -Room for improvement, but better than most other places in the USA
    -Yes, despite more significant dietary restrictions
    -Yes, but not by enough to allow someone 14 years younger to repeat my experience. Needs improvement. This is only true because I saved for a long time and was poised to buy when there was a big dip in housing prices.
    -Still able to live in close proximity to friends.

    I worked a job I didn’t enjoy that much for almost 15 years to make some of that happen. Carye got to do something she loved (it sounds like) over those years instead of getting ahead financially. I wish we didn’t live in a world where people have to make those choices or are unlucky enough to not have either of those choices. I’m trying to help make that world happen as best I can and Portland still feels like a good place to be to find others who are working towards the same goal.

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    • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      Always surprised when I hear folks say they still see this area as “cooler and wetter.” My sister (a fellow redhead) and I feel like dried up banana slugs after the past couple years. I would describe our summer as a solid 5-6 months long now, and hot and dry as a bone. Apparently, this is our new normal. Our fall, winter and springs keep getting drier and drier too. I would be very glad indeed if it started raining buckets here tomorrow and didn’t let up ’til next July. Very grateful this September hasn’t been setting heat records and am keeping fingers crossed.

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      • Brian K Smith September 24, 2015 at 8:43 pm

        I was very careful not to say it was as cool and wet as when I first arrived. Even in the time I’ve been here it’s gotten noticeably more unpleasant for cold-lovers in the summer. It is, however, cooler and wetter than many places to our south and east. I’ll take this over Arizona, California Central Valley, the Midwest, etc.

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        • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 9:01 pm

          Doh! You were very careful and I just barged right in anyway! 😉 Chagrined apologies–no harm meant. Yes, you are right–we are doing better than all points south, at the moment. But I am truly very like a banana slug and if this really is our new normal, I can’t even begin to tell you my woe. If you can imagine, I used to complain about OLD Portland summers, which most people I grew up with considered very pleasant and all too short. I’ve always been a fall (as it used to be–cold and crisp w/ rain) person. I wouldn’t care if summer never came again.

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          • John Liu
            John Liu September 24, 2015 at 9:09 pm

            Olympia WA for you!. Still rainy there, I think/hope.

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            • rachel b September 24, 2015 at 11:37 pm

              That’s what my friend who lives there keeps telling me! Though I heard even the soggy vampireland of Forks recently declared a drought, or implemented some new water conservation rules or something. I used to count on Portland’s rain to discourage people from moving here but now we just keep having all this year-round dry sunny weather and I feel like crying. 🙁 To Olympia with me!

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          • Dead Salmon September 25, 2015 at 1:39 am

            Summers here are cooler than most in the US; but winters are warmer than most of the interior US – they have snow/ice, we have rain/drizzle.

            Anywhere on the Oregon/Washington coast should make a slug happy.

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            • rachel b September 25, 2015 at 1:05 pm

              The coast does indeed make this slug happy. 🙂 Are summers here really still considered cooler than most in the US?

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              • Brian September 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm

                Not to mention the lack of humidity being a HUGE plus for us. Summers in Wisconsin are way more crappy with the addition of humidity. I was sweating at 9am in the morning just walking to the coffee shop! Like, I need to shower again sweaty.

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              • Dead Salmon September 25, 2015 at 5:17 pm

                Most of the country east of the Rocky Mountains have hot, humid, sticky, miserable summer weather with amazing thunderstorms, tornados, etc. As soon as you get settled in your new place, find the safest place to go in the event of a tornado – probably will not have a tornado, but prepare anyway. Like Brian says, lower summer humidity here is a huge advantage. I think summers in Iowa will be hot, humid, and miserable. BUT you can easily get used to it. I’ve lived in the south and it is miserable and hot but if you dress appropriately it isn’t bad – shorts/t-shirt, tank-top, etc – in fact as I get older I really prefer the heat. You get used to sweating when you ride. But air conditioning for your car/home is a requirement for most people.

                I’ll bet cycling will be good in Iowa. I’d wear lots of hi-viz if you are on country roads so car drivers will see you loud and clear. 🙂

                But don’t let our nice weather secret get out unless you want even more people to move here. Most folks probably look at a map of the US and notice we are pretty far north and assume we have cold miserable winters with ice and snow. And most assume it rains all the time, which, it used to do for at least 6 months of the year.

                Good luck in Iowa.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu September 24, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Maybe tangential, but this thread has intensified my interest in building an ADU on my property and renting it out. (I had been interested in renting space to a “tiny house”, but concluded the property doesn’t work for that at all.) Maybe I can get some rental income while adding one (very modest) housing unit. Anyone know about this ADU stuff – pointers to resources, guidelines, contractors?

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    • bjcefola September 24, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      The first thing I’d do is examine the property tax implications…

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      • John Liu
        John Liu September 24, 2015 at 9:06 pm

        Yeah, I read about that problem (entire property gets reassessed as new and property tax goes up).

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        • Dead Salmon September 25, 2015 at 1:59 am

          FYI: Article in the business section of the Sunday Oregonian said ADU fees of $10K to $20K will be reinstated next year. It said they waived the fees for 5 years or so to help increase density and affordable housing. I guess the city officials think housing is affordable now so they will reinstate the fees. Laughable.

          Here’s a similar article from Oregonlive:

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    • Brian K Smith September 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm

      We are building an ADU right now. Our goal is to more or less break even while giving us and our housemates more living space as first babies arrive. I did not do the financial calculations in enough depth to be confident it would be profitable, just enough to make sure it wasn’t worse than trying to buy a bigger house and renovate, a vacant lot and build, etc. and that we wouldn’t lose a ton of money.

      We met with the following architects:
      Dave Spitzer –
      Propel Studio –
      Polyphon Studio –

      Our final choice was Dave Spitzer, but it came down to personality and priorities; we were confident that any of them would have done a good job for us.

      We met with the following general contractors:
      NW Ventures (aka MJP Management) (it’s not clear from their website, but they also have a construction arm)
      Joe Fruscello -
      Stone Creek Building –

      We went with NW Ventures, but again we felt that all three would have done a good job and it came down to personalities and priorities.

      Another option that I learned about after we were well under way and that I think would have been tricky on our property is MODS . I think their general approach of building in a factory and bringing the building pieces to you really is better in a lot of ways.

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  • gutterbunnybikes September 24, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Honestly, I think much of the “petals have fallen off the rose” comments really might say more about where you are from than where you are.

    For me, I moved here in 92 from Detroit. Part of what I loved about this town was the UGB and the fact the city had a plan to keep the urban decay and blight at bay because the city has to reinvent itself.

    It seems the ones that bemoan the recent changes most are those that are born/raised here, or are from some pretty great cities to begin with. LA, NYC, Boston…. I love them all (honestly if I could afford it, I’d gladly head out to NYC), but prefer it here for various reasons,

    But if you come from Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, KC, Atlanta – even Chicago you’ve seen what becomes of cities that sit by and let the builders build out, what happens to the Downtowns when left to basically rot. And despite the recent “hype” of some of these cities, they really haven’t changed much over the years. Yeah, Detroit is becoming a bike town, but it’s largely because there simply isn’t any cars on the streets…and the lack of cars there are not for all the right reasons, but because of the worse possible reasons for a city.

    And that is what Portland has always been for me, a city that is an active agent in its own evolution. A city not afraid to pick up and reinvent entire neighborhoods and communities if needed. And it’s has always been largely spearheaded by the young talent that migrates here – the locals here have always been weary of strangers.

    Sellwood, Pearl, NW, Alberta, Mississippi were all “gentrified”- before that even was Hawthorne. And most the people that live there now, wouldn’t have cringed at even the thought to drive (with the car doors locked) through them “back in the day”. I had friends (young liberal art school friends) that refused to visit my house because I lived on 7th and Sumner back in the early 90’s. That same time I had a friend that rented the apartment on the second floor of the old drug store on Mississippi and Shaver, and for entertainment we’d buy a half rack of Henry’s and watch “Cops” out her window (did the same thing in Detroit, but it was 40s of Stroh’s on the front porch of downtown brownstones).

    But Portland is the city of change, and doesn’t let the rust settle in. Be it city planning, public transit or bicycles, Portland has been at the top of the heap, leading the rest of the country by the nose on how to do it. Some may eventually surpass us at “it”, but it was often Portland that showed them the way. And our example, has helped make great cities even greater, and even helped some crappy ones become less crappy.

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    • Huey Lewis September 24, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      But as someone who moved here in ’92 you surely have noticed the increase in the cost of living, yes? As someone who grew up here this is what is most troubling. I’m not stoked by how crowded it feels but that a person can get used to. Will I love every last new condo that gets built? Probably not, but I don’t get too cranky about that. Again, a person can get used to that. But a person can’t magically make their income rise. Right? This I think is the biggest problem people are having right now (at least the conversations I have with friends). When people are deciding “You know what? I’m moving to San Antonio. Away from Portland. To San Antonio. Texas.”, something is wrong with what’s happening.

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      • Paul H September 25, 2015 at 11:28 am

        Real estate has been much, much cheaper in Texas than in Portland for at least 15 years, and perhaps longer than that. Ask anyone who’s moved here from Texas since 2000 how much less they got for their housing dollars here (or how much more they had to pay for the same housing).

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        • Huey leeis September 25, 2015 at 12:54 pm

          My point was more that San Antonio is a fairly miserable town in a very miserable state. It’s been a while since I’ve been to San Antonio but moving from here to there, by most metrics I would care to use, is a huge downgrade.

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          • carye bye September 25, 2015 at 4:27 pm

            I enjoyed travelling around the country for two months last year — opened my eyes that there is a lot of amazing things happening in many cities you wouldn’t expect around the country. It’s hard to see that from the Portland Bubble.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty September 25, 2015 at 5:12 pm

              This is so true!

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            • Bc September 25, 2015 at 9:53 pm

              I actually moved to Oregon from my hometown of San Antonio two decades ago, and I keep hearing about some really interesting stuff happening there nowadays. Still lots of sprawl, poverty, and horrifically hot summers (biking was a sweatfest there) etc. but also real multiculturalism, an NBA team that actually wins championships, genuinely friendly people, Mexican food I still miss. It’s close enough to Austin for frequent visits but feels more like a real city. (Portlanders may not realize that it’s actually the seventh largest city in the US, I think. ) And beware of stereotyping Texas. It’s a big place and inner San Antonio has a progressive tradition. Heck, its former mayor may wind up as the Democratic VP nominee next year. Although I couldn’t wait to escape and be in Portland (which felt like paradise when I visited) back then,if you can live somewhere close in and safe, I think it could be a really fascinating experience, if you can take the heat. As someone who enjoyed several of Carrie’s wonderful tours and art, I’m hoping she’ll thrive there and indulge her love of history in a place that has a lot more of it than we do in Portland. And I’m curious to know what she’ll think of SA after being there for a full year. Please report back, and ¡buena suerte!

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            • Bc September 25, 2015 at 9:57 pm

              Sorry, my post was autoincorrected to misspell Carye’s name.

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          • Dead Salmon September 25, 2015 at 5:35 pm

            It doesn’t get much more miserable than not being able to pay your bills and that’s the situation the high rents here are causing Portlanders. No state income tax will be a big help in Texas, and I’ve heard the economy is better in general (except maybe for the oil business right now) than most of the country due to less government interference, although I suspect there will be ample government interference even in the best case.

            BUT do make sure your car air conditioning is working before going down there!

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      • gutterbunnybikes September 25, 2015 at 5:13 pm

        We are still the cheapest city on the West Coast. And rents out in Middle and outer eastside aren’t too out of control…..yet.

        And even back in the 90’s I went from NW, to Alberta, to inner SE hopping from one cheap rental to another. I never felt entitled to live in the hot spots, and neither did the rest of us poor twenty somethings at the time.

        Other than the Pearl, all these “cool” neighborhoods were made cool. The developers and city had almost nothing to do with it. They were the neighborhoods with cheap houses and rents and gunshots at night. and us young twenty somethings, rather than bitching about not being able to live on Hawthorne or Sellwood cleaned up and made Mississippi and Alberta what they were. We ran the dealers out, we cleaned the needles out of the yards while we trimmed back the blackberries that overtook the yard. We lived with view of an abandoned crack houses across the street with “F…Y..” spray painted in three foot letters across the front of it, and when we got sick of it we went over and painted over it and planted a few flowers in the yard too. We started our businesses, and restaurants, and cafes in those neighborhoods. We made the neighborhoods we wanted. And once all the real hard work was done, then the flippers and developers notice and move in. And those opportunities are still present.

        There has always been a “price” to living in Portland. The great neighborhoods are and have always expensive, and for those that want that without funds, the price is doing the hard work and changing the neighborhood you’re in all by yourself. You start it, and the rest will always follow. It has to because of the UGB.

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  • Kevin Wagoner September 24, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    This is such a great piece (article). This, some of the post from Carye and other articles I’ve read since this post about affordable housing have really opened my eyes. I love the culture you talk about in the article, I’ve mostly lived it vicariously through in the past. Does anyone have any ideas on how to address the affordable housing or know anyone that is actively making it happen? I’m at a loss on that.

    On a positive note? Maybe some of our cutting edge awesomeness has jumped into the river with things like the River Huggers open water swim in the (use to be poo filled, but no longer is) Willamette!

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  • Jeff Bernards September 25, 2015 at 1:40 am

    I was an original crafts person at the Saturday Market in 1974, even back then the crafts business was a lifestyle more than a money maker. I think the “art” business will always be that, no matter where you live. Committing to buying a house has helped me ride out the housing bomb. Portland doesn’t help by adding every city need onto your property taxes, like the street fee. My property taxes alone were nearly $400 a month and with $500 a month health insurance and at 59 years old, I didn’t want to continue to work that hard.
    I’ve moved to Slovenia, $100 a year property taxes and $25 a month health insurance without co-pays & free prescriptions.
    The American brand of capitalism is so broken and leaves so many people behind. Look at the homeless situation (which I don’t miss or see here). I’m currently renting my house and taking a wait and see attitude. It’s interesting to watch it from a far, good luck, it’s a mess.

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    • Mossby Pomegranate September 26, 2015 at 8:35 pm

      It’s easy to run away. How about staying and trying to fix what’s broken instead?

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      • JeffS May 1, 2016 at 9:49 pm

        Because a) it’s not going to get better and b) if it were, he wouldn’t live long enough to see it.

        Sounds like he’s happy in his new home. Great for him.

        I too know that I won’t be willing/able to retire with a Portland property tax payment to make.

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  • Lester Burnham September 25, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Sounds like sour grapes from folks who made lifestyle choices and are mad they can’t live wherever they want to live. Life is full of things like that. There are plenty of “artists” in cities much bigger and more expensive than ours.

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    • soren September 25, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      those people should have chosen better and richer parents! /rawlsiansarcasm

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  • Jim Labbe
    Jim Labbe September 25, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Cary Bye leaving that is a blow. I know of other Portland bike enthusiast hero and heroines moving. It is depressing.

    As Oregonian Historian Terrence O’Donnell reflected it in a 1989 essay on Oregon’s sense of place:

    “A sense of place. It is difficult to come by. And for good reason. A sense of place requires time and permanence and we Americans are short of both… So little time and so little permanence; thus is our sense of place precluded or destroyed. But not in every case. Some people do stay, or in my case, come back; and likewise there are those landscapes, buildings, houses and even rooms, which through time remain.”

    And on that note… one of the lead organizers of Bike Summer 2002- Amy Stork- is moving back to Portland after leaving for Twisp Washington in 2007!


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  • Dead Salmon September 27, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Looks like housing problems in Germany are getting worse.

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