PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — To say that bicycling is popular in Portland would be an understatement.
A higher percentage of people in the City of Roses commute by bicycle than any other city in the country. Bicycling.com calls Portland the 5th Best Bike City in America, with Seattle in 1st, followed by San Franciso.
Nearly 7% of Portland workers commute by bike, according to the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
That figure translates to 23,000 people a day, not including trips for shopping, entertainment or recreation.
Portland is home to 387 miles of bikeways, including bike paths and bike lanes. City officials plan to create another 59 miles of bikeways over the next 3 to 5 years.
The Portland-based bike-share company Biketown logged 1 million trips in just its first 3 years of business.
Thousands of Portland residents get to work each day by bike, regardless of the weather.
Madi Carlson is one of those people; she doesn’t even own a car.
“The biggest thing for me is just how happy pedaling makes me and I like that I’m not polluting,” Carlson said.
“It’s the easiest city to bike in in the country and I think the numbers bear that out,” said Sarah Gilbert, who co-owns a bicycle tour and repair company with Carlson.
Gilbert said the business, Around Portland Tours, opens the eyes of visitors to Portland’s unique bike culture.
“What impresses people the most is how the motorists yield to bicyclists,” she said. “So the friendliness is really more impressive than our infrastructure.”
But as Portland grows, so do the challenges for cycling commuters. Accidents are all-too-frequent as more and more motorists share crowded streets with bicyclists and some crashes have ended tragically in the death of a cyclist.
Challenges also arise in simply sharing the road with other cyclists. Staying out of the way of riders who are faster, more experienced and more aggressive can be difficult for novices.
“There are a lot of fast and fearless women on bikes out there,” said Carlson. “But for the most part, when you see a lof women bike commuters, it’s a sign that your city is safe to bike in.”