Portland ranks fifth best big city for cycling in America

Riding on the Northeast Hancock neighborhood greenway. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
(Graphic: People for Bikes)

America’s largest and most influential bike advocacy nonprofit just released their annual City Ratings and Portland has placed fifth in the large city category. And unlike many other rankings (like the silly clickbait one that got too much attention earlier this month), these actually mean something.

Industry-funded People for Bikes ranked 1,484 U.S. cities for their ratings this year on a scale from 0 to 100. Portland earned a score of 56, putting us in fifth place. The leading American city (they also ranked 249 international cities) was Minneapolis with a score of 68. San Francisco (63), Seattle (62), and Philadelphia (57) rounded out the top four. Portland finished just one point ahead of New York City.

Portland jumped up two points from last year’s rankings and has remained relatively flat since 2020. By contrast, Minneapolis made a 31-point jump in one year. For a bit of perspective on how well (or not) we are doing, one of the world’s leading cycling cities, Amsterdam, scored an 82.

People for Bikes uses a detailed process called the Bicycle Network Analysis (BNA) to arrive at these scores. Instead of only looking at self-reported mode-split numbers or the (not really that helpful) U.S. Census commuting data, the BNA goes much deeper. It attempts to assess how connected a city’s bike network is and how stressful it is to reach various locations by bike. They do this by overlaying existing bike infrastructure with things like speed limits, population centers, and the locations of jobs and other destinations. Another big part of their methodology is to look at the level of “bicycle traffic stress” likely to be associated with a given type of bikeway treatment within a network.

According to People for Bikes, a score of 50 is, ” the tipping point to becoming a great place to bike,” — so Portland is just over that hump. For a further bit of context, of all the cities ranked, the average score was 23. More than half of all U.S. cities ranked scored between 10 and 30.

Several other Oregon cities were also ranked. Below is how they fared from best to worst:

  • Ashland – 70
  • Corvallis – 63
  • Brookings – 39
  • Eugene – 36
  • Hillsboro – 36
  • Grants Pass – 33
  • Beaverton – 29
  • Bend – 29
  • Klamath Falls – 29
  • Hood River – 27
  • Tigard – 27
  • Medford – 26
  • Albany – 23
  • Oregon City – 22
  • Redmond – 22
  • Gresham – 20
  • Lake Oswego – 20
  • Happy Valley – 19
  • Salem – 17

While Portland has taken its lumps lately in terms of falling off the podium of great cycling cities, these numbers should help remind us that we have a solid foundation to build on. Of course, no rating system is perfect, but it feels like this is the best one currently on offer and we need a measurement tool to hold us accountable for progress (or slippage).

As local officials have grappled with our decline in cycling numbers, some of them act clueless as to why it might be happening. “We have the best and most complete bike infrastructure network we’ve ever had,” they say. “We have built it, but they are not coming,” they say, as they scratch their heads. It’s maddening they don’t understand that it doesn’t matter what you build, it only matters if it’s good enough to let your kids or your elders ride on it.

As this analysis helps show, it’s not the network itself that determines how many people will ride bikes; it’s whether or not they can do so without stress. To move the needle — and rise to our rightful place on top of these rankings — Portland needs to have a laser-focus on creating low-stress cycling environments citywide.

And p.s. (written, June 30th), I didn’t mention this when the post was first published. But what this and other rankings never take into account is the culture around cycling in a city. On that metric, I think Portland would rank first in the world. I’m biased, and I haven’t been to every city in the world; but I have not heard or seen of any city that comes close the vast and wonderful bike culture we have here. And it’s more important to being “bike friendly” than you might think — perhaps just as important as infrastructure!

Cityratings.peopleforbikes.org

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

Thanks for reading.

BikePortland has served this community with independent community journalism since 2005. We rely on subscriptions from readers like you to survive. Your financial support is vital in keeping this valuable resource alive and well.

Please subscribe today to strengthen and expand our work.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

110 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago

As local officials have grappled with our decline in cycling numbers, some of them act clueless as to why it might be happening. “We have the best and most complete bike infrastructure network we’ve ever had,”

2022 census numbers come out in August. I think many “people who cycle” view the precipitous decline in cycling mode share as some sort of fluke (denial?) so it will be interesting if the decline is confirmed (or worsens).

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Just show them the data. According to the Census, the steady decline started in 2014. That’s pretty strong evidence.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago

It’s hard for me to imagine any good analysis that puts Eugene below Portland, especially that far below. Eugene is easily the best biking city in the state and it has a lot to do with the attitudes of motorists there, which are generally way chiller and slower than the death trap that is Portland.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

My city of Greensboro NC has network score of 8, #578 out of 624 medium-sized cities (a really awful score in other words), yet I feel safer bicycling here than I ever did in my 18 years living in Portland Oregon. Even cities like Charlotte or DC feel safer, which makes me wonder what PFB is actually scoring.

Champs
Champs
1 year ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

YMMV but outside of some densely put together old neighborhoods, I didn’t consider Charlotte somewhere worth cycling in 2021. It was more like the postwar West Hills, with small communities linked together by undersized country roads as collectors fed into anti-human stroads and freeways.

Those winding little roads are great when you see a car every mile or two but there’s no way I would have done the six minute ride from my host’s house to the Food Lion, but from where I am now in Portland the only constraint is time, so we won’t be shopping at Chuck’s or WinCo.

David Raboin
David Raboin
1 year ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I don’t know. I lived in Charlotte for four years and Portland for five years. There’s absolutely no comparison. Charlotte was terrible for biking and Portland is pretty good.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Eugene was one of the best biking cities in the state but saw a precipitous decline in mode share in the 2010s. Build it and they don’t come.

https://eugeneweekly.com/2018/04/19/the-state-of-cycling/

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Build it and they don’t come.

What a weird comment. Did you read the article (from 2018) that you linked to? It has multiple paragraphs about how bad the infra is in Eugene.

Eugene really hasn’t built anything. The bike network still looks pretty much the same as it did when I moved there in the late 2000s. 13th is now semi-protected cycletrack, but that was only a need because students kept salmoning up 13th, there was already a good route there. There is the gutterlanes on Willamette that allows the joy of biking on a stroad. Is there anything else?

Eugene is a good biking town because the motorists are chill, not because of infrastructure, though the MUPS there are far more useful than the ones in Portland.

Eugene has a lot of the same problems that Portland has. Influx of people who were raised to drive everywhere, cheap gas, cheap cars, cheap parking, more distracted driving.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Eugene is a good biking town because the motorists are chill,

Not my experience biking in Eugene but opinions are free.

Shane
Shane
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Nearly every US city has seen a decline, including Portland, that doesn’t dismiss the disparity in the scores.

doug
doug
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Speaking as someone who lived in Eugene and now lives in Portland, the cycling experience in Eugene far exceeds the experience in Portland. They have a better network of well-connected off-street paths that take you to most areas of the city.

There has also been a concerted effort to improve their network where gaps exist. Eugene even created a dedicated web app for riders to request maintenance and report debris in bike lanes, and there is actually follow through!

The paths continue into Springfield which is improving their network too. Their middle fork path gives people a car free connection to recreation along the river, for most of that trail you would forget cars even existed.

Alex Bauman
Alex Bauman
1 year ago
Reply to  doug

I live in Eugene now and would dispute the claim that the path system here is well-connected. There is essentially one access point from downtown to the paths, and it requires traversing two blocks of uncalmed shared space and crossing two highways. There are a lot of access points in the River Road area but in most other parts of town the access points are closer to highway spacing.

Not going to disagree that it’s better biking here than Portland, though, and it’s true that city staff seem to want to improve things. Like most path systems, though, the one in Eugene is mostly only useful for recreation unless you’re going to the mall.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Bauman

As someone who bikes every day but has zero interest in recreational riding, I found cycling from A to B in Eugene to be frustrating due to the prevalence of gaps in bike facilities. I can get just about anywhere in Portland that I want to go without having to exit a bike facility for more than 2-3 blocks but Eugene’s bike infrastructure is quite sparse outside of the downtown core:

Eugene (only the red, blue, and purple lines are designated bike facilities):
comment image

Shane
Shane
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Green is also designated bike facility. Neighborhood Greenway, Bike Boulevard or “Bike Route”.
Many of the small grey lines are also quiet neighborhood streets (not designated but good for biking on still).

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  Shane

The busiest neighborhood street in Eugene is going to be calmer and better for biking than the best ‘greenway’ in Portland.

George
George
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

I would put Corvallis over Eugene personally. Corvallis doesn’t have as much fancy infrastructure but they get the job done. Proven by their high split of people who commute by bike!

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

An analysis, like this one, that is based of the built bicycle network would never be able to capture that nuance. And one that could, in a reasonably systematic, objective way, would probably be orders of magnitude more expensive to conduct.

Shane
Shane
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Exactly- something is wrong with their algorithm/scoring system if Eugene scores this low.
In its current state I don’t have much faith in the People for Bikes scoring tool.

Also, how are they the “largest and most influential” national advocacy organization? What about the League of American Bicyclists? They each have their strengths and weaknesses but I’d argue the League is more influential in a lot of ways.

dan
dan
1 year ago

It’s maddening they don’t understand that it doesn’t matter what you build, it only matters if it’s good enough to let your kids or your elders ride on it.

So true. I don’t know why it’s so hard for them to apply this test and see how the infrastructure falls short. Do the folks at PBOT who design bike infrastructure ride bikes themselves?

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  dan

PBOT doesn’t care about cycling or really even walking. There’s always this discussion of ‘why can’t PBOT build good infrastructure’ when the reality is they don’t want to. Good infrastructure slows motorists down.

Take the beg barrels they installed on the ‘greenways’. They went through all the work of identifying where traffic diverters should be, they did the outreach they would need for traffic diverters, and then they installed beg barrels they know don’t do anything. It’s not that they are incompetent, hough they are in many other areas, it’s that they know greenways are important routes for motorists to avoid traffic congestion and they want to maintain those motorist routes.

The only thing that matters to them is making the bike network on the map look bigger, so they can appear to be progressive. If you look at their actual actions, its abundantly clear that the only mode of transportation they care about is cars.

PBOT is the enemy of anyone who wants safe, non-SOV ways to travel through the city. They aren’t neutral and they certainly aren’t an ally.

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Comment of the Week!

surly ogre
surly ogre
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

Why isn’t it the politicians we elect, such as Mayor Wheeler and other commissioners who dictate to PBOTdirectors what the streets should look like? I think PBOT know what it needs to do. It’s the political duds above them like Wheeler and others who fail to lead, fail to inspire, fail to encourage, and fail to prioritize the safety of people who walk, ride bicycles and take transit.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  dan

Exactly, thank you! Jonathan. I think maybe people are starting to get this in Portland finally. PBOT’s “bike network” includes residential streets with bike shaped paint on the road and an ostensive limit of 300 car/day, and standard bike lanes (e.g., Anything from Vancouver ave to Lombard Blvd). Look up and down this comment section. We will most certainly have a commenter that states something like, “But I feel fine riding on these.” and “They’ve built so much infrastructure already!” If we want to increase the modal share, Portland needs a 1) physically separate, 2) functional (e.g., gets to stores, schools), 3) network (e.g., with no gaps). We need a PBL network for kids and old people, not professional cyclists.

Recent email received from Mapps’ office: “I agree that a connected system will likely look great for usership across the City, but finding funding for protected bike lanes (which typically come along with other major roadway changes and improvements) will be the primary stumbling block for a city-wide cohesive expansion.”

PBOT consistently thinks of PBLs as “capital projects” whereas a PBL network can easily be built with (as demonstrated by better block) plywood and planters. Roads are mutable. Show the public that. Shit, advocates will build them for PBOT. Portland just needs PBOT to get out of its own way. When PBOT/Mapps says we need money, tell them to “show you the money”: plan and build interim PBLs on Broadway/Weidler and Vancouver/Williams. That could get done in July.

jenn
jenn
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

“1) physically separate, 2) functional (e.g., gets to stores, schools), 3) network (e.g., with no gaps).”

This is exactly right! I bike daily for transportation and my frustrations with biking in Portland are always in 1 or more of these 3 categories.

There is a route I take a few times a week that feels like it was thought out by someone who has never once ridden a bike on a city street- I usually end up taking some non-bike designated streets because to stick to the route that is recommended for bikes makes no sense.

I can tell you that I was previously one of those “But I feel fine riding on these” folks, after 20+ years of biking in American cities. But, that’s because I never experienced what was actually possible. I recently visited some towns in the Netherlands and Belgium where I got to experience true (and safe) bike infrastructure- it absolutely ruined me for biking here. It’s like…. whatever psychological armor I built up over the decades to allow myself to bike daily in unsafe conditions is gone now that I have seen what is possible!

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  jenn

Thanks for the story Jenn. I think that transition you’re talking about takes time and maybe a few things 1) exposure to other cultures/possibilities (e.g., Dutch), 2) empathy for some differently abled folks (e.g., intellectually disabled, kids), 3) recognition that people and the environment are mutable (e.g., traffic is created not fixed), 4) recognition that we have built up “psychological armor” or a tolerance for unsafe conditions (e.g., riding a bike on a busy highway). Not a lot of people in the US get these opportunities so “vehicular cycling” still remains pretty popular. But that seems like it’s slowly changing.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

The fetishization of protected bike lanes in Portland is absurd. They have their place on higher-speed roads but the vast majority of roads in many cities with exceedingly high mode share do not have “protected” bike lanes:

comment image

Commercial areas like Hawthorne don’t need protected bike lanes, they should be pedestrianized streets with dedicated transit lanes.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

LOL. Exactly.

Will
Will
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

To nit-pick a little, I’d argue that a pedestrianized street *is* protected bike infrastructure. The exclusion of personal automobiles being the highest level of protection.

Luke
Luke
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I think Will’s got it right; those are the dots you’re not connecting. Insofar as the point of a physically-protected bike lane is to provide a physical barrier to separate cars from bikes, a street which is off-limits to cars IS a “physically-protected bike lane”. In absence of PBOT/ODOT’s willingness to just close off streets to cars completely, a physical barrier on streets/roads that also carry cars is a totally reasonable expectation.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  Luke

Yes, thanks guys. A pedestrian plaza that allows truck delivery and emergency vehicles is functionally… a PBL. A bridge that allows pedestrian and bike traffic (and emergency vehicles) is… a PBL. In the US we’re still getting used to the idea of separating modes. But let’s remind ourselves that the US was one of the first countries to build cycle tracks… or PBLs. They understood this idea back in the late 19th century because… duh. We’re kind of just getting a grasp on it again.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago
Reply to  eawriste

A pedestrian plaza is a “protected bike lane”?

People on bikes are, at best, guests in a pedestrian areas.

In cities with high bike mode share it’s common to ban people on bikes from pedestrian spaces (and with good reason).

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago

“We have the best and most complete bike infrastructure network we’ve ever had,” they say. 

Well our MUP’s are only open to the bravest of riders. They are essentially closed to most average citizens thanks to the local governments here (Multnonah County, ODOT, PBOT/City of Portland) which have allowed them to become linear “campgrounds”.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 year ago

I agree I think people who say stuff like this never ride them or are outliers who did actually have a bad experience. I ride the 205 path all the way south to Milwaukie and all the way north to Vancouver and have never once had anyone harass me or even interact with me other than looking in my direction.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I am not sure it is outliers? They are certainly ridable as long as you dodge litter and such. I would not call them family friendly which is usually the Bikeportland standard except when it comes to MUP’s in the Portland metro area and then passable and rideable is acceptable for whatever reason?
It should not be. They should look like the Fanno Creek trail in Beaverton. No litter, no camping. Walkers, frisbee golf players, cyclists and enjoyable public space that NO ONE is worried about.
Or the Vernonia trail, why should that not be normal?
We pay for it. People deserve it. No one should live on it or make excuses for people who do. Not being harassed is the least expected in our public spaces.

idlebytes
idlebytes
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

Yes we should provide people with housing so they don’t have to live in squalor in public spaces. The reality is there’s 5,000 plus people in this city with nowhere to go. The ones that choose to camp along are MUPs aren’t attacking everyone that comes by and so no they are not essentially closed. Randi’s characterization of them is way off. Probably because Randi doesn’t actually ride them like a lot of people that deride the homeless.

It would be great if we had a place for people to go that isn’t our MUPs but in reality we don’t. Also in reality most of the people living along them want to be left alone just as much as the people that ride them. So yes it is outliers. Sorry you had to dodge litter your life must be very hard.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

“Yes we should provide people with housing so they don’t have to live in squalor in public spaces.”
This gets thrown out here in the comments all the time.
How much are you personally donating for housing?

J_R
J_R
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

Campers “aren’t attacking everyone who comes by” is a really low standard.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

You lost me at “we should provide people with housing.”

donel a courtney
donel a courtney
1 year ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I’ve been jumped on the springwater. Once is enough.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago

If a 6’2″ 190lb man can’t ride these paths at 4am and feel somewhat safe, why do you expect other, perhaps less imposing, people to?

Debris, carts and milling people made any passage through the linear camps along 205 a problem at that time.

Worse was the rats. At 4am my light would send them scurrying across the path. So many that I hit several when I used to ride it.

One time a rat came up off my front wheel, hit my right foot, went through the frame and my left foot sent it off into the bushes.

I haven’t been up there in a while, but the passage between Burnside and Stark used to be so narrow that I literally could not ride my trike through without hitting tents and stuff.

The one time I went through there I jsut dropped the hammer and hit things – I heard yelling behind me so I never went back. Ever since I used 90 something to get to Stark before getting on the path.

Whether they’re better now or not, one experience like that and most people simply won’t go back.

How about the guy who screams obscenities at me when I pass him on the Springwater on the Willamette? Apparently my 400lumen light, set 18″ above the ground and directed down so the top of the hotspot hits the ground 25ft out (1 sec at my usual speeds) was enough for that.

I can go on – most times I deal with this stuff by dropping the hammer and daring them to take a 50t ring in the shins at 20mph.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
1 year ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

Yes, the rats are ubiquitous. Take the 205 path home at dusk and you’ll see them scurrying across the path, in and out of trash piles.

Charlie Hales opened the flood gates in 2015 when he declared every square inch of our public property open for abuse by “campers”. It’s been a rapid decline ever since.

I’ve visited every other major west coast city (SEA, SF, LA, SD) and I’ve rented bikes in most of tem. No, it’s decidedly NOT like this everywhere. Even on “skid row” in downtown Los Angeles, I did not see anything that compares to Portland’s #1 problem.

Is it any wonder our population keeps shrinking?

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Fronk

When it comes to trail users I greatly prefer rats and raccoons to homeowners.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Thanks for admitting that you don’t actually care about MUP access and only see the unhoused as leverage to achieve your political goals.

The more comments I read here, the more I’m convinced that very few of y’all actually ride a bicycle around here on a regular basis.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
1 year ago

I live two blocks from the 205 path. I can’t go even 1/3 mile north or south without having to avoid tents, trash, RVs etc on the path.

When I last passed through the path behind the Powell MAX stop there was a 5-person brawl happening between the line of tents and the ODOT fence. I detoured to 92nd (no bike lane) because it was impossible to pass.

Practically every time I head up to Gateway Green I see drug use, everything from the now-ever-present pill smoking to needles hanging out of arms. No wonder people want to park in Maywood, it’s the only segment of trail where that sort of thing isn’t allowed.

And it didn’t used to be like this, I’ve been out here 10 years. I’m tired of the dismissive astroturfing from people in the bike community; you’re advocating against everyone’s interests, even the people who are spiraling towards death on the streets.

Baffling how anyone would be so dishonest as to ignore what we see every day. And cyclists and MUP users see it most acutely… seems like you haven’t been out this far east in a few years.

donel a courtney
donel a courtney
1 year ago

I literally cannot understand how you Jonathan can have this experience of the paths having no problems. It therefore causes me to doubt your impartiality and capacity as a reporter, at least on any topic related to Portland’s social ills. In many comments over the last few years you have shown yourself to be heavily aligned with the activist political takes in Portland. Typically the activists try to convince people that the safety issues on the streets of Portland are not as bad as being expressed. Nothing you write seems to challenge my conslusion about your biases on these issues.

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Fronk

I nominate this for comment of the week!

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago

Says the athletic male without kids in tow…

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Randi J

Jonathan has three kids, two are still at home.

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago

…pretty soon Jonathan’s grown kids will be carting him around, it sounds like. 😉

Fred
Fred
1 year ago

It’s not about knowing you, JM. You have to admit that a comment like “I ride the MUPs and I don’t see a problem” is really lazy and lacks empathy. You seem to have a lot of empathy for certain people in many situations, so why not the same for people on the MUPs?

You seem to understand the concept of “white male privilege,” for example. Why do you not see that a woman or a person of color, for example, might find the MUPs scary?

Dean
Dean
1 year ago

So my wife just imagined this at the I-205 path at the Parkrose Transit Center? This is not an isolated incedent when you identify as female. They were not just looking in her direction. They were actively threatening.

confronted at blocked bike lane.jpg
Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
1 year ago
Reply to  Dean

That’s awful and I’m sorry that happened to her. And ashamed that my city tolerates and encourages this behavior.

Back in 2021 I convinced my wife that riding the 205 path up to Broughton Beach (her first time) was doable, and I was hoping that a recent sweep had made it a reasonably comforting, welcoming place. Instead we were forced to essentially ride through ~3 foot gaps around structures, open fires, and unleashed aggressive dogs. It was much worse that I’d experienced only a few months prior.

She has since told me that she has no interest in returning, unless we drive. And I don’t blame her; we were within arms’ reach of people who showed obvious signs of intoxication and / or mental instability. Nobody should have to deal with this in order to use our MUPs. I’m tired of the excuses, tired of the mental gymnastics and goalpost moving. We need to reclaim our public space for the uses it was intended for.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  Dean

Thanks for posting this – I think those of us who have (big) white male privilege have to actively stop and think what people’s reactions to us would be like if we weren’t (on the surface) as physically imposing.

My partner of 34 years (!) is 4’10” tall and walking with her I learned very quickly how people’s behavior changes.

To Jonathan and the others who post “I rode from x to y without issue” as a way of invalidating other people’s lived experience is really a crappy thing to do.

Men do it about women’s experiences all the time, white men about BIPOC people’s experiences and so on.

It needs to stop.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago

I hear this a lot, but when I ride them they are open and feel safe to ride.”

That reads as disagreeing that there’s an issue.

Brandon
Brandon
1 year ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

This is a far reach. Everyone is allowed to share their own experiences and perspectives. Just stating what your experience of something is, doesn’t mean that that’s what it’s going to be for everyone. And most of us have others in our lives without the big white male privilege that we think about when have an opinion of if something seems safe or not. For someone like Jonathan, I don’t want to speak for him, but I’d imagine when he bikes through an area, he thinks about the larger bike community, his family, etc biking through the same area before he thinks if it’s safe or not.

You state that you stop and think about what other’s reactions would be if you weren’t physically imposing, but you assume Jonathan or anyone else doesn’t do that.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago
Reply to  Brandon

For someone like Jonathan, I don’t want to speak for him, but I’d imagine when he bikes through an area, he thinks about the larger bike community, his family, etc biking through the same area before he thinks if it’s safe or not.

But that’s exactly what JM did *NOT* do in this case. He said “It’s fine for me so I don’t see what the problem is.”

I hope he’ll do better in future.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Brandon

All this talk about “white male privilege” makes me reflect on the fact that most of those doing the menacing and blocking on the bike paths are white and male. Perhaps taking over the trails is itself an exercise in privilege.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago
Reply to  Dean

Wow – that is an actual takeover of public space and should not be allowed!

ActualPractical
ActualPractical
1 year ago

Saying this unironically… I wish there was periodically updated info on the state of MUPs. I swore off 205 MUP after scary run-ins, but it was fine when I finally rode it again recently. It’s a shame if some have improved but people are still scared off based on experiences during the “nadir of Portland” era of 2021-2022.

Mitch
Mitch
1 year ago
Reply to  Randi J

5 weeks ago I rode from Vancouver down to Gladstone on the i205 MUP. I didn’t find anywhere “essentially closed”

When was the last time you rode it?

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
1 year ago
Reply to  Mitch

Two weeks ago. Tents / tarps strung across path between Stark and Burnside.

Five-person brawl next to tents at the Powell MAX station.

At the junction of the 205 and Springwater paths, several large camps on the asphalt, one with a campfire damaging the surface.

No way to pass any of this without coming within an unsafe distance from unfriendly users of hard drugs.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Fronk

No way to pass any of this without coming within an unsafe distance from fellow residents of east portland.

20 feet, 30 feet, 40 feet, or more?

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

What does it matter? Why did you make excuses for people camping on our public spaces?
Especially someones who claims to espouses the Commons for the greater good….
This is American capitalism run amok, the rampant disregard of the public good in all the ways that capitalism sucks and you epitomize it which is so ironic…

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I’m talking arm’s length. The ability to casually assault me, with zero fear of consequences, while I innocently ride past on my bicycle. It’s happened before and it will certainly happen again as long as folks like yourself keep willfully denying reality and making up excuses.

And it’s cute that you call these unfriendly and physically threatening people “residents”. It’s just more mental gymnastics for religious adherents and enablers.

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago
Reply to  Mitch

1 month ago. It was like Dave Fronk describes.

Mark Linehan
Mark Linehan
1 year ago
Reply to  Randi J

My experience is that both the I-205 and Springwater MUPs are much better recently than they were in the past.

A suggestion: maybe BikePortland could have a way for people to report conditions on the MUPs. The way some hiking organizations allow people to report trail conditions (e.g. “the downed trees from the xxx storm have finally been cleared from x to y on the z trail”). An easy way: define some forums, one for each major MUP, for people to comment on their observations. The benefit: folks who are considering which way to ride can find a recent condition update.

maxD
maxD
1 year ago

A few years back, there was an interactive map to identify network gaps- that was super useful! Soemething like that would be amazing

Daniel Reimer
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Linehan

The forums here are a cesspool and I can’t imagine it will be anything other than an echo chamber complaining about homeless people unless heavily moderated.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

The forums are heavily moderated. That’s where Jonathan decided that one could not call an encampment with dozens of disassembled bikes a “chop shop” because, idk, language policing is going to do literally anything to solve the issues staring all of us in our faces?

donel a courtney
donel a courtney
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

So the best way forward is to stop allowing people to discuss their problems with the government in public? Sounds quite Soviet.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  Randi J

Speaking only for the Willamette Greenway Trail–I’ve been on it twice a day for years and it’s been basically perfect. I’ve often been on the eastside river trail between downtown and the Sellwood Bridge with no issues ever.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
1 year ago
Reply to  qqq

You’re always welcome out here on the east side, where the city just loves to shove all its problems.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Fronk

That’s why I specifically said “for the Willamette Greenway Trail” and the particular stretch of the eastside river trail (which I also don’t consider “east side”) I’m familiar with.

I was responding to the comment that “Our MUP’s…are essentially closed…” to point out that that’s not true in my experience on the paths I mentioned.

I didn’t make my comment to dismiss or question what people are experiencing on the east side (and not saying you’re accusing me of that) but to point out that for whatever reason (my experience is also that the west side often gets more attention from the City) the trails at the river don’t have the problems that people are seeing on the east side.

I think that’s more accurate and useful than just saying they’re all bad, as the comment I responded to did.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  qqq

Wasn’t there a massive shanty town near the floating dock for quite a while?

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

What floating dock?

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  qqq

“I’ve often been on the eastside river trail between downtown and the Sellwood Bridge with no issues ever.”

I’ve rarely encountered issues there either (aside from riders going too fast for conditions), but I wish I could say the same for the natural areas on either side of the path, which frequently feature large piles of garbage and abandoned campsites.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago

Bummed to see the notably lower scores in the surrounding area, but knowing where we stand is the first step towards making improvements.

Beaverton 29
Gresham 20
Happy Valley 19
Hillsborough 36
Lake Oswego 20
Oregon City 22
Tigard 27

Their map has some neat info built into it.

Luke
Luke
1 year ago

Yeah, that’s what’s dismayed me the most, having moved out here a few years ago because I heard it was friendly to those didn’t want to drive for every little thing. Once you leave downtown Portland (and if we’re honest, in enough places even there), there’s nothing besides a patchwork of pathways. Narrow sidewalks, freeway-wide-and-fast surface roads, closed crosswalks, bike gutters everywhere….At least I can say Washington county mostly does NOT want you to not drive anywhere, for anything.

jake
jake
1 year ago

I am almost read it as Portland ranks fifth best big TENT city.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
1 year ago
Reply to  jake

Tent n’ Fent

Robert Scott Lechert
Robert Scott Lechert
1 year ago

I cannot believe that Seattle and San Francisco ranked higher than Portland. San Francisco is great for having a bike that you then take out of the city to bicycle somewhere else. Seattle traffic and drivers are insane and not very bike aware. I find Portland drivers are extremely bike friendly and I bike commuted for three years to work, five miles each way, all year round and never had any issues/accidents.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago

The SF ranking surprised me also. I lived near there for five years and I hated every bike ride I took there.

The standards that these rankings use are bogus, IMHO. They should go back to basics and measure things like:

  • Are bike lanes and paths continuous? (almost never true in Portland)
  • Are there MUPs where riders feel safe? (mostly no in Portland)
  • Is bike infrastructure maintained (mostly no in Portland)
  • Is bike infrastructure standardized or is it a crazy mish-mash of experimental treatments? (Portland is mish and mash)

That sort of thing.

Eli
Eli
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

Ditto. I lived in SF for years, and am going there next week.

I can’t think of many well-designed paths, or even places in SF I’d feel comfortable riding. Maybe Golden Gate Park… if I had a way to get my bike there (probably via car)?

Every year these scores come out, they feel more and more like randomly selected cities — and from an organization whose ranking credibility deserves to be called into doubt.

Stephen
Stephen
1 year ago

“good enough to let your kids or your elders ride on it”
Thanks for making this very important point. This must be our mantra when engaging with PBOT. The reason I’ve become active in transportation advocacy is because of the risks my children face. Before kids, I was oblivious to this perspective. It seems that (at least here in SW Portland) the existing design code has setup an active transportation network for “abled-bodied adults” only. This is unfortunate.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen

Beware, Stephen, of bike infrastructure designed for “kids and elders” that basically infantilizes all cyclists.

Look no further than the new bike-sidewalk on SW Capitol Hwy which will be officially opened with much hoo-haw next week. You want to ride fast downhill, but you can’t. Instead you need to avoid obstacles like telephone pools and mailboxes. Want to cross an intersection at speed? You can’t b/c you need to weave right and join the crosswalk with the peds! Be careful not to fall off a tall curb somewhere! – these tall curbs are everywhere but they will protect you from the marauding cars that kill people constantly in regular bike lanes.

A regular bike lane that would have allowed cyclists to ride quickly and efficiently downhill was deemed unfriendly to kids and elders, I guess, so this is what we’re left with.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago

I would gladly “let” my kids or elders ride in Portland.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago

Lots of foreign cities mixed into the rankings, with a clear and obvious bias towards Dutch and Belgian cities being the best. And how does one compare Eugene to Bruges? Well, Bruges had its boom periods in the 1100s and 1300s followed by 700 years of slow decline while Eugene had its boom period in the 1920s through 60s; plus Eugene is bigger and hillier. Otherwise they are completely just each other. Bruges ties with Utrecht at #3 for overall network.

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Having cycled those cities…there may be additional PfB BNA points for miles of cobblestones. Sadly Portland has taken out most of the remaining cobbled streets in the Pearl.

Geohiker
Geohiker
1 year ago

I am surprised that Seattle edged out Portland. I recently took the Amtrak train up to Seattle with my bike and I have some bones to pick. 2nd Ave through downtown has great bike infrastructure with a great two-way protected (planter boxes) bikeway and dedicated signals, but the timing is whack and impractical. I had to stop at every other light because car traffic is prioritized and there are no sensors to detect bikes. In comparison, on SW Broadway (one-way bike lane and less protected) you can bike from one end to the other without stopping. It didn’t matter that I was biking at 10pm with minimal car traffic, I still had to wait for the lights to cycle on 2nd Ave. Some people might consider running the reds in this situation, but due to the topography there is minimal visibility of cross-traffic blasting down the hill or barrelling up from the waterfront. 

This gets to my second bone, the topography is less conducive for cycling. During my trip I had to climb up Fremont Ave and up to Capitol Hill which I could manage, but it would be hard for a casual cyclist. Obviously this hurdle could be overcome with an E-bike, but I think this is a natural constraint to biking accessibility in Seattle that should be factored into the score. All this to say, I only rode a small sample of Seattle’s bike infrastracture and cannot speak to it comprehensively, I just wanted to add my two-cents.  

Eli
Eli
1 year ago
Reply to  Geohiker

+1. I live in Capitol Hill.

I just don’t see how I could realistically use a bike for transportation in the city — other than the few areas that have protected bike lanes or the Burke-Gilman.

I appreciate that Seattle has built a lot of very expensive neighborhood greenways. But as someone who doesn’t attend public school (I’m an adult w/no kids) or go to parks regularly, I don’t see what I’d ever use them for. Inexplicably, they didn’t connect them to our light rail station or shopping or anywhere useful. When I walk on them, they’re mostly empty.

So I’m still going to down to the “lesser” biking city of Portland, or up to Vancouver BC, if I want a weekend where I’m doing things on bike.

Ben G
Ben G
1 year ago

Is there an explanation how Minneapolis went from 9th to 1st in a year? Just strikes me as a red flag. Guessing they just re-classified some infrastructure or something. Couldn’t find anything on their site comparing YoY.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben G

Protected Bikeway Program

The city recognizes the need for a network of separated trails and on-street physically protected bikeways. It’s not great, but at least they have a plan.

Alex Bauman
Alex Bauman
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben G

The PfB ratings weigh speed limits very heavily and Minneapolis reduced its speed limit on most streets from 30 to 25 mph in 2020 (PfB seems to have been late updating this as the last time I looked at their site Minneapolis was rated fairly low).

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Bauman

Alex, great point.

surly ogre
surly ogre
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben G

Minneapolis outscored Portland in every category they rated.
People – 72 vs 57
Opportunity – 64 vs 54
Core Services – 64 vs 57
Recreation -80 vs 61
Retail – 73 vs 68
Transit – 61 vs 40

https://cityratings.peopleforbikes.org/cities/minneapolis-mn
https://cityratings.peopleforbikes.org/cities/portland-or

here are PFB suggestions on how all cities can improve their scores:
https://cityratings.peopleforbikes.org/create-great-places

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago

Jonathan, you forgot one of Oregon’s cities: Vancouver…;-)

The Oregon Territory’s second largest urban city came in forth (40 points) behind Corvalis …

Fred
Fred
1 year ago

To move the needle — and rise to our rightful place on top of these rankings — Portland needs to have a laser-focus on creating low-stress cycling environments citywide.

I categorically disagree with the concluding claim at the end of this article. It’s a pure assertion, not a fact. And the claim actually goes against an earlier assertion in the article that Portland is gaining bike infrastructure, yet the needle is not moving.

I’ve started to become very pessimistic that nothing short of a disaster will get most people out of cars and onto bikes. I look around my relatively affluent Southwest Portland neighborhood and almost NO ONE is ever on a bike. Why? Because it’s just too darned easy and comfortable to drive a car. Yes, everything is set up for cars currently, but let’s say city gov’t came along and made bike infrastructure that is JUST AS GOOD as the current MV infrastructure. Would people ditch their cars? Some would but I’m convinced 80% would continue to drive as long as they could afford to, since most people prefer the option that requires the least effort.

Yes, let’s build better bike infrastructure, but a whole lot of other stuff also needs to happen before the mode-share needle will move.

eawriste
eawriste
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

“…let’s say city gov’t came along and made bike infrastructure that is JUST AS GOOD as the current MV infrastructure.”

What does this mean? How would that happen? Street and public space is finite. Building physically separated infrastructure for bikes that is equal to MV infrastructure would reduce space for cars by multiple orders of magnitude. Here is the just the parking space dedicated to cars (not even streets), which covers around 5% of land in the US. Los Angelos has 200 square miles of parking. Again, we’re just talking about SOV parking, not even street space dedicated for cars.

Let’s add street space. Some conservative estimates of roads and parking lots put city space at around 30% depending on the city (NYC would dedicate less space than LA for example). NYC has 1,500,000,000 square feet of street space, and less than 1% is dedicated to bikes. There are 320 miles of separated bike lanes in Amsterdam and not surprisingly it has a very high bike mode share (~40%). In fact, almost all cities that dedicate a lot of space to a separated bike network have a high mode share (Please find one that doesn’t.). Makes you think.

Portland has < 20 miles of dedicated infrastructure? Take a second and estimate how much space would be needed to dedicate put bikes/peds infrastructure to make it “just as good” as cars. What would streets look like? What would our bike mode share be?

AndyK
AndyK
1 year ago

This rating system has some flaws, like the author says. It assumes everyone is “interested but concerned” riders that don’t venture beyond the city limits, and places a high importance on riding to work and shopping. SF and Seattle ahead of Portland? pshhh

And in what universe is Hillsboro a better biking city than Bend?! Bend has several hundred miles of MTB and a great scene for roadies & triathletes, and 300 days of sun, while Hillsboro has 8in white stripes adjacent to 55mph arterials.

To correct these inaccuracies, I suggest a weighted wildcard category that reaches beyond the city limits and assigns points to subjective things like: Pedalpalooza, access to gravel and single track, Bike parks, bike theft, access to “century” type road rides, climbs, number of bike clubs & advocacy groups, air quality & weather, and local government.

Then, we’re back on top.

Amit Zinman
1 year ago

But number one in bike fun!
https://youtu.be/_7JOyAknBuk

Jason VH
1 year ago

t’s maddening they don’t understand that it doesn’t matter what you build, it only matters if it’s good enough to let your kids or your elders ride on it.”

This. so much this.

Jim Calhoon
Jim Calhoon
1 year ago

Interesting article, being a Controls Engineer I live for numbers. As usual the the rank and file of this form choose to dump on PBOT. But if you went through the numbers, biking (according to PFB) sucks everywhere. Portland was 4th among Large US cities. It ranks 60 out of 1484 for all towns and cities in the US that were ranked. If you narrow it down to the West Coast then were 16 out of 234. By the numbers Portland may not be what everyone wants but there a are 1424 places in the US worst. Of course you have the option to move to one of the 59 places ranked higher than Portland. Though considering SF is ranked higher but I would not consider that a move up along with a few of the other cities on the list. Anytime PBOT adds anything for bicycle riders they get ridiculed by the commenters on this site. If I was the workers at PBOT and read the comments here I would tell the cycling community to pound sand. Since many of you are convinced PBOT doesn’t care about you, I can suggest some cities to visit where the DOTs do not care about people on bikes, pedestrians or even drivers.

ActualPractical
ActualPractical
1 year ago

This part is 90% of what matters: “it only matters if it’s good enough to let your kids or your elders ride on it.”

I’m a diehard, I used to ride in Charlotte, NC and was nearly killed every time I rode. I didn’t stop because I love cycling. Call me the remaining 10%.

Living in Portland is a comparative paradise, relatively safe, good wayfinding (w/o checking phone), and the network is extensive. But I have kids that are 6 and 7. We ride as much as we can, but it’s stressful so I sometimes just can’t bring myself to do it. Ironically Charlotte’s off-street greenway network would have been superior, albeit limited in reach.

Best PDX example is getting from inner NE to the Eastbank esplanade/downtown. No one should have to drive it.
1) Multnomah is ok and we ride it but protected lanes aren’t complete and drop off when it gets to be the MOST dangerous part from MLK past Moda -i.e. PBOT only did the easy part. It’s very hard to cross traffic with kids to make a left. I dare PBOT staff to try with their kids.
2) Lloyd near Blumenauer is nice now, but, again it’s incomplete so can’t pass through without stress.
3) Broadway isn’t worth mentioning, that’s Charlotte level danger.

PBOT, get out on a bike with kids and then come ask why we don’t see more people ride.