Travel Oregon will revamp tourism strategy and cycling could play stronger role

This popular trailhead in the Gorge is just 20 miles from east Portland.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Travel Oregon, the state’s tourism office, has released a 10-year draft transformational strategy for the Oregon tourism industry. Some cycling and transportation advocates think this could be a good opportunity to push the agency to promote car-free tourism and biking as part of its strategy.

Travel Oregon appears to want to make a dramatic change to its mission statement through this new strategy – the draft report says it will “reach beyond our typical purview and include long-range outcomes.” It says they’ve adopted two lenses to view the planning process through: a racial equity lens, which asks how decisions around Travel Oregon’s work may contribute to racial equity or inequity and how they can mitigate that impact; and a destination stewardship lens, which asks about the long-term consequences of Travel Oregon’s work in particular destinations and how they can contribute to long-term well-being of those destinations and the residents who live there.

Advocates say Travel Oregon needs to seize this opportunity to promote Oregon’s cycling culture, especially given the increasing popularity of e-bikes, which make it easier to travel longer distances by bike.

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Cycling wins big in statewide tourism recovery grants

Riders crest Snow Mountain (elev 7,146 feet) during the 2018 Skull Gravel 120 race in Harney County. The local chamber of commerce won a $27,000 grant for the event.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon’s tourism commission Travel Oregon has just announced $2.4 million in economic recovery grants to help create more Covid-safe tourism opportunities. Among the 60 winners, many of the awards will improve cycling trails and riding destinations all over the state.

Here are the projects (emphases mine):

Central Oregon Trail Alliance ($25,000) to construct a new multi-use trail near Sunriver to help disperse crowds from heavy-use areas and accommodate the use of adaptive mountain bikes.

Cog Wild Bicycle Tours ($7,962) to upgrade outdoor meeting areas in Bend and Oakridge to provide ADA accessible porta-potties and hand-washing stations.

Coos County ($100,000) to construct five miles of trail, improve physical distancing by building one-way loops and increasing signage on the Whiskey Run Trail System on the South Oregon Coast.

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Harney County Chamber of Commerce ($26,869.80) for outdoor infrastructure to support a COVID-19 safe outdoor Skull 120 gravel mountain bike event.

Newport Trail Stewards ($79,500) for phase I of a project that will construct a series of multi-use and bike-specific trails, improve parking access, add restrooms and install wayfinding and trail signage at the Big Creek Trail System in Newport.

Port of Cascade Locks ($99,998) for parking lot and trail improvements to ease congestion on the Easy CLiMB family-friendly mountain bike trail in Cascade Locks.

Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce ($11,622) to install a bike hub at the visitor center at the Prineville Crook County Chamber of Commerce.

And these are just the projects that focus specifically on cycling. Several I didn’t list here will improve the experience of visiting many of the small towns and other destinations that make Oregon such a magical place to ride a bicycle. Have a look at the full list here.

Last week we shared how the City of Portland won a $47,600 Travel Oregon grant to improve their outdoor dining street plazas.

An analysis by Dean Runyan & Associates of how the pandemic has impacted the Oregon tourism economy found that employment related to travel declined by 22% last year and total travel spending declined 50% between 2019 and 2020.

Do you part to help Oregon recover: Plan a bike trip today!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Travel Oregon bike tourism update: Summit coming, fat biking the coast, big award for the Timber Trail, and more

We love getting emails like this.

In Oregon, we’re fortunate that our official tourism commission intimately understands not just how valuable cycling is to our economy, but that it is simply an awesome, fun, and healthy way to experience our state.

We’ve covered Travel Oregon’s efforts to promote and enhance bike tourism for many years and I’m happy to see that their interest hasn’t waned. They recently put out a “Bicycle Tourism Update” email and it was so full of cool stuff I wanted to give it more attention.

Here are the things they’re supporting and working on:

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The 670-mile Oregon Timber Trail launches March 23rd: Here’s the backstory

Scenes from the Willamette Tier of the route.
(Photos: Travel Oregon)

Something big is about to happen for off-road cycling in Oregon.

On March 23rd the nonprofit Oregon Timber Trail Association will do a soft-release of their Oregon Timber Trail, an experience its creators promise will be, “North America’s premiere long-distance mountain biking route” and a “world-class bikepacking destination.”

That might sound boastful, but once you learn more about this project and the people behind it, it’s easy to see why they’re so confident.

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Travel Oregon mulls need for statewide trails advocacy organization

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Portland to Stub Stewart family camping trip-30.jpg

The Banks-Vernonia trail is one of Oregon’s riding gems. Would we have more trails like it with a new advocacy approach?
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Community advocates and government agency staffers throughout Oregon are working hard to develop world-class trails. But is that work failing to reach its potential without a statewide trails advocacy organization?

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Travel Oregon tourism workshops and better transit coming to the Gorge in 2016

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-13

More bikes in the Gorge is a very good thing.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

If you’re interested in helping the Columbia Gorge keep ascending into the pantheon of world-class cycling destinations, Travel Oregon wants to help you.

The extremely bike-friendly state tourism organization has selected the Columbia Gorge for its “Tourism Studio Program” in 2016. This is “a professional bi-state development program designed to bolster the region’s tourism economy while maintaining its rich environmental and cultural assets.” After the same program was implemented in Clackamas County in 2011, that region witnessed a blossoming of bike-related tourism projects and initiatives.

The Oregon Department of Transportation’s continued connection and improvement of the Historic Columbia River Highway has been combining with enthusiasm by people up and down the Gorge who see their area’s huge potential for tourism that has low environmental impact but big economic impact. We’ve been covering all of this as it has come together in recent years, and it looks like we’ll have plenty more to cover in the years to come.

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To promote biking on the coast, Travel Oregon looks for alternatives to US 101

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
People's Coast Classic Day Five-1

Riding U.S. 101 in North Bend, where bike and auto
traffic often mix without signs or markings.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

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.

The state’s main bike tourism agency, however, doesn’t mention the route on its website and doesn’t expect anyone to ever nominate it for Oregon’s expanding roster of scenic bikeways.

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