The meaning of last Friday’s Tour of Tomorrow bike ride can be summed up by one simple fact: a majority of the Metro Council (4 of 7 members) rode the entire 40 mile, bi-state route.
The ride — which was created by Oregonian columnist and Cycle Oregon founder Jonathan Nicholas and Mike Houck from the Urban Greenspaces Institute — is meant to foster connections between decision makers and create a, “shared vision for a regional bicycle route network.”
With over 100 hand-picked politicos, planners, and advocates, and deluxe support from the Cycle Oregon crew, the ride has become an annual outdoor networking and educational opportunity like no other.
In addition to Metro Councilors David Bragdon, Brian Newman, Kathryn Harrington, and Rex Burkholder, I ran into Oregon State Representatives Ginny Burdick, Jackie Dingfelder and Ben Cannon, OHSU President Joe Robertson, Portland Parks Director Zari Santner, Audubon Society Director Bob Sallinger, Vancouver-Clark County Parks Director David Judd, former Portland Mayor Bud Clark, and many others.
Appealing to the collective power of the assembled group, Zari Santner spoke at the outset of the ride and said, “We need all of your help to fill the gaps that remain in Olmstead’s vision of the 40-mile loop.”
The ride began at the Discovery Center in the South Waterfront Development. From there we rode down the Willamette Greenway Trail to the Sellwood Bridge (we were helped across by a police escort) and after stops at Sellwood Park and Peninsula Park we tackled the I-5 bridge into Vancouver.
We ate lunch at the Pearson Air Museum and then made our way along the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail before looping back to Portland.
Mia Birk from Alta Planning and Metro Council Pres. David Bragdon on the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail in Vancouver.
BTA interim director Scott Bricker addresses the crowd at Peninsula Park in north Portland.
Along the way, we were briefed by planners and advocates on the status of various trail projects.
At Sellwood Riverfront Park, Sellwood Bridge project manager Michael Eaton (who wore this cool Multnomah County bike jersey) reminded us of the challenges in planning a bridge for the next 100 years and said they’re currently trying to narrow 124 design options down to four. (If you’re interested in helping with that decision, attend tomorrow night’s open house).
At Peninsula Park in north Portland, city bike coordinator Roger Geller addressed the group. Framing his efforts to update the Bicycle Master Plan and make biking a safer option for all Portlanders he said, “We don’t think riding a bike for transportation should require bravery.”
At our lunch stop at the Pearson Air Museum (in the Vancouver National Historic Preserve) Metro Council President David Bragdon gave an inspiring pep talk. He urged the crowd to network, get organized, and “cross jurisdictional boundaries” to connect the remaining “great eight gaps” that exist in our regional trail system.
He spoke of our region’s “natural gifts” and said completing these major gaps is “doable” and that, “It’s not a vision, it’s a goal.”
To illustrate the irony of our region’s priorities, he noted the ease of which goods move in and out of PDX Airport, “Cows can fly to Japan, but a person can’t cross the Sellwood Bridge.”
After lunch we discovered the lush beauty surrounding Vancouver’s Burnt Bridge Creek Trail. Built 30 years ago, its narrow paths are crumpling under pressure from tree roots. Vancouver-Clark County Parks Director David Judd said they “didn’t know any better” back then.
He also shared news about the Chelatchie Trail. This exciting project is gaining steam and will eventually become a 33 mile rail-trail through Clark County.
On our way back to Portland, we stopped at a picturesque bluff on the campus of the University of Portland. We heard updates on the Waud Bluff and North Portland Greenway trails from citizen trail advocate Francie Royce.
The ride ended back at the Discovery Center were the menu included gourmet food, drink, and another healthy serving of conversation.
To develop a fully connected, regional, bi-state trail network it will take a broad, cooperative effort. The relationships forged and information gleaned on this ride is a solid step in achieving that
For more photos of the ride, enjoy the slideshow below: