Published on June 16th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro5
Why Portland Became A Biking Mecca
June 16th, 2014 by Christopher DeMorro
While some cities are struggling to grapple with congestion issues and increasing bicycle ridership, Portland has become something of a biking mecca. But how did they do it, and why did it happen in Portland of all places?
Grist lays out four reasons why they think Portland has become such an important place to the biking movement, chief among them is the city’s head start beginning in the 1960s. Portland attracted all sorts of hippie types looking to simplify their lives. But the biggest benefit came in 1971, when Oregons then-governor Tom McCall signed the “bike bill”, which meant that 1% of all highway funding had to go to support bicycling in the state. That regular source of funding has made Portland one of the most bike-friendly places on the planet.
But that’s just part of the puzzle. Portland has had a number of bike-friendly politicians, many of whom are avid bikers themselves, that have helped push the biking agenda in the city proper. Not only does this mean more bike lanes, but harsher laws against drivers who hit bikers, and the creation of things like the “bike box”, where bicycles have a place to safely wait while turn signals change. Even the private sector got in on the act, offering apartment buildings loaded with plenty of bicycle parking.
Perhaps the most important part of Portland’s biking success though has to do with simple citizen activism. Portland residents are more likely to go to meetings and turn out to vote, encouraging politicians to vote their way.
It’s really that simple, but the benefits for bikers just keep on comin’ in the city of Portland.
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