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The Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce recently applied for and received a $11,622 Travel Oregon grant that would fund a project to purchase and install a bike hub at the Chamber Visitor Center.

PHOTO COURTESY OF PRINEVILLE-CROOK COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE - A group of cyclists who were utilizing the resources of the Prinevile-Crook County Chamber of Commerce pause for a photo during the 2020 summer season.With Prineville growing exponentially in the area of biking and road cycling, the need to accommodate bicyclists passing through town has also grown.

With Prineville only 36 miles from Bend, the region has become more popular for mounting biking and road cycling, as Bend and Deschutes County have seen an overpopulation of their trails and roads by cyclists. There are trails, forests and waterways within minutes of Prineville for those looking to cycle in the region.

The Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce recently applied for and received a $11,622 Travel Oregon grant that would fund a project to purchase and install a bike hub at the Chamber Visitor Center. The anticipated timeline will begin immediately and be completed by September 2021.

Executive director for the chamber, Kim Daniels, said that where bicycle tourism is a growing activity in the Crook County region, there is a need to accommodate cyclists passing through the area.

"We are looking to buy some sturdier bike racks, a water filling station and a bike fix-it station that will be here at the chamber," explained Daniels. "Right now, we have a ton of cyclists that come through here, but we don't have any of those things for them."

The grant funding will add signage, amenities and information for cyclists coming to the Prineville area. In addition to a bike fix-it station and bike rack, it would include an outdoor water station for local cyclists. The amenities will all be located outdoors at the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.

Daniels noted that this project clearly promotes a COVID-19 safe activity, as cycling is one of the safest ways to travel during the pandemic. It helps promote physical, mental and emotional health, supports your immune system, and is a great antidote for the anxiety and depression that can come from isolation. Biking is also a safe, socially distanced way of getting around.

"With the amenities being outdoors, it will reduce the indoor visits at our office, which is also a COVID-19 safe practice," said Daniels.

She went on to say, "It gives them something that will help, while they either coming or going on their little adventure. I am excited, because I can apply for 10 grants and get one, and this is one that I thought would really be nice," said Daniels.

As a slower form of transportation than car, train or plane, travel by bike accounts for more spending on meals, services and overnight stays. Daniels pointed out that as an urban community, Crook County has found the development of bicycle tourism beneficial to economic growth. She added that economically, Crook County is looking to rebound tourism in the wake of COVID-19. The county has been steadily growing in the area of cycle tourism in the past several years. The designation of the Crooked River Scenic Bikeway and the creation of not only the 66 Trail System but several other mountain bike trails has only increased the number of cyclists that visit the area.

Currently, Good Bike Co. is the only location in town that can assist cyclists with their needs. The shop is not able to be open all days and hours, and the chamber office tends to be the starting and ending point for many cyclists, with adequate overnight parking, water and bathrooms available to those venturing out for a day trip or longer. Daniels indicated that they currently have no cycling-specific amenities at their location.

As a visitor center, the chamber staff feels it is important that they are ready for one of the largest growing tourist populations in the area. Once visitors come to their office, all cycling amenities will be free to all. It would offer access to those who may not otherwise have the means to maintain a bicycle and would be available to all cyclists, regardless of skill level or monetary status.

"We also plan to provide appropriate recommendations and connections to help our office visitors continue their journey and their stay in Crook County safely and successfully," concluded Daniels.

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