FACT OR FICTION: There is a bike vs. car war underway
Story: Despite media outlets chronicling every bike/car altercation with headlines like "Bike Rage Meltdown in Portland!" during the great bikes vs. car war of 2008, Portland had its safest biking year since the city started keeping records in 1925. While there are thousands more cyclists on the road now than 20 years ago (Bike trips in Portland have increased by 584 percent since 1991! Hot dog!) exactly zero Portland cyclists were killed in action in 2008. Anything but the wussiest war would involve blood on the streets, not a zero fatality record. Sadly, 2009 has not been as peaceful: Two bikers have already been struck and killed by drivers this year. But in 2008 there were 20 fatal accidents in Portland involving cars! Aggh! Car vs. car war!
FACT OR FICTION: Pregnant women can safely ride bikes.
Story: "I got the whole range of 'How could you?!' to the gentle finger wag and admonishment, 'You'd better be careful,'" says Angela Koch, who finally stopped riding her Schwinn to work downtown after week 37 of pregnancy. "For me, I just never felt uncomfortable with it at all."
Biking should not be automatically lumped with cigarettes and alcohol for ladies with bulging bellies. In February, local OB/GYN (and pregnant bike commuter) Dr. Alison Edelman advised women on Bikeportland.org to listen to their bodies—according to her, after 12 weeks a fetus could be injured if the woman crashes. Besides that, pregnant women should take breaks, drink lots of water, and for chrissake get a padded seat.
For those womenfolk who want to pedal through pregnancy and encourage the world's first birth by bike, Koch is hosting a very special Pedalpalooza ride this June: Celebrate Waterbreak!
FACT OR FICTION: Cyclists don't pay taxes to keep up the roads.
Story: It's true that people who only own bikes do not pay gas taxes and vehicle license fees that fund road projects in Oregon. But, Portland Office of Transportation Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller points out, most cyclists own cars, too. Plus, according to Geller, bikers save the city and state money. Since 1991, traffic over the Hawthorne Bridge has increased 21 percent, an increase seen around the country. But unlike other cities, all of the increased traffic has been bikes, not cars. While other places are digging up millions of dollars to widen roads, Portland's increased bike traffic is accommodated by bike paths, which are millions of dollars cheaper to build and maintain. So you basically owe a cyclist a drink, thank you very much.
FACT OR FICTION: Renowned heartthrob Bicycle Transportation Alliance Director Scott "Tight Spandex" Bricker once performed a striptease in front of city officials.
Status: Fact! (thank God)
Story: Bricker stripped down to his skivvies during a bike fashion brown bag lunch at the Portland Building in 2007. "He said, 'You know, I like to feel as sporty underneath as I do outside' and starts pulling off his shirt," recalls witness and city transportation specialist Timo Forsberg. "He had on some sporty undershirt and silk boy shorts." According to Forsberg, the audience first gasped, then cheered. "He had nice pecs, a rippling six pack. It was a very tight undershirt," Forsberg wistfully remembers.
FACT OR FICTION: Oregon spends tons of money on bike lanes and bike paths! Those cyclists should quit whining!
Story: For all its talk of being a bike-lovin' state, the government hasn't put its money where its mouth is. A measly one percent of the state's transportation budget is spent on bike AND pedestrian projects combined; the Portland Department of Transportation has spent only .07 percent of its capital budget on bike improvements since 2000. That's partly because bikes are a cheap date. According to city stats, for $60 million we could build the nation's best bike network with over 300 miles of bike paths. Or we could build one mile of urban freeway. Sadly, Salem doesn't get it. This May they approved a transportation budget that includes $840 million for new road projects and zero increase in bike funding.
FACT OR FICTION: Portland is the best bike city in the world!
Story: Amsterdam kicks Portland's Spandexed ass at everything we think we're good at. Pot? They're the home of the brown café. Strip clubs? They've got a red-light district that would make Mary's dancers blush. Bike commuting? Their city boasts 36 percent of commuters biking to work—Portland tops out at 18. Sigh. Whatever. We'll keep our organic beer, our eco-districts, and that guy in the white suit who plays the trumpet on the Hawthorne Bridge.
FACT OR FICTION: All those people who dress like bike messengers are bike messengers
Story: While downtown streets are crowded with kids whose knickers are so tight they can barely fit a mini U-lock in the back pocket, it turns out most of them probably just work at Montage (oh snap). Calls to every bike courier business in town revealed the city has just 21 full-time bike messengers and four part timers. That means either a lot of courier services are not 'fessing up to under-the-table bike messengers or Montage has way more busboys than we thought.More Bike Issue articles here!