Can you imagine a Portland with more bikes and public transit on the road than cars? Because it might not be far away.
As things stand now, roughly half of Portlanders commute to work alone by car, while 33 percent walk, bike, carpool, or ride public transit to work. (The remaining 17% work remotely, carpool, or take a motorcycle or taxi to work.)
For Guthrie Straw and Aaron Flores, co-hosts of The Sprocket Podcast, a “low-car” lifestyle is more than just a way to get around town.
“Biking is, in my mind, one of the few things in life that… has a very low barrier to access [and] has such a profound impact on the way we live — everything from how we build cities to how we travel and how we think about sustainable transportation,” Guthrie says.
On the podcast, which airs every Wednesday, Guthrie and Aaron use personal anecdotes and guest’s stories to add humor and voice to a topic that’s often dry and wonky, while weaving in transit- and bike-related news.
They say their individual personalities and perspectives balance each other well.
“Guthrie knows city planning and all the jargon way more than I do,” Aaron said. “I come to biking in the punk rock kind of way. I’m more like, ‘How does it fit into the cultural scene?’”
Sprocket founder and executive producer Brock Dittus started The Sprocket Podcast in 2010. Aaron and Guthrie host the show, and they let guests dictate the length, subject matter, and direction of the conversation. Some nights the show lasts for 40 minutes, and sometimes the conversation flows so organically, they’re in session for two hours.
The trio is not anti-car; they say their goal is to promote low-car living to all kinds of Portlanders with different transit needs. Even though living in a bike-centric city can be intimidating for new riders, Guthrie encourages those listeners to take the leap no matter their level of experience.
“For cycling in Portland, the biggest thing holding you back is stepping out the door,” he said. “There’s a bunch of groups that will do rides, whether it’s on pedal palooza or Facebook … [they] want to take in anyone on the fence about riding and then take that experience to a place of comfort.”
Their words of encouragement are paying off. Last week, the hosts received a “thank you” audio postcard from a listener who just returned from a long-distance cycling trip across the Midwest. “He wouldn’t have thought of taking a 40-mile ride in the middle of winter, but somehow he was inspired — he knew it was possible — because of something we said,” Aaron said.
The duo looks forward to hearing from more listeners about their adventures. “Even if you think that you’re not an avid cyclist or not the ultra MAX rider, your story matters and you have a voice,” Guthrie said. “We like to shine the light on those who might not share that experience to the public otherwise.”