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Portland area commuting help

Old 06-12-03, 01:12 PM
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Joel G
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Portland area commuting help

I've noticed that there are quite a few people from the Portland, OR area in this forum and I was hoping I could solicit a little advice.

My wife and I will be moving to Oregon in a couple of months because of a job I知 taking in Hillsboro (Intel). We would like to find a house in Portland, probably in the near Northeast/Southeast area. My question is would this be a feasible bike commute?

My current round trip is about 15 miles, so this would probably be about double the distance. However, I知 in Chicago now, and the closest thing to a hill that I致e seen is an expressway overpass. I have the Portland area bike route map, and it looks do-able but you can only tell so much from a piece of paper. So can this be done, or should we look at living in the suburbs if I want to continue commuting by bike?

Thanks in advance for any help!

Joel
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Old 06-12-03, 01:26 PM
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A lot of high tech jobs are out in Hillsboro, so I know a lot of people who work out there. It would be a good decent length commute from inner southeast/northeast, but definately do-able. I'm not sure what route you're looking at on the map, but a lot of people ride up Burnside Rd., and I think down Cornell Rd. to get to Hillsboro. There are many other roads that have bike paths around there:West hills bike paths
This is a very beautiful area, with some good climbs. The commute will altogether be about 20 miles each way from downtown areas.

Another option is that the MAX (light-rail public transportation) goes to Hillsboro, and you can always take your bike on the MAX. There are limited stops, but you could get off and ride the rest of the way to work.

Do you know what part of town you are moving to? Any other questions about the area feel free to ask...
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Old 06-12-03, 04:59 PM
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I've been commuting from NE and SE to Beaverton for a few years now. RT is 30 miles, so Hillsboro will be a bit further, depending of course on where your house and office are.

The Bike There map is a great resource. The hill may seem a bit daunting at first, but the advice about using the MAX is very appropriate. I spent my first winter taking the Max underneath it, from Goose Hollow to Sunset Transit center, then continuing the ride. It is a great help to working into a longer commute.

My route over the West Hills takes me up Terwilliger to Beaverton/Hillsdale Hwy, a beautiful and very safe route. If you want to go around to the North instead of the South, I'd vote against climbing Burnside, there is no shoulder and cars fly up it, plus there is construction going on for the forseeable future. Alternate routes include going through Washington Park (the bike path is a continuation of NW 24th ave, the street ends at Burnside, but the path climbs the hill) or going around (I'm blanking on street names here, but it should be on the map, take Lovejoy through the city, then turn right at the T and climb like hell until you reach Skyline.)

Portland is a fabulous biking city, the route you are describing will most likely be a 35-45 mile RT commute. Portland is one of the great places to live, but the suburbs are pretty much the same wherever you are, so by all means give the city a try.

Let me know if you want someone to play commuting route tour guide. I'm getting laid off next friday and should have some free time this summer.
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Old 06-12-03, 07:10 PM
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I live in Beaverton, just west of Portland but east of where you will work. Any reason you want the downtown, and not somewhere on the west side?

I've done the climb up Burnside out of downtown Portland, and that's one bear of a climb. I wouldn't recommend it for someone my age, but if you are younger, perhaps. We have one bicycle commuter who rides to Hillsboro every day from East Portland, so I know it's doable.

The Max is a possibility too. I have taken my bicycle on it, and it is very friendly to bikes. It is not a real quick way, but it is an easy way to get over the West Hills.

There are some very good maps available, which is mentioned by others.

John
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Old 06-12-03, 08:12 PM
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Originally posted by John C. Ratliff
Any reason you want the downtown, and not somewhere on the west side?
Don't mean to be rude, but I don't understand why one would want to live on the west side? There is soooo much more culture on the east side. Too many overprivileged kids in their Hummers and ladies wearing fur coats in Northwest Portland, and too many strip malls and Anywhere USA scenes in Beaverton/Hillsboro. I would highly recommend the inner east side. Riding your bike is much easier and more pleasant over there, people are much friendlier, there is a lot more of a community feeling, and much more to do on the east side. Again, don't mean to be rude, I just think Portland has a lot to offer, and IMO you'd be missing out on a lot by living on the west side.

Then again, it would certainly make the commute to Hillsboro easier to live west of town a little, and there's surely some nice areas just outside of Portland up in the hills. Maybe that was what you were recommending.... Anyways, I think it's a great place to be a bicyclist, and Joel G, I hope it all works out for you out here.
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Old 06-12-03, 11:46 PM
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'Haven't been riding in downtown Portland that much, but the few times I've been over there, I've liked it.

For a bicyclist, the Beaverton/Hillsboro area has some good points too. I'm close to a very nice swimming pool (I'm also a swimmer), and the bicycling is pretty nice. The drivers though, I cannot say that they are nicer than somewhere else, as I've had some pretty nasty run-ins with them over here (quite literally). I do like a bicycle commute of 3.6 miles to work, which in some ways is too close. I many times take a longer route home, and make a 15 mile day of the commute. The surrounding hills here offer outstanding riding, and the cycling club has evening rides every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning (this is true of all the Metro areas, as this club is very active).

The main reason we chose Beaverton is that my wife likes it; that was a major consideration. We can walk to places others must drive to, and bicycle riding works very well. I agree that there's not as much personality, but we're close to MAX if we want to go downtown and don't want to drive or ride.

John
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Old 06-13-03, 12:03 AM
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Forget riding to Intel in Hillsboro from SE or NE PDX. It is is not doable, and it rains 10 monthd out 12 in Oregon. Move into Beaverton or Hillsboro or Forestgrove. SE or NE Portland is not a desirable place to buy a house or raise a family. It is not very safe there. Lake Oswego, where I live, or West Linn is much better if you are going to buy a house.
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Old 06-13-03, 12:05 AM
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Originally posted by John C. Ratliff
The surrounding hills here offer outstanding riding, and the cycling club has evening rides every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning (this is true of all the Metro areas, as this club is very active).
Hey John, I misunderstood your original post, thinking you were suggesting living in NW or something. I'm sure biking around Beaverton is great, as there are some spectacular hilly, foresty areas over that way.... Also having the MAX as an option is great.

Hey, what club is it you are talking about? I have only recently been getting into road riding, but am really enjoying it. Are the club rides super intensive, and would using a touring bike (trek 520) be reasonable, or is the club geared more towards hardcore roadies?
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Old 06-13-03, 07:58 AM
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for a serious bike commuter this should be no problem. you would basically go across downtown, do the one climb up the hill which is like 500-600ft vertical and then roll downhill to beaverton and then to Hillsboro...

getting from east though downton takes a little time b/c of traffic, but there are bike lanes and traffic behaves...
the climb is not so bad - there are various routes although the direct routes (Burnside) are kind of heavy traffic but still rideable. Cornell is another option plus there are some back roads that are less travelled but a little longer...

once you get into Beaverton and further west it gets more and more auto-centric, BUT most of beaverton has bike lanes...

i have a friend who commuted from far East to Beaverton for a few years and then a while out to Hillsboro... (he was happy to extend his miles)

as someone else mentioned, the MAX light rail follows this route almost exactly and you could do various stuff:
1) use the max to get to the top of the hill and ride from there
2) ride your bike to the MAX and take it to Hillsboro (i think it comes close) and then ride the last to the office
3) or alternate between biking and light MAX

anyway, i don't know the mileage, but i would think it would be something like 15 to 20 miles which should be doable at least 3 days a week and with MAX way doable.

Portland is SUCH a great bike commuting city - and yes, despite the rain...

i'd say look at the exact mileage on a map and remember the hill but also the MAX and then make a decision. but should be doable.
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Old 06-13-03, 08:09 AM
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ok, just had to comment:

Forget riding to Intel in Hillsboro from SE or NE PDX. It is is not doable, and it rains 10 monthd out 12 in Oregon.
it is very doable as i wrote above.

Move into Beaverton or Hillsboro or Forestgrove. SE or NE Portland is not a desirable place to buy a house or raise a family. It is not very safe there. Lake Oswego, where I live, or West Linn is much better if you are going to buy a house.
SE and NE are both great places to live and compared to average place USA are REALLY safe - if you're coming from Chicago it will seem safe. to claim any area of Portland is not safe enough to raise a family is a joke - and, no offense, but must come from someone who leads a pretty sheltered gated-community kind of life (sorry, but i don't know how else to say it - i'm not meaning to be rude)

yes, SE and NE are CHEAPER than NW or Lake Oswege (south) but they are both great places - one can argue (as Gonesh9 has above) that SE has more culture than anywhere else in Portland. and NE is really up and coming --- a ton of my friends have bought houses there and love it.

Beaverton is a "northwestified" typical suburb with more green, parks and bike lanes than most, but still a suburb. and Hillsboro is even more so...

Lake Oswego is beautiful but has the rich "golf-course" mentality: for example i once got kicked off a lake for kyaking there b/c the security guard came by and said all boats were prohibited by the local homeowner's association - not my kind of place!

just for perspective info: for 3 years i lived in near-in Northwest Portland/Nob Hill, on NW Glisan, first at 21st, then 23rd streets... that's the very best place to live - close to the hills, close to downtown, lots of culture and happenings right in the neighborhood - almost everything you could want in walking distance (or cycling distance)... unfotunately it's also super expensive and virutally impossible to afford a house there (i rented)

but Portland is great and has something to offer for all. the West Hills are prettier, i'll say that for sure, but the east side is quite ok.
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Old 06-13-03, 12:13 PM
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Going to Hillsboro from the east side of Portland is a good stretch, but is a reasonable commute for an avid rider. Hillsboro is about 20 miles from the Willamette river, so you will certainly have more distance for your new commute - the additional mileage will obviously depend on how far east you reside. As mentioned, the MAX allows one to skip the hill, and lop off a few miles if necessary.

No one has mentioned this, but as far as I know, it is still legal to ride Sunset Hwy. (Hwy 26) west of the Jefferson St. interchange. This would make for a nice, wide open ride to Hillsboro. They've done quite a bit of reconstruction, so I'm not sure if the legal status for this portion of Hwy. 26 has changed. Anyone know?

Edit: I would also add that I would not relish climbing Burnside to Barnes. The road condition is horrible and there is no shoulder. There are certain to be better alternatives. . . Lovejoy to Cornell/Skyline perhaps, or Terwilliger or Barbur to Beaverton/Hillsdale Hwy. I still like the Hwy. 26 idea if it's still viable; I think they've even carved through most of the hill for you.

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Old 06-13-03, 01:20 PM
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Wow! Thanks to everybody for all the information and opinions. I知 sure that living west of the river would make everything more convenient for commuting by bike or car, but I知 not so sure about the trade-offs. We would really like to live in an urban neighborhood, but we致e had enough of apartment and condo life. I don稚 think we値l be able to afford single family homes near downtown or in NW, but my understanding is things might be a little bit more reasonable east of the river. We致e only spent a few days in the area so far, mostly downtown and in the NW area which were really nice, and out in Hillsboro which was too much suburbia for me. Maybe there are near west neighborhoods with some of this 祖ulture that gonesh9 and nathank were saying is more prevalent in the SE neighborhoods?

gonesh9: When I saw the pictures of your commute a few weeks ago, it made me feel like we made a good decision to move out to Portland. Not too many views like that from Chicago, although we値l still miss the big city.
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Old 06-13-03, 01:58 PM
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The club I mentioned is the Portland Wheelmen. Their website is:

The Portland Wheelman

You can also find more cycling information in the Oregon Cycling News (I think that's the name). It's free, in bicycle shops. Also, the A&E section of the Oregonian newspaper carries Cycling news in the PDX Life section. It's out on Fridays.

I really don't suggest going up Burnside, unless you're really "hard core." That 600 feet seemed a lot more (got to check the topo map, but I think it's more than that). Anyway, it's about two miles of "up."

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Old 06-13-03, 02:12 PM
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O.k, I guess up Burnside would be a little too much, especially every day on your way to work. I think up Lovejoy or one of the other routes suggested would be a better idea.
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Old 06-17-03, 02:12 PM
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Looks like the east-side west-side conflict is coming out!

I moved from Chicago (North side, near the end of the Brown-line) to Portland back in 1999, and really the worst neighborhood in Portland feels safer than the nicer neighborhoods in Chicago. Portland is laid back and livable just about anywhere. The ride will be longer from the east-side, but the living is much, much, much better.

I have some friends who found a nice house for a nice price in SW near multnomah village, so there are liveable westside options, but unless you have a mint you basically get cookie cutter tract houses and dining choices of Applebees, Chili's, and Outback Steakhouses. (Gee, are my biases coming out here? In the interest of full disclosure, I hate the suburbs and just don't understand why people live their voluntarily.)

Don't be intimidated by the West Hills. When I started commuting from the east-side to Beaverton I took the Max through the tunnel, now I'm a daily commuter who climbs the west hills for fun and training on the weekends.

Portland folks, did I see any of y'all Saturday at the Wheelmen's spring century? I'm probably going to join next Sat's torture series training ride as well.
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Old 06-17-03, 04:36 PM
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OsoGuevara: That's quite a coincidence. We moved into Lincoln Square (near Lawrence & California) in 1999. I don't know if you've been back, but you'd probably be surprised at how much the neighborhood's continued to improve over the past few years. Of course now that it's summer again, we get a little bit more of that ghetto feel back. It's encouraging to hear from a former Chicagoian that the hills can be dealt with, and that the safety factor will be an upgrade.

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Old 06-17-03, 07:58 PM
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When we were deciding where to settle down, it wasn't so much the cultural aspects that we looked at. I have a job in Hillsboro, and wanted to continue to ride my bicycle to work. My problem is that, while I'm a fairly good cyclist, with some age on my bones and some accidents, I decided that riding over the West Hills was not a good idea for me. My wife works at Oregon Health Sciences University, and we needed to be close to the MAX line. We moved here from the rural Oregon area near Roseburg, and don't mind the "suburban" environment at all.

One other factor is that my work is in environmental health and safety, and I looked at the earthquake maps of the area. There is a fault that runs just to the west of the Willamette River, through downtown Portland, and into the West Hills. Another runs just east of the Willamette River.

Portland Earthquake Scenarios

I wanted to avoid that area because of the fault lines. So it really isn't a West Side/East Side issue, it's simply looking at our particular circumstances and seeing what is best for us. I'm within walking distance of the Tualatin Hills 50m swimming pool too, so there's a lot going for this area.

John
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Old 06-19-05, 08:10 PM
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My husband and I are moving to Portland from Pendleton, OR so that he can go to med school at OHSU. We are trying to find a good place to live (rent) with a reasonable (1/2 hour or less) bike commute to OHSU. How is the commute from NE to OHSU? From Mt. Tabor? Sellwood?
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Old 06-19-05, 10:52 PM
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The Coventry Cycle Works bicycle shop is close to Mt. Tabor. See:

https://www.coventrycycle.com/

The owner commutes in with no problem. Coming in from that direction, you would need to cross the bridge, the bicycle up 6th Street and up to OHSU. I think that is within 1/2 hour, but the people at Coventry would be better able to tell you, and describe routes. There are very good bicycle maps available at all the bicycle shops. Another shop with people to talk to is River City Bicycles, which is right downtown. I'm sure they also have people who can discuss that side of town. Here's their website:

https://www.rivercitybicycles.com/

I'm in Beaverton, which is on the west side of the Portland Hills. So I have a different route up to OHSU. It's a bit harder to get to from this side (although Max is a viable alternative too).

John
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Old 06-20-05, 02:13 AM
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You can live on the east side and use the MAX light rail for as much of your commute as you like, and cycle the rest - for example, ride to downtown, hop the westside MAX and get off in either Beaverton or Hillsboro and pedal the rest. Bikes are allowed at all hours, no extra charge. No need to ride the whole commute, IMO riding up the west hills is only for masochists. Riding down the hills is a whole 'nother story, you could get off the train at the zoo on your way back and ride down the hill, lots of pleasant low-traffic routes to choose from between the zoo and downtown.
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Old 06-20-05, 07:09 AM
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America's Top 5 Cleanest Cities, Portland is number 1.

https://www.rd.com/content/openConten...ontentId=15115
https://www.rd.com/content/openConten...23&pageIndex=5
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Old 08-16-05, 12:28 PM
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First time post. I have been lurking for a few days now (researching an new bike).

I live right near the Sunset Max station and work off of Macadam. My morning commute is to ride up and over sylvan using the new Sunset trail along HW 26. If I'm late, which is most of the time, I will ride down canyon road (from sylvan this is the small road that goes to the zoo) to the sunset overpass, then hop-on the sholder of HW 26 (there is plenty of room and in the morning traffic is moving slow anyway, nice to pass a few cars to work, TAKE THAT YOU GAS GUZZLING SUVs!). Then take the canyon off-ramp (first exit). From there it is a mostly downhill ride through downtown and the bridge of your choice. If I'm not late, I ride through Washington Park on Kingston, past the zoo. This will be your commute home. I recomend you getting on the max and getting off on the Sunset station (before the tunnel) and enjoy the nice ride.

In the evening I go the opposite way you will be coming (maybe we'll see each other). However, I usually want to see my daughter ASAP after work, so I hop on the MAX at Goose Hollow and take the first stop at the zoo. This is a big down-hill and one nice climb up to the top of Sylvan and only 10 min more to my normal stop at Sunset.

Again, I don't go all the way out to Hillsboro. However, I grew-up there and I know that the drivers suck and the roads are hard to ride on. You couldn't pay me enough to work or live out there any more.

BTW, if you guys ever see a big guy wearing a black helmet, carying a grey-black backpack and riding a 1988 blue Trek 1200 over Sylvan, don't be afraid to say "hi" unless I am burning down sylvan!

Portland is the best cycle-city in the US! And BTW, I'm no west-sider, however all of the people in my neighborhood have more "culture" than anyone I know in SE. The houses are nice, the people are great, the neighborhood is WAY more diverse than you gentrified east-siders. Hey, Beaver-tron is the new Hawthorn.

~n
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Old 08-16-05, 09:38 PM
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Oh, it's the other Portland...

Sorry, couldn't resist!
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Old 08-16-05, 10:38 PM
  #24  
hamandcheese
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Originally Posted by Vasco da Gama
Forget riding to Intel in Hillsboro from SE or NE PDX. It is is not doable, and it rains 10 monthd out 12 in Oregon. Move into Beaverton or Hillsboro or Forestgrove. SE or NE Portland is not a desirable place to buy a house or raise a family. It is not very safe there. Lake Oswego, where I live, or West Linn is much better if you are going to buy a house.
I would say that I don't mean to be rude here but... I kind of do... Vasco, what in God's name are you talking about?! Let me start by saying that I grew up in Hillsboro (went to high school very close to the Hawthorne Farms Intel Campus). Up until 4 months ago, lived all over Portland (SE, Downtown, St. Johns) and I've been to all the "undesirable" places you are talking about. There is not one single place in Portland that I wouldn't feel safe. There are less than nice people, just like everywhere in the world, and poorer neighborhoods (perhaps this is what you are alluding to) but Portland is over all a terrific place to raise a family and live. On the other hand, if Lake Oswego, and all the Yuppie morons (present company excluded of course) sunk back into the whole from which it sprung, no one would even bat an eye.

To the original poster... I'd recomend somewhere in SE or NE Portland. Commuting on a bike is a good idea because highway 26 is one of the crappiest places in the world to be at 5pm. It'd be a bit tough because of the west hills but like someone said earlier, it's doable. GOOD LUCK and enjoy a wonderful city. Pay no attention to the pale faced cretins lurking to the south.
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Old 08-16-05, 10:48 PM
  #25  
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On a side note... I gladly welcome everyone else's scorn and ridicule for my previous comments. I more than deserve them....



...but it had to be said.
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