Look at Portland’s impressive, dedicated bicycle infrastructure. Photo credit: Greg Raisman
USA Today recently took an in-depth look at the state of bicycling in Portland, Oregon in an article titled “In Portland, Ore., Bikes Rule the Road“. Many points made in the article were eye-opening and worth highlighting.
The article begins:
America spent 50 years and billions of dollars after World War II redesigning itself so that cars could move people across this vast country more quickly.
Now, with many cities in gridlock, one-third of the population obese and climate change forcing innovators to look beyond the internal combustion engine, cities are beginning to rethink that push toward the automobile.
Perhaps no place has thought about it more than Portland, rated America’s most bike-friendly city this year by Bicycling magazine
Nationally 13% of children walk or cycle to school, according to the National Household Travel Survey whereas in Portland 31% of children walk or cycle to school!
The article also notes that Portland is constantly being visited by transportation officials from around the nation (and world) to learn how to increase bicycle mode-share:
Indeed, groups arrive almost weekly to pedal the streets and hear from city staff how Portland has accomplished what no other major U.S. city has: getting people out of their cars and onto the bike paths coursing through this hilly metropolis. (This summer alone, groups from Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, D.C., Holland, Japan and South Korea made the trek.)
While Portland continues to expand bicycling with each year, it should be understood that Portland isn’t steering towards a bike-only environment. As Jennifer Dill, director of the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium at Portland State University comments in the article:
In many cities you have no choice — you have to drive to work. Here, you have a choice. What we’ve found is that given an array of choices — driving, taking the bus, biking or walking — a lot of people will choose other options than driving
However, becoming a bike friendly city takes time. World renowned bicycle researcher at Rutgers University, John Pucher notes, “You don’t all of a sudden put in 500 miles of bike lanes.”
It took Portland 20 years to get where it is now, and while a lot of bicycle infrastructure has been built during that time, Portland’s bike network was surprisingly cheap to build. How cheap? Try the cost of a single mile of urban four-lane freeway– roughly $60 million.
Read the full story (and view the attached video) over at USA Today.