a velodrome in Eugene.
Today was another great day for cycling in Salem. On Tuesday we made solid progress in fixing an outdated law, and today the velodrome bill (S.B. 926) — which seeks $3.5 million of State Lottery funds to build velodromes — gained not just valuable political support, it also gained one more track.
Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D) showed up to the hearing with an amendment to the bill that calls for a third velodrome to be built in the Eugene area.
He told members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (of which he’s also a member), that cycling has, “mushroomed beyond what people may realize.”
He illustrated this point with a story about a new bicycle trail in Cottage Grove (near Eugene) that has, “become a mecca for families riding bikes.”
Prozanski’s comments came after the committee heard testimony from Sen. Atkinson, Steve Brown, myself, Scott Bricker, and Peggy Lynch.
Atkinson (who is also Vice-Chair of this committee) spoke of how quickly a coalition of support — from tourism officials, communities and others — has coalesced around this bill. He shared that his vision for the velodromes began with an aspiration to produce world-class cyclists from Oregon and said,
“I believe it won’t be long until we have an Olympic cycling athlete from Oregon.”
He also added that this would be “a small investment” that would have “huge economic returns for the state of Oregon” and that “if we can build skateboard parks, we can certainly do this.”
Committee member Sen. Alan Bates (D) from Ashland followed Atkinson’s remarks by saying that he has already heard from families and kids in his district that are looking forward to the velodrome.
Steve Brown, the man behind Portland’s velodrome effort was up next. He laid out a very compelling case for supporting the bill. I made a recording of his entire testimony and encourage you to listen to it. It’s just five minutes long, and it will give you a good primer on what these velodromes would mean to Oregon and why so many people are throwing their support behind this bill.
Here’s the clip:
My testimony focused on how these velodromes fit into the larger, ongoing effort to make Oregon the nation’s premier state for bicycling. I also reminded the committee that these facilities would have an impact on Oregon’s youth obesity epidemic by providing a healthy recreational opportunity to thousands of kids each year.
BTA lobbyist Scott Bricker was on hand to pledge the BTA’s full support. He also took the opportunity to mention an upcoming report by the Outdoor Industry Association that pegs the economic impact of bicycling in the Pacific region at $15 billion.
There was only one person that testified against the bill; Peggy Lynch from the League of Women Voters. Lynch made it clear that her group is not against the project itself (they love bikes), but that they are concerned with how it is funded.
Lynch wants State Parks/Lottery money to be used to acquire parks land and she asked the committee to either not support the bill, or find another funding source.
After hearing all the testimony, the committee unanimously supported the bill (and Prozanski’s amendment) and moved it on to the next step. From here, it will be assigned to a ways and means subcommittee and if all goes well, it could receive a vote on the Senate floor within six weeks.
Now the real challenge begins. Ways and means is where the buck stops, but if we can get them on board with us, we may just make this thing happen.
We have broad and extremely enthusiastic political and community support, and we also have a very compelling story to tell. It’s just a matter of telling it in the right way, to the right people, at the right time.
Once we know which subcommittee the bill is assigned to, we will need to focus our activism in its direction. Stay tuned for more information.
For more background, browse my extensive coverage of this topic.