Portland, Cultivating a Culture of Two Wheels



Portland, Cultivating a Culture of Two Wheels

The NYTimes had a recent article discussing the impact cycling has had on the economy of Portland, Or.  While the article says that

Mia Birk, a former city employee who helped lead Portland’s efforts to expand cycling in the 1990s, said the original goals were rooted in environmental and public health, not the economy.

the results have had a significant, positive, economic impact as well.

In a report for the City of Portland last year, the firm estimated that 600 to 800 people worked in the cycling industry in some form. A decade earlier, Ms. Birk said in an interview, the number would have been more like 200 and made up almost entirely of employees at retail bike stores.

It does seem Providence has many of the same traits as Portland, a high density of artistic and eco-minded small business owners.  Hopefully, we can help motivate the city to realize the benefits that can come from a great cycling infrastructure and culture.  I’d love to see someone at the Providence government level come out and say something as forward thinking as Sam Adams, a city commissioner in charge of transportation:

“Our intentions are to be as sustainable a city as possible,” Mr. Adams said. “That means socially, that means environmentally and that means economically. The bike is great on all three of those factors. You just can’t get a better transportation return on your investment than you get with promoting bicycling.”

I’d encourage everyone to read the entire article, even though you do have to deal with the NYTimes login issues, it is an encouraging piece.  As an aside, if you don’t know about BugMeNot, it’s a great service for dealing with those pesky websites that really shouldn’t require you to log in.

1 Comment

  • Barry
    Nov 21, 2007 at 10:55 am

    An additional economic reason for promoting biking: At $99/barrel for crude oil, it means every time a Rhode Islander buys a gallon of gasoline, at least $2.35 flows out of state just for the crude oil; Indeed we buy about 470 million gallons a year here. As a state with no refineries, an additional significant amount is lost to out of state companies for refining, marketing, profit, transportation etc of gas, so it must be well over a billion $ year of Rhode Islandr's money exported to buy gas. Biking gives an opportunity to capture some of that money and keep it in the state to benefit the local economy. Transit too can help on this. But so far the powers that be in RI have not been much interested.

    By the way, I was quite impressed with bike programs in Portland OR when I visited there for a greenways conference last summer and can discuss many of its related features. I was actually a student at Oregon Ste University in the 1970s and recall Portland then as a failed, neglected and dingy (but much cheaper!) city.