system, which is incredibly wide reaching
for a metro area of its size and population.
TriMet operates MAX, a light rail system
that stretches from the city core out to the
suburbs of Beaverton, Clackamas, Gresham,
Hillsboro and Milwaukie. This allows
people to live essentially anywhere in the
Portland metro area and still get to work or
school in an efficient manner—even without
the use of a car.
Additionally, TriMet operates a comprehensive bus system with routes that seem
to run through every nook and cranny of
the tri-county Portland area. Most of these
buses (and all MAX trains) have bike racks,
To say that Portland is “bike friendly” is an understatement.
Biking is part of the culture here, with city officials estimating
that more than 17,000 workers commute on their bicycles
each day in the Rose City. That’s roughly 6 percent of the
working population—much higher than the national average
of 0.5 percent. And the city
continues to make strides in
improving and expanding
the amenities, infrastructure
and safety measures it
COMMUTING BY BIKE
So many people are able
to commute to and from
work and school in Portland
thanks in large part to the
city’s bike-friendly streets
and designated bike lanes,
which may be found on
nearly all of the major
thoroughfares. There are
also innovative “bicycle boxes” at 26 busy intersections,
making cyclists more visible to motorists who are turning right
and reducing the likelihood of an accident occurring. You’ll
notice these bicycle boxes at intersections, as they are bright
green with a bicycle icon in the lane or the box.
Speaking of bicycle icons, when cycling in the city’s designated bike lanes, you’ll notice a Portland tradition: bike lane
characters. Instead of the typical stick figure on a bicycle
marking the bike lane, the city has had fun embellishing the
icons with whimsical hats, crazy hair, scarves and even one
reading a book while riding—which is not recommended.
In all, the Portland Bureau of Transportation states there are
about 320 miles of bikeways currently found throughout the
city, with more than 50 more miles planned for the near future.
Additionally, there are roughly 5,000 publicly installed bike racks.
Generally, it’s easier to ride from east to west through the city
than north to south, and cyclists will find that they can make
it over the Willamette River without a monumental effort. The
city’s well-known bridges are a big reason for this, as nearly
all 11 of them have areas designated for bikes in both their
eastbound and westbound lanes.
The recent opening of Tilikum Crossing, which connects
Southeast Portland to the South Waterfront, provides another
great option for cyclists.
The brand-new bridge is
for bike riders, pedestrians
and public transit vehicles
(including the new MAX
Orange line) only, so bicyclists won’t have to worry
about dealing with motor
vehicle traffic as they cross.
In addition to bike lanes that
run alongside roadways,
the city also has about
59 miles of neighborhood
greenways, which are
residential streets that
have lower volumes of
automobile traffic—making them safer for bike riders. These
greenways often include speed bumps and traffic diverters to
dissuade drivers from using these streets unless they absolutely
need to do so.
AN AWARD-WINNING BIKE CITY
Due to its accomplishments to promote cycling, thus reducing
harmful emissions from motor vehicles, Portland has won a
number of awards for its bike-friendly culture. The League
of American Bicyclists gave the city its highest possible
“Platinum” rating, and Bicycling magazine has named it the
number one biking city in the nation several years in a row.
The city also appears regularly on lists of bike-friendly cities in
various publications, including Geek Wire, Wired and Forbes,
If you would like to reduce the environmental impact of your
commute, get more exercise and truly enjoy a reasonably safe
urban biking experience, Portland just might be the perfect city
for you. The city’s infrastructure, strong bike culture and focus on
alternative means of transportation have made it a perennial
favorite of cyclists, which will be the case for years to come.
They Should Call It ‘SPIN CITY ’
Photo courtesy of Travel Portland