A couple weeks ago the family and I drove out to Portland, OR for the American Baptist Biennial (I know try to contain your excitement). I was excited to visit the west coast, see the ocean again (still aint as cold at Lake Superior), see the Rockies and Cascades and Coastal mountains, sip some Pinot Noir, eat some Tillamook cheese, and etc. But the real reason I was excited about going to Portland was to investigate the bicycling scene.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet I have been able to learn some of Portland's bike scene via the Bike Portland page. But I knew I would need to get on a bike and ride around the city to get a full sense of things. Sad to say all of my time was accounted for and did not allow for a city investigation (however, I did get on a Biketown bike and set a record!). Nevertheless, I did notice a few things that make me think, "Minneapolis/St. Paul we should be pedaling circles around Portland."
1. We're relatively flat. Portland has all kinds of hills and stuff that make you sweat and wear your brakes our fast.
2. We have dedicate bike lanes and biking infrastructure. Many lanes in Portland had a bike symbol on them but no space at all for a bicycle and a car. Our bikes lanes, our bikes lanes, our bike lanes!
3. Did I mention the MSP area is flat and easy to cycle?
4. Minnesota Nice, use the passive aggressive culture to our advantage. I watched bicyclists after bicyclists get cussed at, yelled at and swerved at in Portland. Sure drivers are aggressive here in MSP, but mostly they internalize their anger and let it simmer for generations.
It was great and inspiring to see so many people cycling in Portland, there is no reason MSP cant get to double digit riders. We have the flat surfaces, the infrastructure, the niceness, and lots of biking institutional structure. Come on Twin City-ans.