Long known for its bike-friendliness, Portland has made big strides in improving safe access to cyclists all over the city. Dangerous bridges and overpasses have been transformed and retrofitted with pedestrian and bike paths, allowing multi-modal transport to and fro. When it comes to more quiet neighborhoods, the city isn’t sitting still either. Perhaps spurred by last years’ loss to Minneapolis as the most bike-friendly city in the nation, Portland has sprung into action, dramatically increasing the number of on-street bike markers, placards, and traffic calming schemes.
I live just off of SE Clinton Street, a quiet residential street that has long been a calm biking avenue. I bike Clinton all the time, threading my way from Downtown Portland up to my Southeast neighborhood, and vice versa. It’s always been a bicycle friendly boulevard, and the drivers on Clinton are generally slow and cautious. Mini roundabouts and recently added bioswales have added to the calm. But I was pleasantly surprised today to see even more bikeification happening on Clinton. Every single street sign on Clinton now is topped with a bright metal cutout of a bike. They add a bit of silly flair and also tout Clinton’s bicycle friendliness.
In addition, full-size, colorful half-bikes have been mounted high on telephone poles bringing a bit of funky Portland-ness to the neighborhood. Frivolous, sure. Do I like it? Yes. Even in a time of shrinking budgets and penny pinching, it’s refreshing and rewarding to notice small touches that add to the quality and character of a neighborhood. Beyond advertising the street’s purpose, Portland is investing in quality of life that will ensure a healthy community, one that will encourage children to play and people to stroll. Watch out, Minneapolis, we’re coming back stronger than ever.
In addition to artistic gratification, the city has robust infrastructure at busy intersections, allowing for highly visible crossings. I applaud the city for not forgetting about the smaller neighborhoods, and indeed, bringing streets like Clinton into the future, providing bike-friendly measures that will chart a course for smart-growth down the road. And oh yeah, drivers, take a different road. Clinton is for bikes.