We select our bikes mainly for their value as transportation. This means low maintenance and safety in all seasons, usually upright comfort and plain-clothes friendliness and at least some cargo or passenger capacity.
Amazingly versatile, folding bikes are the smartphones of the bike world. Their small strong wheels make them capable haulers and surprisingly quick off the line or uphill. Their tall seatposts make fitting to people of all sizes a snap, often bridging the child-adult divide. But mainly their ability to shrink rapidly to suitcase size means they come with you everywhere: onto planes and trains and buses, under the table at restaurants, into cars. This reduces risks of theft while increasing ride opportunities. Unfounded prejudices against small wheels and unfamiliarity mean that most people assume they ride badly; test rides clear this up resoundingly.
At only eight miles on a side, the city of Portland is small enough even for families with small children to get around entirely by bicycle. While many bikes can accommodate a single child seat or haul a trailer, more than one kid plus groceries, perhaps in the rain, calls for a purpose-built cargo bike. Add steep hills or longer distances to the mix and you may require electric assist, too. We've got you covered.
Once almost forgotten in America, city bikes have been the most common type worldwide as long as bikes have existed. Not road bikes, not cruisers, not mountain or hybrid or "comfort" bikes, city bikes are ideal for going places less than an hour away in plain clothes, carrying a modest amount of stuff or child passenger, in all weather, every day. With handlebars neither straight nor dropped, but swept back and rising, they support at least a moderately upright posture for comfort and seeing over the tops of cars. Kickstands, bells, full fenders and cargo carriers are factory components, not accessories to be purchased separately. Better models have built-in lighting systems and locks, too. Chains are covered for keeping clothes clean. Gears are often internal for shifting at a stop and little or no maintenance. Tires are smooth and fat enough for resilience and comfort on rough streets but not so fat as to cry for mud.
As soon as your child can walk, it's not too early to consider a balance bike. Skip the training wheels a few years later with a mini city bike just like Mom's!