Editorial: On 2 wheels

The economic and social values of cycling

Two wheels at a time, bicycles are making a difference in the Columbia River Gorge as more and more people ride and more and more cycling events and opportunities for all ages arrive on the scene.

This week comes the news that recreational bicycle travel accounts for $400 million out of Oregon’s annual $9 billion tourism industry, according to the Oregon Bicycle travel Survey released this week by Travel Oregon. That high-gear economic stimulus is welcome news for the Gorge’s cycle-oriented businesses as well as supporting merchants, including restaurants, hotels, and retailers.

Cycling opportunities range from the Gorge Ride June 15. a fully-supported non-competitive ride that’s a fundraiser for Friends of the Columbia Gorge, to the mountain bike development classes offered through Cooper Spur Race Team (cooperspurraceteam.org) during June, July and August.

In Cascade Locks, the Short Track Racing Series (May 16 to June 13) will provide fun opportunities for riders of all skill levels at the Easy CLIMB trail system (www.gorgeshorttrack.com)

In the non-competitive realm, there are other encouraging signs about our local bicycling culture.

In May, students at Westside Elementary many students are arriving at school wearing helmets. The school expanded its walk and bike to school week observance, the first week of May, to the entire month. At the school’s first-ever Bike Fair, last week, a local citizen gave away 13 bikes to students at the school. For several years, Lynne Frost and her family have quietly been collecting, restoring and giving away bicycles as Happy Wheels Foundation.

Several times a year, helmets and accessories, along with safety checks, are provided during safety fairs at Jackson Park. All these amount to ways local groups (and there are others) are encouraging our young people to make cycling a life skill.

In Cascade Locks, on the Indian Creek Trail, and at Post Canyon, trails are either are either new or improving, and later this summer ODOT will complete the Historic Highway trail link west of Cascade Locks, which will make it possible to ride from Troutdale to Cascade Locks, something that will certainly bring an influx of cycling tourism, especially given the new recreational facilities around Cascade Locks.

With summer just around the corner, cycling season is about to reach its prime. With a tip of the helmet to the importance of bicycling as a sport and recreational activity should come the tandem awareness of the need for bicycle safety.

Bicyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles, and motorists are asked to be alert and accommodating to cyclists at intersections and along narrow and winding stretches of road.

We can all share the road, be it by two wheels or four, and we can do so safely and enjoy the scenery while we’re at it.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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