Author Talks Pedaling Revolution in Eugene
Oregonian political reporter and bike book author Jeff Mapes told Eugene bike advocates last week, "if you're not having anybody complain, then, frankly, you're not doing anything."
Mapes, who wrote Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities two years ago, credited the big jump in biking in Portland and other cities to an "iron triangle" of organized bike advocates, politicians and city transportation bureaucrats. Mapes spoke at Cozmic Pizza at an event sponsored by the UO group Live Move.
Mapes apologized that his book (NYT review here) didn't mention Eugene much because he didn't want to make it too Oregon-centric. "I purposely, when I was writing my book, didn't spend much time down here."
New York City's transportation bureaucrat Janette Sadik-Khan has become a celebrity by pushing the green, healthy, efficient and livable move to biking, according to Mapes. "She's someone in a powerful position and she doesn't say, ‘oh well, just do what's easy or little crumbs,'" he said. "She's been very aggressive."
Mapes said the increase in biking has lead to a "bikelash" in Portland, other cities and the Republican U.S. House as bikes compete for a share of road funding and space.
Multi-billion dollar road projects like a proposed bridge over the Columbia River to serve urban sprawl in Portland continue to garner support from Democrats due to lobbying by construction unions and truck freight interests, according to Mapes. Mapes said the expensive bridge may require a hike in the statewide gas tax. "You people down in Eugene will pay for it."
Bike advocates are a "small minority" but like NRA gun advocates they enjoy the advantage of focused intensity, Mapes said. "You are very passionate about cycling," he said. "They do pay attention when you are noisier."
But the biggest ongoing advantage for bike advocates may be generational. Mapes said that like gay marriage, young people show much stronger support for biking. The culture shift to bike transportation "is obviously not going to be easy, but I hope I'm around to see it," Mapes said.