Sponsored by Lane Powell

PDX bicycle boom races through the recession

| Print |  Email
Archives - November 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The Oregon Manifest Festival in October

If you think Portland has gone to the bicyclists, just wait until 2030. If things go according to the city’s updated Master Bicycle Plan, 20 years from now one of four commuters will travel by bike along a network of “Major City Bikeways” and “Local Bike Service Ways” from one “Bicycle District” to the next. Along with miles of new bike routes, the city is considering 200,000 bike maps, 150 cycling events per year and $500,000 in tax incentives for bicycle businesses.

It could prove a savvy move. A report by Portland economist Joe Cortright finds that Portlanders drive four miles less per day than the national average, which frees an extra $1.2 billion per year to spend on things other than cars. About $800 million of that circulates through the local economy.

The result is a rare thing in these times: a market that’s growing. Record numbers of Portlanders are commuting to work by bike on weekdays and tearing it up on the cyclocross course on the weekends. Some 80,000 bicyclists took part in just four events this past summer, the Providence Bridge Pedal and the three Sunday parkway rides organized by city government. Cycle Oregon and Mountain Bike Oregon both sold out.

Ashland’s United Bicycle Institute, the nation’s premier frame-building school, opened its Portland campus in September. The ongoing Oregon Manifest bike building show in the Pearl District expanded from a three-day event last year into a month-long extravaganza this year. Bike shops and frame builders continue to proliferate. Two of the city’s most popular constructors, Sweet Pea and Vanilla, are experimenting with more efficient production lines to shorten their multi-year waiting lists. Sweet Pea co-founder Natalie Ramsland says the recession has not prevented new out-of-state customers from making the “pilgrimage” to Portland to get fitted for a custom bike and soak in the cycling scene.

The scene also continues to spawn businesses such as bicycle parking specialist BikeRacker and distribution service Portland Pedal Power. The city is teeming with bike lawyers, bike realtors, bicycle baristas and bike taxis. There’s even a design race to create the perfect party bike; a recent design from Portland bike builder Metrofiets carries two kegs under the seat and a stack of pizzas on the rear rack.

Another race is heating up among businesses trying to convince the city to build on-street bike rack clusters in front of their businesses. The waiting list is 70 deep and counting, as restaurants and cafés angle to fuel up a new category of consumers with more disposable income than you might think. 


More Articles

Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


Business School

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Training, from the mundane to the sublime, bolsters companies and workers in an uncertain world.


More Than Meets the Eye

Guest Blog
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Janet Yellen official Federal Reserve portrait-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

On September 17, the much anticipated Fed decision was delivered and the equity markets haven't liked it.


Reader Input: School Choice

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Which of the following would be most effective in reducing the cost of operating a public university in Oregon?


Cream of the Crop

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Bill Levy of Pacific Ag talked to Oregon Business about new residue markets, the company’s growth strategy and why a biofuel plant is like a large cow.


100 Best Nonprofits announced

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1015-nonprofits01Oregon Business magazine has named the seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon. The rankings were revealed Wednesday night during an awards dinner at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland.


Mayoral musings

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
091515-mayors-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capturing leads in the polls and the headlines. In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02