Three new bikeway characters come to life in north Portland

A PBOT maintenance staffer installs a character on North Blandena Street.
(Photos: City of Portland)

The latest members of Portland’s cute and quirky cast of bikeway characters have come to life.

Earlier this month Portland Bureau of Transportation crews installed the three winners from the 2020 Bike to Books contest. Launched in 2017, the competition is a partnership with Multnomah County Library (with funding from Metro) to encourage youth cycling during National Bike Month.


The three new designs were installed in north Portland.

As you check them out below, notice how good PBOT crews have gotten at implementing the designs. They’ve become highly-skilled thermoplastic artisans!

Design by Nathan Monroe-Ramberg.

“Rainbow Trout,” was designed by Nathan Monroe-Ramberg is the winner in the 7th – 12th grade category. This design is swimming along on N Concord Avenue at Ainsworth Street. Swipe to see this design come to life.

Design by Lola May Watters.

“Too many babies,” designed by Lola May Watters is the 3rd – 6th grade winner. This is design is clucking away on N Blandena Street at N Kerby Avenue. Swipe to see this design come to life.

Design by Corinne Barclay.

“Strawberry on a bicycle,” designed by Corinne Barclay is the Pre-K to 2nd grade winner. You can find this berry good design jammin’ at N Bryant Street west of N Missouri Avenue. Swipe to see this design come to life.

Portland has been creating bike lane characters since 1999. It started on a whim by a maintenance employee and has evolved through the years to become a “museum of random bike art” and beloved tradition among PBOT staff and the public. Learn more about the Bike to Books program at

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and
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Here are the winning designs of Portland’s ‘Bike to Books’ bike lane stencil contest

A few of the winners. See them all below.

This is Portland at its finest: An art contest to create new bike lane characters that’s hosted by the Bureau of Transportation with the aim of getting more young people to read and ride bikes to the library.

Read that last sentence again and think about how many things have to be working right for something like that to happen. (Hints: A great education/encouragement program at PBOT’s Active Transportation Division; streets safe enough for to make neighborhood cycling a viable option for many young people; and a strong, community-supported library system.)

PBOT launched their ‘Bike to Books’ bike lane art coloring contest on May 1st. They received 196 entries and judged them for originality, creativity, and whimsy.

Here are the winners…

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Latest bike lane art is a nod to Portland’s love of cycling and soccer

Coming to a bike lane near you.
(Graphic: PBOT)

One of our beloved cycling culture quirks around here is that our transportation bureau adds creative flair to bike lane symbols. It’s been going on since 1999 and the fact that it has survived as an official tradition for this long is a testament to the City of Portland.

It’s gone from being something that started organically at the maintenance bureau to becoming much more official. Case in point is a press release just sent out about an event tomorrow where a member of the Portland Timbers Major League Soccer team will help PBOT crews install a soccer-themed character on SW Naito Parkway.

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City launches ‘Bike to Books’ art contest to kick off Bike Month

Bike to Books launch at Hillsdale Library-6.jpg

Multnomah County Youth Librarian Barbara Head at Bike Storytime in Hillsdale this morning.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland and Multnomah County Library (with an assist from Metro) have teamed up on a novel way to promote National Bike Month: They’re hosting an art contest with a grand prize of having the winners’ design installed as a bike lane character.

Ever notice how some of the bike lane symbols around town have extra special flair? Some are subtle little twists and others are nothing short than a work of art. It’s a tradition that the Portland Bureau of Transportation started back in 1999. And now four lucky young Portlanders will get a chance to have their vision turned into a piece of infrastructure.

The “Bike to Books” program kicked off this morning at the Hillsdale Library. With the library’s book bike (more on that later) parked in the entrance, over a dozen pre-schoolers were treated to a special, bike-themed storytime. Youth Librarian Barbara Head kept the kids entertained (no easy task at that age) with bike books and bike-themed songs. It’s all part of an effort to get people of all ages to bike to the library during the month of May.

Any Multnomah County resident in kindergarten to 12th grade can grab a coloring contest flyer from a library or online and give it your best shot. The contest is open all month long and entrants must return the finished art to a library branch. Four grand prize winners (one for each age category) will get their bike lane art installed. The second place prize is four passes to The Lumberyard Indoor Bike Park and third place gets a Nutcase helmet.

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Our city has memorialized Bowie and Prince in the most Portland way possible

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Prince and David Bowie are the latest additions to Portland's bike lanes.(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
Prince and David Bowie are the latest additions to Portland’s bike lanes.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland isn’t known for its rock music legacy, but we do have something no other city has: memorials to two modern-day rock titans that are made out of bike lane markings.

You might have heard about our huge Bowie vs Prince bike ride. Not to be outdone, maintenance crews from the City of Portland’s transportation bureau have lent their creative skills to bike lane symbols that honor both Prince and David Bowie — two artists who unexpectedly passed away this year.

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PBOT’s whimsical bike lane characters make a comeback

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

PBOT is back to having fun with bike lane symbols.
(Photo courtesy City of Portland)

15 years after if first started, a fun City of Portland tradition seems to be making a comeback.

In 1999, a city employee named Todd Roberts decided to create a little hat from a piece of thermoplastic left over from installation of a bike lane symbol. After that, dozens of bike lane characters began to appear throughout Portland. In 2009, we shared a slideshow of the characters compiled by one of their biggest fans — northeast Portland resident Jim Waigand.

Unfortunately, for the past several years it’s seemed like PBOT crews had stopped laying down these whimsical symbols. I hadn’t seen or heard about any new ones and assumed it was just another part of Portland’s past cycling swagger that has recently gone missing.

But a few weeks ago I was excited to see the tradition return.

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