A Guide to Biking in Portland, OR

Writer + Photographer: Joshua Samuel Brown


From car-free bike paths and streets with well-delineated bicycle lanes to drivers who accept bicyclists as a legitimate part of the mix, it’s no wonder that Portland is considered America’s “cycling promised land”. Despite its famously rainy winter and spring months there is plenty for Portland visitors to love, including a plethora of parks, public spaces, and a proud nautical history that belies an actual proximity to the ocean. Portlanders are a proud bunch, proud of their beautiful city; their accepting, low-key culture; and their own charming eccentricities.

The BrewCycle rides through Old Town Portland

The BrewCycle rides through Old Town Portland

MEETS

Portland is a city of cycling enthusiasts with scores of annual events. Travel Portland maintains an updated listing for all. The larger annual cycling event in Portland is Pedalpalooza, which lasts throughout most of June and features 200+ organized events including rides, performances, parades, and the ever-popular World Naked Bike Ride.

If riding through town naked is too tame for you, then try Zoobombing, a weekly bike event where participants race down hills at high speeds, often on tricked out smallwheel bikes (though all bikes are welcome). The Zoobomb crew meets Sundays around 8:30PM by the Zoobomb monument on 13th Avenue and SW Burnside Street. Whether you’re a recumbent fancier, off-road enthusiast, or someone looking for bike-themed romance, chances are you’ll find like-minded folks on your rides around Portland.

Voodoo Doughnuts

Voodoo Doughnuts

EATS

Portland punches above its weight class when it comes to culinary options. You can eat like Anthony Bourdain without ever stepping foot inside a restaurant at one of the city’s famed food truck pods. The largest of these, a veritable United Nations of culinary styles with 50+ food trucks, takes up a full city block between Southwest Alder and Washington Streets, from Southwest 9th to 10th Avenues. Smaller pods containing a dozen or so stationary trucks are all over town. Portland Walking Tours’ Flavor Street Tour offers a broad sampling of the best the city has to offer. More traditional gourmets can enjoy a seafood meal at the Dan & Louis Oyster Bar just down the block from the always-busy Voodoo Doughnuts, home of the notorious bacon maple bar.

The Portland Saturday Market

The Portland Saturday Market

STREETS

In the heart of Old Town, Cycle Portland Bike Tours rents a selection of bikes including electric bikes, offering rates ranging from hourly to weekly. Another company renting bikes and leading tours in and outside of town is Pedal Bike Tours.

SLEEPS

Located a block from Powell’s City of Books and a quick ride or jog from Pioneer Courthouse Square, the posh Nob Hill district or the Waterfront, Portland’s Mark Spencer Hotel is bike-friendly with a European vibe. Another bike-friendly spot is the Jupiter Hotel across the river in Portland’s hipster quarter.


Joshua lives in Portland, writes for Lonely Planet and rides a yellow fixie. His latest book of short stories is available at Amazon. josambro.blogspot.ca | @josambro