Meet Portland’s bike lane characters

Portland bike lane stencils

If you’ve ridden your bike around this city long enough, you’ve probably come in contact with Portland’s bike lane people.

Customized bike lane markings were started in 1999 by a former city employee named Todd Roberts and is a tradition that has carried on ever since. One of my faithful readers turned up this great article (PDF) on them from the September 2003 issue of VeloVision Magazine (a really great UK bike mag). It’s a great read. Turns out Todd doesn’t even like bikes (“It’s boring as hell”). In fact, he’s the last guy you think would be behind these markings. He is, as the author puts it, “an unlikely cycling hero.”

I’ve been given permission by the city to share some photos of these markings from their archives. So far, I’ve got 19 of them in the BikePortland photostream. I have no idea how many are out there but if you come across one and remember to snap a photo, please consider sharing it with me!

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17 years ago

The Flickr Portland Bike Lane Stencil group (whuuu! Say that three times, fast)( doesn’t have a lot of pics yet, but the collection is growing. And many of them (mine and Freddy’s at least) have a creative commons license so they can be reused. Glad to learn more about how they came to be!

17 years ago

Sweet! Just the other day I had been wondering if anyone had been taking shots of these.
Also, Phil stanford wrote in the Trib the other day that someone is selling a postcard of the martini guzzling figure on broadway:

Also, I remembered the Trib had a story awhile back on the bike lane stencils, and I was able to dig it up:

Will post it to the stencil pool as well.
(theta444 on flickr)

Joe Biel
17 years ago

I’m starting work on a documentary short video about the bike lane modifications. I’ve been cycling these streets long enough to have a good idea of where to start but I’m curious about people’s favorites or maybe some characters in neighborhoods that I don’t venture to. What are you people excited about?

17 years ago

I like the one on NE 33rd toward Marine Drive (on the southbound side of street) with the guy carrying the bag of golf clubs. I like to pretend that it’s a bag of bike polo mallets, though being right next to the golf course I know it’s really about golf. On that side of things, I like thinking about the Radical Golfer who rides to the green with her clubs on her back!

16 years ago

I’m the author of that 2003 VeloVision article; I live in NE Portland. Since then I’ve been documenting all the bike guys around the city. It’s now a hobby, so I’ve created a spreadsheet of all the ones I find (many by chance; also by word of mouth). I’ve taken photos of nearly all of them, but since most new ones are laid in the summer, the transportation department sometimes gets ahead of me.
Anyway, some of the photos are on CDs, others not, all on film negatives. I’d be happy to share them all with you if you like, if you’d like to figure out a way to do so.