As bike tourism takes off in Oregon, so do transit options

Posted by on July 3rd, 2014 at 3:17 pm

For just $30 you can get 7 days of
bus service between Portland and several
destinations along the Oregon Coast.
(Photo: Tillamook Breeze)

As bike tourism matures throughout Oregon, its economic ripple effects are being felt in many interesting ways.

With more people seeking out the growing number of bike adventures being developed by both the public and private sector, transit providers are responding to meet a growing demand for car-free tourism. This demand is growing because for many people, having to drive a car to their riding destination is a major buzzkill, if not a deal-breaker altogether.

Fortunately, we’ve noticed a growing number of developments in bike/transit options that allow people to access destinations they could never (or don’t want to) reach by leg-power alone.

Just last month, Amtrak announced that their new baggage cars on long-distance routes will allow for roll-on bike storage. So far they’re calling it a test and it’s only in limited markets, but hopefully we’ll see these on trains that service Oregon soon.

Closer to home, we’ve shared how buses that serve Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge have stepped up their bicycle accommodations in order to capitalize on the growing bike tourism market.


Last month we came across yet another bus service that should be added to every bicycle touring fan’s notebook. According to a story in The Oregonian’s travel section, five transit providers serving Clatsop, Benton, Tillamook, Columbia, and Lincoln counties have teamed up to offer a smoking deal. You can now buy a 7-day pass for the Connector bus for just $30. The Connector offers rides between Portland and several different destinations on the coast and their entire fleet is equipped with bike racks. Exploring the Oregon Coast by bike — without using a car — has never been more affordable or accessible.

If the coast is been-there-done-that territory for you, and you’re a bit more flexible with your budget, our last two transit tips might be just what you’ve been looking for.


Now you can bring your bike and ride back to Portland.

Earlier this summer, Portland Spirit announced a new service aimed directly at bike riders. As part of their “Heart of the Gorge” exploration cruise, between now and September they’re offering daily trips to Cascade Locks with an option to bring your bike on board and then ride back to Portland. As you might have heard, Cascade Locks is rolling out the carpet for bike riders these days. There’s a new, bike-friendly brewery waiting for your business and newly completed sections of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail mean you can ride the entire 25 miles or so between Cascade Locks and Troutdale without ever pedaling on Interstate 84 (not to mention the route itself is fantastic). Keep in mind that space on the Gorge Explorer is limited to six bikes per trip, so call ahead and reserve your spot. Tickets are $88 per person and the trip to Cascade Locks (which if fully narrated) takes about an hour three hours. Check the schedule and get all the details at

Makes getting to eastern Oregon a much easier proposition.
(Photo: Treo Bike Ranch)

And last but not least is a new way to access the many (paved and gravel) cycling adventures in eastern Oregon. Treo Bike Ranch, a lodge I had the pleasure of visiting last year, now has a Portland shuttle option. Treo’s owner Phil Carlson has purchased a bus that will pick up groups from Portland and bring them out to his ranch in Hardman (about 200 miles east of downtown). This new service is just getting off the ground and I’ll be giving it a try next weekend, so stay tuned for all the details.

These improvements in transit options illustrate how the menu for carfree adventuring in Oregon continues to expand in delicious ways. All you need is a bike and a plan.

If you know of other bike-friendly transit options in Oregon, let us know. We’d love to put together a comprehensive guide to carfree bike travel.

CORRECTION, 7/8/14: This article originally said the Portland Spirit Gorge Explorer trip takes one hour from downtown to Cascade Locks. The correct duration of the voyage is three hours. We regret any confusion. – Jonathan

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

Leave a Reply

7 Comment threads
4 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
10 Comment authors
gl.Drew DevereuxTimo ActiveTransportationistaGlowBoyRuss Roca Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

I’ll have a hard time giving money to anything associated with the Portland Spirit until they let the esplanade connection be completed:

Russ Roca

Great news on all the coast connections!

Now if only the Central Oregon Breeze could be convinced to get on board. The only transit serving Portland to Bend and they are fairly bike unfriendly. Completely missing out on people that would love to mountain bike in Bend as well as ride many of the Oregon Scenic Bikeways. This connection is a big bottle neck to bike tourism opportunities from Portland to Central Oregon.


The CoBreeze bus to Bend will take your bike if boxed. To fit in the back of the bus luggage area it needs to be up ended. The long Amtrak type box where you don’t need to remove the front wheel would be too big. A folding bike can be bagged. Bag needs to be durable (not a plastic trash bag etc). Either way if identified as a bike there is a $5 charge tacked on.

If the bus had a trailer-rack for full sized unboxed bikes that could go a long way towards addressing their “low ridership” problems. And it would need to be fat bike friendly- accommodate tires up to 5 inches wide.


CO Breeze was my first thought too when I saw this story. The lack of racks on their buses is pretty glaring in 2014.

“if boxed” is a rather large qualifier too. It may not be difficult to box up your bike in Portland for the trip to Bend (or Redmond, or Terrebonne), but how are you gonna get it boxed up for the trip back home?

Find someone willing to store your bike box for the weekend while you’re out riding? Bring a cargo trailer — requiring an additional box — to haul your unused bike box around Central Oregon with you? (Don’t laugh; I’ve seriously considered this). Ride around Central Oregon with a huge box strapped to your back?

Sometimes I’d really like to take the Breeze instead of driving, but I haven’t been able to justify the hassle so far. Although I actually do have a folding bike and could theoretically make it work, that bike is not suited for the riding I usually do in Central Oregon. So I still just end up driving to Central Oregon every time.


There’s still a lack of regularly-scheduled options to get from PDX to Hood River. 🙁


Is there any decent way to get from Portland to a decent MTB trail yet? Sandy Ridge is still a pretty major ordeal, from what I can see, and same with either Stub Stewart or Tillamook Forest/Browns Camp. No real way to get to Rocky Butte in Scapooose other than logging quite a few (knobby-wrecking) miles on Hwy 30. I’d really love to find a transit solution to any of those places that wasn’t an all-day affair.

Russ Roca

I would barely qualify the CO Breeze taking biked boxes (that they don’t provide) as accommodating bikes. You essentially have to pack your bike down for airline travel and when you get dropped off at Sugarloaf Motel on the outskirts of town you are expected to miraculously reassemble your bike and somehow dispose of your box. Good luck going from Bend to Portland (the motel doesn’t have boxes).

I have taken folding bikes (Brompton) on the CO Breeze and they actually wanted me to box that as well and had to argue that the box would nearly double the size of the folded bike.

If the owners of the Breeze could conceive of themselves less as an extended airport shuttle and a little more as a tourism asset for people that don’t want to drive they would do WAY more business as well as be an awesome connector to great riding in Central Oregon.

Drew Devereux
Drew Devereux

Hi Russ, Did you try using the brompton bag? It covers the bike (except for underneath). They will take a folding bike if it is bagged. Just don’t use a fragile covering like a trash bag. I have done a round trip 3 times with my folding bike in its cordura bag without a problem. In my experience, they do not require a folding bike to be boxed.

The bag not only protects the bike but can prevent it from scratching other luggage. If the bike is dirty it will keep the dirt from being spread around. That is probably the main reason they want it bagged.

You are spot on in how traveling with a full sized boxed bike on CoBreeze is so difficult as to be a non-starter for most people.

Timo ActiveTransportationista

If you want to take your bike out of town and want a quick way to find out how, check out this map by PBOT’s master mapster Jeff Smith:
Just click the line you’re looking to ride and get whisked to that agency’s webpage for schedule, fare info and more.


I contacted the Portland Spirit. Alas! I was hoping to take a long day trip or an overnight trip, but…
1. There’s no one-way ticket for you/your bike, which means you’re paying $44 for the convenience of riding your bike back to Portland.
2. The boat is only in Cascade Locks for about 75 minutes, so not much time to explore.
3. There’s no way to stay overnight without paying for two trips.

I’m still interested in trying it out just for the novelty, but I won’t spend as much time (or spend as much money) in Cascade Locks as I had hoped.