Life in Portland Blog

PDX Never Had a Rush Hour Before! Creative Ways You Can Pass the Time in Traffic

 Traffic in the Downtown Area of PDX

Traffic in the Downtown Area of PDX

Dealing With the New Traffic in Portland

If you’re new to the Portland area, then you probably don’t give our fair city’s rush hour traffic a second thought. Compared to where you’re from, our daily commute might even seem like a cakewalk. But if you’re a long-time Portlander, then you’ve probably noticed your commute time stretching ever longer with each passing month. It can be frustrating, for sure.

But if you’re going to be stuck in traffic, then you might as well make the most of your time behind the wheel. Here are some ideas to help you pass the time on the newly busy streets of PDX.

Listen to a Podcast

There’s nothing wrong with listening to the radio – in fact, Portland has some wonderful independent radio stations (more on that in a minute). But podcasts make excellent traveling companions.

Because they’re distributed online, podcasts can target amazingly specific niches. Unlike radio stations, which have to err on the side of mass appeal to sell advertising time, podcasts can get as geeky as they want to.

 Traffic in Portland, Old-School Style

Traffic in Portland, Old-School Style

That’s good news for you, because whatever you’re into, you can likely find a podcast that’s right up your alley. Love design? Try 99% Invisible. Into economics? Freakonomics Radio is perfect for you. Radiolab, the Moth, WTF with Marc Maron, Comedy Bang Bang… the list of awesome podcasts goes on forever.

And if you’re worried about using up your high-speed data, just download a few episodes over Wi-Fi while you top off your travel mug.

Take the Long Way Home

Most days, you’d rather take the most efficient route to and from work, but being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic can make you want to pull your own hair out. If you have the extra time, leave work a bit early and try exploring alternate routes to and from work. It’s a great way to get to know your city better, and Portland is full of interesting nooks and crannies that you just can’t experience from the highway.

 If Only Portland Traffic Were This Pretty When You're Stuck in It

If Only Portland Traffic Were This Pretty When You're Stuck in It

Check Out Portland’s Independent Radio Stations

Have you noticed that most radio stations sound pretty similar? Sure, there are a few genres to choose from: classic rock, top 40, and the occasional jazz or classical station, but by and large, you’ll find the same stuff being played all over the dial. That’s because a few big media giants own so many stations.  

In Portland, we’re fortunate to have several options for independent radio. Check out 91.1 X-Ray FM, 90.7 KBOO, and if you’re in Northeast, Freeform Radio.

Don’t Drive

OK, so we know that for a few of you, riding a bike to work simply isn’t feasible. But if your work is fairly close to home, you might even find that cycling cuts down on your commute time, especially when you take parking into account. Plus, you’ll look and feel better, and you’ll have more energy throughout your day.

Not into pedal power? No sweat. Portland’s public transit options are pretty awesome. There’s the MAX, the Portland Streetcar, the go-everywhere bus system, and if you happen to work at OHSU, the Aerial tram.

As an added bonus, you can catch up on your favorite series or read a book while you commute. Just don’t try that behind the wheel.

 Thinking More About Public Transportation Options...

Thinking More About Public Transportation Options...

Turn “Rush Hour” Into “Me Time”

Rush hour may be a fact of PDX life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Leave plenty of time so you’re not stressed out, and treat your daily commute like a mini sabbatical. We hope these tips help you do just that!

[Photos Via: Wikimedia & Flickr Commons]