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How to get around Portland without a car

Walk, bike, ride public transit, or rent an e-bike or e-scooter using PBOT’s online SmartTrips tools.

Orange and black Biketown e-bikes with Nike logos rest unattended on bike racks in a public plaza.

Nike-funded Biketown, Portland’s bikeshare system, provides hundreds of bright orange, eight-speed bicycles to hubs around the city.

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: explore Portland without driving.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) offers an online portal with access to handy resources for navigating the city by foot, bike, or public transit. Those who already live a car-free lifestyle might find a bike route that trims 5 minutes off of the daily commute, while folks looking to spend less time behind the wheel will find helpful tips to streamline their transportation transition.

Or maybe you’re visiting the City of Roses for the first time and want a taste of our famed bike culture.

Whatever the case, PBOT’s SmartTrips resources offer literal road maps for getting around sans automobile.

A person rides a bike while other people walk or sit on park benches along a pedestrian pathway in Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

In Walk Score’s words, “Portland might be the most walking, biking, and public transit friendly city on the West Coast.”

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Walk it out

Traveling between Point A and Point B doesn’t get any simpler than using your own two feet. PBOT designed various routes for walkers and bikers that include landmarks like Heritage Trees, restrooms, viewpoints, and public art, as well as safety concerns such as difficult intersections.

Start by choosing the part of Portland you want to explore (North, Southeast, Northwest/Downtown, Northeast, or Southwest/South), then open the corresponding map and find the type of path that suits your needs. Pro tip: Pick up a printed map at a Multnomah County Library location (most bike shops also carry them).

Looking to enjoy a scenic stroll? Try one of PBOT’s 14 suggested walking loops that include stats like mileage, turn-by-turn directions, and maps.

By bike

Plan a leisurely ride using one of these suggested routes that integrate low-traffic streets, neighborhood greenways, off-street paths, and bike lanes. Or check out the more comprehensive, mobile-friendly guide to routes across the city, complete with color-coded lanes and paths. If your pedaling takes you outside of city limits, choose a regional resource like Metro’s Bike There! online bike map.

A silver aerial tram car heads uphill with skyscrapers and Mount Hood in the background.

Feeling adventurous? Explore the 4T Trail — named for the modes of transportation you’ll take (trolley, train, trail, and tram).

Photo by Cambrie Juarez, PDXtoday

Take the tram… or a scooter

Portland has a slew of options when it comes to public transit. Take a TriMet bus or the MAX Light Rail to avoid paying parking fees, quickly move around the inner city by hopping on and off the Portland Streetcar, or get a bird’s eye view (complete with vistas of Mount Hood) on the Portland Aerial Tram connecting the South Waterfront and Marquam Hill. Mix and match various modes of public transportation using these tools.

You don’t need to own a bike or scooter to enjoy their benefits. All you need is a smartphone and a credit card to rent an orange Biketown bike or e-scooter — there are also scooters you can rent without a smartphone.