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Bicycling is a cultural phenomenon in Portland—possibly the most beloved mode of transportation in the city. Besides the sheer numbers of cyclists you see on roads and pathways, you'll find well-marked bike lanes and signs reminding motorists to yield to cyclists.
There are more than 300 mi of bicycle boulevards, lanes, and off-street paths in Portland. Accessible maps, specialized tours, parking capacity (including lockers and sheltered racks downtown), and bicycle-only traffic signals at confusing intersections make biking in the city easy. Cyclists can find the best routes by following green direction-and-distance signs that point the way around town, and the corresponding white dots on the street surface.
Educators, advocates, riding groups, businesses, and the city government are working toward making Portland even more bike-friendly and safe. An intended 950-plus mi of bike paths are to be added over the next two decades.
Portland bikers gather on the last Friday of every month to ride in Critical Mass, an event meant to publicize bicycles as a powerful alternative to cars. Several bike co-ops in the city are devoted to providing used bikes at decent prices, as well as to teaching bike maintenance and the economic and environmental benefits of becoming a two-wheel commuter. OR. www.rosecitycriticalmass.org.
If you're a social rider, group rides set out from several local shops. Check the events pages of Bike Gallery www.bikegallery.com), River City Bicycles www.rivercitybicycles.com), and Fat Tire Farm www.fattirefarm.com).
Bike paths on both sides of the Willamette River continue south of downtown, so you can easily make a mild, several-mile loop through Waterfront Park by crossing the Steel, Hawthorne, or Sellwood bridges to get from one side to the other.
Leif Erikson Drive is an 11-mi off-road ride through Northwest Portland's Forest Park, accessible from the serene west end of Northwest Thurman Street. Leif's wide, double-track trail is popular with runners and mountain bikers, winding through a 5,000-acre city park far from the noise and distraction of neighborhood traffic. Its dense canopy occasionally gives way to river views. To reach the trailhead, bike up steep Thurman Street or shuttle there via TriMet Bus 15.
Bicycling Sauvie Island's 12-mi loop is a rare treat. Situated near the mouth of the Willamette River and Columbia Slough, the island is entirely rural farmland. Besides the main loop, it also offers out-and-back jaunts to beaches and pristine wetlands. To get to Sauvie Island from Portland, you can brave the 10-mi ride in the wide bike lane of U.S. 30 or shuttle your bike there via TriMet Bus 17.
The Columbia Historic Highway begins 17 mi east of Portland on U.S. 84 and rolls almost 90 mi along the Columbia River Gorge. This National Scenic Area will take you past a series of thundering waterfalls towards sporty Hood River, Oregon. You can shorten the route by turning around after the awe-inspiring river view at Mile 12, or after a breathtaking descent to Multnomah Falls at Mile 18. Many riders begin and end at McMenamins Edgefield, a comfortable resort where anyone (not just guests) can get a warm shower, cold beer, and good meal. Reach the Edgefield by bike or shuttle there via TriMet's Bus 77.
Where to Rent
Bikes can be rented at several places in the city. Rentals typically run from $20 to $50 per day with cheaper weekly rates from $75 to $150. Bike helmets are generally included in the cost of rental.
Fat Tire Farm rentsmountain bikes, greatfor treks in Forest Park. 2714 NW Thurman St., West of Downtown, Portland, OR, 97210. 503/222-3276.
Waterfront Bicycle Rentals is convenient for jaunts along the Willamette. 315 SW Montgomery St., Suite 3, Downtown, Portland, OR, 97204. 503/227-1719.
For more information on bike routes and resources in and around Portland, visit the Department of Transportation You can download maps, or order "Bike There," a glossy detailed bicycle map of the metropolitan area. Portland, OR. www.portlandonline.com/transportation.
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