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How Portland Is Planning to Become the First World-class Bike City in America

Portland may be the only large city to earn the League of American Bicyclists' coveted platinum status as a bicycle-friendly city, but they have even bigger plans.

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Even with its head start and big plans for the future, Portland doesn’t have a national monopoly on urban biking innovation. When I asked Birk, whose firm has offices in 14 cities nationwide, where to find the next great biking city, she started drawing up a list on the back of an envelope. Minneapolis, New York, Chicago, Seattle, and D.C. are leaders among large U.S. cities, she explained. (Minneapolis, in fact, recently unseated Portland for the title of America’s Most Bike-Friendly city in Bicycling magazine—a decision that was disputed by many here.) St. Louis; Boston; Dallas; Des Moines, Iowa; Long Beach, Calif.; Philadelphia; Fayetteville, Ark. ; Tacoma, Wash.; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and Greeneville, S.C.; are also trying out cool ideas. Boulder, Colo., and Davis, Calif. have joined Portland as platinum bike-friendly cities on a smaller scale.

The race to become the nation’s first world-class biking city, in other words, is wide open.

Jay Walljasper wrote this article for YES! Magazine , a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Jay is author of the forthcoming book All That We Share , is a contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler , editor of OnTheCommons.org and a senior fellow of the Project for Public Spaces. 

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