Safe places to bicycle in Portland

I’m a retired female that has been cycling in Europe for the last 3 months and will be back in Portland on November 8. I’ve been hearing scary things about homeless camps and am wondering where I should avoid bicycling by myself during the day. I live in the Pearl district.

Definitely stay off the I-205 path. It’s a “no go” Zombie zone. Use caution on less trafficked sections of the Springwater Corridor as well. Typically the streets seem safer than trails as there are more people around. Portland has essentially given up the bike trails to the homeless. Cars drive on them as well. City officials talk the talk about carbon reduction but then have allowed bike trails to become too dangerous to use. Sure, some of the homeless are good folks but others are aggressive, have criminal backgrounds, high on drugs and/or have weapons. Good idea to carry pepper spray. I do when I remember. Haven’t had to use it yet fortunately.

If you keep up enough speed usually camps aren’t much of a problem as they don’t have time to react before you are gone. Trails are bad because you can get trapped without an outlet. 911 response times in Portland have crawled to a halt. Long wait times on the phone and then the cops may or may not come. If there are multiple shootings good luck! Also, make sure you have the best U-bolt you can afford if you have a decent bike. There are chop shops for bikes throughout the city and no one is dealing with these. The Bike Theft Task force was defunded. Very unfortunate but that’s the reality. Maybe you want to stay in Europe? :slight_smile: Take care, stay safe and ride on!!!

I’m not sure there is enough information here to provide helpful info. What type of riding are you planning on doing? How confident are you riding in traffic and in painted bike lanes?

I would probably avoid certain parts of the 205 path (north of Gateway Green for example) and some other secluded off street bike paths. But most other places are fine during the day. But it’s highly variable based on your comfort level.

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I ride a road bicycle and like to go out on fast 40-45 mile rides during the day most days of the week. I haven’t gone on the I205 path in several years but I did like riding on Sprinwater cooridor. I really like the extended bike path on the west side of the river that goes out to Sellwood. I hope it’s still safe!

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Yeah, that section of the path towards Sellwood is pretty good.
The other idea is to get outside of Portland city limits. As soon as you cross the city border (like Milwaukie, Gresham, etc) things improve. Vancouver, WA trails are much better as well. If you have access to a car driving and then riding outside of the city of Portland is a good option as well. Not as good for one’s carbon footprint but that is what the voters and government of Portland have decided is the way they want it. So be it.

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Nice story bro… ride the springwater much?

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when you say you “will be back in Portland” does that mean you are familiar with the Portland streets and trails?
Do you enjoy or tolerate hills?

Hi, Rachael.

I’ve been riding the Springwater between OMSI and Boring for many years, and very frequently since March 2020, although only in daylight starting maybe 5 years ago. You will see some camps and campers, but I think it is relatively fine.

I also frequently ride the Springwater along the river down to join the Trolley Trail in Milwaukie.

Some spots on the 205 MUP are hemmed in by concrete walls on both sides and crowded with campers. I avoid them. I do use the 205 path when I need to go somewhere, but not recreationally lately.

I am alot more squeamish about motor vehicles exhibiting aggressive body language than I am about homeless people. If others have suggestions for rides that include mainly Greenways and MUPs, I’d like to hear about more.

What are people’s favorite rides on MUPs and Greenways around the Portland area?

(age 65)


Thanks for the info. I’m going to be back in Portland on Tuesday and will report back on what I find. I’ve gotten really spoiled bicycling in Europe where there aren’t any issues with this.

Yes, i am very familiar with bicycling in Portland and I’m fine with climbing. Although I have issues with climbing when it’s cold.

Although I haven’t been riding much for the last few weeks, the Springwater Trail east of 145th is mostly free of Sacklerville drug camps. There was a large one earlier in the year at 82nd to Harney Street, but that one disappeared in conjunction with a major expansion of the one around Foster. After the 82nd to Harney one was abandoned, everything west of 82nd seemed okay. Generally, the area from just East of Foster to 82nd is a pretty sketchy area to ride.

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I would agree on avoiding the area you describe as pretty sketchy. Did that once and haven’t been back.

If you have been gone awhile, it might take time to adjust to it all.

Apparently, the city found a surplus of money and is committing 38 million to the homeless issue; housing / health / cleanup. Looks good on paper, time will tell.
I always have a pause when thinking about a route for a day ride. The homeless camps are always in flux.
Never had a problem with the humans of the camps. But the garbage everywhere is always a challenge to say the least.

I agree that Springwater from the Pearl out to Boring or so would be a good ride.

Usually once a week I do a eastside loop.
Basically: eastbank esplanade south to the Springwater trail.
When you get to the 205 path head north to Prescott and go west (you might want to go one block south to Skidmore and continue west until you get to Interstate and south to the bridges. Or versa vice. That is close to 30-40 miles.

Even though your riding with traffic, I’ve always liked Willamette Blvd. You can really get moving on a road bike through there.

Mt. Tabor is always a good thing.

On the westside: go west on Lovejoy, to 25th and then follow up the hill until it becomes Cornell. Audubon Society is just a mile or so up the hill. And then if you continue west on Cornell you’ll get to Skyline blvd.

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