Portland Bike Culture Boost Local Economy

portland oregon bicyclist 01 Portland Bike Culture Boost Local Economy Photographer: Bikeporland.org (CC),

Portland always seems to be in the news because it’s considered one of America’s greenest cities. It’s also referred to as Bike City, USA because of its ranking as the top bicycling city in the U.S. and the city with the highest percentage of bike commuters. But it’s not a result of jumping on the green train — Portland has long been a bicycle-friendly city. In the 1970s, long before it was commonplace, the city encouraged cycling by creating bike lanes on major roads.

And in the last decade, Portland’s two-wheeling community has shown its appreciation by helping grow and nurture the city’s economy.

In addition to riders, Portland has a large cycling industry – from independent bike frame builders to local cycle clothing companies. Of course, there are also Portland-headquartered national companies such as Nike and Columbia Sportswear that contribute to the city’s bicycling interests, but a recent New York Times piece focused on local businesses like Team Estrogen, an online retailer that sells cycling clothing for women.

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However, the focus of these small businesses (most of whom are committed to recycling and overall sustainability) is not the economy. Most emerged simply from a love of biking. Mia Birk, a former city employee who helped to encourage the use of bicycles in the 1990s, stated that her original goals were not monetarily-geared at all; they were strictly for health and the environment’s sake. The boosting of the city’s economy was just an added bonus.

City Commissioner Sam Adams says the city’s goal is to become as sustainable as possible — socially, environmentally and economically. And to encourage even more biking by adding 110 miles to the already 21 mile bike lanes and move them away from the busy car and truck filled streets.

Portland is clearly thinking about the future, and thinking wisely. The future of their city affects the future of our planet. Let’s hope other city’s follow Portland’s example.

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