13 things i’ve learned from biking in pdx

After moving to Portland, it was a no-brainer that I would commute to work downtown via bike. With bike lanes galore and an understanding bike-friendly culture (not to mention the 40 minutes it saves me taking the #8 bus), bike + beth = perfect commuting sense. I’ve learned a LOT since moving to Portland about bikes, the culture, the sub-culture, the weirdos who ride double-decker bikes (‘tall bikes’), the necessities for biking in Portland (read: rain) and most importantly, the etiquette. Here are my valuable learnings.

  1. There are 2 types of cyclists. Those who go out in the rain and those who do not. 
  2. During the summer, the ‘fair weather’ cyclists come out in droves and typically clog up commuter lanes, yell at you for going too fast and run red lights.
  3. Running red lights (in my opinion) is highly frowned upon by cyclists who give a shit. Runners give the whole of us a bad image. I often catch up to a runner and think I might say something like, “hey – don’t run reds dipshit” but I never do. I just pass them. 
  4. The width of a bike lane is large enough for 2 cyclists to ride side-by-side (though this is not recommended as then a passer has to go out into the lane of traffic to pass). Often, one cyclist will prefer to ride dead center and then be exasperated when I closely pass by them (due to cars coming up behind me, I refuse to fully go into the traffic lane). To this, I have become much more quick at replying, “well move to the right then!”.
  5. I have discovered that I have just as much rage on the road as I do in the car… except on the bike, I can complete with cars AND cyclists.
  6. If a person is lingering on the sidewalk near or next to a crosswalk, at least LOOK like you’re wanting to cross the road. I won’t stop for people who look like they are loitering.
  7. The clothing essentials for cycling in Portland during fall, winter and spring (read: 9 months of the year) are: booties for you shoes, a rain jacket, thin lining beanie, gloves, waterproof pants (recommended), lights and fenders. Must have fenders.
  8. Nothing quite makes my day like a cyclist passing me and complimenting me on my pace. Why thank you – you’re very welcome.
  9. There is a subset to the cycler division. Even in all-weather cyclists, there are those who prefer to wear regular clothes and casually bike into work and then there are those who wear lycra, speed (often as part of some internal competition we have with the cyclist ahead of us), and are called “Lances” by the slower folk (or so I’m told). 
  10. Cars are often my greatest danger and my greatest savior. Sure, they can cut me off, drive too close, hit & kill me – but they can also act as a barrier to other turning cars (intersections are hazardous).
  11. I hate when cars are too afraid to pass me (no one likes a tail) but also dislike when they give no room while passing (hello – that side view mirror does in fact stick out).
  12. As a driver – I hate when cyclists take up more than their side of the road and get angry at me for passing them
  13. As a pedestrian, I think all traffic should yield to me – 4 tires or 2

I love commuting, timing my ride to hit all the green lights into work and pushing myself to bike harder on the way home. I love hearing the click of my shoes into the pedals and the familiar leg ache as I set off. I love feeling the breeze going 20mph and the sun on my face (when it’s out). I just love the freedom the bike gives and in Portland, that freedom is extensive.



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