A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were biking on one of the many streets in Portland that are without bike lanes when a man in a large pickup got dangerously close to us as he sped by, clearly intending to make us as uncomfortable as possible. We soon caught him at a stoplight and confronted him about his disregard for our safety. What could have ended with a simple apology resulted in this man threatening to get out of his truck and fight us.

This is not an uncommon scenario for road bikers. Like most American cities, Portland has terrible biking infrastructure. I am not a hardcore cyclist, and I never biked as a primary mode of transportation until I studied abroad in Freiburg, Germany, where, unlike Portland, most roads have safe, thought-out biking infrastructure.

Portland has established some bike lanes here and there, but usually they are just the road’s shoulder by another name. These bike lanes are frequently weathered, blocked with snow or full of parked cars.

Biking is an eco-friendly alternative to driving that has become increasingly popular among younger generations. Better bike infrastructure in Portland would not only help the environment but also could attract younger residents.

Experienced cyclists are relatively comfortable biking in Portland, but only because they are accustomed to the risk. This is an unacceptable standard, and Portland needs to make biking a convenient and safe mode of transportation for everyone – commuters, students and families alike.

Grace Bukowski-Thall

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