Cycling in Portland and General Biking Tips

Written by Brian Enright

Portland Bike

Thanks to Portland's temperate climate, eco-friendly mindset, and persistent traffic problems, more and more people are taking to Portland's streets on their bikes. Biking is an environmentally friendly transportation option that's also enjoyable and good for your health. However, Portland's street designs and busy intersections can sometimes be confusing and pose dangers to cyclists, especially newer ones. It's important to be prepared before you take to Portland's streets on two wheels.

Get Your Gear

The most important characteristic of good biking gear is that it fits you correctly. It all starts with the bike: A bike that fits you is much more comfortable to ride, and it's also much safer. The same goes for your helmet: Make sure that you have one that fits properly to keep you safe in case of a crash.

It's also essential that you're visible to others when you're out on your bike. Clothes with bright colors and reflective stripes might not be the most fashionable, but they will alert drivers and others to your presence. The law also requires bike lights: Front lights, rear lights, and reflectors are the absolute minimum needed. Lights that attach to your helmet, clothing, basket, or bags are a good idea, too.

Get on the Road

The first part of any bike trip is checking to see if your bike is up to the task. See if the tires need air or the chain needs lubricating. A local bike shop should be willing to teach you how to handle these maintenance tasks. Once your bike is ready to go, map out your route. Portland residents have a wealth of bike paths and greenways to choose from when traveling by bike. Once you've got your gear on, your bike ready, and your trip planned, it's time to hit the road. But before you head out the door, leave one thing behind: your earbuds or headphones. It's not safe to wear them while you're biking because they'll keep you from being able to hear things you might need to hear, like the sounds of approaching cars, cyclists, pedestrians, or dogs.

Communicate

Cyclists need to communicate clearly while on their bikes. When approaching a pedestrian or other cyclist from behind, call out, "On your left!" before you pass them on the left. Don't be shy: People need to hear you over the other street noise. Bike bells are available for soft-spoken cyclists. You should also be sure to signal your turns. Most bikes don't come with turn signals, so you'll need to learn the proper hand signals and use them.

Remember the Rules of the Road

Just like drivers, bicyclists have laws they must follow while out riding. Like people in cars, you must yield to pedestrians. You must also stop at red lights just like drivers do. And keep to the right unless the pavement markings indicate otherwise.

Biking Resources

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