Oregon is an idyllic place to be a cyclist. First, the scenery is impeccable. Whether you like volcanoes, pristine lakes, wild rivers, mountains, ocean, desert, or subtropical rainforest, you got it in Oregon. Secondly, in just about every metropolitan area, including Portland, Salem, Eugene, and Corvallis, there are bike lanes and bike paths and signs alerting motorists of the presence of bicycles. Where these things do not exist, there are usually wide shoulders and low traffic, not to mention plenty of wilderness roads and logging roads, some of them smoothly paved and covered over in cooling trees. And then, of course, there are all the mountain biking trails.
There are four bicycle manufacturers in Eugene alone (not to mention a fifth bike industry business, a wheelbuilder). There are some more manufacturers outside of Eugene as well, some notable names being the one-man fine-art-on-two-wheels business known as Vanilla, obsessive compulsive machinist Chris King (whose headsets I consider a requirement on any Bike Friday), and titanium mountain bike design wizard Jeff Jones. And then there’s all the other great bike businesses. In Southern Oregon is one of the few schools you can get accredited in bicycle mechanics, frame building, and bike shop management. They also have what I think is the state’s only bicycle parts and tool distribution. There are a plethora of great co-ops like City Bikes in Portland. And then there’s some exceptional things like the Center for Appropriate Transport that teaches at-risk youth skills in delivery, journalism, mechanics, and manufacturing. And don’t forget their ridable bike museum and rentable shop space!
There is a community of bicycle advocates, fighting to give cyclists more rights, even in elected office, such as Senator Ron Wyden, Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Representative Peter DeFazio. All across the state, if you get a driver’s license, you’re going to learn that bicycles are legally afforded a position on the road. The Oregon Driver’s Manual mentions bikes over 50 times, so it’s no faint suggestion, either. Don’t forget about the clubs and events to be a part of, too. The aforementioned Cycle Oregon has a reputation for picking the best routes, having the best food and further offering additional services to pamper their guests while taking them camping in what are often remote parts of Oregon.
Despite this, though, it’s difficult to limit all obstacles to cycling. Especially when the cost of oil is skyrocketing, it’s difficult not to feel a little animosity towards the people who have already figured out a healthy solution to the problem. This was the case for this year’s Cycle Oregon Weekend as they were assaulted with tacks and anti-cycling signs. This comes at a time when Portland is abuzz with concern over some potentially inflammatory statements made towards cyclists on a local radio station.
The point to this whole entry, though, is that there’s always a lot more to be thankful for than to worry about. Nevermind those people honking at you and telling you to get off the road. Forgive them instead. They likely either don’t know any better or they’re just jealous they didn’t think of it first. 🙂