I am currently enrolled in a Sustainability and Transportation program in the Netherlands with students from Northeastern University and Portland State University. Our focus is on the bicycle infrastructure in the Netherlands and how the principles and techniques they use can be applied in the United States.
It has been great to have the students from Portland State University here because they offer a different perspective on how bicycling can be incorporated into city infrastructures. Portland is taking the initiative to highly encourage bicycling as a main more of transportation. For example, they have developed cycle tracks, buffer zones, bike boxes, and many more. Comparing this to Boston, which was named the worst city for cycling a few years ago, their city is much more developed to be a bike friendly area. They have advocated bicycling so much that they have an annual Naked Bike Ride, which consists of people bicycling naked on a route that is police escorted.
I asked some of the students to tell me why they loved to live in Portland and what some of their favorite attractions are. The first things that came to mind were the food carts. They said that some of the best food there comes from food carts. Some of their favorites include Indian food, Mexican food, and the Whole Bowl food cart, a highly cherished vegetarian street vendor which also has a brick and mortar restaurant.
Speaking of vegetarians, Portland is a great place to go for those who are taking a green look on life. They even have a vegan mini mall! Many different types of vegan stores are there including a bakery, tattoo parlor, grocery, acupuncture, books and t-shirts, the Anarchist Vegan Café, a Co-op, and even a vegan strip club that has a vegan menu and does not allow their employees to wear any leather or fur.
There is a lot more to Portland than the food. Other attractions include having the largest urban park in America, Forest Park. Forest Park is about eight miles long. On the other hand, Portland also has the smallest urban park as well, Mills End Park. Mills End Park is about two feet across. Another area attraction is Sauvie Island – an island that’s exclusively for farm use.
Now that I have spent some time in the Netherlands, I think it would be great to visit Portland and see how they are making it bicycle friendly!