Portland may be a bicycling mecca, but out where I live? Not so much. I’m in East Portland, which used to be farmland and was later converted into suburbia. We have large residential-only districts, big-box shopping centers, and wide, busy arterial streets.
There are some streets with good bike lanes, and there are quiet residential streets that are no trouble for cycling (except when people decide it’s OK to drag-race down those streets). But what’s really difficult sometimes is that there are significantly fewer cyclists on the road.
There are a few Bicycle Commuters who use the bike lanes on East Burnside. You can identify them by their bright yellow jackets and Spandex. They’re also much faster than I am. Cycling is serious business for them.
There are always a few people on clunker bikes or BMX bicycles, in casual clothing (possibly jeans and plaid shirts). They are usually male. I won’t assume that this applies to everyone who looks like this, but there is a segment of the population here that bicycles because they have to, either because they can’t afford a car or because they have a DUI or some other obstruction to being a licensed driver.
And of course there are children, especially in the summer or going to and from school.
But there’s no one quite like me. The others are usually thinner. They don’t have bikes like mine, and they’re not using the bike as a family vehicle.
I did see a bakfiets in the wild at work one day. We were outside in front of the school for a bus safety drill (or something), and I saw someone ride by. A bakfiets in East Portland? Fortunately for them, it wasn’t a good time for me to hop on my bike, chase them down and demand that they become my BFF immediately.
Maybe I should place a personal ad.
You: Riding a bakfiets down SE 1xxth on September something-or-other. Me: Junoesque with dark curly hair, standing near the Xtracycle in the school parking lot. CALL ME!
What’s it like where you live? Are there bicyclists like you? Or like me?
Child Cycling by Kathleen McDade
Mom and Kid by Suzy McDade