The last few days in Portland have felt like Spring. As soon as the nice weather came, my kiddos wanted to hop on their bikes and go, go, go. My oldest child, Harper, just learned to ride without training wheels. My youngest, Atticus, just learned to get going fast on his bike with training wheels. They each have goals for their next steps. Atticus wants to learn to ride without training wheels. Harper wants to get confident enough to ride on our nearest pump track. Portland has a lot to offer to kids who want to learn to ride a bike or enhance their bike-riding skills. This article will explore information about bike riding and biking opportunities for kids of varied skills.
Bike Safety in Portland-
Safety first! There is a great, informative guide for biking in Portland on Portland.gov. The guide covers recommendations for Portland bike maps, greenway info, school routes, helmet information, bikes with accessibility features, and recommended bike programs for kids.
For kids who are not riding yet-
Right before my daughter ditched the training wheels, I had signed her up for a bike-riding lesson. We were ready and excited for her lesson but a few days before, the place had to shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions. As fate would have it, my husband successfully taught her to ride a few days after the cancelled class. For those who are interested in bike-riding lessons, there is an awesome place called “Lumberyard: Indoor Bike Park” that provides private lessons/instruction. There are 4 different coaches that will work with kids of varied skills to ride a bike. The website shows each coach’s bio and provides a link to work with any of them. The cost is $60 per hour for weekdays, $75 per hour on weekends and holidays, and you can add a participant to the lesson for an additional $45 per hour.
Something I will add to this section is the general recommendation of balance bikes to get your kiddo started toward riding without training wheels. More parents than I can count just told us to “get our kiddos on balance bikes” and they would be riding in no time. We ended up taking our daughter’s pedals off her big girl bike and let her “toe” up and down our dead-end street and she learned in just a few days. If you are not familiar with a balance bike, here is a link to the best-seller balance bike on Amazon (geared for kids aged 18 months through 5 years old).
For kids who want somewhere fun to ride-
A pump track is defined as “A track for wheeled sports equipment that, when ridden properly, does not require pedaling or pushing, but a “pumping” action to maintain momentum” (Parkitect blog, 2021). We are lucky enough to have a small pump track near us, and a big one we haven’t explored yet nearby. The small one is at Ventura Park on NE 113th in Portland. The big one is in a place called, “Gateway Green.” It is a bit tricky to find, the entrance is off the I-205 path just north of the Gateway Transit Center.
Spring Break / Summer bike camps-
There are a few companies that offer bike camps for kids of varied skills over Spring and Summer Break. Pedalheads is offering a Spring Break bike riding camp between March 22nd through March 26th for between $189-275 for the week. In May, they are offering varied half-day camp options between May and June. The cost is $275 per set. There is a link to check availability on their website. Trackers Portland is offering “learn to ride” classes in July and August of this year. These programs cost $485 for the week, but they include “art and adventure” activities throughout the chosen week. Lastly, “The Lumberyard” offers biking summer camps from June 14th through August. It is called “Summer Shred bike camp” and is for ages 6 and up. The cost is $450 and there are 10 session to choose from.
Local places to buy bikes-
Of course, it is easy to find bikes at big-box stores like Walmart. But just like anything else, it’s great to buy local when you are able. There are some cool, local bike shops that sell kids bikes. First, there is a place called, “Joe Bike.” They are in Southeast Portland on Cesar Chavez Blvd. Next, “The Bike Gallery” was established in Portland in 1974. They have several locations: Beaverton, Happy Valley, downtown, Hollywood, Lake Oswego, and West Moreland. They have an array of kids bikes and accessories. Another place that sells kids’ bikes is “River City Bicycles.” There are two locations: one on SE Belmont St. and one on SE M.L.K. Jr. Blvd. Truthfully, the bikes seem to be pretty spendy, but seem to be reputable brands like “Riprock” that are specialized bikes with great quality.
Fun fact: the first bike was invented in 1817 (History.com, 2021), which means people have been enjoying bikes for over 200 years. Some families start their kids on bikes as babies, while others teach their kids when they are older. Some families are comfortable teaching their kids to ride while others could use help from professionals. Whether you are looking for adequate bikes, safe trails, or engaging bike routes for youth riders of varied skills, Portland has a lot to offer. Best of luck to you all in getting your kiddos on bikes!