This post is part of our Southwest Portland Week.
It’s been a great week out here in southwest Portland. We’re learning a lot and enjoying the experience of being in a new place with new roads to explore and unique bicycling issues at play. I’ve gotten behind on my daily photo essays, so here’s the one from my ride on Tuesday.
Each day this week, I’m trying to ride to and from southwest on a different route. Tuesday morning I opted for one of the most scenic and low-stress ways to go from downtown Portland to southwest: Washington Park. Yes, it has a significant climb (2.3 miles and about 600 feet elevation gain), but if that isn’t a barrier to you, than this is a great way to go. (For more on commuting through Washington Park, re-read my Ride Along with Stasia Honnold.)
Here’s where my explorations took me on Tuesday…
I wound through northwest Portland to 24th and then found my way to the bike lane on NW 24th Place. (Note that this street is one-way for drivers and two-way for bikers.) 24th Place is a great connection that leads directly to signalized crosswalks on W Burnside that take you right into Washington Park. As you enter the park from this location, you’re treated to narrow paths that wind through a forest so impressive it’s hard to believe you’re just a few tenths of a mile from the heart of downtown Portland.
As I pedaled up toward the International Rose Test Garden I caught a whiff of something amazing. I think it was this gorgeous Chinese Papertree (Edgeworthia Chrysantha, according to a plaque at its base)…
The route through the Zoo and Children’s Museum parking lot has a bike lane and is relatively easy to figure out. I then used SW Canyon Court to connect to the shared path that leads up to the Sylan/Highway 26 intersection. From there I headed south over the freeway and then connected to SW Raab Road. (From this point on, all the roads were new to me.)
SW Raab led me to a neat little path connection to Canyon Road (don’t let the “Dead End” sign fool you!).
From Canyon, I needed to head south to connect to Scholls Ferry Rd. Since I don’t know the roads out here, I’ve been using a PBOT bike map a lot. That map told me that 87th/Birchwood/Laurelwood was the best ticket to Scholls. Those streets were OK. The traffic volume was low, but like so many neighborhood streets in southwest, there was no shoulder or bike lane. There are speed humps, which is nice, but I can’t figure out why they use this checkered pattern. If you want the humps to slow people down, why make them look like a finish line?
At the Scholls Ferry intersection, I saw a woman walking her bike to an ATM machine. I was curious to talk with her because there’s very little social cycling out here and most every bike trip I’ve observed is a serious commuter going from home-to-work or back. I met Karina and learned that she was biking because she “totaled” her car. Her bike, which is now her main form of transportation, needed to be fixed and she was walking it to a nearby bike shop (Bike N Hike). Karina is new to cycling, but she seems to be finding her way. “The cars make me really nervous, and the bike lanes cut in and out,” she said, “but I’m learning how to do it and using Google Maps on my phone has helped me find routes off the main streets.”
Using SW 86th was a great way to connect to the Fanno Creek Trail in Garden Home. The entry I wanted was closed due to construction. One of the workers saw me and said, “There sure are a lot of people using this trail, I didn’t realize it was so popular.” Yep.
This section of the Fanno Creek Trail is really beautiful. The contours, creeks, and trees transport you to another place and it’s the polar opposite of the high-speed, high-stress conditions on the main roads. The path itself is pretty narrow and it can quickly feel crowded when a lot of people are out and about. Another thing I noticed was a very poor gate where the path crosses SW 90th. It didn’t feel ADA compatible and I would hate to see a big family bike with a trailer or cargo bike try and squeeze through.
Continuing east I found my way onto SW Multnomah Blvd and took it all the way to I-5. Multnomah is a key east-west street in southwest. It’s flat and straight and it connects major destinations. West of the new protected bike lane (which starts at Capitol Hwy), bicycle riders have only a standard, 4-5 bike lane. Sight lines here are long and there are no signals or stops, which means drivers tend to go pretty fast. This stretch between 69th and Capitol Hwy really needs a buffer and some sort of protection.
This was my first time on the new protected bike lane on Multnomah. The eastbound direction puts you up on a sidewalk. It feels safe, but on a busier summer day I could see it being crowded with bikers and walkers. It might need some pavement markings to delineate the space a bit better.
As I continued east to connect to Terwilliger, I followed the Multnomah bike lane under I-5. As it led me north I felt like I had made a wrong turn. The bike lane started to feel like a freeway shoulder and it wasn’t until I saw a bike lane symbol and re-checked my map that I realized I was indeed headed the right way. That’s what it’s like out here: One minute you can be on a shiny new protected bikeway, and the next minute you’re on a freeway shoulder.
Hope you’re enjoying our Southwest coverage. There’s much more to come. More photo essays, a Ride Along, an interview with Commissioner Novick, profiles of local bike shops, and more!? And remember, this week isn’t the end of us covering this part of town — it’s the beginning! We are focusing out here to give us a stronger foundation for future reporting.
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.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at email@example.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
You should have stayed on the Fanno Creek trail through Beaverton, down to Tigard, and seen how easy it is to get to Tualatin (presuming that Schols Ferry isn’t flooded/muddy.
He was on the Northern park of the trail though. I didn’t think that connected with the part you’re talking about, does it?
It does, if Jonathon headed west there is a section of trail that is newer between the Allen/schools ferry intersection to sw105th before going over 217.
cool. Haven’t been over that way in four years or so, but I used to run on the northern part all the time.
I live just off 5th Street in Beaverton and there’s a lot more social riding when the weather is better. My fav. stretch of road is by heading east by the Beaverton Library on 5th on a clear day. There’s a beautiful view of Mt Hood through the trees.
Yep, I agree, it’s on my route to the post office. Pretty lively in the summer when all the families are playing in the water fountain.
you need a Beaverton week 🙂
Well, he just examined the lack of bike lanes on Beaverton’s SW 87th Ave / Birchwood / Laurelwood even though that stretch was repaved less than 2 years ago.
Thanks for using a map of your route. Really helpful for people who don’t know every street in Portland. Love all the trees in SW. Always feels like you are in a forest (which you kind of are).
I would suggest staying off SW Canyon Road when you come off Raab Road. Instead contine south on SW Canyon Drive (which parallels SW Canyon Road) to SW Ridgewood > SW Brentwood > SW 78th through Fred Meyer to Scholls. Much more peaceful route with little to no traffic.
Totally agree. Or Ridgewood to Sharon to Dogwood through the bike/ped-only gate and down to the crazy 5-corners intersection.
87th has the post office, though. A Lamb’s grocery store was once on 87th but it is now a martial arts place..
I am on this site daily and i love it. Keep up the good work. Quick question Jonothan what top tube bag r u using on your Cielo would like to know.thx also how do u like it.
The bag is from Apidura. It works great and I like it… Except for the fact that it’s not waterproof! I assumed it was then found out the hard way — after a full day in the rain — that it wasn’t.
Too bad you can’t get Commissioner Novick or Leah Treat to join you for a ride along (on an ebike, if necessary)… it would leave some lasting impressions, I’m sure.
Novick lives in Multnomah Village. He probably doesn’t have sidewalks on his own streets (after all about 90% of streets out here don’t have sidewalks). So I’m sure he knows about the problems. Finding the money and political will on the other hand…
The section of Fanno Creek trail not only had ADA/cargo bike entrance issues, but equity issues as well. West of Oelson Road there are almost no entrances north, where the high density apartment buildings are. There are however multiple entrances to the single family home neighborhood to the south.
The design almost looks like they WANT to segregate b income strata. You would think that from a transportation equity standpoint you would want every single apartment building to the north to have a trail-head.
Since there are no public streets and the apartment/condo properties abut the trail, it is the property owners that need to make those connections.
I know, there are hundreds of instances like this across the city. They should be required too fix this the next time they need a permit for anything….We will never increase our mode share if we do not rpovide the best acess possible to those who need it. I do not understand, from a business perspectibe why they would not WANT to make these connections.
I’m just going to note that Jonathan had to divert several blocks out of his way in NW because of the lack of safe I-405 crossings south of Johnson.
A new bicycle/pedestrian overcrossing at Flanders Street would be a much more comfortable alternative to taking the lane on Everett and Glisan and would also connect with NW 24th where you would continue on the rest of this journey.
Long-term the Red Electric Trail will connect the end of the Fanno Creek Trail with the Willamette and downtown via Hayhurst and Hillsdale. Imagine what a gorgeous bike route that will be! And relatively flat, too!
Jonathan, the corridor of SW Laurelwood / Birchwood / SW 87th Ave is actually a Beaverton road. The southern part of it has unincorporated Washington County homes on both sides of the road. 2 pedestrians have died on just that short stretch of Laurelwood Ave.
Jabra Kasho from Beaverton’s transportation team says they didn’t install bike lanes on 87th / Birchwood / Laurelwood because no more than 10,000 cars use that corridor per day!
I’ve taken that route from NW 24th to Washington Park probably 100 times, and it’s certainly not apparent that it’s a two-way street for bikes, if that’s the case. There is just a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign, and cars coming the other direction take up the whole road. I always ride up the sidewalk here: