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Three new Scenic Bikeways get unanimous support from Oregon Parks Commission

Posted by on September 21st, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Ride to Monmouth-15

Expect more signs like these
popping up all over Oregon.
(Photo © J. Maus)

At their meeting in John Day this morning the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Commission voted unanimously to to designate three new State Scenic Bikeway routes. That brings the total to four and the new routes join the existing Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway.

The three new routes are the Blue Mountain Century, the Old West Bikeway and the Three Sisters Bikeway. Each route comes with a marketing plan and the full support from city officials who see them as a way to attract bicycle tourists and spur economic growth.

Scenic Bikeway routes are nominated by local communities and are then put through a rigorous application process with oversight by an independent committee. Approved and adopted routes use existing roads and paths and, while they don’t come with bike-specific infrastructure improvements, they receive turn-by-turn signs.

The designation of these new routes is a major milestone for the Scenic Bikeways Program (which also happens to be the only program of its kind in the country). The idea was first championed by the Cycle Oregon board back in 2004 and has since become an official state program. There are several more Scenic Bikeways in the works.

For more information, read an excellent write-up published today by The Oregonian’s travel columnist Terry Richard and peruse OregonScenicBikeways.org. You can also learn more about the program in the BikePortland archives.

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  • K'Tesh September 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    That’s Great News!

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  • SilkySlim September 21, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    This is really, really great. I know it does’t sound like much, no infrastructure and few signs, but designating an official route makes a big difference.

    All those signs along 101 on the Coast really do keep drivers on their toes.

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  • sorebore September 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Is any one available to supply thoughtful responses on the actual insight of this project for the few narrow minded bloggers on OregonLive , who seem to have not read the article?!!?? My computer for some reason is not connecting with their site. My initial thought was how in a very quiet and positive way, just the signs themselves speak to a universal appreciation of our state from a cycling perspective. Perhaps many that might have not given thought to riding bicycles will be inspired or at the very least a bit more patient in sharing the road. European tourists generally have good travel budgets from my experience riding along side them!! let the locals know. 🙂

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  • Paul September 21, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I think this program would be a lot stronger if it was tied into Cycle Oregon. After a CO event each year, the route can become a Cycle Oregon Bikeway. Include/work with local eateries etc. that become “official” stops that would allow riders to fill up water bottles and eat. Maybe include hotels as well. Allow people to experience Cycle Oregon all year long with assistance from local merchants along the way.

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    • SilkySlim September 21, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      I like it. I would love to see some cycle friendly businesses set up mini-campsites on their property, like “Jo’s Motel, Campground and Organic Grocery” in Fort Klamath. They rule!

      For almost every bike tour I have done in Oregon (7 now?), I have “stolen” a CO route. Our state has so freakin’ many great roads.

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    • matt picio September 22, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      There’s a pretty involved process to set up and designate these bikeways, including identifying means to maintain the bikeway – the process isn’t a simple one, and involves a number of stakeholders. Also, while CO typically does have some great and scenic routes, they don’t all meet the criteria for a state scenic bikeway.

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  • J_R September 21, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    This is nice, but I don’t understand what is meant by “the only program of its kind in the country.”

    On our transamerica tour last summer, we rode on extensive path networks in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and the Great Allegany Passage Trail (Pittsburg to Cumberland, Maryland) and the C & O Path (from Cumberland to Washington, DC.)

    Some of those states do a better job than others of tying their communities to the trail. The GAP trail through Pennsylvania did the best.

    I think this is a good start, but it will take years of effort to make it effective and to benefit the communities and touring cyclists.

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    • matt picio September 22, 2011 at 8:16 pm

      Those states don’t have a comprehensive program to designate, sign and maintain those routes. Each of the routes you mentioned have individual stakeholders and no coordinated overall state supervision.

      Also, the state scenic bikeways aren’t intended to be only for touring cyclists, and the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway has been around now for 4 years and has already benefitted quite a number of cyclists.

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  • Paul Johnson September 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I’ll get to these new cycleways this weekend.

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  • Brodehl September 22, 2011 at 7:22 am

    I rode the Willamette Route last summer and highly recommend it. Minimal traffic. However it was only signed a small percentage of the ride. The detailed maps will get you through. Easy train ride back from Eugene. Wonderful small towns along the way.

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  • grimm September 22, 2011 at 7:43 am

    This is great. Seems like a great excuse for a small get away from PDX. I think the one infrastructure thing that needs to be looked at is consistent shoulder. There is nothing more frustrating than going from a nice clean shoulder to it dropping off to under a foot and filled with garbage and forced into traffic. A cherry on the top would be an extra street sweeper run early in the year to clear winter debris.

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    • matt picio September 22, 2011 at 8:20 pm

      grimm – If you know you plan to ride a particular route, sometimes contacting the relevant ODOT region office and asking them to sweep the road can be very effective. Cycle Wild was able to get ODOT to sweep the shoulder on Hwy 6 on the hill over the coast range before Memorial Day weekend to make the route safer for one of our camping trips, and ODOT was very accommodating. They get a bad rap sometimes on bike issues, but safety is one of their primary concerns and if they can do something to improve safety that doesn’t involve resources beyond their budget, they’ll do quite a bit to implement it.

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  • GlowBoy September 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    This is awesome. These routes are now on my lifetime to-do list.

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