Three things to be thankful for

Three things to be thankful for

When the wind isn’t at your back any more, it’s easy to get discouraged — especially when you know how great the place you’re headed is going to be.

Sometimes that happens to people who care about good biking in Portland. Even the ones who write for daily news websites.

But holidays are for taking your eyes off the handlebars of life for a moment and enjoying where you are. And though Portland isn’t making the rapid progress that it once was toward better biking, we still live in the safest, most interesting and (we think) most promising big city in the country to ride a bicycle. Here are three things we’re grateful for about riding in and around our favorite city.

1) Citizen transportation activism is as strong in Portland as it’s ever been.

Bike Parking Wonk Night-9

Citizen activists poring over parking policy at the Bike Parking Wonk Night in October.

We’re excited about the new Better Block PDX not just because it’s full of smart people with great ideas, but because we think it’s going to inspire other smart people with other great ideas. After a lull in urban bike fun, enthusiastic new leaders are stepping in. The success of Gateway Green’s crowdfunding campaign has smoothed out the future for a 38-acre urban bike recreation park and established a new way to help pay for projects Portlanders believe in. The city-sponsored Portland Traffic and Transportation Class, now about to wrap up 23rd year, is about to let loose its latest generation of well-informed, well-connected optimists on the city. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is working to diversify their partnerships and membership, the Community Cycling Center’s new CEO says his top priority is to make it easier for people from underserved communities to speak up on behalf of biking and Oregon Walks is building its entire organizational strategy around helping other organizations advocate for walking in their work.

And back in October, over 30 people showed up on a weeknight to discuss, dissect, and reform Portland’s bike parking policy.

In short, Portland has started talking to itself about bikes not just as a way to get around but at as a tool for changing lots of things in our city. We love that.

2) Our region’s rural riding renaissance.

Bullshit 100 ride-33

Not too far outside of Portland.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Car-free and car-lite spaces aren’t just for the big city. There’s a growing understanding in Oregon that people tend to have a lot more fun on bikes when they don’t have to worry about cars. Whether it’s carfree Crater Lake, major progress on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, the new momentum around gravel road riding, or Oregon State Parks’ always-maturing Scenic Bikeways program — lovers of the open road have a lot to be thankful for.

3) Velo Cult is the all-purpose community gathering place we never knew we needed.

Just another day at Velo Cult.
(Photo: Jeff Strange)

Can you imagine if a U.S. city, university or nonprofit advocacy group had launched a community center with regular free music, bike-themed movies in the basement theater, policy discussions and a constant flow of strange and wonderful community events — not to mention 12 interesting beers on tap and, oh yeah, a full-service neighborhood bicycle shop? It’d be showered with awards and toasted from coast to coast.

That’s exactly what the team at Velo Cult has done by moving in 2012 from San Diego to 1969 42nd Avenue here in Portland. It’s an incubator for good times and great ideas and there’s nowhere quite like it. Let’s raise our glasses to owner Sky Boyer and his entire crew!

There are surely more bikey things to be thankful for around these parts; these were just the three that were at the top of our minds. What do you think deserves a mention?

Publisher/editor Jonathan Maus contributed to this story.

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