Economic cadence

Q. In the post-auto age, what will the autoworkers do?

A. “They can make BICYCLES, naturally.” And, in Portland, not only has a local-loop, labor-intensive, high-value-added, craftsman economy coalesced and (re)grown around food, but another has developed around bicycles. One estimate says the number of direct jobs in cycling in Portland has quadrupled. William Yardley reports for the NYT from the thicket o’ hipsters:

[I]n a city often uncomfortable with corporate gloss, what is most distinctive about the emerging cycling industry here is the growing number of smaller businesses, whether bike frame builders or clothing makers, that often extol recycling as much as cycling, sustainability as much as success… [T]he city is nurturing the cycling industry, and there are about 125 bike-related businesses in Portland, including companies that make bike racks, high-end components for racing bikes and aluminum for bikes mass-produced elsewhere…

[City councilor Sam] Adams said he was preparing a budget proposal that would spend $24 million to add 110 miles to the city’s existing 20-mile network of bike boulevards, which are meant to get cyclists away from streets busy with cars. Doing so could “double or triple ridership,” he said…

“I think the biggest thing that’s come from the effort the city has put into this is the vote of confidence,” [frame-builder Sacha] White said, speaking of bike riders and bike makers. “They want us here.”

And, of course, the story’s opening and closing hook? Susan Peithman, who used to work here in Chicago for CBF.

They’re invading, too: I’m curious about the “PDX Lounge” installation I’ve been invited to — a conscious attempt, going even beyond the Canadian products pavilion at Greenbuild Expo, to set up a vision of Portland as an outside-the-[exhibit hall]-box, coordinated, social nexus of sustainable design.


Not really related, but here’s a route map for last week’s Wicker Park Critical Mass. I’m especially proud of the little stretch of Burling (quote: “my, someone’s doing well”) and the winding about in Old Town Triangle (“I love these tiny little streets!”). We even had a few people speaking wistfully about Lincoln Park when it was all over.


Greenbuild is this week, so expect infrequent updates. For conference coverage, see Greenbuild365 (includes keynote videos) and, of course, a blog from Oregonian.

Advertisements