Bicycling can be a great alternative to driving alone to work or replacing car trips to the store or a friend’s house. It provides you flexibility and is a great way to incorporate some healthy exercise into your day. Though some people may bicycle as far as 20 miles, most people who use their bicycle for trips travel around 5 miles.
If you are just starting out, the first thing you will want to think about is what type of bicycle will best fit your needs. Having the right type and fit of bicycle is critical to your comfort and enjoyment, so take the time to find the right bicycle. A local bicycle shop is the best place for you to get the information you need. They have the skills and knowledge to ensure you choose the proper bicycle type and fit.
Once you have found a bicycle that will best suit your needs, there are other items you should consider purchasing to make your trips easier.
Headlights and Taillights: Headlights are required by law when traveling at night, and even though only a red reflector is required for a taillight, it is extremely beneficial to have a full working taillight, too.
Lights available vary greatly based on quality, mounting design, amount of light they supply, and their running time. They are split into three groups: non-rechargeable headlights; rechargeable headlights, and generator powered headlights. A local bicycle shop is the best place for you to get the information you need to find the right lights for you.
A lock: U-locks are the strongest and most theft-resistant locks you can purchase, but they can be heavy and inflexible. Options for using a U-lock are to leave it at your workplace or a constant location you park your bike, rather than carrying it around. You can then use a cable-lock for other quick trips or errands.
Cable-locks can offer more flexibility and are lighter weight, but they are also less secure. Consider purchasing a cable-lock with a built-in lock rather than using a padlock. With built-in locks you can choose a style that has a combination lock or key lock.
Storage bags: Room to carry items on your bicycle is important to keep in mind. Using a backpack or over-the-shoulder bag is an option that many people choose, but some find they can cause too much strain or extra sweat. Other options include panniers or a folding bag that attaches to a rack on the back of your bicycle. These can provide waterproof, sealed compartments for carrying all of your items.
Clothing: Many people feel comfortable riding a bicycle in regular clothing. If you have a really long distance to ride or want to make sure you don’t sweat in your clothes, then consider purchasing specific clothing for bicycling. This can include gloves, shorts/pants, shoes, and shirts.
Additional items: Consider purchasing fenders, mirrors, and specialized tires. These can make your ride so much better and also improve your safety.
When considering which route to take, try your hardest not to think like a driver. In some cases, the easiest, safest, and most direct way to get to your destination is the same route you would normally drive your car on. But a lot of times, there are other alternatives that are safer, have much less traffic, and can actually save you time.
Below are some links to resources that will provide maps of routes and facilities:
Vancouver Bike Map
A map of bicycle routes, facilities, and trails in the Vancouver urban area. The map also includes the City of Portland bike map along with riding tips and contact information. Maps are available at City offices and local bike shops.
I-5 Bridge Map
A map of how to go from downtown Vancouver across the I-5 bridge, through Jantzen Beach, and into Delta Park.
Clark County Bike Map
Bicycle routes and trails in Clark County, with insets for the cities of Camas, Washougal, and Ridgefield.
Maps of all the trails in Clark County , as well as information on local and regional parks.
A collection of maps for the City of Portland bicycle network, and maps of how to cross the I-205 and I-5 bridges on bike.
A bicycle map of the Portland metropolitan area - covers from Troutdale to Forest Grove, Wilsonville to Vancouver. A hard copy can be purchased for $9.
- Always wear your helmet.
- Stay off of the Sidewalk: Even though you may think the sidewalk is the safest place for you to be, it is actually a lot more dangerous than riding properly on the road. Because there are so many more conflict points riding on the sidewalk (cars turning, intersections to cross, people walking, etc.), statistics show that the safest place for you to ride is on the road, moving with traffic.
- Keep your bicycle in good working condition: Inspect your brakes, tires, pedals, seats, and handlebars regularly to make sure that everything is in good shape and functioning properly.
- Obey traffic laws: For information on bicycle related laws see an overview of Washington State laws relating to bicycling here or laws pertaining to the City of Portland and the State of Oregon at their website.
- Be Visible: Ride out in the travel lane, out of the way of sight blocking items liked parked cars. Try to wear bright clothing and use headlights and taillights when riding at night.
- Be Predictable: Ride your bicycle in a steady line without weaving in and out. This allows oncoming and/or overtaking drivers to better anticipate your travel path.
- Communicate: Use the proper hand signals when turning and slowing down and make eye contact with drivers.
For more information on how to ride safely check out these links:
When a trip seems too long to ride with your bicycle all the way, or if there is a portion of your ride that may not provide a safe or comfortable route, you can combine your bicycle trip with the bus. All C-TRAN and TriMet buses are equipped with bicycle racks available on first come, first served basis. The racks can hold two bicycles at a time.
If you would rather leave your bike behind, try a Bike Locker for safe, weatherproof storage. Lockers may be rented for three (3) or six (6) month periods, at a rate of $8 per month. In addition to the monthly rental fee, a $25 non-refundable cleaning fee, plus a $50 refundable key deposit is charged to any new user at the beginning of their term. The $50 key deposit is refunded once the Bicycle Locker User Agreement is terminated and the key has been returned to C-TRAN.If the key is not returned, the $50 key deposit is forfeited.If a customer terminates their agreement prior to the end of its term, C-TRAN will refund any remaining full month rental fees, plus the key deposit once the key has been returned.
Call (360) 695-0123 or email@example.com to inquire about bicycle locker availability at the location most convenient for your use.Bicycle lockers are located at:
- Downtown Vancouver
- 99th Street Transit Center at Stockford Village
- Vancouver Mall Transit Center
- Fisher's Landing Transit Center
- Salmon Creek Park & Ride
- Camas Transfer Center
On the TriMet system you can bring your bicycle with you onto the buses, MAX trains, and the Portland Streetcar. TriMet buses are outfitted with bicycle racks on the front of the buses and there are racks to hang your bicycle at designated spots on MAX and the Portland Streetcar.
Only conventional single seat, two-wheeled bikes, and recumbent and electric bikes the size of a standard bicycle are allowed. Bicycles with oversized wheels, tandems, and internal combustion engine-powered bicycles are not allowed.
You can ride your bicycle across the I-205 or I-5 bridges to access the MAX light rail system or other bus routes. The City of Vancouver provides a map of how to navigate the I-5 bridge route and the City of Portland provides a map of how to navigate the I-205 bridge.
Oregon State bicycle advocacy organization.
Washington State advocacy organization.
National bicycle advocacy organization.
Clark County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee