is helping promote bike tourism in Oregon City.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Clackamas County is once again placing its bets on bicycle tourism as a way to bolster local industry and economic vitality. As The Oregonian reports, the Urban Renewal Commission in Oregon City voted Wednesday to support a proposal by a local bike shop owner to develop a bike tourism hub inside a vacant Amtrak station.
The idea for the “First City Central Marketplace & Bistro” was conceived by Blaine Meier, owner of First City Cycles. Meier’s shop opened in July of last year and he wasted no time in getting the idea off the ground. In September Meier told the Clackamas Review newspaper, “I’m excited about the opportunity, and I think it’ll be a great way to promote Oregon City tourism.”
Oregon City is a struggling mill town that is undergoing a bit of rebirth with a recent (and bike-friendly) renovation to its downtown streets and main bridge over the Willamette. When I was down there for a story back in October I swung into First City Cycles and met a young and bright-eyed employee named Adam Beykovsky.
Adam shared how he grew up in Oregon City and experienced its economic struggles first hand. He spoke of the need for a new focus and how Oregon City should capitalize on its prime location as a bicycle adventure gateway. With First City Central, it now seems like he and his boss have taken a huge step toward that goal.
“We’re hoping this will help change image of Oregon City as “a dying mill town” into a recreational cycling destination,” Adam shared via email this morning.
Or, as Meier puts it in his official proposal (PDF), “The goal of the train depot project will be to make First City Central the epicenter of cycling and cycle tourism in Clackamas County and beyond.”
The revitalized Amtrak station (at 1757 Washington Street, across from the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Museum) will include a marketplace with local vendors (selling everything from crafts to beer and snacks), improved service for Amtrak customers, and tons of resources and inspiration for bicycle riders. Below are some of the bike-related components of the project as outlined in Meier’s proposal:
Bicycle Education – The depot will be a fun place for kids and adults to come explore and learn about the history and benefits of cycling. They’ll also be able to pedal a bicycle-powered blender to make a smoothie, or spin on a bicycle- powered gyro chair, or attend a bicycle repair workshop.
Community Events – The depot will be used as a staging area for a number of different cycling-related events. Cycling enthusiasts will be able to talk, strategize, and plan together with bicycle advocacy and tourism representatives. The south end of the depot will feature a map room with wall maps from floor to ceiling along with wi-fi internet access for trip-planning and research. Together, the map room and the marketplace will foster an environment where ideas about cycling and cycle tourism can be readily exchanged and acted upon.
The south-end of the building will be used to house the Oregon City Trail Alliance and various representatives from bicycle advocacy groups and tourism organizations. This space will be used to serve cycling community and to support cycle tourism.
- Education display: “Bike Science—Evolution to Revolution”
- Bicycle-themed lounge with couches, TV-DVD, books, maps, art, etc.
- Small retail space for bicycles, accessories, and minor repairs
- Brochures re bicycle group rides, overnight tours, and train packages
- Map room with web access for trip planning and information exchange
- Office and meeting area for the Oregon City Trail Alliance and representatives from various cycling advocacy groups and tourism organizations
- Meeting area for organizing group rides and storing supplies and gear
- Kitchen area for organizing food service for group rides
- Showers for touring cyclists
Oregon City is ideally situated to reach all sorts of bike adventures — from major, multi-day tours to daily jaunts on local paths and trails. When combined with Amtrak service, the amount and variety of destinations one can reach without a car is mind-bogglingly wonderful. From Mt. Hood to Champoeg State Park and the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway to the Trolley Trail and more.
Once renovations are completed, First City Central will be open and staffed from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm seven days a week. With approval from the Urban Renewal Commission, the next step is to flesh out the business plan and work with vendors and partners on management and start-up expenses.
This is an exciting development for bike tourism in Oregon! Stay tuned for updates and more info as the project evolves.