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.
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.
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