Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Portland Biking Guide

ST_BikingGuide_hero


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Benefits of Bicycling
Health • Environment • Livability

Clearing Your Bike For Take-off
Starting out right

Tires • Wheels • Brakes • Quick Release • Chain

Two Wheel Life
Staying smart, safe and legal

Signaling Turns • Passing • Using Bike Lanes • Where to Ride • Sidewalks and Multi-Use Path Riding • Car Doors • Getting a Green Light • Equipment Requirements

Accessorize Your Ride
Some add-ons to make life easier

Bike Locks • Being Seen • Managing the Moisture • Carrying Cargo and Kids

Accessorize Yourself
Dressing right improves the ride

Helmets • Leg Bands • Gloves • Layering • Reflective and Bright Clothing • Rain Gear • Shoes and Pedals

Getting Down to Basics
Adjusting your bike for a comfortable ride

Bike Type • Bike Size • Seat Types • Adjusting Your Seat

Getting Around Portland
Making your trips by bike

Picking Your Route • Bikes on Transit • Bike Parking • Lock It Right • More Theft Protection • Dude, Where’s My Bike? • Maintenance on the Fly

Bikes and Transit
An ideal combination

Cycling Technique
Improve your skills for safer, more comfortable cycling

Braking Expertise • Shoulder Checking • Shifting Gears • The Fast Start • Cornering • Road Hazards • Watch Those Tracks • Stay Out of the Blind Spot! • The Box Left Turn • When in Doubt, Slow Down

Community Resources


BENEFITS OF BICYCLING

Why bike? How about...

Saving time, saving money, improving your health, helping your community, and because it’s fun!

ST_BikeGuide_bestcity.png

Saving time:

Most trips in town are less than two miles. This means even at an easy pace you can arrive in about 10 minutes, with no parking hassles. One benefit of longer bike trips, such as your commute to work, is you can skip a trip to the gym that day!

Saving money:

Ever drive to or from the supermarket and then stop for gas on the way home? When you bike you can skip that stop for gas — you’ve already purchased your bike’s fuel! The more trips you make by bike, the less money you have to budget for gas, oil changes, tune-ups, tire replacement, parking, etc. You can even save money on auto insurance if you drive fewer miles per year. Some families find they can eliminate the need for a second car by using bikes.

Improving your health:

Pop-quiz — which is a greater hazard: negotiating traffic or sitting on the couch? If you guessed an inactive lifestyle, you win! The Surgeon General suggests that significant health benefits can be obtained by 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 days a week. You don’t have to ride like a professional to see and feel the positive effects of biking.

Helping your community:

So you want to reduce air and water pollution, create safer streets for kids, increase your neighborhood livability and decrease the need for expensive road repair, but you’re a little short on time and money? Ride a bike!

Maybe the best reason of all...

Frequent cyclists will tell you that even when the weather is dismal, they arrive at work feeling happy. Scientists struggle to explain this phenomenon, attributing it to endorphins and increased oxygen flow to the brain. But the best proof is your friendly neighborhood kids — they are experts at identifying what is fun. Just watch a child’s face light up when he or she gets on a bike.

DID YOU KNOW?

The most efficient animal on earth in terms of weight transported over distance for energy expended is a human on a bicycle.

Back to Table of Contents


 

CLEARING YOUR BIKE FOR TAKE-OFF

A safe bike is essential. This simple list will help ensure a safe and trouble-free ride. If your bike doesn’t pass one of the simple checks below, take it to a bike shop for further inspection and repair.

Tire pressure

Keeping tires correctly inflated helps avoid flats and makes your ride easier. The easiest way to check the pressure is using a pump with a gauge. If you look closely, the recommended tire pressure is listed on the side of your tire. If you don’t have a gauge, pump up your tires so that it is difficult to push your fingers into the tire. There are two kinds of tire valves (see illustration), and most tire pumps are adaptable to either one.

ST_BikeGuide_valve-types.png

Tire wear and tear

It is common for tires to become worn after about 1,000 miles of riding. Tires can also get hard and brittle with age. Check the sides of your tires (the sidewalls) for significant cracks that may mean you need new tires. Frequent flat tires may mean the tread is thin, and the tire needs replacing.

Wheels

A wheel should not wobble when it rotates. A wobbly, “untrue” wheel can rub against the brake pads and cause your brakes to perform poorly. To check, turn your bike upside down and spin the wheels while looking closely at the brake pads. The gap between the rim and the brake pad should stay relatively constant.

DID YOU KNOW?Car tires have tread to avoid hydroplaning in wet conditions, but bicycle tires are thin enough that hydroplaning is not a problem. In fact, bicycle tires for road use have no need of any sort of tread features.Unfortunately, many people assume that a smooth tire will be slippery. But don’t slick tires get slippery on wet roads, or metal features like utility covers and railroad tracks? The answer is, yes, they do; but so do tires with tread. All tires are slippery in these conditions. Tread features make no improvement in this.from sheldonbrown.com

Brakes

Good brakes for your bike are essential. When you squeeze your brake levers, they should stop before they touch the handlebars. If they don’t, tighten the brake cable. Your brakes may have a cable adjusting barrel that allows you to do this easily. Also, keeping your wheel rims free of dirt and grease will improve brake performance considerably. Use an old rag to periodically wipe the grime off the rims, especially when you’ve been riding during wet weather.

ST_BikeGuide_brakeleverbad.png

ST_BikeGuide_brakelevergood.png

Also, brake pads (the hard rubber pad that rubs the wheel rim when you brake) wear down, and eventually wear out. Many have a “wear line” showing you when they need replacement. Ask your friendly local bike shop — brake pad replacement is relatively inexpensive. Good brakes for your bike are essential.

Quick release

ST_BikeGuide_Quick_release_lever.png

Many bikes have quick release levers on the wheels. Make sure that the levers are solidly locked (snug and curved in towards the bike). Inspect the quick releases visually every time you ride. If you have questions about how to lock a quick release lever, stop by your friendly local bike shop.

DID YOU KNOW?

Air: Is tire inflation OK? Not too squishy?

Brakes: Working well? Stopping you quickly?

Chain and Cranks: Pedaling smoothly? No squeaking?

Quick releases: Closed and tight?

Check: Anything loose or rattling on the bike? A quiet bike is a good bike!

Chain

Lean your bike against a wall or, better yet, have someone hold it for you. Crouch beside the bike and slowly rotate the pedals backward, checking to make sure the chain turns smoothly. Wipe the grit off your chain with a rag, then sparingly apply a light oil (that’s made specifically for bikes) to the chain and wipe off the excess with a rag.

Back to Table of Contents


TWO WHEEL LIFE

Knowing your responsibilities and rights as a cyclist is important to staying safe and feeling confident on your bike. In general, the same traffic rules and regulations for vehicle drivers apply to bicyclists. Read on for a brief summary of the most important laws and traffic considerations that pertain to bicyclists. See the Resources section to find more detailed information on bike safety and the law.

Signal your intentions

ST_BikeGuide_turnsignals.png

Hand signals indicating a turn are required of cyclists for at least 100 feet before a turn or stop, except when both hands are necessary to control or operate the bicycle. When approach­ing a turn, you’ll often need both hands for braking and your own general safety. However, if you have an available hand, then communi­ca­ting your inten­tions with others — drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists — by using signals is a great way to foster harmony on the road.

Passing

ST_BikeGuide_blind_spot.png

You may pass a motor vehicle on the right in a bike lane, but do so cautiously; some drivers may want to turn right at the next street or driveway and neglect to use their turn signal. Stay out of the driver’s blind spot at intersections and other places where a driver could turn right (see also Using Bike Lanes below).

Outside of a bike lane, you’re permitted to overtake and pass a motor vehicle on the right if you can “safely make the passage under the existing conditions.” Do so very carefully — if you have any doubts about whether it’s safe, don’t do it.

Biking Basics

Ride with traffic, in a predictable manner

Obey traffic controls (stop signs, signals, etc.)

Maintain control of your bicycle

Be visible and aware

Using bike lanes

Motor vehicles are required to yield to a bicyclist in a bike lane. Buses and cars can load and unload in bike lanes but are not allowed to use bike lanes for parking. Motorized wheelchairs are permitted on bike lanes and paths. Bicyclists may ride outside a designated bike lane when:

  • overtaking and passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian that is in the bike lane,
  • preparing for a left or right hand turn, or
  • avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.

When overtaking a slower moving motor vehicle in a bike lane, use extreme caution — drivers don’t always use turn signals and may not expect a person on a bicycle to be passing them on the right.

Where to ride?

If you’re riding a bicycle on a road at less than the normal speed of traffic, you’re required to ride “as close as practicable to the curb or edge of roadway” except when:

  • overtaking or passing another bicycle or vehicle,
  • preparing to execute a left turn,
  • avoiding hazardous conditions, or
  • the lane is not wide enough to allow safe passing by a motor vehicle.

In all of the above cases, a bicyclist may need to “take the lane” to avoid being squeezed up against the curb or parked cars by passing motor vehicle traffic.

ST_BikeGuide_passing_cars.png

Maintain a straight line of travel, and avoid weaving in and out of the parking lane. This helps make you more predictable to other road users.

Also, bicyclists can ride side-by-side as long as they don’t impede the normal movement of traffic.

Sidewalk and multi-use path riding

ST_BikeGuide_audible_signal.png

Cyclists must yield to all pedestrians on sidewalks and those in marked or unmarked crosswalks. Give a warning (use a bell or your voice) before overtaking pedestrians from behind. Riding on sidewalks in the core area of downtown Portland is prohibited (in the area bounded by SW Jefferson, Naito Parkway, NW Hoyt and 13th Ave, with the exception of the Willamette River bridges and ramps and the south Park Blocks).

ST_BikeGuide_Yield-sign.png

Portland’s beautiful non-motorized paths, such as the Eastbank Esplanade, are very popular and, as a result, are often quite crowded with all types of users. It’s your responsibility to yield to pedestrians, so slow down a bit and enjoy the scenery!

Car doors

It is illegal for a motorist to open a car door if it interferes with the movement of traffic, or leave a door open for a period of time longer than is necessary to load or unload passengers. When riding next to parked cars, particularly in heavily used parking areas, be alert to car doors opening suddenly in front of you. Scan ahead to see if the driver or passengers are in the car on the street side. Give yourself a buffer by riding a little farther away from the “door zone.”

Getting a Green Light (or, how to catch the bike leprechaun)

ST_BikeGuide_signal-actuation-sign.png

ST_BikeGuide_signal_graphic.png

Some traffic signals are triggered by electrically-charged wires buried in the pavement. When a vehicle stops over the wires, the metal disrupts the current, which sends a signal to the traffic signal control box. While a car is easily detected by the sensors, and a pedestrian can push a button to get the “walk” sign, a bicycle — with relatively little metal — must be in the right spot to be detected.

ST_BikeGuide_signal_trigger.png

To make sure that cyclists can easily “get the green,” the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation marks the location of these sensors to indicate where a bicycle needs to be positioned on the roadway to activate the signal. Put your bike tires on the lines. If a car is already waiting, it will activate the signal for you.

Most of Portland’s traffic signals with sensors are marked for bikes, but not all. You can recognize the unmarked sensors by looking for narrow cut lines in the pavement, usually in a diamond shape, that are filled with tar. You should be able to activate the signal by positioning your bike correctly.

If you find a signal that needs marking or is not working for bikes, please call our BikeLine at 503-823-CYCL.

Equipment requirements

Helmets are mandatory for everyone under the age of 16 years unless wearing a helmet “would violate a religious belief or practice of the person.” For those 16 or older, helmets are a really good idea: they’re comfortable, relatively inexpensive, and oh-so-stylish. If you ever need it — and we hope you don’t — you’ll be very glad to have it.

ST_BikeGuide_ride_night.png

Required lighting equipment includes: 1) a white light visible from at least 500 feet and 2) a red rear reflector or light visible from at least 600 feet. Lighting equipment must be used during limited visibility conditions. See Accessorize Your Ride for more information on lighting equipment.

Bikes must be equipped with a brake that is strong enough to skid on dry, level, clean pavement. If your bike won’t do this, see the Brakes section.

Back to Table of Contents


ACCESSORIZE YOUR RIDE

You have your bike and you’re ready to go. Check out this overview of popular bike accessories before you head out the door; small investments can make a big difference in the comfort and convenience of your ride.

Chain, cable and u-lock

ST_BikeGuide_chainlock.png

ST_BikeGuide_U-lock.png

One of the most basic items for your bike is a good lock. There are a variety of different types of locks; your local bike shop will be glad to help you select one that meets your needs.

Being seen

ST_BikeGuide_Reflective_markings.png

Unless you only ride on the sunniest of days, you need to have lights. Flashing L.E.D. lights for both the front and rear of your bike are inexpensive and invaluable safety equipment. They’re great for those gray Portland days! If you ride in an area where there’s not much in the way of street lights, a solid beam front light that illuminates the road can be a good investment.

Managing the moisture

ST_BikeGuide_fenders.png

Even if you don’t normally ride in the rain, fenders (aka mudguards) make riding on wet streets a much better experience. Fenders will keep water and grit picked up by your tires from being sprayed onto your feet and legs. Your local bike shop can set you up.

Carrying cargo and kids

You can safely haul a lot more on a bike if you’re properly equipped. Trying to carry a lot on a bike when not adequately equipped is frustrating, not to mention dangerous. Ever seen someone riding with heavy plastic grocery bags dangling from the handlebars? Yikes!

Here are some ways to carry your cargo:

Some Cargo:

ST_BikeGuide_messengerbag.png

A basic backpack is very convenient for small loads but doesn’t hold a lot and can make for a hot and awkward ride when loaded.

A “messenger bag,” with a single strap that rests on your opposite shoulder, also does not hold a lot.

More Cargo:

ST_BikeGuide_pannier.png

A rack for the rear of your bike is extremely useful. You’ll need one to be able to use panniers, buckets, and some baskets. Panniers are bags that attach to a rear bike rack. These are usually waterproof, removable, and allow you to carry more weight.

ST_BikeGuide_bucket.png

Baskets and buckets are generally a less expensive option for carrying more weight. Baskets can attach to the front or rear of your bike. Some are collapsible and others are easily removable to take in the store with you. Also, plastic “bike buckets” are inexpensive and functional. You can build one yourself — go to the Bureau of Transportation website: portlandoregon.gov/transportation/at for instructions on how to build one and how to order a kit ($10) of parts and hardware.

Most Cargo:

ST_BikeGuide_trailer.png

Trailers attach to the rear of your bike and are unsurpassed for carrying large loads, be it children, pets, groceries or whatever else you can think of. Hot tip: watch the classified ads for inexpensive used trailers. Also, all manner of cargo bikes are available locally, enabling you to carry large loads with relative ease.

Carrying Children — The Ultimate Precious Cargo:

ST_BikeGuide_Long_bike.png

ST_BikeGuide_Cargo_bike_gray.png

ST_BikeGuide_Trail-a-bike.png

There are seats that can be mounted on a bike — usually above the rear wheel — to allow you to carry a child on your bike. The child is secured into the seat by safety straps. Keep in mind that because of its height, this type of carrier alters your center of gravity while riding and increases the risk of losing balance. Most bike trailers are designed to carry kids, along with a shopping bag or two. Bike tag-alongs or trail-a-bikes are designed for older children and allow the child to pedal along with you.

For any of the devices meant for carrying children, check the manufacturer’s specifications for how to safely use the product, as well as any age and/or weight limitations.

Back to Table of Contents


ACCESSORIZE YOURSELF

There is gear that everyone should wear every time they ride, and there is gear made for various conditions. These conditions include long rides and riding at night, in the rain and in the cold. Choosing the right clothing will take a bit of experimentation on your part, but here’s an overview to get you started.

Helmets

ST_BikeGuide_helmets.png

It’s really basic: wear one. Do we really need to say more? OK, how about: you only need a helmet when you’ve got a head on your shoulders. If you’re under 16 years of age, Oregon law requires that you wear a helmet.

Leg bands

Leg bands are a cheap and easy way to keep your pant leg free of chain grease. Your launderer will thank you.

Gloves

Wearing gloves serves two purposes: they protect your hands from the elements and can prevent aches and pains in your hands and wrists. Use full-fingered in cooler weather and half-fingered in warmer weather.

Layering

Layering can be the key to staying comfortable when riding in the wet and/or cold. Multiple layers can be a low cost alternative to performance clothing. In addition, a layer can easily be added or removed to improve comfort on the fly. Try a base layer that breathes, another layer that provides warmth, and an outer layer that keeps out the wind and rain.

Reflective and bright clothing

The right clothing can provide you with added visibility during dark or low light conditions. You can buy clothing with reflective panels and/or piping, or add reflective tape to existing clothing or outerwear. NOTE: reflective clothing is not a substitute for bicycle lighting equipment.

Rain gear

ST_BIkeGuide_weather-gear.png

Water-resistant and water­proof clothing specific to cycling can make year-round riding a breeze. A good rain jacket with a longer flap in the back is a good start. If you desire, you can also buy rain pants, waterproof gloves, helmet and shoe covers.

Shoes and pedals

ST_BikeGuide_toeclip.png

Generally, any shoe will do. Choose something casual and comfortable with a good traction sole. Toe clips (cages attached to the pedals that your foot slips into) can be added for better pedaling efficiency. A more technical alternative is a pair of clipless pedals that require special cleated shoes.

SOME INEXPENSIVE WET WEATHER TIPS

+ When parking outside in wet weather, carry a plastic bag to put over your seat — avoid the wet tuchas!

+ You can also use plastic bags to keep your feet dry — just rubber band ‘em on.

+ Keep a pair of socks and shoes at your workplace, so even if your feet do get wet during the ride, they’ll soon be warm and dry.

ST_BikeGuide_wet_weather.png

Back to Table of Contents


GETTING DOWN TO BASICS

Making sure your bike fits you correctly can be crucial to the enjoyment of bicycling. Most bike shops will help you adjust your bike so it’s set for maximum comfort. Here are a few key considerations:

Bike type

ST_BikeGuide_highwheel-bike.png

It’s not a one type-fits-all world. Mountain bikes, hybrids, and comfort bikes with upright handlebars and wider tires are well suited to shorter trips on city streets while road bikes with drop handlebars and narrower tires may be a better choice for longer-distance trips. Then, of course, there are recumbent bikes, folding bikes, tandems, fixies, there’s something for everyone. Curious about the possibilities? Visit a local bike shop or two — they’ll be glad to help you find a ride that’s right for you.

Bike size

ST_BikeGuide_bar_height.png

Most bike shops will help you figure out the best fitting bike for you. If your bike’s frame is too tall, too short or too long, it can be very hard to adjust the other components to make you comfortable. Here are some general guidelines:

  • For on-road riding, there should be about 1 to 2 inches between the top bar of the bike frame and your inseam.
  • For off-road riding, there should be about 3 to 4 inches between the top bar of the bike frame and your inseam.

Seat (aka saddle) types

ST_BikeGuide_seat_adjust.png

A seat is a seat, right? Actually, there are a wide variety of seats for nearly every type of rider. Seats can be made for comfort or speed and come gender-specific. Ask your friendly local bike shop for help in selecting the best seat for your needs.

Adjusting your seat

The key adjustments to a seat are:

  • Fore/aft: a general rule is 1¾ to 2½ inches from the nose of the seat to a vertical line through the bottom bracket.
  • Angle: start out level, then find what is comfortable.
  • Height: with your pedal at the bottom of the pedal stroke and your heel on the pedal, your leg should be completely straight (then your leg will be slightly bent when riding normally).

Back to Table of Contents


GETTING AROUND PORTLAND

While some trips by bike are as simple as getting on and pedaling, a little planning is a good idea for longer, unfamiliar trips.

Pick your route

ST_BikeGuide_CitywideBikemap.png

By choosing appropriate routes for your bike trips, you can make your rides safer and more pleasant. The route you normally drive may not be the best route by bike. When planning your route, locate your starting point and your destination on the Portland By Bicycle Bike Map or the Portland Neighborhood Bike/Walk Maps and determine the best bike routes that connect the two. If possible, you may want to test it out first on a day when you’re not in a hurry to be at school, work or another appointment at a certain time.

There are also some excellent navigational resources for cyclists. See Community Resources.

PORTLAND’S NEIGHBORHOOD GREENWAYS

A number of quiet local streets have route signs and markings to help bicyclists find their way. If you prefer cycling on low-traffic streets over bike lanes, check out the Citywide or Neighborhood Bike/Walk maps to plot your route.

ST_BikeGuide_sharrow.png

ST_BikeGuide_bike_blvd_sign.png

Bringing your bike on buses, light rail, streetcar and tram

All TriMet buses, MAX light rail trains, the Portland Streetcar and Aerial Tram carry bikes. It’s easy — just pay the normal fare and bring your bike along! See Bikes and Transit for information.

Bike parking

ST_BikeGuide_lock-it-right.png

Portland is decorated with on-street bike racks, and many businesses provide bike racks, so finding somewhere to lock up at your destination usually isn’t too hard. If you are planning a commute trip, scout out in advance the best place to park your bike. For the downtown area, an online map showing the location of public covered bike parking is available. Bike lockers are available for rental throughout downtown and at many transit centers. Additionally, some transit centers have “bike and ride” key-card access parking (for more bike parking info, see Resources.

Lock it right

At a minimum you should put your lock through your frame and the front wheel. This is especially important if you have a quick release wheel, since if you only lock the wheel, the rest of your bicycle can be detached and carried away. Options for locking the frame and both wheels include: 1) removing the front wheel so it can be locked with the rest of the bike and 2) use a U-lock for the front wheel and frame, and run a cable lock through the U-lock and rear wheel.

LOCK-UP TIP: Locking both the frame and the front wheel makes breaking your U-lock tougher for thieves, and it helps keep your bike from falling over if it’s bumped.

More theft prevention

First, remove items from your bike that can be quickly and easily stolen. These include quick release seats, bags and lights. Next, make sure that you have taken as much slack out of your lock as possible to prevent your bike from tipping and to discourage thieves from prying. Also, some people find that making their bike less attractive is an effective theft deterrent. This can involve riding an older bike or using paint and stickers to make a newer bike appear older.

Dude, where’s my bike?

Stolen bikes are sometimes reclaimed, but in order to greatly increase the chances of your cherished steed returning, you’ll need to do two things:

  • Report the theft to the Police, and
  • Give them the bicycle’s serial number and description.

The serial number is usually located underneath the bottom bracket (that’s where the pedals and crank connect to the frame), but not always. If you can’t find it, your friendly local bike shop will be glad to help you locate it. Record the serial number and put it in a place where you can find it if needed. It’s also helpful to take a picture of you with your bike to help show that it’s yours.

Maintenance on the fly

The most common mechanical problem bicyclists experience is a flat tire, also know as a “tyre puncture” across the Pond, or “un pinchazo” south of the border. By any name, it’s not much fun. But it’s actually surprisingly easy, if a bit grimy, to fix a flat tire. Want to know how? Click here for the Flat Repair and Basic Maintenance Information (pdf file). Once you’ve learned how, you’ll want to impress all your friends with your newfound skill.

3 things you can do if you get a flat en route

+ Call your sweetie for a lift

+ Put your bike on the bus or MAX

+ Fix it — Yes, you can!

ST_BikeGuide_flat-fix.png

Back to Table of Contents


BIKES AND TRANSIT

Transit service in the Portland metro area

TriMet:

ST_BikeGuide_bike_on_bus.png

For instructions on how to carry your bike on buses and MAX, as well as information on the many TriMet MAX stations with secure bike and ride facilities, go to

trimet.org/howtoride/bikes

Portland Streetcar and the Aerial Tram:

Bicycles are allowed on the streetcar in the low-floor section only, and on the tram. Bike valet is also offered free to the public at the lower tram terminal.

Other Metro Area Transit providers who carry bikes:

For a complete map showing public transit providers who carry bicycles in the Portland metro area and beyond, go to our website at portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/71968

South Metro Area Rapid Transit (SMART): Wilsonville area with routes to Salem, Canby and Portland

ridesmart.com | 503-682-7790


C-Tran: Vancouver area and suburbs with routes to Portland

c-tran.com | 360-695-0123

Bike locker rentals at C-Tran transit centers:

360-695-0123

Columbia County Rider: routes to St Helens, Scappoose, Vernonia and other points NW of Portland

columbiacountyrider.com | 503-366-0159

Sandy Area Metro (SAM): Sandy area with routes to Estacada and Gresham MAX Transit Center

ci.sandy.or.us (click on “transit” under Departments) | 503-668-3466

Tillamook County Transit: Tillamook area with routes to Portland (Union Station downtown) and Beaverton

tillamookbus.com | 503-815-8283

AMTRAK – Travel by Train:

Eugene — Portland — Seattle — Vancouver

Reservations necessary to carry unboxed bikes ($5 fee)

amtrakcascades.com | 1-800-872-7245

Back to Table of Contents


CYCLING TECHNIQUE

There are lots of riding techniques and insider tips that most people learn bit by bit. We’ll save you some time and trouble. Don’t be shy about finding a vacant parking lot or playground to practice your moves.

Braking expertise

Get to know your brakes by practicing using them. Rear wheel brakes (usually the right hand lever) are very different from front wheel brakes. The front brake has more stopping power than the rear, but also requires more skill to avoid stopping too abruptly. Spend some time getting the feel. For emergency braking: 1) shift your weight toward the rear of the saddle and get your torso as low as possible while 2) applying even pressure to both brakes.

Shoulder checking or looking behind

ST_BikeGuide_shouldercheck.png

Cyclists need to check traffic behind them when changing lanes or merging, just as drivers. Practice the “shoulder check” in a vacant parking lot until you can do it without swerving. If your neck doesn’t like turning that far to look over your shoulder, try pivoting at the waist and hips a bit as well — the knee on the side you’re turning to can point out a bit.

Also, mirrors (either the helmet mount or handlebar mount variety) can be helpful, though they’re not always a complete substitute for shoulder checking.

Shifting gears

Use your gears to keep how fast you turn the pedals (aka “cadence”) fairly constant and easy. Downshift to an easier gear when coming to a stop so that when you start up again you’ll be in an appropriate gear. For going up hills, shift to an easier gear before the pedaling becomes too difficult. A cadence of about 60 to 80 pedal revolutions per minute is a good target for most cyclists.

The fast start

ST_BikeGuide_pedal_start.png

Making a smooth, quick take-off is deceptively easy. Here’s how:

  • Stand over the frame in front of the saddle. Hold the brake levers so the bike won’t roll.
  • Lift your right foot (if you’re “left-footed,” start with your left foot instead) and put it on the pedal. Turn the crank backwards until the pedal is at 2 o’clock position — forward and high.
  • Let go of the brakes and push down on the pedal. The first pedal stroke starts the bike moving and lifts you up to the saddle.
  • When the opposite pedal comes to the top position, put your foot on it for the second pedal stroke.

Cornering

ST_BikeGuide_lean-into-turn.png

Slow down before you turn. Applying the brakes during a turn can cause you to skid. For more stability while turning, keep the inside pedal up.

Road hazards

Railroad tracks, wet leaves, metal utility covers, thermoplastic road markings and gravel are just a few things that can pose problems for cyclists. When riding over any of these surfaces, especially when wet, avoid braking and turning. For any rough surface, shift some of the weight off of your seat and onto your hands (handlebars) and feet (pedals).

Watch those tracks!

ST_BikeGuide_Cross_tracks_right_angle.png

Cross tracks at as close to a right angle as possible. Tracks are slippery, especially when wet, so don’t alter your course or speed as you cross. If you can’t get a good crossing angle, or if the surface looks too rough, it’s OK to walk your bike across. Again, avoid braking or turning when crossing tracks.

Stay out of the blind spot!

ST_BikeGuide_blind_spot.png

Use extreme caution when overtaking a slower motorist while in a bike lane — make sure you stay out of the driver’s “blind spot,” especially at locations where a driver could turn right across your path, like intersections and driveways.

  • Stay a little bit ahead of the vehicle so the person driving can see you in front of them, or
  • Stay far enough back so that if the vehicle suddenly turns right or stops you’ll be able to stop your bike safely.

The box left turn

ST_BikeGuide_left_turn_box.png

Merging across traffic on a busy street to make a left turn can be a very difficult maneuver even for an experienced cyclist. You can cross just like a pedestrian. Here’s how to make that turn without the stress:

  • Ride through the intersection on the right side of the road.
  • Stop near the curb and turn the bike to head in the right direction.
  • Proceed with caution, obeying traffic controls, and merge back in to traffic when it is safe to do so.

When in doubt, slow down

When biking, it’s easy to pull over to the side of the road and assess the situation. Slowing down also gives you more time to react to the unexpected.

Back to Table of Contents


COMMUNITY RESOURCES

STREET MAINTENANCE AND TRAFFIC SAFETY

To report problems on City streets, here are some useful numbers:
City Street Maintenance (24 hrs.): 503-823-1700
Traffic Safety & Livability Line: 503-823-SAFE or safe@portlandoregon.gov

BIKE REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE INFORMATION

Shops and organizations offering classes in flat repair and basic maintenance:

Bikes for Humanity PDX: 503-957-6672

Bike Gallery: 503-281-9800

Community Cycling Center: 503-288-8864

River City Bicycles: 503-233-5973

North Portland BikeWorks: 503-287-1098

Portland SmartTrips: 503-823-7083

Bike Farm: 971-533-7428

BIKE PARKING INFORMATION

Bike parking information on-line:
portlandoregon.gov/transportation/bikeparking

Bike locker rental:
Downtown 503-823-5345
Transit Centers 503-962-2104, trimet.org/bikes

Bike rack installation requests:
503-823-CYCL, press 3

ADULT BICYCLE SAFETY PROGRAMS AND INFORMATION

Active Transportation and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance offer periodic workshops on safe bike commuting and cyclists’ legal clinics. Call 503-823-7083 for more information. Also, the Oregon Bicyclist Manual is available by calling 503-823-CYCL.

PORTLAND AND OREGON BICYCLE MAPS

All maps are free — call 503-823-CYCL, press 2 to request. Many more maps and info available on our website:
portlandoregon.gov/transportation/at

PORTLAND BICYCLE MAP AND RESOURCES

Portland Neighborhood Bike and Walk Maps (for North, Northeast, Northwest/Downtown, Southeast, Southwest and Central City)
Beaverton Bicycle Map
Gresham Bicycle Map
Vancouver Bicycle Map
Oregon Coast Bike Route Map

ONLINE TRIP PLANNERS

Portland bike trip planner:
ridethecity.com

TriMet bike/bus trip planning:
rtp.trimet.org

What’s Happening?

Some informative Portland bike web sites:

bikeportland.org

btaoregon.org

orbike.com

pwtc.com

shift2bikes.org

Back to Table of Contents


 

You can find a PDF version of the Portland Biking Guide by clicking here.