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Checklist for getting started on a bike

Whether you're preparing for your first bike ride or have been riding for years, The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has information and resources for planning your route, understanding Portland's bike infrastructure, and taking care of your bike.

On this page

As with anything new, riding a bike for the first time can be overwhelming. This checklist is designed to help you prepare for that first ride and answer any questions you may have about riding a bike in Portland. 

Take a look at the checklist before your next ride, and if you still have questions reach out to the SmartTrips team for one-on-one help from an expert by email at Smarttrips@portlandoregon.gov or by phone at 503-865-8637.

Before your ride

  • Choose your bike - Taking a ride doesn't require owning a bike, explore your options for short or longer term rentals.
    • BIKETOWN - Portland's bike-share for quick and affordable rides.
    • Bike rentals - Variety of options including electric-assist bikes, mountain bikes, and even guided rides.
    • Bike shops - Find a bike shop near you, they are a great resource for buying gear, or just asking questions. 
  • Get geared up - Having the right gear will help you stay safe, warm, and comfortable.
  • Learn riding basics - Explore The League of American Bicyclists library of how-to-ride videos, such as
  • Plan your trip - Riding with traffic can feel scary in the beginning, use Portland's Bike and Walk Map to help choose a route that will feel comfortable and safe. Look for these features on the map,
    • Symbol for bike sharrow and bike directions
      The sharrow symbol lets you know you are on a neighborhood greenways, while the bike guide sign gives the distance to popular destinations nearby
      Neighborhood greenways - This network of low traffic streets that gives priority to pedestrians and people biking is shown in green and often features street symbols called "sharrows" to help you find your way
    • Bike lanes - Protected, buffered, and regular bike lanes are shown in blue

During your ride

  • Illustration of bike riding in bike lane marked with dashed green lines
    Green paint is used to show street space for bikes, in this case the dashed green means that a mix of traffic can use the space such as cars making turns or buses making stops
    Look for bike symbols and signs - Learn the most common symbols and markings to stay safe and share the road appropriately. 
  • Take your bike on the bus or MAX Light Rail - Parking options by station, and how to load your bike on bus, MAX Light Rail, and Portland Streetcar.

After your ride