Monday, May 24, 2010

Bike City USA No Longer

No way! Way. Portland dethroned as America's top cycling city
By Joseph Rose, The Oregonian
April 06, 2010, 10:53AM
hawthorne1jpg-c17f459f64827f4b_medium.jpgView full sizeThe OregonianDespite crowded bridges, Portland has be dethroned as America's best cycling city.
Bicycling magazine just released its bi-annual list of "America's Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities" and Portland is ... that's a typo, right?

No. 2?

Yep, after a long ride at the top, Portland has slipped a notch, losing the Bicycling crown to Minneapolis.

"Despite the cold wintertime climate," the magazine says, "Minneapolis has a thriving bike community. It has 120 miles of on- and off-street bicycle facilities, plus indoor bike parking and other cycling-friendly facilities."

But. But. What about Portland's booming bike economy and its second-to-none percentage of daily bicycle commuters and its $600 million 2030 Bicycle Plan, envisioning a day when 25 percent of all trips in the city will be made on two wheels?

Well, Bicycling loves all that, noting stumptown's "innovative programs, from designated bike-only areas at traffic signals to free bike lights." But, according to the May issue, Portland can no longer call itself "Bike City U.S.A." without sideways looks from a Midwest city known for its long, frozen winters.

Boulder, Colo., Seattle and Eugene round out the top five. Salem was ranked 19th and Corvallis landed at no. 2 on the list of best small bicycling cities.

Bicycling said the cities are ranked based on the number of bike lanes and routes, bike commuters, cycling events and renowned bike shops.

This is sort of a big deal, since many consider the magazine the monthly bible of bicycling. Portland has been quick to hold up the mag's No. 1 ranking for political and tourism pushes.

Still, Portland Mayor Sam Adams wasn't impressed. It's got to be a fluke, he said. Maybe the editors just wanted to freshen up the list with an underdog.

"I believe the author gave them 'extra-credit' for biking during Minnesota's snowy winters," Adams said. "Here 'snow' is a fancy word for 'stay home' -- even for cars."

The magazine story isn't online just yet, but Hard Drive's issue has arrived and it features dirty-mouthed Minneapolis bike builder Erik Noren making a rather disparaging remark about how Portland ain't so bad.

“(Bleep) Portland!” he opines upon learning I am trying to discover why Minneapolis deserves top status over what would seem the logical choice. “All I ever hear is about how cool Portland is. Who rides through the (bleep) we do? We ride more by accident than they do on purpose.”

Them's pedalin' words!

We're waiting to hear back from Bicycling editor-in-chief Loren Mooney to get a more detail on the thinking behind the rankings.

For now, there's just this official quote from a news release:

“Bicycling’s Best Cities list this year proves that great things can happen in short periods of time, even in the largest metropolitan areas. New York City is literally re-engineering its streets to accommodate bikes. And watching a city like Miami pull a 180 to become bike friendly has been incredibly gratifying for us. This year’s list is evidence that a much needed, far reaching pro-bike movement is in full swing, all across the country.”

In other words, it's not you, Portland, it's the rest of the country. Apparently, other cities have caught the bicycling bug. Some are accelerating faster than Portland.

According to Bicycling, Minneapolis has 127 miles of bikeways, with 83 of those being off-street trails. Oh, there's more bike parking per capita in Minneapolis than any other city in the country. What's more, in June, Minneapolis will start the largest bike-share program in the country.

Minneapolis media (we're looking at you Star-Tribune) are already getting cocky.

Portland is going to have to live with No.2 for the next year. But at least PDX is a long way from the worst cycling cities: Birmingham, Ala., Jacksonville, Fla., and Memphis, Tenn.

-- Joseph Rose, Twitter: pdxcommute

1 comment:

  1. Although this article seems to take offense for the lack of the number one spot for bikers in the US, we should be proud. All we can ask is to set an example for the other cities in the US (but it doesn't hurt to have a little Portland pride). With things such as the 2030 bike plan Portland will undoubtedly reclaim the throne. In effect this article shows us that here is room for improvements and we can make Portland a easier traveled city.