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Mayor: Bikes boost local economy

— The Dalles Mayor Steve Lawrence invites residents “with feet in the pedals” to serve on a special committee and help develop a Bicycle Master Plan.

“This committee needs people on the ground who can give input about safety issues and other services that we need to provide,” he said.

Lawrence sees the committee’s role as more than just creating recreational opportunities; he believes cycling — and sports in general — can play a strong role in economic development.

“Sports as a business is something that we need to pursue,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s a Frisbee, badminton or bike — it has possibilities to help with economic vitality.”

For that reason, he said the eight to 10 people on the committee will be asked to participate in “decision circles” where subjects, such as the establishment of more bike lanes, can be fully researched. Information from the circles will then be brought back to the larger group for discussion.

“Our goal needs to be to make The Dalles more bike friendly,” said Lawrence.

People interested in serving on the committee are asked to call Julie Krueger, city clerk, at 541-296-5481 or email

Lawrence said committee members will be appointed by the end of 2013 but the actual work on the bicycle master plan will not begin until the first of the year when Portland State University will have a team available to help with the project.

Councilor Tim McGlothlin, who represents the city on the Traffic Safety Commission and Administrative Fellow Jon Chavers will also be involved in the planning process, said Lawrence.

In August, McGlothlin held a bike summit in the Wahtonka campus meeting room that brought local cycling enthusiasts and citizens together. The idea for a committee to better prepare The Dalles for events involving cyclists was spawned during that gathering.

Lawrence said it is a good time to undertake a comprehensive planning process for bicycling because city officials are developing a strategy for street maintenance and how to best fund that work. So, if roadways needing more bike lanes are identified, those routes can be put on the improvement list.

“It’s a good time to be doing this,” he said.

In 2016, a bike path is supposed to link Troutdale to The Dalles and Lawrence wants the town ready to accommodate a greater influx of cyclists. He said it is likely that more competitions will be set up for riders, which will bring more tourists to the gorge.

“Sports tourism and sporting events are big business,” stated Lawrence in his Aug. 11 column that was published in The Chronicle.

He gave the example of the IAAF World Junior Championships, a track and field event, taking place July 2014 in Eugene. Some of the world’s greatest athletes, ages 19 and under, will be competing, many on their way to becoming Olympians. Teams are now hunting for communities throughout Oregon that can provide a practice venue for two weeks prior to the meet.

Lawrence would like to see Sid White Field in The Dalles used for that purpose. He welcomes anyone with ideas about the bike plan or furthering sports opportunities in the area to call 503-807-0724 or email


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