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People on Bikes – NW Portland edition

Posted by on April 15th, 2016 at 10:34 am


(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Part of NW Portland Week.

Here’s what cycling — and the people who do it — look like in northwest Portland.

I have always believed that you can learn a lot about a city’s bike culture by taking a close look at who rides, where they ride, what they ride, and how they ride. That’s why this past week I’ve been lugging a big camera through the streets of northwest on a hunt for bicycle riders in their natural habitats.

I’ve broken this photo essay up into two parts. The first part shows people riding in a certain context on the street. With these images the point is to show what the bikeways are like in northwest and, more importantly, how they look while being used by people on bikes and in cars. As you look at these, ask yourself if you would feel comfortable riding in that environment. Try to notice if the person is in a bike lane or not and how it changes the feeling of the image. How does someone using a buffered bike lane change your perception of their experience versus someone using a standard bike lane, a sharrow, or just sharing a standard lane?

The second set of images stays in the tradition of past People on Bikes posts: It’s all about the rider. By freeze-framing on each person we can take a closer look at their bike set-up, their apparel choices, and so on.

Enjoy the photos and feel free to reference the image numbers in your comments.

NW Portland Week - Day 1 ride-15.jpg

NW Portland Week - Day 1 ride-7.jpg

NW Portland Week - Day 1 ride-51.jpg

NW Portland Week - Day 1 ride-60.jpg

NW Portland Week - Day 1 ride-66.jpg

NW Portland Week - Day 1 ride-68.jpg

NW Portland Week day 2-2.jpg

NW Portland Week day 2-12.jpg

NW Portland Week day 2-13.jpg

NW Portland Week day 2-15.jpg

NW Portland Week day 2-16.jpg

NW Portland Week Day 2-5.jpg

NW Portland Week Day 2-7.jpg

NW Portland Week Day 2-10.jpg

NW Portland Week Day 2-14.jpg

NW Portland Week Day 2-15.jpg

NW Portland Week Day 2-16.jpg

NW Portland Week Day 2-19.jpg


NW Portland Week Day 2-21.jpg

NW Portland Week - day 4-23.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -1.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -2.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -3.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -4.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -5.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -6.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -7.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -8.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -9.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -10.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -11.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -12.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -13.jpg

People on Bikes - NW -14.jpg

NW Portland Week - Day 1 ride-69.jpg

If you want to see more people who bike in northwest Portland stop by our Get Together tonight at the Corsa Cafe inside Western Bikeworks at NW 17th and Lovejoy. We’ll have free munchies and fairly priced drinks for you from 5-7:00pm. Hope to see you there!

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today. .

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • 9watts April 15, 2016 at 11:11 am


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    • Spiffy April 15, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      that bike is tricked out… besides all the usual accessories he’s got a boom box in the basket cranking out tunes from his phone…

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  • Dan A April 15, 2016 at 11:14 am

    4, 8, 10, 11, 15: Door zone!

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    • soren April 15, 2016 at 11:33 am

      4 was avoiding the door zone.

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      • Dan A April 15, 2016 at 1:02 pm

        Oops, I meant 3.

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    • gutterbunnybikes April 15, 2016 at 11:36 am

      Yeah, those made me cringe. Just take the lane – it’s not nearly as intimating as people passing you in the lane while you ride in the door zone.

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      • Spiffy April 15, 2016 at 2:45 pm

        for a lot of people having cars breathing down your back is WAY more intimidating than having your own lane…

        to get out of the door zone you have to be more afraid of getting doored (and know that it’s a hazard) than getting run over…

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. April 15, 2016 at 11:50 am

      90% of Portland’s painted bike lanes are entirely in the door zone.

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      • middle of the road guy April 15, 2016 at 12:06 pm

        are you sure it’s not 89%?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty April 15, 2016 at 1:55 pm

          The actual number is probably somewhere between those two estimates.

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      • gutterbunnybikes April 15, 2016 at 12:16 pm

        Which is why when I ride downtown/NW on those streets with bike lanes my position is like photo #4 – I ride the white line. With very few exceptions, I usually try to avoid the streets with bike lanes in Downtown/Northwest, and prefer to take the lane on other streets and will adjust my routes accordingly.

        Which is one of the reasons I try avoiding bike lane streets downtown and Northwest. Aside from the fact that I think most bike lanes train drivers to pass bicycle riders too close (ie 4′ bike lane means auto traffic passes at 2′ or less at full speed) the door zone is much more as dangerous.

        NW and downtown, by and large (Broadway and Burnside being the two biggest exceptions), is a breeze if you take a more VC approach. Just take the lane traffic lights keep the automobile speeds at bicycle-ish speeds. It sucks, but staying behind the cars in the lane also prevents right hooks.

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        • gutterbunnybikes April 15, 2016 at 12:18 pm

          Can’t wait for my allergy meds to kick in loose my mental fog….

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        • Social Engineer April 15, 2016 at 12:21 pm

          Works great for you, maybe, but there are many riders more timid than you and I that don’t want to subject themselves to taking the lane in 20+ mph heavy traffic.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. April 15, 2016 at 12:32 pm

          I average about 12 mph riding. There’s no way in hell I’d ride on Burnside. My usual streets on the west side are the bus mall and cross mall, Salmon/Taylor, Couch, 17th, 20th, etc. I agree with you, that all the streets with bike lanes (Jefferson, 3rd, 18th, 19th, etc.) are unpleasant to ride in.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. April 15, 2016 at 12:34 pm

            Whoops, just noticed you said Burnside was the exception. Need more coffee…

            I agre with you then 100%. VC only works downtown because all the signals are timed to prevent anyone from driving over 15 mph. Doesn’t mean that many of them couldn’t use road diets though.

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            • Social Engineer April 15, 2016 at 12:41 pm

              More are timed for 12 mph, but some are timed for faster than that. For example, notice how you have to pedal faster on 3rd south of Washington to keep up with the lights? Couldn’t be because of all the freeway traffic coming off the Morrison Bridge that the system needs to accommodate, could it?

              There are other examples.

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            • soren April 16, 2016 at 11:32 am

              riding in the bigger lane is not VC — it’s just riding in the bigger lane. VC is an absurd ideology that argues that people cycling should behave like motorvehicles.

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          • gutterbunnybikes April 15, 2016 at 12:59 pm

            I said Burnside was one of the exceptions, but I take it as well coming down off the bridge.

            Agreed that it seems like a bold move to take a lane, and I’m aware I did learn how to ride as a kid on the urban/industrial streets of Detroit when VC was method that was taught, that I was riding everyday downtown Portland in the early-mid 90’s when there were no lanes -so I admit that am perhaps a bit calloused. But I currently ride at about 12 mph on a 40-year-old 30-50lbs three speed (depending which my three I decide to ride). And I feel 100x times more comfortable taking the lane on the Westside than I do while riding the bike lane by my house on SE Division.

            My comfort level is about how much of my situation is under my control, and most the bikelanes in this city severly limit the control I have. They limit my ability to be seen, my vision, my maneuverability, and in the case of those in the door zones put me in a more perilous road position. Most are designed to keep the bicycles from slowing down auto traffic, they aren’t designed for bicycle rider safety.

            I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but often being in the lane is better. Better visibility, more reaction space, no issues with right hooks or door zones. Being overtaken by a car is by far the rarest collision type in an urban setting. Simply moving a few feet over in the lane nearly completely eliminates two biggest collision types for urban riders the right hook and doorings, which accounts for 70% of auto/bike collisions. How much safer am I when I don’t have to squint in every car window while also checking over my left shoulder looking for turn signals?

            Having lived and ridden for 25 years in this town- nearly a decade of it as carless bicycle commuter, I can’t think of a single time where have been even close to being doored, and can’t think of a time where I was nearly right-hooked when not riding in a bicycle lane, which can’t be said of my experiences in the bike lanes.

            And comfort can only be accomplished by experience and exposure. Which why I’m a huge proponent of greenways, they’re practice space.

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. April 15, 2016 at 1:04 pm

              Most [bike lanes] are designed to keep the bicycles from slowing down auto traffic, they aren’t designed for bicycle rider safety.

              You hit the nail on the head with this one. This is why I will always oppose painted bike lanes, even 7 foot buffered ones. Either calm the motor traffic so taking the lane is safe, or design a facility that actually protects the bicycle rider.

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              • Dan A April 15, 2016 at 2:58 pm

                Imagine if highways were striped right up against buildings, and those buildings had large steel doors that opened right into the travel lane, completely obliterating cars that drove into them.

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          • Spiffy April 15, 2016 at 2:49 pm

            I have no apprehension riding 12 mph on Burnside… or Powell… or Sandy…

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        • Spiffy April 15, 2016 at 2:52 pm

          downtown during rush hour I have to take the streets with bike lanes or I’m stuck in traffic…

          if it’s not rush hour then I prefer the streets with no lines at all…

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  • Jessie April 15, 2016 at 11:26 am

    #22 Open baskets: especially in the back, where it’s easy to drop in your purse or backpack and go. It’s also easy for a thief to walk up when you are a stoplight (or ride by on their own bike) and grab your purse.

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    • RH April 15, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Does that really happen a lot? Seems a bit far stretched.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. April 15, 2016 at 11:56 am

        Wouldn’t it also be just as easy for someone to walk up and grab your quick-release pannier? AFAIK this is not a very common occurrence.

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    • Spiffy April 15, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      if you don’t strap in down, even in a basket, don’t expect it to be there when you get where you’re going…

      straps also deter thieves…

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  • SE April 15, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Many are riding with hands on brake levers

    Gotta be ready for surprises in traffic 🙂

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    • Eric Leifsdad April 16, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      It’s a good habit.

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  • dwk April 15, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    24 gets big style points….

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    • dwk April 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      Sorry, #23.

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      • Bradwagon April 15, 2016 at 12:46 pm

        I wear fleece bib shorts and fleece knee warmers when needed but that hasn’t been for months. Either his commute is very casual or he doesn’t mind getting toasty in the full length tights, and to wear the tights but no shoe covers?? Are you cold or what?!

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        • dwk April 15, 2016 at 12:53 pm

          yeah but he looks good….

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        • Dan A April 15, 2016 at 1:09 pm

          Depends on the time of day. Right now it’s 45 to 50 degrees out when I ride in (jacket/tights/balaclava/wool cap/warm gloves/shoe covers), and 70 to 80 degrees when I ride home (none of that stuff).

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          • Bradwagon April 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm

            Roughly the same although for me the knee warmers / tights, balaclava don’t come out till its closer to 40 or under. My ride is about 25 minutes but I often maintain ~17 mph so if I want to get to work without being too sweaty it means if I’m not shivering the first couple miles I’m overdressed.

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        • hotrodder April 15, 2016 at 1:25 pm

          Perhaps he knows the value of the wool sock? I never realized that leggings and shoe covers were part of a matched set?

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 15, 2016 at 2:01 pm

            You don’t want your outfits to clash!

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          • Bradwagon April 15, 2016 at 3:39 pm

            I’m a wool sock-er as well, suppose I use covers for road spray more than warmth though…

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      • Spiffy April 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm

        really? I thought they looked the most out of place and more goofy than all the rest…

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  • hotrodder April 15, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Makes me wonder if I always have a visage of grim determination while I navigate the traffic. I hadn’t thought about it until I saw these pictures. Something to consider for later!

    (I look so forward to the day that I get my picture posted on BP)

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. April 15, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    I love the photo of the dude in dress clothes riding a Brompton! (26)

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    • Planenut April 15, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Yeah me too, very reminiscent of London. Plus I am a Brompton rider myself so I am biased

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    • Spiffy April 15, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      that’s my favorite!

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    • El Biciclero April 21, 2016 at 8:40 am

      If ever anybody looked cool on a folder, it’s this guy…

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  • Jim Lee April 15, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    No. 26

    All time great Brompton shot!

    The special left pedal pivots up for folding.

    Classic JM photo shoot.

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  • J.E. April 15, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    So many helmets.

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  • Bradwagon April 15, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Love seeing my fellow no-helmet commuters out there!

    Cycling isn’t any more dangerous for your head than other methods of transportation, why give drivers a visual cue that your protected and they can be less cautious around you. We’re humans with fragile flesh just like you!

    I find riding with a helmet is my cue that its time to ride hard (racing or training ride) and that I tend to ride like a maniac when I wear a helmet on my commutes. No helmet and I’m must more reserved, aware of my surroundings and more likely to just enjoy the cruise home. The style with which I ride on a commute is nothing like a road ride where I am in actual danger of crashing at high speeds. Are these people really that uneasy riding that they are worried about crashing a hitting their heads? Now getting hit by a car?… Of course that’s another story but for me the risk of a car involved crash that poses severe danger to my head is low enough that I’d rather have the benefits of riding sans helmet.

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    • Austin April 15, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      “why give drivers a visual cue that your protected and they can be less cautious around you.”

      I’ve seen several cyclists laid out in the street, and it never had anything to do with a car. I’ll wear my helmet every single time with the hope I’ll never actually need it!

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      • Dan A April 15, 2016 at 6:42 pm

        To each his own, as long as it doesn’t harm others.

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    • Mao April 16, 2016 at 12:17 am

      I wear my helmet when I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going. I’ve had falls that were borderline spontaneous that left massive shallow wounds on my arms and knees. Drivers have always stopped for my impressive spin outs.

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    • .H madA April 26, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      Perhaps you should consider that people have different motives and requirements than you. A parent might want to lead by example. Traumatic brain injuries are real. Some professions, like the military require it. Several years ago I decide to not wear my helmet and that was the day my ticket got punched, right hook F350. My shoulder and side took the brunt of the impact but my head was bruised and scuffed. A few weeks later I found out I was put on report for not wearing my helmet.

      Point is people can choose what level of safety precautions and equipment they want to use.

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  • Eric Leifsdad April 16, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    28 hub motor, 27 giant metal pie plate?

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  • jwwz April 20, 2016 at 10:51 am

    So many drop bars. Sigh.

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    • Robert Burchett April 21, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Okay, but at least two were right in those drops, one I think is a person I see crushing on NE Fremont, not for sure because they are most always going away fast

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