Salem, Oregon ranks as one of America's best cities in which to travel on two wheels. Its bicycle-friendly city program has revamped an already good infrastructure, putting bicycle paths and lanes throughout the city. The Salem Bicycling Club has been involved in bike advocacy for over 40 years and features daily rides throughout town. Cyclists also love Salem's highly-publicized Monster Cookie Ride in April and Peach of a Century Ride in September.
Gearing up for the Monster Cookie Ride — Photo courtesy of periwinklekog
The city's Urban Renewal Agency has been active in connecting three major parks with twenty miles of trails and bridges for bicyclists and pedestrians spanning all of central Salem and across the Willamette River. Their present Minto Island Bicycle Bridge Project will complete a full circumnavigation of the Salem area in bike-safe zones, making it a treat for those who prefer life in the slow lane.
In addition to being bicycle-safe and friendly, Salem also hosts the wicked De Ronde Salem ride each year, in which the hills around town are tackled in a 33-mile course with nearly 2,800 feet of climbing!
Cycling Salem — Photo courtesy of OregonDOT
Bicycling Magazine recently included Salem in their America's 'Top 50 Bicycle Friendly Cities' issue, saying that Salem “possess both a robust cycling infrastructure and a vibrant bike culture."
Salem is packed with bicycle shops and plenty of commuters going back and forth to work and the busy Willamette University, where bicycle lanes and parking lots resemble an LA freeway without the cars. Even UPS delivery in Salem is done by bicycle, as you won't see the familiar brown vans driving around their parcels, but instead helmet wearing grinning riders enjoying the fresh air hauling their packages through rain, snow, and sunshine.
Minto Brown Island Park — Photo courtesy of Mr.Thomas
The city has an incredible array of different bicycle advocacy groups, ranging from the Salem Breakfast on Bikes Club (who meet over breakfast rides to discuss routes, maps, and city initiatives to boost urban routes and commuting by bicycle) to the Salem Mountain Biking Organization, the aforementioned Salem Bike Club, and several Willamette Valley sustainability organizations. Even the local Saturday Farmers Market has gotten into the scene, with what has to be the only bicycle valet service in the world, offering secure and monitored bike parking for the giant market which draws thousands.
You most certainly will not be an anomaly riding a bicycle in Salem, and if you do happen to break a spoke or get a flat, fear not, the city must have the highest number of maintenance workshops in the world, and chances are that the guy or gal coming along the bike path behind you will be able to put your steed back into commission within minutes. You can't go wrong on two wheels in Salem.