If you're like the majority of Portlanders, you don't use a bicycle as your primary means of transportation, and chances are it's because you don't feel safe on the city's streets or you don't want to ride with auto traffic. Assuming that isn't just code for "I'm too damn lazy," you should know that the city is packed with a network of low-traffic routes that can get you around town with a minimal amount of car traffic—you just have to know how to find them. The City of Portland has loads of route maps available at portlandonline.com, but in the meantime, here's what some dedicated bike commuters have to say about their favorite rides.
Scott Bricker, policy director for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance
"I'm a big fan of the low-traffic bike streets in town, and for a quick lunchtime ride, the downtown-to-Mt. Tabor ride is great. We just moved our office to the Pearl District, so I take NW Davis, which is an amazing bike boulevard, though it needs a little bit of work, down to the Waterfront and then over the Hawthorne Bridge. You can take Hawthorne up if you're in a hurry, but you can also take Clay, which is a bike boulevard. That leads in to Ladd's Circle, which then connects with the SE Lincoln/Harrison bicycle boulevard, which takes you all the way to Mt. Tabor. To get back, you can take the same route, or zip down Hawthorne. Of course, there are a ton of pedestrians along the route, so it's important to be courteous."
Jonathan Maus, founder of BikePortland.org
"For work, I spend so much of my time riding south that when I want to just head out for a recreational ride, I ride north. I live near I-5 and Portland Boulevard, so I take Willamette Boulevard north to the Peninsula Crossing, just past the railroad bridge, which puts you on Portland Road and cuts all the way through to the Columbia Slough. If you head left, it'll take you to Smith and Bybee Lakes, along Marine Drive. Coming back, you can cruise through Delta Park or even hop on MLK, which north of Lombard isn't too bad. This is the ride I usually take if I've got just a quick window of time. The important thing for me is to get away from cars and traffic. If I'm commuting, though, I just want the fastest route, and all bets are off."
Molly Cameron, owner of Veloshop and a bike racer
"I live in Southeast, and there's a bike path on Salmon that would get me to my shop downtown in a short ride, but I like a lazy commute because I'm normally recovering from racing. I'll take Sellwood path to the Springwater Trail, or if I want a more training ride I'll go through North Portland. I'll take Willamette all the way up and then cross over the St. Johns Bridge. If you head left toward downtown, you'll hit Saltzman Road, which is an old partially paved fired road. You can do it on any kind of bike, and the incline is really gradual. That takes you to Skyline Boulevard, which has little traffic during the morning commute. It's technically a moderate safety zone, because there's no shoulder, but there are lots of signs and a lot of bikers. Then you can drop down into Northwest on Thurman, and head into town and grab a coffee before work."
Roger Geller, bike planner for the Portland Department of Transportation
"I live in inner Northeast, so I typically take Tillamook or Broadway to the Broadway Bridge, though I mix it up and will take any of the four bridges. I've lived in Irvington since '92, and before they had bike lanes on Broadway, I'd ride my speedy road bike, put on some Lycra, and try to race ahead of traffic in the car lane. When they put in bike lanes, I put away the road bike and started riding a clunky commuter bike, which is heavy but requires almost no maintenance. Now that we've got great bike boulevards, I can take it even easier. It's been an interesting personal evolution, but it says something about changes in the city, too."