Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 1st, 2010 at 9:14 am
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley wants to help Oregon become a mecca for bicycle tourism.
Merkley and his policy aide Jeremiah Baumann, spent nearly an hour in a video conference with staff of Travel Oregon discussing steps Congress can take to help make bicycle tourism a larger part of Oregon's economy. Kristin Dahl, Travel Oregon's sustainable tourism director, said the meeting came about as a follow-up to discussions started during a meeting at Merkley's D.C. office during the National Bike Summit.
In the meeting with Dahl was Cycle Oregon ride director and veteran Oregon bike advocate Jerry Norquist and Travel Oregon's Chief Strategy Officer Scott West. According to Dahl, the conversation with Senator Merkley focused on what Oregon is already doing to foster the development of bike tourism, including the Scenic Bikeway Program run by Oregon State Parks, the RideOregonRide.com website, and the series of bike tourism planning and development workshops Travel Oregon is offering to rural communities around the state (in partnership with Alta Planning and the International Mountain Bicycling Association).
In addition to what's already afoot for bike tourism in Oregon, Dahl says they discussed several ideas that would help bike tourism nationwide including, a stronger relationship with railroad companies for quicker and easier rails-to-trails solutions and mandatory hiker/biker facilities in all national park campgrounds.
In D.C., bike tourism officials from Oregon got only 10 minutes with Merkley, so they were ecstatic to have so much quality time with their Senator. Dahl and Travel Oregon are at the front edge of a growing wave of support and initiatives that are coming together to push the bike tourism agenda in Oregon.
A central vision to that agenda that is shared by both Travel Oregon and Senator Merkley is a system of modest accomodations (like huts or yurts) located at comfortable, day-trip intervals that would serve bike tourers. Add in bike rentals and shuttle services and you'd be able to offer world-class bike vacations.
The system would be akin to hut-to-hut systems currently in use in wilderness areas and forests throughout the country (including on Mt. Hood).
"Oregon has the potential to become a great destination for cycling if we could just invest in infrastructure," says Dahl. She plans on meeting face-to-face with Merkley next time he's in Portland.
If you're interested in getting involved with bike tourism in Oregon, you won't want to miss the upcoming Oregon Bike Summit.