When I moved from the rural Midwest to Portland, Oregon, I entered a metro area of 2 million people with more breweries than anywhere in the country and more strip clubs per capita than Las Vegas. My Minnesotan family collectively raised their eyebrows, but I had faith I wouldnâ€™t do anything drastic.
Between its pints and dancers, the City of Roses sways heavily toward environmentalism. This sentiment weaves through a culture of fleece-covered yuppies, dreadlocked beat poets, hipster rock stars, and the homeless man who picks up trash in the neighborhood park. When a co-worker said he didnâ€™t recycle, battle cries flew up from a four-cube radius. Somewhere all these groups merge to create a city recognized as one of the most environmentally-friendly, and, as a result, most bike-friendly cities in the country.
After just two years in the Pacific Northwest, I found myself making New Yearâ€™s Resolution 2007: Sell car, buy bicycle.
When I made the announcement, my parents worried that Portland hippies were ruining their daughter, but still didnâ€™t believe I would take the plunge. Even my roommate, who supported the idea, figured this would go the way of â€œDo a handstand,â€ which ended with me sprawled on my new yoga mat, laughing at myself. I wasnâ€™t coming into this adventure an urban biking expert. In fact, I hadnâ€™t even sat on a bike in two years. When the car-free plan didnâ€™t die in four days (like most of my resolutions), the questions started flying:
â€œWhy on earth would you want to be without a car?â€
â€œWhat would you do in the winter?â€
â€œWhat if you get sick?â€
â€œHow will you carry groceries?â€
â€œHow will you bring us to the ocean if we visit in five years?â€
All valid questions.