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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 21, 2011 8:43 AM. The previous post in this blog was Tolls now, new bridge later?. The next post in this blog is Adams and Fritz: We created 1,900 jobs in Portland. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Breaking news: Bicycling isn't practical

Here's a rare confession from the car-o-phobes in Portland city government:

[N]ew research by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals (APBP) suggests that time and convenience are playing a more important role than safety for women bicycling. A Publicola article from last week entitled, "Why More Women Don't Ride," summarized the APBA study:
When researchers actually ask women themselves why they do not ride more often, safety barely registers. The number one reason? Women say cycling is inconvenient. And the number one factor in determining convenience is the time it takes to get from place to place. And time is something women simply have less of than men.

The article continues by citing research that women are doing more errands than men on their way to work and that womens' [sic] family and childcare obligations are much greater. Overall, women drive 60 to 70 percent more than men! This research makes me wonder about the prevailing notions we have about our transportation options and about women bicycling.

Wonder on, anonymous city Tweeter. You and Earl the Pearl and your Portland Building pals need to splash some cold water on your faces and get real. Bikes alone will do for the 10% or less of the population who can get by on them. For the rest of us, a car is essential most of the time. A healthy local economy isn't going to be predominantly powered by bicycles, ever.

Comments (79)

Jack--just to play devil's advocate here, because I agree with a lot of what you say, but couldn't the response to this be, well, by encouraging bike-friendly policies, the city makes it more convenient to commute? I.e., density helps people live closer to their work, bike boulevards improve commute time, etc. etc. There are a number of policies that can improve efficiency as well as safety.

OK, so riding a bike is good for you...however, how is THE one who does the daily chores, supposed to carry home a week's worth of groceries for a family of 4, pick up the dry cleaning, take the kids to soccer, practice, ballet, swim team, etc, and still get to work on time, and dressed in appropriate office attire on an effing bicycle!?
All the bike lanes and "bike friendly policies" in the world are not going to change the realities of daily life in the USA.

All the bike-friendly policies and all the wishful thinking in the world won't improve the weather 9 out of 12 months of the year.

I previously believed that Tigard would be far enough away, but I'm reluctant to sit idly by why they destroy my drive to work on Hwy. 99. I will move if they greenlight the destruction of Barbur Blvd.

I know two business owners who will be leaving MultCo/PDX as soon as their buildings find a buyer. One of them employs more than 150 full time.

The rising delays in freight transport and fear of another I-tax are chief among their concerns.

The elephant in the room--and the one that "enthusiasts" keep trying to finesse (and often just plain lie about)--is that regular bicycling across the nation remains a pursuit of an extreme minority.

I said regular, not occasional.

Even Portland's city government has tried to manufacture a story of growing popularity about it--yet despite schizophrenically reporting percentages, the number remains well under less than 1 in 10 citizens.

So, ask yourself--could a billion or so spent on bicycle infrastructure be matched to provide additional amenities for the OTHER ~95% of citizens?

It's about the environment. Shame on those women who think their personal lives and everyday obligations, routines and activities should take precedence over a clean, healthy, sustainable city that puts the emphasis on green livability.

It's outrageous. It's repugnant. It's unconscionable. And it needs to change now.

Frankly, your family's needs should never supersede what is best for the environment and the livability of our city.

And good luck trying to convince the boys and girls in the Portland Building that it's anything but.

Oh, and by the way, I still haven't heard a satisfactory response to the question of how increased population density leads to a higher quality of life.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I left my Hummer running in the parking lot.

Dave,
All that encouraging of bike-friendly policies doesn't change the fact that it is still a bike with all of the drawbacks.
The chronic embellishment of exactly how much more convenient, efficient or safe these policies make bike use does nothing to increase the marginal improvement they actually accomplish.
It's as if bike advocates think that if they exaggerate what a bike is more will ride.

But everyone knows what a bike is and most realize that the perpetual campaign of exaggeration is simply advocacy for more spending on bike facilities. Whether they are needed, used or not.

Use is always exaggerated inside Portland, but outside the Portland core there are miles upon miles of unused or rarely used bike paths. In many cases right next to unused sidewalks.
What are they for? Just in case a bike happens by they won't have to ride on the vacant sidewalk?

I took a picture along Tualatin-Sherwood Road a while back. There was the vacant sidewalk and bike path with a single bike rider in the vehicle lane to avoid and the debris in the bike lane.

Is that a picture of success?

If you have children, especially more than one, and you need to, say, go to the grocery store, loading the kids into a bike trailer with a bunch of groceries is not very practical - anytime, anywhere.

Dave, you're absolutely right in that it wouldn't hurt to make it more convenient to commute. The problem here is that a lot of the pro-bike policies aren't set up with the idea of making it easier for general folks to get around. These are being set up so as to make Portland attractive to the "creative class". What's conveniently left out of that equation is that even the most fixie-obsessed hipster ultimately has to switch to more dependable transport.

A bike trailer doesn't seem like a very safe way to transport ones children, any time any place,even if their little heads are encased in helmets.
The proponents of the 'all bike commute' do not seem to have taken into consideration the aging demographic. Some of us are too old with too many replaced parts to ride anything that is self propelled. Of course the bike lanes could be converted to Scooterchair lanes so we can get to our jobs as greeters at large super stores to pay the taxes on all this stuff.

I.e., density helps people live closer to their work, bike boulevards improve commute time, etc. etc. There are a number of policies that can improve efficiency as well as safety.

Here's the fatal flaw in that reasoning: the assumption that a dense, urban city is (a)sustainable by the environment where it's sited, and (b)that *verybody* wants to live in a dense, urban environment.

Guess what? dense urban environments don't grow a little and stop--they grow until they're the picture of excess, resource extraction, and overconsumption. And for (b)? Portland knows well that a significant portion of people want to live anywhere *but* a "dense, urban environment"--assuming that everybody agrees on what that term means.

...and the result of that last bit about living preferences? It results in an enclave, with people (and a lot of well paying jobs and industry) on the outside of it.

Or did you not notice that Washington County and other surrounding environs are where the majority of the well-paying jobs are? No? Ever wonder why?

L.A. has come up with an innovative law that
that guarantees bicyclist impunity. Yes, the key word is harassment. One man's harassment is anther's rebuke or admonition.
Anyway, at least the bicycler can now hound you through the civil courts.

Free at last. Free at last. Is this law the mountain top?

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bicycle-law-20110721,0,3219222.story

A bike trailer doesn't seem like a very safe way to transport ones children, any time any place,even if their little heads are encased in helmets.

I cringe whenever I seen bicyclist towing a small child in one of those kiddie trailers. It's just a matter of time before one of those gets creamed. Oh well, blame motorists, not reckless parenting.

The biggest reason the women I know (and have known through my commuting years) didn't commute had to do with the "ickyness", "flat hair", and "showering and redressing before starting work" problem. And most of these weren't even parents yet and their issues had nothing to do with errands outside work. Recreational riding is another thing entirely, but that's not what all the bikepaths and bioswales are about.

There's a similar discussion going on right now regarding PBOT and the bike lobby's (though there's no discernible difference between the two these days) plan to replace one lane on N. Williams with a huge bike lane. PBOT's "engineers" seem to think that they could reduce car traffic to one lane, give bikes an additional lane, and somehow car traffic will not be affected. It just about happened.

But then the Black community around N. Williams started asking why African Americans had to once again have their use displaced just so a bunch of white affluent cyclists could ride north to their condos more leisurely. Seems that the many black churches and business that are still trying to make a go of it as their neighbors are pushe out to the numbers or Gresham decided it was time to flex what political clout they have left. Charges of gentrification were rightly levied at the city, and now the brakes are on the project. Kudos to them.

I read this blog a lot and agree with the majority of posts. I'm not posting to disagree with this one, I'm just offering my perspective.

I am a working mom. I do not own a car. I don't give a rats ass about flat hair, first of all. I shop for groceries, go to the library, drugstore, what-have-you (dry cleaners?? no) all by cargo bike. My kid rides in it along with groceries, books, whatever else I might get. I once had two kids (both in 5-point harnesses and helmets) 3 bags of groceries, a watermelon, and a big stack of books in there and did just fine.

I'm 42. I'm in ok shape, by no means super-athletic. I'm a pretty normal mom.

I go mainly by bike so we can afford other things. About once a month I do zipcar. I take the bus sometimes and boy, sometimes that sucks. Trimet really needs to get better but that's a whole 'nother issue.

I'm not here to argue. I'm just here to say that I exist as a biking mom and its not at all terrible, I really like it. I don't have to go to the gym. My kid loves it. I save tons of money. I feel safe the majority of the time. I don't think all drivers are jerks...jerks are jerks, be they in a car, on a bike, or on foot.

I just don't like all the generalizations.

Mary...Do you grocery shop when it's 35 degrees and raining? I know bike only parents who ask their friends for rides during inclement weather, which happens with some frequency most Januarys.

Will you agree that not everybody lives close enough to life's necessities to make your lifestyle practical for them?

Mary, that is good that you live that bike lifestyle. I'm not being sarcastic, I mean it. It's good for you, and probably good for your kids too.

But the fact is that 99% of mothers don't want to do that, and it isn't the place of anyone, especially the city government which they pay for, to force them to do it.

The fact is that somewhere north of 80% of Portlanders use their cars for most things, (probably closer to 90%), and the city should be putting in a similar amount of effort and investment to keep the street system functioning for cars. The City government is here for us, we're not here for it.

Right now, I think it would be generous to say that 5% of Portlanders ride a bike more than once or twice per week. Even if we do an amazing job and double that number (which we won't), we're still talking about only 10%.

With this mode only working for 5% to 10% of residents, things like what they're discussing on N Williams shouldn't even come up for discussion. The focus on bikes has grown WAY beyond what the numbers justify.

Finally, relying on biking is mostly a luxury for those privileged people who live in expensive inner neighborhoods. It's also for those people who have the luxury of time and can be flexible or late to things and frankly aren't that busy.

Mary, that's great. Seriously: no sarcasm. I'm really glad that you've made this work, and I have nothing but applause for you. The points that we're arguing is that you're being held up as the example, not the exception.

In my case, I'm a regular cyclist, too. I also acknowledge that I'm insanely lucky to have the options to ride my bike to and from work, as well has having the amenities to do so. A more casual work environment, a safe place to lock up my bike while I'm working, and the like. I'm just not arrogant enough, as the PBOT crew is, to assume that because I'm able to make it work, then everyone should switch over.

As NW Portlander notes: "showering and redressing before starting work"

One guy I used to work with bicycled in each day, and then spent the first half-hour showering and changing clothes. That's a minimum, 2.5 hours out of every 40-hour work-week. I always wondered what was so "green" about that.

Moreover, there's one teeny little issue associated with "density" that's always overlooked: cities are heat sinks. And as a result, they've become favored habitat for tiger mosquitoes:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303795304576454312427933764.html

Go by bioswale!

Bikes should be in the mix, just not the only fix.

Part of the push for bikes, bikes, bikes is our obsession for all things youthful.

We don't need that old historic building, let's tear it down and put up a shiny overpriced and poorly constructed new thing.

Max,

I bet the average driver spends 2.5 hours a week showering and getting dressed at home. It's not like a cyclist showers, bikes to work, and showers again. In the good weather months, my wife bike commutes 3-4 days a week. On bike days, she gets up 10 minutes earlier and arrives home at pretty much the same time as she would if she were driving. The getting up earlier probably isn't even necessary but she had issues with flat tires during the spring months and gives herself extra time just in case.

Currently, bike and ped facilities get about 1% of all transportation funding. If we can serve 10% of the population, that's pretty darn efficient don't you think?

No reasonable person expects everyone to convert to bikes 100% of the time. This is all about giving people choices. In our case, having lived the 1 hour+ commute each way lifestyle, we chose to live 4 miles from work when we moved here. Others may make a different choice.

to answer a couple questions-
yes, I shop and do whatever when its raining. My cargo bike has a rain cover for my little guy. I just wear rain gear.

I do agree that my lifestyle is not practical for people who, say, work in Tigard and live far away.

Its not my experience that 99% of moms can't do this. Its true that I am in the minority in that we don't have any car at all. But a lot of moms I know bike commute with kids regularly to get them to school, then they go to work.

I understand that it seems weird because before we got rid of our car, I thought there was no way we could do it. It was a big and sort of scary leap. I thought I would be so tired from increased exercise, and it would be so cold and rainy, and a big pain in the ass. It was amazing how none of these were true. The only thing is you really need good rain gear.

I'm really not a martyr-type person, I'm very practical. If it sucked I wouldn't do it.

I would just encourage people who are struggling financially, if you can do it because you don't work too far away, and have the mobility, you save a lot of money and don't need to go to the gym or go running or anything to get your exercise.

With the money we save we do things we couldn't do, like take a little time off sometimes, afford life insurance, save for replacing our roof.

As far as it taking a lot more time to do errands, I don't know what else to say other than it doesn't. By the time you park, traffic, etc you're already there on a bike. Unless, I guess, you're going really far away to shop...I shop at the store on the way home. But don't most people do that?

Also I tend to pick things that are close to home to do, but again, I would have done that anyway. For instance, I chose a doctor in my area, I chose a hair salon (which I only go to twice a year, by the way) in my area, etc. By my area I mean within 3 to 5 miles.

But its true once in a while you have to go far away and that's a good time to get a zipcar.

I'm not saying that everyone could live like I do, but some of the barriers you might have in your mind aren't really an issue once you try it.

Like I said I'm not someone that cares about flat hair but I do bike in dresses and clogs every day. I just stuff my dress in my rain pants or I pack it and change once I get there. It only takes a minute. I go to meetings and have to look nice, I feel like I look ok, maybe sometimes I might be a little wrinkly. (Clothes, that is :)

I don't shower when I get there, c'mon...you don't get that sweaty. Just bring a little deodorant. My work doesn't have a shower there anyway.

Finally let me assure you that while I do live fairly close in, it is not expensive or la-di-da...far from it. We live in an old house that needs a lot of fixing in an area that still has problems that scare me sometimes.

Also, I can't be late to things and I am as busy as the next person as a working mom, wife and involved community member. I'm never late to things, I hate it.

Mary, I didn't say that 99% of moms can't do it. I said that 99% of moms don't want to do it.

OK, point taken, but I don't agree with that either. I think a lot of moms want to, but are nervous about how its going to be, practically speaking, which stops them...but I talk to many moms that say "I really wish I could do this, but I'm afraid this or that would stop me", and that's where I feel like I can say: yes, I was afraid of that too, but here's the reality, a lot of the fears turn out to be unfounded.

And I know a lot of moms that want to bike with their kids to work and such, and do.

Its possible we are travelling in different circles and know differently-minded moms.

But I do want to point out I'm not some super-great shape, spandex-wearing, bike-shoes wearing, person, nor am I super-liberal and love the direction this city is going in all the time, or some all-organic vegan-ish person. I'm a really boringly normal mom.


Its hard to put an accurate math assesment on our own experiences.

Gotta love Portland city government where it takes a study to discover what any grown up with a room temperature I.Q. already knows.

Fair enough Mary. Like I said, your lifestyle is great for you. Personally, I would love to be in the shape of a regular biker.

I'm just a bit mystified how local governments got in the business of pushing this choice so aggressively.

The city could go a long way to assuaging me if they would just tell me which streets ARE planned to remain auto-oriented into the distant future, and promise that they will not plan rail or bike projects there. (Unless bike lanes can be added within the current right of way, without removing car lanes or more than a tiny amount of street parking.)

Chad - so did you move here from California with enough money to buy a house close in? And a guaranteed job that pays well? Bicyclists use roads - so the math is not that bikes get 1% of the budget - they get a dedicated 1% of the budget, plus benefit from much of the 99% remaining budget.

I, like many of the bogger bloggers, am an occasional cyclist - but we're tired of the obsession with giving the very vocal minority cyclists the illusion that they rule the roads and budgets.

One more thing and then I'll stop. While the points I was trying to make above were mainly to say that regular moms like me are able to make biking a regular thing, my personal political soapbox is that the city should invest a lot more into transportation that truly everyone can access...bus.

If you are really unable to afford a car and also have no mobility that is your only option. I think before we spend so very much on bike infrastructure we should make sure the people who really are the unluckiest in terms of being able to get around get the services they need via TriMet.

We can debate about luck vs. choice that makes some people able to bike (is it luck I live close-in? Not really. I picked it. Is it luck/privilege I could afford where I live? Sort of, I guess, but I do trade off certain things like that I hear gun shots sometimes which really is scary. I for sure live in a neigbhorhood which is on the border of what you'd consider poor.) Is it luck that I work where i work? I guess that's more luck that I was able to find a job close-in. Yes, I'd consider that luck.

Anyway, what IS luck is that I was born with a healthy body that can ride a bike (and continue to have that healthy body) but its not fair that others that don't have that luck must rely on a bus system that I feel is mis-prioritized and spends money on fancy things that don't help everyone.

So I guess my point in this last comment is that though I remain the voice that says, you can bike as a mom and its not hellish, I also remain the voice that says we need to do more for the poor folks that REALLY have limited mobility options, we should take care of them before bike AND car users.

That's my soapbox, guess I'll get off now!

This is just another reminder that the clowns, nitwits and deluded fools at PDOT/BOT simply have no concept of people not wanting to waste time. Probably because they waste most of their time in cushy $80K+ government jobs.

They want us to wast time in traffic jams, so that we will not mind wasting time on transit and not mind wasting time on bikes.

They simply have no concept of the real world.

Thanks
JK

I've always wondered if the nitwits that that keep creating engineered traffic congestion realize the gift they give to the oil companies in wasted fuel.

So many possibly good ideas, all done so badly they wind up beyond recognition.

"Oh well, blame motorists, not reckless parenting."

Anybody that hits a kiddie trailer deserves blame. When you get into a car and move it, your most important job is to not hit anything.

Anybody that hits a kiddie trailer deserves blame. When you get into a car and move it, your most important job is to not hit anything.

Not necessarily. I imagine many scenarios where the motorist would be not at fault, especially when one considers the way many bicyclists blow off intersection controls and others behave as traffic scofflaws.

Besides, me, I'd rather have an alive and healthy kid rather than the parent of a dead kid taking supposed solace in the fact that the motorist was at fault.

Yes, necessarily. Nobody who drives safely will ever, ever hit a kiddie trailer.

Chad,

It appears that my point escaped you entirely. The former co-worker to whom I referred used company time and company resources - in other words, he was being paid to do a job, but instead spent the first half hour each workday showering, changing, and even doing laundry. He honestly believed that he was entitled to do that because he rode a bicycle to work.

Moreover: I bet the average driver spends 2.5 hours a week showering and getting dressed at home.

Do you pay for water use, or are you a renter?

I pay for our water, and trust me, a shower is all of about 5 minutes long.

Yes, necessarily. Nobody who drives safely will ever, ever hit a kiddie trailer.

Let's say that's true for the sake of this discussion. Is that what people who tow their kids around that way tell themselves? Do they also tell themselves that all the drivers out there drive safely? Like I say, reckless parenting.

boycatLike I say, reckless parenting.
JK: Its really pathetic to see bikers who would not let their little precious anywhere near second hand smoke, or non-organic food, stick the kid in the back of one of the most dangerous modes of transport without a thought, then blow through stop signs and dodge in and out of traffic.

Thanks
JK

JK,
I'm just curious, do you really see parents biking so unsafely? That is really shocking. I don't see that myself. I would never bike that way, with or without my child.

For myself, my child is in front of me,wearing a helmet, very strapped in (that's the way the bike is designed) and let me tell you, I bike like the slowest, safest grandma in town. I'm not winning any speed races, in fact I've been passed by runners :)

If we were plowed into by a driver, yes, that would be very terrible. If we had to stop short and tip over, no real harm would occur. I take great pains to be as safe and considerate a biker as I can.

I have to agree with you that if you see parents biking their kids unsafely, that's really sad.

I am aware that no means of transport is risk-free, however, statistically its well-proven that the biggest risk to children is accident by car. That said its really hard to find data on risk to children who are transported by bike...I've looked many times.

I guess its just a matter of being aware of your surroundings as much as possible, taking no unnecessary risks, and sticking to the safest route possible, and following all safety rules to the T. I sure do.

Kids die in car accidents every single day. Do you consider it reckless parenting to drive a kid around in a car? On a vehicle-miles-traveled basis, I'm sure a kid in a bike is less safe than a kid in a car. But a kid in a car is less safe than a kid at home. And a kid at home is less safe than a kid locked in a padded room. Risk is a part of life, and you'd be hard pressed to argue that the risk of riding a bike with your child is so large that it's irresponsible to do it.

I think Mary illustrates an important point about biking - it's actually easier than it seems. I bike three days a week (and drive the other two) and when I started I thought I would just do it when the weather was nice. And then you get some rain gear and ride home in a downpour and realize it's just not that bad. And then you get some bike gloves and thermal gear and ride home in 35 degrees and realize it's just not that bad. For me, my 6-mile commute takes 35 minutes on the bus, 30 minutes on the bike, and 15-20 minutes by car (depending on traffic). The bike commute is by far the smart one in terms of cost-benefit.

Inapt comparison. Towing the kid around is more akin to butting them on the back of a motorcycle.

That was meant to be "putting," not butting.

When we start a car and move it, we are fundamentally responsible for having the vehicle under complete control and for operating it with the safety of others as our very top priority. That is a reasonable and just expectation. Kiddie trailers are one of just many things drivers have no excuse to hit.

ep - too bad bicyclists apparently are not responsible for keeping their vehicles under control and can hit pedestrians with impunity in this city... and no consequences

ep-

You assume the bicyclist towing the trailer is incapable of making an error that the car driver cannot compensate for. That's a dangerous assumption.

My kid rides in it along with groceries, books, whatever else I might get. I once had two kids (both in 5-point harnesses and helmets) 3 bags of groceries, a watermelon, and a big stack of books in there and did just fine.

Let me put on my wizard hat: you live less than 5 miles from all of those places, and your kids are small.

I'm not here to argue. I'm just here to say that I exist as a biking mom and its not at all terrible, I really like it.

That's cool, and you're in an extreme minority that's able to do it. You live close to work, close to your amenities, and you've got plenty of time to bicycle there. I have one kid, and can't. My friends have three children and jobs at opposite ends of town, and laugh uproariously at the whole "we all just need to get on bicycles" hand waving.

I just don't like all the generalizations.

You mean like "light rail reduces congestion", or "bicycles are better than cars", or "more bike paths means healthier people"? I hear those a lot.

Did you know that Amsterdam has an over 50% frequent bicycle ridership--and they still die from cardiovasacular disease as often as Portlanders, and don't really live longer? I can't seem to figure that one out. It can't be possible that, oh, there are *many* factors in determining health, and transportation is just one fractional part of them.

Mary, don't bother arguing with JK. He is immune to any reason regarding any mode of transportation other than the single occupancy vehicle. If he had his way your close in neighborhood would have been bulldozed for a freeway or expressway long ago, and you would be living in outer Canby going everywhere in a car, about 30 pounds heavier. But, you see, according to JK that's what you really want anyway, so go ahead and assume the position.

And now I'll give my anecdotal evidence. My wife won't ride a bike because she thinks it's very dangerous. If she rides she insists on riding on the sidewalk. Why, you ask? Because all it takes is for some bozo talking on his or her cell phone to swerve into a bike lane or to the side of the road and it's to the hospital or the morgue for her. I'd say, in contrast to the trumpeted headline on this post, that for her it's an issue of safety.

And she doesn't even read this blog. If she read some of the comments here on bicycle issues, she probably wouldn't even believe she was safe on the sidewalk from the road ragers/bike haters who post here.

He is immune to any reason regarding any mode of transportation other than the single occupancy vehicle.

So, you're against international shipping via cargo ship, train and aircraft? And bicycle manufacturing in SE Asia? And extractive aluminum mining in South America? And use of fossil fuels to make tires and other accessories for bicycles? And against use of fossil fuels to pave the roads and maintain the paving vehicles so bicyclists can enjoy a flat, smooth riding surface? No?

you would be living in outer Canby going everywhere in a car, about 30 pounds heavier.

The people of Canby, in an affort to support the developmentally disabled, applaud your post.

If she read some of the comments here on bicycle issues, she probably wouldn't even believe she was safe on the sidewalk from the road ragers/bike haters who post here.

She might enjoy many of the commenters on bikeportland.org, then. Many make Jim Karlock look like Gandhi.

to respond to your statements, other white meat:
I do live 5 miles from each of these places. But most people in the metro area live less than 5 miles from a grocery store. Excluding the folks who are unfortunate enough to live in a "food desert" area, which is very unfair.

I don't know the stats about how many of us live within 5 miles of a library. I would guess most of us in the metro city do. Maybe that's an unfair assumption.

I don't know what its like for people that live outside the Portland metro area. That's not my experience.

The kids I had that day were fairly small but totalled up about 80 pounds of kid, with the groceries and books maybe close to 100 pounds? Anyway it doesn't really matter, my point is it wasn't like it was 2 tiny babies, or something. That's the cool thing about cargo bikes, they are really easy to pedal with a good amount of weight.

About having plenty of time to bicycle there, I guess you mean to work? And other errands? It takes me 15 minutes to drive to work and 20 to bike. That's the truth. As for getting to store and other places, once again, it takes just a really small amount more of time, like 10 extra minutes. I know that's hard to believe but its true. I'm really not fast, either!

Then if you subtract the time you'd need to exercise, you're saving time. I guess if you don't take that time to exercise, that's a moot point. Not everyone can/ likes to exercise.

About generalizations, no, I don't like the ones you mentioned either. I don't talk that way.

I don't know anything about Amsterdam. I can only talk about myself and why it works for me.

Though biking to be healthier is a good benefit, my primary reason to do it is to save money.

I just think that when people say "well, it only works for you because you are X, Y, and Z..." well, that might be true and I'm not here to make anyone do anything. But I really don't think I'm such an unusual or lucky person.

I chose to live where I live in order to make my life more convenient. We got a lot less home in a dodgier area but made that choice. I shop at the store near me. My child is young enough not to have games and activities that are far away..I'm not sure what I'll do if that comes up in the future. I guess I'll figure it out then. Like I said for most other things I deliberately pick services near me.

But I will admit, like I said, to a few pieces of luck that make it possible: I have the mobility, and I was lucky enough to find work not too far away from my home.

I would never say to someone "you need to do this, or that" but I don't like being generalized about as someone that can bike just because I'm rich, blessed with loads of time, sporty, athletic, and elitist. I'm probably poorer than most people that read this blog.

Gordon,
a lot of women I know are super-nervous about biking, and I totally understand it. Especially with kids.

I felt that way at first and now, for me its reversed: I feel much more nervous riding in a car.

I guess you just pick your battles...heck, I had a friend who was hit by a truck crossing the street (in the crosswalk.)

One thing that helps me feel safe is being sure to make frequent eye contact with drivers; I smile and wave, I thank, I try to connect with the people in the car and even call out sometimes "I'm going straight!" like if we're at a light. We're all just humans trying to get to where we're going, safely.

"You assume the bicyclist towing the trailer is incapable of making an error that the car driver cannot compensate for."

Anybody who harbors concerns about their own ability to safely negotiate a bicycle pulling a kiddie trailer needs to go back to drivers ed and brush up on their skills. There's no excuse for even coming close.

Bicycling is good. We should obviously have more of it. That said, greening the car has always been an equally obvious right answer, and needs to be done sooner not later. Fetishizing bicycling, and making a religious cult out of it, and pretending that all legitimate mobility needs can be met by it, and drivers punished, is stupid and does not help. The culture war on this is an absurd waste on both sides.

And another thing, or two....

The point about the state of the bus system being the biggest and worst failure is correct. The many people who are bus-dependent really get the worst. How poorly we take care of pedestrians is second. Both of these need lots more attention before any more bike accommodations, IMO.

We live in NW Portland in a dense urban environment. My wife averages over 15,000 miles per year in her car for many reasons.
-Target and other affordable stores are in the suburbs
-her friends and our kids friends live in different parts of the city
-her parents live in Beaverton
-Unlike Mary, she isn't interested in being a single parent so she does care about her hair, how she smells, etc.
-she (and I) wouldn't dream of exposing a child to the dangers of bicycling on the streets of a busy urban area.
-her time is better spent taking care of the family, playing and working out with friends, volunteering, etc.

How did this "bicycle cabal" get to be so politically powerful? Who are these people, a minority, who are telling the rest of us we have to do as they say? It does remind me of religious cult.

Seems like the key problem with this post is the phrase "bikes alone." Very few people are suggesting this.

In my mind, at least, the goal shoudl be to make it easy to use each mode (including autos) for what it's best at.

But most people in the metro area live less than 5 miles from a grocery store.

And the terrain and paths between those folks and the grocery stores vary widely.

Excluding the folks who are unfortunate enough to live in a "food desert" area, which is very unfair.

Let me clear that one up: NOBODY in Portland lives in a "food desert" area. "food desert" is a highly subjective term, made up by--are you ready?--not a government entity--but *chain grocery stores*. Look it up.

I don't know the stats about how many of us live within 5 miles of a library. I would guess most of us in the metro city do. Maybe that's an unfair assumption.

See above.

I don't know what its like for people that live outside the Portland metro area. That's not my experience.

You might want to look up what "Portland metro area" encompasses. Hint: the majority of Portland metro residents do not live in downtown or the inner east side.

I'm not sure what I'll do if that comes up in the future. I guess I'll figure it out then.

Exactly.

Like I said for most other things I deliberately pick services near me.

Except that you don't. Your internet service is not near you. Your clothing manufacturer is not near you. Your coffee beans are not produced near you. Your paper is not produced near you. The ingredients of your roadway are not produced near you. Your computer is not produced near you. Your bicycle was not produced near you. All of those may have an *outlet* near you, but the money you're "saving" comes at an enormous ecological and economic cost to other people, other countries, and the environment.

I have the mobility, and I was lucky enough to find work not too far away from my home.

Yes; and like I said, that makes you part of an extreme minority, but the current city government treat folks like you as if they should be the majority--regardless of their circumstances, other choices, and the true consequences.


but I don't like being generalized about as someone that can bike just because I'm rich, blessed with loads of time, sporty, athletic, and elitist. I'm probably poorer than most people that read this blog.

But you *are* blessed because you bike if you want, you have the economic choice to bike if you want, you're healthy enough (not handicapped, elderly, too young, or otherwise challenged), and you have the amenities you want near you. I'm not clear who's claiming you're rich, elitist, or "sporty".

You see, Mary, I can tell you're not just posting to "share one person's experience"; you're wanting others to do what you do. That's cool too, but just admitting it might make me listen more closely.

I'm probably poorer than most people that read this blog.

Are you generalizing? Careful--some readers might resent that.

portland native,
Does seem like a cult. The tentacles are far reaching into neighborhoods, pressing their agenda against the wishes of people. Ask the parks bureau why they are in so tight with this group? Is Nick Fish "fishing" for their vote?

I don't think its fair to assume you know, white meat, what I'm trying to do. I have been very clear that I'm not trying to tell anyone what to do.

I am sharing my experiences in hopes that others that would like to try biking, with kids and busy lives, might see that its not that bad. Because it does seem really hard before you do it, but once you try it, its really great and an incredible cost savings for your family.

Again the people I would like to help are people that *want* to try it but feel like the barriers are too great. I'm not out to convince people that aren't interested that they should all sell their cars. Nor do I represent the City of Portland, for heaven's sake.

I do pick the services- that I can- near me. I guess I should have been more specific about that. Its a bit silly to bring up things like the ingredients of my roadway. None of us have control over that. As a matter of fact, my bicycle was made in Portland. Every bit of it. My computer is made from recycled parts cobbled together, found here in Portland. Its true that originally it was made far away. I buy only second-hand clothes, here in Portland. I don't shop at Target so I don't need to go there. I get stuff I need at second-hand stores. I try and buy as much food as possible at the farmers market and get local stuff. You can't do that for everything. How do you even know I do or don't drink coffee?? Or where I get it if I did? I'm not saying all this to say that my choices are better or worse than anyone else's. Just to say that some of the assumptions you made about me are not correct.

Its certainly true terrain and safety issues vary widely around Portland, and that's a really unfair issue. Its a crime that some parts of our city have unpaved roads and no sidewalks and that needs to be addressed.

As for being poorer than most readers of this blog, its true I don't know that for sure, its a guess on my part.

The reason I bring up my economic status is that I hear frequently that bikers are white, affluent, in tip-top shape and "elitist." None of that applies to my family.

I exist and I don't fit into the generalizations about bikers in Portland that are frequently thrown around.

It would be interesting to see some accurate data about how far away from work most people in Portland really live- the truth is I don't really know. If anyone knows of any study on that I'd be very interested to see it.

I don't feel like I'm the extreme minority. But I guess we never feel that way. I know that at my work, for instance, the majority of us live within 7 miles away. To me that's a reasonable distance to bike. I don't care if they do or not, I'm just trying to think about people I know and how far they live from work.

But that's just my experience. Again it would be interesting to see some data about the average distance people live from work around here.

Mary,

Thank you for sharing your situation and experience with us.

I believe some commenters are reacting not to you, but to the archetypal Spandex Warrior who weaves in and out of traffic ("I'm a bike/I'm a car/I'm on the sidewalk"), blows thru red lights, and whistles past the "no bikes in lobby" signs dripping wet.

Clearly, that's not who you are. Kudos for making it work and finding a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Personally, I couldn't care less what my carbon footprint is. But getting some exercise on a sunny day or saving gas are their own rewards.

Anybody who harbors concerns about their own ability to safely negotiate a bicycle pulling a kiddie trailer needs to go back to drivers ed and brush up on their skills.

And anybody who think bicyclists can't put themselves in the position of being unavoidably struck down by a prudent motorist are just... in denial.

And that's my dirty secret also, Mister Tee- I try to keep my life as local as I can but my primary motivation? Saving money. Not the planet. I am a true mom in that I want what's best for my family's well-being, ie: that we can save somewhat for college and have a non-leaking roof.

Trust me, bikers that wear spandex that aren't on some long trip also get on my nerves. You have to wear spandex to go 6 miles, really? And I'm more annoyed with law-breakers bikers than law-breaking drivers...I've been known to shout after them "you're making us all look bad!" in a stern grandma voice. Don't think its made much difference though :)

Mere competence in driving includes a threshold for safety and responsibility that absolutely does not permit blamelessly hitting a kiddie trailer.

Because it does seem really hard before you do it, but once you try it, its really great and an incredible cost savings for your family.

And that's another generalization, which assumes anybody who "tries it" will find it "really great".

Again the people I would like to help
Are you just sharing your own experience, or trying to "help" people be bicycle commuters? C'mon Mary--you're wanting (and trying to) get people to commute by bicycle, because you believe it's "really great". Does this not make sense? It's right there, in your posts.

It would be interesting to see some accurate data about how far away from work most people in Portland really live

64% of people in the Portland *Metro* area live less than 10 miles from their work. About a third? More than 10 miles. And about 1 in 20 commute way more than 10 miles. But that 64% typically ranges from 5-10 miles, not 0-5 (not shown in that link).

And here's a statistic that may be more telling for the big picture: Portland is becoming much older and much more childless--and much more clustered at the poor and rich ends of the spectrum. The average Portlander will be close to 40 in the next decade or so, and families with children are dropping precipitously.

Given that, density becomes less of a problem for the "dense, urban" enclave--because they're either retired or childless. The middle class? They've been fleeing to what Portland deems the "suburbs"--Washington County, Beaverton, etc.

See if this demographic sounds familiar to you: White, under 45, one or no children, lives in inner SE, N, or NE and works either downtown or in the inner east side.

That demographic, according to City Hall, is exactly what the city's looking for.

Congratulations: you're

Thanks, Mister Tee, for making the differentiation that others don't seem to be willing to make. One of the biggest problems in most policy debates (particularly on blogs) is the desire to over-generalize the "opponent". Reality is that most of us occupy a middle-ground. I bike-commute frequently; I drive an SUV the rest of the time. I buy local when I can; I am a Costco member. I support safer bike infrastructure; I support improved roads and highways. I encourage everyone who is able to embrace biking; I would never hold it against someone who doesn't.

I see that "the other white meat" (can we just call you Porky?) is taking on the Karlock/Ben nastiness mantle for this thread.

Maybe people like Mary aren't trying to tell people what to do as much as they're trying to counteract that "my way or the highway" (literally) car-crazed culture that you, Porky, are so ably representing on this thread. It's all about choice, Porky, and people like Mary are a big threat to your kind because they show that, at least in Portland, there is evolving a true transportation choice for people living in the City of Portland, if not its suburbs and outer reaches, where your kind is still intolerant of anyone without an SUV.

hmm, very interesting stats. It kind of disproves the notion that I'm in the exteme minority of persons that live close to work.

Of course, some of the terrain between folks home and work- even if its a short ways- is dicey, that's for sure. Mine's pretty good with a couple of rather unpleasant hills/scary parts, but its not too bad. i'm just under 5 miles to get to work. I'm sure I'd bike up to 10 miles. I do that often and its fine.

I don't *think* I'd go more than 10 miles...really, don't know. Maybe I would- I'd sure be in better shape! There's no way I'd go way more than 10, I don't think.

Yes, I guess it is my personal experience that I find it really great. Of course, not everyone that tries it will find it so. We're all different. I just like to encourage people who *want* to try it, but are nervous. Because that's how I felt and its hard to get over that hump.

I guess I like to encourage people to try it not for any hidden political reason, or anything like that, but because everyone I know that gives it a try has been so happy about it and I like to see people being happy. One friend bikes her kid to school now all the time and has lost 10 pounds and is thrilled. Another work acquaintence bikes with me sometimes in the morning and we have formed a lovely friendship.

Really, that's the only reason I put myself and my lifestyle out there, to say: here's how I do it. You might really like it if you try it. If you don't want to, nevermind, lets go get a beer. :)

Mary:

When I lived on NE Williams Avenue back in the early 1970's, I walked or biked everywhere. When I moved to NW Portland in 79, I continued these practices.

I stopped when I moved to SW. Ride your bike to my place off SW Taylor's Ferry Road sometime, and you'll find out why. Heck, a couple of days ago, a guy on a moped was killed a block from my house - you may have seen the news footage, where they were dragging the remains of the moped out from under the pickup that hit him.

I work near the top of Sylvan Hill. Ever tried to ride a bike up Scholls Ferry Road?

Today, I ride only for pleasure - and only on the back streets, which hereabouts are largely unpaved.

I don't hold anything against folks like you, who live in the flatlands; I've been there and done it.

But I was there and doing it before it was cool to blow millions of dollars on bike paths, bike lanes, bike boulevards, bike bridges, bike lockers, etc.

That's what I object to.

It kind of disproves the notion that I'm in the exteme minority of persons that live close to work.

Really? How so, exactly? Or are you defining "close to work" as between 5 and 10 miles?

You might really like it if you try it. If you don't want to, nevermind, lets go get a beer.

I own two bikes, and bike regularly. For me, the point isn't (and has never been) whether bicycling is "good" or "bad"--it's the generalizations that it's good for everybody, that it's the best way to commute, that it's practical for all (or most) people, and that the city should be spending a few billion dollars to attempt to make the "majority" (the City's own words) of Portlanders bicycle commuters.

car-crazed culture that you, Porky, are so ably representing on this thread.

Ah--so you're generalizing that those critical of bicycling as the best choice are automatically crazy about another mode? That's brilliant.

It's all about choice, Porky,
My point exactly, and I'm glad you entirely agree with me.

and people like Mary are a big threat to your kind
My kind? You mean "people who own and use bicycles"? Hold on, I'm looking up "cognitive dissonance" for more details.


because they show that, at least in Portland, there is evolving a true transportation choice for people living in the City of Portland, if not its suburbs and outer reaches, where your kind is still intolerant of anyone without an SUV.

SUV ownership in the city limits is just as high (and perhaps higher) than in the "outer reaches".

Seriously, dude--are you not at all aware of how ignorant your mental picture of the Metro area is?

Oh, and for Max the chubby chaser and others: I also encourage others to try a bicycle. But like most sane people, I don't assume that's it's the best choice for everybody, or even the majority of people.

I'm aware of how difficult a complex view like that is for the black and white, love or hate, one extreme or the other crowd here, but there it is.

And I'll leave you with one final statistic, from the City of Portland itself (though god knows what kind of self-reported magic study they used): Nearly all people who bike regularly in Portland also own at least one car, and use it regularly. There is no "us" and "them" or "car vs. bike".

As for the "evolving a true transportation choice" in Portland--Max, people have been riding bicycles in Portland for over 100 years, and it's been widely popular for over 35.

Help! This thread is devolving into a shouting match between book-thumping evangelists!

porky:

I believe you have me confused with someone else, as I've not addressed the issues you raise - such as "evolving a true transportation choice", etc.

You may wish to try reading for comprehension at some point; it can be enlightening.

The only way bicycling moms contribute to global warming is by filling the atmosphere with their hotness.

good clarification, white meat, yes, I do define close to work as up to 10 miles, evn if its more on the 5-10 mile side. Do you not? I guess if not we define it differently. Under 10 miles does not seem that bad to me. I've done it many times.

Where did you get the info that more are 5-10 miles than 0-5? If you can direct me I'd like to check that out.

Its true that folks who want to bike and live in SW have a rough go of it. No doubt about that.

Its so true that most people who mostly bike also own a car and there is no "us and them". That is such a important point. Sometimes it seems like when we see each other on the road we "become" our mode of transportation...a "Driver, a Biker, a Pedestrian...we're all just people getting around in some form of transportation. Like I said, a jerk's a jerk a jerk, whether in car, bike or on foot.

People never want to be forced into anything, and I do agree that the City's been a bit heavy-handed in some of its tactics and promotional materials, like the whole give-away of free bike swag thing...I really think that money could be spent more wisely. I found that off-putting.

Anyway, its been a good discussion. Thanks.

yes, I do define close to work as up to 10 miles, evn if its more on the 5-10 mile side. Do you not?

I do not. Neither does the City of Portland when it tries to define it. Neither does OLMIS. Of course, "close" is a subjective term, but calling a ride from downtown Portland to downtown Beaverton "close" (a bit over 8 miles) sounds silly to me. I'm guessing your commute is much less challenging than such a "close" commute.

Under 10 miles does not seem that bad to me. I've done it many times.

It's only a bit over 8 miles from downtown Portland to downtown Beaverton. Care to try that commute? Or, go shopping for groceries with kids?

Its true that folks who want to bike and live in SW have a rough go of it. No doubt about that.

There's plenty of bicycling going on in SW Portland--but it's not often "commuting". And SW comprises a very large part of Portland.

Mary, what percentage of Portland metro residents do you think should be commuting by bicycle?

I believe you have me confused with someone else

Relax, Max. Gordon was my target. You'll recover.

You know how fast food always seems like a good idea before you eat, and afterwards, not so much? Bike commuting is the opposite; sometimes it's hard to get on, but I've never felt worse afterwards.

Also, electric bikes can go a long way to flatten hills, extend your range and capacity, and prevent sweaty clothes, if that's your concern.

Does the benzene in the air predominant in Portland and NW air bother the bicyclists? (Supposedly because our area could tolerate dirty gas because we had cleaner air to begin with?? Senator Wyden said he would do something about it in 5 years - how many years ago was that and what is that benzene level now? Quite frankly, I expected the entire NW delegation to do something about that benzene in months, not years! Could be a good thing the strong bike lobbyists could do, is pressure those officials to not allow unduly dirty gasoline here)


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Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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