Portland, Oregon, United States of America
Voted one of the most cycle friendly cities in the United States, Portland is a wonderful place to explore on two wheels. The city has also been top rated by the League of American Bicyclists and has over 270 trails to choose from. From parks to city and waterside rides, the selection of trails is quite remarkable and cyclists will be spoilt for choice. The Oregon scenery and the city itself have a lot to offer visitors to this part of the world.
Hiring a bike is very easily arranged in Portland, with a number of rental companies all over town with a wide selection of cycles to suit most abilities and needs. Many also offer orientation tours and specialised guided tours of the city and will also do a safety check when the bike is rented. Portland also has a number of cycling clubs and internet forums as it is such a popular sport. Events can be found online and some welcome visitors. In Portland, art relating to the bicycle is also celebrated, with film festivals and artworks dedicated to two wheels.
Portland’s cycling infrastructure demonstrates the city’s affection for the bicycle. Bike Boulevards can be found all over the city and are dedicated wide lanes for bikes, which have priority over other traffic. There are also cycle trails linking up neighbourhoods and leading out into some of the surrounding countryside of Portland. The City of Portland Office has also installed bike boxes at busy intersections to improve the visibility and safety of cyclists in the city. There are several bike parks and bike corrals in Portland and some upmarket places even offer valet bicycle parking. Some car repair businesses offer a bicycle to customers whilst their vehicle is being fixed. It is always advisable to have a secure locking system for your bike as there are incidences of theft. There are a number of regulations in Portland to ensure the safety of both cyclists and other road users. For example, as there are so many cycle lanes, it is frowned upon to ride on the sidewalk and also to have more than one person riding on a bike at the same time.
Portland has several excellent cycling routes that take in both the city and the surrounding Oregon countryside. Mountain biking is as popular as street cycling. One of the classic routes is to Mount Tabor and Rocky Butte. This ride takes cyclists through the Eastern districts of Portland as well as two city parks that were built on disused volcanoes. The trail follows a dedicated bike route that starts at SE 20th and Belmont at Colonel Summers Park. This snakes upwards around Rocky Butte with spectacular views from the observation point before a downward ride back to Colonel Summers Park. The ride is around eighteen miles in total. Cycling to Blue Lake State Park is the perfect ride for a hot summer day. The trail starts at Marine drive and is one where bird watching for hawks and other species is another attraction of the area. Past the airport and along the river, the scenery is varied but creates an interesting ride along the path. At Blue Lake Regional Park, the entry is free to cyclists and ideal for a refreshing swim before heading back to Portland and the city. This ride is around 20 miles and is a popular route. Cycling to Sauvie Island takes cyclists through meadows and wildlife meadows. Starting at Highway North 30, the ride is in the direction of Sauvie Island bridge and a circular route round the island through oak groves and farmland. This ride is 12 miles long and takes in some idyllic rural scenes. For a challenging route, the West Side Hills is a popular cycle route. The view of Mount St Helens, Mount Hood and Mount Adams set against a backdrop of scenic valleys is well worth the hard work of the ride. This cycle trail starts in North West Portland at NW Raleigh Street & 25th Avenue. Cycling along scenic tracks, the ride ascends as it passes the mountain views and has a very sharp descent before heading back to the city. This ride can either last 16 or 40 miles depending on the trail taken, and is just one of many classic bike trails in the area.
(Image by StuSeeger on Flickr)