As many locals already know, Portland is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Whether you’re an experienced rider or new to urban cycling, here are a few simple tips to help you feel more comfortable and confident.
Plan a sensible route
From shared traffic lanes to car-free paths, choose a route that suits your comfort level. Find bike lanes on the BIKETOWN mobile app, download PBOT's Citywide Bike Map, or use Google Maps to map out your route.
Before you start a ride: adjust the seat to fit your height, squeeze the brakes to make sure there’s resistance, and check the tires to make sure they’re not flat. If there’s a problem with the bike, just dock it and hit the “REPAIR” button on the LCD screen, then choose a different bike.
The same laws apply to bicycles as to motor vehicles in Portland – including obeying all traffic lights and signs.
Ride with traffic
Bicyclists are required by law to ride in the same direction as cars, and must use a bike lane when available. If there is no usable bike lane, it's best to ride on the right side of the road, unless hazardous conditions prevent it.
Cyclists must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks – but whenever possible, it’s best to ride on the road and leave the sidewalk for pedestrian traffic only. Riding on sidewalks is prohibited in the core area of downtown Portland.
Cross tracks with caution
Never ride between light rail or streetcar tracks – and cross them at a right angle to avoid catching your wheel.
Yield to pedestrians
Like motor vehicles, bicyclists must yield the right of way to pedestrians when the law requires it, such as at crosswalks and intersections. If you have the light, use your bell to alert pedestrians of your presence when necessary.
Use hand signals
Bicyclists are required to use hand signals to let others know where they’re going. Stick your left arm straight out to indicate a left turn. For a right turn, extend your right arm straight out, or raise your left arm and bend it upward at the elbow.
Never ride distracted
Don’t text and ride! Pull over if you have to send a message or talk on the phone. It is also illegal to ride with two headphones in; one is permitted, but it’s always safer to ride without any. Being aware and predictable reduces the chance of an accident.
Want to brush up on your cycling skills?
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) offers a variety of Portland By Cycle bike classes and group rides aimed at introducing or re-introducing adults to cycling.