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Third track added as velodrome bill rolls on

Posted by on March 29th, 2007 at 10:30 pm

Sen. Floyd Prozanski wants
a velodrome in Eugene.

Today was another great day for cycling in Salem. On Tuesday we made solid progress in fixing an outdated law, and today the velodrome bill (S.B. 926) — which seeks $3.5 million of State Lottery funds to build velodromes — gained not just valuable political support, it also gained one more track.

Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D) showed up to the hearing with an amendment to the bill that calls for a third velodrome to be built in the Eugene area.

He told members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (of which he’s also a member), that cycling has, “mushroomed beyond what people may realize.”

He illustrated this point with a story about a new bicycle trail in Cottage Grove (near Eugene) that has, “become a mecca for families riding bikes.”

Prozanski’s comments came after the committee heard testimony from Sen. Atkinson, Steve Brown, myself, Scott Bricker, and Peggy Lynch.

Sen. Jason Atkinson testifies as Steve Brown looks on.

Atkinson (who is also Vice-Chair of this committee) spoke of how quickly a coalition of support — from tourism officials, communities and others — has coalesced around this bill. He shared that his vision for the velodromes began with an aspiration to produce world-class cyclists from Oregon and said,

“I believe it won’t be long until we have an Olympic cycling athlete from Oregon.”

He also added that this would be “a small investment” that would have “huge economic returns for the state of Oregon” and that “if we can build skateboard parks, we can certainly do this.”

Committee member Sen. Alan Bates (D) from Ashland followed Atkinson’s remarks by saying that he has already heard from families and kids in his district that are looking forward to the velodrome.

Steve Brown wants a new velodrome in Portland
Steve Brown

Steve Brown, the man behind Portland’s velodrome effort was up next. He laid out a very compelling case for supporting the bill. I made a recording of his entire testimony and encourage you to listen to it. It’s just five minutes long, and it will give you a good primer on what these velodromes would mean to Oregon and why so many people are throwing their support behind this bill.

Here’s the clip:

My testimony focused on how these velodromes fit into the larger, ongoing effort to make Oregon the nation’s premier state for bicycling. I also reminded the committee that these facilities would have an impact on Oregon’s youth obesity epidemic by providing a healthy recreational opportunity to thousands of kids each year.

BTA lobbyist Scott Bricker was on hand to pledge the BTA’s full support. He also took the opportunity to mention an upcoming report by the Outdoor Industry Association that pegs the economic impact of bicycling in the Pacific region at $15 billion.

There was only one person that testified against the bill; Peggy Lynch from the League of Women Voters. Lynch made it clear that her group is not against the project itself (they love bikes), but that they are concerned with how it is funded.

Lynch wants State Parks/Lottery money to be used to acquire parks land and she asked the committee to either not support the bill, or find another funding source.

After hearing all the testimony, the committee unanimously supported the bill (and Prozanski’s amendment) and moved it on to the next step. From here, it will be assigned to a ways and means subcommittee and if all goes well, it could receive a vote on the Senate floor within six weeks.

Now the real challenge begins. Ways and means is where the buck stops, but if we can get them on board with us, we may just make this thing happen.

We have broad and extremely enthusiastic political and community support, and we also have a very compelling story to tell. It’s just a matter of telling it in the right way, to the right people, at the right time.

Once we know which subcommittee the bill is assigned to, we will need to focus our activism in its direction. Stay tuned for more information.

For more background, browse my extensive coverage of this topic.

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Comments
  • Bill March 30, 2007 at 7:37 am

    Jonathan,
    Thanks for keeping this on the front page. I have written to my Representative and the Chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources in support of this bill. Who should we contact on the Ways and Means Committee?

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  • Jonathan Maus March 30, 2007 at 7:50 am

    “Who should we contact on the Ways and Means Committee?”

    no one yet. we need to wait until we figure out which subcommittee it will be heard in.

    I will put out the call when the time is right. stay tuned.

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  • Steve March 30, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Thanks for the report. Is there anything in the bill about how the $3.5 million would be split between the three communities? Would it be split into three equal parts?

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  • Disco D March 30, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Oh yea, Steve reminds me of a question I forgot to ask.

    The bill was originall for $3.5mil for 2 velodromes right? Now we are up to possibly three…so is the dollar figure changing to $5.25mil (1.75 per) or will there just be less money to go around now?

    Also, is that even enough per velodrome? Is the rest just coming from private funding?

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  • Jonathan Maus March 30, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Steve and Disco D,

    This is still just a bill. and it hasn’t been in front of a budget-minded committee yet. So, who knows, maybe the amount will change.

    That being said.

    I have heard no talk of the requested amount changing with the addition of another velodrome.

    Also, whatever money comes out of this bill, is simply being looked at as seed money to kickstart these velodrome projects.

    The plan is then to drum up matching funds from the communities to make up the rest.

    A key thing to remember is that the velodromes will be entirely self-funding once they are built.

    OBRA currently runs one of the best track programs in the country, with no operating budget. Everything pays for itself.

    That is one reason why this is such a good investment for Oregon. We are not asking for ongoing maintenance or resources for these facilities. They will be operated, ran, and kept up by the bicycle communities in each area.

    All that being said, once the bill gets heard by ways and means, all these funding questions will be vetted out.

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  • [...] From the article at bikeportland.org. Today was another great day for cycling in Salem. On Tuesday we made solid progress in fixing an outdated law, and today the velodrome bill (S.B. 926) — which seeks $3.5 million of State Lottery funds to build velodromes — gained not just valuable political support, it also gained one more track. He also added that this would be “a small investment” that would have “huge economic returns for the state of Oregon” and that “if we can build skateboard parks, we can certainly do this.” Filed under: TrackGear, FixedGear, Velodrome, Cycling, Legal, Portland, Oregon, News   |   [...]

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  • John March 30, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    “A key thing to remember is that the velodromes will be entirely self-funding once they are built.”

    I am worried about this. A wood track that is indoors (right?) needs money to keep lights on, maintenance, ventilation run, insurance (somehow Alpenrose doesn’t mind people riding there…). These things add up very quickly – there needs to be a plan in place to realistically pay the day to day costs.
    The most successful velodrome in the country – Trexlertown, PA was completely donated by Bob Rodale and has a 2 million dollar trust fund to pay such operating costs. It pulls in large amounts of gate fees from spectators (1,000+ at $7 each) on race nights along with plenty of sponsorship money and it still has serious financial issues.
    A velodrome needs a long term business plan that is based on more than construction money and the hope that sponsors will pile on.
    I am very much in support of this happening, but I have seen such projects crash (tracks in MN, TX, LA, NJ…) due to unrealistic long term funding plans.
    That said, what’s the plan?

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  • Steve Brown April 5, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    Fortunately for us in Portland we have Mike Murray, one of the best operators in the country. All the items you have mentioned are in consideration.

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  • links for 2007-06-24 June 23, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    [...] BikePortland.org » Blog Archive » Third track added as velodrome bill rolls on Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D) showed up to the hearing with an amendment to the bill that calls for a third velodrome to be built in the Eugene area. (tags: velodrome portland oregon economic development tourism impact) [...]

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