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Colville-Andersen: “Portland is completely overrated as a bike city”

Posted by on January 3rd, 2018 at 10:34 am

One of the most well-known bicycling and urban planning consultants in the world had harsh words for Portland after a visit over the holidays.

In an Instagram post yesterday, Mikael Colville-Andersen wrote that, “Portland is completely overrated as a bike city” and that “It is a car city that squeezed some bike facilities in. Almost reluctantly, it seems.”

Colville-Andersen was in Portland to visit family; but he couldn’t resist sharing what he saw while walking our streets. The lack of people on bikes in general is what seemed to stick with him most. “In the course of 6 days I counted 26 people on bikes and I was all over town. TWENTY-SIX. Even in half-ass bike cities like Oslo (cold, hilly) and the like you would see more,” he wrote.

Colville-Andersen is known for his Copenhagenize blog, which rose to prominence about 10 years ago for its documentation of the people and infrastructure of one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities. Colville-Andersen has since built his blog into an urban design and planning firm that has completed projects around the world. He has also recently launched a TV series called “Life-Sized City”.

In 2009, Colville-Andersen visited Portland as an emissary of the Danish Embassy. He spoke at an event where he shared the stage with then Mayor Sam Adams. At that event nine years ago, Colville-Andersen said it would only take Portland 5-10 years to achieve what it took Copenhagen 30 years to achieve in part because all the (planning and engineering) mistakes have been made and the case for bicycling is stronger now than it has ever been. He also pointed out that to do that it would take, “visionary political decision-making.”

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In 2011, the Copenhagenize Index of the world’s best cycling cities ranked Portland 11th — and we were the only U.S. city to make the list.

Here’s the full text of his Instagram post:

I know I’m not the first to say it but Portland is so completely overrated as a bike city. Strikes me each time I visit. The city in general is nice and I love hanging out there. But time and again I realise that Bike Hype has clouded the reality. If a city is bike friendly, bicycles are a fifth limb for the citizens. You see them everywhere and at all hours. Bikes are spotted in racks.

The first time I visited for work it was late October and I wondered where the bikes were. A gent from the City, Roger Geller, admitted that the modal share was counted in June, during bike month. Not fair data for year round. Sure, in the American context the city is a bit ahead of the curve. Bike corrals here and there. Cool bike parking facilities now and again. But then bike lanes in the door zone. What a facepalm. And painted green – but not through the intersections where it’s needed. “Bicycle Boulevards” that are a product of lazy planning to keep bikes off the main car-centric streets and the natural Desire Lines for all citizens. Fragments that suggest the city has thought about bikes but when you don’t see cyclists, it doesn’t mean much. It is a car city that squeezed some bike facilities in. Almost reluctantly, it seems.

Go to Portland for the transit. It’s a brilliant work in progress. But biketown? Don’t buy the hype. Development has plateaued. Go to Minneapolis. Montreal. San Francisco. Places that are at least trying.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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

323 Comments
  • Esther January 3, 2018 at 10:38 am

    He…clearly did not spend a lot of time on Trimet.

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    • Jason Skelton January 3, 2018 at 11:15 am

      Trimet could be better, but it is amazing for a city our size.

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      • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 11:41 am

        Trimet could be better, but it is amazing for AN AMERICAN city our size.

        FIFY.

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        • Rain Panther January 3, 2018 at 11:59 am

          I’d say Trimet could also be described as completely overrated. Not enough North/South connections, not enough dedicated lanes, not enough rail. It’s too complicated to get to relatively far away destinations and too damn slow to get to the relatively close ones.

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          • JeffS January 3, 2018 at 12:28 pm

            What city would you say has a better system?

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            • glennfee January 3, 2018 at 12:36 pm

              For a city of a relatively similar size and age of transportation, Denver. They have a new, central rail hub and more lines extend much further into the suburbs (although, admittedly, their sprawl is more significant). Few of their lines rely upon surface streets, allowing them to move much more quickly.

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              • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 12:45 pm

                I dunno, the proof of usefulness for me is in people actually using it. For mode share to employment (admittedly an imperfect measure, but the only one with comparable data that I’m aware of), Denver metro area, ~6%. Portland metro area, ~8%. Both pretty steady for the past decade. Perhaps Denver’s will improve with more time for people to change their habits, move based on transit preferences and destinations, and transit-oriented development given the large rail expansion in the past decade. However, I’m not all that optimistic. With rail networks as spindly as Portland and Denver’s, the number of people with origins and destinations within reach of rail is always going to be low. My guess is that both cities would need a fast, frequent, not-stuck-in-traffic, ubiquitous bus network in order to really grow their transit mode shares.

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            • maxD January 3, 2018 at 1:10 pm

              Vancouver BC?

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              • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 1:37 pm

                I carefully said “America” not “North America.” But “amazing” is still too strong. “In the top 20% for transit quality compared to U.S. metro areas of similar size” is I’m pretty sure true.

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          • Citizeng January 3, 2018 at 12:38 pm

            Also no overnight service. Busses ran on Sunday schedules on New Year’s Eve for crying out loud.

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          • Kittens January 4, 2018 at 3:43 am

            Just wait, TriMet is going to see a huge growth spurt. They are getting hundreds of millions of new dollars a year as a result of the transportation funding package. It is mostly going to expand bus service. New lines. Tighter headways, longer service hours and better equipment are all on the way.

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          • Paul Johnson January 4, 2018 at 4:04 pm

            TriMet would do well to have some form of orbital route instead of depending on the hub-and-spoke system.

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            • Kittens January 7, 2018 at 3:01 am

              Interesting that you mention it. TriMet’s current system was considered very innovative when rolled out in the 80s. It is loosely defined as a Grid system where transfers are common and less painful due to high frequency of service. You can see what a true hub system looked like here in Portland if you look at TriMet maps from the 70s. A total mess.

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              • Paul Johnson January 7, 2018 at 10:08 am

                Then they got rid of the frequent service, so now you can’t really transfer unless it’s at a hub. So it’s like, the worst of both worlds now.

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        • q January 3, 2018 at 12:06 pm

          Even then, Portland should really be evaluated based on the whole metro area, not just the city itself. Add in Beaverton, Vancouver, etc. and the transportation system looks pathetic.

          And for anyone thinking maybe that’s unfair to judge the city based on the metro area, remember that the City (government) has been responsible for creating some of the reasons why people move to Vancouver and elsewhere ringing Portland–land use policies, tax policies, shortcomings with public safety and schools…

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  • Esther January 3, 2018 at 10:42 am

    The first three days he was here the entire city, then the side streets and bike lanes, were coated by ice and it was also the biggest stay-cozy-at-home holiday of the year and apparently staying downtown in the business district (while everyone was off work/school).

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    • Esther January 3, 2018 at 10:45 am

      And according to his instagram the 2nd set of 6 days were spent on the Oregon coast in Yachats so….not exactly a fair representation of our biking rates in the biggest metropolitan city in Oregon.

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    • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 10:51 am

      Well, sure, but quite a lot of people live downtown. Not having almost any bike infrastructure there is a huge missed opportunity, and the City has showed very little urgency on fixing it. There are tons of quibbles to make with Mikael’s assessment, but overall it’s correct (and in fact too rosy – as you point out, our transit outside of downtown is dismal and has actually gotten worse in many places over the last decade due to bus frequency cuts.)

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    • B. Carfree January 3, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      So I’m sure the roads were also clear of cars during his visit since everyone was staying home. Oh wait…

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    • Irakli Gozalishvili January 3, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      Evan Manvel
      There’s a huge amount of work to be done, of course. Grading Portland against Europe, including places like Oslo, I imagine Portland’s effort on bicycling can look pretty half-hearted. The critique rings true in parts — yes, Portland is a car city with bikeways squeezed in.(Though the bicycle corral critique is wayyyy off – has he ever been another American city with more?)Overall, he gets a small sample of the city during the worst biking weather of the year, and casts large judgments based on it. That’s simply arrogance. He’s a blindfolded man touching an elephant and saying it’s all trunk. Of course, he could have spent his time on 82nd Avenue and said even worse things.His statement about bicycle boulevards shows his arrogance. People say they want to ride away from speeding traffic, in survey after survey.Maybe they’d prefer to bike on main streets with bikeways like those in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, but to criticize low-stress bike networks in the U.S. shows he’s out of touch with riding with kids or the many, many other people who like low-traffic routes.Glad he’s trying to hold our feet to the fire, but think he misfired.Recommended 17

      Fact that they remained coated by ice is no excuse, if anything it’s a proof. I lived several years in Amsterdam which has much harsher winters, but by the time peope hop on bikes paths are cleared.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 3, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Mikael obviously doesn’t have the full picture of what’s going on in Portland; but if I were in his shoes I could see myself writing the same thing. We’ve clearly lost our way when it comes to bicycling. The cycling swagger we once had in this town is all but gone. The spirit around cycling that helped launch this site — and lots of other cool things — is just not quite the same as it once was. I’ve been thinking about this a lot for many months (years!) now and it really bothers me that BikePortland hasn’t been able to pull the right levers at the right times to turn things around. I have a lot of thoughts about this but I’ll stop here for now. I’d love to hear what others think.

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    • Esther January 3, 2018 at 10:51 am

      Sure, there are plenty of complaints to be made about the infra, that people who actually live and work and raise children here are already making. 🙂 Sorry, I’m biased against his opinions because I find his arrogance noxious.

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      • Ryan January 3, 2018 at 11:20 am

        He may be arrogant, even smarmy at times, but that doesn’t necessarily make him wrong.

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      • Matt January 3, 2018 at 6:20 pm

        Where some see arrogance others see honesty. Little Portland does not like criticism especially from smarmy Euros, California transplants, east coast columnists, or pretty much anyone else. If you don’t want to be criticized then don’t claim to be good at something you’re not. I don’t know what happened to this town. Ten years ago it really felt like it was trying to do something different, whether it was bicycling, transit, green building, climate change, you name it. Now it’s becoming just another average American city with average American governance and zero vision. Brand Portland has expired.

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        • Justin Morton January 3, 2018 at 8:13 pm

          Look at our last three mayors. All of them subpar.

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          • ps January 4, 2018 at 1:01 pm

            Look at the commissioners…For a city the size of Portland to not have a strong mayor form of government is hilarious.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty January 4, 2018 at 1:09 pm

              Strong mayors are great as long as you like what they do. If we have a “strong mayor” who wants to increase auto capacity, we’re stuck.

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              • q January 4, 2018 at 1:11 pm

                Exactly. There are a lot of times I’ve been glad mayors haven’t been able to accomplish things they’ve wanted to do.

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      • wsbob January 3, 2018 at 7:24 pm

        Colville-Andersen has a readership. I don’t generally read what he writes, except occasionally when he’s mentioned here on bikeportland, which is where I first heard of him several years ago or so when this weblog did a story about something he said, which someone claimed out him as being a sexist pig, or some such thing. I suppose that illustrates that he may be getting his readership from people that like a certain level of obnoxiousness, or as you said, arrogance.

        That little instagram blurb he wrote, certainly for me, doesn’t summarize well, much about infrastructure for biking in Portland, Beaverton where I live, or some of the other cities in the valley I’ve ridden and driven in. He comes here basically as a sort of semi-tourist, looking for material for his blog writing, which is alright. Different people like to read different things.

        For him to come here, then go back and write dismissively about our areas’ long decade spanning efforts to improve conditions for biking and walking, without much apparent awareness of or sensitivity to the culture, values and needs of people in the U.S. and here in the Willamette and Tualitan Valleys, doesn’t impress me much in a positive way. He sounds too much like just other hot-button blog writers that aren’t really equipped with much that can really help to bring about constructive change in the way of better conditions for biking where better conditions don’t already exist.

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        • Paul Johnson January 4, 2018 at 4:52 pm

          I think he’s got a point. The whole metro area called it good when MSTIPS 3 and the Blue Line were completed. Maybe a MSTIPS 4 (to upgrade the existing routes and put in more crosstown routes) and adding an orbital light rail would be a good continuance of that progress. Maybe find ways to make it cheaper to live in the city, since it sucks to live in Portland, but it doesn’t have to be expensive and suck…

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    • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 10:58 am

      BikePortland is just one man. We need a strong, citywide BikeLoudPDX with enough volunteer capacity to fight battles on multiple fronts between elections and a healthily funded and feared Bike Walk Vote PAC to influence who runs and who wins elections.

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      • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 11:01 am

        I think any bike shop owners who are still giving their money to the Street Trust should seriously consider moving that to Bike Walk Vote as a business decision. It’s not healthy right now, but it at least has City of Portland fights in its mission statement. The Street Trust does good work, but it’s just too far removed from the streets of Portland to give bike shop owners a good return on investment.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 11:32 am

        We had one… it was called the BTA. Which then faded itself into irrelevance.

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        • Paul Johnson January 4, 2018 at 4:58 pm

          Is that what happened? Bummer. I still had a BTA sticker on my rear fender of my old bike when I gave it to the Tulsa Hub.

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      • soren January 3, 2018 at 12:44 pm

        I’ve said this before but, IMO, a major barrier to effective bike advocacy in Portland is a pervasive reluctance of many to agitate for change. An overreaction to bikelash has created a somewhat cliquish community where “bike culture” is seen as an alternative to direct action (it’s not). The revolving door between local government, non-profits, and planning outfits is one example of this insularity but I have also heard from many who have felt excluded at bike events (Also see: https://bikeportland.org/2015/04/27/column-fellow-bike-lovers-need-talk-car-shaming-139892). Speaking of insularity, I could not help notice the density of congratulation from “insiders” on the Catherine Ciarlo thread. When the only person making a substantive comment (albeit abrasively) about the new head of PBOT’s Active Transportation Division is from Eugene it says something about the level of engagement between active transportation professionals and the general population.

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    • JBone January 3, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      Jonathan, you’ve done great work and hope you don’t feel too discouraged by lack of growth in cycling/commuter culture. Keep doing what you’re doing!
      Despite some momentum in MTB scene and best efforts by NWTA, off-road cycling in Portland is woefully lacking, too. I’m not sure what to think of it – Nimbyism, bad local government system, out of control growth, or people just “too busy” to be involved in more positive activism (I think the Resist movement and general political divides deludes positive activism). I’m looking in the mirror and know that there is more than I can do to further the causes I care deepest about.

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      • I wear many hats January 3, 2018 at 3:07 pm

        Show up for 2018 Critical Mass Trail Rides TBA. The future is rosy if us MTB’rs take to the trails.

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        • Kate January 4, 2018 at 9:52 am

          What/when is that? I’ve never heard of that but am highly interested in moving the needle forward on local mtb bike trail access.

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    • William Henderson January 3, 2018 at 5:20 pm

      Perhaps he spent most of his time downtown.

      If you are not familiar with Portland, you’d probably expect our densest, most walkable parts of town to also have the best bike infrastructure with the most people riding it. Of course, the opposite is true.

      This would also explain his impression of Trimet: great service downtown, not so great elsewhere.

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    • maxadders January 3, 2018 at 6:21 pm

      The fact that you promoted this guy’s grossly misinformed message is pretty discouraging. I guess it netted you some pageviews, though, right? Was it worth it?

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      • q January 3, 2018 at 8:01 pm

        It doesn’t seem particularly misinformed when so many people here think he has valid points.

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      • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 8:04 pm

        perhaps max can elaborate on what made his message so grossly misinformed? What max would have said instead?

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        • Stephan January 4, 2018 at 11:36 am

          I think Mikael is spot-on. He makes a very simple point: If Portland were a great bike city, you should see people riding bikes, lots of them. And yes, in the winter, with icy conditions, during the break. In some ways, this is the best time to evaluate whether a city is truly a bike city. The people who visit Portland during the summer, see lots of sun and bike events, and then conclude that Portland is a bike city, they are grossly misinformed — and that, I think contributes to its reputation. But in a city where people use bikes for everyday use, there are people who use bikes (plenty of them) and they are there everyday, rain/snow or shine.

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          • B. Carfree January 4, 2018 at 1:03 pm

            I’ve always been bothered by the LAB awards that don’t actually take into account whether or not a place has actually gotten butts into saddles. Their criteria are almost all about things like having a bike master plan, filling administrative positions that have bikey names and having a few bikey demonstration projects (a segregated lane or two, a bike-specific traffic signal and what-not).

            The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and if it sits on the table uneaten, it must not be very tasty.

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    • Fred January 4, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      Good point, Jonathan, about Portland not moving quickly enough on bike infrastructure. We should all wonder why it’s taking so long, but look at SW Capitol Highway as an example. Residents in SW have been crying for over 20 years about getting basic infrastructure on this major thoroughfare, and only THIS YEAR are we finally seeing a project to add sidewalk on one side of the highway, a separated bike lane on that same side, and a shared path on the other side. And that’s just a mile or so. AND it almost got vetoed by a DEMOCRATIC governor! Otherwise the road is basically the same one built in 1927 between Portland and Salem. Pathetic.

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    • Laurie Benoit January 4, 2018 at 8:12 pm

      I along with a group of up to 6 cyclist have been going out at all hours biking. Each x on my daily rides (for the last 2 weeks), I have seen more than 26 cyclist each ride. I went to Oslo last March-April and could find very few cyclist and NO bike rentals until the END of my x in Oslo.

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    • Matt January 4, 2018 at 10:31 pm

      I think you are wrong. I have been cycling to Beaverton from North Portland consistently since 2014. I have seen a noticeable increase. Mikael’s take was passive aggressive and smarmy. I find it disappointing as I have always admired his work. It just isn’t necessary to take shots. I also travel a ton. I hear about Minneapolis, Seattle, nyc, and DC. They haven’t caught up to Portland. This is ludicrous. It may be true that they are out-Investing pdx which is a bummer, but our infrastructure is really good. Trust me, I have cycled Copenhagen and it is amazing. It is also flat as a pancake. They would be huffing and puffing on Portland’s Hills like nobody’s business.

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      • rh January 5, 2018 at 10:18 am

        What route do you take? I live and work in the same area. The construction at Washington Park made me stop.

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        • Brian January 6, 2018 at 10:21 am

          The construction hasn’t made it that bad, though when it is nice out I descend the road above the zoo instead (is it Fairmont?). That way I miss the tourists backing out of their parking spots at the Japanese and Rose Garden. In the morning the climb over has remain basically unchanged. Hit it!

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      • Resopmok January 6, 2018 at 7:21 am

        Having started my time as an adult cyclist in Seattle, I always laugh inside when people mention Portland’s “hills.” The exception here is Washington Park and other routes over the west hills, but this city is pretty tame.

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  • Velograph January 3, 2018 at 10:56 am

    I don’t think you need to be a world class bike person to come to the same realizations. Our infrastructure is not growing in the way that it feels like it should be.

    I understand the complexities of building transportation alternatives into an already existing grid. It’s not easy at all, but it doesn’t change the fact that this place isn’t as enjoyable to ride around as it did 10 years ago…

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  • rh January 3, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Yes, the cycling swagger is definitely gone. Seems to have started the decline when Sam Adams left office. Our ‘Platinum’ status needs to be downgraded.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 11:33 am

      That might be the best thing that could happen for our bike program. It could clarify thinking.

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    • J_R January 3, 2018 at 11:53 am

      No. We still have the swagger. In fact, swagger has been our best bicycling feature/action. We’ve wrenched our arm out of joint patting ourselves on the back.

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      • David Hampsten January 3, 2018 at 2:18 pm

        I agree. Portland’s swagger is its biggest handicap. Portland reminds me of Lance Armstrong – bold, boasting, aggressive, and once and for a long time widely viewed as a winner. Now in a state of denial. When will Portland be interviewed on Oprah? When will the revelations come out?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 4, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      close. in my view, the swagger began to wane after Adams’ scandal where he was accused of having a relationship with an intern at City Hall. That scandal knee-capped him politically and in the process one of his most visible “pet issues” — cycling — also suffered as a result.

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    • Paul Johnson January 4, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      If the LAB’s ratings were any real measure, I don’t think Portland deserves a rating at all. And a big part of this is the local attitude. Portland drivers are nearly unmitigated jerks. Tulsa lacks the infrastructure Portland does, and what routes do exist tend to go over hills. I think the LAB giving Tulsa a bronze rating is a huge stretch.

      But Tulsa’s a better city to ride in and it has everything to do with the level of respect people give each other.

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  • Hazel January 3, 2018 at 11:04 am

    I’ve lived here for 21 years. It used to be a great place to ride a bike, now I dread my commute every day. The city has put in all these bike boulevards at a huge cost but they don’t work if they’re dominated by speed traffic looking for a nice cut though street with no stop signs. And lowering speed limits all over doesn’t work if car drivers don’t care and there’s no enforcement or infrastructure in place to actually get people to drive 20 mph. I’m disappointed and ready to find somewhere new to live.

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    • rick January 3, 2018 at 11:25 am

      Which one street would you love a re-do? Does it involve land use zoning? SW Scholls Ferry Road by SW Patton Road ? Interstate Ave ?

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      • maxD January 3, 2018 at 11:44 am

        Interstate! Willamette, Bike Lanes on Skidmore extended from Michigan to NE 7th, Greenway on SE 6th between Davis and Division, Peninsula Crossing trail connection to Columbia Slough trail, North Portland Greenway, Salmon Greenway between 12th and the Esplanade, Ankeny Crossing at Sandy, so many gaps!

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      • David Hampsten January 3, 2018 at 2:23 pm

        Close off Division to cars, except to get to local driveways. Express transit lines and bikways from Water Street to 176th, and on-street outdoor cafes and pocket parks from 80th to 176th. Ditto on 82nd, Clatsop to Airport Way.

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    • David Hampsten January 3, 2018 at 2:20 pm

      My feelings exactly. That’s a major reason for my moving east in 2015, that and being priced out.

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    • rachel b January 4, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      Well said, Hazel. I all but stopped riding for two reasons: 1) A tremendous number of drivers–too too many–are so filled with a sense of impunity and up their own hinds now, and they make riding very dangerous, and 2) I can’t put my bike in my pocket, unfortunately, and I am unwilling to park it–even with three heavy duty, expensive locks–ANYWHERE in Portland, at this point. I don’t even want to park my car anywhere in Portland now, what with the huge problem with car theft, now, too.

      Before moving out of the city a few months ago (best decision of our lives), I avoided even letting my bike be seen in our home. I avoided leaving anything of value out on our property, after several thefts (someone even dug up a plant and stole it, ffs!). I got a heavy duty mailbox and pounced on the mail as soon as I could. I immediately cleaned up/painted over tagging on our property–I gave up on the surrounding area when it just became too much. I called the non-emergency line when tweakers and huffers hung out at the empty rental next door, completely out of their minds. I talked to the neighbor about him and his friends making our block their insanely noisy modified car workshop/testing ground. I picked up garbage spilled all over the place each week after we put our cans out (incl. the dog shit regularly deposited by passersby). I reported abandoned (stolen) vehicles left with the windows open after being used to party. We lived, by the way, in the heart of one of the most highly hyped and praised (newly) expensive neighborhoods in Portland, right smack next to New Disney Division.

      I really didn’t mean to go on like that when I started this post but this city really has become the opposite of livable at this point, and I just don’t understand why it’s not talked about more…so that we can actually DO something about it before it gets even worse. The idealization of Portland drives me bats. I guess most of us are such frogs in the proverbial pot of boiling water, we don’t see how awful it’s gotten. Plus, so many folks who move here are so starry-eyed and have so much personally invested in Portland, they are almost pathologically defensive when anyone dares to criticize their chosen Saviour.

      Starting to take simple, comprehensive enforcement of existing laws seriously and drastically expanding/improving transit (incl. biting the bullet and creating dedicated bus lanes, stat) would be good steps in the right direction.

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      • K Taylor January 7, 2018 at 7:36 pm

        Hear, hear, rachel b! And Hazel! Portland is starting to reach Mad Max levels of neglect and laissez-faire. I moved out too, and am only worried I may not have moved far enough away to avoid Portland creep. Portland’s reputation as a great bike city rested on its relative lack of crowding and auto traffic. Almost all of the investment in bike infrastructure in the past 20 years has been dependent on sane, attentive, even deferential motorists, and not too many of them. Now that that’s out the window, Portland is no longer such a great place to bike.

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  • Evan Manvel January 3, 2018 at 11:05 am

    There’s a huge amount of work to be done, of course. Grading Portland against Europe, including places like Oslo, I imagine Portland’s effort on bicycling can look pretty half-hearted. The critique rings true in parts — yes, Portland is a car city with bikeways squeezed in.

    (Though the bicycle corral critique is wayyyy off – has he ever been another American city with more?)

    Overall, he gets a small sample of the city during the worst biking weather of the year, and casts large judgments based on it. That’s simply arrogance. He’s a blindfolded man touching an elephant and saying it’s all trunk. Of course, he could have spent his time on 82nd Avenue and said even worse things.

    His statement about bicycle boulevards shows his arrogance. People say they want to ride away from speeding traffic, in survey after survey.

    Maybe they’d prefer to bike on main streets with bikeways like those in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, but to criticize low-stress bike networks in the U.S. shows he’s out of touch with riding with kids or the many, many other people who like low-traffic routes.

    Glad he’s trying to hold our feet to the fire, but think he misfired.

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    • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 11:27 am

      Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and Colville-Andersen happens to be right based on some extremely biased evidence here. Portland City government has been moving at a snail’s pace on biking for the past decade, and the increase in auto traffic and the change of our driving culture to be more impatient and rude is working against the agonizingly slow infrastructure installations.

      The bike boulevards you mention… I have two things to say about them.
      1) Portland’s bike boulevards are generally not low-traffic enough to be comfortable to bike with kids on their own bikes at rush hour. Nor are the crossings of major streets high-quality enough, or the wayfinding good enough. And, the standards for new and improved infrastructure are still SO low. The City seems to be happy to install unprotected bike lanes on medium-traffic streets in East Portland and call them portions of new “bike boulevards” rather than do something better. The City has a “Bicycle Advisory Committee” that told them NOT to do diversion on Ladd despite motor vehicle traffic levels above the City’s already-too-loose standards. Bike boulevards are a fine concept, but the execution here is extraordinarily lackluster. A new bike boulevard in Yakima has 5 diverters in 1.7 miles. We had to fight like hell to even get two put in in 3 miles on Clinton St.

      2) 99% of Americans have never seen a quality protected bike lane, and don’t even know such a thing exists in the world. Trying to explain the concept and what it would feel like in a sentence or two in a survey seems like asking too much.

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      • maxD January 3, 2018 at 11:53 am

        Alex,
        I totally agree! The Going Greenway is a great example: It is pretty safe between 7th and 33rd. However, connecting to the greenway from north Portland is a disaster of maze-like routing, unsignalized crossing (including the 4-lane MLK!). PBOT painted some buffered bike lanes along Skidmmore between Interstate and Michigan, but then they just stop! If the City simply extended these to NE 7th, people on bike could safely connect across busy arterials between greenways like Concord, Michigan, and Going and bike lanes on Interstate, Williams and Vancouver.

        My point is that the City has added a bunch of miles of greenways to miles of bike lanes it had previously built, but it has neglected to make the tough connections. Those direct and safe connections are the most important part of creating a functional network!

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        • Stephan January 4, 2018 at 11:42 am

          MLK / Going is a great example of the city’s approach to creating bike infrastructure. Fit it in if possible, but do not inconvenience car drivers. However, the weakest link in a bike network determines its value, and while I do love Going from 7th onwards, that lack to safe connection at MLK just makes me sad. And I am sure readers here can enumerate plenty of other spots.
          What I found interesting about Mikael’s post is that he does not look at the number of miles of bike infrastructure. He looks at the number of people biking. After all, that’s really what counts. If increasing bike infrastructure by a bunch of miles does not translate into higher bike ridership, then these improvements are not effective.

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      • X January 3, 2018 at 5:57 pm

        Yes!! Many diverters. Diverters should be an automatic feature of greenways, if that’s going to be our default bike street design. Speedbumps? Irrelevant. And put a “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” sign on the crossing street stop signs.

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    • Brock Howell January 3, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      I think he has a strong point regarding the prioritization of installing neighborhood greenways instead of protected bike Lanes on arterials. Arterials have the destinations people want to bike to, are often the flattest & most direct routes, have the most car volumes, and also have the highest safety concerns. Any city that wants to dramatically change to be a bike-first rather than car-first city needs to reprioritize the right-of-way of arterial streets. Portland was extremely fortunate to have lots of linear parallel neighborhood streets over flat terrain and with small block sizes to make Greenways a decent biking alternative to arterials. But for truly transformative change, American cities must get more aggressive with arterials, like what Washington DC and Downtown Vancouver BC have done.

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    • Andrew Kreps January 3, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      Yeah, our corrals are lacking. From the fact that they’re not designed for summer bike traffic, and that I have yet to see one with any motor vehicle protection (don’t say mountable curb) they don’t instill confidence or do much to encourage cycling here.

      Also consider the following examples:

      Tacoma, WA- Wow, look, using steel beams to protect people.
      http://i.feedtacoma.com/photos/1-red-hot-bike-corral-finished.jpg

      Los Angeles, CA- just like above with an artful twist.
      https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55ef7adce4b064e46224893b/t/56c4ea9ecf80a12161c13972/1455745694972/Bike-Corral-Abbot-Kinney.jpg?format=1500w

      Sacramento, CA- bollard all the things
      https://www.groundcontrolsystems.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Old-Sac-Corral-2-640×480.jpg

      North Cambridge, Mass- this parking is near a train station. Outside of the Portland Aerial Tram (which only has one destination), we don’t have anything approaching this.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_parking#/media/File:AlewifeBikeParking.agr.2001.JPG

      San Francisco, CA- they took the time to make this one bright and noticeable.
      http://blog.publicbikes.com/wp-content/uploads/600-duo-corral-grid.jpg

      Even Dunwoody, GA seems to be well ahead of Portland on this front:
      http://bikewalkdunwoody.org/2017/03/call-to-action-proposed-bike-parking/

      I’d say we have a long way to go on the bike parking front alone.

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    • Shoupian January 4, 2018 at 10:25 pm

      I disagree. I think the mindset that it is only fair if we compare Portland with other American cities is exactly the kind of attitude that has stopped us from thinking bolder and bigger. Aside from a few large American cities (NYC, SF, DC, etc) bicycling as a mode of transportation is virtually unrealistic everywhere in the U.S. Also, I think looking at bicycling in the winter gives you much more of a realistic assessment about a city’s commitment to making it a safe and convenient mode of transportation. If it’s cold and rainy outside and you still find a lot of people riding their bikes instead of driving,that really says something about the greatness of bicycling in your city. And that cannot be achieved with the kind of infrastructure and the kind of political leadership we have right now.

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  • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 11:09 am

    And if PBOT were on the ball, they’d issue a press release or hold a press conference in which they did two things:

    (a) respond to these criticisms and point out any errors,
    (b) identify what, when, where the things that are obviously inadequate will be addressed.
    … and if they were feeling really generous/transparent, explain how we got here.

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    • John January 3, 2018 at 11:32 am

      They should have a press conference because somebody said mean things on Instagram? What is this, the federal government?

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      • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 11:36 am

        First off, Mikael isn’t just somebody, and neither is Jonathan.

        Secondly, they have a division for Communication & Public Involvement, just one level down from Leah Treat. If they can’t be relied on to defend their record or admit shortcomings then what is the point of that office?

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        • Ryan January 3, 2018 at 11:41 am

          Truth. Like it or not- like him or not- Mikael is an opinion-maker.

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          • mran1984 January 3, 2018 at 12:04 pm

            Thanks for the gut busting laugh. His pathetic opinion means ABSOLUTELY ZERO to me. Maybe his “inspirational message” will turn people away from here too. It’s not better.

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            • Ryan January 3, 2018 at 12:25 pm

              It may not mean anything to you, but there are plenty of people to whom his opinions matter quite a bit.

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              • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 12:29 pm

                Unfortunately, none of them have the title “City Commissioner.”

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      • maccoinnich January 3, 2018 at 12:07 pm

        This comment made me laugh out loud. Thank you.

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        • Ryan January 4, 2018 at 12:01 am

          Laugh all you want, it’s still true. Or maybe you can tell us why his opinion doesn’t matter on your TV show. Oh wait, he has one and you don’t? How about that.

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    • q January 3, 2018 at 11:41 am

      I agree, and to expand on that, note that PBOT isn’t the only public body that influences bike transportation. Many of the paths are Parks’ responsibility. Planning has a huge influence through zoning and design review. And of course the Police with enforcement…

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  • TonyT
    TonyT January 3, 2018 at 11:13 am

    In fairness to PBOT (the typical target of my ire), they lack the political spine to upset people and be great because they are the manifestation of a political machine that seems to believe in the radical notion of beige. I think Ted Wheeler’s going to do a TED talk on that or something.

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  • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 11:13 am

    He’s not wrong.

    Portland’s bike friendliness is grossly overstated by city leadership. Our infrastructure is mostly non-existent and what does exist is confusing, inconsistent, and somehow always experimental (with us being the perennial lab rats, of course). The vast majority of what the city calls bikeways relies solely on painted arrows which do next to nothing for safety or comfort. Portland is 99% hype with a few crumbs thrown our way every so often.

    And it’s not surprising seeing all the defensiveness here — Portlanders have a fear of outside opinions that contradict their own inflated sense of self-importance. Contradict anyone who claims Portland is great and prepare for a barrage of hatred thrown your way.

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    • q January 3, 2018 at 11:44 am

      Yes, Portland (I’m thinking mainly government) spends too much time congratulating itself and doing PR about what a great job it’s doing. And then it starts believing its own PR, blinding it to its own mediocrity and then, as you say, getting defensive against criticism instead of listening to it.

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      • Tim January 3, 2018 at 12:07 pm

        “Mainly government” or possibly local government that reflects the local population?
        But, yes we can be our own best/worst yes-men.

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        • q January 3, 2018 at 12:13 pm

          Yes, mainly government, but yes, good point–the local government does reflect the views of at least a sizeable segment of the population, and it’s also that population that elected the officials doing the self-congratulating.

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    • B. Carfree January 3, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      Tell me about it. I hadn’t ridden in Portland until about a decade ago. I hoped to find something similar to the hype, but found just another car town with a few “look at me” type of features that really didn’t add much to the experience. I was roundly hated on for pointing this out, with the best reactions being from those who claimed that PDX was just beginning its journey and that it would reach 30% modal share in no time.

      Unfortunately, I could see even then that the focus on only building what infra could be squeezed in without disrupting motorized travel and a complete aversion to traffic law enforcement meant that it wasn’t going to get any better.

      Like Colville-Andersen, I hailed from a location that actually did have a significant percentage of its citizens doing most of their trips by bike. I spent many four-day weekends and some full weeks just visiting and would often see similar bike counts to what he experienced. Sometimes, I would walk ten miles and see but one or two bikes, and even those surprised me because the conditions are so horrid.

      Portland has an image problem: it’s image of itself is not in alignment with reality. I don’t see that getting any better because motorists think seeing any bikes means there’s too many, and most Portlanders are motorists.

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  • m January 3, 2018 at 11:15 am

    An alternative theory: Many people hate riding here October through April because it’s usually cold, dark, and raining.

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    • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 11:19 am

      An alternative theory easily disproven by checking out the winter cycling statistics for Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo, Trondheim, etc. They have winter weather and darkness ranging from considerably worse to far worse, and winter bike mode shares ranging from considerably better to far better.

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      • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 11:20 am

        +1

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      • eawriste January 3, 2018 at 11:43 am

        Yep. I rode in Berlin all winter when I lived there…. because of protected bike lanes.

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      • El Biciclero January 3, 2018 at 12:50 pm

        Yeah, but #WeAreNotAmsterdam! Everyone knows that the things that increase mode share over there are impossible given our longitude! It Simply Can’t Be Done ™!

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      • billyjo January 3, 2018 at 1:20 pm

        but they don’t have attitudes that Americans seem to have.

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        • Paul Johnson January 4, 2018 at 5:20 pm

          Sure, if you discount the cities that are catching up or overtaking. Inola, Oklahoma just passed and is shovel ready on going to complete streets. They’re thinking ahead, and I’ll go ahead and let y’all fill in whatever stereotype you want about small town Oklahoma. Tulsa’s almost caught up on centerline miles of bicycle infrastructure, and starting to branch out into first/last mile to connect up what amount to bicycle superhighways already existing around the city.

          What’s Portland done? Add a stupid bicycle roundabout to an otherwise T-intersection and reintroduced on-street dual-direction bike lanes. Break out the leisure suits and the disco records while you’re at it, guys!

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      • Jeff January 3, 2018 at 2:19 pm

        But right there, all of your examples are European cities. It’s a different mindset. In my own office, I can easily see that the thinking is true – once the daylight shortens and the weather worsens, half of our regular bike riders head back to Trimet.

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        • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 2:43 pm

          OK, I was too lazy to look up all the Asian examples. Tokyo and Osaka have reasonably similar winters to Portland and way more people on bikes. http://www.cityclock.org/urban-cycling-mode-share/#.Wk1ZWVQ-dE4

          If you want somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, wait a few years… Vancouver, BC has been quickly increasing its bike mode share for the past decade. It’s neck and neck with us now but I would guess it’ll be to ~10% by the early 2020s.

          I think the “mindset” you mention is mostly a product of government policy, not mostly an inherent cultural difference. Right now, we have three main groups of people who bike to work: die-hards like me and probably you who either like biking enough or hate the alternatives enough to do it year-round, fair-weather bikers who are willing to deal with biking taking more time/effort than the alternatives because it’s nice being outside in the summer, and poor folks who bike because it’s hands-down the cheapest way to get the distance they want to go in the time they have. When you lose the “willing to take the extra time to bike because it’s a nice experience” bikers in the winter, it’s a big hit to mode share.

          In cities with comfortable, convenient bike infrastructure, a dense built environment, and a lack of implicit subsidies and a presence of additional taxes for driving, you get a lot of additional people who bike because it’s just the fastest, cheapest, most convenient option for their trip. If it’s raining, they’d have to spend more time and money to go a different way. So they don’t, they still bike. In general.

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          • B. Carfree January 3, 2018 at 5:29 pm

            I’d add that those places also have rudimentary traffic law enforcement, something sorely lacking in PDX (and America in general these days). If you’ve ever lived with strict traffic law enforcement, you’d never underestimate how much it adds to the cycling experience in terms of expectations of safety and enjoyment.

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          • Julie Hammond January 3, 2018 at 7:12 pm

            I moved to Vancouver, BC from Portland (where I lived since 2003) and I have been consistently impressed with the significant, ongoing changes I’ve seen in bike infrastructure over the last 2.5 years. While there are certainly flaws (big investments in already very good bike paths while other parts of the city go without), I have become so used to protected bike lanes that biking in Portland now feels absurdly dangerous. I’m still confused about why the sort of protected bike lanes we have up here are not in place in Portland–many of them are concrete barricades that are movable, but not permanent (google maps image here: https://goo.gl/maps/5pPKrBFwnQu) and seem like the sort of thing that would have been perfect for Willamette. Who needs two stripes of paint when you have a concrete barricade?!

            There is also a robust network of neighbourhood bike paths here, much like Portland’s bike boulevards, but it seems that there has been more effort on what they call “traffic calming” and, in some instances, building separate protected bike lanes on neighbourhood streets (this mostly seems to be in place on the west side of the city).

            For what it’s worth, I biked year round in Portland because it was easy and cheap and because TriMet did not meet my needs; in Vancouver I am much more of a fair weather cyclist because the bus/SkyTrain network is good. (And yeah, 50% of all trips in the city are made by non-motor vehicles, so something must be working.)

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            • Clark in Vancouver January 5, 2018 at 11:49 am

              One thing that Vancouver has learned is that doing good design creates more supporters than doing a lousy design. Any change in a street will be controversial and will use up some political capitol but doing a good design will create more support and political capitol to more than make up for it. Doing a bad design will use up both political capitol that happens anyway as well as not creating much support.

              This is what I think might be happening in Portland for example with the bicycle boulevards that aren’t effective enough at diversion. Drivers are opposed that they no longer dominate and now have to pay some attention but then with the diversion being so low or noneffective they’re not even good to cycle on. This means that they don’t have all the people who would be loving it and writing to city councillors to thank them. With a bicycle boulevard that’s up to AAA standards there would be the same numbers of people opposed but they would be countered by all those supporting it.

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              • El Biciclero January 5, 2018 at 12:41 pm

                This is a very good point. Every time this happens, it becomes another example of how “we tried, but nobody liked it, so what’s the point?” The accumulation of such examples makes further efforts more and more difficult.

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              • Clark in Vancouver January 6, 2018 at 1:08 pm

                Right. What Vancouver did was first try a AAA route downtown. It was hugely controversial and hugely popular because what happened was it made so many people discover how great cycling really could be and that the answer lies in infrastructure. So while there rabid crazies ready to kill there were also thousands of new supporters. People from the “interested but concerned” segment of the population mostly. People who had wanted to cycle but hadn’t now started cycling. It was very tough but it set the city in a better direction and gave it confidence in that direction.
                Now eight years after the first one, Vancouver has nine AAA bike routes. Some protected cycle lanes and some neighbouhood greenways with good diversion. Opposition to it has lessened a lot but it’s still around. After all that the political party that was in power when the first one went in has been re-elected twice.
                So, there’s really no benefit to being timid about these things. Make some priorities, make some standards, make some plans, then build.

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              • 9watts January 6, 2018 at 1:11 pm

                That is super fun, Clark, and thank you for reporting on this. One question. Why do you refer to them/are they called AAA? That evokes (at least for me) the American Automobile Association, no friend to cycling you can be sure. I’m sure that is not what you meant to invoke which is why I’m asking.

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              • Clark in Vancouver January 6, 2018 at 8:51 pm

                In cycling infrastructure AAA stands for All Ages and Abilities. (I don’t know where or when the term started.) There are some principals to follow when designing cycling infrastructure.
                http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/improving-our-cycling-network.aspx
                http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/design-guidelines-for-all-ages-and-abilities-cycling-routes.pdf

                BTW, the equivalent of the AAA here will actually come and help you with a flat tire on your bike. https://www.bcaa.com/blog/2017/membership-is-rewarding/fear-no-flat

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              • 9watts January 6, 2018 at 8:55 pm

                “…the AAA here…”

                Oh, you’re in THAT Vancouver. Ha.

                We have one much closer, and so I assumed.

                Well never mind.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 6, 2018 at 9:15 pm

                Yeah… I totally missed that too. Who knew he was all the way up in Washington? I also thought he lived on N Vancouver.

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          • soren January 8, 2018 at 11:58 am

            Actually Vancouver’s bike mode share (trips to work) is higher than Portland’s. ~10% vs 6%.

            http://council.vancouver.ca/20160504/documents/pspc2-presentation.pdf

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      • wsbob January 3, 2018 at 6:56 pm

        Sorry Alex, but if greater numbers of people in Portland than do already, wanted to ride despite the rain and cold and darkness, and motor vehicle traffic, they would. It’s not as though anything approaching a majority, or even a large minority of Portland residents are saying ‘If the city would just build some better bike lanes, I’d be happy to ride my bike in the cold, dark rain instead of driving my nice warm Toyota.’.

        I think there are many factors that enter in to why in some European cities, more people than here, are willing to ride bikes and walk rather than drive or travel in motor vehicles. An ocean and an entire country away, it’s apparently very easy for some people to over-simplify the reasons for this out of desperation for an explanation. In many ways, the U.S. isn’t anything like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo, and it doesn’t seem that many people here in the U.S. really wish for the kind of daily life people have in those cities.

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        • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 7:28 pm

          “…if greater numbers of people … they would.”

          “It’s not as though anything approaching a majority… are saying”

          “I think …
          “…it’s apparently very easy”

          “…it doesn’t seem that many people here in the U.S. really wish for the kind of daily life people have in those cities.”

          A whole lot of speculation right there. How do you know any of this?

          People can’t wish for much less express that wish in a manner we can hear if they have no idea what life in those countries is like/what life could be like here. You are telling us what people are not wishing for, but without a shred of evidence. I have lived in Europe and been to many cities I’ve not lived in, and as a resident of this country I will say that most people I know here are in one way or another resigned to the fact that we in the US simply don’t have the will or the leadership or the priorities to actually pursue much less accomplish what those other countries have. It is disheartening and defeatist but I would never conclude as you have that there is no interest, no demand for something better. Or that the something better would not be embraced.

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        • El Biciclero January 5, 2018 at 1:19 pm

          You make a similar point often: not enough people want it, so we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do it. I think it was Steve Jobs who had the general philosophy that “people don’t know what they want until we give it to them”. Similarly, people go around believing they have some kind of freedom of choice, but really, we can only choose from among the choices presented—how can one choose something that isn’t on the menu? It is in the best interest of automakers, et al. To limit transportation choices to something like 1. Drive an awesome car on smooth, wide roads like a cool, normal person—and park for free when you get there, 2. Spend hours on second-rate, unreliable, dirty transit like a poor loser, or 3. Use some other “alternative”, like a weird hippie—and don’t be surprised when your preferred routes are impassible, your life is threatened regularly, and nobody does anything about it.

          What if the choices were re-framed (marketed) as 1. Use convenient, clean, and affordable transit like an intelligent, community-minded person, 2. Walk or ride a bike along direct, quiet, safe routes like a fit, self-reliant, yet in-touch citizen or 3. Waste time and money sitting isolated in traffic on dirty, potholed “free”ways in your vastly over-priced SUV, so you can get to your job, pay exorbitant parking fees, and work for a couple hours each day just to make the payments on your depreciating “asset” like a fiscally irresponsible resource hog—not to mention taking the chance you’ll do something dumb in your distracted stupor and get a guaranteed hefty fine or have your depreciating asset confiscated.

          What would people want then?

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          • Matt S. January 5, 2018 at 1:52 pm

            People know they get one body in this life, yet many treat theirs very poorly. Humans are funny creatures like that.

            I imagine many would still choose option three, unfortunately…

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    • Paul Johnson January 4, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      MSP and Montréal would like to sing you the song of their people.

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  • rick January 3, 2018 at 11:23 am

    Pour it on the city and county leaders !

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  • rick January 3, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Blame it on the metal-studded car tire damage. Band-aids.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 11:37 am

      I blame Amanda Fritz.

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      • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 11:41 am

        Maybe it’s the movies, maybe it’s the books
        Maybe it’s the bullets, maybe it’s the real crooks
        Maybe it’s the drugs, maybe it’s the parents
        Maybe it’s the colors everybody’s wearin
        Maybe it’s the President, maybe it’s the last one
        Maybe it’s the one before that, what he done
        Maybe it’s the high schools, maybe it’s the teachers
        Maybe it’s the tattooed children in the bleachers
        Maybe it’s the Bible, maybe it’s the lack
        Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the crack
        Maybe it’s the hairdos, maybe it’s the TV
        Maybe it’s the cigarettes, maybe it’s the family
        Maybe it’s the fast food, maybe it’s the news
        Maybe it’s divorce, maybe it’s abuse
        Maybe it’s the lawyers, maybe it’s the prisons
        Maybe it’s the Senators, maybe it’s the system
        Maybe it’s the fathers, maybe it’s the sons
        Maybe it’s the sisters, maybe it’s the moms
        Maybe it’s the radio, maybe it’s road rage
        Maybe El Nino, or UV rays
        Maybe it’s the army, maybe it’s the liquor
        Maybe it’s the papers, maybe the militia
        Maybe it’s the athletes, maybe it’s the ads
        Maybe it’s the sports fans, maybe it’s a fad
        Maybe it’s the magazines, maybe it’s the internet
        Maybe it’s the lottery, maybe it’s the immigrants
        Maybe it’s taxes, big business
        Maybe it’s the KKK and the skinheads
        Maybe it’s the communists, maybe it’s the Catholics
        Maybe it’s the hippies, maybe it’s the addicts
        Maybe it’s the art, maybe it’s the sex
        Maybe it’s the homeless, maybe it’s the banks
        Maybe it’s the clearcut, maybe it’s the ozone
        Maybe it’s the chemicals, maybe it’s the car phones
        Maybe it’s the fertilizer, maybe it’s the nose rings
        Maybe it’s the end, but I know one thing.
        If it were up to me, I’d take away the guns.

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      • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 11:45 am

        Do you think she, the PBA, and Marcie Houle have a monthly brunch meeting at that weird Mercedes showroom in downtown Portland to plot how to further stymie biking in Portland?

        https://www.mercedesbenzportland.com/

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      • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 12:05 pm

        I blame Portland’s culture of self-congratulation, an insistence on doing things “the Portland way” (read: free from “outside influence”), and defensiveness in the face of constructive criticism. You see this not just in bikes but in all forms of city government: reactionary policies intended to help people yet that ignore conventional wisdom and as a result actually hurt the people intending to help. Housing is a huge sufferer from this culture too: the disastrous renter relocation fee that actually resulted in higher rents, and the Mayor’s insistence on (and Eudaly’s approval of) paying for $350K “affordable” units. The complete lack of foresight in any city policies is mind-boggling.

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        • Jeff January 3, 2018 at 1:54 pm

          I’d be homeless right now if it wasn’t for the renters assistance and I’m not alone.

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          • soren January 3, 2018 at 5:06 pm

            Hi Jeff, The relocation assistance fee ordinance is up for renewal in February and we need the testimony of people who have been helped by this law. At pdxtu.org you can find info on how to help us get this law extended and strengthened.

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        • soren January 3, 2018 at 5:01 pm

          “the disastrous renter relocation fee that actually resulted in higher rents”

          citation?

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          • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 10:38 pm

            Funny how you always ask for citations yet you never seem to cite your own personal opinions. How about Eulasy’s own landlord admitting they raised her rent 9.7% because of the relo assistance? Funny how when a commissioner antagonistically introduces uncertainly into a rental market, that landlords react by raising rents while they can before who knows what happens.

            https://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2017/10/12/19386004/chloe-eudalys-landlord-admits-limiting-her-rent-increase-because-of-her-relocation-law

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            • soren January 4, 2018 at 2:59 pm

              it’s spelled eudaly, not eulasy. just curious, clicky, are you male?

              and i note that the only evidence you can provide is that the ordinance **LIMITED** commissioner eudaly’s rent increase?

              the title of your link:

              Chloe Eudaly’s Landlord Admits Limiting Her Rent Increase Because of Her Relocation Law

              not too long ago double digit (50%, 60%, 70%) rent increases were common and now they are rare. imo, the relo assistance ordinance should have a lower rent increase cap and cover all tenants (currently about a fifth are not covered).

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 4, 2018 at 3:16 pm

                The article quoted Eudaly as saying:

                “However, the real issue is with landlords who haven’t historically been raising rents by nearly 10 percent, but are doing it now. It’s reactionary, and it’s exacerbating our rent crisis.”

                That suggests that she, at least, thinks some landlords are increasing rents faster than they otherwise would have in response to the law.

                I generally support the law, but would change my mind if the evidence suggests it is not meeting its goals.

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              • soren January 4, 2018 at 4:26 pm

                In the piece Eudaly also states that the 9.7% increase was lower than her previous increases. The lack of data* is also, IMO, a consequence of long-term and continuing opposition to tenant rights at city hall.

                *in general, the city of portland does not track who rents, where they rent, how many renters live in a unit, and whether those units are habitable or up to code.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 4, 2018 at 11:13 pm

                What’s clear is that the situation is not clear. Some tenants won, and some lost. Whether the overall effect was positive or negative probably depends on who won and lost, and by how much. If Eudaly saved on rent at the expense of people not earning 6 figures, that is not an obvious win.

                We simply don’t have the data to know at this point, and maybe never will.

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  • bikeninja January 3, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Sad but true, This is about more than just bikes. As a civilization we are like an alcoholic on his last bender. The liquor cabinet is empty, our liver is about shot, and we just lost our job, but we are gonna have that last drinking binge before we hit bottom and get some help. We can’t seem to put down the massive stream of fossil fuel energy that is fueling our auto madness. As we near the end of this 100 year binge with out liver about shot ( the environment/climate), and the liquor cabinet empty ( economicaly obtainable oil) we can’t help ourselves but have one last binge. We know it will end badly but we can only hope it ends soon, and we come back to our senses and move on to sane ways to travel the earth.

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  • soren January 3, 2018 at 11:45 am

    It feels like there are fewer people cycling to me. Bridge counts would provide some confirmation of this but the Hawthorne counter has been malfunctioning for many months. However, the mostly working Tilkum counter suggests a drop off in 2017 versus 2016 (switch to weekly and 1/01/2016-12/31/2017):

    http://portland-tilikum-crossing.visio-tools.com/

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 11:48 am

      My perception of declining numbers is the same.

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      • bikeninja January 3, 2018 at 5:52 pm

        Here is a scary thought. Maybe that is all the good people that there are. See the few cyclists, thats it ,everyone else doesn’t give a hoot about the Children, the Future of the Planet or anything else. They will drive until someone prys the steering wheel from their cold fingers, or until the gas runs out, no matter what.

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    • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 11:52 am

      My personal guess is that we’re still just stagnating. The 2016/2017 Tilikum data could be easily attributed to reduced “New bridge-curious” travelers (the bridge only opened in October 2015, remember). Eventually, though, the impact of gentrification in inner Portland will outweigh the influx of disproportionately bike-friendly domestic in-migrants.

      I do think the 7% number from the last ACS or the one two years ago was a fluke, though.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 12:07 pm

        Your thesis is that there are a shrinking number of cyclists in inner Portland?

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        • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 12:12 pm

          No, my thesis is that currently, an influx of disproportionately bikey wealthy in-migrants is counteracting an outflow of disproportionately bikey lower-middle-class, progressive/artsy/whatever longtime Portlanders. But eventually, there won’t be enough working-class longtime Portlanders so it’ll be less-bikey middle-class, upper-middle-class, and upper-class longtime Portlanders that are displaced, and the bikiness of in-migrants will decrease somewhat as you go ever further up the income scale.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 12:19 pm

            I agree with most of that, except for the bit about “bikey”.

            🙂

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          • X January 3, 2018 at 6:11 pm

            My thesis, fresh from the oven, is that the stressed-out mood prevailing on the streets is stomping any marginal improvement in conditions due to infrastructure investments. Result: bike commute share goes sideways, at best.

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          • chris m January 3, 2018 at 9:31 pm

            Median income is up roughly 20% since 2010, this number is way too big to be explained by high earning transplants, so some of the newly better off are surely home grown as well. Overall the region has become a lot richer and has a much tighter labor market so people value their time more. In a tighter labor market people are going to have a lot more incentive to travel further for work since higher wage options are more available, and generally more worth commuting to. I wonder if this is part of the change as well. If all the jobs pay $12 an hour there’s no reason to drive to across town when the closer job will do. When someone is offering you a big raise, driving seems worth it.

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      • Ben January 3, 2018 at 12:14 pm

        I think you’re correct about the Tilikum. Lots of commuters wanted it to work for them, but it puts you so far south of downtown that it’s pretty useless for anyone who doesn’t work at OHSU.

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        • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 12:23 pm

          Yeah, plus the connection to points north is much slower, less scenic, and more stresstful than the path by OMSI, so even using the Tilikum as an occasional entertaining detour is not worth it. And the connection to PSU is low-quality, slow, and indirect (no bike facilities on the transit flyover of Naito), so the Tilikum’s potential for increasing PSU’s bike commute rate was squandered. So many missed opportunities.

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          • q January 3, 2018 at 12:54 pm

            Tilikum is also such a perfect and ironic example of Portland’s tendency to congratulate itself. And I’m not talking just about it’s being overrated.

            It had a huge opening ceremony featuring a huge fireworks display. The display happened in the middle of an air-quality crisis here, when people were being advised to avoid even going outdoors. Fire crews were stretched thin on standby to respond to fires due to dangerously dry conditions. The City’s response was…fireworks?!?

            When people questioned the wisdom of electively blowing up fireworks in the midst of a fire danger/air quality crisis, the City’s response was that people with those concerns may want to avoid attending the show.

            This doesn’t even get into the irony of celebrating a “green” bridge–whose symbiosis with the river and its salmon and wildlife was constantly paraded about by the City–by exploding poisonous materials that land in the water.

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          • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 1:34 pm

            In my opinion, the west side approach to the Tilikum bridge is the best facility in the city. The east side could use some work though, but it does connect nicely to the Clinton bikeway. I’d use the Tilikum more if it wasn’t so damn steep compared to the Hawthorne.

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            • Jeff January 3, 2018 at 2:23 pm

              The grade change on the Tilikum is why I continue to use the Hawthorne (since either would work fine for my route).

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            • Lo January 3, 2018 at 2:35 pm

              Every time I’ve used the west side approach coming from downtown, it’s been horribly awkward – the 90 degree swivel you have to do, if waiting for the light, is awful. There isn’t room for more than one bike to wait facing the bridge, and if you stop in the bike lane, people fly by you on both sides. I much prefer the east side, since there’s actually room to wait

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              • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 10:58 pm

                Yeah I agree that turn onto the bridge could use some more room. However, I find the path under the MAX viaduct, the crossing of SW Sheridan, and the cycle track along SW Moody to be very safe and comfortable. Why this city spies the build more facilities like that is beyond me.

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              • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 10:59 pm

                spies the build => doesn’t build

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    • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 11:57 am

      The Hawthorne counter has been broken for almost a year. I think it was fixed for maybe a week, then broke again. I’ve reported this using the PDX reporter app, however since I still have open items from 2015 (!) I don’t have much hope in getting a response. The perpetually broken Hawthorne counter is a perfect symbol of cycling’s decline in Portland.

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    • James Bikington January 3, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      Don’t forget gentrification. Rich people own more cars, want more luxury, less [temporary] inconvenience or looking “sweaty”, etc…

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 12:25 pm

        Though anecdotal, your stereotype completely contradicts my experience with people in my inner SE neighborhood (and elsewhere).

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        • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 12:34 pm

          Yeah, inner Portland may increase its biking mode share as it gets richer due to only those rich people who like the amenities of inner Portland bothering to pay the prices of inner Portland. I am still sad, though, that some poor folks who used to live in inner Portland and use a bike as a way to live larger within a small income are being pushed to places where it’s much less practical and pleasant to bike a lot and live without a car.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 12:35 pm

            Me too.

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          • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 12:50 pm

            Funny how as the city “get’s richer” as you say, none of the infrastructure seems to improve or get fixed. What is the city doing with all those extra tax revenues, and why as our tax base continues to swell every year is the city constantly making budget cuts?

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            • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 1:01 pm

              The City’s not getting very much extra tax revenue. The main revenue source for the general fund is property tax, and due to Measure 50, property tax generally doesn’t increase with property value. The City is getting some extra revenue from Systems Development Charges for new development, but restrictive State rules on what those funds can be used for plus, in my guess, some bureaucratic bungling, has led to those funds piling up for years.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 1:05 pm

                There’s been lots of new development, assessed at its full value. That has to be generating something meaningful.

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              • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 1:07 pm

                As I pressed “Post” I did think about that point. That is true. But my guess is that most people think at first glance that City revenue would go up in proportion to the total income of all the people in the city, and I’m certain that Portland’s revenue has gone up by much less than that in the past decade.

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              • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 1:31 pm

                Sure, but it has certainly gone up, while our infrastructure has (admittedly anecdotally) been declining. Plus, didn’t the city rule that SDC’s can be used for cycling infrastructure? All I ever seen them used for is to “upgrade” traffic signals from hanging wire to steel masts. I’m willing to give PBOT maybe another year to figure out how to use the increase in revenue from HB2017, although my fear is that due to the fungibility of tax revenue, the “dedicated” bike funding becomes the sole source and all the previous funding sources get directed elsewhere, leading to a actual decline in cycling funding. Although word on the street is that Better Naito will be permanent this year and extended south to Lincoln. We shall see if that materializes. After 2018 if PBOT fails to deliver, they will officially be out of excuses.

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              • David Hampsten January 3, 2018 at 2:40 pm

                PBOT doesn’t get much property tax revenue anyway, ever. Most of its revenue is from gas taxes and parking fees. Drive less and PBOT’s revenue falls. On top of everything else, inflation eats into the value of what you get, so revenue has to keep rising faster than inflation. PBOT is a lot like Uber – both are dependent upon non-sustainable business models.

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            • Jeff January 3, 2018 at 2:25 pm

              PERS is one big portion of the answer. The police and firefighter retirement funds as well. The amount of unfunded liability faced in this state is horrifying – and there’s no good fix available. Sooner or later someone is going to need to actually attempt to deal with that crisis – unfortunately no one in state government seems to have the spine to do so.

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      • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 12:32 pm

        Hey, it’s fun to stereotype people who have money, huh?

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    • Paul Johnson January 4, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      Some of us got tired of waiting for Portland to even acknowledge it has problems, and moved away to cities that are willing to dust off what they have from the trash, fix it up, and make it better. So if my bike rolls across the counters again, it’ll probably be with a Tulsa city flag sticker on the fender and a City of Manhattan, Kansas license plate on the plate hanger.

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  • q January 3, 2018 at 11:55 am

    This article’s timing is brilliant, just as I was checking on the status of a land use review for a project I testified about. It was a 77-unit residential project with a total of 17 long-term bike spaces, located in a small room next accessed by a path less than 4′ wide that runs past the garbage room. The project had gone all the way to the point of this final land use review with nobody among the owner, architect, or planning staff realizing and/or seeming to care that this is abysmal (let alone not code-compliant) especially for a project that also has no vehicle parking, is in an area with poor services (no grocery store) and has dwellings so small (micro-units of about 300 sf without even room for full kitchens) that there’s little room for bikes within units.

    I’m sure everyone has similar examples of their own of similar bike-related shortcomings here.

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  • Dan A January 3, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Crazy. Hasn’t he seen our pyramid???

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DF2PkApV0AAHIg5.jpg

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  • maxD January 3, 2018 at 11:58 am

    “It is a car city that squeezed some bike facilities in. Almost reluctantly, it seems.”

    This resonates so much! A very apt and unfortunate description of PBOT. There are so many great individual stretches of bike infrastructure (lanes, greenways, etc) that are not becoming a transportation network because they have dangerous gaps or lack direct, simple and safe connections

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    • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      That really describes most American cities, but the difference in Portland is that we set the bar even lower than that – who needs to squeeze bike infrastructure onto car-centric streets when you can just paint arrows on side streets?

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  • Alex January 3, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    All one needs to do is look at the local “environmentalists” fighting against mountain biking to understand the problem.

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    • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      the problem?

      I think the two have nothing in common but please explain your thinking.

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      • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 12:10 pm

        Having to drive 60 miles to a mountain biking facility rather than riding to one in town seems to go against the values of environmentalism.

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        • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 12:16 pm

          False dichotomy.
          No one HAS to drive to any recreational opportunity. It is a choice.

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          • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 12:43 pm

            Not really. People are going to want to participate in recreational activities, especially in a city like Portland that prides itself on access to nature and what not. If giving people options in town rather than far outside it will result in less driving, then pragmatically it makes sense to do so. The buses are unreliable and don’t go to the places people would mountain bike. Your proposal that people just not go mountain biking is a non-solution and is not practical. If people are driving outside of town to ride bikes, then figure out why and come up with a solution that cuts down on that driving. Solutions need to take into account people’s current behaviors rather than trying to dictate what they do.

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            • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 12:59 pm

              “Your proposal that people just not go mountain biking is a non-solution and is not practical.”

              That was not my proposal. I was simply pushing back against the unimaginative and entitled and I might add rather familiar attitude that posits a right-to-certain-forms-of-recreation, to which I’ve reacted here before.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 1:03 pm

                I absolutely do have a right to my preferred recreation! My efforts to increase coal rolling opportunities in the city have been continuously thwarted by a visionless and spineless city council.

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              • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 1:08 pm

                No one has a right to mountain biking but that doesn’t mean people won’t do it. Isn’t it better to react to what people are actually doing instead of arguing that their expectations are unrealistic? Especially when the solutions are relatively easy and there’s already a team of volunteers ready to do the work?

                I personally would like to see our society become less car-centric, so I believe that if people are driving somewhere then we should be looking into why they feel the need to drive and implement solutions that give them alternatives to driving.

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              • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 1:13 pm

                “I personally would like to see our society become less car-centric, so I believe that if people are driving somewhere then we should be looking into why they feel the need to drive and implement solutions that give them alternatives to driving.”

                Yes. I agree.

                “No one has a right to mountain biking but that doesn’t mean people won’t do it.”

                Above we weren’t I don’t think arguing about whether people will mountain bike, but whether using the argument they’ll do it anyway, and by car if necessary to strong arm city fathers into giving us our recreation locally was a valid argument. That to me is the definition of entitlement and when we are talking recreation (as opposed to transportation) I reject it categorically.

                “Isn’t it better to react to what people are actually doing instead of arguing that their expectations are unrealistic?”

                I guess we disagree about that.

                “Especially when the solutions are relatively easy and there’s already a team of volunteers ready to do the work?”

                I think having mountain biking options close in would be great and should be pursued; the obstructionists pilloried and the work should commence. But that to me is different than what I reacted to above: If you don’t then we’ll be forced to drive

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          • Dan A January 3, 2018 at 12:43 pm

            Portland doesn’t have to be a bike city either. But if it wants to be one, it needs to have local off-road biking.

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            • Matt S. January 3, 2018 at 4:29 pm

              Do you think people will actually ride their mountain bikes to access points if Forest Park becomes accessible? Thurman? — maybe? Highway 30 — probably not. I do a 20 mile loop on my cross bike from NE Portland to Saltzman via Willamette then east on Lief. I do it on my mtb sometimes. If I was planning on riding a trail network similar to Phil’s Trail system in Bend, I’d probably drive. The recreational mtber has a limit on how far they’ll ride to the trail head and I believe the proposed access points will be out of that range. We’ll have to have metered parking at the TH’s because there’ll be so many cars…

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 4:41 pm

                This is exactly true. The drive will be shorter, but the vision of everyone riding to the trails is pure fancy. If I am wrong, let’s not have parking at the trailheads.

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              • Matt S. January 3, 2018 at 10:18 pm

                But, by takin away parking — doesn’t that negate equitable access for the hypothetical family of four traveling from Gresham?

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              • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 11:06 pm

                It’s not unreasonable to ask the city to build cycling facilities leading to Forest Park if MTB trails get built. Also, MAX isn’t too far and all TriMet buses can fit bikes. It’s a lot easier to convince someone to take their mountain bike on the bus/train for a few miles rather than all the way to Mt Hood or whatever other location outside the city. Even if they drive, it’s still less miles and therefore less impact. Same goes for if some people ride or bus and some drive. I really don’t see any downside to adding mountain bike facilities to Forest Park.

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              • Alex January 4, 2018 at 10:06 am

                I would! I can’t speak for others, but I suppose it all depends on where you live. Hopefully there would be more access on the east side so people could just ride there. Also, I have ridden to phil’s from bend. It will not be a silver bullet, but it will cut down on car traffic.

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            • Dan A January 3, 2018 at 7:54 pm

              Did my post say that everyone would start riding to the trailheads if they were 5 miles away instead of 50? Who are you responding to?

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              • Matt S. January 3, 2018 at 10:13 pm

                I thought you were insinuating that local mtb access would decrease the need to drive to trailheads.

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              • Dan A January 4, 2018 at 6:27 am

                Sure it would. More people would ride to where they ride, but obviously not everybody. And it would reduce the length of the trip (surely driving 10 miles is better than driving 100). And it would encourage more riding from kids. I rarely take my boys mountain biking, because it’s 2 hours in the car for a 1-hour ride on the trail, and it’s not worth it to them.

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              • GlowBoy January 4, 2018 at 8:38 am

                OK, this discussion has gotten way too all-or-nothing. Of course plenty of people would ride to MTB trailheads if there were MTBing in town. No, a majority might still drive. But (let’s say) 60% is not 100%. Rather than eliminating parking (which, again, would be a result of binary thinking) to keep people from driving there, charge a couple dollars for parking.

                And by the way, here in Minneapolis lots of people ride to MTB trailheads. Because we have lots of mountain biking in town. No, not everyone. Plenty of people still drive. But many don’t.
                Question answered, and the answer is not binary.

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              • 9watts January 4, 2018 at 8:40 am

                Fascinating discussion – about driving to bike.

                Here, it seems, it is ok to make fun of people driving to the gym, but not of people driving to the trails with their bike on a rack.

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              • Dan A January 4, 2018 at 10:37 am

                If there was mountain biking in FP, I would not ride on Cornell, Skyline, or Thompson with my 9-year-old to get there. Go ahead and make fun of me.

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              • Matt S. January 4, 2018 at 11:03 am

                I’m not going to make fun of you, you’re sensible Dan A. I think the majority of people who would choose to drive are also sensible people. There’s tens of thousands of people who mountain bike in Portland, but I imagine only a small fraction will actually ride to ride. These people are the individuals employed in the cycling industry: mechanics, sales rep, wheel builders, Chris King, etc. Sure, this is a generalized statement but the reason I hammer on the idea that people won’t ride to ride is the argument is often sold as this saving grace. That if we have local access, all of a sudden everyone will abandon their cars and no longer drive outside the city to recreate. Alas, we’ll be even a greener bike city!

                I think local access will do nothing but increase our collective ecological footprint.

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              • Alex January 5, 2018 at 4:19 pm

                It wouldn’t. We are already using it as recreational space. Thinking it would have much of an impact either way is kind of ignorance, tbh.

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          • Matt January 3, 2018 at 5:53 pm

            So is riding a bike on a city street if we are honest with ourselves. Nobody in this town has to ride a bike when you can walk, take transit, or (gasp) drive. Off-road riding, like any recreational opportunity, is just one more facet that makes a place attractive to live and visit. Denver, Salt Lake, Vancouver BC, Richmond, Chattanooga all have trail systems easily accessible without a car and those are just the towns that jump to mind. Why they get it and we don’t is just one more reason why it is a stretch to call Portland “bike friendly”.

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            • Matt S. January 3, 2018 at 10:38 pm

              Denver and Salt Lake have also built industries around attracting elite athletes to train at altitude. Their local outdoor athletic scene is very different than Portland’s.

              Maybe if we build access to FP, they will come.

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              • Dan A January 4, 2018 at 8:46 am

                Queens NY has more singletrack than Portland.

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              • Alex January 4, 2018 at 10:09 am

                Yea – Portland hasn’t done that at all. I will be sure to let Adidas and Nike know.

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              • Matt S. January 4, 2018 at 10:31 am

                Name one ultra marathoner or pro mountain biker sponsored by Adidas or Nike?

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              • q January 4, 2018 at 11:26 am

                Actually, powerful as Nike and Adidas are, neither has been able to bring any distance runners to Portland to train at altitude, either. It’s hard to build a high-altitude training industry in a sea-level city.

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              • Alex January 4, 2018 at 12:33 pm

                You are naming specific sports – and while none may mountain bikers as their dominant sport or running for that matter – that doesn’t mean they don’t mountain bike. Any athlete of any caliber I know does multiple sports.

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              • Matt S. January 4, 2018 at 12:42 pm

                Great, answered a question by googling the answers. Still, they don’t live or train in Portland. Maybe they would if training was more accessible locally. These are the folks I’d expect to ride 10 miles on their mtb to the trailhead, then ride an additional 30-40 on the trail network. One of the sponsored athletes lives in Flagstaff which is at altitude and probably runs 50 miles from his doorstep. Although, to make a point— you can do that here on Wildwood in Forest Park. Maybe that’s the key, switch from biking to running to get your trail fix…

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              • Alex January 4, 2018 at 12:48 pm

                Well, I have done ultra-endurance mountain bike events and have trained in Forest Park for them. The rate of elevation gain on the fire lanes is significant – it’s just not a real alternative to mountain biking. Also, I don’t need to be a pro-level ultra-endurance athlete to benefit from mountain biking or trail running in FP.

                Also, thanks for telling me how I should exercise so I can get around the bs politics in this city. It’s condescending at best and being an outright jerk at worst. Wish there could be more of you.

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              • Dan A January 4, 2018 at 1:35 pm

                Ask a silly question…

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              • Matt January 6, 2018 at 2:01 pm

                Oops, I accidentally “liked” your post before realizing you were being condescending. Maybe if we built access to FP we would see more kids enjoying the health benefits of bicycling instead of playing video games because their parents are justifiably too scared to let them play on the road. But that’s ok, they will never be world class athletes so why bother.

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            • Alex January 6, 2018 at 6:12 pm

              Ha – yea – they will never be world class athletes, so why bother? Because exercising and being healthy is only for world class athletes. Also, since I have started spending more time in the woods mountain biking, my tendency to approach things with conservation in mind has increased by magnitudes.

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              • Matt S. January 6, 2018 at 7:19 pm

                All I was saying is that places like Denver and Salt Lake have vibrant outdoor scenes, partly because of the topography. Portland does too, but you have to drive to it. Granting access to Forest Park for mountain bikers would be awesome, but it doesn’t compare to the other cities mentioned in previous threads. Forest Park is amazing for hikers and runners, and would be fine for mtbers considering the other options just an hour or two away… Albeit, FP would be perfect for some who didn’t want to drive super far or wanted to knock out an after work ride to keep in shape.

                Also, I’m thinking about our city council and wondering if they use our trail systems in any manner. I know Mayor Wheeler is an active guy, but I don’t know about the rest of the commissioners.

                Then I wonder about places like Denver, Salt Lake, Durango, Moab — they may have several members in government that are active on the trails. I imagine they are advocates who push for the community to have diverse local access to the trailheads (hiking, running, mtbing, climbing, etc.).

                I wasn’t trying to be condescending earlier in my posts. I was trying to connect how vibrant outdoor scenes have vibrant local trail access. Then I proposed, does Portland have either?

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              • 9watts January 6, 2018 at 7:25 pm

                “but you have to drive to it.”

                Do we really have to parrot these silly misconceptions, these fossil fuel drenched entitlements?
                No.one.has.to.drive.to.these.places.
                It is perfectly OK to spend one’s time in other pursuits if the distance or difficulty of getting there without a car makes it out of reach. Let’s remember we’re not talking about someone who’s been priced out of a transit connected apartment near her job, and now has to commute to her job 20 miles across the metro area from and to a place that isn’t served by transit, we’re talking about recreation!

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              • Matt S. January 6, 2018 at 7:34 pm

                They’re not entitlements if you have to pay for it. It can be quite expensive to spend a weekend in Bend or Oakridge. However, carpooling cuts down on the costs.

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              • 9watts January 6, 2018 at 7:43 pm

                “They’re not entitlements”
                The way I was using the term – entitlement – was to suggest that people feel they deserve/are owed/are entitled to certain kinds of access, certain flavors of entertainment; and when those are not provided in the manner these people feel they are entitled to be then threats are made, threats such as ‘well then I’ll be forced to drive.’
                Does that make sense? Isn’t that a proper use of the term?

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              • Matt S. January 6, 2018 at 8:03 pm

                I never said anything about forcing some to drive to recreate. I don’t know about you, but no one forces me to leave the city to go mountain biking. I feel lucky that the outdoors are so accessible from Portland.

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              • 9watts January 6, 2018 at 8:08 pm

                “but you have to drive to it.” = your words.

                Did I misunderstand something?

                When I read that I think someone is complaining that things are not lining up as they should, something is amiss, and so to make everything right again they are forced to drive. The implication being that someone else is to blame for this driving.

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              • Matt S. January 6, 2018 at 8:15 pm

                I don’t think I came off as complaining. Actually, I have no problem with they way things are currently setup and feel very privileged to live in Oregon, specifically Portland.

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              • 9watts January 6, 2018 at 8:21 pm

                I don’t know if you, specifically, were complaining or intended to come across that way, and I am happy to take your word for it that you were not. My point was not specific to you at all, but since you used that phrase I’m hung up on I thought it worth pointing out that it can reasonably be interpreted the way I have.

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              • Alex January 7, 2018 at 9:01 am

                This back and forth is a great example of why Portland is completely overrated as a bike city. Thanks for proving my point!

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        • I wear many hats January 4, 2018 at 8:20 am

          Ride in town, its great, fun, exciting, and you get to see nature. Ride to where you ride!

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      • Alex January 3, 2018 at 2:10 pm

        Sure – I believe that cycling doesn’t do environmental damage (at the very least, in the context of the city) and that the conservationists/birders/hikers are willing to sacrifice the environment for their desire to have their own private city to hike in. This has a second impact of decreasing the rate of adoption of cycling as both a recreational activity and as transportation activity.

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        • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 2:41 pm

          “the conservationists/birders/hikers are willing to sacrifice the environment ”

          so many labels.

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          • Alex January 4, 2018 at 10:10 am

            I was using what the groups self-identify as.

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        • Matt S. January 4, 2018 at 12:47 pm

          I think this group of users would voluntarily shutoff their own access to keep mtbers out of FP. Meaning, they’d rather see no one use it than share.

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        • Alex January 4, 2018 at 12:54 pm

          I agree – they are extremely aggressive and illogical.

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    • Alex January 3, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      I also think it is highly representative of our NIMBY culture, which can also be seen the rest of the bike access and consistently putting them at the bottom of the food chain – below both walking and cars.

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  • Tim January 3, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    I agree that Portland is overrated as a bike friendly place. Portland’s self view and reputation appear to be based on limited comparisons to to far away places like Beaverton, Gresham and Vancouver (the one in Washington). It is not just the infrastructure, it is the attitude of the cyclists and drivers. In European cities, all kinds of people travel by bike in all kinds of weather and often without any cycling specific infrastructure. I think this is the comparison that Colville-Anderson is making.

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  • Lazy Spinner January 3, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    He’s right. Both the local governments and bike riders are to blame.

    First, the local BOTs and parks departments keep trying to placate the bike interests, business concerns, and transportation industries by throwing a few bones to each in hopes of keeping them quiet for a little while. Claim “VICTORY!!!”, then rinse and repeat. I chuckle every time two blocks of paint or a half mile of MUP in a suburban park gets approved and BTA/Street Trust goes nuts heralding this “major shift in thinking for alternative transportation that we fought for!”. Meanwhile, several commuters get clipped, right hooked, or worse on a daily basis because nothing really changed.

    Riders are to blame also. We are too easily satisfied with these infrastructure crumbs, slightly lowered neighborhood speed limits, or candidates that promise bikey things while posing on a bike only to cave to trucking companies and developers once in office. This is where BikePortland and advocacy groups really need to be tougher, IMHO. Hold electeds and bureaucrats accountable rather than celebrating their impotent “cred”. Critically examine infrastructure proposals and projects with an eye towards the true effectiveness of it. Does it create a better environment for thousands of daily commuters and create more commuters? Or is it simply millions spent for a handful of families to lazily pedal cruisers for a mile or so on a warm summer day…in Wilsonville? Does Sunday Parkways really get folks on bikes or is it merely a feel good event involving bikes?

    I am of the opinion that the city/counties/Metro have failed to build a true network of bike “freeways” and safe routes that make cycling a viable and attractive alternative to auto use in all weather. They have also failed to protect what assets have been built like the Springwater Corridor to keep it user friendly. Based on personal experience, it is easier to ride around NYC or DC (including the ‘burbs) than the Portland area these days. Portland has lost its mojo but, we riders also have to stop living in the past while conditions stagnate and others pass us by. Demand better!

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  • glennfee January 3, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    Alex Reedin
    I dunno, the proof of usefulness for me is in people actually using it. For mode share to employment (admittedly an imperfect measure, but the only one with comparable data that I’m aware of), Denver metro area, ~6%. Portland metro area, ~8%. Both pretty steady for the past decade. Perhaps Denver’s will improve with more time for people to change their habits, move based on transit preferences and destinations, and transit-oriented development given the large rail expansion in the past decade. However, I’m not all that optimistic. With rail networks as spindly as Portland and Denver’s, the number of people with origins and destinations within reach of rail is always going to be low. My guess is that both cities would need a fast, frequent, not-stuck-in-traffic, ubiquitous bus network in order to really grow their transit mode shares.Recommended 0

    Fair assessment. Bus Rapid Transit, with dedicated lanes, needs to be a significant part of our transportation future.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 12:57 pm

      Only if people want to ride it.

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    • Paul Johnson January 4, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      We used to have this, too! Remember the 91X Forest Grove Express, which ran with packed articulated buses running every 15 minutes from Forest Grove to Downtown Portland, making only six stops west of Sylvan? How about the 57 Forest Grove, running the same packed articulated buses once every 7 minutes all day and half that during rush hour peak direction, on a route people live and work on? They should have kept that when they opened the Blue Line. How about the 12 Tualatin/PDX line? It ran articulated buses from nearly Newberg to Portland International Airport on a similar frequency to the 57 line. I’m sure the eastside had better service even then, but the closure of the heavy hitting crosstown articulated bus lines did more to wreck a barebones but actually livable transit system on the westside than opening a Blue Line through nothing ever made up for.

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  • JeffS January 3, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    The peak of bike popularity was a decade ago. Most of those original riders have bought cars and moved. Any attempt to spin that into a criticism of gentrification, the economy, city policy or whatever else is only part of the story.

    In my mind, the downfall of Portland cycling was/is the idea that cyclists need facilities. The result is:
    – fearful riders
    – angry motorists
    – spending and planning rife with redundancy
    ** – I might also propose that the facilities we built could have made cycling more dangerous. Obviously we can’t know what the statistics would have been without the facilities, but the fact that most every cyclist dies in a bike lane should at least be raising concerns.

    All riders develop preferred routes over time, but the more unwilling you are to venture off of a bike route, the more complicated every trip gets. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to consult a computer for directions to visit a new location. For example, say it’s 4200 SE Division… somewhere most anyone could find on their own.

    I suspect some would use this as a call for more facilities. How much easier would the trip be for most though if we could simply ride with traffic on Division or Chavez?

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    • Clicky Freewheel January 3, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      That’s the whole point. Bike boulevards hardly count as bike facilities in the first place, and are confusing zigzagging routes that rely mostly on paint and good driver behavior. If Portland was serious about cycling, then there would be quality facilities on the same roads that cars and buses get to use – they’re busy streets for a reason as they’re the most direct and have most of the businesses people want to visit. Not creating space for cycling on these streets relegates cyclists to a lower class, as we’re effectively banned from the “main” streets.

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      • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 1:17 pm

        But Clicky, JeffS thinks that if Portlanders would just man up, huge numbers of people (well, men, in this testosterone-laden view), would find it perfectly comfortable and pleasant to mix with traffic on high-speed arterials with no bike infrastructure with their toddlers and groceries. How could you possibly disagree?

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    • Spiffy January 3, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      “The peak of bike popularity was a decade ago.”

      I thought the peak was in the 70’s… but as a constantly repopulating planet the peak is all the time…

      the demand for bicycles will only grow more in cities as we become too dense to allow large inefficient vehicles…

      history easily provides a glimpse of this future… we’re a new country, built on free will with unlimited resources… we can resist only so long before the inevitable catches up and we’re forcing more restrictions on transportation in order to maintain a working society… those stuck with the “good old days” thinking are hindering the progress of those thinking ahead…

      bikes have not yet peaked here in the US…

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  • Mike Sanders January 3, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    The bike boulevards are designed away from the car-centric streets for a good reason: safety. True, the system needs improvements. But calling them face palm-worthy is not exactly accurate. He does have a point about bike lanes across intersections, though. One of our problems are the NIMBYs who claim that we can’t have MAX or streetcar lines, insisting that freeways must be considered to be the only viable option on the argument that car-centric cities must always be so. Some say that driverless cars will make MAX/streetcar service obsolete in a few years. If the NIMBYs were to take off their goggles and look at what we have and what’s really possible, we actually might get things done. City government’s go slow at all times policy instead of a let’s do it aggressiveness doesn’t help.

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    • q January 3, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      I’ don’t think “NIMBYs” are the reason there’s not more MAX or streetcar service. The number of people living along those lines is a tiny percentage of the population–not enough to kill projects that had more general support.

      The overwhelming number of people who oppose them are not “NIMBYs”, and they do not oppose them for “NIMBY” reasons, but rather for reasons such as believing that other options (and not just freeways) are more cost effective and flexible.

      And if someone really did say, live next to where a light rail line was proposed, I’d have some sympathy for their concerns about noise, privacy, livability, etc. Calling them NIMBYs isn’t productive.

      And many people who oppose MAX and/or streetcar expansions absolutely do NOT believe that “freeways must be considered to be the only viable option…”. The region could do just about everything on anyone’s wish list for cycling infrastructure (maybe even adding huge improvements to bus service for that matter) for a fraction of the cost of a new MAX line.

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    • maxD January 3, 2018 at 1:51 pm

      Mike, the bike boulevards are facepalm-worthy because they lack safe, direct connections to destinations and other pieces of bike infrastructure. Many of our greenways are disconnected and isolated and devolve into a contorted maze when a simple connection is needed.

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  • Christopher January 3, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Didn’t you hear? All trails in Portland are now open to bikes. Go ride! Be polite. Smile.

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    • I wear many hats January 4, 2018 at 8:30 am

      Keep riding, we are harder to ignore if we actually use the trails that are in town.

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  • HJ January 3, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    I’ve been saying this for years. One only needs to look as far as our laws to see it. Safe passing law only applies at above 35mph. Wtf? Almost defeats the purpose. If that doesn’t convince a person we’re overrated take a peek at the west hills. For as much complaining as I’m always hearing about Eastside honestly it’s pretty good and mellow to ride in. When your life dictates that most of your riding is in the west hills, well, let’s just say neither good nor mellow are words that come to mind. And that’s despite literally decades of us flat out begging for even the smallest improvements.

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  • mikeybikey January 3, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Mikael’s critique is a broad summary of what my spouse and I often say about biking here, especially his disdain for our bread and butter – the bicycle boulevards/neighborhood greenways. I know he was just visiting and may not have seen the big picture but we have lived w/o owning a car in Portland for more than a decade, clocking thousands of miles every year commuting, doing pre-k runs, running
    errands and generally using a bike as transport for all the daily needs you would expect of a family with two working parents and I can’t think of a more honest or accurate assement of the city’s biking environment. The proof is out there in the form
    of all of our friends, neighbors, family and colleagues that seldom if ever hop on a bike for a grocery trip, doctor visit or school run. And why would they? Most of the comfortable infrastructure does not directly serve these destinations. Its easier and faster in most cases to drive. Some people are faulting him for saying that a few cold/icy days during the holiday season are not a good representation but I disagree, even in the middle of summer if it is outside of the am/pm commute times many of the bikeways are basically ghost towns and you can spend practically an hour on popular commercial streets and see only a handful of people on bikes.

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    • 9watts January 3, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      I’m inclined to agree with almost everything you said above, but

      “The proof is out there in the form of all of our friends, neighbors, family and colleagues that seldom if ever hop on a bike for a grocery trip, doctor visit or school run.”

      I’m not sure all of that can be laid at the feet of PBOT. As Roger Geller once famously put it: “It is still too easy to drive in this town.” This is the US, where gas has been kept artificially cheap for more than a century. I’m not convinced that prioritizing bike infrastructure like some of us would like would accomplish what you see lacking.

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      • chris m January 3, 2018 at 3:08 pm

        Yeah I used to think my dad was crazy for saying gas should be $10 a gallon, but seeing as the externalities are probably at least double the sticker price for oil/gas, we ought to be paying in the range of $7-8 per gallon so he was closer to the mark than the market.

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      • Matt Pennington January 3, 2018 at 3:18 pm

        And when we start switching to electric vehicles and the price per mile drops even more what will be the excuse be? The majority just don’t want to bike.

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  • Mick O January 3, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Evan Manvel
    Overall, he gets a small sample of the city during the worst biking weather of the year, and casts large judgments based on it. That’s simply arrogance.

    Would you feel differently if his comments were a result of a series of visits and not just one single visit? (Because they are a result of more than one visit)

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  • Brent January 3, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    For what it’s worth, I have two running theories about what’s happened:
    1. The Commissioners and Mayor feel like they are spending all their political and actual capital on housing and density issues. They feel like they can’t rock the boat even more by sticking out their necks on big biking infrastructure changes. And they feel like they don’t have the extra money to fund it anyway.
    2. Partly because of #1 but also due to a general lack of big-picture thinking and foresight, recent biking “improvements” have been rather lackluster and fail to illicit anything more than a temporary jump in biking. I think of the lost opportunities in the Tilikum bridge connections, the giant mess of competing transportation modes at the Clinton and 11th intersection that was never properly addressed, and the glacial pace of adding diverters to protect the greenways.

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    • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      I disagree; I don’t think that a single one of our current commissioners cares deeply about improving non-car modes of transportation, deeply enough to really consider making driving less convenient as a necessary cost in order to improve other modes of transportation. I think Eudaly really gets it, but all of her deep caring is currently, perfectly justifiably, wrapped up in the housing crisis. Everybody else ranges from actively opposed (Fritz) to “meh” (Fish, Saltzman) to “I’ll say whatever you want to hear as long as it involves no political or financial cost” (Wheeler).

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 3:52 pm

        What makes you think Eudaly “gets it”? Her issue is housing; transportation was something others projected onto her.

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      • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 4:10 pm

        Her heartfelt, thoughtful
        writing here: https ://bikeportland.org/2016/05/20/comment-of-the-week-candidate-eudaly-on-her-transportation-background-183976

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 4:16 pm

          I hope you’re right; the evidence is lacking so far.

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          • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 4:29 pm

            Agreed… but assume she DOES get it. What’s the point of her doing anything to push non-car transportation when the rest of Council is Wheeler, Saltzman, Fish, and Fritz?

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 4:39 pm

              With a modest proposal and a compelling vision, there’s no reason to think a champion couldn’t prevail.

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              • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 4:52 pm

                Yes, there is a reason a single champion couldn’t prevail on the current Council. No one else on Council has the life experience to understand why using a car less is appealing, practical, and fiscally sound for a large portion of the population if the City makes the investment to make it comfortable and convenient. Everyone else on Council lives in the West Hills and drives just about everywhere, all the time, and is enmeshed in social circles with the same transportation habits. There is no compelling vision that could be presented for them. In order for non-car transportation modes to get prioritized, two of those four need to be replaced by potential “Yes” votes.

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              • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 4:58 pm

                Sorry, the above comment was overly bombastic and stereotype-filled, and I actually have no knowledge about the social or transportation habits of Council members. I still think everyone except Eudaly is a lost cause based on what I’ve seen and heard.

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              • X January 3, 2018 at 7:03 pm

                look up “modest proposal”

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty January 3, 2018 at 7:47 pm

                Another reader of Mr. Swift?

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      • Brent January 3, 2018 at 4:10 pm

        I didn’t say they care about improving infrastructure. I agree that none of the current crop of local politicians has the drive to advance this issue alone. I think the mayor and commissioners are all generally playing a defensive political game right now. They feel forced to react to current housing crisis. The harsh reaction to their “solutions” is almost as bad as the criticism they received by not doing anything. Therefore, they feel like they have to keep their heads down on other issues.

        A politician that has their own drive to tackle biking issues is rare. Portland has been blessed to have several of them over the years. But we haven’t had one since Sam Adams. However, politicians are usually quick to react to shifting political winds. If they feel like there is a strong push from the people to do something, they can usually figure out a way to react to it. (example: the housing crisis) (caveat: I’m not saying they will react well)

        In summary, I believe there is hope for revitalizing this issue in city hall if the grassroots can increase the political wind to give the current crop of politicians some incentive and cover to act.

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        • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 4:38 pm

          I mostly agree with what you’re saying. I’m just a little pessimistic about the chances of real progress without any dedicated advocates on Council, even if there is a grassroots groundswell. I subscribe to the “selfish voter” theory of transportation politics – people mostly vote/advocate to fund the modes of transportation that they currently use, with only some shifts due to foresight or ideology. The best recent example I can think of for big moves forward for non-car transportation is Seattle, which has a far higher transit mode share than Portland (Portland’s higher bike mode share is offset by Seattle’s higher walking mode share).

          I guess the counterexample is LA, which has similar non-car mode shares to Portland, if not a little worse. But I’d argue that LA is the exception. I think that LA’s air and urban environment just got to the breaking point, making the horribleness, pointlessness, and wastefulness of dedicating ever more space, priority, and money to car transportation obvious to a large portion of the population. I hope Portland doesn’t have to go there to change, but I also don’t see a different viable political path other than electing another Vera Katz or Earl Blumenauer.

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          • Alex Reedin January 3, 2018 at 4:39 pm

            (Background: Both Seattle and LA passed huge funding measures for transit, biking, and walking infrastructure recently).

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          • soren January 3, 2018 at 4:59 pm

            moves to the left were associated with copenhagen and amsterdam’s re-prioritization of active transportation in the 80s.

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  • J_R January 3, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    ” Sooner or later someone is going to need to actually attempt to deal with that crisis – unfortunately no one in state government seems to have the spine to do so.”

    Actually, the state legislature has been attempting to deal with that crisis for about twenty years. The greatest retirement benefits of public employees accrued to employees hired before 1996. The retirement benefits were scaled back substantially again for employees hired in 2003 and once again a few years later.

    I was a PERS employee early in my career but went to the private sector where I made much more money. Don’t worry, I’m not getting a monthly check from PERS, but I can’t let the comment about not dealing with the problem go unchallenged.

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    • J_R January 3, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      Response was intended to Jeff’s complaint about PERS several posts up.

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  • Joe Fortino January 3, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    still love you Portland even coming from CA and LV together we can make it better.
    yes I have had hard times in Portland riding but love the culture 🙂

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  • Joe Fortino January 3, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    no place is perfect but I feel bike lifestyle has culture if you let it shine.. not everyone is going to get along.. sooo much diversity

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  • Jim January 3, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Yes, yes, yes and yes. I found myself physically applauding as I read the article. I don’t know of the author, some people seem to dislike him, but what he says is spot on. I used to be protective of our city cycling system, but now I freely admit that it is garbage.

    Our city government is not really trying. I understand that, they don’t want to anger people and risk their careers. But to pretend that we are a good cycling city, and that we are getting better, is insulting. And it is not because there is some magic to Amstersdam, Copenhagen, Minneapolis, London Walthamstow etc. There were fights in those places, there were choices made. We could copy and learn from all those progressions, but our city government chooses not to do much.

    I am another of these annoying people who seem more and more common, who talk about the biking ten years ago, about how all our friends now drive everywhere, about how we can barely afford it here and would like to move away. There are so many of us that it is boring. Maybe we can be the characters on a new season of Portlandia.

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    • GlowBoy January 4, 2018 at 9:03 am

      You’re right that other cities are making different choices. That said, as long as gas remains cheap and we glorify driving I’m not sure other (North American, at least) cities won’t end up plateauing at the same level as Portland.

      Minneapolis has made great strides since I’ve lived here, with a bunch of awesome new protected (and snowplowed/deiced) bike lanes. But unlike conventional 5-7′ wide bike lanes, these have genuinely reduced car capacity in places, and some people are freaking out. The bikelash hasn’t reached Portland levels, but it’s definitely been building. We’re not far behind Portland in ridership, but as long as gas stays under $3/gal I think it’s likely we’ll end up at a similar plateau if the political consensus shifts against more bike improvements.

      Neighboring St. Paul, being a bit more traditional, has about half the bike infrastructure of Minneapolis – and about half the ridership. But the City Council there has finally been standing up to the NIMBYs and the nobies, and doing projects anyway: Cleveland Street (which, like NE 28th, had business owners lining up in opposition to keep a handful of welfare-parking spaces, but unlike NE 28th got done). The massive Ford Site redevelopment plan got the green light. And they finished Jackson Street, the first of 5 major protected bikeways that will crisscross their downtown, otherwise a very dangerous neighborhood for cyclists.

      In both cities in November, voters threw out their mayors and a bunch of traditional city councillors, electing a slate of new leadership that is more progressive and pro-urbanist. More change is coming. St. Paul may catch up with Minneapolis (and Portland). But again, I think we’ll level out in the 5-8% range unless we do something about cheap gasoline.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty January 4, 2018 at 9:38 am

        I’m not sure if we “glorify” driving, but people do seem to prefer it to the alternatives.

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        • El Biciclero January 9, 2018 at 8:28 am

          “I’m not sure if we ‘glorify’ driving…”

          Google “car ads”.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty January 9, 2018 at 10:09 am

            If you define “we” as people marketing cars, then I guess I agree. By that definition, we glorify just about everything that can be sold.

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        • Dan A January 9, 2018 at 9:30 am

          This is the country that brought you EIGHT ‘the Fast & the Furious’ movies. And there are three more on the way!

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  • John Liu
    John Liu January 3, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    No question Portland’s bike friendliness has a long way to go.

    However, it is naive to ignore the fundamental differences between Portland and Copenhagen.

    1. Copenhagen is a very small city, geographically, 34 sq mi vs Portland 145 sq mi. And what we think of as central Copenhagen is only about 2 miles across.
    2. Taxes in Denmark are 2X to 3X higher than in the US, depending on the measure.
    3. Prices for most things are higher in Denmark. Much higher (like 2X) for cars, fuel, parking. Other consumer goods are more expensive. The overall cost of living, housing, eating is higher.
    4. Median household income is similar in Copenhagen and Portland, about $55K/yr.
    5. Copenhagen is not only tiny, it is pretty much dead flat. At least the central part is.

    Thus Copenhagen and Denmark generally has budget for much more extensive bike/ped infrastructure and transit (because, taxes) to cover a much smaller area, and after your bus/subway/train trip you’re probably only a several minute walk from your destination (because, short distances). Fewer people own/use/can afford cars (expensive, high taxes, similar income) and there is less reason to drive (short, flat, great transit).

    For Portland to be Copenhagen, we would have to start by: shrink the city to just NW 23rd to NE/SE 30th; triple the budgets for PBOT, TriMet, etc; double everyone’s taxes to pay for this; increase prices by 10% to 100%; keep incomes the same. So now we have much shorter travel distances, money to build lots of transit and bike infrastructure, and way fewer people can afford and fuel cars even if they want to. And outside of our magically shrunken city, people commuting from Gresham, Vancouver, Tigard are somehow coming by train not car.

    Yes, we could then become a great bike city by Copenhagen standards. But that’s not a realistic standard to measure Portland by. If you expect that to happen, you’ll be forever sad and puzzled.

    Portland needs to become the best bike city that we can, subject to the realities of Portland, Oregon, USA. We’re never going to be Copenhagen. Sorry to burst that bubble. Let’s focus on doing what we can, rather than bemoaning what we can’t.

    (Or, move to Copenhagen . . . I love that city, from what I’ve seen of it, and would love to live there. Have done some thinking about how . . . I confess . . . )

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    • USbike January 4, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Maybe Mikael should have been less generalizing with his comparisons between Copenhagen and Portland. But the bike infrastructure and high bike modelshare doesn’t just stop outside of the 33 sq miles of what’s considered the city of Copenhagen. The vast network of transit and bikeways extends throughout much of the entire metropolitan area of Copenhagen which is more like 1,000 sq mi in size with 1.7 million people. The climate there is also hardly the most optimal for leisure cycling, with very short summers are also quite rainy and cloudy. Size/area doesn’t necessarily have to be a barrier to building a comprehensive network if there would be the political will to build it. Besides the very high quality bicycle infrastructure within Dutch cities and towns, the entire country of the Netherlands (16,000 sq mi) is also well connected with bicycle infrastructure of one form or another.

      I think that comments about topography are often way too generalized. Yes, hills are harder to cycle up then a flat surface, all things being equal. Yes, most of Denmark and the Netherlands is very flat. But that doesn’t automatically mean cycling is so much easier there, because those two countries are also very windy much of the time especially along the coasts. I live in the SW Dutch province of Zeeland, and there is almost always a moderate to strong west wind coming from the North Sea. Commuting home entirely against a headwind of force 7-8 (32-46+ mph), or more, for 10 miles is neither easy nor enjoyable. Sometimes the gusts can be so strong that you are barely even going forward. I don’t think anybody is expecting that one day the entire 48 states will be covered with a dense network of bicycle infrastructure like as the Netherlands. And there doesn’t need to be a continuous bicycle path connecting Boston to San Diego. But that doesn’t mean cities and metropolitan centers cannot develop a good network of such infrastructure within.

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      • John Liu January 5, 2018 at 8:56 am

        The conditions in Portland are so very different from Copenhagen. Topography and geography are only part of it. The economics and politics are big differences. Much of that isn’t in Portland’s control.

        For example:
        – The city cannot build more light rail lines without federal funding.
        – The state controls many of the major roads and bridges.
        – Commuters from neighboring cities/states will continue to arrive by car unless those cities/states and the state of Oregon take drastic action.
        – The tax revenue of Portland is constrained by county, state, and federal laws and policy.

        Finally, BP is an echo chamber, and we’d do well to consider the views of the 90%+ of Portlanders who don’t commute by bike. The great majority of residents (and voters) would rather drive than bike. They are supportive of biking to some extent, but the common sentiment here that drivers suck and we should make their lives hell is really counter-productive: it is a good way for cyclists to become marginalized and irrelevant.

        I’m not making apologies for the city’s loss of focus on ped/bike/transit, which is distressing. I’m just saying that, if Mikael really said that Portland could be like Copenhagen in 5-10 years, that displayed a serious misunderstanding of the reality of the USA. It is good to hear perspectives from outside observers, but they should be informed perspectives.

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        • Alex Reedin January 5, 2018 at 9:56 am

          Aside from the incorrect and tired assertion that a large portion of BikePortland commenters believe “drivers suck and we should make their lives hell,” this is a very insightful comment, John. Thank you, it really puts things in perspective for me.

          I am interested, if anyone knows, in whether other, more successful jurisdictions like Vancouver BC, Amsterdam, or Copenhagen have/had similar political/regional challenges, and how advocates for non-car transportation in those places organized to overcome them.

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          • John Liu January 5, 2018 at 10:16 am

            I might have succumbed to a bit of frustration, sorry.

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          • USbike January 8, 2018 at 5:50 pm

            From what I’ve read in the case of Denmark and the Netherlands, many of these same challenges were fought hard by grassroots activists back in the 70’s and early 80’s. The very unfortunate thing is that this not-so-distant history has apparently been almost entirely forgotten. When I mention the “Stop murdering the Children” campaign to my Dutch colleagues, none of them have ever heard of this. They really do take their infrastructure for granted and most of them just assume the Netherlands was always bike friendly and that’s why it still is. Many of them don’t know that their city streets use to all be arterials for cars and that the squares were just one big parking lot.

            Interestingly, Copenhagen has also been much more active with the PR about the bike-friendliness of that city compared to the Netherlands. So much so, that several of my Dutch colleagues have made remarks like “yeah, the Netherlands is super bike friendly, but Copenhagen is suppose to be even better.” Having spent considerable time cycling in Cph and various Dutch cities, I couldn’t disagree more.

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    • soren January 9, 2018 at 10:23 am

      I suspect people in copenhagen made very similar arguments in the 70s and were very wrong.

      Portland has been restricting itself to “doing what we can with the status quo” for a long time. And here we are with bike mode share in free fall and, even, transit declining.

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  • Jason VH January 3, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    Hazel
    The city has put in all these bike boulevards at a huge cost but they don’t work if they’re dominated by speed traffic looking for a nice cut though street with no stop signs. And lowering speed limits all over doesn’t work if car drivers don’t care and there’s no enforcement or infrastructure in place to actually get people to drive 20 mph. I’m disappointed and ready to find somewhere new to live.Recommended 41

    This. I’ve been saying this since I’ve moved back. I mostly commute using the streets next to the greenways these days… the next one over is actually often safer than the one designated for cycling traffic.

    Having lived in other cities with public transit (Oakland, Eugene, San Francisco + ) Portland is the most over rated city in terms of cycling.

    A lot of friends have been mugged in Oakland, and that doesn’t happen here. Instead you may get run over and killed. The anti bike road rage is far worse here. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’d prefer to get mugged. Plus I’ve been hit by cars 3 times in 20+ years, all in Portland.

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    • soren January 3, 2018 at 8:04 pm

      “This. I’ve been saying this since I’ve moved back. I mostly commute using the streets next to the greenways these days… the next one over is actually often safer than the one designated for cycling traffic.”

      I typically see more bike traffic on SE Taylor than on Salmon during peak hours. I don’t blame people for avoiding the aggressive cut-through car traffic at all.

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  • Mark smith January 3, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    I have ridden Denver and Portland . Denver is far better. What people don’t know isbthsg Denver has incredible trail system. Mountain bikes are considered cool and not hated.

    Here is the proof of how Portland feels about bikes. Are there protected lanes all around city hall? Or are there car lanes all around?

    Looks like there is one measly door zone bike lane circa 1995. And one massive one way prominently displayed . As they can say, you can only serve one god.

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  • grannygear January 3, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    Picture 2005 in Portland Oregon: Trek, Nike and Livestrong had cycling in the general public’s eye, Portland is a city prime for identity and there were plenty of noobs ready to define it. Most of us moved here 15-5 years ago. We were young, ambitious, idealistic and with the perception that Portland is a bicycling friendly city. Compared to the cities we’d moved from where 70mph, good(fast) drivers are the norm. Here, adults by choice or by dui were riding around. I think we saw what we wanted to see though. We were new and possibly suffering from tunnel vision. Fortunatly, when ypu have time, high quality of living you may easily find yhe abilty to adapt to your new bike lifestyle.
    All of us claimed this was the place for cycling. The city gladly went along with it, even promoted it. Unfortunately, this little city wasnt prepared to cash that check and could never live up to the cycling heaven.
    Why do we need a rating of how bike friendly we are? Why dont we just do what we do and change what needs to change for the benefit of all?

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  • SD January 3, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Contrarian is gonna contrarian.
    -or contrarianize.

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  • Clark in Vancouver January 3, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    The thing is that with thing being the same as ten years ago, motor vehicles are not. There are more of them, they have more powerful engines, they’re larger. Add to that the anti-cyclist propaganda that wasn’t around ten years ago making some gullible drivers feel justified in hitting you and you have a situation where just staying the same means going backwards.
    The only solution is political. There needs to be a majority of councillors being who support active transportation or the culture of motor vehicle dominance will just keep dominating.

    All neighbourhood greenways should have diverters. They don’t work otherwise. It needs to be considered the default design. If people complain then that should be taken as a sign that you’re doing the right thing.

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  • Tony H January 3, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    I have been ruminating upon this all day. Personally, I very much feel that biking has gotten worse over the past 5 years. The traffic has increased, and I notice drivers being more aggressive, more honking, yelling, etc. I used to laugh off comments by non-cyclists regarding the “danger” of cycling. Now, I honestly feel unsafe more and more. In the early oughts, I read a blog post from a fellow that blogged about “Bohemia” (the lifestyle, not the region). He had a lot to say about Portland, and commented upon the strong beer and cheap rent as being the epitome of a bohemian lifestyle. Those days are gone forever and, sadly, so is the bike culture. I don’t see those wacky, silly fun rides anymore.

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  • Ron Kopald January 3, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    Gotta say, lived all over the place, including Boulder, and it sort of pains me to admit this but the Portland area in general is sort of a downer to ride around. Trimet sucks, let’s just admit that, it’s slow and usually filled with fare jumpers and a few druggies. There are normal people, but they are the minority. And most streets in town are not that bike friendly. It’s not the worst place I’ve ridden (Fort Collins). I almost never drove in Boulder, could ride up to the edge of the Three Sisters in Bend, freely mingled with vehicles in Eugene, rode with abandon in Corvallis. I’ve been curbed twice since we moved up here, both times for no reason. I’ve also been honked at and had vehicles swerve towards me when I was in a bike lane. It’s my experience that riding has gotten less fun almsot everywhere. Once I hit the country roads near my place it’s not bad at all, but that’s weekend riding. Bicycling as a concept of a valid mode of transport has taken a hit. Don’t know why.

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    • 9watts January 4, 2018 at 8:24 am

      “Trimet sucks, let’s just admit that, it’s slow and usually filled with fare jumpers and a few druggies. There are normal people, but they are the minority. ”

      What is with the crazy broad brush statements?

      We obviously don’t ride the same lines.

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      • John Liu January 5, 2018 at 10:25 am

        I have only had positive experiences on Trimet but in the past couple months I’ve been told by several friends that they have stopped riding MAX. Mostly due to generalized fears after the stabbing killings, but one friend who used to ride from West side into downtown told me of two incidents when he was close to having to physically defend himself. He’s a 6′, strong and fit, ex-Marine Corps, not a fearful person at all. Now he drives.

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        • Paul Johnson January 6, 2018 at 9:06 am

          Relatable. Got suckerpunched in the ear from behind just for holding hands with my boyfriend on the Blue Line, with the police response essentially amounting to, “Well, don’t be gay, then.”

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  • mark smith January 4, 2018 at 4:12 am

    Why does the city cling to ” buffered” bike lanes, door zone lanes and the like and take years to build anything else?

    Because paint can easily be removed overnight.

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  • Kittens January 4, 2018 at 4:14 am

    Portland has descended into a state of near-permanent traffic hell as a result of our genius planners’ misguided assumptions that if they just made driving so bad people would naturally use other modes. Turns out, unless said alternatives are not aggressively incentivized people wont consider them. People are willing to put up with obscene traffic delays if they feel it is the best option for a given trip.

    Low hanging fruit needs to be harvested: eliminate on-street parking on arterials to allow for transit only and dedicated bike lanes.

    Demand TNC’s pay up or get out. They are literally making money off of clogging our roads for their profit.

    Increase the system development charges on new building, obviously demand is far out-stripping supply. Make them pay for the privilege of adding more density so we can fund a proper transit system.

    Full HOV lanes from 3 to 7pm on I-5 and 205. Most of these people are Washingtonians looking for a tax break commuting to Clark County. Make it hurt a little and the road will carry more throughput. Toll everything else.

    For many years I was a “strong and fearless” rider, but it is just insane out there now. The road rage is not a joke and is pervasive.

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    • Chris I January 4, 2018 at 12:55 pm

      Those things should be done, but they won’t do anything to reduce the road rage or cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets. The selfish SOV drivers speeding down side streets won’t be the ones jumping on the bus, even with priority lanes.

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    • maxD January 4, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      This is such a great comment! I have long believed that the City/Metro has made a civic compact with citizens: increased density as a trade-off for great openspaces and access to nature and great alternative transportation. Well, the density is happening, but the Cityand Metro are each falling flat on their faces. TriMet is not expanding/improving rapidly enough, PBOT is trying to keep the old way of driving around going instead of supporting transit, biking and walking, and METRO and PP&R are busy keeping out of “nature parks”.

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  • Paul Johnson January 4, 2018 at 6:03 am

    Increasingly lackluster infrastructure, terrible drivers strangely not higher on the list of criticism.

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  • GlowBoy January 4, 2018 at 8:47 am

    There is one overarching reason why bikership has stagnated, not just in Portland but everywhere.
    It’s the same reason transit ridership is declining. It’s the same reason hybrids and EVs are going for a song. It’s the same reason sales of new economy cars have cratered, replaced by thirstier mini-utes like the Juke, CX-3 and C-HR.

    CHEAP GAS.

    Do all the navel-gazing you want, Portland, and heaven knows the city does need to step up its game. But PBOT can swing every tool in their toolbox, or it can do nothing. Either way, today’s problem won’t go away as long as gas is cheap.

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    • Jim January 4, 2018 at 9:43 am

      You’re right, and I don’t think people are ignoring this. If we were serious, we could introduce high local gas taxes. I don’t know if this would do much, as people could just drive one county over to buy gas. But you are right, this is definitely part of what needs to be addressed.

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    • B. Carfree January 4, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      I don’t think gasoline prices explain the entirety or even the majority of the failure. Look at the inflation-adjusted price of gasoline and you will find that it was cheaper when PDX was increasing to its current now-stagnant level of ridership. True, the price was increasing during that time and is decreasing now (just about to that level), so one could make the argument that it is the trend in gas prices as opposed to the absolute level and maybe have a valid point.

      My take is that people responded to many things, including the increasing price of gasoline, and gave cycling a whirl. Unfortunately, conditions on the ground were so bad that most of those people eventually decided it just wasn’t for them. If that is the case, it can be remedied directly by local changes in the quality of our streetscape.

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  • ohamerica January 4, 2018 at 9:02 am

    Maybe instead of critical mass, bicyclists and pedestrians need to unify to pick points in Portland where car-centricity is strangling the potential for multi-modal movement or public gathering and peacefully occupy those points during rush-hour traffic every other Friday or some other day until the city government does something.

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  • Jim January 4, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Thank you for the detail on MN cities.

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  • Kem Marks January 4, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Try Seattle. They are pumping billions into their system and they are seeing actual growth in their ridership on buses as well as rail, unlike TriMet which has seen a number of years (2 I believe) of actual decline in bus ridership as a percentage, and flat rail ridership as a percentage.

    JeffS
    What city would you say has a better system?Recommended 3

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  • Paul Wilkins January 4, 2018 at 10:18 am

    I love Portland. There’s no place I’d rather live at the moment. If you don’t like it here, no one I know is forced to visit or stay.

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    • q January 4, 2018 at 11:07 am

      I guarantee that many of the things you love about Portland are the way they are because people here in the past DIDN’T take your advice, and instead of leaving when they didn’t like something, they complained and fought to make it better.

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  • Jonathan Radmacher January 4, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Sounds like this guy kept his eyes closed. Stand on the Hawthorne Bridge and you’ll see 26 bikes in about 90 seconds.

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    • q January 4, 2018 at 11:18 am

      It’s ironic you brought up the Hawthorne Bridge. I drove across it yesterday. I didn’t see nearly that many people on bikes, but I know there are at other times, and I do agree the it’d be hard to see only 26 bikes in Portland during a visit.

      What stands out to me, though, is that driving across reminded me of why I don’t like to bike across it. You share a fairly narrow sidewalk with walkers and runners, and if for some reason you got bumped or had to swerve, it’d be so easy for your wheel to go over the tall curb, and you’d be immediately thrown onto the metal grate and crushed by the next vehicle.

      The Hawthorne Bridge is often shown in pro-bike pieces about Portland, and to me it’s really not anything to be proud of.

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    • Paul Johnson January 4, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      At rush hour. After a bridge lift. On just that quarter mile. Maybe more if it’s Fleet Week and it’s actually creating delays large enough to create platoons that Copenhagen would call “a business closing snow day”.

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  • caesar January 4, 2018 at 10:38 am

    As many shortcomings that Portland may have as a bike-friendly city, it is still so, so (so) much better than where I moved and live now (after living and cycling in PDX for 18 months): Tacoma, WA. If you’re used to biking in Portland… you have no idea how bad it can be elsewhere. Even a paltry 120 miles to the north. No advocacy, no enforcement of basic traffic laws by the PD, faded bike lane markers (when there even are any bike lanes), frequent parking in the bike lanes, and the usual entitled and aggressive drivers that we all know and love. Whereas I used to love biking to work, now I merely tolerate it and on many days I hate it. Portland cyclists: aim for the stars but don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re still in the top 10% of US bike cities (source of that statistic: my own gut feeling after living and cycling pretty much all over the country).

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  • Fish January 4, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    He should be comparing Portland to Houston not to any city in Europe. Complaining about US bike infrastructure is like complaining about the organic produce at a grocery store in a 3rd world country–they are just happy to have it. His criticism is certainly warranted but I feel like he overly favors the outfits of the average rider over the quality of the infrastructure. PDX could have the same bike infrastructure as Copenhagen but he would dismiss the entire system if a single rider was wearing spandex or a helmet. That’s the only reason I can infer that he is so wildly obsessed with Montreal’s infrastructure when it’s certainly less of a “bike city” than Portland and especially less than Vancouver. And I would agree that sub-par infrastructure in PDX vs. the general complete lake of it in the rest of the country is not an excuse, but his snobbery and lack of realistic steps a city can take to improve isn’t helpful.

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    • q January 4, 2018 at 2:04 pm

      His main point, in my opinion, wasn’t rating how good or bad Portland is, but rather was stating that it’s overrated–that the gap between what Portland is and what it claims to be, or is viewed by others to be, is larger than true for other cities. And in making that point, it’s relevant and helpful to compare Portland to Europe as well as elsewhere in the U.S.

      To me, his criticism IS helpful, because his message about being overrated is exactly what Portland needs to hear. (Whether it’s listened to versus being dismissed or attacked, is another matter.)

      He’s under no obligation to tell Portland what steps to take to improve, nor is that needed to make his point valid or valuable. In fact, it’s often better to criticize WITHOUT suggesting how to fix something, because people tend to go straight to saying why the suggestions won’t work, bypassing the need to respond to the criticism, or to acknowledge that it’s valid.

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    • 9watts January 4, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      “complaining about the organic produce at a grocery store in a 3rd world country–they are just happy to have it.”

      Hm. How do you know that the 3rd world country you have in mind adopted first world agricultural chemicals to the point where organic has meaning? Perhaps all they can get is what we now retroactively term organic?

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  • Chris January 4, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    I completely agree with this article, but I wonder if he is stoking the fire to gain business for himself in Portland?

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  • GlowBoy January 4, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Portland IS overrated. It’s a great city, sure, but it’s gotten a little too much uncritical positive attention in recent years. Too many people are moving there (with either too much money, or no job) as a result. You guys should be glad he’s saying this.

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  • Brad January 4, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    His comment “In the course of 6 days I counted 26 people on bikes and I was all over town. TWENTY-SIX…” I live in Seattle, and ride every day. Seattle, (like my home town Portland where I visit and ride frequently), is also an over-rated bike town and has the same problems. Cycling is not seen as a mode of transportation. I live in the West Seattle neighborhood, about 6 miles from the city center. It’s an easy bike ride to the city center. Traffic is always snarled on the one bridge that connects the neighborhood and city. The bike counter on the bridge rarely gets above 500 crossings in the winter, and sometimes up to 1000 in the summer. The car bridge gets about 105,000 daily crossings. This is a real measure of how bike friendly places are… do you see people riding? The answer in Seattle is not really, just like in Portland. (4% bike commuters in Seattle compared to 6% Portland). So the cities in our great PNW are better for biking than they used to be, but not like many places around the world. Our car culture has always stifled other modes of transportation and only allows them to be squeezed in after much hand-wringing – which does not change the culture. Love your blog btw. Always good reading!

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  • Paul Johnson January 4, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Matt
    Where some see arrogance others see honesty. Little Portland does not like criticism especially from smarmy Euros, California transplants, east coast columnists, or pretty much anyone else.

    I’d put “other Portlanders” at the top of that list.

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  • just one skip remount January 5, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Jason VH

    Hazel The city has put in all these bike boulevards at a huge cost but they don’t work if they’re dominated by speed traffic looking for a nice cut though street with no stop signs. And lowering speed limits all over doesn’t work if car drivers don’t care and there’s no enforcement or infrastructure in place to actually get people to drive 20 mph. I’m disappointed and ready to find somewhere new to live.Recommended 41

    This. I’ve been saying this since I’ve moved back. I mostly commute using the streets next to the greenways these days… the next one over is actually often safer than the one designated for cycling traffic.Having lived in other cities with public transit (Oakland, Eugene, San Francisco + ) Portland is the most over rated city in terms of cycling.A lot of friends have been mugged in Oakland, and that doesn’t happen here. Instead you may get run over and killed. The anti bike road rage is far worse here. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’d prefer to get mugged. Plus I’ve been hit by cars 3 times in 20+ years, all in Portland.Recommended 8

    The dream of the 90’s…

    Riding bike(commuting, racing, bar hopping) is still awesome.

    We are simply getting older, have more responsibilities and a clearer point of view of the world and our(humans) impact on it.

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  • rh January 5, 2018 at 10:35 am

    I remember when that counter was installed. Can’t believe it has been broken for so long?!

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    • q January 5, 2018 at 11:03 am

      I don’t think it just broke on its own. I suspect terrorism—specifically, counter terrorism.

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  • rh January 5, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Remember the time when Obama came to Portland and gave a speech on the waterfront? There were’s 1000’s of bikes all along the waterfront railing. That was awesome! Biggest concentration of bikes I have ever seen.

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  • Craig January 5, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    Go cycle around Copenhagen for week then come back to Portland and see if you agree with his assessment. I thought Portland was a “great” place to be a bike commuter until I spent a few months touring in and between some of Europe’s best bike cities. We are nowhere close. Not even in the same league, especially during rush hours. I still ride my bike around Portland, but they way you have to ride your bike here is completely different. Less safe, less relaxing, less enjoyable, less shareable.

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    • Clark in Vancouver January 6, 2018 at 1:15 pm

      Same here. I thought things were fine and I was okay with being in a disenfranchised position in the scheme of things. Then I spent a few days cycling in the Netherlands both in a city and in the country. When I came back home someone said that Vancouver was very cycle friendly. I just laughed and replied that it was very car-centric with a few good cycle bits. Go to the Netherlands if you want bike friendly.

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  • younggods January 5, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    Last time I visited europe was winter 2004, staying in Amsterdam. It was snowing and yet there were the Dutch, out riding their bikes and lots of them. I agree Portland’s bike infrastructure is a joke compared to what it could be. The drivers have become nearly insufferable, constantly speeding, distracted, cutting through the greenways. I’ve been saying this for years, but mobile automated speeding cameras could fix much of this situation. If there was one US city that went all in with a Dutch/Danish style bike infrastructure, I’d make plans to move there immediately.

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  • Phil C. March 10, 2018 at 1:58 am

    Ive done 8+ yrs of year round cycle commuting since I moved here to cycle friendly Portland. A great run by most standards. Portlands cycling scene may be a joke in some (Euro Snob) people’s eyes I suppose but far above the Petrol Obsessed American average I’m willing to bet. Go PDX! Keep on Pedaling!

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  • Plastic Ruth July 10, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    I just found this article and I have to agree that biking Portland is WAY overrated. I used to live there and thought it was a pretty cool place to bike. I’ve ridden many times on the Springwater Corridor trail, the I-205 path, the Westside and Rock Creek trails and others so I know what they are like. Recently I moved to Kansas City for my career and thought if they had trails here they are all going to be flat, treeless and boring. OMG was I totally wrong! I do more, and better, biking here than I ever did in PDX. They have paved trail systems here that go for MILES in the city with very minimal street crossings or riding in traffic. They are more like the Fanno Creek trail system from Garden Home to Bonita Park, but here you don’t have to deal with numerous street crossings, or riding in heavy traffic and they are much longer, 10 to 25 miles long. Like Fanno Creek, the trails here also follow creeks, but the creeks are bigger, the trails shadier, more park like and yes even hilly, at least by Midwest standards. I’ve done rides here of 20 or 30 miles one way and NEVER had to stop for cars or ride in traffic. And all of it in town! That was something I could only do on the Banks to Vernonia trail. (Which is an awesome ride by the way) Now I know you’re going to say they don’t have the scenery here and that’s true. No big NW hills or huge NW trees either, unless you count the huge Oaks and Maples. I call it Midwest scenic and it truly has been quite the nice surprise moving here. To sum up, I’m not saying Portland biking is bad, it’s just been my experience that it may not be the best either, especially when you consider that KC is NOT known for being a bike friendly town. My advice is to not stick your nose up at other cities bike trails until you’ve ridden them. Happy riding all!

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    • 9watts July 10, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      It sounds like you’re talking about and comparing ‘trails,’ let’s-go-for-a-ride infrastructure. I think Andersen was talking about a more utilitarian kind of biking – to go places – he was in town after all, not on the Banks-Vernonia trail.

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      • Paul Johnson July 10, 2018 at 4:29 pm

        Let’s compare Portland to Tulsa, then. Tulsa has almost as many lane-miles as Portland does dedicated to cycling, and yet, somehow Tulsa is a easier city to ride in, because most of those miles comprise a backbone network, that which Portland nearly completely lacks. What Tulsa lacks in last-mile bike lanes, it makes up for in patience and lack of urgency in driving.

        Portland’s bike lanes would be great, if they were last-mile connections, not the entirety, of the network. Or if the drivers there weren’t entitled asshats. Riding in Portland doesn’t feel terribly different from riding in Trucknuts County, Texas, but with the bonus round nobody asked for of “it’s wet half the time”.

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  • Plastic Ruth July 11, 2018 at 8:45 am

    Hi Swatts. Yes, while I was referring more to recreational biking, these same trails I’ve discovered can also be used for commuting. Now I admit they may not be as straight and direct as say the Springwater Corridor since they tend to wind around more like the creeks they follow, they nonetheless will get you to some places around town. However, as Paul Johnson said of Tulsa much the same can be said of KC. With multiple roads available to get around and MUCH lighter traffic KC is a breeze to commute through on a bike despite the lack of bike lines. Yet since I’ve been here I’ve seen cities on both sides of the state line trying to make more bike lanes and additional trails. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen nearly as many bikers commuting past my house on a street which is marked for biking as I did when I lived off SW Park Way in Portland. Again, I’m not putting down biking in Portland I’m just saying a city like KC, which no one would consider a biking town, is actually very easy to commute through by bike as well as, ‘lets go for a ride’ type of fun. Cheers!

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 11, 2018 at 11:53 am

      I’ll bet houses in KC are much more affordable than they are here.

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      • Paul Johnson July 11, 2018 at 9:13 pm

        I don’t think you’ll get takers on that bet since Portland is one of the least affordable places in the world, but it could be a bit of a toss up in certain parts of KCMO and KCK thanks to Garmin.

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    • Paul Johnson July 11, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      I wouldn’t call Tulsa traffic particularly light, and there’s fewer rat runs available in Tulsa than in Portland. Whereas in Portland it’s not entirely unreasonable to traverse the city on nothing but side streets, section line roads in Tulsa are essentially unavoidable if you’re going into another section. I don’t mean to cross them, I mean, actually ride on them. The street layout internal to each section is basically impenetrable by any mode on every section that was still farmland in 1950: It’s quite stark, the older sections are definitely a grid internally and quite easy to navigate, the newer sections have very few, if any, routes through the section. Usually two or three pockets only accessible from section line roads, and you have to go around the section on the line roads to reach other pockets in the same section.

      I wouldn’t exactly call Portland or Tulsa a biking town, though you are more likely to find people in Tulsa who commute by bike by choice whereas Portland, it tends to be more of an economic reality.

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