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Oregon Cities Rank High For Bike Friendliness

A boisterous crowd of cycling advocates, city leaders and government officials crammed into the Bike Gallery in downtown Portland Tuesday.

The cause for celebration?  Portland's bike community has gone from gold to platinum.  Andrew Theen explains.

 Scott Bricker

The League of American Bicyclists compiles a list of  "bike friendly communities" across the country based on the five "Es": engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation.

Portland is the only major city to earn a platinum ranking.

Andy Clarke is the Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists. He says there are many reasons Portland improved its ranking from the last time it applied in 2005.

One reason:  raw numbers.

Andy Clarke: "The city has actually achieved a kind of increase in the amount of people cycling that most cities can only dream of.  There's been a 144 percent increase in the amount of bicyclists getting to work in the morning since 2000 and that's a huge increase."

Those numbers Clarke refers to are really just the die-hards; the riders who only bike to work and don't piggy-back on public transit along the way.  But more importantly, Clarke says,   bike culture is "permeating" Portland.

Portland Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams, who is running for Mayor, has been pushing to achieve platinum status for years.

But Adams and Bicycle Transportation Alliance leader Scott Bricker said the community can't stop now.  Bricker says ideally the city wants to add 50-100 miles of new bike trails and boulevards in the next five years.

Scott Bricker: "We have accomplished a tremendous amount in the 18 years that bicycling has really turned to be a focus of the city, and we are still trying to catch the next big wave. I think currently we're at base camp.  We're at base platinum."

Davis, California is the only other city to achieve a platinum ranking.  Corvallis achieved a gold ranking, and Eugene,  silver.

Commissioner Adams says the recognition means Portland can now be compared to international biking communities.

Andy Clarke with the League of American Bicyclists agreed. He said  although much work remains to be done, Portland is now "clipping at the heels" of cycling meccas like Copenhagen and Amsterdam.