I’m calling it: September is the best month for cycling.
Temperatures have begun to settle while the days are still long (and concern about rain-slicked fallen leaves is still a ways off). Perhaps that’s why the Bicycle Transportation Alliance chose the month to hold its annual Bike Commute Challenge, in which workplaces throughout the area go head-to-head to see whose employees can bike the most.
This year, biking in September will bear a new aspect for many commuters. The opening of Tilikum Crossing completes 7.8 miles of bike infrastructure associated with the MAX Orange Line, and introduces new options for thousands of cyclists and pedestrians.
The west side of the bridge connects to the bright green cycletrack on SW Moody, which Bike Portland called “the most intuitive, comfortable, low-stress set of bike lanes in the city.” Just down the road, the Portland Aerial Tram lifts off, carrying cabins of OHSU students and employees up to their campus in the clouds. (OHSU is Portland’s largest employer.)
At Tilikum Crossing’s eastern landing, 14-foot-wide paths weave into a network of new and improved bike lanes, signals and sidewalks along the Orange Line. This corner of the Central Eastside has always been tricky: Cyclists, trains and automobile traffic converge in a sort of asterisk, where each needs to cross the others. The addition of signals, bike lanes and bike boxes has immensely improved cycling through the area — something few people attempted before.
Farther south, the Orange Line makes an important connection at the SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek Station, where it meets the Springwater Corridor Trail, a popular multi-use path that runs from the Willamette River out to Boring, Ore. This could be a game-changer for many bike commuters in Southeast, who will be able to ride a low-stress route to a secure Bike & Ride, then hop on MAX to head to the office.
And farther south, over the new multi-use path over Kellogg Lake in Milwaukie, the SE Park Ave Station houses another new Bike & Ride with secure parking for 74 bicycles.
Take a ride out to any of these places and you’ll notice that cyclists aren’t the only ones enjoying an upgrade. Walkers, joggers and strollers line the paths, too — they’re at the heart of 10.3 miles of new or replaced sidewalks and improvements to ramps, crossings and lighting along the Orange Line. And pedestrians will get the best look at the public art projects along the route, like the six sculptures lining the Trolley Trail between Milwaukie/Main St and SE Park Ave stations.
If your commute takes you through the Orange Line corridor, give active transportation a try. Ride or walk to the MAX station. See if you can work a new path into your trip. Recruit a friend or coworker, and see if both of you aren’t hooked by the end of the month.