Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on November 3rd, 2005 at 11:08 am
Local mountain bikers want more access to Forest Park and they want to be a bigger part of Portland’s bike-friendly portfolio. Until now, they’ve been relegated to “recreational” status by the powers that be. This means they haven’t had a voice in Portland’s bike advocacy circles to express their needs and concerns. They’re also unfairly portrayed in the media as “rogue” and “extreme” riders hell-bent on running hikers off local trails…which couldn’t be further from the truth.
But change is in the air. MTB’ers have started to join the conversation and representatives from PUMP are actively looking to meet with heads of groups like the BTA and PDOT. This cross-pollination of “recreational” riding advocates and “transportation” riding advocates is exciting and long overdue.
At issue is the fact that MTB’ers must drive an hour away to find good riding despite the largest urban park in the country being just minutes from their front doors. Unfortunately, they can only legally ride 29 out of 110 miles of trails in the 5400 acre Forest Park. And those 29 miles are wide fire roads…not the singletrack they desire.
Despite these unfair restrictions, PUMP has printed and distributed over 2000 Forest Park mountain bike maps (at their own expense) and helped pay for and install the “No Bicycles” signs hikers have accused them of tearing down and vandalizing.
Recognizing these good faith efforts, The City of Portland Parks Department is working with MTB’ers on plans to build new singletrack trails alongside popular Forest Park hiking routes like Wildwood. Plans for a new singletrack trail near Fire Lane 5 are already moving forward.
A separate effort is being made to create a designated MTB Park somewhere near the city. All that’s needed is a strong show of support from the community. Please read about the proposal and sign the petition! Seattle has recently opened an urban MTB “skills park” and there’s no good reason Portland shouldn’t have one too.
I’m glad MTB’ers are starting to make some noise. I’m sure there’s a battle ahead on Forest Park access, but it’s a battle that the MTB’ers will win (and one I’ve fought before). Their right to ride trails in Forest Park should be seen as evolutionary, not revolutionary. Stay tuned…