Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 25th, 2008 at 11:38 am
At a meeting in Portland's downtown library earlier this week, the Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership came together to strategize about how to make Oregon the premier bicycling destination in the country.
Also at Wednesday's meeting were representatives from all across the state including, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), the City of Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT), Washington County Visitors Association, Travel Portland, the International Mountain Bicycling Assocation (IMBA), ride promoters, and folks from Marion County, Clackamas, and Corvallis.
"Interest in cycling is growing exponentially in communities across Oregon."
--ODOT bike and ped program manager Sheila Lyons
The agenda for the night was to get updated on projects and events on the horizon and to strategize about what the Partnership can do to reach its goals.
The meeting was hosted by Scott West, the Chief Strategic Officer for Travel Oregon. West has jumped head-first into bike tourism (he went with us to the National Bike Summit last year and has been present at many meetings and rides) and says that bikes are "a key niche" and an, "important part of our strategy going forward."
West claimed that bike tourism is "one of their top three priorities" and that Travel Oregon is working on a statewide, online bike information portal that will offer a "seamless bike trip-planning experience".
At the outset of the meeting, Veronica Rinard from Travel Portland (formerly known as the Portland Oregon Visitors Association) referred to bikes as "a big tourism draw...that can be even bigger."
Nearly everyone in attendance spoke to the growing momentum for bikes and bike projects that are "bubbling up" all over the state.
To capture that energy and momentum, Jerry Norquist shared information about the upcoming Oregon Bike Summit, set to take place in Portland on April 4-5. Norquist is an omnipresent and key figure in the Oregon bike tourism and advocacy effort due to his role in spearheading the Summit, as event director and President of Cycle Oregon, and his tireless lobbying on behalf of bikes at both the state and national levels.
Norquist wants take the Oregon Bike Summit "to the next level" this year with hopes for a strong presence when he moves the event to Salem in 2009 when state legislators begin the re-authorization of Oregon's transportation funding plan.
Other presentations on the night came from State Bicycle Recreation Coordinator Iris Riggs. Riggs gave us an update on her work to develop Oregon's bike tourism and recreation opportunities. Her main project at the moment is the Oregon Scenic Bikeways program, which she hopes to establish as a protected "Goal 5" level resource with a new Oregon Administrative Rule that would officially define (and protect) scenic bikeways in state law.
Sheila Lyons, the bike and pedestrian coordinator for ODOT had mixed news to share. She said that "interest in cycling is growing exponentially in communities across Oregon." But on the other hand, she told us that "there's a perception statewide that transportation funding is broken." Lyons said bike advocates must make noise when the legislature begins to look at the transportation bill next year.
In a rallying cry, Lyons proclaimed, "2009 is the time to be heard and show up!"
Oregon Bicycle Summit
*Planned speakers include U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Bikes Belong President Tim Blumenthal, and IMBA President Hill Abel.
April 4-5, 2008
Red Lion Jantzen Beach Conference Center
(909 N. Hayden Island Drive)
Stay tuned for details and live coverage from the event.