Portland striving to be the U.S. bike capital

Already owning bragging rights to being the greenest city in the U.S. by one measure, Portland, Oregon believes it’s the most bicycle-friendly city as well. Their evidence:

– In the 1970s the state passed a bicycle bill requiring that all facilities be built with bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.

– In the 1990s, city councilor Earl Blumenauer worked to establish a bike program in the city, who has since become the leading U.S. congressman speaking on behalf of bike and pedestrian-oriented cities.

– The average vehicle miles traveled per person dropped from 23 miles/person in the early ’90s to 19 today, bucking national trends. Portland ranks 25th in national population, but 12th in terms of overall transit use. It’s transit use is growing faster than auto use, and the population, again contradicting national trends.

– Bike advocates (via the organization Shift) are playing a major role in organizing the first Towards Carfree Cities conference in North America.

– At the Carfree conference the City will introduce Sunday Parkways, where six miles of streets are closed to auto traffic on a summer Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm, Portland’s version of Ciclovia, an international trend originating in Bogota, Colombia.

However, it’d be tough to claim to title outright without a bike sharing program like Washington DC is getting…

Update to recent entry: The city took a major step in claiming the U.S. bike capital status by achieving a Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists, one of only two cities (along with Davis, CA) to achieve that designation.

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