Portland Unseated as Envy of Cycling World

A cyclist rides the St. John's Bridge in Portland, Ore. (From The New York Times, April 3, 2009)

And like that, the reign is over.

Portland has been bumped from its long-held No. 1 ranking for best city in the United States for bicyclists, unseated by Minneapolis in the latest issue of Bicycling magazine.

That should come as a shock to Portland bicyclists who rely on two wheels to get around the city year-round. However, it’s important to note the rankings are based on the number of bike lanes and routes, bike commuters, cycling events and renowned bike shops. (Notice “weather conducive to bicycling” is not a factor.)

This ruffled some feathers in an article from The Oregonian, where Mayor Sam Adams said:

“I believe the author gave them ‘extra-credit’ for biking during Minnesota’s snowy winters. Here ‘snow’ is a fancy word for ‘stay home’ — even for cars.”

One Minneapolis bicyclist was less diplomatic about taking the title from Portland. Erik Noren told the magazine:

“Fuck Portland! All I ever hear is about how cool Portland is. Who rides through the shit we do? We ride more by accident than they do on purpose.”

Oh, snap! It’s on!

I haven’t had the pleasure of riding in Minneapolis, but I can tell you Portland is the land of the fixed-gear road bikes, dorky helmets and considerable car-bicycle harmony even on the city’s busiest streets and bridges. If the survey had included general safety for bicyclists, I’m sure Portland would’ve maintained the No. 1 spot.

Bicycling is a huge point of pride for the city of Portland, and rightfully so. You can’t turn your head without finding a bike rack, the bike lanes allow ample space and there’s always friendly races and events during the summer to bolster the bicycling community. (The coolest of these — the Providence Bridge Pedal.)

To console my fellow Portlanders for whom this is a major blow, think about what this means for the environment. Consider the efforts our fair city has made to encourage commuters to take two wheels. Now look across the country where the same initiatives are taking hold. This should be an indication that the rest of America is looking to bicycles as a viable way of lowering dependency on oil and limiting emission of greenhouse gases.

There you go, Portlanders — I know nothing perks you up like a little environmental sentiment.

As for The Oregonian and the Minneapolis Star Tribune — it seems the two have a little kerfuffle that needs to be addressed.

The Star Tribune‘s Bob Von Sternberg threw the first jab in his write-up yesterday:

“Not surprisingly, other high-ranking cities include such granola-eating communities as Seattle, Boulder and Eugene. Madison, Wis., ranked seventh.”

The Oregonian’s Joseph Rose took umbrage in his article:

“Minneapolis media (we’re looking at you Star-Tribune) are already getting cocky.”

Could this be the start of an inter-newspaper battle of lame proportions? Nope. But history could know it as one of the dorkiest exchanges in this history of ink.

Calm down, Mr. Rose. Walk it off.

Better yet — ride it off.

5 thoughts on “Portland Unseated as Envy of Cycling World

  1. What goes along with having the best cycling city in the country? Having the most idiots on bikes who think they are cars.

    I’m not convinced that you can ride at least 35 mph consistently, and I don’t care that you are signaling turns with your arms.

    Stay the hell off the road.

  2. Thanks Andrew! I think bike royalty is a cool thing for cities to fight about. And Minnesotans shouldn’t go rant and rave about biking in the winter. I saw about 5 bikes per day in January to 5 million now. I wouldn’t even consider riding until the last week of March and even this morning at 40 degrees it was too breezy for me to ride in a skirt. But don’t tell The Oregonian that.

  3. Must say the hipsters on the fixed gears may be equal to per capita in uptown of those in Portland, shit is getting ridiculous. Now I must say, being a long time bike mechanic, I do love almost all of their bikes because truly they put the work and money on their 85 Univista. As far as Minneapolis goes I can assure you that most people that live IN Minneapolis have no clue how sweet that city is for biking. There are single track trails (tons) literally in downtown Minneap where you wouldn’t suspect it, just roll by an Eric’s bike shop and they’ll give you maps. As far as commuting goes I’d have to say Annie underestimated it a bit, it’s like 7 a day in the winter ha; although you can still get Thai delivery by bicycle in January (how fuckin hipster is that?)!

  4. @Cory

    Following on your, ahem, ‘logic’, I would tell you that if you pay taxes as well, then you stay the hell out of your myopic motorized cocoon. And believe you me, I care as much when motorists don’t signal as you do when bicyclists do. (Pathetic.)

    As for speed: There are enough idiots sleeping – uh, I mean, driving – at 5+ mph over the speed limit on our roads already. And yes, I consistently pedal at that limit around town, thank you very much. At least I’m awake while doing it.

  5. Wireless Bike Share on the Way? « The Miller Times

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