Saturday, June 13, 2015

News-Press: "Bicycling: 7 cities"--Portland, OR

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.)
Portland, Oregon, is a nirvana for people who bike. It's almost as if the sound of chirping birds has been replaced by jingle of bike bells in the city's landscape. Coming from Southwest Florida, it feels like you need to pinch yourself when you see the prevalence of infrastructure made for people on two wheels, not just the Spandex speedsters, and ask, Am I dreaming? Is this Europe?

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.
Portland, Ore. has installed several bike boxes, like this one, since 2008 to prevent bike and car crashes between drivers turning right and bicyclists going straight. At red lights, bicyclists become more visible by being in front of motorists. The green bike lane through the intersection reminds motorists and bicyclists to watch for each other.
(Photo: City of Portland.)
The city's aim, Geller said, is "building a very low-stress bicycle infrastructure that's well-connected."

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.

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