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Local shop commits $50,000 to Forest Park singletrack effort

Posted by on April 6th, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Inside the new Universal Cycles
Universal Cycles storefront at
NW 18th and Thurman.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Universal Cycles in northwest Portland has committed $10,000 a year for the next five years in order to help push local advocates and community leaders into creating more singletrack mountain bike trails in Forest Park.

Universal general manager Mike Doolittle told me this morning that, after reading about citizen activist Frank Selker’s plan and realizing that the trail idea was gaining momentum, he decided now was the right time for his company to step up.

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Doolittle said this is the first time Universal Cycles has entered into the local bike advocacy realm and that one reason they decided to do it is because, “it’s pretty ridiculous that there’s no singletrack in Portland.”

“We want to do our part to support the community and this is one big way we can do it.”
— Mike Doolittle, general manager of Universal Cycles

“Our city likes to say it’s the #1 cycling city in the country. How can they stand on that and not offer options for a huge segment of the cyclists?” he said, “we want to do our part to support the community and this is one big way we can do it.”

Doolittle is convinced that more trails in Forest Park will be a huge benefit, not just in improving the cycling community, but also for the bottom line of the local bike industry: “Without a whole lot of effort,” he said, “we could triple the amount of mountain bikers in Portland, and that would help our industry.” He also pointed out that the Northwest has world-class singletrack and that, “there’s no reason we can’t have world class singletrack in our own backyard.”

PUMP's Forest Park mountain bike tour
Riders enjoy the only bit
of singletrack in Forest Park.

Universal has a retail location, but they are more well-known as an online retailer. The majority of their business comes from online sales outside of the Portland area.

The list of local shops that are joining this renewed mountain bike advocacy effort continues to grow. In addition to Universal, Fat Tire Farm and Sellwood Cycle Repair have both stepped up to support the effort.

In an update to Frank Selker’s big plan that kick-started all this momentum — to get 100 cyclists to join forces with the Forest Park Conservancy — he confirmed last week that he reached that goal “very easily”.

Gateway Green Kick the Dirt event-27
Frank Selker

Selker estimates that about 140 cyclists joined the FPC from mid-December to March 1, and that they have donated a total of about $12,000 to the organization so far.

Keeping to his promise, Selker will kick in an additional $500 of his own money to the cause. He has also now set a new goal — he wants to raise $200,000 from local companies and individuals.

All this positive news for local mountain bike advocates comes at an opportune time. Tonight in City Hall, Commissioner Nick Fish will hold an invite-only roundtable discussion on mountain biking in Portland parks.

With his fund-raising skills already bearing fruit, Selker hopes to be able to tell Commissioner Fish that new trails won’t have to cost the city a dime.

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  • Tony Fuentes April 6, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you Universal Cycles. It is always great to see local businesses doing their part to support the community.

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  • Brian April 6, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Wow! This is absolutely amazing news! Thank you to Universal for this generous kickstart, and of course Frank for all of his tireless work. Lets hope the meeting with Nick Fish goes well today. I’m looking forward to a report.

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  • toddistic April 6, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Once again, a good reason to purchase local. I love universal cycles – and purchase from them as much as possible. They compete on par with other internet offerings and are local allowing me to pickup parts directly at their showroom after work. Even though I don’t mountain bike (yet) – glad to hear they are committed to help!

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  • ME 2 April 6, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Yeah, a great sign that the movement is growing for more single track in Forest Park.

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  • toowacky April 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Mike et al at Universal– THANK YOU!

    Universal is a great retailer and I’m glad we have them in Portland. It’s nice to have a local business that can compete w/ other big online retailers… and also to have them step up supporting the local scene.

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  • The King April 6, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Frank “Cotton” Selker RULES!

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  • chris April 6, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    This rocks- Thanks Universal. I have always enjoyed dealing with them, but I’ll certainly be shopping from them even more now.

    I fully agree with Mike’s statement that,
    “it’s pretty ridiculous that there’s no singletrack in Portland.”

    Looks like that’s set to change very soon, thanks to people like him.

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  • Michelle Bussard April 6, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    On behalf of the Forest Park Conservancy, I want to first of all express our appreciation to Frank and all the other cyclists who have contributed to this dialogue and have made an investment in the Conservancy’s mission to preserve and protect Forest Park. The Conservancy is heartened by the leadership emerging from Commissioner Fish’s office and by the commitment of Portland’s Bureau of Parks & Recreation to look strategically at the range of mountain biking needs and desires in Forest Park and beyond. The Conservancy’s commitment is to encourage and support this dialogue.

    I do think accuracy is important and while the exuberance would certainly make it feel as if we achieved double what was actually achieved, Frank’s campaign brought in 99 new members for a total of $4,880. The Conservancy is very appreciative because as our membership base increases so does our capacity to invest in and protect what is truly one of our city’s most treasured natural areas where we can enjoy 70 miles of trails. We look forward to working with everyone on a mindful approach on any recommendations related to trails in Forest Park that considers the health of Forest Park, the resources,education & enforcement, and maintenance parameters as well as the needs of all users of Forest Park.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 6, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Thanks for the comment Michelle.

    Just want to add that my story characterizes the membership and donation numbers as “estimates”.

    Those estimates — given to me by Frank Selker — were based not just on those who listed “cyclist” in the “In honor of” field but many others who apparently forgot to do so.

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  • dan April 6, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    That is sweet of Universal Cycles, but note that I think it’s perfectly possible to be a great cycling city without much (or any) singletrack. I’m pretty sure Amsterdam doesn’t have a significant amount of singletrack, after all.

    We’re talking about recreation here, vs. helping bikes stand on an equal footing with cars as urban vehicles.

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  • Brian E April 6, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Would someone please help me? I’m trying to find the total membership numbers for the Forest Park Conservancy. Thank you.

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  • Evan April 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I’ve never really considered Universal to be a true “LBS” but I think maybe I’ll have to reconsider. Very nice, Mike.

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  • KWW April 6, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    fwiw, Universal gets more of my money than all the other LBS’s combined.

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  • gabriel amadeus April 6, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Amazing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  • Blah Blah Blah April 6, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Wow!!!

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  • Loren April 6, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    This makes me want to buy that crosscheck frame I don’t need even more!

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  • GlowBoy April 6, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I say this as a commuter first and mountain biker second.

    dan (#6), when we were fighting for (and getting) improved access on roads for commuters and roadies over the past few years, would you have liked it if mountain bikers simply dismissed it all, saying “well, we don’t do that kind of riding, so who cares?”

    Cycling isn’t simply about pavement, and it isn’t simply about transportation. The gains we’ve made in recent years have benefited recreational as well as transportational cyclists. I think that’s a good thing.

    Looking to Amsterdam in improving our cycling situation is a good thing too, but please remember that Amsterdam is the capital of a board-flat country that is 90% farmland. We live in the Northwest, not Iowa-by-the-sea. With all of the outdoor recreation opportunities we have around here, and thousands of acres of forested mountains right in town, it is jarringly out of place that you have to get into your polluting automobile and DRIVE an hour or more out of town to go mountain biking.

    And the driving-an-hour-or-two situation just got a lot worse too. Although protecting land from development is a good thing, the recent Wilderness bill just locked us out of 130 miles of trail that used to be open to bikes.

    By the way, I’m not talking the Mountain Dew commercial driven image of crazy thrillseekers blasting down hills and doing stunts in midair. I’m just talking about riding a bicycle on a trail in the woods.

    Most midwestern cities have a better mountain biking situation than Portland. Go to the Oregon forum on mtbr.com and you will find that there are at least a couple threads a month involving someone who had considered moving here but was completely dumbstruck to learn that we don’t have mountain biking in town.

    I completely agree with Frank that it’s pretty ridiculous that there’s no singletrack here, and I’m going to send more of my cycling dollars his way.

    Given our abundant natural resources, I personally do NOT think it is possible for us to be a great cycling city without mountain biking being part of the picture. I have argued in the past, and still believe, that we do not deserve Platinum status until the situation is rectified.

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  • Frank Selker April 6, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    I have the FPC list of 99 names and it excludes many. For example, it excludes me! In fact it excluded over half of the people on a test-list of known-joiners that I checked against it tonight. This is because there was no easy way to indicate that members were cyclists. In December I worked with the FPC to ping joiners and see how many cyclists were being missing, and it was nearly half. So given a list that is over 100 now with known joiners, the true number is probably closer to 120-160. We can’t know it precisely without pinging all FPC memberships for the period (I offered to do this, but the FPC is reluctant to bug folks). We similarly don’t know the precise dollar contribution, but it is most likely in the range of $10,000 – $14,000.

    Frank Selker

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  • Frank Selker April 6, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    Michelle – I think you have a mistake in your dollar amount because I tallied about that amount in December alone based on the numbers that you sent me in the spreadsheet. We’ll get it straight(er).

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  • [...] getting pretty blurry here in Portland as I also came across this tonight: an article about a local Internet-shop pledging to put $50k into local mountain bike trail [...]

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  • Jim Labbe April 7, 2009 at 8:56 am

    “I completely agree with Frank that it’s pretty ridiculous that there’s no singletrack here.”

    That’s not true. Portland has 5 miles at single track in Powell Butte and 1/3 of a mile in Forest Park. That’s more than most west coast cities including Davis California- the other Platinum Cycling City. We also have another 28 miles of natural surface, off-road cycling opportunities within the City.

    That may not be enough for some and there is a reasonable case for making more and better single-track opportunities and connections; but let’s work from facts and not from exaggerations or flat out falsehoods.

    Jim Labbe

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  • Frequent Reader April 7, 2009 at 10:00 am

    This is not a bike shop. They are simply a storefront for their online business. Having a ‘storefront’ allows you to purchase items from distributors that only sell to ‘brick & mortar’ shops.

    That being said, if you go into
    Universal Bicycles you will most likely not find what you are looking for, and will then be refferred to their website where you can purchase directly from their warehouse.

    Like I said, this is not a bike shop.

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  • steve April 7, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Way to go Bike Gallery!

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  • Caroline April 7, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Major props to Universal Cycles. “Bike shop” or not (see comment #22), they are my favorite place in Portland to buy bike parts. I have been a loyal customer for several years now because they are one of the few shops whose employees *always* treat me like I know what I’m talking about. Super friendly, super fair, almost always able to get me what I need, and local (whether you like to admit it or not)! I’m not at all surprised this trail money offer comes from their shop. Check them out!

    Thanks, Universal! :)

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  • metal cowboy April 7, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    That’s a lot of money for one business to pledge, storefront, bike shop or otherwise.

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  • brian April 7, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Jim Labbe,

    you are holding on by a thread. stop fighting, and join the movement. and guess what, there will never be a car caused fatality on singletrack. let us love one and other.

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  • GlowBoy April 7, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Jim (#21), you’re right that we do have token singletrack, and I suppose I could have corrected Frank’s quote accordingly when I referenced it. (There is more — again, token –legal singletrack in Portland besides what you mentioned, but I won’t be specific because I want to keep it off the radar of the haters who want to take it away).

    Also, you’re right that we have about 28 miles of “natural surface, off-road” pathway available. In fact, I every much enjoy riding Forest Park’s dirt roads, especially at night in winter.

    OK, with my direct and/or indirect exaggerations out of the way, let’s address yours: the implication (cleverly, not an outright claim) in your post that Forest Park somehow represents mountain biking. If you search for “Portland mountain biking” in the mtbr forum I mentioned earlier and read the responses, you will find near unanimity among actual mountain bikers that Forest Park’s trails do not constitute mountain biking. To most riders, mountain biking means singletrack.

    It should also be pointed out that Powell Butte is only open to cyclists about half the year. For the rest the year, we have very little legal singletrack.

    You are correct that Davis also has Platinum status, yet little if any mountain biking. But that comparison is misleading and completely ignores my original point. Like Amsterdam, Davis lies on a flat plain with little forest anywhere nearby: in other words, terrain not conducive to mountain biking. Given our natural surroundings and opportunities, the lack of mountain biking looks a lot more pathetic in Portland than it is in Davis.

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  • Frank April 7, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    I appreciate and agree with Jim’s desire to get facts correct. We do have a little bit of single track. Dave Anderson walked Powell Butte’s bike trails with a GPS to get a better estimate and measured 2.3 miles of single track open to bikes. In any event, there isn’t much, it is often closed by Parks, and it isn’t like Forest Park in either central location or quality.

    Yes we can find cities with even less single track just as we can find cities with more and better trails. I don’t think Portland should be in the business of comparing ourselves with the worst — we’d be just like every other city in the country if that was good enough for us.

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  • RWL1776 April 9, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I won’t post is AGAIN, but refer to my posting under the Mr. Fish meeting story. I have posted the rules and standards for bicycles as listed in the 1995 Forest Park Plan.

    And remember, it’s as simple as supply and demand: If there was ample supply of nice singletrack trail in town, rouge mountainbikers would not be poaching the trails that DO resemble singletrack, but are closed to bicycles. Not enough supply runs up against too much demand.

    What do folks expect to happen? Oh yeah, we’re expected to get in our cars and DRIVE ro where we want t ride.

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  • Online bike parts shopping - IH8MUD Forums April 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    [...] Cycles. …and their recent pledge of $50k to fighting for singletrack in Portland’s Forest Park – BikePortland.org Blog Archive Local shop commits $50,000 to Forest Park singletrack effort – keeps my cycling dollar flowing their way. __________________ 1973 FJ40 – ‘Lucy Blue’ – SOA / [...]

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  • pants May 14, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    dumb. you all come off as so entitled. have you ever thought about the damage that you would be doing whilst mountain biking in forest park? there tons of info and studies out there citing the damaging effects of mountain biking on trails in the forest. if the city of portland is as green as they say they are, they would not go through with horribly stupid idea. and i say this as someone who has toured the country on a bicycle, and it has been my only means of transportation for years. leave the forest alone.

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  • Frank May 15, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    pants,

    I am not aware of “tons of info and studies” you mention, but I welcome references. The studies I have seen and trail experts I have spoken with find quite the opposite – bikes are usually not more damaging than pedestrians, and in many cases they are less damaging.

    But does that matter to you? If I showed you a stack of studies that show cycling is fine in a natural forest, would you change your view? For some opponents of cyling on trails I don’t believe facts are the issue. Perhaps it’s more about “entitlement” to historically exclusive use.

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  • [...] 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 [...]

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  • Buy local, cycling – BikeRanger October 6, 2010 at 11:30 am

    [...] important to recognize that a cycling business may be involved in a different way than by sponsoring a club or team — maybe donating to NWTA or BTA, volunteering for Cycle [...]

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