When I flew into Portland on WestJet’s inaugural flight April 29 between Calgary and Portland, I snapped a picture of a snow-covered mountain towering alone over the landscape. Looking a bit like Mount Fiji, I figured I’d have no problems getting it identified when I landed. Imagine my surprise when I showed my picture to a local and she hesitated. “I’m not sure which mountain it is,” she said.
Realizing Portland residents have several of these rocky peaks to gaze at was my first hint things were different here, and if you follow that old adage when in Rome do as the Romans do, it means if you’re travelling to Portland, Oregon you’ll want to spend part of your trip on a bicycle.
City planners have worked hard to make this one of the greenest cities in the U.S. and tourists are encouraged to use less energy on their visits. There’s over 500 km of multi-use trails in the city (and the highest rate of people biking to work of any U.S. city). It’s easy to get in on the cycling fun as downtown hotels such as The Hoxton and Hotels Zags offer free short-term bicycle rentals to guests.
If you want to pedal longer Cycle Portland can help. Located downtown, owner Evan Ross says the most popular cycling destinations are breweries and wineries. Known as Beervana for 70+ craft breweries downtown, leaving the car behind in Portland can be a good choice.
Cycle Portland also offers guided cycle trips through the Willamette River valley and let its guides customize interpretation based on their interest. Ross with a background in Outdoor Leadership and Education likes to point out architectural features designed with the environment in mind, and why cycling is easy in Portland, “The 1971 Oregon Bicycle Bill says anytime you build a road or do a major renovation to a road you need to have a bike lane.”
Portland has created 37,000 hectares of green spaces surrounded by shops, festivals and restaurants making it fun to tour by bicycle. Make sure to check out another round object – the crazily topped doughnuts that have become a Portland attraction. At Blue Star Donuts, bakers take 18 hours to make the perfect dough before turning it into flavours like passion fruit cake, Mexican hot chocolate, or real maple bacon.
Portland has several attractions that I didn’t have time to visit – Portland’s International Rose Test Garden,I’m looking at you – but perhaps it’s a reason to return and kick my cycle into high gear!