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Portland’s bikeways provide classroom for London & Rochester

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Rochester students on a bike tour of PortlandTo develop an efficient transportation network with choices for all Portlanders, City staff and citizens often look to best practices in the U.S.and abroad. Likewise, many communities near and far look to Portland to learn about the best ways to get around.

On Sunday, a group of sixth grade students from Rochester, NY’s Genesee Community Charter School arrived for a four day fact-finding mission on how to make Rochester a better place for children and adults to bicycle.

As part of their capstone project, Genesee sixth graders take an in-depth look at a problem in their local community and study it over the course of the year. This year’s class is investigating all aspects of bike friendly communities. Rochester City staff and bicycle advocates charged this year’s students to develop programming that encourages adults and kids to use bikes as a form of active transportation.

The students' Portland trip included meetings with staff at the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), Portland State University, Oregon Health Sciences University, Go By Bike,  the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, and Alta Planning and Design.

On Tuesday morning, students put down their pencils and rolled up their pant legs for a PBOT-sponsored bicycle tour of Portland’s bikeways and programs.  The students rode with the Sabin Elementary School Bike Train to see first-hand how to increase the number of students biking to school. Sabin Elementary teachers and students welcomed the students with refreshments and presented a case study on their Bike Train.  (PBOT would like to thank volunteers Bill Griesar, Kiel Johnson and Carl Larson for their assistance with the bicycle tour.)

Rochester students + Portland volunteersRiding on Neighborhood Greenways – residential streets with low volumes of auto traffic and low speeds where people on bicycles and pedestrians are given priority – provided an example of how to create pleasant, low-cost biking environments for youth and adults. “It was incredibly comfortable…I could do that for several days without feeling threatened,” said Genesse 6th grader Sam O’Connor.

“I learned how fun it is ride on the streets without having to worry about cars being behind you or rushing by you,” added Genesee’s Ellie Anderson-Zych.  

When London Mayor Boris Johnson released The Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London last week, a bit of Portland found its way into the plans of the United Kingdom’s capital city.

Professional correspondence between staff at PBOT and London municipal staff Steve Cardno and Brian Deegan resulted in a tour of Portland to learn more about our bikeway system and programs. Portland’s Neighborhood Greenways provided a vision for a low stress and convenient bikeway network in London. Prominent in the London Mayor’s cycling vision plan are Quietways,  “pleasant, low-traffic side streets.”  The City of Portland will stay in touch with transportation professionals in London as their Quietways system develops.  

While Portland welcomes visitors from other places, the city has also benefited from the innovations of others. Instead of the cost and challenges of creating solutions out of whole cloth, adapting best practices from across the country and around the world has provided Portlanders with better and safer transportation choices. 


1 Comment


Scott MacRae

March 23, 2013 at 5:18 AM

What you are doing in Portland is fantastic! As a transplant from Portland to Rochester, NY it is incredible to see how profoundly your bike network has inspired cities all over the country, and even in Europe!

When I saw what you had accomplished 3 years ago on a return visit, I was inspired to help develop a bike advocacy group in Rochester and we are growing like gangbusters thanks to many of your insights and example.

Keep up the fantastic work!!!

Scott MacRae MD

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Spam Prevention In the Pacific Northwest, what state is Portland in?