Pulling our kayak (by bike) from Tigard to the Tualatin River

Cargo bicycle pulling a kayak.
It’s long, but it works! (Photos: Shawne Martinez)

We converted an old kid’s bike trailer into a kayak hauling machine.

As our soggy spring rain let up and the sun peeked from behind the clouds I began thinking about another kayak adventure on the Tualatin River. Transporting a kayak to the dock by bicycle from the county line between NE Tigard and SW Portland may seem like a difficult task with a twelve mile round trip and 600 feet of climbing.

Make it a tandem kayak behind a bucket bike with a 6 year old riding in front and it gets even more interesting! 

We converted an old kid’s bike trailer into a kayak hauling machine by lengthening the tongue and adding a bracket to hold the front of the boat to the tongue. Our bike has e-assist and plenty of stopping power with 4 piston disc brakes front and rear. The kayak tows remarkably well. Width is not much of an issue but turning radius is a consideration as the bike, trailer and kayak are 25-feet long. This is not something I would take on the Fanno Creek Trail which has some tight turns near Downtown Tigard. The most direct route is to ride on SW Hall Blvd (State Route 141). 

Yellow kayak with little girl sitting in it.

There has been much news about jurisdictional transfer of ODOT facilities lately. The stretch of SW Hall Blvd through Tigard is one that I have been following closely since we cross it on our trip to school by bike. It is in terrible condition with deteriorating asphalt, sporadic sidewalks/bike lanes, high speed limit (40 near our school!), many drain grates in the bike lane and constant debris. The current widening of 217 will require replacement of the SW Hall overpass near SW Pfaffle Street. The new bridge promises better walk/roll/bike safety but it’s still a painted bike lane in the drawings. 

I’m hoping with jurisdictional transfer this route will get better. Fortunately I ride it often so I know the quirks: Take it slow at the railroad crossing near SW Commercial as there’s a big bump in the asphalt; watch drivers in the s-curve near the skate park, they tend to drive in the painted bike lane; there’s a ton of debris near the Tigard Library; a homeowner blocks the right of way with their trash bins near SW Bonita. We should need this level of expertise to navigate to the river! 

Even hauling this long load, it’s not that bad of a ride. Turning down SW Durham in front of Tigard High School and taking SW 92nd to Cook Park is one option. The other is to stay on Hall (which changes to SW 85th) all the way past the Clean Water Services treatment plant. This leads to a wide multi-use path that takes you to Cook Park as well. 

Kayak towed behind a bike in a park.

Wayfinding is not great at Cook Park and many drivers get lost trying to find the boat launch. Study the map as there are even more ways to get turned around on the paths and trails. It is so nice not to have to worry about car parking when kayaking by bike. “Front row parking every time” is so true as we unload our kayak on the grass right next to the boat launch. There are no bike racks, but there are many poles/trees to lock to. I also lock the trailer to the bike. 

Once on the water we started searching for sunbathing turtles with no luck. Bringing litter pickers along we usually find a few pieces of garbage, this gives the kid something to look for and do. Hugging the shoreline provides some shade but the mid-day solar radiation can get intense! Two miles of paddling and the kid is usually done. It was time to get out of the water and hit the playground on the way home. Advantages that Cook Park has over many parks are lots of trees for shade, many bathrooms, large picnic shelters and public power for e-bike charging. 

Related: With 6-1 vote, Metro Council endorses I-5 Columbia River Bridge project

We took Hall Blvd home as I contemplated stopping for groceries. Could I find kayak parking at Fred Meyer? Would the bike be safe if I took two car parking spots and locked it to itself? The wave racks would be even less useful with this long load. Thinking that I better not chance it, we took the kayak home and went grocery shopping later. Although now that I think about it, we probably could fit a lot of ice cream in the kayak!

Thanks for reading along on our adventure! 

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pigs
pigs
1 month ago

Unfortunately with Hall being in Washington county, the best they ever do is painted bicycle gutters.

Shawne Martinez (Guest author)
Shawne Martinez
1 month ago
Reply to  pigs

I can dream of separated walk/roll infrastructure!

pigs
pigs
1 month ago

Do you know if the design is still up in the air or any current ways to influence how the hall bridge will be? Hall is sadly the best way to cross 217 and 99 headed north/south and is the route I take every once in a while.

Shawne Martinez (Guest author)
Shawne Martinez
1 month ago
Reply to  pigs

There is a project contact listed here:
https://www.oregon.gov/odot/or217/pages/halloverpass.aspx
That 12′ median on the bridge gets me. Not sure why the walk/roll space can’t be protected.

Kyle Banerjee
1 month ago

That’s quite a haul.

Wondering if you’d considered an inflatable model as that would reduce weight, transport length, and provide more options when stopped and when choosing water access points?

Shawne Martinez (Guest author)
Shawne Martinez
1 month ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerjee

This is a great option! I think Jonathan wrote about this in a story last year. I have to say I like pulling up and dropping the boat in the water while many people are pumping away. Portability is a plus with those inflatables tho!

Co2
Co2
1 month ago

It appears that is an electric bike? It says fighting climate change on the side. But, electricity in the US is mostly generated by burning fossil fuels. And solar panels have a pretty big carbon footprint. I’m curious if you have performed any actual calculation on just how much climate you are un-changing? I also ride a bike, walk and run. I’m not sure what changed our climates prior to man’s inventions – there is evidence of changing climates perhaps pre-dating mankind. But there is no question pollution is bad, we have always known. I’m just not sure it’s fair to call electric vehicles zero emission when their electricity is delivered from fossil fuels (including those pesky solar panels made from coal). And I’m not sure it’s fair to claim we knew what changed the climate before, or what’s changing the climate now. I’m glad you feel good about it and those adventures do look like fun!

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  Co2

A random internet person pretending to be a climate scientist:

And I’m not sure it’s fair to claim we knew what changed the climate before, or what’s changing the climate now.

The climate science consensus based on massive amounts of empirical data and back-tested statistical modeling:

In fact, as NASA’s Dr Gavin Schmidt has pointed out, the IPCC’s implied best guess was that humans were responsible for around 110% of observed warming (ranging from 72% to 146%), with natural factors in isolation leading to a slight cooling over the past 50 years.

Similarly, the recent US fourth national climate assessment found that between 93% to 123% of observed 1951-2010 warming was due to human activities.

Why scientists think 100% of global warming is due to humans

Co2
Co2
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

Soren –
I think you misunderstood.
We know the earth has gone through cycles of heating and cooling since long before mankind. So – the claim – that we know for certain that cans of Aquanet or anything else is the cause – when it was happening thousands of years before…ummm…
Who’s the scientist now? Nice try.
BTW – notice – the title of the article you are claiming to be fact is “why scientists think” – why they THINK. This is not fact, it’s only hypothesis. We have learned (especially in the last two years) that just labeling something “science” doesn’t make it fact.
Remember the arrows on the grocery store isles? Remember the “in” and “out” doors? If that was science and fact – why aren’t we still doing it? How much waste was generated?

Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Editor
Brian C
Brian C
1 month ago
Reply to  Co2

Most of the electricity we use in Oregon is produced by hydropower.

Co2
Co2
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian C

So it is accurate to reason that if it wasn’t used, it could otherwise reduce the emissions of coal and fossil fueled generators elsewhere in the US? Shawne Martinez has the same convenient excuse, but if we reduce our energy use, coal fired plants can cut back on their pollution. Oregon is not it’s own separate grid, it is part of the whole.

Shawne Martinez (Guest author)
Shawne Martinez
1 month ago
Reply to  Co2

Hi Co2, I believe here in Oregon we are at 60% renewable energy in our power grid. I replaced a giant stinky diesel pickup truck with this e-bike. 11,000 miles on the bike means not burning fossil fuel in an engine that loses 60% of energy potential to heat. Diesel exhaust is terrible for children. This bike is a win in my book!

Co2
Co2
1 month ago

So it is accurate to reason that if it wasn’t used, it could otherwise reduce the emissions of coal and fossil fueled generators anywhere in the US? If other states use the same grid, they could further reduce emissions if you simply powered the bike with feet. I’m just saying – you are still creating and contributing to the problem by charging your electric bike. Same with electric cars. We waste power every time we consume energy and transfer to the grid, then to charge a battery. The heat generated is all wasted energy.

Shawne Martinez (Guest author)
Shawne Martinez
1 month ago
Reply to  Co2

Hi Co2, if I didn’t have this e-bike I would be driving a fossil fuel powered vehicle. Electric motors are far more efficient than internal combustion engines. .

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 month ago
Reply to  Co2

50lbs of ebike to haul 200lbs of cargo vs. several *THOUSAND* pounds of motor vehicle to haul it.

That’s an emissions win regardless of what powers it.

The biggest problem with SOV’s isn’t what powers it, it’s how much of it there is compared to the cargo being hauled.

When I ride the entire 20mi to work I average about 170W over 75min. That’s around .2 KWh (.01KWh/mi).

The average electric vehicle uses .34KWh/mile – only 34 *TIMES* as much energy expended. (oops – originally missed the decimal there).

BTW – even an unpowered bicycle is not zero emissions – just ask my co-workers and girlfriend. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas (oh, and the aerobic levels I usually reach while commuting emit more CO2/W than sub-aerobic levels I reach when I ride long distances). Not really relevant, just fun.

Co2
Co2
1 month ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

Hey Trike Guy –
You are 100% correct! We do emit gasses – everything that converts energy is a part of these systems. There’s no question we are tearing through our planet’s resources and generating terrible amounts of waste in many forms including pollution. It’s frustrating that some people don’t consider the emissions generated elsewhere in our country to power the grid that manufactures and charges these ‘zero emissions’ vehicles.
If anything, we are wasting far more in an attempt to replace them all.
I don’t have an answer, but I think we all need to be more aware that energy use in any form is still a contributing factor.

Amit Zinman (Contributor)
1 month ago

This would make a compelling Bike Stuff PDX video 🙂

Shawne Martinez (Guest author)
Shawne Martinez
1 month ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

Yes! I’ll contact you before we go again!

Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
Shannon Johnson (Family Biking Columnist)
1 month ago

This looks awesome! I’ve been dreaming about ways to get to navigable water via bike, and hauling some version of paddlecraft and a pint-sized paddler along with me. Now that I am considering an e-bike purchase, such a trip may soon(er) be within reach. Thanks for sharing about your adventure. I’m going to take it as inspiration to try likewise.

Shawne Martinez (Guest author)
Shawne Martinez
1 month ago

Would be awesome to plan a trip with many bikes!

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

Nice job on the kayak trailer! I wish you’d say more about how you built it. I love hauling stuff behind my bike, using a prefab trailer, but I’d love to know if an non-welder like me could make a trailer like yours. Thanks.

Shawne Martinez (Guest author)
Shawne Martinez
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Thanks Fred! Here you go!
https://youtu.be/z6bg8FJhNdA

Laura
Laura
1 month ago

For those without a kayak or canoe, you may reserve rental boats through Tualatin Riverkeepers at Rood Bridge and Cook Parks, and still bike there!

TRK had a grant for FY 2021-22 to explore additional non-motorized access points. Not sure what the outcome was, but maybe some more bike-to-boat opportunities in the future.