I’ve mentioned before that Portland is a great biking town, and I thought it might be helpful if I chronicled some of Portland’s best bike routes to help you find your way around. Since so many Portland travelers stay downtown, let’s start with the Hawthorne Bridge.
The Hawthorne Bridge is one of the main transit veins between Portland’s east side and downtown. Its wide sidewalks are removed from the car traffic and safely accommodate thousands of bikes and pedestrians each day. As the oldest operating vertical-lift bridge in the United States, it’s also really fun to look at. The old steel beams are beautiful and dramatic, in an industrial sort of way.
If you happen to find yourself on the bridge as a boat comes sailing up the Willamette, you’ll gain another 15 minutes or so to take it in while the lift rises to allow the boat to pass. Don’t bemoan the delay. Just enjoy the incredible view of downtown, or make friends with a few fellow bikers (you’re bound to see several).
Though called the Hawthorne Bridge, you actually enter it from Madison on both the east and west sides. Here’s a map to help you out. Take SW Madison to cross the bridge from downtown, and once across, you’ll find yourself on SE Hawthorne Boulevard. From there, it’s just a short ride to all the parks, shops and restaurants that close-in southeast Portland has to offer. When you’re ready to head back across the river, just go one block north of Hawthorne to SE Madison and take the bike line back across the bridge. Easy peasy!
I’ll be writing about more ways to see Portland by bike in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, check out Portland Online’s downloadable bike maps by neighborhood for routes anywhere in the city.