To the editor:
My wife and I just returned from spending 10 days in Portland, Ore. Portland is a city of about 550,000 people (and 31 breweries). It also has an efficient and delightful transportation system - a system appropriate for a modern, progressive city. Seven percent of the population ride a bicycle daily, and most ride just for transportation. Bike lanes are clearly marked, and bike routes are well-designed. Cyclists ride responsibly, for the most part, and motorists seem attentive and courteous, perhaps because they understand the benefits to the community of so many riders.
The bus system is convenient, comfortable and reasonably priced, and it runs well into the evening. The system covers the city effectively. The two closest lines to where we stayed were both a short walk away.
Naturally, both buses and bicycles are most useful in the more densely populated but quite sizable inner city. Portland also has suburbs featuring the standard big houses with big yards and big distances to shopping and jobs, fully dependent on Big Oil.
We spent five days with young grandchildren and used only bicycles and public transportation. Not needing a car was a wonderful sort of liberation. Lawrence could have this kind of rational transportation, especially an expanded bus system and greater bicycle ridership. We just need to decide that we want that quality of life.
P.S. I also did a short survey one evening this week and saw 66 bikes in downtown Lawrence. Think of the impact of an additional 66 cars.