Portland: Bike Rush Hour on the Hawthorne Bridge
The first time you visit Portland, Oregon, the gaggles of cyclists streaming over the Hawthorne Bridge during rush hour is a sight you will never forget. It's something other cities need to see and be inspired by.
On a recent vacation there, I couldn't resist cranking out a Streetfilms shortie, so I naturally hooked up with Crank My Chain's Dan Kaufman to capture the essence of the PM rush and talk to cyclists about what it feels like to be a part of the mass of cyclist humanity in Southeast Portland, Hawthorne corridor. As Greg Raisman from Portland's Bureau of Transportation pointed out: 20% of all traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge is bikes. And, Portland's number of cyclists has risen 600% in the last fifteen years and shows no sign of letting up.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [0:14] Everybody, I am in Portland, Oregon at the foot of the Hawthorne Bridge, and this is Bike Rush Hour. [music]
[0:20] Every time I come to Portland, it's just so exciting to see the cyclists on the road. Look at this. This is coming off the Hawthorne Bridge. This is not some kind of magic, or chicane area, or Industrial Light and Magic. This isn't some kind of special ride, or critical mass that is going on today. This happens just about every day in Portland.
[0:46] I'm here with Greg Raisman from the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Greg knows a lot about stats. Tell us something.
Greg Raisman: [0:57] Raisman: Well, the bridge behind me is the Hawthorne Bridge, which is a great place because it carries 7,200 across it every day. That's about 20 percent of vehicle trips for that bridge, and we're seeing it go up more and more every year.
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [1:11] We're at Hawthorne and Southeast 11th Avenue. Hopefully some of these wonderful cyclists that are coming up want to talk to us about what it's like to be riding amongst... Just with a big group of people when they're riding home.
Speaker: [1:22] It's a great way to ride home, with a gazillion people just cruising down the Hawthorne bridge.
Speaker: [1:26] You've got real traffic out that's bicycles. You've got waits at stop signs. You've got to deal with merging with other bicyclists. Passing other bicyclists. It's good to see other bicyclists as real traffic, and being treated as such.
Speaker: [1:39] You're part of a movement, literally. I feel like there's a message being sent.
Speaker: [1:44] At a certain point when I saw that the cars yielded to everybody, and I think that I would have been a little more worried had I been by myself. But with everybody there in a pack, it felt safer.
Speaker: [1:53] There is a little safety in numbers, but in general it's up to yourself to be safe.
Speaker: [1:59] I feel pretty safe. I feel like drivers are looking out for bikers, most parts.
Speaker: [2:05] I like the mass of people. It's encouraging.
Speaker: [2:07] It feels divine.
Clarence Eckerson Jr: [2:09] I'm here with Elly Blue, the managing editor of Bike Portland. What's the skinny?
Elly Blue: [2:14] Here we are on Hawthorne Boulevard. It's one of the major bike-ways in the city of Portland. There are bike traffic jams all the time. There are hazards. There are people getting in each others' way. [2:24] 20 percent of the traffic on the bridge is bike traffic, but less than 10 percent of the space is devoted to bikes, so we need more room.
Greg Raisman: [2:30] Southeast Portland is a great place to ride a bike, and it's really practical, and convenient, and safe. A lot of people are choosing to do it. So, when we ask people who live in Portland, "Do you use a bicycle for transportation, between 15 percent and 20 percent in southeast Portland are telling us that, "Yes, we choose to ride a bike as our way of getting around, or shopping, or to school, or whatever it is we're doing."
Clarence Eckerson Jr.: [2:51] This is not only going on in Portland. It's going on in a lot of major cities, like San Francisco. Go visit Market Street. Some hours of the day, bike counts have shown that there are more cyclists on Market Street than there are single occupancy vehicles. [3:04] And in New York City, go over the West Side Highway, the busiest green-way in North America. People want better biking facilities. They will use them if they have them, and that cities have to invest more money in cycling, because it is part of the solution to the transportation problem cities face.