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slides: 17 Ways to Experience Portland on Bike

Monday, March 16, 2015
Joanna Evoniuk, GoLocalPDX Contributor

Portland's vibrant bike culture offers many unique chances to explore the city on bike, even if you don’t own one. 

Tourists flock to Portland every year to take part in the city's bike scene, a huge boost for bike tours and rental shops.  Cycle Portland Bike Tours and Rentals has seen substantial growth in the last few years.

“Last year was a record year by 20 to 35 percent and already this year is shaping up to break records,” said Sarah Gilbert, a tour guide with Cycle Portland. “There’s lot of room for more business and interest.”

See Slides Below: 17 Ways to Experience Portland on Bike

Bike Gallery, a bike and rental shop, has noticed the demand for easy bike access as well. The establishment is currently working on building up their bike rental fleet to prepare for the busy summer season. Yet sales associate Tobin Owen said the rental business is steady all year long.

“We have a lot of people stop by that are here to see how bike friendly everything is and also interested in the city planning—that in itself is a tourist attraction,” Owen said. 

Many renters are out-of-state visitors,  staying in neighborhood Airbnb rentals, who are looking for a bike because “That’s what you do in Portland,” according to Bike Commuter bike shop head technician Zach Waas Smith. However, half of the shop’s rental business is from locals. 

“They may have family visiting, but often they don’t own a bike and want to ride so they’ll come in just to get around awhile and enjoy the city,” Waas Smith said.

Gilbert said that not many locals come on her tours, other than to bring visiting friends, but she wishes more would give it a try.

“It’s too bad,” Gilbert said. “It’s really fun and there’s so many things to learn. I grew up in Portland and there’s so much I’ve learned as tour guide.”

Bike Sharing

A new player in Portland's bike rental game is the company Spinlister, that allows bike owners to rent out their bike to anyone with an app. People can search for nearby bikes, at price set by the owner. The peer-to-peer bike sharing company has taken off in Portland. 

“It’s been crazy. Portland demanded we come here,” said Andrew Batey, chief marketing director at Spinlister.

Batey said Spinlister allows people to find a wide range bike types, usually not offered through shop rentals, and at convenient locations.

“Spinlister uses assets that already exist, like Airbnb. If you have a bike just sitting in a garage, it’s an opportunity to make money,” said Danielle Booth, with Portland’s  Active Transportation Division. 

Owen said the more people on bikes the better, but safety could be a concern if bikes are not probably checked or maintained.  

Portland Bureau of Transportation is preparing to launch a bike share program in 2016, but the project is still in the planning stage.

“We believe it will be a great tool for tourists, but also the day-to-day folks getting to work or school or running errands,” PBOT Spokesman Dylan Rivera
 said.  “It will do a lot to getting more access in Portland.”

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