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Oregon City votes to build bike tourism 'epicenter' in Amtrak station

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 18th, 2013 at 10:53 am

Adam from First City Cycles
First City Cycles employee Adam Beykovsky
is helping promote bike tourism in Oregon City.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Clackamas County is once again placing its bets on bicycle tourism as a way to bolster local industry and economic vitality. As The Oregonian reports, the Urban Renewal Commission in Oregon City voted Wednesday to support a proposal by a local bike shop owner to develop a bike tourism hub inside a vacant Amtrak station.

The idea for the "First City Central Marketplace & Bistro" was conceived by Blaine Meier, owner of First City Cycles. Meier's shop opened in July of last year and he wasted no time in getting the idea off the ground. In September Meier told the Clackamas Review newspaper, "I’m excited about the opportunity, and I think it’ll be a great way to promote Oregon City tourism."

Oregon City is a struggling mill town that is undergoing a bit of rebirth with a recent (and bike-friendly) renovation to its downtown streets and main bridge over the Willamette. When I was down there for a story back in October I swung into First City Cycles and met a young and bright-eyed employee named Adam Beykovsky.

Adam shared how he grew up in Oregon City and experienced its economic struggles first hand. He spoke of the need for a new focus and how Oregon City should capitalize on its prime location as a bicycle adventure gateway. With First City Central, it now seems like he and his boss have taken a huge step toward that goal.

"We're hoping this will help change image of Oregon City as "a dying mill town" into a recreational cycling destination," Adam shared via email this morning.

Or, as Meier puts it in his official proposal (PDF), "The goal of the train depot project will be to make First City Central the epicenter of cycling and cycle tourism in Clackamas County and beyond."

The revitalized Amtrak station (at 1757 Washington Street, across from the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Museum) will include a marketplace with local vendors (selling everything from crafts to beer and snacks), improved service for Amtrak customers, and tons of resources and inspiration for bicycle riders. Below are some of the bike-related components of the project as outlined in Meier's proposal:

Bicycle Education – The depot will be a fun place for kids and adults to come explore and learn about the history and benefits of cycling. They’ll also be able to pedal a bicycle-powered blender to make a smoothie, or spin on a bicycle- powered gyro chair, or attend a bicycle repair workshop.

Community Events – The depot will be used as a staging area for a number of different cycling-related events. Cycling enthusiasts will be able to talk, strategize, and plan together with bicycle advocacy and tourism representatives. The south end of the depot will feature a map room with wall maps from floor to ceiling along with wi-fi internet access for trip-planning and research. Together, the map room and the marketplace will foster an environment where ideas about cycling and cycle tourism can be readily exchanged and acted upon.

The south-end of the building will be used to house the Oregon City Trail Alliance and various representatives from bicycle advocacy groups and tourism organizations. This space will be used to serve cycling community and to support cycle tourism.

  • Education display: “Bike Science—Evolution to Revolution”
  • Bicycle-themed lounge with couches, TV-DVD, books, maps, art, etc.
  • Small retail space for bicycles, accessories, and minor repairs
  • Brochures re bicycle group rides, overnight tours, and train packages
  • Map room with web access for trip planning and information exchange
  • Office and meeting area for the Oregon City Trail Alliance and representatives from various cycling advocacy groups and tourism organizations
  • Meeting area for organizing group rides and storing supplies and gear
  • Kitchen area for organizing food service for group rides
  • Showers for touring cyclists

Oregon City is ideally situated to reach all sorts of bike adventures — from major, multi-day tours to daily jaunts on local paths and trails. When combined with Amtrak service, the amount and variety of destinations one can reach without a car is mind-bogglingly wonderful. From Mt. Hood to Champoeg State Park and the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway to the Trolley Trail and more.

Once renovations are completed, First City Central will be open and staffed from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm seven days a week. With approval from the Urban Renewal Commission, the next step is to flesh out the business plan and work with vendors and partners on management and start-up expenses.

This is an exciting development for bike tourism in Oregon! Stay tuned for updates and more info as the project evolves.

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  • wsbob January 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    "....The revitalized Amtrak station (at 1757 Washington Street, across from the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Museum) will include a marketplace with local vendors (selling everything from crafts to beer and snacks), improved service for Amtrak customers, ..." maus/bikeportland

    This Amtrak station is reported to be currently vacant, apparently offering no service at present, to train customers. It's not very clear what in the way of improved services to Amtrak customers, Beykovsky's proposal is offering.

    His idea generally sounds good though. Clackamas County does have excellent opportunities for riding.

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    • Chris I January 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      Aside from public restrooms, the marketplace will provide an indoor location for Amtrak riders to wait, buy refreshments, etc.

      A bigger concern might be the possibility that ODOT decides to revitalize the Oregon Electric line and run Amtrak down that route, which would avoid Oregon City altogether.

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  • Paul in the 'couve January 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Thought #1 - too bad AmTrak only runs 1 time per day from Vancouver.....

    Thought #2 - there is plenty of room at the Vancouver AmTrak station....

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    • Chris I January 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      There is one roundtrip from Vancouver BC. Vancouver, WA has 10+ trains come through every day. Oregon City sees 6: 2 northbound Cascades in the morning, and one Coast Starlight. One southbound Starlight in the afternoon, and two southbound Cascades in the evening.

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      • adventure! January 18, 2013 at 9:03 pm

        Yeah, Paul in the 'Couve's comment is weird since Vancouver, Wash. sees 5 round-trips daily to/from Seattle, one round-trip daily to/from the other Vancouver, 2 round-trips daily to/from Eugene, one round-trip daily to/from California cities like Sacramento, Oakland, and LA, and most importantly one round-trip daily to/from Minot, North Dakota. (Oh yeah, and Spokane, Minneapolis, and Chicago.)
        (Though with all those trains coming through, yeah, maybe Vancouver could use a bike hub too?)

        One point of correction, though: Oregon City only sees two round-trips daily, the Cascades running Seattle-Portland-Eugene, making a total of FOUR trains. The Coast Starlight, the train that goes all the way to LA, does NOT stop in O.C, one of the few stops it skips. I think it would make a bike tourism hub more effective if the Starlight stopped in Oregon City, but that might be tough to make happen.

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        • matthew vilhauer January 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm

          i've used amtrak to & from big tours & short trips with my bike and the station & folks here in vancouver are super. it's a huge plus that it's about an 8 minute ride from my house. if you aren't able to get a hook for your bike & have to box it i would strongly reccommend puchasing extra insurance if it is worth more than the $500 value incluted in your fare. i brought three touring bikes back from san diego (two belonged to friends that i toured with that flew back & it was much cheaper to pay my extra baggage & box fees) but all three missed the connection in LA. they did show up the next day & amtrak had them delivered to my house in a taxi which i thought was really good customer service. do yourself a favor & just get the additional insurance. the $500 they would have paid if the bikes never showed wouldn't have covered half of any one of the bikes i brought back.

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        • Paul in the 'couve January 22, 2013 at 8:36 am

          Sorry for my mis-information. I didn't realize how many trains run through and stop at Vancouver, besides the BC train... I've tried to book train tickets to Seattle before and found the times very limiting. I forgot completely about the Spokane train. Anyway, maybe I'll play with the booking site, but I will still be surprised if it is actually possible to ride the train from Vancouver to Oregon City, take a bike ride and get back to Vancouver by train the same day.

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  • Spiffy January 18, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I never thought of Oregon City as a dying mill town, just a suburban commuter town...

    I never consider it a destination for bicycling because of the huge hills to get into the new parts of town... but if you're just passing through on the lower parts it's pleasant enough as long as you avoid the locals...

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  • JOHN ALAN NAYLOR January 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    We recently had a San Francisco couple do exactly what Blaine/Adam have in mind. This couple boarded a train to Portland, then got on the MAX out to Hillsboro. At this point, they rented commuter bikes from us, loaded up their gear and rode out to a friend's wedding in North Plains, where they camped for a week. They then repeated the process on the way back home, and accomplished the task of attending a good friend's wedding from San Francisco to North Plains and back- without a car! Hooray for bike vacations!

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  • Terry D January 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Oregon City is one of our favorite day trips bike loops. I have always found the older parts of the city to be friendly and it will be really nice when this is done. The area is starting to gentrify with more restaurant choices than ten years ago when I would ride out there.

    It will be really nice after the new MAX line and all the southbound Trolly Trail and bike lane connections are finished. Hopefully, we can expand the bike tourism industry enough with enterprises such as these so the "job creating political types" in Salem will see how important nice muti-use trails can be as an economic growth tool....and fund building a network of them.

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  • Paul Smith January 18, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Sounds like a neat place, worthy of a visit itself! Makes me want to plan a bike trip just to try Amtrak/it out.

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  • Austin January 18, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    As a Seattle resident looking forward to planning a train/bike trip to the Portland area for bike related tourism this year once the weather turns slightly more agreeable, I am very interested in anything like this.

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  • Thom January 21, 2013 at 11:18 am

    The biggest improvement to Amtrack service in OC that I woud like to see is the ability to board the train with my bike. Otherwise the whole bike/train thing in Oregon City is moot.

    I do like what they are trying to do though, it sounds like a great bike facility in a town that sorely lacks.

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    • adventure! January 22, 2013 at 11:58 am

      I thought you could bring your bike on board. I just looked up a couple options, either using Oregon City as a departure or arrival station, and it allows you to "Add Bike" to the trip. (Remember: Cascades trains are roll-on bike service.)

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  • bkh August 10, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I work at the top of hill in Oregon City on the red soils campus for OSU Extension. I live in Portland, and would LOVE it if the amtrack had a morning train from Portland to Oregon City, so

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  • bkh August 10, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    ...I could bike to Union Station and commune to Oregon City and home again in the evening. I know there are many others who work for Clackamas County who would do the same. Especially if there was a way for us to get a ride up the hill in the mornings to the county campus. Does anyone know if this has been considered? Pleas consider this in the expanded Amtrack service!!!

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