Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 14th, 2007 at 3:46 pm
We’re half way through the Oregon Bicycle Summit here in Sisters. Summit attendees have been learning the what’s-what and who’s-who in Oregon’s bicycle movement.
Jonathan Nicholas kicked off the event this morning with an engaging talk about the history of the ride he started on a whim 20 years ago, Cycle Oregon. He expected 40 riders that first year and when over 1000 showed up he knew he was onto something special.
Nicholas also gave a preview of the upcoming Cycle Oregon Weekend ride in Vernonia. That ride will help launch the opening of Stub Stewart State Park, Oregon’s first for over 30 years. In conjunction with that ride, Oregon State Parks reps are working with ODOT to close Highway 47 to cars from Vernonia to the new park for the morning of Sunday, June 24th.
The potential and importance of bicycle tourism are a major focus of this event. Scott West, Chief of Strategy for Travel Oregon shared with us how important bicycles are to their work. A new cyclist who started riding because running was too hard on his knees, West said that his work to, “make cycling a more mature product,” is very rewarding both personally and professionally. He said,
“We know cycling is authentic, cool, and quirky…know how do we convey that to visitors and to the public?”
West said Travel Oregon is “supremely committed” to bicycling and that they will work hard to move it forward in Oregon.
Scott Bricker of the BTA was next to the podium. Bricker gave us an update on bicycle-related legislation and a snapshot of the bike-partisan political situation in Salem. Bricker referred to the current momentum for bicycling in Oregon as the “building of power.” He also encouraged everyone in the room to become more activated into the issues. He asked every table to list on paper which issues they want to be involved with.
Bricker gave us an update on the BTA’s bills in Salem.
Their Vulnerable Roadway Users Bill (House Bill 3314) will receive a hearing next week. The bill would stiffen the consequences of careless driving that results in death or serious injury to cyclists (and others).
The Pedestrian Hand Signal bill (Senate Bill 573) — which would be the first of its kind in the nation — is also moving through the system.
Unfortunately, according to Bricker, it seems like Oregon’s chances to have a minimum passing distance law will not happen this session. Bricker said it is “mired and likely dead.” The problem seems to be disagreements by lawmakers in the Senate Judiciary Committee over what a “safe” passing distance is and how severe the punishment should be.
He also mentioned a bill that I’ve heard nothing about till now. As part of Oregon’s Safe Routes to School program, Senate Bill 242 would require all newly built schools to complete a comprehensive transportation plan.
After the morning talks were complete, the attendees ventured to breakout sessions to learn more about selected issues. These sessions included; an update on mountain biking from Oregon representatives of the International Mountain Bicycling Association; a rundown of bicycle and pedestrian grant programs from ODOT, Oregon State Parks, and Travel Oregon; a rundown of Oregon’s Safe Routes to Schools program; and a session about bicycle recreation in Oregon.
More news and and views to come. For now, check out all the stories and photos on my Oregon Bicycle Summit page.