Today we had lunch with PDX royalty, Mia Birk, who basically transformed Portland into the cycling-friendly city that we know and love today. Her new book, Joyride: Pedaling toward a healthier planet, chronicles Mia’s 20-year struggle to initiate change and create a world in which active commuting is the norm.
She began working on the city’s bicycle program in the early 90s and now, through her current company, Alta Planning + Design, Mia helps improve communities all over the country. The firm plans and designs bike- and pedestrian-friendly spaces, as well as parks, trails, greenways and paths to make areas healthier for those who live there. Pure genius, if you ask us, especially since we’ve actually seen some of her changes in action (for example, riding down Lincoln or Salmon Street without any stop signs). And after enjoying a fun (and delicious) lunch at Produce Row Cafe with Mia, we have to admit that we’re pretty happy that she’s the one who’s fighting the good fight for us.
One of Mia’s tips was that you should start off by choosing a single activity every day that you could ride your bike to, rather than driving your car. For example, instead of driving to the grocery store at the end of the day, ride your bike to blow off some work steam. Or ride to work in the morning (Hint: Use it as an opportunity to unplug from your phone, your computer and the radio), and then take the bus home. Soon enough, you’ll want to be riding more often and will start adding other activities on to your cycling schedule.
Another tip is to not worry about what you’re wearing. Tough, we know. But Spandex isn’t a necessary commuter tool. Phew! All you need is a pair of shoes that will stay on your feet and pants (or a dress or skirt) that won’t limit your leg movement while you ride. If you’re looking for something a little sportier (without getting all geeked up), we recommend checking out Keen, Athleta and Bontrager. Here’s one of our favorite new styles: