by Derek Hofbauer, Senior TDM Specialist at Alta Planning + Design
I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Oregon Active Transportation Summit, held on April 21 and 22, in Portland, Oregon. This was my fourth year attending the Summit and I am continually amazed at how much this conference has grown over the years. One particular session I attended was called “Bike grease + elbow grease = economic vitality in Oregon.” At first glance of the title, I thought I would mostly learn about long-distance recreational bike tours held in Oregon. Bicycle tourism has received much attention during the past couple of years due to a 2012 study commissioned by Travel Oregon that quantified the economic benefits of recreational bicycle tourism in Oregon at a staggering 400 million dollars.
I sat in my seat expecting to be drawn in by images of cyclists in full spandex riding expensive road bikes with loaded panniers. That was certainly not the case. Rather, I heard from Adam Beykovsky, who has literally blazed paths to embark on a new frontier in bike tourism—BMX dirt bike tracks.
Growing up in Oregon City, Beykovsky flocked to the hills and forests surrounding his neighborhood seeking three things—dirt, trails, and jumps. He and his friends hand built and maintained a network of BMX tracks, known as the Meldrum Bar Dirt Jumps, from childhood into adult years. When his prized jumps were threatened to be plowed over by the City of Gladstone (they were, in fact, illegally located) he began working with the City to develop a plan to preserve his beloved bike tracks. His hard work and community outreach efforts eventually paid off and he received a $68,000 grant to improve and expand this progressive bike jump track. His intent was clear—he wanted future generations of kids to be able to enjoy the bike track the same way he did.
Beykovsky is now the manager at First City Cycles in Oregon City and president of the Oregon City Trail Alliance. He and his boss, Blaine Meier, have embarked on a new project to help revitalize Oregon City through bicycle tourism. The Urban Renewal Commission in Oregon City recently voted to support their proposal to develop a vacant Amtrak Station into a bike tourism hub called First City Central. The venue will have a local marketplace for hosting bicycle education and community events. Beykovsky and Meier hope this new venue, along with the newly developed Meldrum Bar Dirt Jumps, will help revitalize their local economy by bringing in bicycle tourism dollars.
Beykovsky’s story offers an important example of how grassroots movements can lead to powerful and engaging community assets. Beykovsky worked from the ground up to not only preserve a legacy of BMX tracks, but to develop a new source of revenue and recreation for Oregon City. This is one story I will be following with great interest in the future.