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Portland Bicycling on Democracy Now!

April 16, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Advocacy

dn_banner_small.gifDemocracy Now!, the best news program in existence, hosted a segment today on Portland and its notoriously awesome bicycle culture. If you’re not into RealVideo format, you can start watching at 48:20 of the Flash-based format (you can also just download the audio/video). If you start at 46:20 (two minutes earlier), you’ll get to hear from Queen - their ‘Bicycle Race’ song is ridiculously cool. :) (lyrics and video)

On the show, we hear from Elly Blue, bicycle activist and part-time contributor to She’s helping to organize the Towards Carfree Cities Conference in June this year, in Portland.

The other guest, Scott Bricker, is the Executive Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, the main bicycle advocacy organization for Oregon, Portland, and southern Washington State (near Portland). [The other Scott Bricker heads the Bike Pittsburgh organization. All you bike advocacy folks out there - check out Bike Pittsburgh's fun and innovative website - if you want to make yourself more visible and appealing to younger cyclists/would-be cyclists/advocates/volunteers, this is a great way to do it!]

We see a clip from the Streetsblog video, Portland: Celebrating America’s Most Livable City.

Elly mentions Ciclovía (wiki) - widely popularized here in America when StreetsBlog ran a short video presentation on the movement. Specifically, Elly mentioned that the Carfree Cities Conference (its first time in North America) would have Enrique ‘Gil’ Peñalosa presenting (I think Mr. Peñalosa may have a few other first/colloquial names as well). The Carfree Cities Conference is a project of the World Carfree Network.

And, as if this wasn’t enough good news for one day, have a look at a video of Chicago cycling. I’m extremely happy for Portland, because their success makes it that much easier for the rest of us to follow suit, and I’m also happy that people in cities all over the world are not content to let Amsterdam and Portland hold that ‘Best Bicycle Towns’ crown without being challenged. :)

One thing that I thought was interesting that I didn’t know before was this 1970s Portland ordinance that required any new development to make accommodations for bicycling (if anyone knows where we can get details on that, I’d be much obliged!). I believe a lot of folks - myself included up until not too long ago - think that small changes to laws don’t really have a big effect. That Portland is now at least one of the premiere bicycling towns in America is a strong testament to the effectiveness - especially long-term - of seemingly-small changes in law. Incremental progress is important. Many of us woud like a full-scale bicycle and pedestrian revolution, but small victories can be just as important.

p.s. I think the DN! ‘Get Involved‘ tab is the best example I’ve ever seen of how to let people get involved in your cause.