Portland: Ditch your car
Population: 582,130. Median single-family home price: $233,500.
Bike commuters: About 17,600
Take a trial run: The Ace loans bikes to guests. Rooms from $140; acehotel.com/portland
About four months ago, the New Seasons natural-foods chain made a quintessentially Portland move: It dedicated more parking to bikes than cars at its newest store. “There’s this subculture of people in their 20s and 30s who don’t even think about owning cars,” says Michael Andersen, who last year parted with his ’99 Toyota and used the proceeds to fund a startup newsmagazine, Portland Afoot, that covers “low-car living” in the City of Roses.
Bikes aside, Portland excels at alternative options. The TriMet buses link seamlessly with 52 miles of light rail and the nation’s first new streetcar line in a half-century. But Portland’s commitment to cycling is mind boggling, with upward of 300 miles of bike lanes, bike paths, and specially marked “bike boulevards,” where car volume is kept low. There are countless bike shops, bike clubs, bike races, bike blogs, and bike nonprofits, not to mention bike-thru coffee shops and bike-polo matches. One local credit union even offers bicycle loans.
Runners-up: San Francisco; Pasadena