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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Burn! Bicycling Kicks Portland Down to Its Fourth-Best Bike City

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 4:02 PM

I have no idea why I subscribe to Bicycling magazine. It's obsessed with a road-cycling culture I could not be less interested in, it's endlessly repetitive, and it's stodgy. But I hesitate every time I consider canceling, and I flip through every single issue.

They sent a new one today, and it's got some unwelcome news. After years of being in the top one or two, Portland's no longer even in the top three American bike cities, according to the magazine. We're number four.

"The lack of a large bike-share system and protected bike lanes put Portland off the pace of the most innovative cycling cities and drop it to its lowest ranking in our survey since 2010," the magazine writes.

Who's beating us? New York, Chicago, and, maybe worst of all, long-time bike-city rival Minneapolis.

This comes at a bad time. It's not that Bicycling is some sort of final arbiter on bike worth—they're trying to sell magazines, and it's boring if Portland is at the top of the pack every year. Still, the magazine's rankings have undeniably been a source of pride. And its critiques on protected bike lanes and bike share are at the forefront of why even the city's biggest bike boosters are questioning whether the Rose City has lost its vaunted bike mojo.

Here, I wrote a long story about that doubt earlier this year. Read it!

While we've stalled out, New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis all have bike share systems (ours is supposedly coming) and the political will for innovative bike infrastructure Portland seems to have completely misplaced. Actually, by Bicycling's apparent metrics, Washington, DC, is another good candidate to beat out Portland (it's number 5). Rahm Emanuel has actually gloated about making Chicago one of the country's top bike cities. It ranked a lowly fifth in 2012—the last time Bicycling did this—and now Rahm's got room to gloat. That's the worst part, really.

Pretty sure Bicycling hasn't posted this to its site yet.

Here's the top 10.

1. New York
2. Chicago
3. Minneapolis
4. Portland
5. Washington, DC
6. Boulder
7. San Francisco
8. Seattle
9. Fort Collins
10. Cambridge

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