Bike tourism “Partnership” lays out strategies for the future

Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership-1.jpg

Coming together to make Oregon the
“place bicycles dream about.”
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)

At a meeting in Portland’s downtown library earlier this week, the Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership came together to strategize about how to make Oregon the premier bicycling destination in the country.

The group is a joint venture spearheaded by Oregon State Parks, Travel Oregon, Cycle Oregon, and others.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting were representatives from all across the state including, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), the City of Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT), Washington County Visitors Association, Travel Portland, the International Mountain Bicycling Assocation (IMBA), ride promoters, and folks from Marion County, Clackamas, and Corvallis.

“Interest in cycling is growing exponentially in communities across Oregon.”
–ODOT bike and ped program manager Sheila Lyons

The agenda for the night was to get updated on projects and events on the horizon and to strategize about what the Partnership can do to reach its goals.

The meeting was hosted by Scott West, the Chief Strategic Officer for Travel Oregon. West has jumped head-first into bike tourism (he went with us to the National Bike Summit last year and has been present at many meetings and rides) and says that bikes are “a key niche” and an, “important part of our strategy going forward.”

West claimed that bike tourism is “one of their top three priorities” and that Travel Oregon is working on a statewide, online bike information portal that will offer a “seamless bike trip-planning experience”.

Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership-2.jpg

Attendees participated in
a brainstorming session.

At the outset of the meeting, Veronica Rinard from Travel Portland (formerly known as the Portland Oregon Visitors Association) referred to bikes as “a big tourism draw…that can be even bigger.”

Nearly everyone in attendance spoke to the growing momentum for bikes and bike projects that are “bubbling up” all over the state.

To capture that energy and momentum, Jerry Norquist shared information about the upcoming Oregon Bike Summit, set to take place in Portland on April 4-5. Norquist is an omnipresent and key figure in the Oregon bike tourism and advocacy effort due to his role in spearheading the Summit, as event director and President of Cycle Oregon, and his tireless lobbying on behalf of bikes at both the state and national levels.

Norquist wants take the Oregon Bike Summit “to the next level” this year with hopes for a strong presence when he moves the event to Salem in 2009 when state legislators begin the re-authorization of Oregon’s transportation funding plan.

ORegon Bicycle Summit

Let’s make it a reality!

Other presentations on the night came from State Bicycle Recreation Coordinator Iris Riggs. Riggs gave us an update on her work to develop Oregon’s bike tourism and recreation opportunities. Her main project at the moment is the Oregon Scenic Bikeways program, which she hopes to establish as a protected “Goal 5” level resource with a new Oregon Administrative Rule that would officially define (and protect) scenic bikeways in state law.

Sheila Lyons, the bike and pedestrian coordinator for ODOT had mixed news to share. She said that “interest in cycling is growing exponentially in communities across Oregon.” But on the other hand, she told us that “there’s a perception statewide that transportation funding is broken.” Lyons said bike advocates must make noise when the legislature begins to look at the transportation bill next year.

In a rallying cry, Lyons proclaimed, “2009 is the time to be heard and show up!”

    Oregon Bicycle Summit
    *Planned speakers include U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Bikes Belong President Tim Blumenthal, and IMBA President Hill Abel.
    April 4-5, 2008
    Red Lion Jantzen Beach Conference Center
    (909 N. Hayden Island Drive)
    Stay tuned for details and live coverage from the event.
Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Austin Ramsland
15 years ago

\”Norquist is an omnipresent and key figure in the Oregon bike tourism and advocacy effort due to his role in spearheading the Summit, as event director and President of Cycle Oregon, and his tireless lobbying on behalf of bikes at both the state and national levels.\”

In addition to all the work that Jerry does on the state and national level for cycling, he also finds time to share his bike industry experience with the local framebuilding community. So you can add \”mentor\” to the list.

Scott Bricker, BTA
Scott Bricker, BTA
15 years ago

This year the Oregon Bike Summit will have an exciting agenda that will be useful for all areas of cycling, including: transportation, recreation (Mt. Biking, tourism and linear state parks), racing, and industry. It will focus on building momentum for 2009 Oregon Legislature. The draft agenda has bike riding, information sharing, and an advocacy component. This will include a two-hour afternoon session where each sector (listed above) will break out and share projects and experiences. The hope is to learn about trends and identify needs for cycling. After the two hours there will be an hour for each group to share with all other participants.

15 years ago

If we want to encourage bicycle tourism, it would be awesome if the state could get the long-awaited new edition of the Oregon Bicycling Guide (aka statewide bike map) printed. It\’s a great map, but the last edition came out in 1999 and isn\’t currently available. It\’s been slated to come out \”in a few months\” for a couple years now! I realize that money\’s the issue, so hopefully funding can be found.

As a comparison, Washington State put out a new map in 2007.

15 years ago

A keystone project for this initiative might be pushing for a rails-to-trails conversion for the Tillamook Railroad route to the coast. Hint, hint….

15 years ago

Once again, it is an irresponsible act to invite or encourage more cyclists to ride in a city that can neither protect nor respect the cyclists we already have on the road.

Of course, money and image has for years proven to be more important than lives to the State of Oregon, and to the City of Portland.

15 years ago

Is there a plan included in this to build something like a complete bicycle-only route along the Columbia river from The Dalles to Astoria? In my view, that is the kind of investment needed to make Portland/Oregon a big time draw as a bicycle tourist destination.

15 years ago

I see two ironies here. One is that the Oregon Bicycle Summit is located in a place that few people would want to bike to. THAT is absurd.
Secondly ODOT which has built all of the unfriendly infrastructure which keeps people away from biking is putting a lot of time into this tourism idea? First we need the leadership at ODOT to pull their head out of the ground and look around at the high crime, high death toll, and horrible environment around arterials like 82nd, Powell, 122nd and Barbur. When I see some REAL physical examples of ODOT creating human-oriented spaces, THEN we can talk.

Jessica Roberts
Jessica Roberts
15 years ago

I have to agree that if it is impossible to reach your bike-friendly destination without feeling like your life is in danger, we\’re missing out on a lot of potential.

Last summer I biked out to Milo McIver State Park, an easy 30 mile ride from Portland. Unfortunately, the roads from the urban growth boundary to the campsite were just awful — no shoulder at all, high-speed traffic, and pretty high volumes as well. We got yelled at a couple of times. What a shame, when it ought to be a perfect destination.

If this group really wants to make a difference, they should focus not just on scenic routes and marketing but on roads that take you to your starting place. How about a Safe Routes to State Parks program???