Posts Tagged ‘George Will’

Updates from Portland, New York and Detroit

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Portland: Attracting or Converting

There was an interesting article in Boston.com that discusses Portland, the apparently self-annointed Bike City USA.

One question: “Is [Portland] just filling a niche and attracting bicyclists from elsewhere, instead of changing the habits of residents?

According to Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder, “We’re not draining the world of people who like to ride bikes. It’s facilities that make people switch over, not philosophy.’’

But perhaps the best quotes are from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in response to George Will.

Even if they could be replicated, however, the city’s policies have also made it a lightning rod for criticism from conservatives, who have derided the administration’s embrace of the city. Newsweek columnist George Will referred to Portland as “the P word’’ in a column in the spring and accused officials of pursuing “behavior modification’’ to coerce people out of cars.

In an interview with the Globe, LaHood said that such critics were “living in the past’’ and that continuing to build more highways was also coercive. “We’ve created a system that requires people to get in their cars if they want to get anywhere,’’ he said.

Cyclists and pedestrians have lived through over 80 years of coercion. It took a while, but the pendulum is swinging back a little.

Portland: How much for a used bike?

One side effect of more Portlanders taking up cycling is their used bike prices have increased.

Thankfully we haven’t heard of a similar price rise in Detroit. Such an increase could keep many Detroiters from jumping into the sport.

New York: Biking on the rise

WCBS TV has quoted  City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan saying biking is New York City’s “fastest growing mode of transportation.”

And article continues with:

The number of cyclists has jumped by 80 percent in the past decade — to 185,000 among the more than 8 million city denizens.

City officials say they’ve worked to make the city more biker friendly. They note the hundreds of miles of marked bike paths created in recent years, safety awareness campaigns and handouts of free helmets to unprotected cyclists.

Over that time, bicycle accidents have fallen more than 40 percent.

Unfortunately we do not know the number of cyclists on the road. The only information we have is from the Census Bureau. They keep track of the percent of people who bike to work. The percentage is low enough to not be very useful. In addition it does not include those cycling for transportation outside of work or for recreation. Children and seniors are also not included in the Census numbers.

Given the economy and proposed bus cuts in Detroit, the fastest growing mode of transportion in the city might be biking or walking.

Detroit is Lonely

Brian Kennedy is a former Detroiter now living in Chicago. And he’s a cyclist.

He recently visited Detroit and wrote this interesting ride report.

There are some updates to his story:

  • Comerica Park has or will soon install two bike racks near the stadium
  • Secondhand sources say that DDOT buses will have three-bike racks by Spring 2010. There had been some debate between the two- and three-bike racks, which are from different manufacturers.
  • Through my job with MTGA, I have been in contact with Brian and the Active Transportation Alliance about getting roll-on service for Amtrak trains running between Chicago, Ann Arbor, and Detroit. (“Roll-on” means you can roll your bike onto the train without having to disassemble or box it.) With the great cycling environment in all three cities, this seems like it could become very popular.

Brian also plans on returning for the Tour-de-Troit next month — and he plans on riding the Dequindre Cut and visiting the Honey Bee Super Mercado, too.