Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Mayor Sam Adams of Portland applauds D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare

January 24, 2012 - 02:43 PM
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(Photo: Courtesy of Sam Adams)

The 48-year-old mayor of Portland, Oregon is named Sam Adams, wears hipster glasses, and has been in office since January of 2009. While he's not quite the same as Portlandia's Kyle MacLachlan-portrayed mayor, he seems like a charming enough politician ... all the moreso because he recently visited the corner of K and 17th Street in Washington, D.C. to try our "bikeshare machine," as he calls Capital Bikeshare in the video below. Adams was in town for the 80th winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, held from Jan. 18-20, and he uploaded this clip in the last 24 hours.

The Portland mayor studies the dock, explains the cost of the bikeshare system, and then takes to the handlebars.

We see the mayor ride around the streets of downtown D.C. very casually and apparently quite happily. Adams is in charge of a city that understands the bicycle, that is often elevated as a mecca of biking culture. Portland, after all, trumpets a stunning percentage of bicycle commuters, with around 6% of the population out on the bike lanes.

Although watch out, Mr. Mayor — you briefly bicycle on downtown sidewalk there in that video clip, and in the District, that's illegal. Don't underestimate the myriad dizzying biking laws and confusions in the capital.

"They're really light!" Adams proclaims after he takes a brief ride. "I like 'em. They're cool. We're going to have these on Portland streets very soon."

Despite Portland's considerable biking infrastructure and biking population, the Oregon city still lacks its own bikeshare system. The city's website notes that, pending federal funding, Portland may acquire funds for a bikeshare system as soon as fall of 2013 but recent negotiations suggest a system could be coming far sooner. On his Vimeo page, the mayor noted, "A similar program [to Capital Bikeshare] is planned for Portland; a Request For Proposals to develop and run the program will be on the streets soon." In 2009, various bikeshare vendors demonstrated their virtues, and many advocates in Portland seem committed to developing a system similar to the one in D.C. and the model that's taking off in various cities elsewhere. But with the success of Capital Bikeshare and the soon-to-be-operating bikeshare of New York, it's increasingly surprising to note that no such bikeshare operates there. Portland's $4-million proposal would include 740 bikes and 74 stations.

Perhaps Mayor Adam's experience with our red Capital Bikeshare bikes will help propel Portand's bikeshare program along, no?

As we all know, Portland cares about its bicycle rights. No video, perhaps, is greater proof than the clip below:

Hat tip to Bike Portland for first drawing my attention to Mayor Adam's ride.

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