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Commissioner Fish warms to more singletrack in Forest Park

Posted by on February 25th, 2009 at 10:35 am

“My interest is not in studying this to death, it’s seeing what we can actually do…I am committed to finding ways to significantly expand our current inventory of singletrack trails.”
– Nick Fish, Portland City Commissioner

The idea of mountain bike access in Forest Park has been an issue for Portlanders for over two decades. Local advocacy group, the Portland United Mountain Pedalers (PUMP) was founded over twenty years ago specifically to counter threats of bikes being prohibited from the park altogether (currently, bikes are allowed on all fire access roads and a .3 mile stretch of singletrack).

In recent years, the idea of adding more singletrack trails — or allowing bikes to ride on the many miles of existing hiking trails — has languished due to a variety of factors (that’s a whole other story entirely).

But recently, momentum has picked up for a new approach to the conversation: The League of American Bicyclists chastised Portland’s lack of urban off-road riding opportunities; the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation responded to that by officially adding a chapter on mountain biking to the update of their Bicycle Master Plan, citizen activists have stepped up their efforts, and fresh faces in City Hall bring the potential of a new perspective.

One of those new faces happens to be the commissioner in charge of the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau, Nick Fish.

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Unlike his predecessor Dan Saltzman, Fish bikes. When I interviewed Fish during his campaign he also told me that his wife was an avid cyclist and that, while he usually walks and takes transit to work from his inner Northeast home, he was warming to the idea of getting a bike.

Tour de Ladd-8.jpg
Parks Commissioner Nick Fish.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Fast forward a few months to a bike event at a local elementary school (put together by one of Fish’s friends and political supporters — former city bike program manager and now planner Mia Birk) and there’s Fish astride a new Trek city bike.

When I called his office to chat about citizen advocate Frank Selker’s effort to thaw the Forest Park mountain bike access dialogue (which is turning out to be quite successful thus far), I wasn’t too surprised to hear that he was open to the idea.

I was however, a bit surprised at how open.

“It’s fair to say this issue is on our radar,” he said at the outset of our phone conversation last week. He went on; “I have seen a story or two on BikePortland about that.” So, it’s clear that Fish is aware of the renewed energy around this issue, but he also added that he and his staff are not “up-to-snuff on off-road biking,” — meaning they have some education to do before making any firm decisions.

PUMP's Forest Park mountain bike tour
Enjoying a rare piece of
singletrack in Forest Park.

Commissioner Fish brought up a white paper on mountain biking in Forest Park that is currently being drafted by the Forest Park Conservancy (the Parks Bureau was also involved with this, but sources say they’ve walked away from the process — more on that later). Wanting to have all pertinent information in hand, Fish said his plan was to have a meeting about the issue at the beginning of March, with the white paper in hand. At that time, he told me, “I think we can expdedite our consideration and then come up with some policy.”

This was interesting to hear because the old thinking on this issue was that no Forest Park policies would change until the city’s Forest Park Master Plan could be updated (when it was written, off-road biking barely existed).

I asked Fish if an update to that plan was necessary to change the bike access policy. “I don’t think so, no,” he said. He then continued:

“I was just at a Parks Bureau senior management retreat,” Fish shared, “and the theme was getting things done. I believe there are things we can consider that don’t require systemwide changes to make more singletrack trails happen.

I think there is a need and there is a demand and my job is to see how we can make that happen. I’m not interested in delaying this.”

“In the end, we’ll have a stronger coalition and in these times we need all the friends we can mobilize.”

Fish sounds very open to acting on the right plan for increase the amount of singletrack trails and bike access in Forest Park in general. But he’s not about to make a rash decision. “What we’re talking about is finding the right balance,” he explained. He also said that, “We have to balance the needs of our city,” which is typical politician speak, but then he went on to add:

City Council candidate Nick Fish-3.jpg

“I come at this with a fresh look. I’m a new commissioner…my interest is not in studying this to death, it’s seeing what we can actually do. I assume everybody comes to the table in the good faith. I am committed to finding ways to significantly expand our current inventory of singletrack trails.”

Fish is not only be open to meeting a demand for off-road trails that this city can no longer ignore, but he see another benefit that will come with increased bike access in Forest Park.

If we can bring more users into the park, he said, “We’re also cultivating new coalitions that can help me do my job… which is supporting natural areas. In the end, we’ll have a stronger coalition and in these times we need all the friends we can mobilize.”

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Comments
  • Jordan February 25, 2009 at 11:00 am

    This is great news for mountain bikers and cyclists across the city. PUMP and the whole mountain bike community looks forward to working with Commissioner Fish on increasing bike access and creating solutions.

    Jordan Norris
    PUMP Board member

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  • kgb February 25, 2009 at 11:16 am

    “currently, bikes are allowed on all fire access roads and a .3 mile stretch of singletrack” Are you sure about that, does that include firelanes 2 and 7?

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  • Vance February 25, 2009 at 11:24 am

    DISCLAIMER: I am going to carefully, deliberately, insert tongue in cheek prior to writing the rest of my comment. Look out. Warning.

    Liberal special-interst (Sierra Club, GreenPeace, EarthFirst, etc.) helped ban cyclists from Forest Park in the first place, at tax-payer expense of course. Now Liberal special-interest is the main component in the call to remove the prohibition?

    Wow, just wow.

    Oh, and to be fair, I like neo-cons even less! I’m really just poking fun here. Don’t dogpile. It IS kinda funny though.

    I remember those days. MTBers were in heavy conflict with hikers in general back then. MTBers got lumped in with gasoline-powered off-road motorcycle users, and were subsequently marginalized in the debate. A voice for MTB access to Forest Park, and many other regional trail systems, was a vote for big-oil! Crazy how times change. Ironic too.

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  • Blue Healer February 25, 2009 at 11:41 am

    There are many more mountain bike riders than the general public is aware. They areyoung, old(I am 59)and come from all walks of life. They are not a fringe group. Portland has a large number of these riders. The type of riding they do varies from casual/sport, hard-fast trail riding to downhill/freeride. Different styles of riding need different types of surface design. With a focus on Land Use Planning to prevent urban sprawl, our green spaces need to reflect the needs of all the citizens living in ever more close proximity to each other. For some a bike ride is a smooth asphalt bike path, for others it is an 18″ wide dirt/rocky trail and others still it is a series of logs to ride/hop over or a 4′ drop to the trail below. We are all taxpaying citizens and the greenspaces can reflect our varied interests/passions. I know many volunteer hours to help construct and maintain sustainable trails will come from the cycling community. I think the City/Metro governments will be amazed with how much of our time we will provide to help our home be a more viable place to thrive.
    ron

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  • zuckerdog February 25, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Firelane 2, my personal favorite has “no bike” signage along it.

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  • Jim Labbe February 25, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Let’s not stray too far from the facts here.

    Mountain Bikes are not banned from Forest Park. There are 28 miles of unpaved road, firelane, or single track open to mountain bikes.

    Add the 9 miles of single-track on Powell butte, Portland is second only to San Diego among major West Coast Cities in providing more off-road cycling opportunities within the city limits.

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  • Russell February 25, 2009 at 11:51 am

    While I am not wholly opposed to expanding access for MTBers in Forest Park, I still worry about the implementation of more access and how it will affect other trail users. Already the Park suffers from a lot of individuals who do not abide by laws (e.g. leash laws) or common courtesy (e.g. giving way/walking single-file when being overtaken by faster users or meeting another group of individuals). I worry that throwing faster moving individuals is a recipe for serious injury. Forest Park trails often have blind corners and descents with sharp drops to one side, which could easily lead to a severe accident when a fast moving cyclist collides with another cyclist/runner/hiker around a blind corner.

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  • Vance February 25, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Um, point of fact: Powell Butte is not in the Portland city limits. Also, I understand that there are over 360 miles of trail within forest park, Mt. Bikes have access to 28 of them? “Ban”, then it would seem becomes semantic.

    Prior to the ban, mode on these trails was unregulated. There was a series of accidents involving cyclsits and walker/hikers, and a subsequent outcry. Just like when we start talking about bikes on sidewalks, the debate quickly heats. MTB users were seriously vilified, and marginalized back then. Sort of like the Snow-Boarder witch-hunt of days gone by.

    So, the best intentions have created this conundrum, I just wonder how they are then going to solve it?

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  • Dave February 25, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    “There are 28 miles of unpaved road, firelane, or single track open to mountain bikes. ”

    Gravel road and firelane is not what makes MTBers hearts go pitter-patter. And the singletrack component is indeed a tiny 0.3 miles.

    As for Powell Butte, if it were open regularly and I didn’t get a “you’re not welcome here” vibe every time I went there, I’d consider it a more valid option…

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  • kgb February 25, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Powell Butte is within the Portland City limits and is a Portland Public Park managed by Portland Parks and Recreation, it has been since 1925.

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  • Evan February 25, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Russel-

    More singletrack in Forest Park will attract more mountain bikers. No different from building more roads for cars.
    But more singletrack will also allow mountain bikers to use that singletrack instead of some heavily congested fire roads (especially LE), which can actually make it safer for other users.
    Singletrack that gives riders priority over hikers will encourage riders to use those trails, while avoiding fire roads and the (oh so tempting) existing trails, where hikers can walk without fear of being whacked by a reckless biker.

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  • Fred February 25, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Jim (#6),

    Your “facts” are misleading and are untrue. Roads are not singletrack, therefore they do not count. We are talking about access to singletrack trails, those only wide enough to ride a bike (approx. 18″ wide). Portland falls behind many major and small cities in this respect. We are not living up to our reputation as a bike friendly city.

    I look forward to doing my part to making this happen. The bike community will supply the labor to build the trails we just need access and a plan. Hopefully Commissioner Fish will help us get there.

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  • Vance February 25, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Okay, if links are necessary… Portland city limits end at 148th. Powell Butte is on 162nd, that’s Gresham. Portland parks does maintain it now, but that’s fairly recent. (1925 my toe. Heck, I doubt the PPB is even that old.) The equestrian club there raised all of the funds for it prior to that. I know this based upon my participation clearing trail, and riding in fund-raisers. Portland Parks maintain a lot of parks outside of the city limits. Think of the Sandy river. I still don’t think it warrants getting all semantic.

    I’ve been biking at the Butte for over 30 years, do I know you? Plus, know that that place was designed for, and maintained by, horse owners. We used to have to get written permission to ride in the park, from them. That would be the vibe you feel. Plus, once the city chased us out of FP, we got kinda aggro about who uses the Butte. Don’t want chased out of there is all.

    These are all aspects of the city growing out of control. I’ve ridden my bike in the FP area litterally since before it existed. Or before it became the park it is now, to be exact. These problems are the result of over-use. Over-use is the result of unchecked population expansion in the area. The real culprit in many things controversial IMO.

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  • frank February 25, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I think Nick Fish hit the nail on the head: Overdue progress will encourage a growing constintuency of passionate supporters to protect, support, and maintain the park.

    I am very impressed that Parks and Nick are looking for creative single track options in FP that are good for citizens and the parks, rather than studying it to death after so many delays.

    If Nick has a fan club, I’d like to join! Ditto for Parks for real progress!

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  • Tbird February 25, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    @ Dave # 9
    Go with me to Powell Butte. I never get that vibe, or if I do I guess I’m too busy enjoying the MTB’ing to care
    :)

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  • kgb February 25, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    The city limits go past 174th for those keeping track.

    The first meeting of the Board of Park Commissioners for the City of Portland was held on October 20. 1900.

    But don’t let little things like facts get in your way.

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  • kgb February 25, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Oh and Powell Butte was purchased by the city in 1925, it was a Water Bureau property until it officially became a park in 1987.

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  • Matt F February 25, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Every time Jonathan writes about this issue so many people feel the need to post who have never been REAL mountain biking before. It’s obvious from their comments (yes you Jim Labbe, Russell, kgb). REAL mountain biking…not Powell Butte, not Leif Ericson in Forest Park: I’m talking about a three or more hour ride on 90% or more singletrack (18″ wide trails or less) with major elevation gain (at least 2000 feet). Unless you have done this before could you please preface your post with something like: “I’ve never been mountain biking before but here’s my 2 cents…!?” Better yet, rather than posting about something you know nothing about, how about actually going on a real mountain bike ride? Rent a mountain bike, go to the PUMP website, find a ride, and GO RIDE DAMMIT!!! I guarantee that the next day after the ride, you’ll want to do it again.

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  • Mike February 25, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    I’m for building some more single tracks for the poor mountain bikers out there.

    However, as a hiker/runner of the Wildwood trail, I can tell you that that trail already has plenty of people on it. People walking down the trail have a hard time getting out of each other’s way, I could only imagine more conflicts if mountain bikes were on the trail.

    I think that the new single track should be designated mountain bike trails(or at least highly prioritized – with lots of warning signs) so no unsuspecting hikers/runners come into any conflicts with them.

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  • Brad Ross February 25, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    In my years as a race and event promoter, I have had a very strained relationship with PDX Parks & Rec. (That’s actually putting it mildly). If Commissioner Fish actually takes some action on this issue, that in and of itself will be a huge breakthrough for the cycling community.

    Frank Selker, I’ll buy you a cold one any time.

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  • Will February 25, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    User conflict is a real issue, having said that, we are not the first city or the first park that has had to deal with this. It has been managed very successfully across the country. Mountain bikes can cover large distances, so you put the mtb trails further away from the entrances (use the fire lane to reach the single track). This in itself will cut down on much of the conflict. Trails can also be designated as single use or possibly single direction trails. If this is not a viable option, then you make the trail itself so that it provides good sight lines and controls speed. You add flow, the ups and downs and small turns, and you make the trail much more fun to ride as well as slow the pace down.

    These are just a few examples of ways to effectively manage user conflict.

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  • Paul F February 25, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    I love Nick Fish!!! I love Park’s new ‘Get it done attitude’! Here is to being a Platinum MTB city!!!

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  • brian February 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    We could tear down Forest Park, and build a Wal Mart.

    Please people. Know your enemies.

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  • Russell February 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Matt, before you open your mouth you might want to first think about making a point and not jump to any conclusions. I’m not talking about the fire lanes or the gravel roads. I know what single track is and I know what the MTB community is calling for. What I’m concerned about is what it means for the REAL trails in Forest Park–Wild Cherry, Dogwood, Aspen, Wildwood, etc. Trails that are 18″ wide or less. My concern about this whole thing is two-fold:

    1) The existing TRAILS (not fire lanes or Leif Erikson) being opened up to OR mistakenly/purposely used by MTBers resulting in conflicts between hikers/runners.

    2) A significant amount of new trails being added, potentially leading to many conflict zones as they cross existing trails.

    Now both of these concerns are valid considering that the article states both options are on the table. So, Evan and Matt, before you criticize me perhaps you should consider the fact that I am not talking about the fire lanes or gravel roads.

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  • Jim Labbe February 25, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    It is funny what people will presume. I actually grew up mountain biking in Forest Park (always in permitted areas). It is not something I do regularly but I have more than a few single-track miles under my belt… including a few races back when I was in high school.

    But that doesn’t matter. You don’t even need to ride a bike to have a stake in how our publicly owned and protected natural areas are used or abused.

    Portlanders have a 100+ year history of investment in the conservation and stewardship of Forest Park. If we are going to expand recreational uses in an already heavily used park, we need to do in the right places, in the right way, and with long-overdue investments in managing existing and any new recreation uses/impacts.

    We heard a lot about how Portland is “behind” other cities in offering off-road cycling opportunities. Based on the research I have done, that is actually not true. But if, as a City, we decide we really want new off-road cycling opportunities there are more accessible and lower impact locations than Forest Park.

    However we provide MORE off-road cycling opportunities (single track or otherwise), we should do it in a way that is consistent with our local values; through a process that brings people together around a coherent, comprehensive and preferably city-wide plan; and in fashion that meets high-standards for natural resource conservation.

    Portlanders are not going to have it any other way.

    Jim Labbe

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  • David Anderson February 25, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Bravo to Commissioner Fish. This is most awesome and a welcome breath of fresh air. I and many other people who enjoy riding singletrack look forward to enjoying nature, and riding singletrack, from our bike seats. I didn’t know there were 9 miles of singletrack available to mountain bikers at Powell Butte. Guess I’ll have to go out there with my gps unit and map those few miles that are available to me to ride and check that figure out. Personally I think that figure is bogus.
    Mountain bikers have less than 6 miles of singletrack available to ride in the city of Portland. The vast majority of that is at Powell Butte. And that is closed at the first sign of rain drops falling out of the sky. I personally do not consider any of the trails on Mount Tabor ‘singletrack’. As far as I’m concerned, as far as singletrack is concerned, there is Powell Butte and the .3 miles in Forest Park. That is it.
    I am the past President of Oregon Field Ornithologists and a past member and Board Member of Audubon Society of Portland. I’ve harassed more birds when I was an active bird lister than I ever have done as a person who now enjoys riding a bike on singletrack. I also used to think mountain bikers had horns and disturbed wildlife. I can now honestly say that there is no valid reason to think that mountain bikers cannot enjoy riding their bikes on singletrack in parks and that the resident wildlife, or trails, will be the worse for it.

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  • Ted February 25, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Matt F. is correct. Real mountain biking involves, at a minimum, long and arduous climbs on challenging jeep roads and, for most serious mountain bikers, plenty of singletrack as well, with technical challenges. You have to be really fit and a bit daring to take full advantage of this passion-inducing sport. That’s what makes it so great!

    Unless something has changed since I last lived in Portland (in most respects a wonderful city), the opportunities for genuine mountain biking are nil. There are instead a boring fire road in Forest Park and the smallish and quickly rideable Powell Butte. I now live in the Bay Area. Here we have major and bitter conflicts over trail access (it seems to go with urban areas of a liberal bent, where mountain biking is frequently the subject of moral panics), but we also have many dozens of miles of legal singletrack (the woeful East Bay Regional Park District is the major exception). Some of that singletrack is first-rate. We also have stupendously difficult and quite delightful climbing on fire roads.

    One previous poster mentioned San Diego as, like Portland, being a favorable mountain biking venue. I grew up in San Diego, have a mountain bike down there, and ride it when visiting my relatives. San Diego’s mountain biking is dreadful, worse than Portland’s. Like Portland, you have to head well out of town for anything decent. And even then there’s very little. So anything that can be done to create more trails in Forest Park and improve the current singletrack would be great. I might even rent a bike the next time I come up.

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  • One Ghost Industries February 25, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    It was the awesome NW dirt, a mountain bike culture as deep as Colorado and a city that is completely friendly to cycling that drew my company (and others here) and I know that whole “Field of Dreams” statement applies here as poignant as any. “If you build it, they will come.” Let mountain bikers breathe life into Portland, they will bring with them companies and jobs and cash to spend. If the issue comes down to it, have separate trails for hiking and for biking, Forest park is plenty big enough for it.

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  • wsbob February 25, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    A valid argument, given the purpose for which Forest Park has been set aside, for allowing bike use on Forest Park single track (also known as foot paths, walking and hiking trails) has yet to be made.

    I’ve read not all of, but a substantial portion of the FP master plan. The impression I take away from that reading, is that FP was conceived, and continues to be a nature refuge, a place that offers readily accessible relief from civilization and all the commotion that goes with it. Bikes have been around since the late 19th century. FP was never conceived of as a bike challenge park most likely, because their presence their contradicts the nature experience the park is intended to provide people with.

    The question of bikes in FP is not one of equity. It’s about reserving that resource for the vitally needed purpose the land of FP was set aside to serve.
    Of course, if the city and Portland residents want Mbks on FP single track, that’s their choice to make. Admitting MBks to FP single track would be a major departure from the purpose the park is intended to serve. If this is really going to happen, perhaps the decision should be one made by a vote of the people.

    There probably should be readily accessible mountain bike challenge single track in Portland. FP does not seem to be the place for it. Parts of Portland’s 40 mile loop might be able to supply some of that.

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  • Mike February 25, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    #26

    It sounds to me like the people who have voiced concerns are more worried about runner/hiker conflicts that bird conflicts, and I think that’s an issue that will need to be addressed.

    Also, as a non-mt. biker, can someone tell me what the big deal is about single track and why it is preferable to the forest park fire roads?

    Also, how many miles of trails are there within an hour’s drive of Portland? I’m not saying that Portland shouldn’t have more miles in the city limits, but I think that statistic might be a useful one to bring into the discussion.

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  • brian February 25, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Mike,

    You have to ride to know the difference. However, if you enjoy bicycles, then just picture the difference between riding on the highway compared to a beautiful country road.

    Bikers either stand together or suffer.

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  • Mark February 25, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Mike #29. The International Mountain Bike Association is a great place to learn about the various off road cycling trail experiences, how they can be successfully created, managed and enhanced.

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  • Blah Blah Blah February 25, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    On the issue of user conflict. I regularly run, walk and yes ride the Maple trail in the spring/summer/fall months and rarely see anybody, and this is on weekends during daylight hours. I can honestly say I have only seen a couple people on this trail over the years. With that being said, there ARE trails in the park that would be inappropriate for bikes, mostly the trails in Washington Park, some of the trails closer in and the crown jewel…The Wild Wood, but only close in. I’d like to see either a schedule, something like bikes ride odd days only or new trails built for bike use, I think there are enough people in this town to get it done by volunteer work.

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  • Frank February 25, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Jim,

    Having spoken with you for 45 minutes about Mt. biking and reading your comments I understand your view: you do not think Mt. bikes should be on trails in Forest Park. I think it is an extreme position, but there are extremes on either side. I confess my frustration however when it does not appear you hear others on this – e.g., try to accept that cyclists are much like hikers: Leif, Gateway, etc. are great but nothing like a trail. I also take exception to selective discounting of research that supports cycling while citing research opposing it. I’ll repeat in sincerity the offer that I made to you on the phone last month to meet any time to try to bridge differences and find solutions.

    wsbob,

    I read the master plan and there is nothing in it that says cycling is not what the park is for or is inconsistent with the parks purpose or goals. There is also nothing in it to prohibit trail sharing. But I would not lean on that document to support cycling either – it was written 13 years ago and and was not intended to prevent innovation as the world changes.

    re. conflict, many locations around the country designate specific and limited times for cycles on trails, sometimes for one-direction riding only. Runners work well during these times since they travel at similar speed. Hikers are allowed any time, but they tend to focus on non-cycling times. Cyclists don’t face the cheat-or-nothing choice, so hikers encounter fewer cheaters. Cyclists help take good care of the trails for all users. It makes many happy users and citizens. This is not rocket science: it has proven successful in many locations and for many years.

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  • Mike February 26, 2009 at 12:09 am

    brian:

    A pretty useless, condescending comment; and either way it’s the same forest with the same trees, birds, ferns, and ugly English ivy. If you can’t articulate your passion for single track to open-minded fellow cyclist, you’re going to face some tough battles convincing others to join your cause.

    Mark:

    Thanks, I’ll be sure to check that out!

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  • Mike February 26, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Frank:

    I find it hard to believe that trail runners (5-10mph) go as fast as mountain bikers (? mph). It seems it would have to be a pretty slow, windy trail to accomplish that sort of parity. Am I wrong?

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  • Mike February 26, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Found a great article addressing why single tracks are so important to mountain bikers on the International Mountain Biking Association website:

    http://www.imba.com/resources/bike_management/singletrack.html

    Sorry for all the consecutive posts!

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  • Beefa February 26, 2009 at 12:34 am

    I think #21 is right. what is the problem with making a 10 to 15 mile uni- directional loop. PDX parks could post signs to all the joggers/walkers/scofflaw dog owners that there is a potential hazard to their usage of the “loop” and call it good. Of the 300 some odd miles of trails in forest park, is 13.5 miles of single track to valuable to give up? Come on people! Look past your noses!

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  • wsbob February 26, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Frank, the parks reason for existence, going back to its conception, is to provide people with a place where they can convene with nature, away from the commotion of modern mechanized life. If the most recent master plan doesn’t spell out in so many words that bikes are not what the park is for, an understanding of the parks reason for existence should suffice.

    The park is about having accessible to residents of an urban setting, the truest nature experience that is reasonably possible. With very few exceptions, a bike is not required for such an experience.

    A bike priority single track trail, by its nature, will reduce usability of such a trail to a specific type user group. Where the mode of travel is foot, trails are accessible to everyone.

    People like their bikes and they want a challenging ride to put them through. This is a need that departs from the FP’s reason for existence and the purpose it’s intended to serve. People that want a challenging technical course to ride their mountain bikes on, rather than a true nature experience such as FP is set aside to provide, should seek out land that is waiting to be designated for that kind of experience.

    I’ve got a strong feeling that the kind of bike single track that could possibly be approved for FP will never satisfy the kind of riding experience that Mbkrs are hoping for. They’ll want something fast…then steep. Then they’ll want leap and jump terrain. Is this really the kind of activity that Portland residents will welcome to FP? Even if it’s just simple bike riding at about 4-5 mph?

    FP, large as it may seem at first look, has a huge metro population to serve. Whinnying away the integrity of the nature experience it is designated to provide does not serve that population well.

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  • ForestWander Nature Photography February 26, 2009 at 6:29 am

    We need more places like this around where I live.

    There needs to be more focus on maintining and building places like this to help the kids stay out of trouble and get back to nature and enjoying the things of the outdoors!

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  • [...] comes word of some movement to increase trail access in the park. Let’s hope the effort can move forward. Forest Park is [...]

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  • Frank February 26, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Mike,

    Bikes and runners are surprisingly similar on many trails – we go faster down but they go as fast or faster up. In other shared trail use the two turn out to mix well.

    wsbob,

    First, FP trails could satisfy the riding most off-road cyclists love. They wouldn’t be working so hard for access – nor would rule-breakers be riding there – if it would not.

    Second, the reason and purpose for FP is not just the reason you list: It also includes recreation. For example the master plan specifically includes recreational goals and refers to it as a “significant recreational and educational resource.” In fact included in the list of “Most Important Projects” for the Central Management Unit it lists “Build the bike trail connections that will braoden the recreation opportunities of that unit.” It is a goal that is both absolutely clear and has been neglected. Your preferred purpose for the park is not the only purpose.

    Shared trails do not prevent anyone from using the park as you wish to, however. Bikes would only be allowed on certain trails, most likely only in the Central Management Unit, and even those at limited times. Most trails, most times would not allow bikes. A few trails and certain times, others could enjoy the park and be in nature in their preferred manner.

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  • Jim Labbe February 26, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Frank,

    I do not believe that vast majority of trails in Forest Park were designed and are currently suitable for single-track. If you think that is extreme position than I think you have some very unreasonable expectations. After our phone conversations it was clear to me that you underestimate the public dialogue necessary for and the technical and fiscal imperatives of responsible single-track expansion in Forest Park.

    Your charge of selective reference to the scientific literature is ironic in the extreme. I have simply tried to correct some of your blanket statements about the potential environmental impacts and to point out that we should be using the best available science that is relevant to our region’s unique climate, geology, and wildlife. Simply pointing to a literature review done by International Mountain Biking Association and asserting that wildlife and other environmental impacts would be negligent is not going to cut it. I suspect and hope that IMBA would agree. Since we have had this discussion elsewhere I won’t rehash it here.

    Jim

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  • Mark February 26, 2009 at 8:35 am

    wsbob. I share your feelings in regards to the original intention of the park. It is summarized in the mission statement when our community came together to develop the 1995 Forest Park Plan. “Forest Park represents an unparalleled resource where citizens can enjoy the peace, solitude, ruggedness, variety, beauty, unpredictability and
    unspoiled naturalness of an urban wilderness environment; a place that
    maintains this wilderness quality while allowing appropriate passive recreational and educational use without degrading natural resources; an urban laboratory for environmental research and resource enhancement and restoration; America’s premier urban ancient forest.” It is up to our Parks department to establish what qualifies appropriate passive recreational use. I support their management decisions to balance the needs of the city. Personally I ride my bicycle to and in Forest Park to find peace and solitude and to reconnect with my sense of person and place in this busy world. The park is like church to me. I rarely use an automobile to get to the park, and when I do it is to carry my family for hikes or to get to restoration work. I enjoy the single track experiences provided by our Parks department because that is where I find the most about myself. Its slow pace and challenge helps me detach from my conscious thoughts, focus on breathing, escape from the urban environment, and really relax overall. The fall line trails along the fire lanes which are open to bikes and the wide corridor that is Leif Erikson do not provide the experience I find most valuable. I enjoy the true natural experience. It is difficult to find this experience on a paved road shared with automobiles, no matter how well planned or crafted. I participate in restoration efforts, trail maintenance, advocacy and planning as I am able. I try to take care of the natural areas I use and I have worked with other cyclists to these ends as long as I have ridden in the woods. The Park needs restoration help and cyclists are willing to help. We are very excited to assist our Parks department in their effort to balance the needs of the community with the needs of the forest.

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  • David Anderson February 26, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Mike #30.
    I brought up the subject of birds/wildlife because there is an underlying misconception that mountain bikers scare wildlife. The point I am trying to make is that, I used to think there was a negative impact from mountain bikers on wildlife. I also used to think that bikes had a negative impact on the trail.
    In my experience of riding singletrack trails it is my experience that I have less of an impact on birds than when I was an active bird lister. It is now my belief that mountain bike use of trails is no more damaging than hikers using it. And, I still consider myself an “environmentalist”, I now enjoy the back country and hopefully undeveloped places from a bike seat.
    Right now I have to drive at least an hour and a half to get to my favorite trails: Ape Canyon (Mount St Helens), Siouxon Creek, and various trails on the east side of Mount Hood. Yes, there are some trails closer that I do ride, but they aren’t my first choice.

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  • Frank February 26, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Jim,

    I am completely for dialogue – my efforts have been entirely in the public and my offer to meet with you was made in our first conversation. But you are correct that I have found “technical and fiscal imperatives,” upon inspection, to have little substance and the appearace of calls for endless studies without action. That language alone says it all.

    I stand by my assertion that you have been selective in your use of research: I stated that there is research on either side; you rejected supporting research as being from areas that are different, but then cited opposing research that was also from a different climate and geography. We should use all research, but also know the limitations of its significance for our policy decisions.

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  • Rouleur February 26, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Jim/Wsbob:

    I am a bit disheartened with the obstructionist attitude both of you are displaying here. Frank’s idea of opening up more singletrack trails in Forest Park to bicycles might sound ambitious, but it is a totally reasonable expectation and it is a desire that is shared among many in the bike community.

    When commissioner Fish and people at the Forest Park Conservancy are all warming up to the idea of opening up existing trails in certain areas of the park – at select times of the year, week or day – you can’t keep rehashing the same old arguments against any form of shared use, without coming across as an extremist.

    I think that most reasonable people recognize that Forest Park – like most city parks – serves both conservancy and recreational purposes. Bikes are already there, so the argument that the parks exclusive mission is “to provide people with a place where they can convene with nature, away from the commotion of modern mechanized life” seems a weak one. Like Frank points out, nobody argues that some parts and trails of the park need to be set aside to serve that purpose. And for other parts of the park, we should be oepn for shared use. Besides, 10-15 miles is not a whole lot to ask, given the size of the park.

    Personally, I just don’t get what is so hard for you to grasp the concept of responsible and respectful shared use of single track trails. It’s been done successfully in so many other places, including some very popular urban parks, and I would hope you have more trust in your fellow bike riders and citizens that we can do as well (or better) in Forest Park.

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  • Ted February 26, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Frank, Rouleur, et al.: you’re not going to get anywhere with Jim or like-minded folks. I know Jim is well-meaning and wants to do what’s right. But ultimately his is a recipe for analysis paralysis and of studying this issue to death. The city won’t have the money to do what he wants and ultimately you’ll end up with the status quo preserved. The ultimate problem is that a lot of people perceive no value in mountain biking and fret endlessly about any liberalization of trail access rules. It’s a mindset that is not easily altered, and you’ll be wasting your time trying to convince them. See, as evidence of this, the similar debate over mountain biking in the National Parks at this site:

    http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2009/02/npca-peer-voice-concerns-over-proposed-mountain-bike-rule-change-national-parks

    And see also the link to the Denver Post debate at the bottom of that thread. It’s endless. I know this from long experience with bicycle skeptics here in the Bay Area.

    Instead of trying to persuade Jim, which you won’t be able to do, just work with Commissioner Fish. That’s a good use of your limited energy.

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  • Jill February 26, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Great discussion here!
    A few comments:
    Please don’t make assumptions about experiences mountain bikers seek. Not all hikers are out there for solitude and wildlife viewing- many are out for exercise, socializing, walking the dog. The same is true of runners and cyclists. The mode of travel is different from the experience goal. I seek trails in Forest Park for a variety of reasons. When I’m riding my bike on singletrack (unfortunately, not in Portland), it brings me into a more intimate connection with the environment. Pace slows, attention focuses on the trail and surroundings, and I forget about the urban constructs for a while. I seek this experience on my bike. I wish that I didn’t have to drive to get there.
    Bike parks are great too, and we may see them sooner than any meaningful singletrack (whether at FP or elsewhere), but this provides a decidedly different bike experience. A hike through the Rose Gardens is interesting and fun, but a very different experience than hiking in the woods.
    Providing diverse experiences for cyclists and other park users is critical in creating the next generation of park and open space supporters. And it’s so much less expensive and less of an environmental impact than other facilities (soccer fields, paved paths, etc). Keep in mind, that these trails wouldn’t be exclusively for cyclists, but for hikers and runners too. The existing trails close to Leif Erickson can get crowded- this is not the place to add a new use. But there is room in the Park (and other areas around the City), either on existing low use trails and/or new routes.

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  • R. February 26, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Sounds like we’ll be turning Forest Park into a Mountain Bike Amusement Park.

    Again, what does bombing downhill or running jumps on a machine have to do with communing with nature or respecting the experience of folks who enjoy quiet recreation?

    Perhaps, if single track is built in Forest Park the track will have NO top access. That way when I see a rider blowing down the hill I will know that they earned the experience by riding to the top of the hill first.

    The last thing I look forward to in Forest Park is mountain bikers supported by drivers who continuously drive their asses to the top of the hill (53rd Ave Speedway?). No doubt such drives add to the wilderness-like, park-like, nature-like, quiet recreation-like experience that is mountain biking. Why be “like” when you can get off the machine and respect nature and the park quietly?

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  • frank February 26, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Rouleuer and Ted,

    Thank you for the perspective – the point is well taken.

    Jim et. al.,

    Please prove Ted wrong. Nick said: “My interest is not in studying this to death, it’s seeing what we can actually do…I am committed to finding ways to significantly expand our current inventory of singletrack trails.” If you take him at his word and work with us to support him, rather than opposing any shared trails in FP, we can do this better.

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  • Rouleur February 26, 2009 at 11:38 am

    R. #49:

    It wouldn’t become more of a Mountain Bike Amusement Park than it is now a Hikers, Runners with iPods and Dog Walkers Amusement Park.

    Like Jill points out, many of the current users of the park are there to recreate, exercise, socialize in a natural environment, not for the sole and sacred purpose of communing with nature. These activities are all commendable and not mutually exclusive. I don’t see anything wrong with allowing cyclists to enjoy the same things as runners or dog walkers. Again, in any scenario that I have seen proposed here so far, there will still be plenty of room for people who prefer to enjoy quiet recreation.

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  • Will February 26, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    I see many posts using the current state of user conflicts as a reason why adding single track mountain bike trails will not work. I think this supports the opposite. Currently there is user conflict. The main service roads are what bikers are relegated to and this is the main artery for access to the park. There is nothing to manage speed so bike users are able to ride very fast on the same trail that can be filled with runners, hikers and dog walkers. Having singletrack opportunities that are a few miles from the gate will give the bikes a destination that will be beyond the higher congested area and beyond the areas that most runners, dog walkers and hikers access, will help mitigate user conflict.

    If you create appealing options for the different groups, they will naturally gravitate to them.

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  • David Anderson February 26, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Well said Will!

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  • wsbob February 26, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Frank, I’ll do some reading in the section that has the passage of the master plan saying “Build the bike trail connections that will braoden the recreation opportunities of that unit.”, but I doubt that ‘trail connections’ used in that passage implies single track for bike use. It may imply bike routes to and between trailheads, which of course should be established.

    Rouleur, you and others may consider viewpoints contrary to your own to be ‘obstructionist’. I’m attempting to understand something unique as FP and help a little bit to protect that which such a park is uniquely intended to provide people with, and I’m willing to take an unpopular position if this goes along with such an effort.

    FP’s master plan, as Frank points out, refers to FP as a “significant recreational and educational resource.”, and I’d fully agree with that reference.
    That does not mean any and all types of recreation are compatible with the purpose that FP creators set the park land aside for. FP is a nature park. Recreational activities such as paintball, disc golf, marching band practice, and various kinds of bike riding for example, are not compatible with that purpose.

    I’m sure there are some bikers that would happily toodle along a single track at 4-5 mph, completely surrounded by the natural environment of a nature park. In no way has the impression been made that this kind of riding is representative of the type of single track riding MBkrs are mainly interested in. The fact that any specific type of known or defined single track riding style intended by those that hope for it in FP has not been named may be one likely reason why there’s resistance to allowing access of bikes to single track in FP and probably other nature parks as well.

    Before people allow mountain bike access into FP, they might want to know exactly what they’re allowing.

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  • David Anderson February 26, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    wsbob and Jim Labbe, et al:
    What exactly is it about a cross country mountain bike that makes it incompatible – in your viewpoint – with the enjoyment of a natural area? It doesn’t pollute. It isn’t noisy. It has low impact – lower, in fact, than other accepted uses of some ‘natural areas’. So, what exactly are your objections, specifically?

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  • Realist biker February 26, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Wow,
    R, really? This is another great example of people exercising their right to free speech, it’s not free, we all pay the price for your freedom in the non-sensical ramblings.

    wsbob-I’m curious, what’s your angle? why are you even commenting? You might want to reference the number of “true” studies on biking’s impact on nature. The bottom line, the garbage sent out by organizations such as the Sierra Club are wrong and those that are educated understand this issue.

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  • a.O February 26, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    I’ve said this before, but obviously it bears repeating:

    You have to understand that Bob is not a mountain biker, doesn’t live in Portland, and that his lack of understanding regarding the difference between riding on a logging road and singletrack (or downhill vs. cross-country or anything else about riding a mountain bike in FP) won’t prevent him from making public comments in which he takes a position that presumes people who bike are in the wrong.

    He just wants to have the last word and will basically troll until he gets it. Save your energy for more meaningful avenues of advocacy.

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  • Blah Blah Blah February 26, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I’ll repaet myself…

    There have been times, that I have been on several trails in FP by foot and by bike and have not seen another human, and this is on weekend days.

    What “conflict” are you guys talking about?

    And some of you are spouting about a pure nature experience when visiting Forest Park…That place is far from a pure nature experience, the English Ivy has over ran the park, the many people who run around off leash…oops I mean dogs off leash and all the others zoned out with thier Ipods.

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  • D.R. Miller February 26, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Forest Park is big for an urban park. But size is always relative to speed. I find it hard to believe that any configuration of new single track in that square mileage will be satisfying to “true” mountain bikers. But I admit I’m not a mountain biker. I ride my bike to the park and walk the trails within it. Even a 6 or 8 mile hike on loops of northern Forest Park only takes 2 or 3 hours of leisurely, pause to take in the sublimity, walking. But I cherish the opportunity to do that, free from even so seemingly benign machines as bicycles. That’s just my bent. And I’m enormously grateful that Forest Park exists as such a refuge. It is an exceptional and unusual place. A big part of what makes it that is the current Plan and rules. Changing them is not something to be taken lightly, merely for the sake of even a popular mode of wheeled recreation. Whatever is truly best for the integrity of the place as such, as the jewel-island of quiet nature that it is, should be, if not the absolute rule (else all humans save ivy-pullers be disallowed) then at least the guiding principle.

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  • Frank February 27, 2009 at 12:20 am

    No one has proposed preventing people from enjoying nature in the park without encountering bikes. Large areas will NEVER have bikes on trails under any proposal I have heard. This may include the entire north portion D.R. Miller mentioned and probably most or all of the southern portion as well. No bikes on most trails in most of the park at any time.

    Even the few trails that allow bikes will only do so at limited pre-determined times that you can easily avoid. No bikes most times on ANY trails. It doesn’t sound very generous to bikers because it isn’t. But it’s something.

    So the question is not whether nature or conservation or education or recreation are goals (all are), but whether you are willing to give up ANY hours of your exclusive use on ANY trails so that other users – who have different preferences – can enjoy the refuge and beauty of the park non-exclusively (walkers always allowed) in their way.

    If the answer is yes, let’s talk. If your answer is no, we have less to talk about, but I’ll keep trying.

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  • wsbob February 27, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Dave, I have explained my reasons and other people have explained theirs, in earlier posts on this thread and related others, why bikes in FP and other nature parks do not seem compatible with the purpose such parks have been established to serve. In your view, they may be perfectly compatible in such a place. I’m kind of sad that you don’t appreciate a place that’s as free as reasonably possible from unnecessary intrusion or think that FP and other nature parks should not be one of them, but you’re perfectly entitled to your viewpoint, and I respect your right to have it.

    I have lived in the Portland Metro area longer than I care to mention…simply say, for decades. I grew up in a semi-rural area just outside Beaverton and have had the very sobering experience of seeing the woodlands and fields of that environment be converted to suburban tract housing. From the valley floor, it used to be that when you looked north to the ridge that Skyline drive(which I’ve ridden many times) traverses, the entire hillside from east to west and dropping into the valley floor was a nearly solid expanse of woodland environment. Half of that has now been converted to housing.

    All that’s gone now, offered to those living near to it, ready access to some approximation of a true nature experience. That makes nature parks an increasingly important resource to the people living nearby.

    Now as a.O. is so helpful to note, I have not been a mountain bike rider. The gentleman may not know, since he’s never met me, is that I have plenty of respect for the sport and the riders. There are mountain bike riders in my family, and in fact, one of them has been a mountain bike rider in competition. That doesn’t change my feelings about the question of allowing access for mountain bikes into FP. Even if I was, or had ever been the hottest damn hard-core wilderness mountain biker the world had ever seen, I would still feel that metro area nature parks, with few exceptions, are places bikes should not be.

    I think that the Portland Metro area should definitely have a readily accessible mountain bike resource in the area that offers all or as many of the skills and challenges that bike riders seek combined into it. If there truly is broad based support for that kind of thing, I imagine MBkrs could somehow find the means to secure land and dedicate it to that purpose, just as the founders of FP managed to do so in their belief that a nature park was vitally important to Portland residents.

    For one example of how to go about that, MBkrs might look to the Nature Conservancy. That organization has managed to rally thousands of supporters in support of their goals. With their support, the Conservancy has been able to save many thousands of acres of land from development, allowing those acres to continue on as living proof of the natural world we live in.

    MBkrs should work to create their own resource rather than allow themselves to impinge upon one that’s already been set aside and dedicated to something I believe many, many Portland residents would regard to be far more important to their quality of living than mountain bike trails.

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  • wsbob February 27, 2009 at 9:13 am

    By the way: Beaverton has a nature park that can’t be beat for accessibility. Just take light rail and get off at the Merlo Rd Station. Entrance to the park is merely steps away.

    It’s a thoroughly beautiful place, and I love riding through it. Beaverton hasn’t got any bike single track either, that I’m aware of. Compared to paths in FP, the multi-use path through this park is short, and asphalt paved for wheelchair accessibility, but the surface makes it perfect for silently and slowly gliding through the park with all senses tuned to the magnificent surroundings.

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  • kgb February 27, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Hi Matt,
    I’m not sure which comment of mine led you to believe I’m not a mountain biker. I was merely correcting some mis-statements of others regarding simple facts. I strongly support more single track in Forest Park, in the dry months I ride the park almost every day, I’m sure I probably pass you on a regular basis, ha ha. I would prefer to see a few all new trails developed specifically for bikes, I’m not particulary interested in wildwood because it is to flat, I would rather see something that works its’ way up and down the slope, I think options that use exsiting infrastructure such as firelane 3, springville rd. or holman road could be leveraged for the up portion of a loop system. These trails could be sited in such a way as to have only positive effects on other users experiences as it would reduce bike traffic on multi use trails.

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  • Ted February 27, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    If Commissioner Fish is going to deal effectively with trail-sharing and trail development in Forest Park he’ll need to rise above the strong emotions on display here and approach the issue in as pragmatic and dispassionate a manner as possible. I would urge him to think like an economist and also to consult economists (Portland State undoubtedly has some).

    Here’s why this is an economic question. You have competing demands for a finite resource, i.e., Forest Park. How can you derive the maximum level of benefits over costs in utilizing that resource?

    When the focus shifts in this direction, questions about the original purpose of Forest Park become less significant.

    It is, of course, a cliché to accuse economists of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. Here, values like solitude and physical fitness come into play, and they’re largely qualitative. But the economics profession is up to the task of laying out a conceptual framework in which these values can be taken into account.

    The main thing about economists is that they understand that life is about tradeoffs. A tradeoff that increases the welfare of Portland is a good move. That is what counts, not what the original purpose of Forest Park may have been. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said in another context, “[i]t is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since, and the rule simply persists from blind imitation of the past.” (Holmes, The Path of the Law (1897) 10 Harv.L.Rev. 457, 469.)

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  • jason March 1, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Ted,

    I think you should stick to advising you neighbors where you live in California.

    Jason

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  • Ted March 1, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Jason,

    I used to live in Portland and know Forest Park’s situation. Also, the issues are the same everywhere. What’s the problem? You don’t want any input from outside Multnomah County? Don’t worry; I don’t plan to continue commenting on this issue very often.

    Ted

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  • Cedar Kyes March 1, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Wow! So much energy put in to commenting on this topic…now if we could just channel that energy and come together as the forward thinking and progressive community that we are…we would be riding more trails close-in to town and building our future as one of the truly amazing places to live and ride! Let’s work TOGETHER people…please
    Thank you Jonathan for keeping Portland informed about all things Bike related!

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  • f5 March 2, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Matt F. and Ted:

    There’s infinite ways that people define what mountain biking ‘IS’ to them. Thanks for sharing yours. There are plenty of people that would say 2k’ of climbing and 3 hours overall doesn’t qualify for much more than a light training ride.

    Forest park is HUGE. It’s the largest urban park in the U.S. I think it’s important to point out that fragmented, short sections of trails crisscrossing the close-in and popular fireroads and trail sections wouldn’t have to be our only options for new trails. If/when permission allows, Forest Park is huge enough to support enough trail for hours and hours and hours of climbing and descending. Let’s just hope we can someday have that.

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  • Brian March 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    According to your argument wsbob,

    “The park is about having accessible to residents of an urban setting, the truest nature experience that is reasonably possible.”

    you should be looking to exclude the majority of Forest Park users (anecdotally speaking based on my observations having spent hundreds of hours in the park in the past 10 years). Yet your logic begins and ends with the sole exclusion of mtb’ers. There is no mention of excluding other user groups who are not seeking the true nature experience. Your argument holds no weight, unless you are willing to concede that babywalkers, runners with IPODS, and dog walkers are “seeking the truest nature experience that is reasonably possible.” If you concede they are, then you must the same logic to those on bicycles. If not, you are simply being discriminatory based on what you define as the only “true” ways to seek nature experiences, admittedly out of ignorance having never ridden a mountain bike in nature.

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  • wsbob March 2, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Brian, FP is not a MB skills park. FP is a nature park. All the types of people you mention, visit and travel through FP single track on foot. By foot is the most practical means of travel through FP on single track. Speed variance between walkers is close enough that passing is easily managed. On a narrow path, walkers can turn sideways to allow another walker to pass.

    Bikes have handlebars and pedals that increase their effective path width needs. And of course, bikes are easily able to travel much faster than walkers ever could. Those are likely reasons why mountain bikes access in FP has been directed to FP’s 26 miles of fire rather than single track designated for walking only.

    “So, it’s clear that Fish is aware of the renewed energy around this issue, but he also added that he and his staff are not “up-to-snuff on off-road biking,” — meaning they have some education to do before making any firm decisions.” Maus/bikeportland

    I hope they do get up-to-snuff on off-road biking before making any firm decisions. Beyond the word ‘single track’ and ‘challenge’, not much has been used to describe the kind of riding experience MBkrs believe FP should be obliged to provide them with. It should be well known what those expectations before any decision is made.

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  • David Anderson March 2, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    WSbob #71
    Who, or whatever has, given you the idea that mountain bikers want to turn Forest Park in to a “skills park”? Where did you come up with that?
    How many kinds of “mountain bike” riding are there involved in that one term?
    Yes, I hope you do get up to snuff on what it is that mountain bikers do want so we can all be on the same page and move forward so we can all enjoy the same spot – albeit on different trails.

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  • wsbob March 2, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Dave, information about different kinds of mountain biking is readily available. I’ve checked some of them out myself; Wikipedia has a useful article: Mountain Biking. Different kinds of mountain bike riding are explained there. ‘Single Track’ magazine is another good source of info about mountain biking, although that’s a UK publication.

    MBkrs hoping to use single track in FP have not made clear what kind of single track they have in mind, but ‘challenge’ is a word some of them commenting on this weblog have used to describe what they find lacking in the 26 miles of fire road in FP currently accessible to mountain bikers. ‘Challenge’ seems to be the bigger reason they would like to secure single track for mountain bikes in FP, rather than a nature experience that is there waiting for nearly everybody on foot. So, ‘challenge’, ‘skills’…either descriptive word seems to fit.

    One of the reasons I mentioned the Tualitan Hills Nature Park, is that it has a path through it that’s not a fire road and is accessible to mountain bikes and everyone else, including people in wheelchairs. It’s about 6′ wide, asphalt paved, so it’s quiet to ride on. It’s great for experiencing a nature park on a bike, yet, from how MB enthusiasts have described their needs on this weblog, it’s likely not to be what they’re hoping for in FP, because it doesn’t provide the challenge of certain popular forms of mountain biking.

    At any rate, as mentioned in an earlier comment, I’m in Beaverton. Parks Commissioner Fish is likely to feel the need to listen more attentively to a Portland resident than he ever would a resident outside of Portland. So I’m hoping anyone in Portland that’s thought about some of the concerns that have been discussed on this and related threads, and feels strongly about them will let Fish know what they believe FP should provide the city’s residents with, so he can make a sound decision.

    There’s lots of people living in Beaverton. No doubt, some of them also must be avid mountain bikers. Beav has a large park network(though no single park as large as FP) including bike paths, but as far as I know, there isn’t any single track for them out here either. That leaves me wondering what effort MBkrs out this way have made or may be making to work with Tualitan Hills Park and Rec to secure a mountain bike park to meet their needs. It seems like this is something they should be doing. Beaverton has a park, sections of which may have the potential of being an excellent mountain bike park: Powerline Park, south of Farmington Rd., climbs steeply up Cooper Mountain. Could be very good downhill.

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  • David Anderson March 2, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    wsbob, OK, I think I’m beginning to understand your thought process a bit more. The English mountain bike magazines are great magazines. They’re better than any printed over here. OK, I don’t care to ride on doubletrack – the firelanes and Leif Erickson. I do it now and then, but as a steady diet of mountain bike riding? No. That is not what mountain biking is about to me. I want to ride on singletrack. I also have a road bike and I do go riding on the road now and then, but it is too noisy with cars, and I do ride around town a lot.
    Now, how would you like it if mountain bikers had a huge park to themselves and told hikers and joggers “you have all of the treelined streets of Portland to hike and jog along. That’s good enough for you! You’re not going to get any more than that. Stay out of “MY PARK”! It’s MY PARK AND I’M NOT SHARING, NOW GO AWAY AND LEAVE US ALONE!” How would you like it? Seriously?! That is what I as a mountain bike rider and quite a serious environmentalist feels about what I am hearing.
    If you want to know the kind of trail I want to ride in Forest Park, look at the photo for Trail Type B in the Parks Trail Type Guidelines. That is the kind of trail I, and many other people in Portland, want to ride. Notice I did not say that specific trail, but I am using that as the kind of trail type I like riding. So, please be aware that I for one am not interested in a skills park with lot’s of features being built in Forest Park. There are exciting plans for that type of park in the Gateway Green area. So, I hope you can now understand and appreciate where I, and i think many other mountain bikers, are coming from a bit better.

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  • wsbob March 2, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Dave, I fully anticipate that MBkrs could eventually have a park to themselves, as they should. They should work for that. Walkers most likely wouldn’t want to go to such a park because of always having to deal with bikes. That’s just a simple reality. I’m leery of condoning the conversion of trails in an established nature park to, or creating new trails in such a park to a use that’s only practical for MBkrs rather than all people coming to use the park.

    MBkrs should be lobbying the city and Metro to include mountain bike single track provisions when those entities rezone land for new development. The city and Metro zones has zoned a lot of land for new development in the last decade or so. People could have worked to get easements for mountain single track in some of that land, and helped retain natural environment at the same time.

    I’m not well informed about the situation, but Happy Valley comes to mind because it was in the news last week. From what I could see on the short tv spot, the character of the land in the un-built lots there is kind of hilly and wooded..possibly good for mountain biking. A lot of land was zoned for expensive new houses, many which have not been built because of the declining economy. So now, this desert of asphalt cul-de-sacs is a destination for sex-for-hire liazons, drug and drinking binges, etc. Might just as well have made some of this area a mountain bike park. That might have helped keep somebody coming through regularly, perhaps discouraging the low-lifes from coming around.

    I think I remember the photo for trail type B…I’ll try take another look. Anyways….Dave, thanks for the info and the feedback.

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  • Brian March 3, 2009 at 6:19 am

    Simple solution to your valid concerns wsbob, make certain trails mountain bike only. Problem solved, and no user group is being discriminated against based on personal beliefs. How does that sound to you?

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  • f5 March 3, 2009 at 9:11 am

    WSBOB: This isn’t rocket science. You’re really reading way too much into the word ‘challenge’ and playing up the divisiveness way way too much.

    Mountain bikers want trails…singletrack trails, more or less just like the trails that are already there. They would be off limits to hikers (in an ideal world), and would be built by volunteers. Skills parks are entirely different, and no one has proposed, nor likely wants, a skills park in FP. Hikers and mountain bikers share usage of the same trails in national parks, BLM lands, forest service lands, etc. all over the country and in areas much much more sensitive, pristine, and beautiful than Forest Park. There’s no logical reason why mountain bikers should be limited to .3 miles of singletrack in the largest urban forrested park in the entire US. We’re not asking for access to the existing trails…we’re asking for permission to build new trails.

    I think it’s very reasonable to say that you seem to have a fairly strong bias against mountain bikes, and that most people reading this thread share that belief. No one is trying to ‘harsh your woods mellow’.

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  • wsbob March 3, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Brian for a nature park such as FP, situated as it is, close to an urban area as opposed to the kind of areas f5 mentions in #77, if MB single track mileage were increased, having those trails be ‘mountain bike only’ may be the inevitable outcome. In an earlier comment, I think Frank Selker proposed specifically scheduled hours or alternated use days as a possible means of doing this.

    f5, you may feel that the comments I’ve made related to this subject suggest a bias on my part against mountain bikes. Actually, aside from a certain respect for that type of bike and the people that enjoy riding them, I’m mostly indifferent to them. That type of bike has their place. I’m not representative of someone that feels these bikes fit in with the need that nature parks such as FP and our own nature park out in Beaverton is designated to serve.

    At least in comments on this thread, I seem to be more or less the lone dog holding out against unconditional support for mountain bike single track in FP. I doubt though, that I’m the only one having serious questions about the exact kind of trail experience MBkrs are seeking in FP. It’s likely that many FP users are having questions about what expanded MB single track in FP will mean to all FP users.

    For that reason, advocates of single track for mountain bikes in FP should see it as their responsibility to be very clear by specifying to the public, exactly what they envision for trail experience in FP; width of trail, degree of incline, decline, max/min speed, and so on. To date, I don’t think they’ve adequately done that.

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  • Ted March 3, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I feel reluctant to chime in again, and not only because of one person’s opinion that no one from Calif. should say anything. For a number of other reasons, I’d rather e-mail the proponents privately. But since I can’t, let me preface my comment by repeating that I used to live in Portland, know Forest Park, and through long experience have learned that not only are the issues surrounding mountain bike access always the same, but the personality types and ideological leanings are too.

    So here goes . . . .

    Even if one wants to accommodate wsbob and other critics on this thread with proposals for something like alternate-day use, uphill-only use, or segregated trails, it won’t help much unless they are influential with groups that may oppose you, notably orthodox-minded “environmental” groups. In other words, pleasing critics here doesn’t help if still more influential ones will later emerge to persuade Commissioner Fish not to allow any trail-building or increased mountain bike access in Forest Park. Knowing Portland as well as I do from having lived there five years, I suspect such opposition will emerge. It might be better to sound out the established “environmental” groups first and get a sense of the stance they would take.

    I put “environmental” in quotation marks because there is a strong faction in self-styled “environmental” organizations that looks not to science or reason for solutions to problems but to a variety of soothsaying. One tenet of their quasireligious principles is that bicycles are for roads only. This is part and parcel of a socially straitlaced temperance movement, active in west coast American cities, that disdains logical reasoning and scientific precepts when they intrude on the the group’s preconceived dogmas. These groups call themselves environmental, but that is a masquerade used to give a scientific-sounding gloss to what is a much more a temperance movement. The same American cultural milieu that gave rise to, e.g., religious fundamentalism in the Bible Belt also produced a Luddite ethos that worships wildlands as temples for reverential contemplation and abhors the idea that anyone might have fun in such places. Not that Forest Park is particularly wild, by the way, but it has aspects of wildness, certainly enough that one can predict opposition to mountain bike use.

    I hope this doesn’t sound too preachful, but I’ve done this kind of work for years and it’s a conclusion I’ve reached. It is a difficult struggle. Good luck to everyone.

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  • Anonymous March 3, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    always been amused by the bike communities discrepancy for advocating green lifestyles and at the same time advocating for hobbies that are destructive to nature or at least anti-green in their development, use, and maintanence. mountain bikes provides interaction with nature, but so does driving a car around national forest roads, one is certainly a lesser destructive force, but both fall into the ‘anti-bambi’ category. hard one to take sides on, easy to say ‘go bikes’, but in the end, since you are able to interact with nature in fp without supporting unnecessary manufactured metal/rubber products (biking in nature = commuting to work with sov)its like supporting a kidney shot to nature (not deadly, but with enough force your peeing red for a week). tough choice, 100% pro bike or side with mother nature on this one.

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  • Jim Labbe March 3, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Frank # 46.

    Sounds like we have some trust issues. I am certainly willing to talk more. I make no apologies for making natural resource conservation in our protected natural areas a top priority.

    But, to respond: I cited the study on the negative impacts of mountain biking on elk movements to 1. provide example of why your statement that “Research shows that cyclists do not create more trail damage or disturb wildlife more than hikers – in fact in many cases they have less impact” is factually inaccurate and 2. because we do in fact have elk populations that occasionally use the Northern portions of Forest Park for winter range.

    As I said, as we consider where it is and where not it is appropriate to expand single track uses, we should use the best available science that is relevant to our region’s unique climate, geology, and wildlife.

    Another good source of information on trail design, in general, is Metro’s publication Green Trails: Guidelines for Environmentally Friendly Trails.

    Jim

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  • Frank March 3, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Jim,

    My statement is factually correct: A number of studies have found cyclists to have less impact on wildlife that other users, in part becuase they pass more quickly, e.g., in flushing birds etc.

    For example, the study that you cite found that cyclists have no more affect on mule deer than hikers. In fact, their data suggests that cyclists have less impact on deer motion.

    Note that deer are in the central portion of the park and that I have never suggested cyclists should be on trails in the north part of the park where you mention that elk visit.

    I don’t believe the science indcates an issue with cyclists in terms of either wildlife or trails. The issue is actually one of sharing, and science cannot address that.

    Let’s get together and talk about this.

    Frank

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  • wsbob March 3, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    “Not that Forest Park is particularly wild, by the way,…” Ted, #79

    Ted, are you sure about that? Some parts more than others, but Forest Park seems wild to me. Plant life grows there with abandon (including human introduced invasive species,ivy). Wildlife seems to find the park a fine place to be. This all seems to happen without a lot of Disneyland type interference by human beings. As far as I know, there aren’t any wine bars, expresso shops or nail boutiques out in FP.

    FP may not be as wild and natural as the Alaskan or Australian bush, or African jungle or South American rain forests, but it doesn’t shape up too bad being close as it is to a major urban population center.

    No one need accommodate any personal ideas I might have or would like for FP or any nature park. An expectation of such a thing has not been the point of either my effort, or hopefully, that of others in the discussion here on this thread.

    Portland residents will be needing to make some decisions and/or accept decisions made by Commissioner Fish, about the future of FP relative to possible increased access for mountain bikes. Though some of them may not be pleasant or popular, they’ll be wise to consider different perspectives on the issue in making those decisions.

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  • f5 March 4, 2009 at 9:46 am

    I would agree that forest park is not very wild. When the ecosystems and animal life are more fragmented and less complete than on your average BLM rife with timber harvesting, ATV enthusiasts, illegal campers and illegal gun ranges, that says a lot towards it not being wild. ‘Affected by and neglected by man’ is a more accurate description IMHO.

    Carpets of english ivy measurable in square miles are not wild. Fire roads slicing down the entire length of the park, and criss-crossing up and down it, do not make it wild. Fragmented animal life/ecosystems do not make it wild. Being bordered mostly by paved roads and civilization that, for the most part, cut it off from anything BUT civilization thus making it essentially an island (yes, I read the part about some elk in the north section), do not make it wild.

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  • Ted March 4, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Wsbob, I don’t know of a precise definition of wild. I would bet that no large part of Forest Park is in its primeval state, i.e., the state it was in before Europeans settled in Oregon. I do agree, however, that parts of Forest Park, particularly the northern section above Leif Erickson Drive, are currently unaffected by human activities and could be considered wild in that sense.

    The point I would make is that mountain biking is compatible with any level of wildness that can tolerate a human presence. If hikers can go there, mountain bikers should be able to also, because the environmental impacts of the two activities are so similar. The great weight of scientific studies supports this conclusion. (The social impact of the two activities can be somewhat different, because, depending on trail design and rules, bikes are capable of going faster than hikers do, but decades of management experience have generated reliable solutions for any problems that may arise from that difference.) Places that we don’t allow anyone but scientific researchers to go to, like the Farallon Islands off the mouth of the Golden Gate, shouldn’t allow mountain biking, but that’s about it.

    With regard to these issues, which I can tell you are keenly interested in, you might find it interesting to consult the trail design guide published by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (www.imba.com). It’s not on the IMBA website and you have to order it, but if you prefer not to pay for it perhaps a bicycling organization in Portland has a copy that you could ask to peruse.

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  • give me a break March 4, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Good lord.

    Forest Park is not wilderness…it’s far from it. It would help us all to stop interpreting the master plan as if it were the last strip of wilderness on the planet.

    Look at the new section of bike singletrack recently built and managed by local cycling advocacy groups. It’s effectively no different than any of the other hiking trails in the park. Now imagine a bit more of that. That’s what cyclists are working towards.

    Jumping? Skills park? Circus? You’ve seriously got to be kidding me.

    This is exactly the same opposition snowboarding faced during it’s infancy. It really just boils down to narrow mindedness and protecting the status quo at any cost, even if that means wildly-conservative interpretatios of a hundred year old document. You know, if you’re incredibly articulate, and incredibly verbose, but have such an antiquated, uniformed view of what mountain biking is and what people are asking for, the onus at this point in the trails dialogue isn’t on the folks already working on it. Bring yourself up to speed for god’s sake.

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  • Anonymous 2 March 5, 2009 at 7:21 am

    The last post by Ted in California makes a point that should not be underestimated: that the opposition will emerge and it will be influential.

    There are thousands upon thousands of runners, hikes and walkers who can be expected to mount fierce opposition to the prospect of additional biking trails in FP.

    All of the above comments are interesting to read. They would be even more interesting if the underrepresented (in the comments section) runners, hikers and walkers were speaking up.

    Get ready for a donnybrook, methinks.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 5, 2009 at 8:33 am

    “the opposition will emerge and it will be influential. “

    I have already hear from several people via email that they are not happy about the prospect of more bikes in Forest Park.

    I am keeping in touch with them and I hope to publish their perspectives soon.

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  • David Anderson March 5, 2009 at 9:12 am

    IF people who are opposed to mountain bikes on trails in Forest Park, a nature reserve, because they are mechanical then they should also be opposed to mechanical, and especially motorized machines, being used in the upkeep of the trails they use. If you follow the argument that mechanical machines be kept out of Nature Reserves then the argument could be made to prohibit motorized vehicles from entering any Wildlife Refuge, be it Sauvies Island WMA, or Malheur Nantional Wildlife Refuge – both spots favored by people wanting to view wildlife. The argument could then be made that people should park at the Wildlife Refuge/Nature Reserve’s boundary and walk in. So, is this what the people who are so vehemently opposed to me riding on trails in Forest Park really want?

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  • f5 March 5, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Here’s something I simply don’t understand: If Forest Park is supposed to be protected and maintained in a manner that’s essentially on par with designated U.S. wilderness areas, why is there a gravel road splitting it down the middle for the entire length of the park? How does this not shoot a hole right through WSBOB’s entire argument?

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  • wsbob March 5, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    “Forest Park is not wilderness…” give me a break #86

    You may not think so, or like the idea that it is…or should be, and therefore limits acceptance of the idea by many people that mountain bikes should be welcomed onto single track in Forest Park, but FP is probably as close to wilderness in a nature park near an urban population center as Portland can ever hope to get. You protect what you got, and work to restore it to what it’s supposed to be.

    “Jumping? Skills park? Circus? You’ve seriously got to be kidding me.”

    I’m not kidding at all. Despite claims made by MBkrs to the contrary, the impression is pretty clear that walking in a nature park just isn’t exciting enough for people that crave riding their mountain bikes. I don’t think ‘circus’ has ever been suggested in this thread as something MBkrs appear to want in FP. They do though, seem perfectly content to compromise the overall experience potential of FP to other park visitors so that they can ride their mountain bikes in the park.

    Dave, about the use of internal combustion machines in maintenance and construction in wilderness areas and nature parks, I think your point is one well to consider. There probably is far too much unnecessary usage of those kinds of machines when proven alternatives are available.

    For starters, chain saws shouldn’t be needed to clean storm debris from hiking trails.There’s lots of people without work that could be employed by government to manually clear those trails.

    It’s getting to be ancient history by now, but there was a time when trees were cut with bucksaws and axes. As we all should know, entire forests have been leveled using exactly those kinds of tools. Acquired skills are necessary to use and keep such tools sharp, but they do a very effective job. Despite they’re unfortunate association with forest clear cutting, they’re honorable skills, and I would think there could be a lot of people that might be interested in learning those skills and trying them out on trail clearing in FP and other places that need it. It’s great physical exercise too.

    By the way, the U of O school of Forestry has a club whose members compete in log cutting competition with bucksaws.

    About the general principle you raise having to do with the question of access by individual motor vehicle to wildlife refuges; There are places where this is definitely a concern. I think Yosemite is one of the places where limiting the number of cars passing through is necessary. We don’t seem to be at that point yet here in the Portland area.

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  • wsbob March 5, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    f5? Reason for the fire roads? Situated close as it is to an urban population center, that kind of practical fire protection measures is called for. The situation is a bit different, for example, out around Mt. Hood.

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  • f5 March 6, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    wsbob-

    Looks like it’s just you and me left.

    Yes I understand why a road is cutting down the center of it…that’s exactly my point — that It’s not wilderness, it’s a city park bordered by asphalt, houses, and industry (for a great portion of it). Granted it’s big, sure it’s a fantastic, beautiful and scenic nature park, and certainly it needs protection, but not the same protection as Wilderness as it is not in a wild state. It needs progressive management, as it is in arguably fairly sorry shape in a lot of areas. If you ask me, the status quo management of FP now is broken. Mountain biking can happen there with little to no detriment and change to what currently happens there now. In fact Leif Erikson would most likely see less bike traffic if there were legit bike trails. Allowing more cyclists also brings in a lot more volunteers to help save the parks’ flora.

    My bad for typing ‘circus’, I meant ‘bike amusement park’ or whatever the rediculous term was that was used. It’s really comical the alarm people are showing. No we’re not talking moto/bmx style pump tracks, no we’re not talking skills parks, and no we’re not talking downhill/gravity courses where you’d see people hitting 40mph with full body armor as they huck off of massive dirt jumps. Put the euro bike rags down. They’re just trying to sell you gear and a fictional lifestyle anyway. Go read some of the informative IMBA links proposed in earlier comments. The debate about width of trail, whether or not 18″ is adequate, pedals and handlebars being wider and somehow that all being so detrimental and incompatible with FP trails or the current trail inventory is complete garbage. I can’t believe the hairs being split. Comments about how cyclists might go faster than walking pace insinuation how that is inherently bad…give me a break. trailrunners already go faster that hikers. Talk about rationalization that knows no boundary. Substitute the word Minorities for the word Mountain Bikes and a lot of the anti-bike comments in this thread and the logic starts to sound like it has a little too much in common with the civic leaders that brought us separate everything for whites and blacks in the early 20th century.

    There is singletrack open to mountain bikes now in Forest Park. Built by and taken care of by PUMP volunteers. it criss-crosses Leif Erickson and Wildwood. From what I’ve read, there’s been little to no negative issues with this. From what you’ve written, it really seems like you weren’t aware of this. If that’s the case — see how intrusive and terrible it is to have cycling happening there?

    I suggest you prepare yourself for the likelihood of there being more. You read the comments from others pointing out the word ‘recreation’ in the FP papers, yeah? I’m chuckling as I write — I mean that really isn’t anything you can expect decision makers to gloss over as you have.

    I maintain after reading all the rhetoric that you are biased against cyclists. To the extent that you assume you can propose what types of nature experiences mountain bikers are or are not having, I would say laughably biased. When I ride trails, I stop and soak in the setting often. I get off my bike and hike around and shoot a lot of photography. I think about the most important things and people in my life when I’m biking in nature. I’m quiet, respectful to nature and animal life, and very consciensous when approaching hikers or equestrians to make sure I yield right of way. No matter where I go, literally 95% or more of the cyclists I encounter conduct themselves similarly. This goes for my experiences in urban settings like Powell Butte as well. I get the same high out of being in nature as I do when I hike, I’m just also getting a little rush from going a little faster in places, and covering more territory per hour so that I can see more if it.

    I take comfort in knowing that in all likelihood, a few years from now there will be less english ivy in FP from great volunteer work crews, you’ll still live in Beaverton, and there will be more new trails open to, and maintained by, cyclists in forest park. Most likely, your experience of the park will have improved because of it.

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  • wsbob March 6, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    f5, good thoughts. Go and share some of them with others that have an interest in FP that hasn’t or doesn’t presently include bikes. They’ll likely benefit from hearing and understanding your perspective.

    It’s not uncommon for people to dislike a contrary perspective, even important ones. Present it anyway. That’s what I’m doing. Considering different perspectives is part of making good decisions.

    Communication is important. Everyone needs to clearly understand what’s on each others mind regarding how bikes might be allowed expanded access to FP. I don’t think this thing with bikes in nature parks is a simple as some people would like it to be. Maybe I’m the only sticky wicket that thinks so.

    End of the day for me…so, all for now.

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  • David Anderson March 7, 2009 at 7:06 am

    f5 very well said. Your comments hit the nail squarely on the head as far as I am concerned.
    wsbob: I used to be leary of mountain biking. I used to think, because I was told by others, that it was harmful to trails and scared wildlife. I believed that at one time. I used to backpack and go on long hikes. I love exploring wilderness and wild places. I love observing wildlife and bird watching and photography. So, what happened to change my mind? Several things actually. The main one was my knees started to really complain on longer hikes – there’s nothing like sharp pain in your knees to ruin a good hike. Then I got an all sport type bike and started riding on trails that were open to me. Guess what?! I didn’t see signs of the horrible erosion I was led to believe would be found on trails used by mountain bikers. In fact I didn’t see much of anything different from what I would expect had I been hiking. As far as wildife? Again, the claims that I would be harassing wildlife are far greatly exaggerated. I have yet to see larger mammals running from me in terror. I’ve seen Marmot sunning themselves on rocks on the Plains of Abraham watching hikers and bikers pass by. I think squrrels are more aware of and get excited more by slower travelling people than they are mountain bikers. Hikers are usually in an area for longer periods of time than are mountain bikers. Steller’s Jays still send out their warnings about people regardless of whether we’re hiking or biking. But again, slower moving people, have an impact on the birds that lasts longer than faster moving bikers. I do still harass birds now and then when I hear one I’d like to see. I’ll stop and pish, or whistle like a Pygmy Owl, to see if I can get it to come in closer so I can see it. In that manner I do harass birds now and then, just like any other birder/nature lover would do.
    I would like to challenge you to try out riding a mountain bike and see for yourself. There are some trails near here we could show you, and you can judge for yourself what is true and what isn’t. Would you be up for that? It just might change your mind – like what happened to me. I’ve even got an extra mountain bike you could ride! And don’t worry about how old you are. I started birding in 1962 when I was 10 years old.

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  • Ted March 7, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I have to agree with wsbob when he says, “It’s not uncommon for people to dislike a contrary perspective, even important ones. Present it anyway. That’s what I’m doing.”

    Wsbob is doing the mountain biking community a service with his skeptical input, because it’s a preview of what will happen if adding trails to Forest Park enters the political arena. The counterarguments everyone is presenting to him will come in handy in the flareup that can be anticipated and by addressing skeptics’ questions now mountain bikers are increasing their chance of eventual success.

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  • wsbob March 7, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I’ll agree with Ted. To date, I don’t feel that either proposals or counterarguments MBkrs have made for single track in FP have been well thought out or clearly presented. When they can do this and in doing so, clarify the ideas they have in mind and how the realization of them will be in keeping with the spirit of the park, mountain bikes in FP may meet less resistance. Well, who knows? Maybe as thing proceeds, there won’t be any resistance.

    I expect that the type of mountain bike riding in FP on single track, if existing mileage is increased, should be clearly defined according to an agreed upon type. Riding styles, especially in terms of speed, can vary widely.

    Usually, when I go to FP, I’ve gone to the Balch Creek trailhead, or even closer from where I live, to McCleay. Because of all this discussion, today I decided to go on over to Leif Ericson trailhead. Walked in a mile or two. First of, all parking sucks(drove over from my job). Mostly I think it was jammed with joggers cars; lots of them on Leif as I walked in. Wonder how hard it is to get there on the bus. A shuttle might be a good idea.

    Quite a range of bikers descending, most of them very fast. Wanted to see the singletrack, but didn’t…long story. I’m studying the map…again…looks like it’s a long way out.

    Dave, hey thanks for the offer, but I wouldn’t think I’d need to do that to know good, stable mountain bike trails can be made or that riding MB is fun and all that. I already know this. Anyway, I’m not the person MBkrs have to persuade to get mountain bike single track in FP.

    The real downer to the whole experience was discovering how lazy or ignorant the dogwalkers must be. They don’t seem to understand that after they put their dog’s business in the little white bags, they’re supposed to carry the little white bags with them to the trailhead garbage can. My bit today was to carry 6 of those crummy packages out to the can. As I walked back to the trail head starting about a quarter mile away, there they were, about every couple feet, like little white beacons neatly placed near the side of the road.

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  • wsbob March 7, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    “…about every couple feet…”….should be: “…about every couple hundred feet…”

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  • f5 March 7, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    “I don’t feel that either proposals or counterarguments MBkrs have made for single track in FP have been well thought out or clearly presented. When they can do this and in doing so, clarify the ideas they have in mind and how the realization of them will be in keeping with the spirit of the park, mountain bikes in FP may meet less resistance. Well, who knows? Maybe as thing proceeds, there won’t be any resistance.”

    wsbob:

    • People talking on an internet forum and advocacy groups submitting detailed proposals to the city and parks are two different things entirely. No one is going to submit a detailed, outlined proposal to you here on bikeportland.org, as much as you think you deserve one.

    • You continue to ignore that recreation is called for in the existing forest park plan. This doesn’t help your argument.

    • The lower TH for the existing bike trail is NW of the Saltzman road TH off of Leif Erickson.

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  • [...] Read the original here: BikePortland.org » Blog Archive » Commissioner Fish warms to more … [...]

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  • [...] Exactly one year ago today, newly elected City Commissioner Nick Fish made a bold proclamation about the future of mountain bike access in Forest Park. Following an unprecedented groundswell of community enthusiasm and activism calling more bike access in the 5,000 acre urban natural area, Fish told me, “I think there is a need and there is a demand and my job is to see how we can make that happen. I’m not interested in delaying this.” [...]

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