Can Portland's Bike Boom Outlast the Pandemic?

"Anytime the city does something to dramatically improve streets for people and limit car access...it’s hard to take them back."

2 minute read

August 13, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


A single bike rider wearing a mask rides along a waterfront in Portland, Oregon.

Barry Savage / Shutterstock

Kristian Foden-Vencil reports on the ongoing bike boom in Portland, and its likelihood of persisting beyond the pandemic.

The story is obviously focused on Portland's unique culture, where a bike boom is measured in group rides focused on Pickles, Star Trek, crossing bridges, and being naked. But, there have been more run-of-the-mill signs of biking's popularity during the pandemic:

At the height of the pandemic, the streets were so full of bikes, the city had to do something. It launched a ‘Slow Streets’ program and put plastic bollards and signs across 100 miles of streets to make them bike and pedestrian-friendly.

While an official count is "elusive," according to the article, Foden-Vencil cites Bike Portland editor Jonathan Maus to make the case that the bike boom is likely to stick around in Portland.

“Anytime the city does something to dramatically improve streets for people and limit car access...it’s hard to take them back because, guess what, people love having a healthier quieter, more humane way to get around,” Maus said.

While the Oregon Department of Transportation recently announced $55 million in funding for pedestrian and bike infrastructure, and the "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act" recently passed by the Senate could include big sums of money for bike infrastructure if it achieves full approval in the House, Maus also argues that it will take more than money for bikes to help significant numbers of people ditch cars for bikes—it will also take less spending on car infrastructure (an orientation that the Oregon Department of Transportation hasn't yet abandoned, despite its $55 million promise).

Wednesday, August 11, 2021 in Oregon Public Broadcasting

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