How Bikes Make Portland Cool

A mini-documentary out of Portland, Oregon showcases the vibrant bicycle culture the city enjoys, from “bike trains” of kids riding to school on traffic-calmed bike boulevards to a range of everyday people getting around by bike simply because it’s “accessible.”

As San Francisco strives to be the most bike-friendly city on the west coast, we can only hope it won’t be long before we see as many two-wheeling families on our streets.

H/T Ron Richings for the video, filmed by Kona Productions.

  • San Fran will never be the most bike friendly city on the west coast.  From Portland to Seattle we have been pushing bike culture in the PNW for many years.  San Fran is too pretentious and lord forbid riding a bike in the rain.  I was down in the bay area not long ago and the bike culture was non existent.  Good luck, no matter how much california thinks they invented the 2 wheel movement they did not.  Get your gore tex on and ride north we’ll show you what a true bike friendly city is.

  • Mario Tanev

    I see way more cyclists in San Francisco than Seattle. Market St, Valencia St and Fell/Wiggle are bicycle highways with several riders per block at any time. So, I don’t see how Seattle beats SF (except for maybe those signs directing riders how to cross the rail tracks).

  • Great video.  Two things stood out for me:

    –the little girl pointing excitedly to the flock of birds high in the sky.  (Riding a bicycle, you are so much more connected to the environment–the light, the sky, puddles, the smell of leaves, etc. Of course this improves the more you’re away from cars.)

    –the boy who understood that riding his bike was a direct economic contribution he could make to his struggling family.

  • Aaron Bialick

    Let me just point out that even now, San Francisco’s Market Street is the busiest bicycling street west of the Mississippi, according to the SF Bike Coalition.

  • Caltrain holds 80 bikes on most trains and 48 on the rest. 5 trains leave SF every rush hour, 5 trains arrive SF every rush hour. This year the trains have been full on rainy days, both directions, with a hundred extra bikes parked at Warm Planet. That’s 2000+ bikes in and out of our train station.

  • I agree, SF has a long way to go to beat Portland. I haven’t spent any time in Seattle for comparison though. Just the fact that one man was able to hold up improvements in the courts for years should tell you that culturally we are a long ways off.

  • ubringliten

    You know that SF had a bike injunction from 2005-2010 right.  We couldn’t build anything for 5 years.  We will catch up.  We have as many bike events or more than PNW.  Which city started Critical Mass?

    Having said that, I love bicycling in Portland.  A great cycling city indeed.

  • Considering the two largest Bicycle advocacy groups (Bike Portland and Cascade Bike) on the west coast are based in the PNW is a start.  Those two groups do a lot of lobbying in congress for ALL cycling related legislature. 

    I’ve commuted in all three cities and I was the least impressed by 1.  The lack of dedicated bike arterials in San Fran. 2. the conditions of the road are terrible and last the restrictions on bringing a non folding bicycle on bart during hours of commute was laughable.  Of course the SF bike coalition is going to claim they have the busiest bike route west of the Mississippi, no one loves the smell of there own flatulence more than San Franciscans. Motorists in the bay area definitely are the most offensive on the west coast thats for sure and trust me what you Californians call “rain” is overcast round these parts.  

  • Aaron Bialick

    “Of course the SF bike coalition is going to claim they have the busiest bike route west of the Mississippi, no one loves the smell of there own flatulence more than San Franciscans.”

    Really? Please stop commenting on this blog.

  • Critical Mass has definitely ran its course, you can keep that event.  That event is more chaos than awareness anymore and IMO does nothing for a cyclist who follows the rules of the road.  If critical mass is still huge in SF then you’re right, you do have a long way to go.

  • Your comments are completely counterproductive. If you really cared about the emerging bicycle movement (on the West Coast) you would want to offer your suggestions from Portland and Seattle, not criticize another city. No idea were any of this animosity is coming from.

  • I could do with out the acerbity but he is spot on with his points.

  • peternatural

    Speaking of flatulence, can we get a ban on second-hand exhaust fumes already? Thanks.

  • We have Levi Leipheimer. Fooey.

  • trust me what you Californians call “rain” is overcast round these parts.   

    Sounds like you live in a pretty crappy place.

  • “Just the fact that one man was able to hold up improvements in the courts for years should tell you that culturally we are a long ways off.”

    It was the law, Sean. City Hall knew that it should have done an EIR on the Bicycle Plan. We even tried to warn them. Herrera now admits that he told them the same thing. The Planning Commission, the mayor, and the Board of Supervisors all knew that they were violating the law, but they did it anyway. I understand, of course, that many SF cyclists act as if the law doesn’t apply to them, but it’s a little surprising that City Hall would act that way. 

  • mikesonn

    Reply FAIL. This is getting really old.

    Your misrepresentation of that conversion continues as well since you weren’t there. As @twitter-14678929:disqus comments on your “blog”:

    “Regardless, I didn’t tape the conversation – my description is intentionally vague because I don’t want to misrepresent what Herrera actually said. Sorry, it was 6:30 in the AM and I was more interested in riding my bike than being an investigative journalist.”

    I was also present when the question was asked and Murph’s description was vague because we didn’t have time for follow up questions to have him clarify his position and what Herrera meant. You need to ask him directly yourself if you want to continue to refer to this as fact.

  • Though I was born in California, I grew up in Seattle from ages 7 to 17.  I love Richard Brautigan’s line:
    “California needs us, so it gathers us from other places.  I’ll take you, you, you and I from the Pacific Northwest: a haunted land where nature dances the minuet with the people and danced with me in those old bygone days.”

    It does rain a lot in Seattle, but not always that hard, more as if the sky is just spitting down rain. Weeks could go by without the pavement ever being fully dry, but I never owned an umbrella living there. A coat with a hood was enough. Now between November and March I often use an umbrella in SF.

    I grew up in what were then new raw suburbs between Seattle and Everett. My family is still up there and I often visit. It used to be there were a scattering of people living amidst the trees. Now its a scattering of trees amidst the people, although I will say Seattle is a much more interesting city now than it used to be. Am a big fan of the Interurban Trail–I just wish that the rest of bicycle infrastructure in that part of suburbia wasn’t non-existent or dreadful. My relatives think I am absolutely out of my mind when I bicycle up there. But some of my friends who live in Seattle proper do bike and it’s a pleasure to see Seattle’s burgeoning bicycle culture.



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