Bicycling is on the Rise in Portland

You’d be forgiven for thinking that for a city to be the most popular in the nation among cyclists, it would need 12 months of good weather per year. It may surprise you, then, that Portland has more cyclists per head of population than any other major metropolitan area in the country, and recent studies show the trend for people using bicycles to get around the city continues to grow. One unfortunate side-effect of this trend is that Portland bike accident lawyers are increasingly being called on to represent clients who have been injured by motorists who either didn’t see the cyclist sharing the road, or simply didn’t see any need to take appropriate precautions.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently released a report which detailed the growth in Portland bicycle traffic, and there’s simply no denying that the statistics show cycling in Portland is more popular than ever. In 2011, Portland saw an increase of more than 6 percent in bicycle traffic.

Bike Commuters Try to Avoid Accidents

Perhaps in an effort to avoid high concentrations of traffic and the need to hire Portland bike accident lawyers, bike commuters are resorting to far greater use of the city’s low-traffic neighborhood greenways, according to the PBOT study. For example, an average of 18,257 cyclists per day crossed the Willamette River using the Hawthorne, Steel, Burnside and Broadway bridges.

All are bike-friendly bridges, and the cycle traffic represented a 4 percent increase on 2010 figures. This is in spite of an 18 percent decline on cyclists on Broadway Bridge, due mainly to the construction of a Portland streetcar extension over the river which required detours and sidewalk closures last summer on and around Broadway Bridge. Traffic engineer Rob Burchfield admitted some cyclists were avoiding the area at the time, saying, “It was not necessarily a pleasant place to ride.”

The PBOT study was conducted by counting bike traffic at more than 150 locations around Portland. Counts were made by trained volunteers and by automatic hoses placed on traditional bike routes. Some of the results of the study, compared with previous years include:

  • Overall, there was a 6.4 percent increase in the total number of bicycle trips made
  • The increase marked the second year in a row to see more Portland cyclists on the road, but the 6.4 percent figure was not as high as the 8 percent figure achieved in 2010.
  • The only decline in many years came in 2009, and PBOT officials put that result down, in great part, to the economic recession
  • An astonishing 61 percent more cyclists were counted at 11 different locations, all of which are considered low-traffic and low-speed greenway routes that parallel much busier city streets.
  • Portland have the highest rate of people commuting to work by bike than any city in the country, at a credible 6 percent, according to figures released by the League of American Bicyclists.
  • East Portland saw the largest increase in bicycle traffic at 18 percent. Northeast Portland came second, with a 16 percent increase in bike trips.
  • A creditable 80 percent of counted cyclists were wearing helmets; a slight increase on 2010 figures. Men were the greatest offenders when it came to riding without a helmet.
  • Almost 7 in 10 of the counted cyclists (69 percent) were males.
  • Non-bridge locations saw a 7 percent increase in bike traffic.

PBOT officials think a number of factors have contributed to the growth in people using their bikes to commute to work, including the serious increase in gas prices, Portland’s continuing population growth and an improving jobs market. However, Burchfield pointed out that the vast majority of Portland’s commuters still prefer to take their cars to work, in spite of the city’s efforts to provide bike lanes and new bicycle routes.

Portland May Not Be the Bike Capital Much Longer

Portland bike accident lawyers make the point that Portland has always been known as America’s most bike-friendly city, even being given the unofficial title of “Bike City U.S.A.” Now, other cities are giving chase, and some aren’t far behind. In fact, some studies have indicated that Minneapolis may overtake Portland in 2012, and cities like Chicago, New Orleans and Boulder, CO, are rapidly gaining on Portland. Chicago makes no secret of their desire to overtake Portland as the most bike-friendly city in America. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has actually set that achievement as one of his important goals while in office.

Accidents and Injuries Continue to Increase as Well

Cycling on any city street always represents an extra degree of risk, simply because of the relative lack of protection cyclists have compared to motorists. Portland bike accident lawyers know that in any collision between a bike and a motor vehicle, the cyclist will invariably come out the worst. While the final figures for 2011 have not yet been released, the 2010 numbers showed the number of accidents involving cyclists continued to increase, year on year. In 2008, for example, there were 265 reported crashes. That figure went up to 287 in 2009 and climbed quite dramatically to 321 in 2010. There were two reported bike fatalities in Portland in 2011; none were reported in 2010.

Cycling is a cost-effective, environmentally friendly and very healthy way for people to commute. The cycling community in Portland is active and thriving, and city officials are doing what they can in these straightened economic times to make Portland roadways both safe and attractive for cyclists. It’s a sad fact of life that road users are occasionally involved in accidents. When one of those road users is on a bicycle, the chances of being seriously injured, or worse, are increased.

If you’re one of the cyclists who wasn’t seen or wasn’t heeded by a careless driver, and you were injured as a result, you should consider contacting a team of Portland bike accident lawyers. They will sit down with you and listen to exactly what happened to cause your injury and find out how you’ve been affected. Then they will map out a strategy with you and explain how best to proceed with a claim for compensation, to pay your medical expenses, cover your lost wages and help you on the road to recovery.