As bike tourism takes off in Oregon, so do transit options

As bike tourism takes off in Oregon, so do transit options

For just $30 you can get 7 days of
bus service between Portland and several
destinations along the Oregon Coast.
(Photo: Tillamook Breeze)

As bike tourism matures throughout Oregon, its economic ripple effects are being felt in many interesting ways.

With more people seeking out the growing number of bike adventures being developed by both the public and private sector, transit providers are responding to meet a growing demand for car-free tourism. This demand is growing because for many people, having to drive a car to their riding destination is a major buzzkill, if not a deal-breaker altogether.

Fortunately, we’ve noticed a growing number of developments in bike/transit options that allow people to access destinations they could never (or don’t want to) reach by leg-power alone.

Just last month, Amtrak announced that their new baggage cars on long-distance routes will allow for roll-on bike storage. So far they’re calling it a test and it’s only in limited markets, but hopefully we’ll see these on trains that service Oregon soon.

Closer to home, we’ve shared how buses that serve Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge have stepped up their bicycle accommodations in order to capitalize on the growing bike tourism market.

Last month we came across yet another bus service that should be added to every bicycle touring fan’s notebook. According to a story in The Oregonian’s travel section, five transit providers serving Clatsop, Benton, Tillamook, Columbia, and Lincoln counties have teamed up to offer a smoking deal. You can now buy a 7-day pass for the Connector bus for just $30. The Connector offers rides between Portland and several different destinations on the coast and their entire fleet is equipped with bike racks. Exploring the Oregon Coast by bike — without using a car — has never been more affordable or accessible.

If the coast is been-there-done-that territory for you, and you’re a bit more flexible with your budget, our last two transit tips might be just what you’ve been looking for.

transit-explorer

Now you can bring your bike and ride back to Portland.

Earlier this summer, Portland Spirit announced a new service aimed directly at bike riders. As part of their “Heart of the Gorge” exploration cruise, between now and September they’re offering daily trips to Cascade Locks with an option to bring your bike on board and then ride back to Portland. As you might have heard, Cascade Locks is rolling out the carpet for bike riders these days. There’s a new, bike-friendly brewery waiting for your business and newly completed sections of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail mean you can ride the entire 25 miles or so between Cascade Locks and Troutdale without ever pedaling on Interstate 84 (not to mention the route itself is fantastic). Keep in mind that space on the Gorge Explorer is limited to six bikes per trip, so call ahead and reserve your spot. Tickets are $88 per person and the trip to Cascade Locks (which if fully narrated) takes about an hour three hours. Check the schedule and get all the details at PortlandSpirit.com.

Makes getting to eastern Oregon a much easier proposition.
(Photo: Treo Bike Ranch)

And last but not least is a new way to access the many (paved and gravel) cycling adventures in eastern Oregon. Treo Bike Ranch, a lodge I had the pleasure of visiting last year, now has a Portland shuttle option. Treo’s owner Phil Carlson has purchased a bus that will pick up groups from Portland and bring them out to his ranch in Hardman (about 200 miles east of downtown). This new service is just getting off the ground and I’ll be giving it a try next weekend, so stay tuned for all the details.

These improvements in transit options illustrate how the menu for carfree adventuring in Oregon continues to expand in delicious ways. All you need is a bike and a plan.

If you know of other bike-friendly transit options in Oregon, let us know. We’d love to put together a comprehensive guide to carfree bike travel.

CORRECTION, 7/8/14: This article originally said the Portland Spirit Gorge Explorer trip takes one hour from downtown to Cascade Locks. The correct duration of the voyage is three hours. We regret any confusion. – Jonathan

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