Splendid Cycles

New Portland velodrome takes major step toward reality

Posted by on February 23rd, 2007 at 9:08 am

[A new bill proposed by Oregon Sen. Jason Atkinson could bring a new velodrome to Portland. The Alpenrose Velodrome (shown above) is in need of expensive repairs and is not a year-round facility.]

Yesterday I had an experience in Salem that I will never forget.

I joined Steve Brown — the man who’s leading the effort to bring a velodrome to Portland — in a meeting with Senator Jason Atkinson.

This meeting was the result of my trip to Salem last month. During that trip, Scott Bricker (of the BTA) and I met with Sen. Atkinson and he mentioned a bill he was working on that would direct Measure 66 funds (which uses Lottery money to fund parks projects) to build a new velodrome in southern Oregon.

Upon hearing that, I asked Atkinson if he was aware of Portland’s own fledgling effort to build a velodrome. He wasn’t. So I told him all about Steve Brown and when I got home, I sent Sen. Atkinson Brown’s contact information and links to my coverage of his efforts and plans.

It took several weeks to happen, but the two finally met yesterday.

I could tell right away that they shared a passion for track racing and a dream of tapping Oregon’s vast potential to have a premier track racing program that could someday produce an Olympic athlete.

We have the talent, the coaches, the organization, and the enthusiasm to make it happen.

The only thing missing is the right facility.

On that note, Sen. Atkinson revealed to us that he just finished the draft of a new Senate Bill that if passed, would allocate $3.5 million to build two new velodromes in Oregon; one in southern Oregon, and one in the Portland metro area!

This addition of a Portland velodrome into the bill is a major breakthrough for Steve Brown’s effort and is a very exciting development for the state of Oregon and for the Portland metro area.

A year-round, world-class velodrome facility located near downtown Portland would be not only a premier racing venue that would attract talent from all over the world, but could also be used for exciting new youth programs, summer camps, and so on.

We’ll be able to see the full text of the bill once it’s officially in the system on Monday (2/25).

Now, I hope the entire community will support Sen. Atkinson and Steve Brown and do whatever it takes to pass this bill. Now is not the time to debate what type of facility we need or where it should go.

We need to pass this bill first or we won’t even have a facility to talk about.

Stay tuned for developments and opportunities to support this effort.

UPDATE: The official website of the Portland Velodrome Project is now live. Check it out to learn more about this effort.

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  • Dave February 23, 2007 at 10:07 am


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  • John February 23, 2007 at 10:48 am

    I was under the impression that Portland already had a velodrome. Was I mistaken?

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  • Jonathan Maus February 23, 2007 at 10:51 am


    You’re thinking of Alpenrose Velodrome in the SW hills.

    It is old, in need of repair, is not covered, it has a non-standard design, is not built to regulations, it is on privately-owned land, and is not ideally located.

    If you read some of the “related posts” listed above, you can learn more about why Portland needs a new velodrome.

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  • Frankadank February 23, 2007 at 11:24 am

    grrreat. another “win” for tax payers. I can only think of about 50 million things that this money could be better spent on (first, being a big rebate check to tax payers). But, what do I know? Building something that 0.04% of the population will use seems like a better allocation of funds.

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  • Dave February 23, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    Big rebate check being what, a buck each? Maybe five, if you’re in a high income tax bracket? And hey, only about 0.003% of the population has probably ever used the park down the street from me, so let’s bulldoze it, sell it to developers, and put the profits into another rebate check! Yay!

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  • kirsty February 23, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    i haven’t ridden a velodrome since i lived in manchester, england! before our manchester facility was constructed, people viewed the project very much as an urban white elephant. in actuality, it’s now one of the top things mancunians – cyclists and non-cyclists alike – boast about to visitors to their city, and cyclists travel from all around england to use the facility! when chris boardman raced there in 1996, the velodrome was completely packed with an ecstatic full-capcity home crowd, and was the most fun cycling occassion i’ve ever witnessed (well, perhaps flaming CHUNK 666 bikes of death aside). a velodrome could be a great addition to portland’s status-bid as a world-class bicycling city.

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  • Doug February 23, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Great news. Are there any known timelines as far as when this will be up for a vote and, if passed, when the funding would become available?

    Could we be riding indoors before the winter rains start up again?

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  • JN February 23, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    While I can see a velodrome in Portland being worthwhile, I am having trouble seeing SO Oregonians giving a crap. Maybe the bill would have an easier time passing if the price tag was knocked in half?

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  • McLaughry February 23, 2007 at 10:53 pm


    Sorry, not much chance of that. The rain is supposed to start again tomorrow.

    Seriously, though, I would be surprised if we can get this finished by next winter, but it’s not impossible. The more people get involved, the faster things will happen. Right now that probably means getting in touch with your representatives, and pledging financial support (even just a little bit) to the project.

    This summer, it would be a huge help if we could get as many people as possible to come out to the races at Alpenrose. Racing, training, spectating, or helping during the clean-up day, if we have big crowds it sends the right message.

    -stephen mclaughry

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  • beth February 24, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Even though I have not attempted to ride a fixed-gear/track bike in over ten years, and even though I would probably NEVER try again, I support the idea.
    Why? Because I see Portland becoming America’s premier, world-class bicycling city, and having a year-round velodrome closer to downtown can only assist in building that reality.

    Make admission for the public affordable (less than five bucks a head, no matter what).
    More Vision Thing ideas: Encourage high schools to start bike clubs and get kids onto bikes by teaching them how to race on a track. Let the public have a go at track racing once a month with special all-comers’ days; and make the whole thing truly a velodrome FOR the citizens of Portland. I’ll never ride fixed gear bikes again but I think a velodrome closer to town is a wonderful idea.

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  • Jonathan Long February 25, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Having been around the Alpenrose track classes for about 4 or 5 years now I have really noticed how suprised people are when they find out the class is only $5. The other good thing about Portland is that we have great volunteers with OBRA like Bill Cass, the Murray’s (love you guys) and others, the classes can be fun for familys to come do when it is raining.

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  • peejay February 25, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    Wow, Beth, you mentioned twice how you’ll “NEVER” ride a fixed-gear bike again. Something you’re not telling us? Why the hate?

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  • Scott February 26, 2007 at 5:28 am

    I dunno why Beth said that, but as a fairly avid commuter and recreational cyclist, I’ve never even seen a Velodrome, so I think her ideas are GREAT!

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  • Coyote February 26, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Nice attitude JN. SO has a very strong cycling population and a facility like that would be very popular.

    If anything the state should pay for a velodrome in SO, and let Portland pay for their own.

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  • Case February 26, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Frank, the idea is to create something that encourages people to get out and do something fun and healthy. Tax cuts are neither fun (please see skyrocketing federal debt) nor healthy (please see skyrocketing federal debt). ‘Dromes not bombs.

    I’d like to see publically funded ‘dromes in PDX and Ashland/Medford. I mean come on, Paul Allen can squeeze $3.5 mil out of the state while he’s asleep at the wheel of the Blazers.

    PDX needs a new ‘drome due to the age of Alpenrose and the weather shortened season. SO can have an uncovered because their dry season is twice as long as up north. Personally, I’d love to see both, then I could race on 4 different tracks from Ashland to Vancouver, BC. Woot!!

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

    […] BikePortland.org » Blog Archive » New Portland velodrome takes major step toward reality A year-round, world-class velodrome facility located near downtown Portland would be not only a premier racing venue that would attract talent from all over the world, but could also be used for exciting new youth programs, summer camps, and so on. (tags: velodrome economic development portland oregon impact cycling racing) […]

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