Biking to the airport: one more reason to love Portland so very much

I’ve sure I’ve written about this before (ha! I lost the search button on my blog in a random update and haven’t been motivated to fix it yet, so I can’t actually tell;) But one of the very best things about Portland — one reason I can never really imagine moving somewhere else even though I fantasize about it every now and then — is the ability to get for-realz out of town without a car.

And though on the whole I actually super hate airplanes, that includes the ability to fly out of town without a car, by biking to the airport. (Public transit to the airport is also super easy, though of course my bias is to bike.)


(heh. I swiped these pictures from James’ Instagram, from some trip we took like three years ago)


There are a few things that make biking to the airport feasible, and probably the top one is a secure place to keep your bike. I don’t want to leave my bike locked somewhere for several days, after all, if I’m nervous that parts of it or the whole darn thing are going to get stolen. But at PDX, there are a few spots you can park, all of which are near the terminal, all of which have eyes on them, and, most of which are covered so your bike will also stay dry while it’s staying safe.

There is also a bike path directly to the terminal, which is the second clutch thing. Once upon a time James and I tried to bike to the Sacramento airport with his mom, and though it was possible, sort of, it involved crossing several freeway on and off ramps and biking in very fast-moving lanes of traffic while cars swerved around us like maniacs trying to figure out if they were going to Terminal A or B or the rental car lot or what. So, it’s pretty sweet to have a bike path that goes straight to the terminal without having to interact with that shit-show of car traffic. (There is a short section on the way to the terminal that’s actually on a road, Frontage Road, but it’s a mile at most, off the main driving route, and really low-traffic).


(my added blue lines here are mostly bike paths, with the exception of Frontage Road and Alderwood Road west of 82nd, which has a nice bike lane until where my blue line stops. Frontage Road is either .5 or 1 miles of actual road, depending on if you get on it from the Marine Drive bike path or the path along 82nd)


I also realized recently that the antidote to having to be at the airport before public transit starts running is to bike there! Ha! Need to be at the airport at 4:50am before the buses start running? Ride your bike! And when you get home, there is nothing better than getting off your flight all gross-feeling from having been crammed into a tight space with recycled air for much too long (have I mentioned I hate flying?) and then getting onto your bike and riding home. Freedom! :)

Luggage is sort of a trick. I did take my trailer once and put my carry-on in that, but I don’t love leaving my trailer places since I can’t actually lock it very well. And as safe as the airport feels, I still actually want to lock my things. But if it’s a short trip or I don’t need a lot (this is also an impetus to pack lightly;), I just put everything in a backpack, leave my helmet locked to my bike when I get there, walk in, and away I fly. It’s pretty elegant.

Again, I’d much rather take a train, a bus, or just ride my bike to wherever I’m going. But if I’m going to fly somewhere, there is nothing better than getting to and from my flight on my bicycle:)


  1. I do like the fact that I can (somewhat) easily bike to the airport from my house. And I have done it a few times, but only to pick up people (ha! The next level of Portland bike geek.)

    Where I diverge from you is that if I’m flying, I usually don’t want to bike to the airport. I don’t want to worry about my locked-up bike, hoping that nothing has happened to it. While it’ll probably be safe, I don’t want that kind of mental stress and worry, especially if I’m gone for awhile. I’d rather just take the MAX, the nearest station just about a five minute walk from my front door. And now that I have a Brompton, I’ll just take that with me, so I have a bike to ride when I get to my destination!

    And if it’s before the MAX starts running, I’ll cab/rideshare that one. Ain’t no way I’m gonna bike to the airport to catch a 4:50 AM flight!

    • I was definitely imagining you specifically rolling your eyes at me when I wrote that part about 4:50am. Heh. Though to be honest, even though I very much don’t love actually getting up that early, I do love once I’m rolling and no one else is around:)

      Your Brompton is like the best of all worlds. I’m very excited you bought those, since it really does seem like the most convenient way to do a lot of multi-modal travel. But yeah, totally agree with you about the MAX. I remember way back when I first moved here realizing I could take MAX to the airport to fly home and being totally astounded, since there is nothing remotely like that in Sacramento. So lovely! :)

  2. “Though to be honest, even though I very much don’t love actually getting up that early…”

    I don’t believe it!

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