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Bike recreation on a roll in Oregon

Posted by on May 23rd, 2007 at 11:15 am

CCC's Holiday Bike Drive Cycle Oregon Day 1
National Bike Summit 07 Three Bridges opening celebration

The many faces of State Parks
Commission nominee Jay Graves.
File photos

The BTA reports that Governor Kulongoski has nominated Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission. This is good news for bicyclists throughout the state and just the latest sign of the growing acceptance and influence of bicycles on Oregon’s political landscape.

You’d be hard pressed to find a more dedicated and effective voice for cycling than Jay Graves. He represents not only the important economic perspective of a business owner, but he’s also an experienced advocate who is just as comfortable rubbing shoulders with bigwigs as he is lubing your chain at a local bike event.

Another important sign that Oregon just might fulfill its promise as the “land bicycles dream about” is that it looks like the State Bicycle Recreation Coordinator will be funded for another two years. You might recall my report last month that this position, currently held by Iris Riggs, was initially left out of the State Parks 2007-2009 budget.

Oregon Bicycle Summit

Oregon’s Bicycle Recreation
Coordinator Iris Riggs.
File photo

After hearing your concerns and receiving some effective lobbying, lawmakers added the position back to the budget and it is expected to make its way through the legislative process in the next few weeks.

I spoke to Iris yesterday and she’s working on some exciting projects including a new BMX track at the State Fairgrounds; new mountain bike trails at Silver Creek Falls; and the Calapooya Mountains Scenic Bikeway that will offer cyclists a signed route from Eugene to Oakridge.

Bikes will also play a prominent role in the opening of Oregon’s first new full-service state park in more than 30 years. Stub Stewart State Park, located just 45 miles northwest of Portland, will be the final destination of The Cycle Oregon Weekend Ride (6/22-24) which will give cyclists a special sneak preview of the park.

There has also been an effort to pass a bill that would construct three new velodromes in Oregon. While it may not pass this session, the bill’s backers have helped raise awareness in Salem that bicycles can have a positive impact on Oregon’s communities, tourism appeal, and economy.

ORegon Bicycle Summit

We’re headed in the right direction.
File photo

There are several things that account for all this momentum. Part of it is having intelligent voices — like Jay Graves, the BTA’s Scott Bricker, and Cycle Oregon point man Jerry Norquist — representing us to decision makers in Salem (and beyond). But another key factor is the growing awareness that bicycles can play a major role in the branding of Oregon.

This marketing appeal has not gone unnoticed by tourism officials throughout the state. Senior executives at Travel Oregon, an influential, state-wide tourism development agency, have had a growing presence around the table on many state, regional, and local bike issues. They “get it” and they also present law makers with the all-important economic perspective which bike advocates have always struggled to do.

Oregon won’t become bicycle nirvana overnight, but the “perfect storm” of factors necessary to make big strides is definitely gaining strength.

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Hopefully Jay will not file a Measure 37 claim to build a giant golf course and resort on “one of the last roadless estuaries as well as prime salmon habitat on an undammed river,” unlike some Oregon Parks and Rec Commissioners I might mention.

Dick Beverungen
Dick Beverungen

I am in the midst of a failed repatriation attempt here in Maryland(40 min. outside D.C.) and will be returning to Oregon before summer is over. More than ever I realize Oregon’s strengths, bicycling among its best. Talking to friends and neighbors here I realize Oregon’s bike reputation is strong and am sincerely optimistic about the real growth and amount of people who “get it”. It really is special.