October 1 2007

Portland - A Cyclists Paradise

Portland is in the news a lot these days. In everything from transportation to sustainable design, the city of Portland Oregon is blazing trails for the rest of America. As evidence of this, the city of Portland has a long list of awards celebrating it's community, transportation, and environmental initiatives.

The start of Portland's rise as a great city for living began in the 1970s when civic leaders decided to constrain the growth of the city by creating an urban ring boundary outside of which suburban sprawl was forbidden. That decision has had huge effects on the city and has created an environment, an urban pattern, that is able to support other progressive urban planning ideas. The city was able to use the urban population density created by the growth limits to make dramatic changes to the transportation infrastructure in Portland; changes I might add that are in direct contradiction to the decisions made across most of America.

For example, the downtown areas have a tram system, busses, and bike lanes. The average number of miles driven daily by Portlanders has gone down from around 22 miles to 19 miles!  That is very significant when compared to statistics on the rest of America in which the number of miles traveled per day is growing exponentially. I don't mean to say that Portland doesn't have its own problems, and definitely think that many American cities are wonderful places to live, but it may be that Portland can serve as an example to the rest of the US.

If you are interested in finding out more about how Portland became one of "10 Greenest Cities in America", "First in the nation for biking to work", "Most Sustainable City in America", and "Top Dog in the USA for Mountainbiking" please watch the following video. It presents the city's efforts to remake their transportation system.

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