Twenty Years of Biking the Bridges

During the past 19 years one quarter million people have participated in Providence Bridge Pedal, biking a combined 6 million miles over Portland’s streets and Willamette River bridges.

Each week from now until August we will revisit one of the 19 previous years, starting with the inaugural ride in 1996. We will also bring you special offers from other biking events, community programs and Providence Bridge Pedal sponsors.

Join us this August as we welcome an 11th bridge to Providence Bridge Pedal: Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People. This will be the first opportunity for the public to bike or walk across Portland’s stunning new bridge.


The 11th Providence Bridge Pedal was the biggest Providence Bridge Pedal—21,000 participants—and it was our biggest disaster.

Many things need to go right for Providence Bridge Pedal to be successful. Two of the most critical factors are making sure the various groups of cyclists don’t merge together creating overcrowding and getting everyone to the Fremont Bridge before 11:30 a.m. when the gates close.

In 2006, biking on SE McLoughlin Blvd. to reach the Sellwood Bridge was new to the route. We incorrectly estimated how long it would take these cyclists doing the 10-bridge ride to return downtown to the Hawthorne Bridge. As a result, there they merged with other cyclists who were just starting. To make matters worse, that year only one lane on the Ross Island Bridge was dedicated to cyclists. The resulting bike traffic jam was massive. Thousands of cyclists were delayed so long they did not reach the Fremont Bridge in time.

Since 2006, we have kept registration under 20,000 and have always had two lanes for cyclists on the Ross Island Bridge. We have also become better and better at estimating the flow of the various groups of cyclists.

Twenty years of Bridge Pedal archive

Tilikum Crossing –

Bridge of the People

Portland’s stunning new bridge will officially open on Sept. 12, 2015. Providence Bridge Pedal will be the inaugural public event on the bridge, giving you an advance opportunity to bike or walk across Tilikum Crossing before its official opening. All Bridge Pedal riders (except Kids Pedal) will cross the bridge twice. This is in addition to the continuing Providence Bridge Pedal tradition of biking over the car-free upper decks of the Marquam and Fremont bridges.

Providence Bridge Stride walkers will cross the Marquam Bridge and Tilikum Crossing.

The Bite of Oregon

After crossing the Providence Bridge Pedal finish line, the fun continues. All participants receive free admission to The Bite of Oregon, the premier food and music festival held in Waterfront Park.