Support BikePortland

Bike touring activism on the Oregon Coast

Posted by on November 1st, 2010 at 11:35 am

Portlander Matt Picio (founder of Cycle Wild, an awesome non-profit that leads carfree camping trips) sent along a photo this morning of a recent bike tour he led out on the Oregon Coast. The photo captures a great example of bike activism in action…

Postcard activism.
(Photo: Matt Picio/Flickr)

The photo is of a postcard he and others on the ride sent to the Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce after having a less than pleasant experience while bicycling through. Here’s the full text:

Dear Concerned Chamber Members,

Yesterday, we 7 bike tourers spent a delightful time in Newport [a city south of Lincoln City] sightseeing, shopping, and enjoying the city’s wonderful hospitality. We spent easily $550 in one evening owning to their welcoming nature to cyclists.

I wish we could have felt as welcome in Lincoln City, but there were no bike lanes, signs, or even a bike shop or road shoulder. Until Lincoln City opens to bikes, this postcard and stamp represent the total sum of our investment in your town. We hope this changes!

Oregon’s Bike Economy

After reading this, I checked in with Daniella Crowder, and old friend and owner of the Bike Newport shop. Newport is 25 miles south of Lincoln City, but Daniella says it’s a world away in terms of bike-friendliness. In fact, Daniella and her husband Elliot opened a second location in Lincoln City back in May, but closed it in August due to a lack of business.

Daniella says despite a core group of people trying to get the city to install bike lanes and bike racks, the difference between Newport and Lincoln City in terms of bike-friendliness is “night and day.”

Bike Newport is an excellent shop that has become a hub for bike tourists traveling along the world famous Oregon Coast Bike Route. I’m not sure if the Cycle Wild crew’s postcard will have much impact, but perhaps it will serve as an important reminder to the Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce that there’s a lot of folks who’d like to spend money in their town on something besides the casino and the outlet malls.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • April November 1, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I was on that trip! And yes, Lincoln City sucked ass. If all they did was widen the shoulder (especially coming into town from Otis, it’s non-existent, and everyone is going highway speeds with lots of traffic) to a nice six feet or so, that would make a vast improvement.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mello yello November 1, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Dear Cycle Wild,

    $550? HA! Try $3 million. Per day.

    Nice try,

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bikieboy November 1, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    The worst part of the Oregon coast with regard to cycling, and possibly in general. Lots of fast traffic & little to no accomodation for cyclists; auto-oriented strip land use run amok. In a word, hideous.

    I use the route around Devils Lake to avoid as much as possible of Lincoln City.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Caroline November 1, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Ha! This is AWESOME! Though mellow yellow has a point, I’m sure cities along the coast also take notice of the thousands of bike tourers they see each year.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Rebecca November 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Ha! Very nice, CycleWild. You make an excellent point – the city will never know about the business it’s missing (and why) if we don’t tell them about it.

    In my limited experience, the microbrew purchases of the touring set alone could keep a small town economy afloat. If cyclists aren’t stopping, this town is seriously missing out.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Tourbiker November 1, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Least the state parks are still showing “hike & Bike” campsites. I still haven’t
    heard back from the state on why the parks along the Gorge don’t offer.
    I’ve ridden past many a county, when I feel how unwelcome a city treats me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jessica Roberts November 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Love it!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ethan November 1, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    The Oregon Coast Aquarium hasn’t responded to my emails asking them to stop selling bottled water . . . so don’t be surprised if all you hear is silence.

    Bikes and feet are all they will have for weeks after the next Cascadia earthquake (seriously). Karma can sting.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SilkySlim November 1, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Tourbiker – You are right that most Gorge state parks don’t list the camper/hiker rates, but they do honor them!

    On a tour last year, I dutifully paid the full, posted rate of $17 (I think) dollars for a site, only to be awoken at 7am with a “knock” on my tent. The Ranger refunded me $13 and thanked me for biking, and not driving, into camp!

    And yeah, Lincoln city is lame. Probably the worst 10 miles of the Oregon Coast!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Another Doug November 1, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Tom McCall referred to it as the 20 Miserable Miles.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bikieboy November 1, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    ‘nother Doug: I like that! (the slogan, that is, not the 20 miles)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Sarah November 1, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    On the positive side, Otis Cafe is just a bit north of Lincoln City and has amazing pie! I stopped in, ate a giant tasty dinner, then a slice of pie, then took some for the road, which I ended up eating later that night.

    Ahh… the caloric indlugences of bike touring.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • April November 1, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Sarah: See, that’s another reason to support bicycle tourism–we tend to eat a lot!

    After my first longer tour (well, longer than three days), I was amazed at how much I could eat, and how much I could think about food when I wasn’t eating. On the other hand, after my first 70+ mile day of loaded touring, I was so tired I couldn’t eat much and collapsed into bed…only to wake up at 3am hungry and fantasizing about food.

    Oh god. It’s only been a month and a half since my last tour, and now I really want to go somewhere! Maybe I’ll head to Stub Stewart the next time there’s two nice days predicted in a row…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • DDeeebo November 2, 2010 at 7:18 am

    Heres a counterpoint for ya: maybe its not all about you. Just because a town has decided that it would like to allocate its likely limited resources toward something other than the niche activity of cycling does not mean that they hate cyclists. Perhaps they’re just indifferent to your interests. While you’re at it why not berate them for their lack of paintball and indoor rock climbing facilities? I sure do like those things but I guess Lincoln will never get my $ now since they’re too lame to have them.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • matt picio November 2, 2010 at 9:31 am

    mello yello (#2) – It’s been my experience that once any community / organization / etc starts taking it as a given that “they will always come”, and stops trying to improve things for their customers / constituents / stakeholders, it’s not long before that changes.

    Also, $3M per day is at the height of tourist season. We were there after Labor Day, when things were somewhat calmer.

    The Lincoln City IGA was very welcoming, and their employees were awesome – but that was the only good thing in Lincoln City on that trip.

    It was pretty amazing to see how many people were biking that route post-season, even on the rainy days.

    Tourbiker (#6) – Have you tried contacting OPRD (Oregon Parks & Rec) directly? The Gorge is a strange animal – those parks are in the National Scenic Area, and any improvements are subject to regulation on multiple levels. Ainsworth is reportedly the best of the state campgrounds in the Gorge, but I haven’t been to any of those sites as yet.

    One thing to keep in mind is that OPRD policy is to find a place for a cyclist, even if the park is full.

    Ethan (#8) – I don’t think any of us on that trip expects a response, (especially since that postcard did not have a return address) but if one doesn’t speak up, the chance of anything being done drops all the way to zero.

    General Notes – Cycle Wild is leading a trip this weekend up to Stub Stewart State Park (last weekend’s trip did not happen) – come ride the new parts of the Banks-Vernonia trail!

    Also, Cycle Wild is hosting a trip planning class at the Portland Hawthorne Hostel (3031 SE Hawthorne) on Thursday at 6pm. It’s free, and we’ll go over what resources are out there for route planning, how to plan for weather, traffic, etc. Come on out!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Spiffy November 2, 2010 at 10:24 am

    best. post-card. ever.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • matt picio November 2, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    DDeeebo (#14) – It’s not about cycling, it’s about people. Lincoln City could choose to make its roads more friendly to all modes, like Newport has, or Astoria, or Seaside. They haven’t. This isn’t a recreation issue, it’s a transportation issue. Some of our group took the opportunity to let the CoC know that they lost hundreds of tourist dollars simply because their community isn’t bike-friendly. One thing I guarantee the CoC knows is that for every postcard or letter they get, there are 10-20 times (or more) as many people who have likewise had a poor experience but didn’t bother to write.

    I don’t think any of the 10 of us on that trip believes that LC will change its policies, or that bikes are even a significant segment of their visitors, but that doesn’t mean we should build roads that no one can bike on, or walk along – there are a lot of people who can’t afford cars. Some of them even live, work and play in Lincoln City.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • April November 2, 2010 at 2:41 pm


    The Pacific Coast bike route is extremely popular–Adventure Cycling has a mapped route, there’s a book currently in its fourth edition just about biking the coast, the state puts out its own map as well. Thousands of people bike the coast every summer, and most of them go through Lincoln City at some point.

    In other words: the cyclists and their money are already there. If you make it pleasant for them, they’re more likely to stop in your town and spend some money, instead of trying to get through as soon as possible.

    And, as Matt pointed out, it isn’t just tourists who ride their bikes in Lincoln City, what about people who live there?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Chris November 2, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    A few years ago a buddy and I did a tour along the Oregon coast. One lasting memory I have is how horrible the section through Lincoln City was. It is not good that this is what stands out when I think of Lincoln City. One of the larger problems, as I see it, is Chinook Winds Casino. I remember the road (lakc of shoulder), traffic, and how inconsiderate drivers were was exponentially worst in the immediate vicinity of the casino. People were in a rush to get into the gigantic parking lot at the casino and simply were not paying attention to where they were going. Distracted drivers were cutting off bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers just to get into the casino parking lot.
    I’ve driven through Lincoln City since then complaining to who ever else is in the car about that experience.
    So, I may not have bought a drink in Lincoln City while on my tour (maybe not a big loss to the economy there), but I also have a poor lasting impression of the town – that adds up…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Maggie Hamlin November 3, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    As a cyclist who lives in Lincoln City, I admit it is the most bike unfriendly area. My bike and/or trike are my only mode of transportation but I do not ride north as it’s not bike friendly or safe IMHO. I ride south from the Taft area of Lincoln City to Depoe Bay, all of which is an easy ride with decent shoulders. If I have to go north, I ride with a neighbor or take the bus. I can’t argue with the complaints posted here. I rode from Otis once this summer and about had heart failure on the narrow shoulders with bumper to bumper traffic. Never again!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Beaston November 10, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    The official Oregon Coast Bike Map does its best to take riders off 101 through the residential areas. Despite a fair amount of detail on the map, there is hardly any signage and we got lost several times. The only saving grace in Lincoln City was Aunt Mary’s Toaster Bistro – a vegetarian/adult novelty “store”.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Cort November 10, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Aunt Mary’s Toaster Bistro is a great place for lunch. I wish that they would move to another city that is bike friendly. The high speed traffic and lack of shoulder in Lincoln City was terrifying.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ziggy August 25, 2011 at 11:45 am

    This is in response to Matt Picio’s comments posted Nov. 1, 2010 as well as others’. I do not live in Lincoln City. I live in a neighboring community. I have owned a business in Lincoln City for 13 years. I drive and bike to Lincoln City. Lincoln City does have bike lanes, signs and bike racks. It has several bypass roads you can travel to various locations within the City (unless you are only coming to shop, then you might not take some of those roads). A good number of local residents ride their bicycles year around to work, shopping, etcetera. This is their transportation. Numerous individuals bring their bicycles to Lincoln City and use it as a starting point for long rides. Families bring their bicycles and rent bicycles to ride on the Head to Bay Trail and other locations. Others camp and shop in Lincoln City. Lincoln City has campground facilities for cycling campers, a great community center, motels, places to shop that support the local communities and other activities. Lincoln City has access to a unique bicycle shop. Cyclists always manage and are quite adaptable. According to the League of American Bicyclists, there are no Oregon Coastal Communities listed as bicycle friendly, not even Newport, Oregon.
    Best wishes to all who cycle as we work together in positive ways to improve things for all.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • April August 26, 2011 at 8:36 am

      Most of the responders, including myself, were biking down the coast. The section of Highway 101 that goes through Lincoln City is terrifying. There is no shoulder for a good portion of it and a lot of “big box” businesses in strip malls, which makes things difficult for cyclists.

      In addition, there *is* a bypass route that’s the official Oregon Coast Bike Route through Lincoln City. It’s really serpentine, it is mostly unsigned (you end up consulting the official map every couple of minutes), and it takes you through streets that go straight up and straight down, necessitating getting off and walking my bike on several occasions despite my lovely range of gears. We eventually figured it was easier to just deal with the highway and get it over with.

      Devil’s Lake does indeed have a hiker/biker site. It has a steep hill in the middle of it, and in addition it’s on a residential street separated from the campground. We know of at least one person who had their bicycle stolen from that site.

      I’m glad you think it’s an all-right place to ride a bicycle, but there’s a bunch of people here who’ve had different experiences, especially compared to other places on the coast.

      Recommended Thumb up 0