Notes from a new Portland resident, Timur Ender

This post was written by BikeSD member and supporter Timur Ender who moved to San Diego for law school in January 2012. A year later, he moved to Portland to live in a city that has prioritized its citizens’ safety, health and financial needs by providing them with safe, comfortable and inviting routes to ride a bicycle in. In moving away from San Diego to Portland, Ender turned down a $30,000 annual scholarship from Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL). At TJSL, Ender was in the top 5% of his class. He said turning down a scholarship from TJSL was not nearly as hard as leaving all of the bike advocates who asked him to stay. Very rarely has he felt so honored, humbled, and valued.


Cities are erected on spiritual columns.  Like giant mirrors, they reflect the hearts of their residents.  If those hearts darken and lose faith, cities will lose their glamour.
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We live in an age when Americans can live in just about any city in the country that they want.  And, to a lot of people, what makes a city great is its walkability and bikeability, and a responsive local government that serves its residents and visitors.  The weather alone cannot make a city America’s finest.

As we have commented for years, San Diego’s bicycle infrastructure is woefully deficient and needs dramatic improvement.  That is why BikeSD exists:  to advocate for those changes.  With the election of mayor Bob Filner and with the support of the City Council, we are hopeful that things are going to start to change for the better.  The recent 40 – year transportation plan authored by SANDAG, however, exemplifies the glacial pace at which things get done in this city.  So, while we are hopeful that our elected officials will finally step up for bikes, we have our doubts.

There are basic, common sense steps that we can take today to get the change started.

First, go ride a bike!   And encourage your friends, family, local officials to take a ride.  As the adage goes, “you never truly know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”  So, get on your bikes.

Second, get involved.  If you are interested in making San Diego a world-class bicycling city – or if you are just interested in riding improving the infrastructure so you can ride your bike more – there are groups that already exist that are advocating for you.  Talk to your bike advocates from BikeSD, from the City, and from SANDAG.

Third, urge your representatives to allocate money for bicycling infrastructure projects.  Not all infrastructure projects are equal:  while $700,000.00 may be a rounding error for a [bridge or highway] project, it’s a significant amount for active transportation programs.  Funding for bicycle projects should be aggressively pursued.  Likewise, help your representatives understand that you “vote transportation.”  In other words, make it crystal clear to your representative that you will base your vote, at least in part, on the steps that have been taken to improve bicycle infrastructure.

Fourth, urge the City to properly maintain the existing bicycle infrastructure.  The City should cite homeowners who routinely place garbage cans in the bicycle lanes.  Further, the bollards should be removed from the bicycle path parallel to Harbor Drive.   If the City is concerned about safety, a better solution is putting bicycle traffic lights and thereby legitimizing bicycling.  The bollards are an inconvenience and an eyesore.

Fifth, the City should pass an anti-harassment ordinance so motorists who harass vulnerable road users will be held accountable.

Sixth, the City should join NACTO.   This is the single best way for the City to show its commitment to a bicycle friendly future

The bicycling community has been pressing for these changes for years, from the bottom up.  It is time they are met with action from the top down.

We wish Timur Ender the very best for his new life in Portland and thank him for his incredible help and insight he provided us during his very short stay here in San Diego.