Portland Shifts Gears
Unlike the majority of American cities, both small and large, the city of Portland has seemingly, and wholeheartedly, embraced the bicycle as an alternative to the automobile. "At the street level, many Portlanders go about their daily lives in ways that would be unfamiliar to most Americans," writes USA Today's Elizabeth Weise. "Downtown and near-city neighborhoods are awash in bikes and bike lanes, delivery bikes dot the urban landscape and bars aren't encased in massive parking lots - they have bike corrals out front."
Though bicycle's share of the commuting mode split makes up only 6% of total trips in Portland, this is the highest percentage of any large U.S. city, and will likely increase in the future. "All this positive reinforcement is working. Between 2010 and 2011, bike ridership grew 6.4%, and on the new neighborhood bike boulevards the numbers jumped 61%," reports Weise.
Still, the shift in culture isn't without its hiccups, and the 'car vs. bike' battle continues, even in Portland. Sometimes it's only reflected in obscene hand gestures, but increasing numbers of accidents involving the two modes also stokes conflict. "Bicyclists complain about cars not being respectful of them as vehicles. Drivers complain that people on bikes act like they don't have to follow the rules of the road."