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Getting to 2100

Bicycle Advocacy Archive

Useless Devices that Make Us Feel Good

Bicycle helmets are kind of like those airplane seat cushion “flotation devices.” They are endlessly hyped yet rarely needed and of dubious usefulness when deployed. Whether crashing at sea or getting hit by a speeding car, neither the seat cushion nor the bike helmet will save your life. Its funny, we heavily regulate airplane design […]

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The Empire of the Auto: mini-documentary from Santiago Chile

Empire of the Automobile is a mini documentary made by BiciCultura of Santiago Chile. Includes the interesting data that recent studies by the Chilean Environment Ministry found that 70% of noise in Santiago is caused by traffic. And that more deaths come from auto-originating pollution than from traffic crashes (about 4,000 per year).

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Portland’s Transportation Priorities Adrift? Say it isn’t so!

In a dog bites man story, the Oregonian reports on the latest report that the City of Portland’s vaunted transportation department lacks focus, overspends and doesn’t achieve its goal. Not a big surprise to Portlanders who know too well the energizer-bunny characters of the ex-Mayor (who headed this bureau for 8 years) and his doppelganger, […]

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More bikes, healthier planet: but how to get there?

Bicycle use is experiencing a resurgence in much of the world – even the French are riding! In the USA bicycling is on the cusp of even greater growth, rating the attacks of House Republicans who eliminated funding in the latest transportation bill. Yet, most cities still are hostile to experienced riders much less the average person. What do you find that works to give this affordable, convenient, healthy transportation option a leg up?

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My last newsletter as a Metro Councilor

IMG_0032Whew! It was almost 12 years ago that I took my first oath of office as Metro Councilor from District 5. Now, I’ve reached my 12 year, 3 term limit and I want to say goodbye and thank you. I’ve had a great time representing you and working to make this an even better place to live. And to make Metro a better agency, providing great service to the more than 5 million people we touch every year through the Oregon Zoo, the Oregon Convention Center, our parks, solid waste services and more…

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I am not a cyclist…

A journalist is someone who writes for a living, an artist makes art. Columnist, pianist, economist… all are ways we use to identify people by their profession. Lance Armstrong is (was) a cyclist, making his fortune by riding a bicycle. I am not a cyclist. I am a person who happens to ride a bicycle to my work, shopping and to visit friends.

A cyclist is a stereotype, not a person. People have rights—to freedom of movement, to safety, to equitable access—that are frequently denied to them when they use a bicycle. When we become a “cyclist” in the eyes of authority and other citizens we are seen as equivalents of automobiles, inanimate objects rather than citizens.

We reinforce this dangerous objectification (and loss of our human rights) when we proclaim ourselves “cyclists.”


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From Victims to Citizens

As the mosquitos of the modern city, cyclists are used to being swatted at, cursed at, complained about or, worse, just ignored by other citizens and authorities alike. So, it is natural that people riding bicycles feel aggrieved, outraged and self-righteous.

Being part of such an easily identifiable social group has its advantages—it’s easy to find others with similar interests, we have no shortage of conversation starters (from the latest gear to the latest close call) and simplified fundraising (you just ask your friends). But there is also a danger: cyclists often fall into the same traps that many marginalized groups do, seeing themselves as victims, outside of society and powerless. Armed with the gospel of urban salvation—the holy bicycle–we risk becoming caricatures: wild-eyed prophets preaching doom and disaster, spitting in the eye of the establishment, wearing outlandish clothing, and looking down our noses at “normal” people…

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A bike-friendly place?

Portland has always been a bike friendly place, right? There was the “Bike Bill,” passed way back in 1971 during the frenzy of good stuff pushed by Republicans like land use planning, clean air and bottle deposits! The real story is actually one of constant struggle and advocacy that really didn’t take off until the Bicycle Transportation Alliance was founded in late 1990, almost 20 years after the Bike Bill became law. The intervening years had little to show for them (bike trails along freeways, mostly) in the Portland region. No bike lanes on major streets, no safe bridge crossings on the Willamette, no bikes on buses or light rail. And no power at Portland City Council, Metro or any of the three counties. Bicyclists, and there weren’t many, were left to their own devices which sometimes meant your fists, cause the cops would never take the cyclists’ side in confrontations with motorists. I remember being ordered off of NE Broadway by a police captain as he idled beside me even though he couldn’t cite a reason!

But this is not a bitch about the past but a story of hope, of how committed citizens can bring about change…

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About Gettingto2100

Why Getting to 2100? The next century will be a test: can humans use their intelligence and foresight to successfully transition from our consumption-fueled economy to one that balances the needs of humans with the Earth’s available resources. Getting to 2100 aims to be a forum for sharing of good ideas and good works. Got a good example or a new idea? Share it with the world!

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