15 October 2011

Cycling in Oregon: signage and literature

The resources that the state of Oregon provides for recreational cyclists are pretty astounding. I have never seen or heard about anything like this, anywhere.

The Oregon Department of Transportation publishes a free map and guide to the Oregon Coast Bicycle Route— the recommended route when Pacific coast cycle tourists pass through Oregon. It includes (now, the first few are pretty standard, but keep reading):

  • A map of the coast
  • An elevation profile of the route
  • Suggestions for scenic detours
  • A list of state parks and cyclist amenities
  • Temperature and precipitation graphs for representative cities
  • Elevation profiles for the major roads that go between I-5 and the coast route, for your reference when you are planning the beginning and end of your trip
  • A map showing the prevailing wind direction in each part of the state
  • A graph showing the average number of cars that use each segment of the route(!) each day

This thing is practically a cyclists's almanac. And you can pick up a copy of it as you roll by the roadside kiosks they have placed, very conveniently, on the route at the northern and southern entrances to the state (Astoria and Brookings, respectively).

Picking up a map just outside Astoria, OR

As for the situation on the ground, the route is well-signed the entire way. There are bypasses that take less congested routes through major cities, and these are typically signed turn-for-turn within the city. So you don't need to pull out your map when trying to get through the cities.

For heaven's sake, even the bike shop is signed.

There are two tunnels along the Oregon coast route, and at both of them, bicyclists can press a button to activate flashing lights that warn motorists of the presence of bikes in the tunnel. (The lights stay on for a time T = [length of tunnel] / (10 mph).)

Lights in activated state

A couple of bridges have the same mechanism. In many, many other places, on bridges and otherwise, where the shoulder is inadequate, there are signs warning motorists that cyclists will be using the lane.

All in all, pretty impressive. If you're feeling inspired to ride in Oregon now, the tourism bureau maintains a website that catalogues some of the nicer bike rides in the state.