Doug Brown

THE LAYOUT of your modest new city can be tricky at first, newbie, and we Portlanders—while still outwardly courteous—are maybe a touch more spiteful than we used to be when asked for directions.

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - Live at Keller Auditorium March 4!
Jason Isbell has established himself as one of the most respected songwriters of his generation. Don’t miss Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, March 4th at Keller Auditorium!

But take heart! There is a neon solace blanketing the gray-green land. We’re talking about Biketown.

The city’s months-old system of 1,000 shareable Dutch bikes is just as new to the city’s rain-soaked old-timers as it is to you, so you’re actually on equal footing for once. And since the bicycle is hands-down the best way to get around your new burg, Biketown offers a chance to ease into the city’s always-improving grid of bike lanes and greenways while you make up your mind to ditch the car.

BUT! None of that means you’re not at risk of giving grave offense as you wheel around Inner Portland on your day-glo tank. To smooth your path, here’s a helpful list to laminate and carry with you at all times.


Ring Your Bell

It’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, talking about how much they dig the rain.

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’re out to 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!


Count on Getting Anywhere Quickly

You’re probably just starting to get your cycling muscles nice and toned anyway, but 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.

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Flip the Bikes

Early on in our great public bike-share experiment, someone figured out you could flip over Biketown bikes while they’re locked up. Those people are assholes. Daredevil heartthrobs (like Mercury Managing Editor Erik Henriksen) rushed to try it for themselves because they thought it’d be cute. Use the bikes as they were intended, newbie (and Erik). No one thinks it’s cute.

Lose Track of the Biketown Service Area

By all means explore this place you now call home. There are so many great discoveries waiting for you, and we’re all envious. 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, and you haven’t found a job yet. (Or your new job pays more than I’ve made in my entire life. It’s a coin toss, really.)

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In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30