I want to ride my bicycle

…no, not really. I don’t have a bike and I’m not a big fan of being mounted upon one.

However! I am completely psyched about others who like to ride their bikes. Portland is the bikiest city I have ever seen. It’s awesome. People on bicycles are super fit. They are not buying gas. A whole bunch more of them fit in a place where only a couple cars will fit – or no cars at all, like on the sidewalks on the bridges.

Portland was the first city where I saw bike lanes painted with the car lanes. It’s really helpful for me as a motorist, to know where I can be and not accidentally squash a bicyclist. It’s probably reassuring to some of them, too. Car lanes are painted around bike lanes so that we can make a right turn safely. We’ve even got these neon green “bike boxes” at stop lights so that those hard-to-see bikes can pull in front of the cars at intersections and be more visible.

It’s not for exercise around here: these people are commuting. Never is it more obvious than when I walk home across the Hawthorne Bridge. Usually I’m on TriMet, doing the bus thing. There is no excuse not to. My employer buys my pass, and the Belmont #15 goes two blocks from the house and plunks me seven blocks from work. I’d be an idiot not to use it.

Some days I still need to drive though, and I’m too cheap to buy a day parking pass ($12) around here – maybe cheap for your city, but still too much for me. In any case, I park on the other side of the Willamette River, on the other side of OMSI where it’s free, and it’s a lovely walk to work. About a mile, which is a perfect warm up for my workout every morning, which begins as soon as I get to the federal building. I can watch the dragon boats and their practicing paddlers. I can watch sunrises and sunsets, depending on the time of year. I can watch the other people running the waterfront, and watch the lights blinking off the water, and see how the profile of Mt. Hood rises up behind the profile of OMSI in the same triangle shape. I like to compare the architecture of all the high rises, and confirm to myself each time: yep, my building is definitely the ugliest of them all.

Oh, bicycles! When I make that long walk back to my car at night, the streets are swarming with bicycles. It makes me think of India or Vietnam or something, all these bikes. Whoosh! With their slick, shiny helmets and reflective athlete gear, flying like bats from their caves at dusk, in their safe little bike lanes, zooming along twice the speed of cars because they’ve got room to move but the cars are bumper to bumper.

As a pedestrian walking my commute home, bicycles become a whole new element of potential danger. Honestly, those things look lethal flying down the hill from the Elk Statue, hunching through that last light before bursting onto the uphill before the bridge. Dude, if one of those hit me, I’d be hospitalized for a week. Sort of makes me doubly wary. Cars AND bikes.

It’s an awesome sight. Super athletes in their Tour de France yellow, in cut off cords and Converse sneaks, in pigtails and short skirts, shirtless, shirt-and-tie… I’m telling you – everybody is on a bike around here.

Way to go Portland! Again, I am impressed.

Ok, I’m sure you don’t care as much as I do, but this is a totally cool video! Here’s my city, and my TriMet, Hawthorne Bridge and Steel Bridge, light rail, bike lanes, a hundred shots of the waterfront loop I run every morning, and the gazillions of people on the streets and on their bikes, Pioneer Square… well, basically the part of downtown I spend 12 to 13 hours a day in. It’s awesome. You should check out just a couple minutes of the video, but I forgive you if you don’t watch the whole thing. Then, start planning your move because Portland is the BEST.

…still not enough to get me onto a bike and into that craziness. No way.  But I’m glad that YOU are doing it. Good on ya, mate!

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