As commutes continue to be unbearably long and cumbersome, many Portlanders are considering biking to and from work. With the increase of protected bike lanes throughout the city, more riders are choosing a bike to save time and get in a good workout. If you play it safe, you too could take advantage of this healthy method of transportation to escape the frustrations of gridlock.
An (a)Typical Commute
Commuters have long been lamenting the reality of their daily trek, with drivers now facing an average of 30 minutes to an hour for a one-way trip if they live just outside the metro area. Even within city limits, where distances are shorter, the average commute can exceed 20 minutes. Despite doing better than the national average in finding alternate ways to get to work, over 71% of workers still commute by car, alone. Even with the price of gas pushing $4.00 a gallon, only 9.4% of Portlanders choose to carpool.
To save money and time (or at least feel like you are getting somewhere), a bike may be starting to look like a viable option. The time spent sitting in your car mindlessly pushing along can be productively spent as your exercise time. Though the rainy season is back, there are safe and fun ways to pursue a bike commute all year long.
Carving out an Effective Cycling Commute
Consistently placing in the top 5 spots on lists ranking the most bike-friendly city in the US, Portland outshines 29 of the 30 largest cities as #1 in bicycle commuting. In 2014, the rate of commuters who cycled was 7.2% or eight times the national average. Bike culture is so huge, the Oregon-Idaho chapter of AAA was the first to include additional services for bikes, at no extra charge.
309 miles of bikeways and growing means there are plenty of options for constructing an efficient route to and from your 9-5. Portland boasts a larger-than-average network of bike lanes and paths thanks in no small part to including cyclists in master road plans. Vision Zero, the city’s initiative to curb road deaths, requires that all new bike lanes be protected whenever possible. These measures have proven effective in encouraging Portlanders to choose bikes over cars.
Choose a Sensible Route
You may be tempted to pull up Google Maps for this, but mapping services do not provide the best results for cyclists. Although Google Maps gives you the option of choosing a bicycle, it will still try to take you the fastest way possible, so long as that route has bike lanes. This may not be the best route in the end, as there are other considerations for the ideal route. A good place to start would be PBOT’s Bike + Walk maps to get an idea of the facilities available throughout the city.
In addition to time, you should scope out areas where bike traffic is heavy and auto traffic is light. The more cyclists you encounter, the safer your journey is likely to be. Should anything go awry, you will be more likely to receive help getting back on your wheels, getting directions, or finding an alternate ride. By sticking to dedicated bike paths, you will also feel safer from cars, helping you build up your confidence and grow comfortable in your new method of transportation.
Mix and Match
If your commute is particularly draining, you don’t want to tire yourself out too much before a long day at work. There is no shame in receiving a little help from public transportation. These days, bikes are supported by MAX, Portland Streetcar services, and buses, although bike space is scarce.
A top concern for commuters considering cycling for the first time is how they will look (and smell) after a long, exhausting bike ride. Both men and women wonder how to maintain their hygiene, and it is a valid question. Ultimately, two choices lie ahead: wear work clothes to work, or change into them at work.
People who choose to wear work pants on the way over can keep them from mingling with the bike chain by tying a band around the pant leg that interferes with it or simply rolling it up. If it is more comfortable to ride in athletic gear (an option that may be preferable, considering the variable weather and possibility of rain), you can keep your work clothes in a backpack. Many places have showers available for those who commute via bicycle; if this is not your workplace, and your gym is nearby, you may decide to drop by for a quick shower after your ride and change into your work clothes there. If your workplace is generally relaxed, you may not have to carry around a separate outfit.
To ensure a safe ride, the best advice we can give is to follow all rules of the road and avoid Southeast Portland whenever possible. If you ever find yourself in a collision with a motorist, don’t hesitate to contact RizkLaw at (503) 245-5677 for personalized care in your Portland personal injury case.