Natalie Behring

Ding ding! Hey, visitor, get the hell out of the way!

We’re joking, of course. We’re so excited you decided to visit Portland, and enjoy watching you meandering around the waterfront as we breeze past on our bicycles. But why not join the real Portlanders, and ditch walking for a bike of your own?

If you’re the type who’s arrived in town with bold visions of exploring our many neighborhoods, your best bet is renting a bike from one of the many purveyors in and around downtown.

But if you just want to stick closer to your hotel, or take quick jaunts across the river? There’s Biketown, our year-old, orange bike share system.

It’s not like bike share you might have used elsewhere. In Portland, the computers and locks are on the back of the bike—not mired in a kiosk. That means you can pedal wherever you’d like and, though it might cost you a little (or a lot) more, lock up right at your destination (download the Biketown app for easiest use). For more information, including maps, pricing, and where to find the Biketown kiosk near you, at biketownpdx.com.

Even then, there ARE some hard and fast rules to the system.

DO:

Ring Your Bell
Ding ding, remember? The bell’s right there on your handlebars, it’s mellifluous, and it lowers the number of pedestrians who bug out when someone is suddenly whooshing by them.

Brake for Pedestrians
Oh, you’ll be tempted to act like you didn’t see them waiting at the crosswalk with a stroller. Don’t do it. Bikes get an unfairly bad rap in this town, and you can help change that. Courtesy!

Follow Stop Signs
Same deal, guys. Sure, sneak in a rolling stop every now and again when there’s absolutely no one around, but always slow way down. Safety!

Avoid the Streetcar Tracks at All Costs
Depending on where you’re from, it’s possible you’re charmed by the streetcars chirping slowly around town. But do you trust them? The tracks those bad boys run on will take you down, and fast. Cross them perpendicularly if you must make contact at all.


DON’T:

Count on Getting Anywhere Quickly
Even if you’re a seasoned commuter, these bikes aren’t built for speed. Give yourself plenty of time to get from A to B, so you don’t have to break any of the very important rules above. Also learn to like being sweaty.

Pay Attention to that Anti-Corporate Graffiti
A tiny contingent of Portlanders has decided that Biketown is a corporate prop to keep us all under Nike’s thumb, and that the best way to fight back is through vandalism. But while Nike did bankroll the majority of the system, it now belongs to the public. You’re only helping us by propping it up with your trip to Powell’s.

Lose Track of the Biketown Service Area
By all means explore! There are so many great discoveries waiting for you. But maybe limit your bike-share explorations to the central part of the city. Ending a ride outside of the system’s still-limited service area will run you a cool $20.