“Portland doesn’t turn its back on the less fortunate” claims Cycle Portland staff member Jesse Levy. During the month of December, Sock Hop, Cycle Portland’s sister company, donated a portion of their sales toward purchasing socks for the homeless of Portland, Oregon. While the weather gets colder, our hearts (and feet) warm at the notion of helping the homeless with a sock donation. Join the cause!
Leaders in Portland’s emergency service operations, the Portland Rescue Mission provides clothes, shelter and resources for Portland’s homeless population. The PDX Rescue Mission is a close neighbor of ours. Customers purchase more socks from us for the holiday season. We decided to do a little giving of our own. Through December, Sock Hop and Cycle Portland contributed a successful sock donation. Over 60 socks and assorted clothes were given to the Rescue Mission and homeless of the city. Furthermore, Cycle Portland is looking to continue to build our relationship with the community.
As a result, assisting the homeless became a priority in our cause. “We’ve been involved with the community association for several years,” describes owner Evan Ross, “and wanted to continue to work on livability issues in the neighborhood.” In Downtown Chinatown, people have jackets, pants and often times even access to food. What they don’t have… are socks.
Despite access to many resources, the homeless struggle to find quality socks. Socks are a poor secondhand clothing item and should therefore be purchased new. As a sock retail store, Sock Hop decided to allocate some resources for the community. In a blog on the Portland Rescue Mission Website, Jesse states, “This issue is more common than most think and it is problem that can be fixed.”
Portland doesn’t turn it’s back on those in need, and neither should you. Cycle Portland, Sock Hop and the Portland Rescue Mission encourage those fortunate enough to buy their own socks to contribute to the homeless community. There is a list of needed goods included on the Rescue Mission website. Finally, join us in building a better community, comfortable living situation and prosperous future.
Lens me your ears (and feet). Cycle Portland is working with Sock Hop to provide sunglasses with each online purchase made from now until Valentine’s Day! Whether for you. your love, a casual acquaintance, a winter fling, the hilarious socks from Sock Hop are worth checking out. Buy now to claim your free sunglasses from Cycle Portland.
Back in the summer, we released our Cycle Portland Sunglasses for in shop purchase. Not only are these shades suave and protective, but they are inexpensive as well. Wanting to share the LOVE with our sister company, Sock Hop, Cycle Portland is offering free sunglasses with each online purchase of socks. Now you can gaze with the spirit of Portland
Sock Hop is a creative sock boutique selling affordable and silly/stylish socks. Looking for a taco-dinosaur sock? They got it. Looking for a pug pun sock? They got it. Looking for a unicorn sock? They got LOADS! Add 5, 10, 50 socks to your cart with FREE SHIPPING and get your FREE sunglasses with it.
If there’s one thing left to say, it’s that you should stock up on socks. People flock to our block to buy Sock Hop socks, but they need not. The prices will leave you in shock. Friends won’t mock, but they’ll certainly talk about your socks. Throw on these free sunglasses and remember… You rock.
If you’re looking for good views and an exhilarating ride the Council Crest Greenway Path is the way to go. See what makes the Pacific Northwest so beautiful on this Southwest Portland Bike Ride.
Southwest Portland Bike Ride
Unless you are looking to bike a couple hundred feet uphill (a great options with one of our E-bikes) I would recommend taking the OHSU aerial tram (tickets are $4.90) to the top and starting from there. Once at the top of the tram, take the Gibbs/Marquam hill greenway road until it dead ends into Fairmont. Here you’re going to want to take a right on Fairmont followed by a left on Greenway, then follow the signs to Council Crest Park.
Council Crest Park
Historic Council Crest Park offers a 360-ish degree view of Portland with beautiful views of downtown, the Washington Cascades, Southwest Portland, and on a clear day, a breathtaking view of Mt. Hood. I usually like to stop here and take lots of photos as this is one of the best spots to see Portland.
Next comes the fun part. From the top of the crest, head back down Greenway making sure to take a left on SW Talbot Terrace. This road is a bit thin and a little windy so be sure to be alert of cars. At the end of Talbot Terrace take a left on Fairmount Blvd. You’ll follow Fairmont for a while before hooking a right onto SW Chesapeake. Here you’ll have a quick succession of turns consisting of a right on Twombly, then a right on 27th, and finally a left on Sunset. The Fairmont to Sunset section is fairly steep and I enjoy bombing it as fast as possible, but ride at your own comfort level as it is enjoyable at any speed.
Sunset will take you to Hillsdale, one of SW Portland’s cute tucked away “mini towns”. Here there are many great restaurants, food trailers and shops to check out. But I prefer to head west on Capitol Highway to the Sasquatch Brewing Co. SW taproom for a nice end of Southwest Portland bike ride beer.
The Springwater trail/West Bank Esplanade/Eastbank Esplanade 11 mile loop is everything a bike ride should be: Beautiful, calming, energizing, fun, and full of surprises. Last summer, a portion of this route was closed for most of the year last year. Now, I am glad to say that the Springwater Trail bike ride is back.
Springwater Trail Bike Ride
Beginning the ride, Rivelo is as good a place as any to start. It is a bike shop/ record store that only sells Bob Dylan LPs. Additionally, it’s located just two blocks from the North Entrance to the Springwater Trail bike ride. Rivelo is the perfect place to browse around while awaiting the rest of the bike crew to assemble. I find it better to ride the loop in a clockwise direction, but I can’t really say why. Perhaps this is because you can better appreciate Ross Island as you approach from the North. Kayakers, paddle boarders and boaters floating along the Willamette always add to the scene. As do the birds. There are like, Hella birds. Herons, hawks, grebs. I saw a Bald Eagle once (I swear!). And you will see all of this in the first mile.
Riding the trail last spring, I was confused by what I thought was snow. Turns out it was just the floating cottonwood seeds creating a whimsical atmosphere. (I make a game of trying to catch them as I cycle by. It’s harder than it sounds.) Although I’ve seen it many times, I’m always surprised when I look left and see the bird mural on a bluff overlooking a little lake. Learning that the mural, said to be one of the largest hand painted murals in the USA, is also on a mausoleum, only makes it that much cooler. Biggest or not, it is beautiful. As is the mile hike it takes to reach it. Or so I’ve been told. A friend and I once locked our bikes to a tree and tried to find the trail that leads to it, but got lost. We had fun though.
Oaks Bottom and Sellwood
When I’m feeling festive, I stop for a bit at the Oaks Amusement Park. For the roller skating or bumper cars (if I need to work off some aggression), but usually just for the funnel cake. Even when I don’t stop, just seeing kids on rides, smelling the foods, and the general carnival atmosphere puts a smile on my face. The park has been open for over 100 years, so it must be doing something right.
From there, it’s only another mile or so to Sellwood RiverfrontPark. Stopping here is mandatory. Especially if you brought anything for a picnic for your Springwater Trail bike ride. In Summer the beach is filled with people splashing in the Willamette River, dogs running around, and live music some nights. It’s also a great place to launch a kayak. (I’ve yet to figure out a good way to tow a kayak on a bike, but I am pretty good at convincing Kayak friends to bring an extra one and meet me there.) Other times, I’ll just lay back and watch the boats pass back and forth underneath the Sellwood Bridge.
Next, cross to the West Bank. It’s two blocks up, a right on 6th, then a quick right on Tacoma Street. To get to the Sellwood. Rebuilt in 2016 to be more bike and pedestrian friendly, this is now an awesome bridge to cycle across. I love the views and the plaques with interesting info on the history of Portland and the indigenous communities that lived here for thousands of years.
On the other side, head north through more parks, houseboat communities, awesome river views, and sailing clubs, until you reach the Old Spaghetti Factory. The waterfront trail ends here, so you leave the river behind for the bike lanes on Bond and Moody ave through the high rise condos and under the OHSU aerial tram of the South Waterfront District. Before you know it, you reach Tom McCall Waterfront park for more leisurely river view riding. The promenade is nice for slow riding, but if it gets too crowded I like to take the two lane bike-way known as Better Naito. Not only is it faster, but I also like to check out Mill Ends Park to see if there has been any alterations to the world’s smallest (and ever evolving) city park.
From there it is an easy cruise into Old Town. For the obligatory end of the bike ride beer, there is no better place than a beer bar in a bike shop. So I pop into Cycle Portland for a Pint at the Handle Bar. So ends the Springwater Trail bike ride.
Check out the map at the top or our City Guides for more information on Portland bike rides.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.