Thursday, December 9, 2010

America's Amsterdam?

It’s become a cliché that Portland is America’s most livable city, a hotbed of innovations when it comes to green policies, public spaces, pedestrian amenities, transit, public spaces, and, of course, bicycles. In fact some people are growing weary (and the rest of us envious) of hearing about how great things are in Oregon’s largest city. But clichés often turn out to be true. After spending several days exploring Portland as part of a Bikes Belong Foundation-sponsored transportation workshop for city officials from across the country, I must admit that Portland offers a wealth of inspiration and practical tips for how we can make our towns more bikeable, vital and fun. Yet, as the delegation of transportation leaders from Chicago, Houston, Seattle, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City discovered while biking across the city, Portland is no Ecotopia. Local bikers still contend with roaring traffic on crowded streets and motorists who park illegally in bike lanes or honk for no apparent reason. Jay Walljasper, who also visited Amsterdam recently with Bikes Belong is author of the forthcoming book All That We Share. Read what he wrote about the visit to Portland.