Like a moth to the flame, they come to Portland
I arrived at my hideout this morning to find an unfamiliar bike locked to my rack. My first reaction was to ask myself. “Grrrr. Who the hell’s in my parking spot?”
To which my Self answered, Oh stop. Number one, there’s room for two bikes on those racks; and number two, you’re supposed to be happy when you see that more people are riding their bikes.
“Oh yeah,” I remembered. “Bikes good, cars bad.”
To me it seemed the kind of bike that was someone’s best friend, perfected over time with features acquired gradually and thoughtfully. The tubing bore a funny name I’d never heard, and the bike was a kloodged together mix of distinctive parts, including high handlebars on an already tall frame.
I saw a guy emerge from the side of the building and weighed a series of clues. 1, he was tall; 2, he wore a bike helmet; and 3, he was walking toward the bike.
“This your bike?” I asked him.
“Well, not really. I’ve rented it from City Bikes while I visit Portland.”
Is the world changing, or what? Usually the first thing people do is rent a car. This guy doesn’t even know his way around yet and he rents a bike. Not only that, it’s a really rainy day.
His name is Chris and he’s moving to Portland. He comes from what I think might be the only city in Texas that could produce this kind of person, namely Austin. (Am I being unbearably prejudiced? What would Molly Ivins say?)
Get this: One of the main reasons he’s moving here is so he can ride his bike around. He says that in Austin you get too sweaty. He’s visiting Portland in our worst weather to get the most realistic experience of it. Smart man. How many dodo-birds visit us in our spectacular summers and impulsively decide to move here only to slit their wrists by late February?
Word about Portland’s pedestrian-scale living is obviously getting around, and I’d be interested to know how. Maybe Chris can tell us. Are we totally famous for being a great biking city, or is this only going on at the word-of-mouth level among cyclists?