Two Wheels, Saving Gas in Portland, OR

Advay Koranne

Bikes in Portland, Oregon are a big part of the local culture. The growth of Portland’s rapid cycling community is the driving force behind the money and effort the city of Portland is spending to benefit bikers. Geographical features in Portland are also a  factor helping the Portland Bike community. The choropleth map of Portland, in Ben Shiller report, shows the high degree of connectivity, and low commuting time, contributing to its high bike score. This is due to the combination of culture as well as the effort Portland, Oregon is making to help the community improve bikeability. However recent challenges such as the lack of affordable housing within reasonable bike commuting distance to Portland downtown, need to be addressed.

Portland, Oregon is highly connected by public transportation and has a large number of MAX lines and buses to help bikers commuting a long distance. Oregon was one of three states to receive a “Bicycle Friendly Community” acknowledgment from the League of America Bicyclist. Nationwide there are more than 777,000 people who ride bikes to work. According to a report published in 2011,  Portland has a total of 18,977 bikers.  Therefore, “Starting next year, says the city will spend $5.5 million to build bike lanes and remove two of the busy thoroughfares five car lanes”. Portland is trying to divert car traffic to certain areas so that bikers can be safer, and bikers can have more connections and easier modes for long distance transportations. Flusche, a bike activist, says, “The places that are making investments in cycling have seen dramatic growth”. Portland has plans to help the biking community increase the connectivity progressively. Portland has one of the best weather in the nation with not many storms, moderate summer weather, and a simple, laidback lifestyle with good work life balance. Nike, based in Beaverton, Oregon has helped its biking community by placing short-term rental bikes all over Portland downtown for the community to use for a small price, showing how companies and cities are helping the biking community as well.

Portland is ranked number one nationally on bike score. A “Bike Score is put together by a company, Walk Score, a walkability mapping service, and uses four criteria, weighted equally: the availability of infrastructures like bike lanes, hilliness, route options, and the level of commuting. It awards scores out of 100, with 90–100 deemed a “biker’s paradise,” 70-89 “very bikeable,” 50-89 “bikeable,” and 0-49 “somewhat bikeable”.   Portland has a bike score of 70.3 and San Francisco which is ranked second has a bike score of 70.

However, the lack of affordable housing in Portland is affecting the people who are able to bike. North Portland, historically an area with affordable housing isn’t like that anymore. Finding a house that has a one-hour roundtrip commute is getting difficult.The article, ”10 best biking cities in America”, by Ben Schiller shows that the farther out you get from Portland downtown the lesser the bike score, thus making it very difficult for bikers to commute towards the center of the city. If one wants to find a house that is under 300,000, it is more than a 60 minute round trip. Goose Hollow, a 2.2-mile commute to downtown Portland has a median house price of 324,000 in that area. Consider Woodstock, an 11.2-mile bike ride, and the price decreases to $267,000. The average income in Portland is $50,000 and financial advisors say that if you make an average of 50,000 that buying a house more than 315,000 is not advisable.  Therefore, the lack of affordable housing in Portland is a real problem because it does not help the people who would like to bike to work, and if people live outside the city center, then bike accessibility is a challenge.

The choropleth map by Ben Schiller is very beneficial to bikers looking for houses, and avid bikers who plan on biking to work. These people are looking for a safe cycling community and an environment where they can bike safely and have trust. A problem with this map is that people are not able to tell by looking at the map that the further out you get from Portland downtown the average price of houses decreases. If you plan on biking to work and your office is not in downtown, then this map does not apply to you.

Portland’s weirdness and its connectivity are all contributing towards Portland great bike score.  Portland is one of the best places to own a bike, ride it, and be a part of the community. If you plan on commuting to work on a vehicle, and are looking for a safe community and don’t have restrictions on the money you can spend for a house,  and also a city that cares for your love of biking, Portland is the place for you.   


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