This post is part of our SW Portland Week.
Jim Anderson is like many southwest Portland residents who like to ride bikes: He’s a master at finding alternates routes.
“I know all the ways to avoid the major streets,” he shared with me during a chat at Baker & Spice Bakery in Hillsdale today. The bakery overlooks a sea of auto activity: a strip mall parking lot, then two-way traffic on SW Capitol Highway (a.k.a. State Route 10, which in this location carries the combined traffic of two highways — Capitol and Beaverton-Hillsdale), then more auto parking from a strip mall across the street.
It’s a daunting place to ride a bike.
Anderson — a 37-year-old freelance graphic designer, cycling event organizer, and president of the Team Oregon cycling club — says he never rides on the area’s highway streets unless he’s very late, or very tired. That’s because out here in southwest Portland, the flattest and most direct routes also happen to be the worst to ride on.
But Anderson is one of the lucky people who possesses the two most important assets to thriving as a bike rider in these parts: aerobic fitness and encyclopedic knowledge of backstreets.
“A lot of my bike riding friends, when they come out to my house to meet me for a ride, they ask me why I like to live out here. I tell them it’s just a totally different vibe. I like it, but it just takes quite a bit of getting used to.”
Anderson lives in Multnomah Village, a little neighborhood about six miles southwest of downtown. When you look at a map SW Barbur and Terwilliger look like natural choices to get there, but if you’ve got legs like Anderson, he says it might be quicker and lower-stress to head up into the hills and then drop into downtown. To get home from downtown, he’ll head up SW Montgomery (via Vista) and wind his way through the hills on streets like Dosch, Hamilton, Fairmount and Shattuck.
While he acknowledges the challenges of living in southwest, Anderson said he likes this part of town. “Every few blocks there’s a park,” he said, as he rattled off one after another. “And there’s the SW Trails [a network of walking routes that criss-cross southwest Portland]… What would be really cool is if there was a mountain-biking equivalent of those.”
We couldn’t agree more.
We’ll be here in Southwest all week! And join us Friday afternoon for a BikePortland Get Together and social hour at the Lucky Labrador Public House in Multnomah Village (7675 SW Capitol Hwy) from 4:00 – 6:30pm.