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Biking from Portland, Oregon to Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon

Old 05-27-10, 02:40 PM
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Biking from Portland, Oregon to Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon

After toooo many years in grad school, I'm almost done with my PhD and have a job offer with Intel near Portland, Oregon (at their Ronler Acres campus in Hillsboro).

I really like downtown Portland and don't really want to live in the suburbs if I can avoid it, but don't want an insanely long commute... and would like to flexibly switch between cycling, driving, and taking the train as needed.

I've zoomed in on the Goose Hollow/King's Hill area of Portland as the best compromise I've found so far. I could live very close to a MAX train stop that would take me to Hillsboro in 40 minutes + 15 minute walk. I'm not sure exactly how bad the opposite-direction traffic is, but it seems like the commute would be ~30 minutes by car.

So what about cycling? I know Portland is very bike-friendly, but I'm less sure about the suburbs. Google Maps gives one rather direct 12.4 mile route from Portland to Hillsboro via Cornell Road: link here. It looks hilly and what I'd especially like to know is how bike-safe/bike-friendly this route really is. I did an 8-mile-each-way commute in DC for a year and didn't mind it, so I think I could step up to 12 miles each way.

Does anyone have experience bike commuting between Portland and Hillsboro? Is it madness to try to live in the city and commute to Hillsboro, regardless of means of transportation? Any advice will be appreciated
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Old 05-27-10, 03:18 PM
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Yeah, that would be a very hilly 12.5 miles. It's a great climb (either direction) up Cornell or Thompson to Skyline...but I wouldn't think of it as a 'commuting route' several times a week in the rain, etc.

There's actually a nice wide bike path that follows 26 West from the Zoo for several miles that you could use more routinely. You'd still have a climb...but not nearly as much.

I like the Goose Hollow area, and the MAX would be a pretty good option.
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Old 05-27-10, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by dtrain View Post
Yeah, that would be a very hilly 12.5 miles. It's a great climb (either direction) up Cornell or Thompson to Skyline...but I wouldn't think of it as a 'commuting route' several times a week in the rain, etc.

There's actually a nice wide bike path that follows 26 West from the Zoo for several miles that you could use more routinely. You'd still have a climb...but not nearly as much.
Good to know, thanks! I am expecting that I be doing an opportunistic mixture of bike/car/MAX commuting, and I like to know that there are options. I am thinking that I am going to have to readjust my idea of what a "big hill" is for the West Coast, and maybe get a new touring/cross bike for the commute.

I like the Goose Hollow area, and the MAX would be a pretty good option.
Here's a couple things I've not gotten a sense of... does Goose Hollow have interesting bars/shops inside the neighborhood? Is the ~.5-1 mile walk to downtown nice? Are I-405 and Rte 26 very noisy? I took the MAX a lot when I was in Portland for a conference in March (where I got recruited!) and was very favorably impressed with it, although it did get awfully crowded downtown at 8am.

All these things I should've figured when I had a free day after my interview, but my brain was too fried to do any serious apartment-hunting!
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Old 05-27-10, 04:15 PM
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I don't actually live in Goose Hollow, so I'm not a great resource for many of your questions. I've ridden around Thompson, Cornell, Skyline, and the Zoo a few times - which is mainly why I chimed in.

I would think 405 and 26 could be somewhat noisy depending on where your apartment sits. There are some cool bars right in that area, around PGE Park, towards 21st/23rd, plus the southwest edge of the Pearl Dist. isn't too far.
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Old 05-27-10, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by dtrain View Post
Yeah, that would be a very hilly 12.5 miles. It's a great climb (either direction) up Cornell or Thompson to Skyline...but I wouldn't think of it as a 'commuting route' several times a week in the rain, etc.

There's actually a nice wide bike path that follows 26 West from the Zoo for several miles that you could use more routinely. You'd still have a climb...but not nearly as much.

I like the Goose Hollow area, and the MAX would be a pretty good option.
I've ridden the Zoo/26 bike path- it's pretty pleasant westbound, a continuous climb (not steep) eastbound. I've never commuted on it (I live the opposite direction), but I bet this discussion will give you a couple hints:
https://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3458 . Welcome to Portland!
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Old 05-27-10, 06:43 PM
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Another option would be to take MAX to the Sunset Transit Center and bike from there. You could even take MAX to the Zoo stop and take the elevator to the top of the hill.

If I were going to bike in from Goose Hollow I'd probably do this:

https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...&z=14&lci=bike

(modified from your link, so if the route doesn't go through Washington Park, I messed something up.

The walk from Goose Hollow to downtown isn't "nice" but it's not far.

BTW, I'm pretty sure you can catch an Intel shuttle from MAX to the RA campus. Don't count on the reverse drive being quick or easy. If you're going to live in the city, you might be better off without a car.
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Old 05-28-10, 12:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
Another option would be to take MAX to the Sunset Transit Center and bike from there. You could even take MAX to the Zoo stop and take the elevator to the top of the hill.
So wait... can you actually take your bike on the MAX at rush hour? If so, that's a welcome difference from DC, where it's not allowed at rush hour.

If I were going to bike in from Goose Hollow I'd probably do this:

https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...&z=14&lci=bike

(modified from your link, so if the route doesn't go through Washington Park, I messed something up.
Cool, that route looks good and barely any longer distance. Thanks.

BTW, I'm pretty sure you can catch an Intel shuttle from MAX to the RA campus. Don't count on the reverse drive being quick or easy. If you're going to live in the city, you might be better off without a car.
Yeah, I just heard about the shuttle, which would make the train commute a few minutes shorter... that's great. I understand that the evening commute can be pretty bad. I think I'll want the car at least initially for errands and ski trips and visiting my grandparents near Seattle, but wouldn't mind finding out that I don't need it at all!

Thanks to all you guys for the advice. I'm getting really enthusiastic about the prospect of living in Portland!
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Old 05-28-10, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by moxfyre View Post
So wait... can you actually take your bike on the MAX at rush hour? If so, that's a welcome difference from DC, where it's not allowed at rush hour.
Yeah, it's allowed. Sometimes you have space problems, but if you can squeeze in you can take it on. Technically, there's a limit to the number of bikes on each car, but in practice people ignore that rule and risk the lecture you might get from the random ticket checkers.
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Old 05-28-10, 08:45 AM
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Not nearly as many people going from Portland to Hillsboro as the other way around. You shouldn't have any difficulty using the MAX with your bike going that direction. I'm not familiar with that Intel building. Is that near the airport? Hawthorne Farm stop is right at the fairgrounds so you could easily take it to there. I think Intel also offers reduced MAX tickets similar to what my company does. Mine is $80 a year.

Edit: Sorry, just looked at your map. That's the big campus. You could take the MAX to the Orenco Station stop and bike from there. Probably 2 miles. While Cornell through Forest Park is a nice ride, I don't know if I'd want to do it for a commute. It's not bad once you get in Beaverton.
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Old 06-06-10, 12:41 AM
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I feel I can add some insight to this thread as I have quite a bit of experience commuting using various methods in this area. I don't live downtown, but rather commute to downtown from NE Portland and catch the MAX to the Sunset transfer as both of my jobs are near there.

Knobster is correct that not nearly as many people go West in the morning. There is technically room for 8 bikes per train as there are 4 hooks on each car. It is rare I do not get a hook and when I don't, I have been given a lecture by the occasional fare inspector, but you are also able to sit with your bike in the disabled/senior section if it is not occupied. Taking MAX to the Sunset Transit would be a good option if you want to avoid some pretty steep hills.

I ride all the way home and take the Hwy 26 MUP. It is a good 2.5 miles or so that is basically uphill, but it's pretty gentle save one very steep, but short hill when the path ends on the South side of the highway and goes to the Pointer Rd before it crosses over the highway. Also, the Zoo parking lot hill is kind of steep, but partially due to the amount of foot traffic and having to watch out for young kids jumping out in the bike lane. Kingston is a rutty, yet low traffic street that takes you through Washington Park and drops off right in the Goose Hollow area. One word of caution about Kingston, however, is that in winter time, it is not lit whatsoever. So, unless you have very good lights, keep going up the hill until you get to Fairview Blvd which is well lit and will drop you off in a similar spot.

I worked in Hillsboro a couple of years ago and was required to have a car for the job. I can tell you from experience that the Sunset Highway (US 26) is horrible for traffic at rush hour. Going West in the morning is not bad, but for some reason going toward downtown on the highway during the morning and afternoon commutes can be horrible.

So, there is my advice. Hope it helps and welcome.
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Old 06-07-10, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by knobster View Post
Not nearly as many people going from Portland to Hillsboro as the other way around. You shouldn't have any difficulty using the MAX with your bike going that direction. I'm not familiar with that Intel building. Is that near the airport? Hawthorne Farm stop is right at the fairgrounds so you could easily take it to there. I think Intel also offers reduced MAX tickets similar to what my company does. Mine is $80 a year.
Thanks, Knobster! Good to know about the discounted MAX tickets. Very cool. The investment in public transportation by government and business in the Portland area is truly impressive.

Originally Posted by Mindful Cyclist View Post
I feel I can add some insight to this thread as I have quite a bit of experience commuting using various methods in this area. I don't live downtown, but rather commute to downtown from NE Portland and catch the MAX to the Sunset transfer as both of my jobs are near there.

Knobster is correct that not nearly as many people go West in the morning. There is technically room for 8 bikes per train as there are 4 hooks on each car. It is rare I do not get a hook and when I don't, I have been given a lecture by the occasional fare inspector, but you are also able to sit with your bike in the disabled/senior section if it is not occupied. Taking MAX to the Sunset Transit would be a good option if you want to avoid some pretty steep hills.

I ride all the way home and take the Hwy 26 MUP. It is a good 2.5 miles or so that is basically uphill, but it's pretty gentle save one very steep, but short hill when the path ends on the South side of the highway and goes to the Pointer Rd before it crosses over the highway. Also, the Zoo parking lot hill is kind of steep, but partially due to the amount of foot traffic and having to watch out for young kids jumping out in the bike lane. Kingston is a rutty, yet low traffic street that takes you through Washington Park and drops off right in the Goose Hollow area. One word of caution about Kingston, however, is that in winter time, it is not lit whatsoever. So, unless you have very good lights, keep going up the hill until you get to Fairview Blvd which is well lit and will drop you off in a similar spot.

I worked in Hillsboro a couple of years ago and was required to have a car for the job. I can tell you from experience that the Sunset Highway (US 26) is horrible for traffic at rush hour. Going West in the morning is not bad, but for some reason going toward downtown on the highway during the morning and afternoon commutes can be horrible.

So, there is my advice. Hope it helps and welcome.
Thanks, Mindful, this is extremely helpful. I have indeed heard that US26 gets ugly in the evenings, both ways.

At this point I am 80-90% certain that I am going to take the job, and I started talking to some family members about living arrangements. My sister is strongly encouraging me to live as close as possible to work, given that I'll probably be working long hours, and a long commute will eat into my free time. I have to admit that it's a pretty good argument. So now I am thinking that maybe I will try to live very close to the Orenco Station MAX metro, where I will only be a 1-2 mile bike ride from work and a not-too-long train or bike ride from the city.
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Old 06-07-10, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by knobster View Post
Not nearly as many people going from Portland to Hillsboro as the other way around. You shouldn't have any difficulty using the MAX with your bike going that direction. I'm not familiar with that Intel building. Is that near the airport? Hawthorne Farm stop is right at the fairgrounds so you could easily take it to there. I think Intel also offers reduced MAX tickets similar to what my company does. Mine is $80 a year.
Thanks, Knobster! Good to know about the discounted MAX tickets. Very cool. The investment in public transportation by government and business in the Portland area is truly impressive.

Originally Posted by Mindful Cyclist View Post
I feel I can add some insight to this thread as I have quite a bit of experience commuting using various methods in this area. I don't live downtown, but rather commute to downtown from NE Portland and catch the MAX to the Sunset transfer as both of my jobs are near there.

Knobster is correct that not nearly as many people go West in the morning. There is technically room for 8 bikes per train as there are 4 hooks on each car. It is rare I do not get a hook and when I don't, I have been given a lecture by the occasional fare inspector, but you are also able to sit with your bike in the disabled/senior section if it is not occupied. Taking MAX to the Sunset Transit would be a good option if you want to avoid some pretty steep hills.

I ride all the way home and take the Hwy 26 MUP. It is a good 2.5 miles or so that is basically uphill, but it's pretty gentle save one very steep, but short hill when the path ends on the South side of the highway and goes to the Pointer Rd before it crosses over the highway. Also, the Zoo parking lot hill is kind of steep, but partially due to the amount of foot traffic and having to watch out for young kids jumping out in the bike lane. Kingston is a rutty, yet low traffic street that takes you through Washington Park and drops off right in the Goose Hollow area. One word of caution about Kingston, however, is that in winter time, it is not lit whatsoever. So, unless you have very good lights, keep going up the hill until you get to Fairview Blvd which is well lit and will drop you off in a similar spot.

I worked in Hillsboro a couple of years ago and was required to have a car for the job. I can tell you from experience that the Sunset Highway (US 26) is horrible for traffic at rush hour. Going West in the morning is not bad, but for some reason going toward downtown on the highway during the morning and afternoon commutes can be horrible.

So, there is my advice. Hope it helps and welcome.
Thanks, Mindful, this is extremely helpful. I have indeed heard that US26 gets ugly in the evenings, both ways.

At this point I am 80-90% certain that I am going to take the job, and I started talking to some family members about living arrangements. My sister is strongly encouraging me to live as close as possible to work, given that I'll probably be working long hours, and a long commute will eat into my free time. I have to admit that it's a pretty good argument. So now I am thinking that maybe I will try to live very close to the Orenco Station MAX metro, where I will only be a 1-2 mile bike ride from work and a not-too-long train or bike ride from the city.
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Old 06-10-10, 02:42 PM
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Well, I'm a little late to the party but have a few key suggestions (grew up in MD, now live in PDX). I work @ Intel and they do indeed offer discounted -MONTHLY- passes since yearly passes are no longer sold (essentially a $30/month discount off current price). Rt26 sucks to drive on (well, not DC / Baltimore traffic suck but still pretty bad); I would totally take the MAX or bike commute. I have friends who get on @ Goose Hollow and ride by bike from the Washington fairgrounds exit. While on the train, they watch movies or TV shows (uploaded to their laptop), do some work (wi-fi is available & you can work on e-mails offline), or just read the paper or a book. You can always get off the train earlier for a longer bike ride if you want. Most roads have bike lanes out here. Intel has bike racks and full shower facilities with lockers (so you can keep towels, change of clothes, soap, etc. @ work).

If you are the kind of person who enjoys the city then I would encourage you to live downtown. There is nothing around Orenco except surburbia. The MAX commute from Goose Hollow to the Washington fairgrounds is ~30 minutes (it will take you that long by car on RT26 as well). Figure 5-10 minutes of bike riding and your commute is not bad at all.
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Old 06-13-10, 12:26 PM
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I usually don't ride all the way to work in the mornings as I live in Clackamas on the far SE side of town and work at McAfee in Hillsboro (about 4 miles I think from Ronler Acres) but ride all the way home through the zoo. A co-worker that I ride with usually rides all the way to work through the hills since there is virtually no traffic from downtown til you get passed 217.
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Old 06-14-10, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
Well, I'm a little late to the party but have a few key suggestions (grew up in MD, now live in PDX). I work @ Intel and they do indeed offer discounted -MONTHLY- passes since yearly passes are no longer sold (essentially a $30/month discount off current price). Rt26 sucks to drive on (well, not DC / Baltimore traffic suck but still pretty bad); I would totally take the MAX or bike commute. I have friends who get on @ Goose Hollow and ride by bike from the Washington fairgrounds exit. While on the train, they watch movies or TV shows (uploaded to their laptop), do some work (wi-fi is available & you can work on e-mails offline), or just read the paper or a book. You can always get off the train earlier for a longer bike ride if you want. Most roads have bike lanes out here. Intel has bike racks and full shower facilities with lockers (so you can keep towels, change of clothes, soap, etc. @ work).

If you are the kind of person who enjoys the city then I would encourage you to live downtown. There is nothing around Orenco except surburbia. The MAX commute from Goose Hollow to the Washington fairgrounds is ~30 minutes (it will take you that long by car on RT26 as well). Figure 5-10 minutes of bike riding and your commute is not bad at all.
Thanks, Greg, this is very very helpful! I especially appreciate the DC/Baltimore comparison, which gives me a better idea of how good/bad the traffic is Do you have an idea of how crowded the train would typically be at rush hour from Goose Hollow to Intel?

Originally Posted by JonRags View Post
I usually don't ride all the way to work in the mornings as I live in Clackamas on the far SE side of town and work at McAfee in Hillsboro (about 4 miles I think from Ronler Acres) but ride all the way home through the zoo. A co-worker that I ride with usually rides all the way to work through the hills since there is virtually no traffic from downtown til you get passed 217.
Good to know, thanks. The bike commute is sounding more and more feasible. By the way, when I was interviewing at Intel RA, I went for several runs and was just amazed at how many tech companies' offices I passed in Hillsboro... Intel, Triquint Semiconductor, MacAfee, FEI. Quite an impressive little tech mecca.
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Old 06-14-10, 11:19 PM
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"Do you have an idea of how crowded the train would typically be at rush hour from Goose Hollow to Intel?"

The train is not very crowded in the morning. It's not empty, but hardly a sardine can. And going back into town is not bad unless there is a Trail Blazers game going on that night or something.

I do agree with Greg that the area around Intel is just suburbia. Things are very spread out there and not very walkable like downtown would be. I have long thought about moving out that way as that is where the jobs are and may one day, but right now I like the city too much.
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Old 06-16-10, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Mindful Cyclist View Post
"Do you have an idea of how crowded the train would typically be at rush hour from Goose Hollow to Intel?"

The train is not very crowded in the morning. It's not empty, but hardly a sardine can. And going back into town is not bad unless there is a Trail Blazers game going on that night or something.
Thanks! When I was there for a conference in March (and got recruited by Intel!) I found the trains between downtown and the convention center were very crowded around 8 am, but maybe going out to the 'burbs is not too bad.

Originally Posted by Mindful Cyclist View Post
I do agree with Greg that the area around Intel is just suburbia. Things are very spread out there and not very walkable like downtown would be. I have long thought about moving out that way as that is where the jobs are and may one day, but right now I like the city too much.
At my interview, they took me out to lunch in the Orenco Station area, which is nice and shiny and new-looking, and has the semblance of a downtown. But it's small and kind of artificial in appearance.
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Old 06-17-10, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by moxfyre View Post
At my interview, they took me out to lunch in the Orenco Station area, which is nice and shiny and new-looking, and has the semblance of a downtown. But it's small and kind of artificial in appearance.
Yeah, Orenco is like a very small oasis in a desert of strip malls. The one thing the 'burbs have going for us is lots of great cycling. Portland has its "bike culture" but if you actually want to ride, the 'burbs are where it's at. There are endless miles of well paved country roads just north of the RA and JF campuses. On the other hand, if you want things like neighborhood character, non-chain restaurants and nightlife, you'll have to head to the city.

I wouldn't put too much weight on working long hours. I mean, there are times for that, but Intel actually does value work-life balance and most people (at least at JF) are gone by 6 PM.

Of course, in the interest of full disclosure I should say that I moved from east Portland to west Beaverton because the commute was driving me insane. That was before I started biking, though. I'm also a middle aged guy with a family, so the suburbs suit me.
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Old 06-17-10, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
Of course, in the interest of full disclosure I should say that I moved from east Portland to west Beaverton because the commute was driving me insane. That was before I started biking, though. I'm also a middle aged guy with a family, so the suburbs suit me.
Long ago, I worked as a contractor at JF4, commuting from northeast Vancouver. On a good day it was 90 minutes driving. Yuck! I left that for a contract at H-P, back when H-P had a presence here in Clark County. They're almost gone, now... my wife's been working for H-P for about a year, but in Corvallis. 4 10-hour days there, then a couple more days' work remotely from here. Lather, rinse, repeat. What were you saying about work-life balance?
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Old 06-18-10, 04:25 PM
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Do you have an idea of how crowded the train would typically be at rush hour from Goose Hollow to Intel?
Not too crowded, they run a lot of trains during rush hour. Don't expect to always get a bike rack spot though.

For someone who is young, single, and wants a "neighborhood" to live in then I would definitely recommend downtown. Portland is -totally- different than DC and Baltimore. The closest comparison I can come up with is Georgetown, DC or Federal Hill in Baltimore minus the crime. There are multiple regions, each with their own character (and price range :-) ).

Goose Hollow will put you within walking distance of PGE park and 21st / 23rd ave (lots of stores and restaurants). Some places have exceptional views (much more $$$). That area also has a lot of older houses that can be rented (turn of the century homes with 12ft ceilings, custom moldings, etc.). It's a quick ride by bike (or mass transit) to get anywhere on the west side of town (pearl district, pioneer square, waterfront park, etc., etc.).
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Old 04-06-11, 01:55 PM
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this is a perfect thread for me, as I live in inner SE Portland and work in Hillsboro (Sun/Oracle campus off of Cornelius Pass Road). I'm hoping that I can bike to the west side of downtown and board MAX there, then bike from Orenco or some other location. My concern is being able to board a westbound train in the morning and eastbound in the evening with a bike, and it sounds like it's not too bad. Now if it would only stop raining...


I've just started a new job out here and the commute is hellish. Not up to east coast standards but it takes 35-60 minutes to drive 17 miles and most of that is in first and second gear, so bicycling would really be a nice alternative.
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Old 04-06-11, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by nikwax View Post
this is a perfect thread for me, as I live in inner SE Portland and work in Hillsboro (Sun/Oracle campus off of Cornelius Pass Road). I'm hoping that I can bike to the west side of downtown and board MAX there, then bike from Orenco or some other location. My concern is being able to board a westbound train in the morning and eastbound in the evening with a bike, and it sounds like it's not too bad. Now if it would only stop raining...


I've just started a new job out here and the commute is hellish. Not up to east coast standards but it takes 35-60 minutes to drive 17 miles and most of that is in first and second gear, so bicycling would really be a nice alternative.
Funny- a friend of mine lives in SE and works in Hillsboro at Team Estrogen. She does a multimodal commute occasionally.

It'll stop raining... probably about the second week of July, same as usual.
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Old 04-07-11, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post

It'll stop raining... probably about the second week of July, same as usual.
by tradition, it has to rain for Rose Festival and 4th of July ;-)
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Old 04-08-11, 12:40 AM
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I don't usually ride to work, but one of my co-workers does. He leaves SE, goes through downtown, climbs up SW Park, uses the frontage road and bike trail to get to highway 26 bike trail, drops off of Park to Walker, then to work in Hillsboro.
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