I love Big Ideas. Without them we’d be stuck in the rut of merely working on what’s possible instead of peering out to new possibilities. When it comes to moving biking forward in Oregon, we’ve got to dream big.
It was with that spirit that I hosted a contest recently asking for your Big Ideas for Biking in Oregon. We got a ton of fantastic responses! Thanks to everyone for playing along (see list of winners and others below the jump).
I ran all the ideas by my esteemed cohorts Jerry Norquist from Cycle Oregon and Kristin Dahl from Travel Oregon. After a bit of discussion, we came to agreement on a Grand Prize winner and two Honorable Mentions. I tried to get the people behind all three winning ideas to the Oregon Bike Summit last Friday, but for various reasons, none of them could make it (next year I’ll make attendance a requisite of entry).
Thankfully, Dan Kaufman of Crank My Chain TV! had a very similar entry to the Grand Prize winner and he was able to come to the summit and present it. He did an amazing job (there’s video of his presentation if you’re interested (sorry for poor audio quality) and here’s the text).
So, without further adieu, here are the winners, followed by a list of other excellent ideas that I received:
Grand Prize: A “bicycle equivalent of the Pacific Crest Trail, only along the coast.”
This idea was submitted by Ross Williams from Grand Rapids Minnesota (also next year, only Oregon residents!). Bikeways fully separated from motor vehicles was a popular theme among the ideas. Several people sent in different versions of it, but Ross really nailed it. A physically separated, paved bikeway along the Oregon Coast — yes it’s ambitious, but it’s feasible enough to (hopefully) get some wheels turning.
Bikes fly free in and out of Portland Airport – Submitted by Burk Webb
We loved this idea in part because it’s already got some legs and it’s something a lot of people have already been asking about. Instead of making it a business proposal to the airlines (which would be difficult in today’s economic climate), Norquist and I thought maybe there’s a way to involve the Portland Development Commission, Travel Oregon, ODOT, and/or other agencies to create some sort of subsidy program to make the idea more financially feasible. We can dream right?
Bike offsets – Submitted by David Pilz
We thought David’s idea to create a market for “bike offsets” was very interesting. Here’s a snip from his entry:
“Just like other envrionmental offset markets. Let car commuters and businesses that employ lots of drivers purchase offsets from a bank of “bike offsets.” The “bike offsets” are created by recruiting new bike commuters either by paying them to commute or purchasing them a new bike and paying for maintenance. Depending on the distance and frequency of the new commuters’ commute, a different size offset is created. Money to pay the new commuters or buy their new bikes comes from the price paid by offset buyers.”
And below, in no particular order, are some other great Big Ideas we received that merit more exposure. Thanks again for all your submissions!
- Officially sanctioned spring/summer mountain pass riding days. Let bike riders know when it’s O.K. and safe to ride major mountain roads (like McKenzie Pass) before they’re opened to motor vehicles.
- “Simply steam-roll what-ever-the-hell is going on with Memorial Coliseum and bike-it-to-death. Velodrome, training facility, service, retail, the gooey, bikety, chamis-chapped, epicenter of America’s bike-Mecca. Own it. Grab it. Stomp it. Use all this belligerent, self-involved energy you all exude, and tear that building, right smack-dab in the middle of the city no-less, from the evil clutches of ANY other interest.”
- “How about (and I posted this the first time the “big ideas” were mentioned) simply providing generous paved shoulders on the many existing scenic routes in the state? Call the shoulders bike lanes…. It’s imminently doable: what Democratic Governor wouldn’t love to have that many infrastructure projects to throw to the construction Unions, while labeling the project green and creating tourist revenue as well?”
- “Work with breweries to design community-specific labeling at low cost. Designs would invoke some sort of bicycle imagery alongside local natural and cultural landmarks across Oregon… The 10 cent deposit on these bottles would go to support bicycle projects in each of the communities as well as showcase rural communities that embrace bicycling.”
- “Funding to develop and support current bicycle component and frame manufacturers and provide tax incentives to start up new businesses… In short, bring manufacturing back to the USA (specifically Oregon) by encouraging new companies to start and grow.”
- “CEO Ride. Organize and lead the major CEO of Oregon’s top businesses. On the ride discuss the top 10-20 ideas from your longer list, get some buy in as to which the CEOs might support.”
- “To make Oregon the best biking state I would propose a series of mountain bike trails – with either cabins, or campgrounds, criss-crossing the state.”
- “A trans-state (north/south) mountain bike route in eastern Oregon. It should go through Umatilla and Malheur national forest and then a right of way through the open land. Of course you would need camping every 25 to 50 miles(maybe more if it was dirt roads.”
- “What if every taxpayer in Oregon received a kicker ($100-$500) that could be used to purchase bicycles and/or certain bicycle related items? Talk about incentive! Like the stimulus checks… only for bikes. Bike shops everywhere would get a boost as well either selling new bikes or fixing old or department store bikes.”
Now, get out there, start networking, and let’s make a few of these a reality!
I didn’t hear about this contest, but a proposal that I thought up would be a motorized bike pull to help people get over the mountain ranges (coastal range and Mt Hood). This example is already in place in Europe (I think Netherlands) where an unusually steep hill has little foot pad that assists cyclists who want to go up the hill.
•”A trans-state (north/south) mountain bike route in eastern Oregon. It should go through Umatilla and Malheur national forest and then a right of way through the open land. Of course you would need camping every 25 to 50 miles(maybe more if it was dirt roads.”
If Arizona can do it, we can! Yes, their trail is almost complete.
Here’s a link to the AZ trail we should attempt to emulate.
Think about what Ross Williams idea may be saying, as reported by maus: “A bike only trail along the entire Oregon Coast.” Is this supposed to imply that not only motor vehicles, but also, foot travel would be excluded from this trail?
Would this be a dirt trail like the PCT, or would it be asphalt paved? Off-road bikes don’t need asphalt. Maybe the trail will just be for people that ride those type of bikes.
Asphalt becomes increasingly more expensive, especially as the raw material for it gets burned up by industry, motor vehicles and most lately, pumped into the Gulf of Mexico. Would this trail be built sufficiently sturdy to transport commercial goods and services by bike for profit? A trail like this does not sound cheap. I wonder how people are imagining it might be paid for.
It’s a fun idea to think about though. Maybe tourism could be made to pay for the trail.
I like these ideas and have comments for two of them.
On the Eastern Oregon Mountain Bike route, there was a few years ago a network of gravel and jeeps roads setup like the scenic backroads maps you can get. Some groups fought this as needing an environmental study done even though there were not new roads or trails being created. The state backed off and the signage was removed. There were maps published and they must still exist.
On the winner, he mentioned the Pacific Crest Trail. Adventure Cycling has just publish a bike route that follows the PCT all the way from the Canadian border to the Mexican border on paved roads. It looks like a good trip to do.
those are all great ideas…
Adventure Cycling has just publish a bike route that follows the PCT all the way from the Canadian border to the Mexican border on paved roads.
Here’s the web page for the trail map…
It’s a $69 map, but it looks like you can get the GPS coordinates in a free download… and the general overview of the map is available in little sections on the web site…
Offsets enable rich people to do bad things.
I hope this could be incorporated into Ross’ Big Idea: To encourage regional trips on Amtrak Cascades, eliminate the bicycle fee
-during the off season, or
-at all times, at least on the relatively low-ridership portion between Eugene and Portland.
That is, until we get the kind of roll-your-bike-on railcars that California’s Capital Corridor does so well with.
Sorry, I meant to refer to Burk’s Big Idea, about Portland Airport.
I’d rather see a real trail along the coast. DIrt. it could be easy enough so you could even ride cross bikes on it. that would be something.
“(also next year, only Oregon residents!)”
Hey – I win the grand prize and then you want to shut me out?! I suppose that is right. Big ideas are a dime a dozen. Where the rubber meets the road is in making them happen and my rubber in Minnesota is a long way from a trail in Oregon.
That said, I decided I should at least find out if others thought it was a good enough idea to pick it up and make it happen.
So I created a facebook page – mostly because I thought that would make it easy for people to show their support by becoming fans. The page address is:
I LOVE the grand prize winner. Could be a huge boon for tourism. It should probably be a MUP, not bike-only. While we’re at it I wouldn’t mind a parallel dirt route (which might often diverge into the mountains). And meanwhile, don’t forget one of Oregon’s best kept secrets: big chunks of the coast can already be bicycled if you have a mountain bike, though few actually do it. It’s called THE BEACH!
A lot of the other ideas lift my luggage too. Car-free days on the mountain passes? Oh YEAH! CEO ride? Great.
Paved shoulders on all our scenic highways? It is VERY expensive to widen roadbeds, especially on rural highways that don’t even have shoulders today. But we could do it incrementally by mandating widening (where feasible) whenever roads are resurfaced.
Cross-state mountain bike trails? The mountain-bike haters in our bike community (you know, the folks who fail to see the “fun” in “functional”) won’t get this, but I say YES. Having learned about the Great Divide Route across MT-ID-WY-CO-NM, I have pondered the possibilities for something like this in Oregon for a long time: (1) a north-south route all the way down the Cascades; (2) another in/along the coast range; (3) a third eastside north-south route through the Blue Mountains, parts of Steens Mountain and the Pueblos, or possibly cutting west to Hart Mountain and the Warners; (4) an east-west “Oregon Trail” route across the northern tier of the state from Astoria, over the Barlow Road and ultimately to Ontario, and (5) another east-west route starting somewhere in the south-central coast, traversing the Cascades either via Oakridge/Bunchgrass or the NUT and across the state via the Maurys and Ochocos. If, like the Great Divide Route, these routes are allowed to include gravel roads, 70-80% of them are already doable today. It wouldn’t cost a fortune to fill many of the gaps.
There is a perfectly good road all along the Oregon Coast. Thousands of cyclist ride it each year. Spend the effort and resources on more worthy projects. If you are not comfortable riding the Oregon Coast Bike Route as it is, you should stay in town commuting. Bad ideas win the Grand Prize, some contest.
Say, thanks for the honorable mention!
Jerry_W: …or move to Russia!
The offset idea might have worked better if the offsets directly paid for bike-dedicated infrastructure such as separated bike baths. It would have quieted cries of money “meant for cars” being spent on bikes. And it would have created the “build it and they will come” opportunities.