NP feature 6/14/15--Chapter 5: Portland, OR
Link to Overview article: Bicycling: 7 cities that will make Florida riders jealous
CAN WE DESIGN IT FOR A 12-YEAR-OLD?
|Portland tries to make biking on the roads more comfortable by separating bicyclists from traffic with planters.|
(Photo: City of Portland.)
Roger Geller, the city's bicycle coordinator, said he started with Portland in the 1990s around when then-city councilman, now-U.S. congressman Earl Blumenauer, suggested developing a plan for bicycling and carrying it out, Geller said.
Bike-friendly infrastructure boomed. Bicycle use penetrated deeper into the populace.
Some quick facts from the city's website: At about 6 percent, Portland has had the highest percentage of bike commuters of any large American city. There are at least 319 miles of bikeway, and bicycle infrastructure was estimated at a $60 million value in 2008, or roughly the cost of one mile of urban freeway.
He estimated about 60 percent of the city's population is interested in biking but concerned about the dangers. The city is retrofitting streets by such measures as reducing speeds and creating physical barriers between cars and bikes. Those moves increase safety and encourage more folks to bike.
In the absence of good design, only the people who identify as cyclists will ride, he said. He subscribes to the idea also promoted by PeopleForBikes: "Can we design it so it's comfortable and safe for a 12-year-old?"
PeopleForBikes, a bicycling industry coalition and a charitable foundation, has personified this vision. Her name is Isabella.