Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Senator Merkley rolls up his sleeves for bike tourism Oregon

Posted by on April 1st, 2010 at 9:14 am

National Bike Summit - Day three-203

Senator Jeff Merkley.
(Photos © J. Maus)

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley wants to help Oregon become a mecca for bicycle tourism.

Merkley and his policy aide Jeremiah Baumann, spent nearly an hour in a video conference with staff of Travel Oregon discussing steps Congress can take to help make bicycle tourism a larger part of Oregon’s economy. Kristin Dahl, Travel Oregon’s sustainable tourism director, said the meeting came about as a follow-up to discussions started during a meeting at Merkley’s D.C. office during the National Bike Summit.

In the meeting with Dahl was Cycle Oregon ride director and veteran Oregon bike advocate Jerry Norquist and Travel Oregon’s Chief Strategy Officer Scott West. According to Dahl, the conversation with Senator Merkley focused on what Oregon is already doing to foster the development of bike tourism, including the Scenic Bikeway Program run by Oregon State Parks, the RideOregonRide.com website, and the series of bike tourism planning and development workshops Travel Oregon is offering to rural communities around the state (in partnership with Alta Planning and the International Mountain Bicycling Association).

Ride to Monmouth-15

Advocates are looking to expand
Oregon’s Scenic Bikeway program.

In addition to what’s already afoot for bike tourism in Oregon, Dahl says they discussed several ideas that would help bike tourism nationwide including, a stronger relationship with railroad companies for quicker and easier rails-to-trails solutions and mandatory hiker/biker facilities in all national park campgrounds.

In D.C., bike tourism officials from Oregon got only 10 minutes with Merkley, so they were ecstatic to have so much quality time with their Senator. Dahl and Travel Oregon are at the front edge of a growing wave of support and initiatives that are coming together to push the bike tourism agenda in Oregon.

A central vision to that agenda that is shared by both Travel Oregon and Senator Merkley is a system of modest accomodations (like huts or yurts) located at comfortable, day-trip intervals that would serve bike tourers. Add in bike rentals and shuttle services and you’d be able to offer world-class bike vacations.

The system would be akin to hut-to-hut systems currently in use in wilderness areas and forests throughout the country (including on Mt. Hood).

“Oregon has the potential to become a great destination for cycling if we could just invest in infrastructure,” says Dahl. She plans on meeting face-to-face with Merkley next time he’s in Portland.

If you’re interested in getting involved with bike tourism in Oregon, you won’t want to miss the upcoming Oregon Bike Summit.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you.

  • Jessica Roberts April 1, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I’d like to see a “Safe Routes to State Parks” program. There’s no comfortable (much less family-friendly) bicycle route to McIver State Park, for example, even though it’s so close to the Portland Metro area and has a nice hiker-biker spot.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • dan April 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    In general, I think that clearly marked touring trails with good bike lanes are a higher priority than “yurts”. Though there are likely some exceptions in less-traveled parts of the state (and it’s a real pain to bike to Astoria from Portland), the marquee route down the coast is already well provided with lodging facilities, both campgrounds and hotels, and the Gorge is pretty good too.

    Where exactly would the huts/yurts be located?

    Note: if they’re talking about MTB touring, disregard the above. I would love to have a hut-to-hut MTB touring route in Oregon.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Johnson April 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Sounds good. As long as folks spend lots of money and leave when they’re done visiting.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bikieboy April 1, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Dan #2 — “and it’s a real pain to bike to Astoria from Portland”

    why is that?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • DK April 2, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Some easily accessible singletrack from population centers wouldn’t hurt.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • dan April 2, 2010 at 10:55 am

    @Bikieboy #3

    Depending exactly where you start, it’s about 100 miles – a long day, especially if it’s the start of a tour and your legs aren’t used to a loaded bike yet. But there aren’t a lot of options for places to stop to break it into 2 days, and (last time I looked into it) no camp sites at all.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bikieboy April 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Dan — You’re right, there aren’t a ton of camping/overnight options, and for most folks it’s too long of a one day ride. But one pretty reasonable & pleasant option is from the Hillsboro MAX to Vernonia area (40+ miles, camping in Vernonia or at Big Eddy County Park, which is 7 miles past Vernonia, showers too!) – then from Big Eddy to Astoria, about 60 miles).

    Hwy. 202 is very lightly traveled, especially past the Clatskanie turnoff at Mist. the town of Birkenfeld has a general store/cafe.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • stevenbeavenbobeavenbananafanabosteven April 4, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Facilities already exist for bike layovers. There are state parks, forest service campgrounds, KOA’s, wilderness areas, hostels, hotels, motels, B&B’s, the beach, etc, etc, etc…………

    This is a typical example of why our nation is going broke, which will threaten our VERY LIVES.

    Mr. Merkely has more pressing business he needs to attend to, like cutting about 50% of the federal budget. This congressman and ALL of the rest of them have bankrupt the world’s most powerful nation as well as the world. They are a blight on the world, are a disgrace, and should be rounded up and punished severely. November is coming.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • RWL1776 April 5, 2010 at 9:19 am

    “The system would be akin to hut-to-hut systems currently in use in wilderness areas and forests throughout the country (including on Mt. Hood).”

    The above paragraph needs to be revised. Bicycles are NOT allowed in Wilderness designated areas!


    Meanwhile Travel Oregon rocks! Way to go.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • stevenbeavenbobeavenbananafanabosteven April 5, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    I did not mean that you could ride your bike in a wilderness. Motorized or mechanized transportation is prohibited in designated wilderness, as it should be. What I meant was that you could go to one of the wilderness trailheads, ditch the bike and camp in the woods nearby (some trailheads have a campground), or else just camp in the woods off the road where noone would see you.

    Recommended Thumb up 0