Portland did what? Pinch me. Am I dreaming?

Tom BowdenTom Bowden is a bike commuter from Richmond VA, a “suit” – a corporate lawyer with an MBA, and a conservative – You betcha! He is also a board member of Bike Virginia, a pro cycling and pedestrian group in Virginia that raises money to promote cycling, walking and active lifestyles. Tom’s lawyerly blogging can be found at:

I had a dream that I was watching the news last night, and it went something like this…

This just in: Iran Admits to Nuclear Weapons Program, agrees to disband by Thursday to be followed by unlimited international inspections. Immediately prior to his public self-beheading in Tehran, Former President Ahmadinejad admitted it was all a huge error and the US “isn’t really so terrible after all.”

Tom Bowden Dreaming

In Greece, amateur snorkelers near Santorini stumbled on an underwater tunnel that they followed into what appears to be the remarkably well preserved capital of the Lost Continent of Atlantis. The Greek Navy immediately dispatched salvage crews who in less than 24 hours retrieved enough gold, silver and priceless artifacts to put Greece and the entire European Union on a sound financial footing for decades.

Elsewhere in totally unrelated news, Prince Charles of Great Britain abdicated his right to succeed to the throne stating, “It’s widely known that my trolley has been off its track for some time now, and Wills is eminently more qualified to succeed mummy, not to mention much more attractive — he gets that from his mother’s side of course.” The Prince could not be reached for further comment but was rumored to be working naked in his garden where he likes to paint himself blue with organic mulberry juice while pulling weeds and chanting sacred druid verse.

In the Northwestern US, the city of Portland shocked no one by announcing that its new transportation budget would emphasize cycling and walking infrastructure over motorized transportation. Citing innumerable studies that show the fiscal advantages of human powered mobility over fossil fuel powered mechanized alternatives, PBOT Director Tom Miller mockingly commented “Who do all those automobilers or whatever they call themselves think they are anyway – Richard Petty? I mean zooming around in their high powered machines like they’re at the Daytona 500, and lugging two tons of steel and rubber with them just to pick up a six pack and a loaf of bread from around the corner. It’s absurd. They need to grow up. In this economy, we don’t have the luxury of supporting their childish fantasies.” Concerned advocates of automobile transportation were rumored to be plotting a protest for the following Monday morning when they would all drive their cars to work at rush hour, thereby overwhelming the city’s road system and bringing traffic to a standstill, however, it was pointed out that such an effort might not be distinguishable from normal conditions, and, in any event, would have little effect on the city’s large and growing population of bike commuters and pedestrians.

In national politics, Republican contender Mitt Romney reached out to President Barack Obama and offered to be his running mate, replacing VP Joe Biden, who has been suffering from more frequent bouts of Tourette’s Syndrome, in which he uncontrollably contradicts the President’s stated policies while carefully attributing his statements to former UK Labor Party leaders. Said Romney, “Look I’m a realist – no one knows more about Obamacare than I do, and if the President is going to save it, he needs me to get it done. I saved the Olympics, I can save Obamacare too.”

The sounds of heavy trucks on the street outside my loft awakened me before I could learn what else was going on in my alternate reality dream world, but imagine how shocked I was to read this article in StreetsBlog!

Citing Budget Constraints, Portland to Invest More in Biking, Not Driving
Screen shot: Streetsblog.net

It seems I may have developed a nascent capability to predict the future in my dreams! Portland’s PBOT Director actually said that for fiscal reasons, biking and walking would take precedence over automobiles! (I think the rest of the quote was probably something I ate yesterday at last weekend’s Earth Day festival). Anyone who has read Mia Birk’s “Joyride” knows what a radical change that is from when she and Earl Blumenauer were fighting City Hall just to get a few bike racks installed.

As Gandhi once said “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Now if I can just focus my dreams on the NASDAQ for a week or two…

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5 thoughts on “Portland did what? Pinch me. Am I dreaming?”

  1. Dr. M says:

    Priceless. Very well written and entertaining but the dream sequence quote of driving to the local store for a six-pack and a loaf of bread is spot on.
    Despite the sky high gas prices, Americans still make trips under 4 miles by car. By car? Come on!
    Locally I’ve seen bicycle sales spike but again it’s the same demographic. Young to middle aged men. This doesn’t represent enough of the overall population to make a serious difference in commuter habits. I’m still the only woman I see out on the road riding. Plenty of them pass me in their SUV’s though. I hope this will change….soon.

  2. Joel says:

    After reading the complete article, I was struck by the one comment by a reader about what a high public maintenance factor mass transit created (initial investment and ongoing investment). One reader took exception to that view and I agree with that exception.

    Our society has been geared in the past four decades to a “I want it instantly” type of gratification. This has been reinforced by business and government models which stress “next quarters numbers” because they could care less about two or five years from now (they will not be in office or in charge of the business therefore it does not concern them). They are only interested in the next election cycle or stockholder meeting.

    If a bicycle tire that last a rider for three years costs $30 was offered side by side with a $5 tire that would last two months, a majority of customers would go for the $5 tire instead of the long lasting more economical $30 tire. Their rationale is, “I do not have thirty dollars right now.” Ironically, they will never have more money because they continue to squander opportunities to save money thinking about short term gains and expenditures.

    I would not be able to ride my bicycle the full twenty three miles to work and back every day. Long term, I could find a house closer to my work and shorten the commute but that would not be economical and the money spent on relocation would never be recouped on the selling and closing costs of real estate transactions. My job might be changed or my job location might be changed. The bus helps me to leverage my bicycle usage to the best of my ability. An “all or nothing” mentality defeats the purpose of moving people towards the most efficient method of commuting available to them.

    Buses and trains are important to our present and future commuting environment. Over their LIFETIMES (special emphasis that this is not a quick fix), they are economical and one of the cheapest commuting options on the table (only beat by bicycles and walking).

    I believe that cars have their important place in people moving. I stress this to my children, if only one person is in a car, it is normally cheaper to take mass transportation (which I include bicycles and walking in this category). Two car riders tend to break even or have a slight negative cost compared to mass transportation. Three or more people can be cheaper than mass transportation if they are all going to the same place at the same time.

    When I ride my bicycle and ride on the bus, I take notice to the high percentage of single drivers in a vehicle. Let’s start small, let’s focus on doing whatever we can to encourage that single rider to double-up, use mass transit, use a bicycle, walk, or find an alternative to riding alone.

  3. So my wife is using her bike for fair-weather trips of 2 miles or less. I think there have been a few things that have helped her get there:

    1) My craziness with my commuting 26 miles a day.
    2) Riding as a family to church and donuts and soccer games.
    3) Buying her a new bike that fits her and her riding style very well.
    4) When she really doesn’t want to ride, I encourage her to not ride, but drive. I say, “I’m pro-bicycle, not anti-car. A car is the best tool for the job sometimes, and now is one of those times…”

  4. Yay, Portland.

    San Francisco has a “Transit First” policy in its city charter, and over the past four years have actually gotten almost serious about that policy. If you look at SFMTA’s current project list, you’ll see about a billion dollars on transit projects, tens of millions for bicycle, pedestrian and ‘Livable Streets’ improvements, and almost ZERO for anything to improve the actual driving experience in the city of San Francisco.

    There’s the Doyle Drive Project, but that currently mostly inconveniences drivers commuting over the Golden Gate Bridge, and it’s funded entirely by State and Federal agencies.

  5. Evan Manvel says:

    Sadly, this director may get pushed out of office under a new mayor. As Bike Walk Vote PAC, we’re working hard to make sure a pro-bike Mayor is elected.

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