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Bike Walk Life

News and commentary from the world of biking and walking.

The broader potential of Portland-style "bike fun" culture

Shawn Granton of Urban Adventure League wrote a blog post titled “can Portland style bike fun culture take hold elsewhere?” It reflects on “DIY” bicycle events hosted by individuals rather than organizations.

You can read the whole blog post here: Can Portland style bike fun culture take hold elsewhere?

But the idea of a mass of DIY bike events is pretty uncommon. Portland is one of the few places where this happens regularly.

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I remember the early Pedalpalooza calendars (when it was two weeks in June) having maybe 50 to 75 events. Now Pedalpalooza is all summer long (June through August). Last year had 600 events! The majority of events are hosted by a single person unaffiliated with an organization. Think about that for a moment.

He goes on to describe the multi-decade history of how Portland got to where it is now, and how other cities have tried but haven’t achieved it yet. One takeaway is the large amount of hard work and persistence it takes from volunteers year after year. It’s one thing to have an organization host an event, but it’s another thing to build up a critical mass (pun intended) of regular people who are willing to keep the ball rolling organically.

His exact experiences in Portland and Vancouver won’t be directly applicable everywhere, but I think his story of successes and failures contains lessons for everyone. We can all can benefit from a bottom-up, bicycle-oriented culture.