Vancouver, it would seem, resides just north of greatness, as evidenced by the chants of "We're No. 1! We're No. 1!" from our neighbor to the south. Well, maybe it's not really greatness, but simply a matter of Portland's embracing a bicycle-centric culture, even at the risk of absurdity.Either way, congratulations to the Rose City on returning to its rightful place as Bike City U.S.A., according to Bicycling magazine. We know how important it is to them.
After all, the Portland Transportation Bureau is shelving plans for any major street paving until at least 2017. Wouldn't want to cut into that $900,000 earmarked for constructing 13.5 miles of bike routes, you know.
We love bicycles in Clark County, as well. The City of Vancouver's website offers tips for getting involved in cycling and for getting around the city on a bike, and it offers bicycling maps for the area (http://cityofvancouver.us/bike).
In addition, there have been several news items lately about continuing efforts in Clark County to cater to and promote bicycle riding. Among them:
• The nonprofit group Bike Clark County is helping to create responsible young bicyclists by conducting bike-safety sessions at middle schools through the schools' physical education programs.
• More than 1,000 cyclists participated in the 28th annual Ride Around Clark County last month, taking loops of 18, 34, 65, or 100 miles through the county.
• The Human Services Council is promoting a Bike to Work Project, providing training, bicycles, and accessories to low-income residents who need transportation to compete for and attend jobs.
• And Lori Salierno, CEO and founder of Celebrate Life International, a mentoring program for at-risk youth, is embarking on a 3,000-mile ride through 13 states to raise money and awareness for programs.
Yes, Clark County is plenty friendly toward a bicycle culture that continues to grow rapidly. Yet with that growth comes an inevitable conflict between people riding bikes and people driving cars. Several recent stories also have chronicled tragic results, including the death in late April of 11-year-old Benjamin Fulwiler following a collision with a C-Tran bus.
Some cyclists are quick to share stories of inattentive drivers who demonstrate little awareness while endangering riders, particularly when making turns at intersections. Some drivers are equally quick to share stories of careless bicyclists who ignore the rules of the road, particularly by failing to stop at stop signs.
It is unlikely that such conflict will be abated. But people on both sides of the issue must demonstrate a little understanding while at the same time demonstrating a little consideration. There are various health benefits and numerous economic benefits to hopping on a bike and eschewing a car. On the other hand, riding is not logistically or physically reasonable for everybody.
In the meantime, we will happily allow Portland to celebrate its standing atop Bicycling magazine's list of the most bike-friendly cities. The top 10 include Boulder, Colo., and Madison, Wis., which puts a dent in the notion that bicycling requires agreeable weather. They also include Washington, D.C.; Chicago; and New York City, which shows that cars and bicycles can co-exist in an urban setting. We question, however, the inclusion of San Francisco, unless they have managed to flatten some of those hills since the last time we visited.
As for Vancouver, we'll happily stand in the middle and attempt to provide a friendly environment for vehicles both motorized and pedal-powered. Sometimes being No. 1 isn't all that great.