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Dear Portland, OR.

May 5, 2009

I romanticise places too easily. Last week I spent a good hour looking at pictures of Iceland, then there is the Alaska from Northern Exposure, New Zealand from in flight magazines gets me interested with pictures of those cosy cafes and the draw of coffee and brownies, Vietnam for, amongst a list if things, a cycling trip. I went to the lake district drawn from memories if reading Swallows and Amazons and Stonehenge for the mystic… and then there is Portland Oregon. Home of some great indie music, until recently the city that created the cult sound engineering magazine ‘Tape Op’, liberal thinking and the US best cycling friendly city.

Cycle Portland

Cycle Portland

Portland and Adelaide are not so unrelated. SA Dept. of Transport staffers from each city work exchanges and planning for the light rail in Adelaide came from the experiences of Portland. Perhaps that’s where the similarities between us and them end.

I’m told cafes are bike friendly with no shortage of place to lock up to, pubs and brewerys are decorated with cycling memorabilia and old bike parts, there are kilometres of bike and shared use paths, dedicated traffic signals for bikes and then there is the business of cycling. Numerous bike shops, bike books, zines and other media, bike accessory makers and retailers and the real test of how serious a city is about cycling –  bike builders. Real hand made bicycles. I can count about 27 on the links page of BikePortland.org – a website not too dissimilar to Adelaide Cyclists.

I have a Ricardo bike built in SA in the 1970s and 80s. What would it take for a bike building cottage industry to start up again. Bikes built with care and love and dedication to creating something others will love and many would admire? As Sweetpea Bicycles motto says:

This is the bike that will love you back

While bike building would be nice a what helps build a genuine bike culture. It’s not the weather because it rains a lot in Portland. Is it age? Location? Couriers?

One day I’ll get to Portland Oregon and check it out but until then I will just think we are quite similar cycling cities….. but bottles and cans are still only worth 5c there.

Sweetpea Bicycles 'Pink'

Sweetpea Bicycles 'Pink'

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From → Uncategorized, urban

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