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Christmas Day By Bike

Subscriber Post by Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike) on December 25th, 2015 at 10:59 pm

kiel3

SW 3rd.
(Photo: Kiel Johnson)

This post was submitted by BikePortland subscriber Kiel Johnson of Go By Bike.

Today, as children around the world were discovering what was inside of the wrapped boxes under their Christmas tree (or however else they celebrate the holidays). I did the same thing I do most days. I rode my bike around. Except this time Santa gave me the greatest gift of all. A city devoid of cars.

“The city was stressless and it was amazing.”

What was most remarkable was how quiet the city was. Everyone I passed commented on this. The city was stressless and it was amazing. It reminded me of a picture hanging up in our building from when the Lloyd Center mall was first built. Next to the mall you can see I-84 on a 1960’s weekday afternoon. There are so few cars you could count them on one hand.

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When the planners decided to build a freeway on valuable riverfront real estate or fill downtown with auto-parking, they did it in a city that felt like the one I was riding in, not the relatively oppressive city we are in today. Of course you would want to build a freeway back then. They had no idea the urban loss and social value being sacrificed to these structures. You only begin to understand the scale of this sacrifice when it is gone.

Today riding around I realized what we gave up. What a city can feel like when it isn’t overrun by car traffic.

Here are a few more photos…

keil2

NW Broadway and Hoyt.
kiel1

NE Broadway and Larrabee.
Multnomah and MLK

NE Multnomah and MLK.
kiel4

NE Multnomah and Interstate.
kiel5

kiel6

Near Lloyd Center.

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Anne Hawley
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Anne Hawley

Wasn’t it nice? I rode to my sister’s for Christmas breakfast, and saw hardly a car the whole way. Lots of folks out walking, too, since the weather was so bright. Actual sunshine!

Of course, since the entire fam is either exclusively or mostly bike-ped, we did end up swapping traffic horror stories over the coffee and cookies. The bite that car culture took out of Portland in the mid-20th century seems to have suddenly gotten deeper just in the last year.

Nevertheless, on a Christmas day like today, we had a reminder of what city life might be again, and it was lovely.

mark
Guest
mark

Portland is on the cusp of something great. It could be the city that takes a stand and starts to really remove lanes, allows no more than 1 lane each direction for cars, allocates lanes to transit city wide, paints in and buffers real bike lanes….

Of course, it will have to face down the vocal minority that demands the right to travel everywhere by heavy rubber and steel while mowing down people and bikes with little consequence.

We must change. Christmas proves we can.

dwk
Guest
dwk

I took a ride around the new Tilikum bridge to see if there was anyway I could incorporate it into a commute of any kind….
It feels amazingly busy, congested and confusing on a Holiday.
Don’t let the planners of this mess have anything to do with the future you envision..

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Bend is too icy for riding, so I walked over 7 miles yesterday. I walk a lot anyway, since I am afraid of riding in the land of ‘everyone has an SUV and talks on their phone’. I was truly amazed how different my town is without cars. I started around 9 am, and I would guess traffic was around 10% of normal. No anxiety trying to cross the street, no constant noise. I had already decided that I wanted to move to a smaller town, with less traffic, and this confirmed it for me.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

Streets are still nice ‘n’ quiet today, so far. Just like in the picture above, all the bikes I saw are in bike lanes or holding far right, despite the lack of cars.

Seth
Guest
Seth

Sounds a lot like MTB riding around town during the last big snowstorm – nobody out, extremely quiet, very peaceful. It was amazing.

I have noticed an uptick in traffic and overall rudeness of drivers in the past few years, and days like this remind me of the peaceful alternative.

Hopefully the city can move things in the right direction.

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

I was reading “Streets Were Not Built For Cars” and found this quote interesting. Referring to around the year 1900:
“Portland, Oregon, had a turn-of-the-century network of 59 miles of six-foot-wide cycle paths,”
Whatever came of this? Where did this network go? Is there a map somewhere? If so could it be used to plan a network again?

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

B. Carfree
Interesting. A few years ago I found a map of California’s bike roads from the same era. I had a digital copy, but I foolishly hadn’t backed it up so when that computer failed it was lost to me (until I get off my duff and go find it again).Recommended 0

Is this it?

http://www.loc.gov/item/97683587

Mark
Guest
Mark

The photo is interesting. If that’s a buffered bike lane, why aren’t there so much as flexible bollards to keep cars from coming over? It strikes me that the city is sending a tacit message of “if you need to use the bike lane…use it”.

So even on this street, they just went 95 percent.

caesar
Guest
caesar

I’ve experienced similar solitude riding late evenings in the downtown and Pearl District areas. This past summer (I like warm weather…) I’d go out on my bike at around 9 PM on weeknights and, for the most part, cars were scarce. Lots of people walking around from restaurants and pubs, and with the relatively bright street lights it felt safe.

Not a day goes by that I don’t bemoan the ugly intrusiveness of the automobile in our daily lives. I enjoy urban photography and sonography (audio field recordings), both of which are severely limited (mostly ruined) by the omnipresent car.

mran1984
Guest
mran1984

You folks hate the automobile. I hate the phone. Cars are more fun than any pseudo adventure involving your phone. The streets are empty due to folks enjoying their life instead of going to work. Maybe everyone should hate working so much. If you folks really want safety and solitude while riding a bicycle head to the trail.

Mark
Guest
Mark

mran1984
You folks hate the automobile. I hate the phone. Cars are more fun than any pseudo adventure involving your phone. The streets are empty due to folks enjoying their life instead of going to work. Maybe everyone should hate working so much. If you folks really want safety and solitude while riding a bicycle head to the trail.Recommended 0

Ahhh…you found yourself a way to the dark side. Welcome! I used to believe like you, listened to conservative radio….hates bike lanes and despised urbansim. Welcome! Pull up a chair, read some posts and learn. You might, after a few years, come around.

Nobody hates the car here. What info dislike is the overuse of the car and how we are forced to use it. That’s the issue sir.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

Interestingly I watched a piece on history channel the other day that showed a lot of movies and still shots done around 1900 when nearly every large city had an electric trolly system. There were a lot of bikes (even big wheels). Later there were a few cars but very few as everyone took the street car and bicycle once the horses were sent to pasture.

Then the street cars began to disappear and stinky busses began taking their place. The transition was nearly complete in the early 50’s when it was realized that representatives from one company had filled all of the municipal transportation trusts in the U.S. This company was controlled by BM (making the Busses) Standard Oil (Making the diesel), amongst a few others. They were charged with a monopoly, fined and disbanded before 1960.

I think the old nemisis to sensible renewable transportation has been raising their heads the last few years.

Just my opinion!

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

Yeah, so tru

Mark
Nobody hates the car here. What info dislike is the overuse of the car and how we are forced to use it. That’s the issue sir.

So true. Wanting more options and a variety of choices is not the same thing as being against whatever is a practical monopoly currently.
Cars are great useful things. They have their characteristics like everything else. They work for some trips but are not the best thing for all trips. Too many of anything is a drag. We shouldn’t be complaining about the thing we should be complaining about the too much of something.

eddie
Guest
eddie

I don’t know about others, but i really despise cars. There really isn’t anything to “love” about them.

Anyone who despises polluted air, polluted water, death and suffering should really despise the automobile, because it is the #1 cause of all these things.

See the layer of smog starting to develop in the Willamette Valley? That’s because of cars. Don’t believe me, bike over the Ross Island bridge on a warm day and breathe deeply.

Ever been to the emergency room? 75 to 80 percent of ER or ICU patients are there because of cars. Don’t believe me, ask a trauma nurse.

About 50,000 people die every year in the USA because of cars. That’s more than guns, war or disease.

… and so on.

Fact is, anytime we go on about the virtues of the automobile, how convenient or efficient it is or whatever, we’re engaging in major cognitive dissonance.

I myself, just want car drivers to take a second to acknowledge this.

Then they can go back to polluting our city and making it less safe for everyone who lives in it.

Merry Christmas!

S. Brian Willson
Guest
S. Brian Willson

Yes, I too was cycling in SE neighborhoods and was in “7th heaven” with the quietness and virtually no cars on the streets. Just imagine how wonderful it would be if we were to choose to rid ourselves of king car. The tranquility experienced is a dramatic improvement in daily living.

Mike G
Guest
Mike G

Our family tradition has become the Christmas Day walk-through-downtown, not on bikes this time, but on foot. It’s nice to be able to walk downhill for blocks on Broadway in the middle of the lane on foot. It looks like a different city. What cars are out have to drive around you.

Until this time next year, it’s now back to regular programming. Crosswalks and stoplights.

Gerald Rhodes
Guest

Streets were indeed quiet. Snow-covered here and I was not quite prepared to ride outside, so I got in a quick ride inside. It’s all part of the Christmas tradition of family and fun. Combining it all for a beautiful memory.

Katie Taylor
Guest
Katie Taylor

I’m worried Portland’s chances of becoming a car-free (or heavily regulated) utopia are retreating into the past. Many of the people moving here now don’t give a crap what the city was like before they came. They have their preferences and they like their convenience, and when you come from a cars-only culture, the idea of going car-free is existentially terrifying. The brave new transplants who have decided to try it cover themselves in lights and reflectors even when they are just out walking around downtown, on sidewalks. I find this development so depressing – the idea that pedestrians are intruders on the city’s transportation system and should therefore take precautions to be highly, almost comically visible even when they are on the sidewalk in the middle of a city. But then an increasing number of motorists on downtown streets really don’t seem to be looking out for anyone but other cars, so maybe the last laugh goes to these people, in their flashing lights and construction vests. I usually just wave my parasol and yell ‘stop, stupid!’ when crossing the street, which also works.

Our City and regional governments consistently underestimate the scope of the disaster we’re inviting by passively allowing an unlimited number of cars to be added to Portland’s streets, and I doubt a serious effort will be made to address it until it’s too late (sort of like the way they have dealt with the homeless problem). The more cars hit the road, the scarier and less pleasant it will be to get around by bike or on foot and the greater demand there will be to make more room for cars.

Hope I’m wrong, of course. Thanks for the lovely images! It truly was nice being downtown on Friday.

rick
Guest
rick

very quiet today on many SW Portland streets

mark
Guest
mark

I think this is appropriate.

It really bothers me now when people say “jaywalking”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxopfjXkArM

Alex
Guest
Alex

I am really unsettled that the author appears to be biking with a dog. The dog has no choice but to keep moving at a trotting pace because of the leash attached around the neck. If the dog needs a rest he can’t stop, and he can’t tell you about his discomfort. This is a particular problem in the summer when the dog can get overheated.

If you have a trailer or carrier, sure, bring your dog. But otherwise biking and dogs don’t mix, no matter how slow you think you’re going.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Alex
I am really unsettled that the author appears to be biking with a dog. The dog has no choice but to keep moving at a trotting pace because of the leash attached around the neck. If the dog needs a rest he can’t stop, and he can’t tell you about his discomfort. This is a particular problem in the summer when the dog can get overheated.If you have a trailer or carrier, sure, bring your dog. But otherwise biking and dogs don’t mix, no matter how slow you think you’re going.Recommended 0

Wow. Just wow. My dog loves to run. He slows down when he wants. I know when he needs to rest. In addition, when it’s cold out he does better. I see all sorts of bad behavior with vehicles and dogs. Dogs in danger in the back of a truck dogs in hot cars, dogs caged in back…

In the big picture, this dog isn’t being cooped up in a house. It’s happy trotting with it’s owner. I for one, whole heartedly support this person taking the effort to give their dog some excersize.

Sheesh.

Brian Sysfail
Guest
Brian Sysfail

Darn you missed Dropout BC, Beer & Socksgiving ride on Xmas day. Whole crew of us riding around giving beer and socks to people living on the streets.

Joe
Guest
Joe

awesome story.. love the peace having less cars creates.

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

In the 70’s Portland removed 10 north/south lanes through downtown from private motor vehicle use! (Harbor Drive’s 6 lanes along the River became Waterfront Park and 5th and 6th Avenues became the Transit Mall.) And a massive freeway thru SE was NOT built, and the first MAX line was. We are still reaping the benefits of those decisions, but sadly have not found the where-with-all to undo some of the huge mistakes of the 60’s…Marquam Bridge and Eastbank freeway in particular.
Not to discount progress made since then to create a vital, less auto dependent, if not auto free, city…5 MAX lines, Streetcar, the Eastbank Esplanade, the bike network, Pearl District, South Waterfront, Tillicum Crossing and the defeat of the CRC. But the transportation debate of late has focused on pot holes and making bikers behave…not much vision there! Let’s see what kind of vision our mayoral candidates bring forward. Be sure to ask!

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

Somebody should encourage OHS to reprint that poster of the 1896 Cyclist’s Map of Portland, apparently last reprinted in 1973. It appears as though it extends west to Hillsboro. Why doesn’t that route exist today? Now we need a connection from Tillicum Xing to Hillsboro, sooner rather than later. Researching the corridors shown on it would be quite enlightening, indeed!

mark
Guest
mark

Probably harassing a dead equine here..but…why in the world do we still have wide one way streets in Portland? One way streets are basically race tracks. One can even turn left onto them from red light (yay for pedestrians!). They discourage ped traffic and increase noise. Yet…here we are.

This is an easy issue to take a stand on. Split 2nd and 3rd with one lane each direction with a buffered bike lane each direction. Easy..peasy.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Nice photos–thanks! Snow days and the holidays remind me of what Portland felt like not that long ago (when it was still “home”-like), and of why I’m so damned nervous all the time now. It’s impossible to convey to newcomers just how abruptly, intensely and life-alteringly Portland has changed, of how much I still feel like a distressed ill-coping cat, obsessively/nervously picking and pulling out its fur by the teeth.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

All I want for Christmas is a fair gas tax. $12/gal would be a start, but life isn’t fair, so we will have to dig deep to shave $1 off of the entitlement.