Disappointed in Oregon/Portland area support for bicyclists

We (wife and I) recently moved from CA (SF/BayArea) to Portland OR (Bethany) in June 2019. We love Oregon and Portland area and I’ve setup my own business here. We did a lot of biking in SF/BayArea and my local spot was going up Mt.Diablo (11.1 mi ride about 3600 ft climb) and I’ve been hit by a car once (illegal U turn without looking) … thank goodness for helmets and gloves otherwise I wouldn’t be alive.

We keep ourselves somewhat healthy and bike about 16 miles a day at a good pace (avg around 20 mph) and I seek hills (hybrid bike is my trainer bike). I stopped going to the gym because of the COVID pandemic as gyms are a hot spot for infections, so my biking is more frequent/active these days.

In my exploring of Portland/Hillsboro/Tigard area, I’ve found bike lanes to be very inconsistent to non-existent. Motorist and footpath people seem very HOSTILE towards bicyclists (I thought folks were hostile in CA, but OR is much worse) … can’t tell you how many times my wife and I have almost been run over at those crossing where we activate the flashing lights start to cross and motorist actually speed up rather than stop?? Some crossings we’re actually tampered with so they didn’t work (stuck saying “wait”, “wait”, “wait”, 7 minutes later no light change) … looked like some angry motorist took a sledge hammer to the crossing button.

I’ll often be in a designated bike lane that just suddenly stops without warning and often the ONLY course of action is to move into road which is very dangerous given the propensity of distracted (aka texting) drivers. I do my best to avoid sidewalks if possible.

So I experimented with some “trails” for walking and biking in my area … (there aren’t many and they aren’t usually very long … 8.1 miles is the longest I’ve found in this area … in comparison to CA the longest trail I used was 52 miles).

To finally cap off my bad experience with biking here, we were confronted by a home owner (with his video camera) for trespassing on a “private road” and he made claims of exactly where the public path edges are … I asked for proof of public vs. private area since there are no lines on the road indicating where the private part starts. He didn’t provide any … here is the specific spot:

Green is my bike route as I looped around to wait for my wife next to the path.

After a brief exchange with the home owner as I waited for my wife to catchup (steep hill), he went on about crime in the area, dangerous times with his “American Made” shirt, etc. … so I checked various crime mapping websites and found nothing in this specific area. But I do agree it certainly is an odd place to put a public path thru the middle of a private road. But such home owner angst over me simply turning around and waiting for my wife? The home owner did have a for sale sign on their house with a flyer box … not sure how anyone is supposed to get to the flyer on a private road? I asked and home owner just shrugged.

The anti-bicyclist angst seems to be several orders of magnitude worse in OR than it is in CA. So much so that I’m thinking of installing a front/rear camera mount system on my bike as video proof … but will it actually make any difference?

I’d rather not give up my biking, it’s efficient, healthy, good for the planet, but with so much anti-bicyclist angst I’ve encountered in a relatively short period of time here (just over 1 year) it feels like “open season on bicyclist” with little or no government/community support?

Cheers, Rob.

That issue with the trail by 149th NW Court seems total nimby. I’ve seen people tell people to not park a car on a private road in Garden Home and I understand that. A car can simply drop more oil than a bicycle (the street in question in Garden Home has an easement for the trail at the end of the private street). Sadly, there are people within HOAs or who control a lot of the HOA who are not happy that people walk on the trails or sidewalks in or near their neighborhood. The Forest Heights HOA in the West Hills bans outsiders from walking or riding a bike on their trails and stairs. I’ve seen an HOA put up boulders alongside their neighborhood to prevent people from parking a car on the public streets alongside their HOA neighborhood (the boulders are close to the edge of the street). To find new trails, I suggest looking for paper street trails because Washington County and the westside of the metro area has them.

You’re in the right place if you seek hills. You have to go a long way for real mountain climbs, but plenty of hills with plenty of challenge close in.

You’ll find yahoos tend to concentrate in certain areas and some give unsolicited advice or falsely claim you’re breaking laws. Generally, I find it easiest to not engage at all, or simply nod/wave and continue.

Agreed with your observation about trails and paths. I don’t ride footpaths and mostly ignore the bike paths either because the riding isn’t that good, and often isn’t as good as what you can get without. If you like hills the small road with plenty of 10 and 15mph switchbacks are your best bets. Very low traffic and it moves slowly. Even on quicker roads, a lot of the best riding doesn’t even have a shoulder.

As far as the hostility, there certainly is some. That’s partly because cycling is a “thing” here that carries some baggage rather than you simply being someone riding a bike. Again, the best policy is to not engage. Their intent is to provoke and/or intimidate, so it’s best to not reward them with what they seek.

It seems you’re comparing Concord (or Walnut Creek, or Pleasant Hill, or who knows) to Bethany.

Maybe you heard that the “Portland area” is bike friendly. It’s not. The core city of Portland is fairly bike friendly. As soon as you leave that core it gets exponentially worse.

You’re comparing unknown trail in CA to unknown trail in OR, so we can’t really help you and can only listen to you complain. I dare you to find a place where people bicycle that others haven’t complained about it.

Obviously there’s a public easement across that private road. And if there’s no signs right there at the path telling you it’s private in each direction that you leave the path then I’d tell that guy to F off and tell him to call the police for trespassing.

I don’t miss the Mt Diablo area one bit and am glad I got out of there 17 years ago.

It’s not that they’re more anti-bicycle here, but you’re riding in a very NIMBY neighborhood where they don’t like any strangers.

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Hi Rick,

“Nimby” that’s a slang I’m not familiar with … assume it means “posh” or is it more “righteous” or a bit of both? Having owned several homes in HOA environments around the SF/BayArea, I tend to agree that it only takes one or two members on the board to go a little extreme in their vision of a perfect world and trigger conflict (been thru that before with multiple lawsuits and getting certain board members voted OFF, nightmare).

For example our last home in CA we were backed up against open space, but had a “fire road” behind our house which people frequently used for walking/biking and it didn’t bother us at all even though clearly marked signs of fire road no access except for emergency vehicles. 14 years in that house and no crime at all. If these particular “Private Road” area is very concerned about “access/crime”, why haven’t their HOA simply added an electric gate with openers for the residents? Cheap and easy solution. They are trying to sell homes in that small area for around $700K so pretty sure they can afford to erect fence/gate. Some of the areas I lived in (650K-1.1M homes) our HOA fees were $400-$900/mo, landscaping and water was the big ticket item.

Can you fill me in? I don’t know what you mean by “paper street trails”?

I think my point is I just don’t get the hostility towards bicyclist? What is it we’re doing that is somehow impacting their lives?

I do not understand what this means? “carries some baggage” … can you clarify?

There are signs “Private Road” but like I said I just turned around so I could stop and wait for my wife to catch up … apparently that upset this particular home owner … to the point where he felt the path edge ended and came to me to ensure I was “on the path” (fortunately no physical contact but it was a tense moment). Does the private road section start exactly at the sign? If so, then he had NO rights of claim because I rested at a point that was between the two private road signs on either side of the path.

I DO miss Mt. Diablo bike ride from the Walnut Creek side, great climb, and no traffic during the week (avoided weekends) … but it was where I got hit by a car. As far as the cost of living and traffic for the SF/BayArea, that I do NOT miss.

I’ve looked into other roads like NW Springville Rd. and NW Skyline Blvd but those roads are far too busy and narrow for biking safely. But I welcome any suggestion for good long safe bike routes/loops out from the Bethany area (NW Laidlaw Rd.)?

Cheers, Rob.

Riding a bike is widely viewed as some kind of statement – specifically an anti-car one. Makes people less prone to work with you.

NIMBY means “not in my backyard” and that has been used in many trails in and around Portland. Some trails were built but some are delayed or canned. Some neighbors freak out about the boogeyman or think the adjacent unbuilt right of way that provides for a potential rebuilt trail is actually their land.

There is a lot of car traffic on NW Union Road. However, it has access to Helvetia. The rural road of Rock Creek Road has lots of shade from trees and it connects to a more rural section of Skyline Blvd. A wider shoulder is on the way for Union:

A paper street trail is a trail where the paved or gravel street ends by development (homes and businesses) but a trail the provides access to the next street. The public, platted unbuilt right-of-way provides access. (Platted like designed somewhat). See this trail that took 13 years to get permits in southwest Portland:


I honestly had no idea … we have an EV also … I guess that makes a statement? People do work in strange ways, both our bikes and EV have nothing to do with making a statement and more to do with cost, health and energy efficiency which means less money wasted less medical issues and that ultimately makes our life and future retirement plans that much better.

This is excellent news, many thanks for the link!

Cheers, Rob.

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Some neighbors freak out about the boogeyman or think the adjacent unbuilt right of way that provides for a potential rebuilt trail is actually their land.

There are legit concerns that stem from living adjacent to a public right-of-way, though, as much as some would like to claim otherwise. I live two blocks from the 205 path in SE Portland and have seen the path go from a huge neighborhood asset into something that is utterly depressing due to trash, needles and everything that comes along with allowing “camping” in a place that was never intended to shelter unhoused people. I’m sympathetic of course but feeling frustrated with the city isn’t unreasonable, either.

Given, some random tiny road in Bethany isn’t going to have those issues, and that guy sounds like a paranoid grump. That said, I’d definitely think twice about living next to any public amenity like a trail, park, etc. in the future. Sad, but I didn’t think the 205 path would ever get this bad, and same goes for any number of other natural areas in the metro area. :disappointed:

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The problem with the 205 freeway path goes back to bulldozing neighborhoods in the first place for the sake of the freeway industrial complex. The 205 path is a built path by a freeway and not like the platted, unbuilt right-of-way paths that are around the Portland metro area. Many of those paths and potential ones were platted before the freeways were built. The 205 path and Springwater trail have issues that Portland needs to solve. The Fanno Creek Trail has been vastly improved over the past two decades but it has a long way to go.

That’s sort of another whole can of worms, but I’d rather have a 205 path than no path at all.

My point was that living next to a trail, park or public easement is wonderful as long as government makes good on their promise to adequately manage it. Portland has failed, so the asset now starts to resemble a liability. Maybe that’s relevant to what the angry guy in OP’s post was yelling about, maybe not. Some people really just want to live in a fortress, complete with drawbridge and moat…

Thanks for all the responses … crime seems very low here relative to other places I’ve lived (in and outside of the US).

Like I indicated, there was no crime reported in this person’s area so that was just an excuse he was using to justify his attempt at “control” and/or “enforcement”. I’m 57 and have experience with individuals like this and it was fairly easy to shift the intellectual balance of power without him really understanding where I took the “discussion”.

I still take this path daily and my quest for more friendly biking routes continues. I was actually able to determine this person’s name, amazing what public record provides especially when one is attempting to sell their home … if I see him again, I’ll simply greet him with his first name and continue on.

Cheers, Rob.

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:roll_eyes: This is where thoroughly researching your destination comes in handy.

Suburbanites in Washington County are totally motor-culture in orientation. Don’t let the nice bike trails fool you — I don’t even know how they got there, but the majority of folk out there get super mad when they get slowed down even for a brief moment because of having to share the road with a cyclist. Also, you get the pedestrians who have that gated-community siege mentality … the nimbies mentioned by someone else.

:skull: I don’t know; I hate riding my bike even just from the MAX stop to the WinCo on Cedar Hills Blvd. If I were you, I wouldn’t do much riding at night, and avoid all roads that don’t have a shoulder worth mentioning. Hell, ride with a buddy. Because they love to hit-and-run out yonder way, too!

I rode my bike to my wife’s work/office location on SW Hall Blvd near Si Senor from my home out in Bethany (only about an 8mi ride) … the route was horrible, lots of spots with ZERO bike pavement and even the white line was decayed and crumpling away. Crossing over freeway down NW to SW Murray Blvd.

It’s odd, for short distances (very short) the bike lanes can be very nice, then they just suddenly stop and nothing, or worse yet completely blocked with road construction and no way around out than into car traffic. I don’t get the planning behind bike lanes at all … they’re probably more dangerous than if there wasn’t any bike lane.

It seems road maintenance is VERY poor in Oregon, we still have huge branches and tree and debris all over the roads and bike lanes from storms/wind over 3-4 weeks ago. Is street cleaning something that just doesn’t happen? I guess the downside of lower taxes?

So I’ve spent considerable time and experimentation at finding “alternate” routes to locations in an attempt to minimize my exposure to hostile car traffic. What I’m finding that seems to work better is using residential side streets avoiding common roads. It can increase the distance of my routes, but is a much more enjoyable experience.

It’s a shame, because there are some really beautiful areas to go ride a bike like off NW Skyline Blvd and Forest Park, Linnton Park, Northwest District, Willamette Heights, Kinds Heights, Portland Audubon … but the roads to/thru these locations are NOT bike friendly at all … and the crosses with flowers along side the roads (killed bicyclists)?

Cheers, Rob.

I hate Portland’s bike lane “planning”!

Example: why is the bike lane on the left-hand side of NW Everett, and only between NW 21st Ave and the I-405? I’m pretty sure drivers are still told to watch out for bikes on their right, in the driver manual and class instruction. I don’t even use bike lanes, because I think they’re confusing to motorists, give us cyclists a false assurance of safety and convenience, and are pretty much just a department of transportation boondoggle. Just add 1½ feet to each vehicle lane, and there’d even be room for us to share the road with SUVs.

lol And teach these dunderhead motorists how to drive attentively and defensively; maybe beef up the licensing requirements and make them renew their licenses annually with both written and driving tests.

As far as I know, the roadside crosses can indicate any kind of traffic death, but most often a person in a car. The indicator of a cyclist death is typically a “ghost bike” (a bike painted solid white).

We’re taxed out the wazoo in Portland for various fees and City of Portland projects for various things and the bicycle friendly city relates to the actual city.

You may have a Portland mailing address, but that area is unincorporated Washington County.

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Is there any way to determine what areas in “Portland” are unincorporated and what that means to street cleaning? i.e. some type of map that will show areas that will get street cleaning and what areas will not and the associated taxes/costs?

Also any way to determine what areas have a bike lane budget?

It does seem strange, here we are in very obvious human triggered rapid (key being rapid rate of change) climate change and biking is not only very healthy, is also a fast and efficient and cheap way to transport from A to B. With the only climate contribution the occasional fart :wink: Ignorance is not bliss it’s extinction as science doesn’t require belief it happens regardless.

Rather than accept responsibilities we seem to be moving back into the dark ages … what’s next?

Cheers, Rob.

Check out: Street Sweeping Map | Street Sweeping | The City of Portland, Oregon but this is only for City of Portland. Not only is that particular stretch you showed outside the city limits, it’s also a private road owned by the subdivision. Since the public path goes over it, I guess there’s an easement but the maintenance is probably the responsibility of the HOA.

The biggest threat to bicycling right now in actual Portland is transients as they steal bikes, and present threat to safety on paths.

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