Very exciting stuff! The numbers are out and, yet again, a lot more people are riding bikes in Portland than ever before. Some highlights:
• Compared to 2007, overall bicycle use in Portland increased 28%.
• Bicycles represent 13% of all vehicles on the four bicycle friendly Willamette River bridges.
• Bicycle traffic in Portland has nearly tripled since 2001.
• Bicycle counts conducted in March 2008 were approximately half those of the summer, but are
nearly identical to the summer counts recorded in 2002.
The people are speaking and city government is listening; people want it to be easier to get around by bike and the city is providing programs and infrastructure to match.
It’s really stirring to stand in any one of the highest traffic spots and watch the swirl of bikes zip past, each one carrying someone with, if not a smile, at least the look of satisfaction which comes from getting some fresh air, exercise and moving yourself somewhere without the use of an engine.
This, along with the knowledge that the more people who ride, the more will join, gives me spasms of joy. This town is increasingly bicycle crazy. Have we hit critical mass? I think that’s an arguable point, double digit increases for the last 4 years is awfully impressive but can it continue, or even increase? Maybe, either way it’s very exciting to watch and wonder.
In other news, I saw an article in today’s Oregonian about redeveloping inner city strip malls into mixed use retail and residential communities. The article claims the combination of the large flat lots on main arterial streets on public transportation and the preexisting utilities make older strip malls, which at a certain age need to be redeveloped anyway, the perfect place to accomodate the more than 1 million people expected to move to Portland over the next twenty years.
Their placement on public transport routes would allow developers to put in less parking and more shops and apartments and bring in more residents, many of whom would surely ride bicycles! I myself have been watching a set of apartments being built on top of a row of elegant older shops with brick facades, a strip mall is just the next logical step.