On June 21st, your NWTA Board of Directors members and a few of our heavily involved volunteers took policy makers from the City of Portland, Metro, and ODOT for a few hours of fun at Gateway Green for our inaugural Take A Policy Maker Mountain Biking Day (TAPMMBD). Organized by our Advocacy Director, Andy Jansky, and our Vice President, Juntu Oberg, the intent of the event was to get mountain biking back into the minds of our policy makers and show them what it really means to ride a mountain bike. One of our hopes is that this will help the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan (ORCMP) finally get put in front of City Council for a vote, and that with the involvement of so many city staffers, they can help push those around them to approve the ORCMP and bring more mountain bike access to Portland. We think it was a smashing success!
We met the policy makers at Pioneer Square and took them via MAX out to Gateway Green. Some showed up with bikes, some showed up without, and one showed up with her young daughter in a child’s seat on her commuter bike’s handlebars ready to ride! Once folks arrived at Gateway Green, they were greeted with pour-overs courtesy of Loam Coffee while they socialized with NWTA representatives and public agency staff. Fat Tire Farm brought out some gorgeous demo bikes for those who didn’t have a bike to ride… talk about a nice intro to mountain biking!
Andy Jansky kicked off the morning with an introduction of NWTA and the advocacy and trail work we have done with our partners in the region, and a plea to policy makers to #letNWTAhelp create more places to ride off road in Portland. One of the key things discussed by speakers throughout the morning was the idea of urban off-road cycling corridors, which could combine the use of parks and public rights-of-way to allow people of all ages and abilities to “ride to their ride” without the hazards of sharing the road with motorized vehicles.
After the speeches, it was off to ride! NWTA leaders each took a group of policy makers for a lap or two around Gateway Green. For many, this was their very first experience mountain biking. Gratefully, Elaine Bothe, skills coach extraordinaire, was there to share some riding tips when needed. Everyone had a blast, and I think we can safely say we have some new converts, and some new advocates within City Hall. I heard one person in my group exclaim that she was hooked and now wants a mountain bike, and another person in my group spent some extra time that day excitedly learning how to ride the pump track. These were both very-first-time mountain bikers, and the stoke was high!
In the end, we are so excited about the turnout for this event, and the positive experiences had by all. We will continue to advocate for YOU, my dear mountain bikers, and we will continue pursuing a final vote on the ORCMP by Portland City Council so that someday we can all ride to our ride!