Last Saturday 150 people filled the Eugene Hilton to share ideas and learn more about an effort to establish Oregon as the top cycling destination in the country. The participants came from every corner of the state and ranged from politicians, bike shop owners, bike industry entrepreneurs, and at least one “BMX mom”.
The event was emceed by Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves and he got things off to an inspirational start by having each person stand up and introduce themselves. From that moment on, it was clear that this summit will go down as a seminal moment in the history of bicycle tourism in Oregon.
Following Jay was the elegant and eloquent John Blackwell. Now here’s someone with an engaging perspective of cycling in Oregon. A self-described Francophile, Blackwell said in order to succeed as a bicycle-friendly state we must first, “nurture a culture of civility” on our roads so we can be like France where a cyclists can “ride with impunity through country roads and paths.” He managed to pull off references to Zoobomb, Cycle Oregon, and a book called, “Two Wheels North” about two guys who rode up the Oregon Coast in 1909. Impressive guy and I’m glad he’s on our team.
Next up was Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon. Here are some stats he shared:
- Of the 19 million overnight trips to Oregon, only about 3-5% of those rode bikes.
- 72% of visitors said Oregon is “great for bicycles.”
- In their surveys, Oregon is ranked #1 for bikes in the Western region
It was great to see cycling on the cover of the current Travel Oregon magazine. I hope Todd and his staff continue to be excited about cycling and work to integrate bikes into the marketing of Oregon.
After lunch, Congressman Peter DeFazio gave us his perspective from “inside the Beltway”. He spoke with optimism about the fact that transportation (and especially bicycles) is one of the last remaining non-partisan issues in DC.
We then broke up into three workshop sessions to share ideas and brainstorm about website development, “Marketing the experience”, and “Growing the resource” which dealt with infrastructure and facilities. The workshops were lively and I got the feeling that everyone in the room felt like an important part of this effort to make Oregon, “The place bicycles dream about”.
For Cheryl Edwards, a bike loving entrepreneur and resident of Dufur, Oregon, this summit is what she’s been dreaming about. Cheryl has big plans for hosting cyclists on her land, just outside popular mountain biking areas in Mt. Hood and she said, “I could just about cry that they’re doing this right now.”
I’m happy about it too…not quite to tears, but it’s exciting that everyone is coming together to make this dream a reality.