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Portland slips to 5th in Bicycling Magazine ‘Best Bike City’ rankings

Posted by on October 10th, 2018 at 9:19 am

It’s a frequent topic of conversation in local advocacy circles that Portland has lost some of its swagger when it comes to being a leader for cycling in America.

Today, Bicycling Magazine released its biennial rankings of America’s best cities for cycling and Portland came out in 5th place — our worst position ever.

“Portland has only built 5.2 miles of protected lanes. Seattle and San Francisco built 15 and 18 miles respectively in in that same period.”

Seattle grabbed the top spot on the list this year, followed by San Francisco, Fort Collins, and Minneapolis in the top five. Eugene nabbed sixth with Chicago, Madison, New York City, and Cambridge rounding out the top ten.

For context, here’s how Portland has fared in these rankings in the past decade:

1st in 2008
2nd in 2010
1st in 2012
4th in 2014
3rd in 2016
5th in 2018

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Here’s the methodology they used:

The Bicycling editorial team reviewed U.S. Census and Department of Transportation data on more than 100 cities, consulted with experts and examined data from organizations including People for Bikes and the League of American Bicyclists. The editors looked at the overall percentage of bike commuters in each city and the rate by which that number is growing. They cataloged the amount and quality of cycling infrastructure in each city—including miles of protected bike lanes, buffered bike lanes, and off-street pathways —and how recently it has been implemented. They accounted for transportation budgets, civic and political commitments, and implementation of data-driven policies that make cities safer for cyclists, like lowering speed limits, narrowing lanes, and revamping problematic intersections. The editors also took historical performance and future projections into account and asked each city to explain its plan for ensuring people of all income levels have equal access to safe streets. Finally, the editors hit the streets and talked to local advocates, officials, and everyday riders in each city on the final list, as well as in those cities that did not make the cut.

The blurb about Portland on Bicycling’s website (and that will appear on newsstands in their November/December issue) cited our lack of high-quality, protected bike lanes as the main reason for our slip to 5th. “Since we last put out this guide two years ago,” it reads, “Portland has only built 5.2 miles of protected lanes. Seattle and San Francisco built 15 and 18 miles respectively in in that same period.” The blurb also features a promise from PBOT that between now and 2020 Portland will build 24.4 miles of protected bike lanes citywide.

If we make good on that promise, I’d fully expect Portland to grab the top spot next time around.

(Note: Please keep in mind these rankings are more art than science. While they’re easy to dismiss, Bicycling remains one of one most wide-reaching cycling media outlets in America and a lot of people will read this. They’ve also been doing these rankings since 1990, so they deserve credit for longevity. For a look at a more technically rigorous ranking, check out how Portland did in a recent comparison of 480 US cities by the nonprofit People for Bikes.)

— 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

  • Scott H October 10, 2018 at 9:32 am

    5th? That’s generous.

    Remember two weeks ago when PBOT abruptly ripped out a bike lane in the middle of the week without telling anyone?

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  • SERider October 10, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Seems disingenuous to include Fort Collins, Madison, and Eugene in these types of ranking. They’re all relatively small college towns. Fairly different from bigger metro areas.

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    • Crew Tee October 10, 2018 at 1:16 pm

      Actually, Madison is a fairly large city…pop. ~ 260,000 in the city itself, well over 500,000 in the metro area. They have done really fabulous things in part 20 years, with a real commitment to building out a connected network of paved multi-use paths. I lived there for 10 years, and frankly Portland has been a disappointment for biking by comparison.

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      • B. Carfree October 10, 2018 at 11:58 pm

        At least Portland isn’t seeing massive losses of riders like Madison. At the rate Madison has been going (since 2012), it won’t have any cyclists left by 2032. It could be worse. Eugene is on track to lose all it’s riders by 2024.

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  • Dave October 10, 2018 at 10:29 am

    Please, don’t sweat this. I ride in Seattle maybe once or twice a year and have ridden a lot in SF and the surrounding area–Portland at it’s worst is as pleasant, fun, and safe-feeling as Seattle and enormously better than San Fran. Bicycling magazine I like to think of as cycling’s equivalent to Fox News–the lowest quality of information that’s believed by the most people!

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  • soren October 10, 2018 at 10:42 am

    It’s my experience that increased motorvehicle traffic$# is severely impacting the willingness of anyone who is not an experienced-, skilled-, year-round-, mostly-male-cyclist to ride for transportation. In fact, it is my impression that on many bike routes a growing fraction of peak cycling traffic has moved over to other residential side-streets. This makes complete sense because side streets have lots of stop signs and far fewer angry cut-through commuters.

    $Uber and Lyft car trips are not counted by census ACS mode share statistics but they represent an increasing fraction of motorvehicle traffic.

    #Portland (Census ACS 1yr estimates)
    Year Drive-alone commutes
    2017 202718
    2016 202102
    2015 191822
    2014 187726
    2013 178980
    2012 180107
    2011 174457
    2010 168231

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    • dan October 10, 2018 at 11:18 am

      That’s interesting because for me, the increased motor vehicle traffic makes bike commuting 100x more appealing. Why sit in a car if I can ride a bike and have very little / no impact from congestion?

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      • SafeStreetsNow October 10, 2018 at 12:10 pm

        That holds true if we had a network of protected bike lanes. We unfortunately don’t, and PBOT is either too scared or unwilling to put in a diverter every 5 or so blocks on neighborhood greenways like they should.

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      • Andrew Kreps October 10, 2018 at 2:45 pm

        Put another way: cars stuck in traffic that can’t move, can’t hit me. 😀

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      • q October 10, 2018 at 9:19 pm

        Are you an experienced, skilled, year-round, male cyclist?

        You and soren are both right, from what I understand each of you to be saying. Heavy vehicle traffic creates the conditions that make bike commuting more appealing from the standpoint of avoiding the frustration of being stuck in traffic, and the more congestion, the faster biking becomes relative to driving.

        But since the traffic also makes biking more intimidating to the less experienced and skilled, that counters the advantages for them, limiting the number of people willing to bike.

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      • mh October 11, 2018 at 10:17 am

        Yeah, but their exhaust is not doing you any good, either. Also, when some of those stuck, frustrated drivers see some clear pavement they can use to get around the obstruction, they will take it. Often that open space is a bike lane. The best answer, of course, is to fill that bike lane with bicyclists and make it much less tempting (more witnesses who care).

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    • Toby Keith October 10, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      Spot on soren! I definitely agree with you on this one.

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  • B. Carfree October 10, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Bicycling is obviously looking mostly at things like “protected” miles than at how those are working. Eugene keeps adding so-called protection, but the result is (predictably to me) a continued decline in bicycle use since Eugene adopted this approach in 2012. In fact, if you plot the modal share of bicycle commuters in Eugene from 2012-7 and extrapolate the line, it predicts zero bicycles by sometime in 2024. (The data follows the best fit line incredibly well for a social phenomenon, with R^2 over 0.8 and p~0.01, almost like it’ a physics lab instead of a human behavior measurement.)

    How a place that is on target to have no cyclists at all within six years ends up ranking number six is a complete mystery to me. More art than science, indeed. Actually, the rankings are more of a bias towards the hoped for wonders of sidepaths than anything else.

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    • Andrew Kreps October 10, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      The math on your supposition of there being no cyclists at all in six years is flawed. A modal share decrease does not mean the actual number of people on bicycle hasn’t increased.

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      • B. Carfree October 11, 2018 at 12:22 am

        In Eugene’s case, it actually does mean that the number of people on bikes has gone down, and gone down a lot. There were just over half as many people on bikes in 2017 (3627) as in 2009 (7063) in spite of a 26% increase in commuters (17k people). It’s quite noticeable to those of us who are still pedaling along.

        Also, a modal share of zero does mean that there are zero people commuting by bicycle (since its ACS data, that’s what is measured). It’s pretty simple math to calculate x-intercepts. While the second portion of your statement can hold true for some data sets, it’s irrelevant to what I said regarding the collapse of cycling in Eugene.

        Of course there won’t actually be zero people on bikes here in 2024, assuming I don’t leave. 🙂 However, if the transportation planners and traffic engineers in Eugene and Lane County continue to shut out any criticisms from the public and insist on continuing to make things worse, I just may pull up stakes and move to Idaho. (It’s the next Oregon, dontcha know?)

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  • 9watts October 10, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Hey, look, they gave us 10/10 for “culture”…!

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    • Gregg October 10, 2018 at 11:51 am

      Pedalpalooza alone would give Portland a 10/10, not to mention all of the other stuff (Filmed by Bike, Sunday Parkways, Safe Routes classes, all of the Shift2Bikes.org events year round, CycloCross scene, etc. )

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      • 9watts October 10, 2018 at 1:42 pm

        Actually they should have given us at least 15/10 for all those reasons. NO ONE has or could possibly pull off that much bike culture. We are nonpareil.

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  • Gregg October 10, 2018 at 11:54 am

    So I’ve ridden in many of the cities in this Top 10 list.
    I’m interested in traveling somewhere to ride that is better than Portland. I’ve ridden in Vancouver- and it’s fantastic. I know that Denmark and Sweden are SO EXPENSIVE once you arrive. Where would be a cheaper option (Once you arrive) that is Bike Friendlier than PDX? Madrid? Bogota? And which is bike friendlier Quebec or Montreal?

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    • Ted Buehler October 10, 2018 at 1:20 pm


      It’s not expensive to visit European cities. They all have excellent campgrounds near the city center.

      You can camp in Amsterdam for 17EU/night. (about $22). Only 9 miles from the city center.

      Or in Copenhagen for About 7 miles from the city center. About $20/night 2 years ago.

      If you fly British Airways out of Seattle you don’t pay a bicycle baggage fee, and you can get fares at $500 round-trip if you wait for a sale.

      Otherwise you could go to Montreal, which is at least as bike-intensive as Portland, but it’s probably no less expensive to get there with a bike than Copenhagen or Amsterdam.

      Just FYI.

      Ted Buehler

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      • Ted Buehler October 10, 2018 at 3:43 pm

        There’s a sale going on today, I found SEA => CPH round trip on British Airways for $380 sometime in December. If you hunt around you can probably find that for April when the days are longer. $380 for you and your bike round trip, and $22/night for a campground. Same for Amsterdam.

        Look on Google Flights, find the “price graph” option, and hunt around for British Air on the date options with sub-$400 flights available.

        Icelandic Air had lots of $332 round trip flights, but bicycles are an extra $80 each way, so $492 total.

        Ted Buehler

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        • GlowBoy October 11, 2018 at 4:46 pm

          Also, be aware that IcelandAir has their stopover option that lets you spend up to 7 days in Iceland (where you have to change planes anyway) for no extra charge, on the way to or from your European vacation.

          Assuming you travel at a time when you can stand the weather, Reykjavik is quite bike-friendly and has a very nice campground in the city center that’s less than $20 a night. Also, although IcelandAir charges for bicycles, they do not otherwise charge for checked bags.

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      • Ted Buehler October 11, 2018 at 12:29 pm

        A few other notes on low-cost travel to Europe:

        * If you’d rather a hostel than a campground, looks like dorm hostels in Amsterdam and Copenhagen start at $20/night in October. You get to socialize with other travelers, and they have kitchens, so the cost of food will be about the same as cooking in Portland. Check out the selection at http://www.hostelworld.com

        Many campgrounds will also have kitchens.

        I stayed in hostels in Amsterdam and the campground listed above in Copenhagen, in Aug 2016. (Hostel prices were about $45/night in August.) I also stayed in campgrounds in Groningen, Netherlands, Bremen, Germany, Odense, Denmark, and lots of other places. All very reasonably priced, with excellent facilities — spacious clean bathrooms, shared kitchens, laundry facilities, nice grassy lawns. (I’ve also stayed in hostels throughout eastern Europe, prices were $10-$20 night. All with kitchens, etc.)

        Intercity travel is not expensive if you take the local trains instead of fast trains. Travel time from, say, AMS to CPH by local train is probably about 15 hours and $50 for you and your bike. With probably 6 layovers in interesting cities along the way. And with slow trains you get to see the scenery and travel with locals. And trains run hourly on most or all lines, so if you want to get off and explore for a bit, there’s no headaches in finding the next train.

        So, suppose you got a $400 RT ticket on British Airways, Seattle – Amsterdam, including bicycle. Spend 1 week in hostels in Amsterdam ($150), 1 week in hostels in Copenhagen ($150), and round trip rail between the two ($100). Taxis to and from the airport ($40). Food budget is the same as living in Portland for basic food.

        Comes out to $840 total cost for a week each in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, with your own bicycle.

        Take-home message, visiting the great bicycling cities of Europe is not expensive if you shop around for flight sales and stay in hostels or campgrounds.

        Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler October 10, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      Or, if you want to see lots of well-designed downtown cycletracks, go to Vancouver BC.

      Amtrak has one departure daily at 3:00 pm. $60 each way for you and your bike. If anyone is interested, I’m leading a BikeLoudPDX field trip to Vancouver on Oct 28. If you’d like to join, we still have spots available at our hosts, contact me at ted101@gmail.com

      Ted Buehler

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      • Andrew Kreps October 10, 2018 at 2:48 pm

        I love riding in Vancouver, and I’ve done the bike/train up there as well as riding there from Bellingham. That city got both the infrastructure and the culture right.

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        • dante October 10, 2018 at 5:14 pm

          They do have some gaps though, especially when riding in the heart of downtown. I won’t knock VBC because I do love riding there but I feel the hoopla has a lot to do with riding in Stanley Park, the seawall, the protected lanes in downtown, and the protected lanes headed west to BC university. Once you get away from that though, VBC is for the strong and brave. The motorist outside of the areas I mentioned are aggressive.

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          • Ted Buehler October 11, 2018 at 12:32 pm

            dante — when were you last riding in VBC? I last explored by bicycle in 2012, and they have installed lots more cycletracks since then.

            Ted Buehler

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          • Julie Hammond October 14, 2018 at 11:54 pm

            You may find that some of those gaps have been filled! In the last few years many new protected bike lanes have been built including bridge crossings and some lanes that are off the tourist track. (I recently rode 12km to an arts centre in Burnaby, one town east of Vancouver, almost entirely on separated paths.) I do agree that motorists, even with a max speed limit of 50kph (31mph), are often more aggressive than in Portland. I wonder if it may have to do with Vancouver *not* having a “cycling city” reputation and there being less visibility for bike culture.

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    • Henry October 10, 2018 at 2:20 pm

      Montreal is definitely better than Quebec City. The Netherlands is a lot more affordable than Denmark/Sweden and has some of the best infrastructure in the world. Spain is even cheaper & Barcelona is a much better biking city than anything I’ve seen in the U.S., so that’s a good option!

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    • USbike October 11, 2018 at 1:59 am

      Gregg, depending on what you decide to do and where to stay, the Netherlands won’t be that expensive. Of course staying in hotels in the largest cities will be, but other things such as groceries are generally considerably cheaper here than anywhere I’ve seen in the States. The Dutch have throughout their country, hands down, the best cycling network in the world. I really cannot recommend it enough for people to see if it is within their financial means.

      Alternatively (or in addition to the Netherlands), you could visit the (Flemish) Belgian cities of Ghent and Antwerp. While the infrastructure there is still subpar compared to what the Dutch have, these two cities still leave much to be desired for most of the rest of the world. In Germany, the cities of Bremen and Münster are probably among the best cycling cities. Both countries are a bit cheaper than the Netherlands. Keep in mind that none of these other European countries (including Denmark or Sweden) have the consistent, high quality network everywhere. But that could also be an insightful experience, to see the things that aren’t done so well in various places. Good luck with the planning and let me know if you need any suggestions!

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  • Ted Buehler October 10, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Sad to see Portland not improving as much as these other cities.

    I’ve spent time in SF and Seattle recently, and seen that they simply don’t have the intensive use of bikes for transportation, neighborhood by neighborhood, commute route by commute route, that Portland does. That said, I’m disappointed that , that we *haven’t* done better over the last 2 years.

    Ted Buehler

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    • paikiala October 11, 2018 at 9:40 am

      Isn’t a bit relative? If you’ve not got much, all gains could be huge (your SF comments even allude to this).
      Like Soren’s post on commute numbers, without context numbers don’t tell you much.

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    • SERider October 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      Cities with lots of steep hills, like Seattle and SF are always going to struggle for bike commuting. Portland really hits a sweet spot where it’s relatively flat for much of the city and the weather is conducive to biking year round.

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  • eawriste October 10, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    This is the best publicity Portland has had in many years. Thank you Bicycle Magazine! Seattle has built 15+ in 2 years, NYC is building 20+ per year. Maybe Portland’s mayor and council will finally decide to start building PBLs.

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  • Dan A October 10, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    “Eight to 80 friendliness (how accessible the city is to riders of all ages)”

    Portland scores 24 out of 30? They must be grading on a curve.

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  • Glenn October 10, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Just imagine for a moment that there’s a simple and monolithic quantity known as “being good for bikes” which we will call, I dunno, how about B. Very well then, one way in which the ranking is more art than science is that it tries to rank not only the current value of B, but its rate of change as well. In other words, not just B but ΔB since the last survey. So if a city is the best, but nothing changes much, it doesn’t get ranked as the best, even though it’s the best. (Not saying Portland is the best, either.) Meanwhile if you’re the worst, but really trying hard and improving fast, you can get a pretty high ranking. So I mean it’s kind of just a Certificate of Participation type of thing. “Good Job, Lil’ Guy!” sort of deal.

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    • GlowBoy October 11, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      Part of Bicycling’s rationale for factoring momentum in the rankings (and they are not based solely on momentum) is that all American cities are terrible for bicycling. Portland included. Therefore it makes sense to recognize the cities that are at least making progress, which Portland only barely has been doing the last few years.

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  • bikeninja October 10, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Imagine how quickly our rating would improve if we started converting one street per week to bikes only. Sounds radical but if you look hard at the new IPCC report on climate change that is how quickly we would have to get off our addiction to motorcars to stay under 1.5 degrees and avoid the most horrifying effects of runaway climate change.

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    • 9watts October 10, 2018 at 4:54 pm


      Though I will note that even here (bikeportland comments) the appetite for this sort of thing has historically been pretty meager. I sense that it is changing, though, which is very heartening. One day maybe PBOT will even get on board, face the music, announce their Plan B. One can dream.

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    • 9watts October 10, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      Also good to remind ourselves who the IPCC is, how much appetite *they* have for making alarming statements. Note that the identified time frame is *always* about a dozen +/- years. It was a dozen years a dozen years ago too, if you knew where to look, whose papers to read. In truth the turning point was probably a generation ago, but since we don’t want to alarm anyone we keep saying we have another decade to change course.

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      • Resopmok October 11, 2018 at 7:01 am

        Without a minimum of hope, where is the impetus for change? The report does say quite explicitly that we’re already too late to avoid any thing less than another 1.5F of warming, and that the consequences of it will be devastating. Their point is, I believe, it’s simply not too late to save humanity quite yet if we start taking the prognosis seriously.

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        • 9watts October 11, 2018 at 7:06 am

          “Without a minimum of hope, where is the impetus for change? ”

          Well perhaps that is what we, collectively, deserve, after ignoring similar warnings for the past few decades.

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          • Middle of The Road Guy October 11, 2018 at 9:15 am

            Or we start planning for the inevitable. Some patients are terminal, no matter how much we want them to survive.

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    • Middle of The Road Guy October 11, 2018 at 9:14 am

      How much of an impact would converting one street a week have in the 596th (old data) largest city in the world.

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      • bikeninja October 11, 2018 at 9:47 am

        But we could provide a Beacon of light for every other municipality in the world now in the death grip of motor head. Would they follow our example and help save the world, or is happy motoring so seductive that they would choose the dark fork in the road instead.

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      • 9watts October 11, 2018 at 10:08 am

        That is the same unhelpful, defeatist attitude taken by the current administration, which just the other day concluded that there was no point in focusing on fuel economy standards as climate change was too far advanced, too overwhelming. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

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  • q October 10, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Portland’s government and institutions tend to think overly highly of themselves, to the point it makes them dismissive of criticism–“Don’t you realize we just got named the best (bike city, garden, bureau of this or that, park system, museum) on this important list!?”

    And while people generally recognize that lists and rankings aren’t scientifically accurate, they seem to forget that when they appear at the top of a list.

    So I don’t mind seeing anything about Portland getting knocked a couple notches down on any “best” ranking.

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  • Jim Lee October 10, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    But we have Roger, and his awards!

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  • 9watts October 10, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Does the guy at the top of the article have some toilet paper stuck in his front spokes?

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    • GlowBoy October 12, 2018 at 4:15 am

      Ha! It does look like that, yes. Portland’s bike situation right now is indeed a bit like the guy all dressed up in a tux, walking across the dance floor with T.P. stuck to the bottom of his shoe.

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  • Keith October 10, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    We had a great start out of the blocks in the late 90s, but like an aging athlete, we’re fading and losing our edge. We may still be in the lead (I’d still prefer riding in PDX compared to the top 4 cities), but not for long.

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  • joeb
    joeb October 10, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    Unfortunately I have not read all of the comments and may be duplicating…

    I was happy to read this headline and article. In my perception, bike facilities and protected bike lanes are popping up all over Portland (apparently 5.2 miles of protected bike lanes, but highly visible to me) and other cities are doing better. Great!

    Quote: ” …a promise from PBOT that between now and 2020 Portland will build 24.4 miles of protected bike lanes citywide…If we make good on that promise, I’d fully expect Portland to grab the top spot next time around.” I agree, and I still hope we end up 5th… or 3rd… or even 2nd! It seems to be on target that, in Portland, these facilities will actually be built (including Flanders Bridge, Sullivan’s Gulch Bridge near NE 7th St, etc)

    Now I could point out plenty of problem areas, namely state highways running through the middle of the city (Lombard, 82nd, Powell, etc) and the abomination of urban freeways. In 2018, we should know what not to build! I didn’t digest all of Bicycling Magazines” data points”. I hope scoring human scale access to services and vicinity is factored into any and all road construction and reconstruction, urban and rural. (let me just say that access to Kenton when you live east of I5 and North of Lombard is a fiasco if you are driving and appalling when walking or biking. Do Not Ever Build This Mess Again!)

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  • maxD October 11, 2018 at 10:38 am

    These kind of measurements are always a bit depressing to me. Wether it is good news or, like this story, bad news. The issue I have is that measuring bike success by miles of this or that misses the point of a network. I think it encourages PBOT and designers like Geller to push for expanding miles of protected lanes or adding some new thing instead of taking look at the network as a whole and doing the difficult and creative work of improving the network (not just the segments). PBOT maddeningly continues to design and implement infrastructure for bikes with dangerous gaps and poor connections. As someone alluded to earlier in the comments, maybe some of these designers are just trying to rack up “firsts” or “added miles” to get an award or a speaking engagement. Maybe not. It seems to me that this focus on comparison to similar Cities and building segments has a very limited usefulness in terms of encouraging the construction of more segments. But without some actual leadership and commitment to closing gaps and making connections, all those isolated miles of whatever are relatively useless. 2 examples in areas where I frequently ride spring to mind: 1) The proposed protected lanes on Greeley. This a Geller-proposed solution that adds a bit of protected bike lane, but does not address a full 1/3 of the new route, the dangerous and substandard conditions to Interstate, or the rampant and excessive speeding on Greeley- in fact it will likely make that worse. 2) The Going Greenway between 7th and Interstate. This is an absolute mess of a Greenway that jogs incoherently from street to street and has zero protected crossings at busy streets. Just a block or so to the south is Skidmore, If on-street parking were removed, the buffered bike lanes on Skidmore could be completed to 7th and take advantage of existing signals to cross Interstate, Williams, Vancouver and MLK and existing 4-way stops to cross Mississippi and 7th. Creating a safe route along Skidmore would create a safe connection between existing bike infrastructure on Concord, Interstate, Michigan, Vancouver/Williams, 7th and Going and connect the growing residential/commercial districts on North Killingsworth, Mississippi, Vancouver/Williams, MLK and Alberta. Reports like this encourage our leaders and designers to think small and incremental and ignore the important safe connections that make these segments useful.

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  • Rivelo
    Rivelo October 11, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Portland is the best city I’ve EVER ridden a bike in, and I’m glad that I get to do it every day.

    Now, if fellow cyclists would just STOP using their dang flashing strobe lights on the Esplanade and other CAR-FREE paths, I’d be in hog heaven.

    This is our most popular Instagram post EVER, so others must agree:


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    • GlowBoy October 11, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      I understand your point, Rivelo, but do you expect people to actually stop, dismount their bike and turn off their lights when they hit the path, then do the reverse when they are back on the street? I don’t know about you, but for most people riding on paths, it’s only part of their commute.

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      • Rivelo
        Rivelo October 11, 2018 at 6:58 pm

        While I’m not a fan of riding behind brightly pulsating tail lights, I was referring to handlebar-mounted headlights, which can be switched to solid beam (and even angled down a bit to illuminate the rider’s way) with a quick, 3 second one-handed motion. That shouldn’t require dismounting. And if it *does*, well, then…..

        Equally quick and easy is the one-handed motion for the dreaded helmet-mounted pulsating strobe light. I’m 100% against those on car-free bike paths. ALL they accomplish is blinding and disorienting oncoming cyclists. They’re pretty pointless, and frankly, somewhat selfish.

        And yep, the Eastbank Esplanade only makes up a small percentage of my bike commute, but after daylight savings time ends, it’s my least favorite part of the trip (for the above reasons).

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        • GlowBoy October 12, 2018 at 4:11 am

          Okay, I interpreted your use of the word strobe to mean little white blinky lights (which are strobes).

          If you meant headlight-bright flashing lights, yes I’m 100% with you. I hate those things too. They shouldn’t be used on the road in that mode either. The worst thing about them is many if not most are the cheap MagicShine lights, which are also terrible headlights in their own right, with a beam that’s way too broad, also blinding everyone when they’re in steady mode.

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  • GlowBoy October 11, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    I’ve ridden in Seattle a couple weekends this year. In terms of pavement infrastructure it’s still not up to Portland’s level and the bikeway network is still pretty fragmented, but there is this:

    The dockless systems have absolutely flooded the streets with bikes this year. And you know what that has done? It has made drivers far more used to being around bikes. I’m comfortable riding on a lot of Seattle streets now that I NEVER would have ridden on before.

    And I think drivers are a bit more accommodating because the barrier to entry for dockless bikes is so low (no membership, just download the app and go, as with scooters) there’s less of an us-vs-them mentality than when most of the cyclists on the road are people who’ve made a commitment and serious financial investment in it.

    Also, the two-way cycletrack on 2nd is nice to have. One of my closest calls while biking was years ago when I lived in Seattle, and almost got hit by a speeding car while trying to change lanes across 2nd to make a left turn.

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  • GlowBoy October 11, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Interesting Portland effectively tied with Minneapolis. They’re both nearly tied in my mind too, as far as which city I’d rather ride in, though the riding experiences are vastly different.

    It does feel like less protected-lane mileage got built this year, though we’re still far ahead of Portland. Maybe that feeling is because much of this year’s activity has been in North Minneapolis, where I don’t get to a lot, but where the equity issues are largest, so maybe that’s a good thing.

    Also to be fair, Minneapolis is only 60% of the urban core here. St. Paul is the other 40%, and they came in 18th. St. Paul’s bike infrastructure is frustrating at times, but there are a lot of good projects in the pipeline that will take care of some of the biggest deficiencies. Look for StP to move up the rankings substantially within the next couple years.

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  • Racer X October 11, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Imagine the near future (like 2019) when Eugene surpasses Portland in these rankings…that might be the friggin spark that set the City leadership’s bike afterburners on…

    Until then Portland leaders (Corporate and Governmental) should be asking themselves:


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    • Racer X October 11, 2018 at 8:32 pm


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      • q October 11, 2018 at 9:06 pm

        Capital, actually.

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  • Richard October 12, 2018 at 11:20 am

    This is great news. It should put pressure on PBOT to step it up with protected bike infrastructure. I think it is relevant that other cities are making more strides in present day, while Portland rests on its laurels with past accomplishments. Portland staying #1 without earning it in a yearly (or bi-yearly) period keeps Portland stuck. It’s why we can’t even get a protected bike lane on Naito, or why a diverter on Lincoln was controversial enough to abort. We’re already #1. We don’t need any more improvements. I appreciate Bicycle Magazine’s audacity to measure our recent progress against the active momentum of other cities.

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