Both cities have more than ten bicycle shops. Both have a sharp business dude importing European bikes and selling them for a huge markup. Portland has more framebuilders; and therefore has more out of work framebuilders – due to Portland’s proximity to Oregon. Seattle has nuances that keep it interesting, and so does Portland, but Portland goes way too far into the strato-hip, as in: “Jeez, do I have to have a well developed (yet stylishly presented) beard, tatoos of exceptionally unique nature, a handmade cycling cap, and wear brown and black to work at a bike shop? Fuck!”
I haven’t been to every city in these here United States. I’ve been to and spent some time in all of the bicycle friendly and somewhat friendly places that I’m aware of – unless there’s a secret bike city that I don’t know of. These include: (please feel free to chastise me if I missed your fine city) Tucson, Flagstaff, Davis, Arcata, Chico, Ashland, Eugene, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Louisville, St. Louis, Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee, Burlington, VT. and Denver. Sorry, Austin. I am sure you’re a great place, but I’ve not been there. Seattle is a great bike city. It is catching up quickly in reputation to Portland and will soon surpass it… of this I have little doubt.
My 3 favorite bicycle cities are, in this order: Minneapolis, Seattle, Tucson.
Minneapolis has harsh winter weather, but the three good seasons are enough to make it America’s bicycle friendly gem. This shit rules. I daresay that drunkcyclist.com needs a Twin Cities correspondent. It might be me someday. I dream of going back to the city of babes and bikes. And Grain Belt.
The bar is raised there, in the art department. Bicycle related art is fine and flourishing in the twin cities.
Seattle and Portland haven’t caught on yet to the wonderful combination of cafe and bicycle shop. In Minneapolis, they are numerous. Conversations about bike tech are custom and occur with regularity. People notice your sweet rig and it is a great conversation starter. Big gangs of old ladies are out riding their bikes every weekend on the nations only ‘bicycle interstate’ and the numerous other trails, of which I did not see each mile.
The lakes within the city are ringed with one way bicycle paths that are filled each weekend with riders of all ages and types. Green Lake is nice… don’t get me wrong, only on a bicycle you want to take the boulevard if you don’t want to be mired in by walkers and runners.
Lovely, romantic Portland – fret not, on my list you are fourth.
But your arrogance as claiming to be the best bicycle city in the US is underscored by the reality that a sheer number of more bike riders does not a best bike city make, in my opinion.
I’m limiting my analysis to the US in my US-centric experience. Still, none of these are Montreal, or Vancouver. These are cities located in Canada where the priorities are slightly different and the culture a little more different.
And Tucson? 70 degrees and sunny in the winter. Empty wide streets. A health conscious population and great bicycle shops like Fair Wheel bikes and Ordinary Bicycle Shop. The GABA swap meet. El Tour. Tucson isn’t the most friendly bike city because too often a person gets run over by a sun-faded Ford LTD from the 70s, and way too often a motherfucker yells, throws bottles, or waves pistols at a bicyclist. Perhaps my top three list should include Portland, but Tucson has some kind of incredible bicycle culture and parade of freaks that is not to be found anywhere else, but again, Austin is uncharted for me and I’ve heard good things.
I’ll leave you with this picture of a little project I did between pounding nails and swapping carburetors:
This is my contribution to Seattle.
I put this post in and sacrificed a Suntour XC comp crank to protect the tree and put Iris plants in to participate in one of Seattle’s most endearing customs: Planting and creatively working with your neighbors to make these traffic circles unique and interesting. Get out there and dig. Drink good coffee. Talk to your next door folk. Drink good beer and great wine. These are only suggestions. This wine here – Bombing Range Red – is so fucking good I bought 6 of them.by