Portland Bike Path – The Bowl to St. John’s

Originating from a big city, I enjoy biking on a path that has it all; a riverfront car-free park path, a shared path that takes you through industry, as well as a shared bridge path.  Portland definitely fills the gamut. My favorite Portland bike path takes you through all of it.

The Portland Bike Path


After stopping in at Cycle Portland to grab a rental bike, I typically start off in “The Bowl ” at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, a small, intimate amphitheater.  It gives me a chance to look over the riverfront and collect my thoughts.  Also, it is the central hub for many festivals and concerts. I can also appreciate looking out on the river at the Taiwan-style “Dragonboats ” as they train for their race in early June.  Not to mention the baby geese littering the Central Lawn as they chase after their mother!

From there I bike along the car-free riverfront path on the West side of the Willamette river. On my way, I’m typically greeted by fellow bikers, runners, and tourists all utilizing and enjoying the little strip along the park.  Occasionally, I’ll stop along the way at the Portland Saturday Market at Ankeny Square to see what creativity the vendors are stirring up. I’ll also hang out by the Skidmore Fountain sip some chai from one of dozens of local shops and vendors and watch families play.

NW Portland

After riding along the Esplanade I connect with motorists on a shared road named Naito Parkway.  It is on this roadway that I ride under the steel lattice work of both the Steel Bridge and the Broadway Bridge,  both of which are engineering marvels. From there I hang a left at NW 9th Ave, cross the Amtrak Railway at Union Station and then hang a quick slight right onto NW Overton St.  I run this through both the Nob Hill Alphabet District and the Northwest District where I reflect on my days living in a more condensed part of town.

After daydreaming a bit, I then continue along NW Overton St. to NW 24th Ave and hang a right.  I then run 24th to NW Vaughn St and hang a left. NW Vaughn St. turns into NW Wardway St. I’ll loop around the Adidas Employee Store and hang a left at NW Nicolai St.  Nicolai will almost immediately turn into NW St. Helens Road which will take you to Mount St. Helens if you want to get out of town. But we’ll stay on the Portland bike path for now.

St. John’s

My ride of choice takes a left from St. Helens Rd onto Bridge Ave where you can merge onto the St. John’s Bridge. Here you can visually capture not only the grandeur of the suspension bridge, but also that of the industries lining the Williamette River.  On a good day, you can make out downtown Portland in the distance. I’ve heard you can also capture Mt. Hood but I have yet to experience that.  It will be amazing when I do.

Photograph by David Gn

After traversing the St. John’s Bridge, you will be placed on N. Philadelphia Ave.  I take Philadelphia to N Lombard St. and hang a left. I normally go 2 blocks to the Blue Bird Tavern and grab a brew as I reflect on my ride and all that I have encountered.  … But it isn’t over yet! After a few (many) brews, I then walk (stumble) 1 block toward N Philadelphia Ave and stop off at the Tienda Santa Cruz and grab a hefty vegetarian burrito.  

Once settled and sobered, I find my bike parked on Lombard in front of the Blue Bird.  I then mount and hang a left on Baltimore, which is the cross street on Lombard around the corner from the Bird going away from N. Philadelphia  Ave. From there it is a straight shot to Cathedral Park where you can sit on a park bench and watch the sunset from alongside, or under the St. John’s Bridge.  Full and fuzzy, I usually call this the end of the ride. Of course, I still have to get home. But that ride description is for another day! I hope that you enjoyed my favorite Portland bike path!  And remember, always wear a helmet! Ride safe!

New Portland Bridge: Sullivan’s Gulch Crossing

Portland City Council’s recent unanimous vote to pass the Central City in Motion Plan has got us excited about the proposed projects soon to be under way. The plan will create a better Downtown and Central Eastside for non-car commuters. It will benefit students in the area. It will provide Bridgetown with a new Portland Bridge.

Most Bike-citing Project: Sullivan’s Gulch Crossing

Cyclists in Portland have often warned one another to “Avoid the Lloyd.” Translation: The Lloyd District ain’t for pedal people. It isn’t just hyperbole. With its weird intersections (like the crossing of NE Lloyd Blvd, 13th and… 16th. wtf?), rat’s nest of a railroad crossing through a bike lane on 11th, and multi-block street interruptions (I’m looking at you Lloyd Center) the Lloyd District is best sidestepped.

Recently, improvements have been made to improve the laborious Lloyd. A marked path over the MAX rail on 11th helps and NE Multnomah Street’s (partially) protected bike lane makes for a nice East/West passage. But the main problem remains: Safely crossing Interstate 84.

Crossing Options

While heading south on 7th (the districts only north/south bike lane thoroughfare) you are presented with two options at the T-junction with Lloyd Blvd. First, you could, A) Turn right. Next, head down the hill in the narrow bike lane. Whilst traveling, avoid the lumber piles of sticks that fall there. Then, cross Grand Ave. Simply merge across two lanes in 100 feet to make a left with the cars and trucks onto MLK Blvd. Finally, pedal like your life depends on it (because it does) along the 4 lanes of cars trying to either get to the 84 on-ramp or beat the light at Burnside.

Alternatively, you could B) Turn left. Then cross, from a stop, the 4 lanes of traffic to the bike lane on the far side. Next, merge in front of car traffic at 11th to turn right on 12th. If you’re lucky, you won’t get cars racing around you to pass you in the same lane that you’re riding in until you reach the bike lane after Irving. After that, all you have to worry about is the triple trailer, 26 wheeler trucks pulling out of Franz Bakery. The 12th street crossing is the much better choice, but still far from ideal. Soon, however, we will have a third option: Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge.

New Portland Bridge

New Portland Bridge Rendering
Conceptual rendering of future Sullivan’s Crossing

Named after Sullivan’s Gulch (the narrow valley which the I-84 and Union Pacific Railroad now occupy) the Sullivan’s Crossing Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge will connect NE 7th on either side of the gap. At this new Portland bridge, a traffic light will replace the one-way stop on the Lloyd side. This new bridge will have 12 feet of pedestrian walkway and 12 feet of bike lanes. Including an awesome view of Big Pink, expect the pedestrian side to be a crowded spot for instagram shots.

In addition to the bridge, 7th street south of the bridge will also be getting a makeover with wider sidewalks. Sharrows on what is already a relatively quiet stretch lead to improved bike lanes in South East. The project, scheduled to be completed in 2021, will be a major stepping stone in Portland’s proposed “Green Loop” of bike, jogging and walking paths encircling six square miles of Downtown and Central Eastside.

Alas, Sullivans Gulch is the most awaited project according to surveys. When asked about prioritization, Portlanders claimed that of the 18 projects in Central City in Motion’s proposal, Sullivan’s Crossing was the clear favorite. Considering how many people will benefit: Students at Benson Polytechnic High School, MAX riders who work in the Kerns District, and Jimmy Johns delivery cyclists just to name a few, this isn’t very surprising. What is, is that it has taken this long to implement the concept of this new Portland bridge!

Neighborhood Greenway – Safe Bike Navigation in Portland

“Is it safe to ride a bike in Portland?”

Day after day, visitors of Portland come in to the shop and ask if its safe to ride a bicycle in this city. Take a step back and think about this… You pose this question to a tour guide in a bicycle shop in the heart of the bike capitol of the USA where my job is to rent a bicycle to you. What do you think my answer will be? So, after I tell them, “Of course it’s safe!” I explain why. Portland, Oregon is one of the most bike friendly cities in the United States and that’s in large part due to our bicycle infrastructure. As the bike paths and culture have developed, strategies are implemented for making travel easier for motor-less pedestrians. Before long I open up the city map and delve into the purpose of the Neighborhood Greenway.

Neighborhood Greenway

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), “Neighborhood Greenways are residential streets with low volumes of auto traffic and low speeds where bicycles and pedestrians are given priority.” Essentially, these streets are placed to allow pedestrians a travel option. This system of paths comes with less interruption and frustration. Portland has bright and knowledgeable city planners consistently developing infrastructure. With careful thought and creativity, Portland regularly improves its bikeways! But how does the Neighborhood Greenway work?


Throughout the city there are multiple signs (usually green) indicating the path of the Neighborhood Greenway and where it will take its followers. Roads are also highlighted by the white painted bicycles with arrows. Despite popular belief (and personal dream) that these are dash panels offering a speed boost, this is not its true purpose. Consequently, these street designs are used for directing traffic and reminding cars that they are traveling on a shared road. Hence the name “sharrows”. However, if you close your eyes and shout “WAHOO!” or any of these sounds I’m pretty sure you get a little power up from the Mario Kart gods. Divine Nintendovention.

Highlights of the Greenway

Firstly, the Neighborhood Greenway contributes to the flow of traffic and promoting transportation culture. Initially, these streets once served as ordinary automobile passageways. Subsequently, they were re-designed for multi-modal transportation. As a cyclist it can be incredibly frustrating to have to hit the breaks every other block. Luckily, cyclists and pedestrians are able to travel more freely by reducing the amount of stop signs traveling across the Neighborhood Greenway.

Signage and Speed Bumps

But wouldn’t that encourage cars to use these paths more often? A lack in stop signs sounds like a shortcutting drivers paradise. Speeding past bikers and steering clear of rush hour traffic must be an obvious solution to any Portland car commuter. The city has taken steps to avoid this recklessness and preserve the road for cyclists. In fact, streets contain multiple speed bumps to slow cars and traffic diverts that allow space for cyclists to pass but are too large for cars. These techniques keep the amount of cars traveling on them to a minimum.


Speed Limit

Additionally, the speed maximum is much lower on these streets! As the Neighborhood Greenway mostly travels through, well, neighborhoods, cars commonly travel on the higher speed roads. Reduced speeds keep Portland neighborhoods safer. Families, joggers, and other outdoor enthusiasts rely on the safe speed limit. Plus, many greenways are located next to or near popular driving streets and districts that are frequented for their busy storefronts. Bikes have a free space to ride near goings-ons while presenting cars with a more mobile form of transit. Everyone is safer and faster!


Next we arrive at those tough intersection. Frequently, cars will speed down busy streets, ignoring pedestrians and cyclists looking to cross the intersection. Not cool cars. On the Neighborhood Greenway, intersections are highlighted with bright colors, signage and sometimes even cross signals. Comfortable crossing is crucial. On the busiest streets at the busiest times of day, Greenways provide safe passage. Additionally, at multiple intersections there are also signs that help direct traffic by letting folks know what is nearby.  By chance, I have visited multiple parks throughout the city due to Neighborhood Greenway signs. Portland ensures cyclist know where they are going.


“So… is it safe?”

Above all, Portland considers itself “the city that works”. Yes. Between the Neighborhood Greenway, car free paths and divided bike lanes, there is almost always a safe space for cyclists to travel. Given that you are riding cautiously and respect the rules of the road, it is safe. Be courteous, be friendly, be aware. Then bike travel will be your best friend.

Winter Bike Commuting – Wet, Cold, and Hardcore

Where’d everybody go? There is a stark contrast in the amount of cyclists traveling to work over the Hawthorne bridge on a beautiful day in June versus a frigid January morning. Here in Portland, Oregon we have an amazing bike commuting culture. This culture is supported by our road infrastructure, friendly neighborhood vibe and environmentally conscious citizens! But the number of people commuting by bicycle changes drastically when we hit the cold season. I wanted to share some advice on how to stay strong through the season and continue winter bike commuting. Prepare yourself to be a year-round biker. Prepare yourself to be wet, cold, and hardcore.

Winter Bike Commuting

It ain’t easy. It’s only for the biggest baddest biking bosses. But, by biking, basically, you’ve earned basic bragging rights you can always bank on. That brings me to the basis of what you’re be bargaining by biking in the blistering cold. Comfort. Transitioning into the season for winter bike commuting takes serious cycling gusto. As a shop, we’ve tackled this issue in the past, covering methods of setting your bike up to last the season. But how can we set ourselves up.

When you opt to commute through the cold season, you opt to give up of some of the luxuries of car travel. The warmth, the speed, the effortlessness. It’s so easy to store your bike in the basement and say goodby until April. However, some of us don’t have that luxury; Some of us don’t want that luxury. With about 2 and a half Portland winters under my belt, I’ve learned some tricks to get me past the mental barriers of the difficult season.


First, you need to accept that with the good weather comes the not so good. We can’t just have perfect weather all the time! Portland summer wouldn’t come with the same thrills if that weather remained constant. The winter gives us time to recoup and reflect and grow. Changes in season reflect changes in us as humans. There is an eery peacefulness to the misty-grey of Portland winter and we will endure winter bike commuting together!

Portland winter bike commuters
Photo taken from medium.com. Helmet camera photo by Aixe Djelal.


For me, one of the hardest parts of starting my day on the right pedal is my motivation. The warmth underneath my blankets in the morning provides the best argument for my difficulties getting up with enough time to ride to work. Although I toyed with the idea of eliminating blankets and not sleeping, I decided to try some other ideas first. I like to prepare everything for the next day.

From my clothing to my baggage, I’ll minimize the effort required of me in the morning.I’ll go through all my daily needs in my head and get my bags packed and ready. Next I will gather my clothes for the morning. Sometimes I’ll even dress in exactly what I will wear the next day. This way I can roll out of bed with less decision to make and not have to worry about that cold gap while changing clothes.

Crazy? You’re not the first one to say that. But you’re also probably not getting up at 6:00 to commute to the gym, followed by a change of clothes and hustling to work, then solving world hunger and winning 6 Nobel Peace Prizes. Did the last two happen? No, not yet, because I’ve spent too much time in bed instead of winter bike commuting in the mornings for most of my life. But we’ll get there.

Getting there is hard when you can see your breath as you exhale each morning. That’s why I recommend purchasing a space heater. They are not very expensive and, in my professional cold air responder opinion, worth the investment. You can leave bed comfortably and ready to take on the day.

Need even more preparation? Set up your coffee for the next morning by filling your filter or press the night before. Even prepare the water so all you have to do is hit the on switch! Breakfast is important as well but it’s important to be healthy! A sausage egg and cheese may provide satisfaction initially, but doesn’t provide the necessary nutrients to get through the day as you’re pedaling to your destination.  If I opt not to skip brekky as I frequently do, I’ll often prepare museli the night before. This way it’s ready to go in the fridge as soon as I’m getting up. Packed with oats, nuts and fresh fruit it’s everything I need to get the day going!

So to keep motivated, start your days smart. Be healthy, be as prepared as possible, and be comfortable. We’re not as hardcore as we seem, but with preparation we can keep up the façade.

Roll Out

After you’ve finished up with your (hopefully) effortless morning ritual, it’s time to hop on the bike to roll out! As I mentioned earlier, winter bike commuting is achievable through comfort. Therefore, you need the necessary equipment for your personal comfort!

Let us begin with the extremities. A cozy pair of gloves is incredibly important for retaining that comfort out the door. Exposure to the cold air of the outside seems to be everlasting. Be ‘hands on’ about getting ‘hands in’ gloves. Meandering from our fingers to our toes, let’s get some cozy socks on. Wool socks provide that insulation that keeps feet from cold exposure. It’s nice to carry an extra pair of socks as wet socks cause much discomfort throughout the day. Water proof shoes also go a long way but you can probably get through the season with comfortable socks and a thick shoe or sneaker.

Every layer donned provides a coating of warmth. However, with the physical exertion associated with cycling will likely require removal of clothes over time (depending on the distance and effort of your ride). It might be worth is to invest in a jacket with pit zips to let the air breathe in your steamy arm crevasse. Additionally, wearing easily strippable outer layers and having a place to stow said gear will be great for changes in weather! By always carrying rain pants and a jacket I am ready for these changes, especially in a city like Portland! It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Underneath it all, it might help to wear a base layer if you know it’s going to be really chilly out there. Some days I’ll go as far as rockin’ a balaclava to protect the wind burn on my face and ears (plus its a perfectly good excuse to look like a bike riding ninja). Having comfortable clothing, tangible items you can get in a few hours, is another key to success for getting through the season.

While we’re talking tangibles, let’s discuss the actual bike. First things first, make sure your bike is working well. Start the season with a tune-up to make sure the bike you plan to use is ready to roll from brakes to gears. Most shops (including ours) offer a tune-up special heading into the winter season. Then you can add any extra pieces to the bike that will be helpful for the season. Maybe some tires with better grips, maybe some fenders to avoid the water/mud splatter and DEFINITELY some bike lights to increase your visibility out there during these shorter days. Then you’ll be looking less wet,  less cold, and way more hardcore.

Winter Bike Commuting

Believe in Yourself

There is but a small group of individuals that choose cycling as their main form of transportation. Winter bike commuting is a daunting task asking travelers to sacrifice comfort, speed and time. But in following these tips, combined with the excellent nature of who you are, a hardcore hero of the two wheeler you will be.


Helmet Rentals in Portland – Scooter Safety

It’s been some time since the overnight surprise strike of scooters were scattered stealthy about upon sunrise, surrounding Portland sidewalks and storefronts. Now that we’ve had some time to adjust to this new ride-share transit in our amazing road infrastructure, it’s time to assess its purpose how we can use it safely. From road awareness to personal safety, I want to ensure everybody’s well-being on the street. That’s why Cycle Portland is happy to offer useful E-Scooter info and helmet rentals in Portland!

Rules of the Road

In order to be safe, it is important to first understand the rules of the road!

Helmet rentals in Portland

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and its list of electric scooter rules, it is important to ALWAYS wear a helmet as required by state law. Lucky for you, Cycle Portland is one of few places in Portland that you can rent a helmet for the day! For just $5 you can use one of our helmets until close at 6PM. Alternatively, we have some of the lowest helmet prices at $20 for both our black nutcase or silver sport style helmets!


Do you know who is not required to wear a helmet? The foot traveling pedestrian! Stay off the sidewalks. Just like bicycles, sidewalk riding is illegal and dangerous. From what I’ve witnessed, this is one of scariest sights, watching scooter stars weave through the gaps in sidewalk traffic. For the sake of everybody’s safety, take a dip off the sidewalk lip and use the vehicle lane. Keep yourself in bike lanes and greenways or stay to the right in roadways leaving private and public transit room to pass.


Some citizens also have more rights than scooters out on the road. As a scootist, you schould always yield to people walking, biking or anybody disabled. Yielding may cause you to come to a complete stop, which you should be doing anyway when you approach any stop sign or light! Good for you for cutting down on car emissions, but shame on you if you use that as a privilege to disregard other rules of the road.

Drinking and Scooting

One of those so very disregarded rules is scooter riding while intoxicated. Just like any other vehicle, you are not allowed to operate it while under the influence of intoxicants. Not only will you receive a DUII, but you very well may find yourself missing a couple teeth when  you wake up. Which is fine with me. But it’s not fine to hurt an innocent bystander or cause other dangers in our roadways. Be safe and make sure to have a designated driver.

Rider Numbers

However, that designated driver can’t also be on a scooter. Don’t hop on the back of someone’s e-transport and expect to get away with it. The scooters are meant for one rider per scooter. More than one rider causes instability on the roadway and damage to the scooter itself. Then, when parking, make sure to place it on the sidewalk close to the curb.

When push comes to scoot, respect the provided traveling device. It’s a motorized scooter for goodness sake, treat it as if it were your own. We’re living in the future!

Local Opinion

Naturally, some opinions have formed regarding scooter use. The Portland Bureau of Transportation has recorder over 472-thousand scooter trips taken since the vehicles arrived in July. This has provided the city with extensive feedback from both locals and tourists! But where we see the benefits in getting people out of cars, we’ve also absorbed the wave of hatred directed at these two-wheeled wired whirley roadway whippers. Just take a look in the Willamette.


Keeping tabs on scooter distaste is made easy by counting the number that have been tossed in the north flowing city divider. Scooters In The River provides updates of this statistic as we try to gauge who are the culprits of such heinous crimes. But others might argue that this is the best place for them. Willamette Weekly provided insight from five Portlandians who HATE the scooters. These complaints to city hall clash with the positive outlook that many have as Portland seeks new modes of transportation.

Users of the scooters have reported to the PBOT and the results exemplify stark contrast to the negative public outcry. The survey gives us a look not only at the scooters as a replacement for automobile travel, but also at their safety, purpose of use, and popularity among locals versus visitors! But I couldn’t just sit back and let the results of some internet research give me a definitive answer. So I hit up one of my favorite pubs looking for some useful scoot gossip.

Meandering my way over the Burnside Bridge, passing pedestrians, bikes, scooters and cars (because I’m just that fast), I arrived at the bar. There, I spoke with Chavelie Rodriguez, local bartender at Base Camp Brewing Company and avid… AVID cyclist to get her stance on the rise of the scooters. “I see them everywhere randomly. Although I understand their potential, I find they are unsafe for the casual user. I never see people wearing a helmet and [as a bartender I’ve noticed] many riders are intoxicated.” Casual users do seem to be the most reckless with the new transport vehicle. Does this mean we’ll see more regulations? Maybe a required test before use? Possibly a scooter license??? Who knows, but we need keep people safe. We need to get users those helmets.

What Now?

The scooters are on trial for two more weeks here in Portland before they are taken off the road while the city decides its next move. So make sure to get in those last couple trials so you now where you stand. When the trial is over, swing into the shop for a bicycle rental to enjoy cruising around the streets of Portland. Until then, come into the shop for $5 helmet rentals in Portland! Be safe, be considerate, be weird. Don’t be one of these stereotypical scootists. Be a part of positive change!

Press Release! Portland By Biketown



Evan Ross

[email protected]

(503) 360 6815


These mini-tours are helping to introduce locals & visitors to Biketown’s rideshare system in combination with a scenic and informative ride around the city.

No stranger to the tour business, Cycle Portland is celebrating 10 years of guided bike tours in Portland. In an effort to increase ridership while helping newcomers learn best practices for cycling in the city, Cycle Portland is working with Biketown to feature a slice of Portland’s keystone bike infrastructure and offers a local perspective from the seat of a bike.

At just over an hour, this excursion will allow participants to get the scoop on PDX, while allowing enough time after their ride to continue exploring on their own using Biketowns affordable Pay-As-You-Go plan. Riders will also receive a $5 discount on their Biketown rental in conjunction with the tour.  

“It just makes sense” – Evan Ross, owner of Cycle Portland says, “Why not leverage the robust programs we have at our disposal, while providing curation and confidence to riders looking to get into cycling here in Portland. We think the city is best experienced by bike, and this tour is here to prove it.”

Covering the Tillikum Crossing, Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, and Tom McCall Waterfront park, participants can get a feel for riding using the city’s premiere multi-use paths, venturing briefly into the downtown historical district before concluding their tour.  

After a brief safety talk, these Biketown tours depart from the Biketown corral at SW 3rd (in front of Voodoo Donuts) and return just a few blocks away at Cycle Portland’s shop location. From there, riders can choose to keep their bikes and (included) helmet, or head off to their next destination with expert route advice from their guide.

Tickets are $20 per person, and can be booked in advance via biketowntours.com

Bye Bye Better Naito

According to Central City in Motion, Better Naito is the most heavily used protected bike lane in downtown Portland. Many cyclists, tour patrons, staff, and renters here at Cycle Portland, use Better Naito as an alternative to riding on busy city streets or the crowded East Bank Esplanade. Unfortunately, this is the last month that the protected bike lane will be in place. Come October you can say goodbye to the plastic barriers that we have come to love. The bike lane will become a lane reserved for cars. Better Naito will, once more, regress to Worse Naito.

What is Better Naito?

The bike lane is a key north- south thoroughfare connecting Portland’s downtown to other prominent bike routes along the West bank. Additionally, it leads to some of the most widely used bicycle friendly bridges that span the Willamette. The two-way bike lane is perfect for Portland commuters and visitors alike. Fortunately, Portlanders have a way to efficiently and safely navigate through downtown without fear of cars or pedestrians.

What if we didn’t have to bid Better Naito goodbye?

This fall there will be a vote on a permanent design for Better Naito as part of Central City in Motion. Do you want to tell your local representatives that you are in favor of making Better Naito a permanent bike lane? If so, come down to Salmon Street Fountain tonight, (September 18) at 5PM! There will be a rally hosted by BikeLoudPDX & The Street Trust and you can sign petitions or talk with other cyclists about your vision for Naito Parkway.

What if I can’t make it tonight?

ehankfully, this is the age of iPhones and emails, so you can still make your voice heard even if you can’t go to the rally. We encourage you to email or call your local representatives and tell them your opinions about Better Naito!

Ted Wheeler, Mayor

503-823-4127, [email protected]

Chloe Eudaly, Transportation commissioner

503-823-4682, [email protected]

Gabe Graff, Central City in Motion Project Manager

503-823-5291, [email protected]