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Off-road advocates prep for first-ever legislative day

Posted by on February 4th, 2019 at 4:49 pm

Oregon is ripe for more — and better — off-road cycling access. But it won’t happen unless we ask for it.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

On February 27th the Oregon Mountain Biking Coalition (OMBC) will host its first annual lobbying day in Salem.

The OMBC launched in October of last year with a mission to, “Advocate for, create, enhance, and protect mountain biking experiences in the state of Oregon.”

Don’t let Portland’s cold relationship with mountain biking fool you, the rest of Oregon is embracing off-road cycling. The Oregon Interscholastic MTB League had a very successful first year and new riding areas are popping up everywhere — from Silver Falls to Sunriver, Bend to Bandon.

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The OMBC wants to capitalize on that excitement — and remind lawmakers of the hundreds of thousands of Oregon voters who love to ride bikes on dirt (and the millions they spend doing it every year). “It turns out there are 620,000 of us,” reads an OMBC statement about the legislative day. “Do your representatives know who you are?”

I contacted OMBC volunteer Matthew Weintraub to learn more:

What will your asks be? Can you share an overview of your pitch to legislators?

Our asks will be centered around funding for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, its Office of Outdoor Recreation and funding for trails around the state.

What are your group’s main goals of the lobby day? Is this more of a relationship building (because it’s the first), or do you have specific concerns/bills you will focus on?

We are definitely heading to Salem with a major goal to introduce the OMBC and our member organizations to legislators and build relationships. But we’re also not going to just say ‘hello’. The OMBC has identified several pieces of proposed legislation and budget requests that we believe will positively impact mountain bikers and the outdoor recreation community across the state. We want our elected officials to know this, and to also help them learn about all the great work Oregon mountain bikers have already accomplished.

In general, what do you think is the trend for off-road cycling access in Oregon? (headed in good direction/bad direction?)

Off-road cycling access is expanding all across Oregon. Local mountain bike associations and trail builders have done a great job building relationships, support amongst land managers, and most importantly, trails! We have the most varied and diverse set of riding opportunities of any state in the country, and our trail network is only getting better.

What are the threats to better off-road access in OR?

I think the #1 threat to better off-road trail access in Oregon is a lack of engagement. It’s easy to point to changes in federal land designations, or NIMBY concerns around a specific trail in a city park, but those and other threats can be headed off by mountain bikers being passionate, showing up and adding their voice and efforts to the process. That could be participating in a local public meeting, contacting your congressperson, donating to the OMBC or your local trail association or participating in the OMBC Legislative Day!

As a recreational user group, mountain bikers have established ourselves as major, positive force in our community. The OMBC is hoping to support and guide this force at the state level to help push our sport over the finish line when it comes to significant access and funding opportunities at multiple levels of government.

Will you mention the bike tax concerns? (I’ve heard grumbling from MTB folks that since the money won’t be spent off-road it’s unfair to tax new MTBs)

The bicycle sales tax, has been covered extensively in BikePortland and other news outlets. For now, the OMBC is committed to concentrating our efforts on supporting other policies that help make Oregon a better place to mountain bike and recreate.

The goal of the event is to connect individuals with their elected representative. The OMBC will be on-hand in the capitol to provide briefings on key issues, offer advice on how to talk to electeds, and coordinate meetings. No experience is needed and they’re especially looking for people from suburban and rural areas to participate.

Here are the details:

OMBC Mountain Bike Legislative Day
February 27th, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Meet at Venti’s Cafe in Salem (2840 Commercial St SE)

If you want better mountain biking in Oregon, this is a great opportunity to play an important role. For registration and more info, see ORMTBCoalition.org.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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

15 Comments
  • Avatar
    Matt F February 4, 2019 at 10:03 pm

    Any news on the off road cycling master plan? Didn’t think so. Maybe write a story about that ridiculous facade.

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      Matt F February 4, 2019 at 10:10 pm

      D@mn I’m cynical!

      Recommended Thumb up 1

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 5, 2019 at 7:48 am

      Woah Matt. You mad? I’ve written like (what feels like) 100s of stories on that topic. There’s no news to report or you’d see it here. Always tracking it. Stay tuned.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

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      Gabriel Amadeus Tiller February 5, 2019 at 8:22 am

      Progress is predictably glacial indeed. I’m awaiting the day when resistance to human powered recreation in urban natural areas is seen as an embarrassment by our officials instead of standard operating procedure. Hopefully the OMBC can help shift this perception.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

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      I wear many hats February 5, 2019 at 3:03 pm

      Considering how former Parks Lead Commissioner Fritz saddled the Parks department with 150 new full time positions w/o any way to pay for them, it is likely the ORCMP is dead in the water. Parks is so far over budget nothing new will get funded this cycle. Now the anti bike crowd entrenched in the City doesn’t even need a reason, they can just say there’s no money for it.
      The good news is that this statewide group is gaining traction, and gaining support. Its a net positive for the state. However rad the trails in Tillamook, Oakridge, and trails in Hood River are, they still don’t provide riding options in Portland. I’ll continue to ride politely in town on our trails in the meantime.

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        SERider February 6, 2019 at 9:40 am

        The ridiculous thing is that MTB has so many people that will invest their time and money in their own trails. Often they just need to “okay” from local government to do the work themselves.

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    Mike Quigley February 5, 2019 at 5:35 am

    More mountain biking yahoos careening down formally quiet, undamaged hiking trails, NAY!

    More mountain biking yahoos careening around in set-aside mountain biking parks, YEA!

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      JJ February 5, 2019 at 6:09 am

      Mike again with the stereotypes and name calling. Come on dude…really, “mountain biking yahoos”?

      Careening?

      Do you even mountain bike or ride off road?

      Your constant stereotyping and naming calling(a few weeks ago you referred to locals on gravel routes as “hill people”) speaks of your ignorance of these biking “modalities”.

      I agree it would be awesome to have more set-aside trails for biking but don’t just cram everyone into your world view due to your limited experiences.

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      Brian February 5, 2019 at 6:55 am

      Hiking trails are “damage.”

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      Alex February 5, 2019 at 7:29 am

      It’s funny, hikers love to complain mountain bikers are noisy _and_ that they sneak up on them and scare them. Can’t win with logic like that.

      Recommended Thumb up 8

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        Brian February 5, 2019 at 7:58 am

        Wafflestompers + trekking poles = spiritual preservationist
        Anyone on two wheels = loud yahoo eco-destroyer

        I guess that makes me a loud yahoo spiritual preservationist eco-destroyer (minus the trekking poles).

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      Gabriel Amadeus Tiller February 5, 2019 at 8:17 am

      Don’t feed the troll. Mountain biking impacts have been studied extensively and shown to produce no more significant negative impacts than other uses with proper management and trail design.

      Furthermore, the positive impacts of more people mountain biking are vast.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

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    jered bogli February 5, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Super glad this is happening! Direct engagement with the legislature can only help get more trails. The only thing slower than building trails is advocating for trails, but it is critical!! GREAT WORK OMBC!

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    mark smith February 6, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Mike Quigley
    More mountain biking yahoos careening down formally quiet, undamaged hiking trails, NAY!More mountain biking yahoos careening around in set-aside mountain biking parks, YEA!Recommended 0

    Mike, Mike..Mike…. Sometimes it’s best to contact our healthcare providers to make sure that we are up to date and also taking the right amount of our prescriptions.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

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