Bike tourism is coming to East County, and you can help shape it

GRESHAM, Ore. - What's the best way for East County to get the biggest bang for its buck when it comes to promoting bike tourism?

That's the question that's been under discussion for the past several months and now the conversation is being opened up to the public to give folks a chance to see what the plan is and offer some input.

We first told you about the idea to market the county as a cycling destination over the summer.

"We kept going back to the natural resources and biking really came up," Alison Hart, head of the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, told us at the time. She is spearheading the project after the chamber received a grant and was able to get some more money added to the pot from other sources.

The idea isn't so much about adding a bunch of bike trails to the area or spending a lot of money on other improvements, but is more about leveraging what the county already has. The region is already an access point to the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood, for example, and there is also the popular Springwater Corridor that winds through the area. A lot of the pieces are already in place and all that's needed is a little promotion.

A focus group has been working on a plan and they are now ready to share their ideas with folks and find out what they think. Next month, they will be holding two 'Bicycle Tourism Studios' to get some input:

After the studio sessions, the group will work on finalizing their plan and determining if they will need to ask for more grant money to complete some of the initiatives (they have $169,000 to work with at this point).

The goal is to start promoting bike tourism in the county by the summer of 2015.