Cycling In Portland,Oregon

Portland, Summer 2011

Recently, Huffington Post carried an article about the 20 Most Bike-Friendly cities in the U.S..  They pulled their information from’s list of America’s Top 50 Bike Cities. I was very pleased to note that Portland, Oregon placed second on this esteemed list of bike friendly cities. If you have ever had the opportunity to bike around Portland (and I do mean bike, not run or drive, because that’s a different experience) then you also understand how bike friendly the Rose City is.

Along the Waterfront in Portland, Oregon

As an outsider, meaning I don’t reside in Portland or the surrounding metro area, I found Stumptown an incredibly easy city to navigate on two wheels.  It is an easy city to navigate on by foot as numerous public transportation options exist and, incidentally, bikes are accommodated on all of them. If traveling by car, the city is logically laid out with the Willamette River providing a perfect and picturesque dividing point through the center. Public parking can be found fairly inexpensively, actually much less in places than the day use fares in many of the scenic park areas around my own rural southern Oregon hometown.  We were able to nab parking at many of the available U-Park lots for $4-6 for an entire day, if we arrived after 9:00 or 11:00 a.m. (easy for us since we slept in).  These lots are located everywhere and usually had plenty of spaces available. Combine these factors with the existence of budget hotels that are clean and charge less than $90 a day and have microwaves and refrigerators in the rooms and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a cycling vacation on the cheap in one of the prettier cities in our nation.

Looking north along the Esplanade

I’ve cycled around Portland three times now, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of options for pedaling around this town. The locals are incredibly friendly and patient with newcomers who are learning to navigate the city on two wheels.  I can say this, if you’re the avid and experienced cyclist or if you’re an out-of-towner in for a bike ride around the waterfront with the kids, this town can accommodate every level of cycling experience and the locals are proud of it.  I’m not a savvy city dweller, I operate life on a budget (what non-celebrity working single mom with 4 kids doesn’t these days), I’m just getting back into cycling after a 25-year hiatus and I’m not exactly in prime physical condition, but I found it incredibly easy to stay in Portland and enjoy the sites by bike without having to shell out a small fortune or feel like the complete noob that I am.

She poses for the camera

This year, over the 4th of July, I took my 10-year-old daughter with me for a week of cycling and meeting family members she hadn’t met.  Though she wasn’t particularly thrilled with the bike ride north along the Springwater Trail from Sellwood Riverfront Park past Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge to OMSI, she did enjoy stopping by Oaks Amusement Park. It was fun to explore an amusement park, by bicycle, before it opened while it was deserted.  My daughter just doesn’t like bike paths, she’d rather ride in neighborhoods and on streets.   Later that week though, she did enjoy riding along the East Bank Esplanade and the part of path that floats on the water, over the Steel Bridge, and then south to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park where she enjoyed cooling off in the many fountains there in the afternoon shadows of the city skyscrapers, which from her 10-year-old perspective must seem incredible.

Exploring the park before it opens

I splurged on an inexpensive digital camera for her, and we stopped often along the way to take pictures of the interesting things we saw.  As a parent, it is always tough to know what special moments a child will remember.  I’m hoping our week in Portland was one of them.  I’m thinking it will be since she was heard remarking about the Fourth, “That was the best day of my life!!!”

About according2cat

Hi, I'm Cat A. Brasseur, @According2Cat on Twitter, or @TheDigitalCat on Instagram, and I write about my cycling adventures. In 2010, after 25 years off the bike, I decided to get a bike and start riding again. In 2012, I was diagnosed with DCIS, an early and completely curable form of breast cancer. In 2013, I decided to get a faster bike. I'm a teacher by day, a cyclist and blogger by night, a single mommy by life. I ride every chance I get. I'm learning that both cycling and life are easier when you're in the right gear.

Posted on July 19, 2011, in Portland, Oregon and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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