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Notebook on Cities and Culture S2E18: 200% Happier with Mia Birk

Colin Marshall sits down in southeast Portland with Mia Birk, author of Joyride: Pedaling Toward a Healthier Future and President of Alta Planning + Design, which strives to make biking, walking, and mass transit an integral part of daily life. The discuss exactly how much happier he would have been riding a bicycle to the interview than riding a bus; the way Portland “got the ball rolling” for its cycling infrastructure development in the nineties; the moments of surprising hostility she found upon first pedaling down Portland streets; bicycle infrastructure as a facilitator of cooperation; how to extend enthusiasm for cycling beyond the guys in Lance Armstrong spandex to those who simply need to get somewhere; the ill effects of America’s having spent decades incentivizing driving, and exactly how European cities like Copenhagen pulled so far ahead; how she gauges the cycling in a new town, asking first to see “the good, the bad, and the ugly”; the importance of creating conditions of delight for riding in a city, and the need to re-teach the occasional public official how to use a bike before doing so; how the declared identity of a city affects the implementation of cycling within it; how she finds you can fit “a little party” into every day; and what, exactly, to do when you turn up in Portland yourself, jonesing to ride.

Download the interview from Notebook on Cities and Culture’s feed or on iTunes.

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