traffic often mix without signs or markings.
The Oregon Department of Transportation has put a fair amount of effort into promoting a bike route near the state’s beautiful coast.
A map of the route along U.S. Highway 101 is one of just three major biking or walking maps the agency publishes. The route has its own special sign. The state has even created a simple graphic showing how average traffic volumes on 101 very widely by month, to help travelers understand what they’re getting into.
“We don’t really heavily promote it,” said Nastassja Pace, a destination development specialist for Travel Oregon. “It just maybe isn’t always the best experience, we feel, from the tourism perspective.”
It’s not a deliberate snub, Pace explained when I called Travel Oregon to ask about the possibility of the coast route ever being honored. And it’s certainly not because Travel Oregon is unenthusiastic about helping people enjoy the coast on bikes.
On the contrary, the tourism agency is enthusiastic about finding alternatives to biking on 101: fat-tire biking on the state’s public beach, for example, and the long-term vision for a continuous Oregon Coast Pathway being developed by a Portland-based advocate.
The goal of both, Pace said, would be to help people “be more connected with the beach and not with the cars.”
Travel Oregon is developing a campaign to promote fat-bike beach riding, seen as an attractive match between the state’s unique sandy public beaches and the increasingly popular off-road bikes. These two photos, which are next to one another in Travel Oregon’s current slideshow explaining the effort, pretty much say it all:
“This could possibly be a cool type of destination for different types of riders,” Pace said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be people who want to ride all the way from border to border.”
The agency is currently gathering information about the coast’s best connected fat-bike routes in hopes of releasing a map that could support the activity.
Meanwhile, Pace is also enthusiastic about a far more ambitious long-term project: an Oregon Coast Pathway concept created by Portlander Dan Kaufman (and first shared by Kaufman as part of our “Big Ideas” contest back in 2010).
“The premise of the Oregon Coast Pathway is that there needs to be a path the entire length of the coast that can be traveled safely with human power by just about anyone regardless of age or ability,” Kaufman writes in his information packet exploring the concept of a continuous route from Astoria the California border.
– PDF here –
Kaufman has created a nonprofit organization for the purpose and has been working since last fall to raise $15,000 for initial promotion of the vision (he’s already completed a 19-page concept plan). Pace said Travel Oregon loves the idea — based in part on the results of its surveys of users of the state’s current Scenic Bikeways.
The Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership (an effort hatched and hosted by Travel Oregon) likes the idea so much they’ve made it one of their top five priorities to focus on the next 5-10 years.
“A lot of people said even on the Scenic Bikeways that they didn’t want to be riding with traffic or they didn’t like the traffic,” Pace said. “So we’re definitely looking at more off-road sorts of opportunities for all sorts of riders.”
– Read more about the Oregon Coast Bike Route — including a day-by-day travelouge of Jonathan Maus’s 2013 ride down it — in our archives.