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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