I’ve just returned from a six-week sojourn in Portland, Ore. Quite a contrast to O.C. I rode a bicycle maybe 100 miles a week on average. There are extensive bike routes all across the city and large numbers of cyclists. The most noticeable thing was the courteousness of the car drivers. They would always give me a wide berth, crossing into the other lane to pass on two-lane roads, and patiently following behind me on blind curves until it was clear to pass. Remarkable and very different to the behavior of drivers in So Cal.
The transit system is exemplary. There are 80 miles of electric train lines and streetcars, with frequent and free service in the downtown area. Considering that O.C. has roughly the same population as the entire state of Oregon, about 3 million, and that Portland’s population is only around 500,000, the complete lack of any kind of electric train or streetcar service in OC is quite shocking. Also, an entire four-lane roadway was torn out and replaced with a riverside park.
The people were noticeably friendly, with plenty of time to talk. There seems to be less stress up there. Maybe it’s the mild climate and all the greenery. (I should add that it rains all the time, just in case anybody thinks it would be a good idea to move there!)
Charles Alban, Laguna Beach