About Tom Howe


Tom Howe Posts

Guest post: Virginia’s Creeper Trail offers an inspiring model for the Salmonberry

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The Whitetip Station along the Creeper Trail.
(Photos by Tom Howe)

This guest post is by Tom Howe, the man behind the Puddlecycle ride series. His last post was about biking to the solar eclipse.

“If you had told me at that time that those tracks would one day be a bike path with 250,000 riders annually, I wouldn’t have believed it.”

The Salmonberry Trail is a project that will make use of a derelict rail line from the current end of the Banks-Vernonia Trail all the way to the Oregon coast. The trail has been in the planning stages for a long time, but if Virginia’s experience with the state’s 34-mile Creeper Trail is any indication, Oregon would do well to complete the Salmonberry sooner rather than later.

Back in the 1980s, the Virginia Creeper was itself an abandoned rail line that the US Forest Service decided to make into a recreation trail. Given the very rural nature of the area, this idea was met with some skepticism, but the trail has become wildly successful beyond anyone’s expectations. The trail holds special significance to me, as I once lived in Abingdon just a few blocks from the abandoned rail line. As neighborhood kids, we’d go over to the tracks and walk over the high trestles as a foolish/daring/scary thing to do. The only thing I ever saw on the tracks was a Drasine – a motorized vehicle about the size of an automobile.

If you had told me at that time that those tracks would one day be a bike path with 250,000 riders annually, I wouldn’t have believed it. That figure is over 25 times the combined populations of the two towns along the trail – Abingdon and Damascus. Trail-related tourism is estimated at $25 million per year, and each overnight visitor spends about $700 in the area.
[Read more…]

Guest post: Bike trip planning for the total solar eclipse

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

This post was written by BikePortland Subscriber Tom Howe.

Eclipse path.

The August 21 solar eclipse may be four months away, but now is the time to start planning if you want to experience it in the Path of Totality as part of a bike camping trip.

A few days ago Oregon State Parks released a thousand extra campsites which were all reserved in about an hour, and many of those sites are not even in the 70-mile wide path of the total solar eclipse where the sun’s corona will be visible. Eclipse expert Xavier Jubier has created a neat zoomable map showing the eclipse path. Clicking anywhere in the path of totality on this map will give that spot’s length of the total eclipse, which in Oregon tops out at just over 2 minutes as the moon’s shadow races across the state.

But camping is still available at private sites outside the state park system. One notable location about 40 miles from central Portland and well within the path of totality is the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm near Woodburn. Here is a zoomable map that shows a rural bike route down to the tulip farm from Portland.
[Read more…]

Has Portland’s Lack of Gated Communities Contributed to Its Cycling Success?

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Recently I was planning the route for a Puddlecycle ride called “The Two Bridges” that goes over both the I-5 and I-205 bridges staying on the Vancouver side of the Columbia River. The goal was to stay as close to the river as possible. This was initially easy, as Vancouver has the Renaissance Trail that you can hop on right after coming off the Interstate (I-5) Bridge. The trail seemingly ends a mile later at the Kaiser Shipyard where they built Liberty ships during World War II. But you can ride to the North around that yard on a wide sidewalk, and the trail picks up again on the other side.
[Read more…]