About Tom Howe (Contributor)
Tom Howe (Contributor) Posts
As a driver passed a bicycle commuter a passenger shouted out the car’s window, “Get a car, sonny!” That’s not something you’re likely to hear in Portland nowadays, but this was Detroit, the year was 1964, and the cyclist was 48-year-old Eugene Sloane on his daily 12-mile ride from the suburbs to his job as editor of the publication Air Engineering in downtown Detroit.
A few years later Sloane became a best-selling author with The Complete Book of Bicycling a book published at the beginning of the 1970s 10-speed bike boom that drove the movement to even greater heights. It has now been 50 years since the publication of Sloane’s book, and for a year back in 1970 it was the only new bike book on the market.[Read more…]
Back in 2009 Portland International Raceway (PIR) decided to create a special night when only bicycle riders would be allowed to circle the 2-mile track to take in the extensive Winter Wonderland display. This event is called Bike the Lights, and it has been held every year since. I’ve been to all nine of the previous occurrences and thought a recap would be nice for this 10th anniversary coming up on November 27 from 5:30 to 9:30 pm.
For me, the most memorable year happens to be the first, when the temperature was 25 degrees with a 15 mph wind blowing. But even under those conditions a huge crowd showed up. Portland bike ride leaders Carye Bye and Ester Harlow had a group ride up to PIR for the well-publicized event. And Pedal Bike Tours also had a group ride to the event that same year, thus starting another new holiday tradition. Every year since there has been at least one group bike ride to Bike the Lights where Portlanders are greeted by a parade of holiday decorated bikes and sound systems on their way to the lights. It’s like a Pedalpalooza ride, just six months later.
This post was submitted by BikePortland subscriber Tom Howe.
Everyone who regularly visits BikePortland knows its value as a source for bicycle-related news in the Portland area. I can’t count the number of things I never would have heard about if not for visiting this site a few times a week. But something that’s easy to overlook is the value of BikePortland as a research tool for bike news that has taken place in the past.
Jonathan has been at this for over 13 years now, so learning about or reviewing anything that has happened since 2005 is as easy as typing a search into the box under the magnifying glass at the top of any page on the site*.
This value was really driven home to me recently when I came to the site looking for some historical information. Not only did I find what I was looking for, but I learned a lot more about a past bike controversy a dozen years ago that I only remembered a little about. I started my search with the word “Kinesis” as I had recently acquired a new bike frame from the Taiwanese company and I remembered these frames were once built right here in Portland. So all I really wanted to know was where that assembly facility was located, but once down the rabbit hole, I learned a lot more.
“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.
This post was written by BikePortland Subscriber Tom Howe.
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.
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.