A backstage hero of Jeff Mapes' book "Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities" is an intense young bureaucrat named Mia Birk, who put Portland on a "road diet" and created bike lanes across the Rose City.
"The motto was, 'Better to ask forgiveness than permission," joked Mapes.
It sums up why a sweeping change in transportation policy has caught hold from New York City to Louisville, Ky., to such "Left Coast" cities as Seattle, Portland and Davis, Calif.
In Portland, where he is a political writer with The Oregonian, Mapes' bike commutes were made safer when the city shut down one entrance ramp to the Hawthorne Bridge that was causing bike-car conflicts.
"A movement has grown slowly, under the radar screen, which people are hardly aware is going on," Mapes told a Tuesday night forum sponsored by the Cascade Bicycle Club.