So, you’re thinking about going for bicycle ride in Central Portland? Excellent! There are lots of bike lanes and multi-use paths to easily get from point A to point B.
One of the first questions when biking around central Portland is how to get across the river (assuming you need to). At this point, there are two bridges that are best suited to crossing on a bicycle, particularly if you are not a very assertive bicyclist: the Steel Bridge and the Hawthorne Bridge. In a year or so, we’ll have another bridge for alternative transportation just to the south of the Hawthorne Bridge.
The Steel Bridge has a multi-use path (MUP) on the lower deck. Be aware that there may be pedestrians and confused bicyclists who are not using this path as a high speed commute route (or conversely, be aware that there may be cyclists using this path as a high speed commute route).
From the west, you get onto this path from Waterfront Park, not from the on ramp. You’ll want to be by the water with the cherry trees.
From the east, you get onto the path from this funky turn off of the sidewalk on the west side of NE Lloyd. If you are riding west on NE Lloyd, you will need to get onto the sidewalk on the left around NE Grand or do a maneuver at NE Oregon and NE Lloyd to get left onto the path down the lower deck. However, there is more decent signage if you drop down on NE Multnomah heading west and then jog through the Rose Quarter transit center. Often you’re travelling with a bunch of bike traffic.
You can ride with traffic on the upper deck, but you do have to get up a fairly significant hill on either side. The sidewalk on the upper deck is extremely narrow, and while you can bike on it, you may run into pedestrians who are not inclined to yield to a bicycle. If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to deal with dropping onto the lower deck, you might consider biking with the cars.
Want to try another bridge? How about crossing on the Hawthorne Bridge?