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Want better biking in Forest Park? Come to the open house next week

Posted by on April 16th, 2010 at 10:43 am

PUMP's Forest Park mountain bike tour
If you want to see more of this
in Forest Park, come to the open
house on Tuesday.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Portland Parks & Recreation will host an open house on Tuesday (April 20th) to hear feedback on how to improve access to single track mountain bike trails in Forest Park. The event comes after eight months of meetings by the Forest Park Single Track Cycling Advisory Committee, which was formed in response to public demand for expanded riding options in the park.

Open house attendees will be asking questions of the committee members and provide input on their trail access and park management recommendations. Local mountain bike advocacy group, The Northwest Trail Alliance is calling the open house “a unique opportunity to show your support for more single track bike trails in Forest Park!”

The NW Trail Alliance had two board members on the committee, but one of them, Tom Archer, is disappointed with how the process has gone thus far. He feels the options that will be on the table at the open house do not include “elements we believe are critical to long-term success of the plan.”

Archer wants to see short-term steps that will expand trail riding opportunities. He cites a promise made by Parks Commissioner Nick Fish at the outset of the committee process to expand access to single track by this summer.

On the NW Trail Alliance website, Archer explains the options on the table:

“As it stands, the proposal would include adding some new trails in the South area of the park as well as improving some of the existing fire lanes including fire lane 1, 3, 4 and 5. We believe this is a good start but we think additional elements should be included.”

One recommendation that the committee has not been able to reach consensus on is sharing existing trails. Archer is urging community members to “indicate that you support providing short-term increases in access, along with a comprehensive plan to provide single track riding opportunities within the park.”

Stay tuned for more coverage on this issue.

    Open House on Forest Park Single Track Mountain Biking Options
    5:30-7:30 PM, Tuesday, April 20
    Holiday Inn Express (2333 NW Vaughn)
    Parks press release with more details here

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Comments
  • RWL1776 April 16, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Awesome work, Tom.

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  • Brian April 16, 2010 at 11:28 am

    The time has come to rally ALL cyclists in and around Portland!

    Portland Parks and Recreation is holding a community open house next Tuesday, April 20, 5:30–7:30 PM at the Holiday Inn Express, 2333 NW Vaughn. We need to support our fellow riders who have put in countless volunteer hours to try and get us more singletrack in Forest Park, and give our input on their proposals.

    Where: Fat Tire Farm, 2714 NW Thurman
    When: Tuesday, April 20th. Meet in the parking lot at 5:45pm, and leave at 6:00pm to ride together to the Open House

    If you are so inclined, we will be meeting at the Lucky Lab NW afterwards-Tuesday is pint night. 1945 NW Quimby

    More information about the committee and open house can be found at: http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/index.cfm?c=51017

    Please help spread the word by forwarding this bulletin.

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  • Tony Pereira April 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    According to a “Friends of Forest Park” email that I received today:

    “Included among the Advisory Committee’s recommendations are proposals to: construct a new trail in the south management unit; make improvements to several existing firelanes; and, to open up shared use of Firelane 7, Oil Line Road and the Tolinda Trail.”

    Depending on what the “new trail” is this sounds woefully inadequate. I’m not sure what Oil Line Road is, but it’s sounding like most of what is proposed amounts to opening up more firelane-type roads. Boring, boring, boring. Let’s get to this meeting and show our support for more SINGLETRACK. The selfish people that won’t share the trails should be ashamed of themselves.

    BTW, the Tolinda trail is well known as a place where people already ride. It’s not even on most park maps, is unmarked and is very lightly traveled by anyone but cyclists. The folks that showed it to me called it a different name.

    I’ll try to reserve judgment until I see the proposal, but I don’t understand why the existing trails can’t be shared. It’s done elsewhere successfully. The refusal to do so in Forest Park is disappointing.

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  • jj April 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Bicycles destroy trails. These are fragile areas and are very wet 8 months a year. The selfish ones are the cyclists who want to reserve trails only for their thrill seeking, devil take the consequences.

    If you want to off road bike, get out of the urban area into a wilderness.

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  • Tony Pereira April 16, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    jj,

    That simply is not true.

    Not only do bicycles do little more damage than boots on those muddy days, allowing bikes on the trails would bring an army of people to help maintain the trails. Cyclists do not want to “reserve trails only for their thrill seeking.” They want to share them with other users and help maintain them.

    I have lived in several other parts of the country where trails proximal to urban areas are shared by hikers and cyclists and it works out just fine.

    A great compromise that works elsewhere is only allowing bike access on alternating calendar days. If it is concluded that muddy trails should be avoided then the trails could be closed on the muddiest days (or months).

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  • Minnow April 16, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    The city will never do alternating days. That is a non starter. We were told that last night. There is no money for enforcement. So… Shared trails are dangerous. They are hilly switchbacks. If you don’t believe that, go bring your young children out on a hike on them with cyclists. Bikers have 7 miles of trail at Powell butte. You can jump up and down all you want, but it isn’t the right thing to do.

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  • brian April 16, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks Tony,

    This city hates bikes. We will never compare to cities like Austin and Philadelphia, both which care about providing their citizens with places to recreate.

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  • Tom Slovak April 17, 2010 at 7:12 am

    If you want more singletrack to ride in Portland, this is a chance to show your support. Even if Forest Park isn’t your 1st choice for riding, please show your support in principle by showing up and being involved.

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  • Zim April 17, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Minnow,

    Switchbacks help to slow down all trail users. Your perception of mountain bikers being dangerously out of control is false. This is obviously a case of one user group, (hikers) selfishly refusing to share access to a public park.

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  • Northwest Girl April 17, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I sat in on the last three meetings as an observing member of the public.

    This committee has done a stand out job of negotiating its way through a contentious topic. Almost 20 people have been sitting at the table all representing various constituencies and working to achieve consensus on the topic of increased mountain bike access in Forest Park. I have seen firsthand how challenging and how committed these committee members have been.

    It’s clear it’s been a long six or seven months for these folks and they deserve our thanks. Not one of these committee members deserves to be vilified or castigated. Rather, they should be thanked profusely for their commitment to this topic and process.

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  • another bicyclist April 17, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Wow. In the food chain of getting around, I guess bikes trump having a peaceful place to actually walk/hike/run using your own feet.

    And of course, bicycles do no damage to terrain or wildlife (you do realize that one reason for opposition is that it freaks the shit out of wildlife, right?).

    And of course, tearing through the dirt trail on a bike is totally eco-friendly, doesn’t disturb folks looking for a quiet, reflective place to walk, hike and run, and riders always stay on the trail provided and don’t go tearing by pedestrians or cutting new trails.

    After being hit myself while walking in Forest Park, having three friends with the same experience on trails in the past decade, I keep wondering–how in the world is carving up more of the park for mechanical vehicles a “good thing”?

    Or is this some sort of false equity thing, that somehow bicycles have a “right” to sharing the park?

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  • Northwest Girl April 17, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Correction: I have seen firsthand how challenging this process has been and how committed these committee members have been.

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  • Minnow April 17, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Hikers are not selfish, and I am not a hiker. I am a runner. And I have run all of these trails that the bikers want to share. The committee did go thru a thoughtful process, and it was decided which options would be available to mountain bikers. Mountain bikers even had an over-representation on the committee. I have sat thru hours and hours of these meetings.

    I have seen the track marks of the bikes on the northern section of Wildwood. I have seen the destruction of the rogue trail. I have seen mountain bikers on Ridge and Maple. So much for following the rules. It is too dangerous to share these trails. It is common sense, not selfishness.

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  • Brian April 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Minnow,
    You bring up an important point, safety for everyone (including those on two wheels). I’m not sure why you feel it is “common sense” to not have trail sharing. We share the majority of the trails around the state, and rarely if ever do we hear about accidents. I encounter countless hikers on busy trails on Mt Hood and in the Gorge, and never have I been even remotely close to an accident with them. Are you saying that we are not using common sense around the state with regards to shared trail use? Or that city parks around the country are not using common sense? If your response is that the trails in FP are busier than other trails, I would ask if you have ever been on the McKenize River Trail on a sunny Saturday? Many hikers/runners, many cyclists. Never have I heard of an issue.
    I am confident that we can all make it work, and the park will be better as a result.
    Brian

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  • Brian April 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Another Bicyclist,
    If we follow your logic, all others users should be omitted as well. Hikers/runners/horses/dogs freak the shit out of wildlife. Hikers widen trails around mud, hikers cut switchbacks, dogs shit in the park, etc etc.
    As a user group, we understand the need for peace and quiet in the park. For this reason, we are not asking for 100% access. We are simply looking for a reasonable solution that meets the needs of all user groups.
    We feel that with this solution, more resources will be brought to improve the park as a whole. I pull ivy and do trailwork in the park because I appreciate the park, as a mountain biker.
    Brian

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  • Brian April 17, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I have a proposal for those who oppose increased mtb access. The two concerns I hear most, which need to be considered in this process, are safety and the desire for solitude. How about if the 20+ mile Wildwood Trail remains open for runners/hikers only, and the 5 or so mile Maple Trail is open to mtb’ers only. Mountain bikers will work on improving the firelanes we have access to, and hikers/runners will maintain the other sections of singletrack/firelanes we do not have access to. We each maintain our own singletrack trails, and educate our own user groups. If/when a boot print shows up on the Maple, the hikers/runners do outreach to educate their user groups, and if/when a bike tire shows up on the Wildwood we do the same. Every two months we all get together and pull ivy and do other habitat restoration as a whole group, as well as outreach to raise $ for the park. In one year we review the results, and have actual data to make future decisions.
    Thoughts?

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  • Minnow April 17, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Ah yes, let’s give Maple to the bikers. They aren’t asking for much. It is on a contour line and is the most beautiful trail in the park. It has only been available to runners for how long? Does it go back to 1948? It was part of the original Wildwood when it ended at Saltzman. Did you know that? It is where many of the schools have their cross country teams train. PSU and UP. Maybe, they would like to chime in as Division 1 universities.
    And of course you would know the impact of giving it to cyclists. I am sure you have done a recent wildlife and vegetation survey. Remember, you are proposing a change and ANY change can impact wildlife. Perhaps for the better or perhaps for the worst. But until a survey is done, it is all blowing smoke.

    Did you know that there was a peregrine falcon nest in the park up to 2002 on a PEDESTRIAN trail.
    Call Portland Audubon and see if they would want cyclists on that particular trail with an active nest. The answer would be “no.” And Portland Audubon Society’s answer to shared trails in Forest Park? Again, no. They had a representative on the committee who decided along with two other biologists that shared trails is against the interest of wildlife and fauna in the park.
    You may want it, but the experts are saying “no.”

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  • brian April 17, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    I thought the parks were for the citizens of this city. This has nothing to do with the Audobon Society. You designate trails for bikes, and if one does not ride bikes, then they will never go on these trails. Hiker only trails exist, therefore, bike only trails should exist. The park is big enough for all. Stop suppressing others freedoms.

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  • Minnow April 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    The committee has been meeting for 8 months, considering all options and ramifications. A biker’s only trail did not come out as an option. You should have been involved in the process eight months ago. The biology and ecology of the park has to be taken into consideration, and there were experts on the committee. Just because you want it, does not mean it is going to happen.

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  • Bjorn April 17, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    I rode last sunday on a trail that is open to bikes only on Sundays in Wake Forest NC. It was a great experience and when I talked to some other trail users about it I was told that they have very little problem with people using it when not allowed. They have no enforcement agents. When people have reasonable access they have no need to break the rules.

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  • Brian April 17, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Thanks for the reply MInnow.
    In your first paragraph you argue that mountain bikers should not be given access to Maple as it is a beautiful contour trail with a tradition of running and university XC (ironically the name given to the type of mountain biking that would take place on it) training. I would argue that cross country mountain bikers absolutely deserve access to the Maple Trail, much as hikers and cross country runners should have access to the even more beautiful, contour Wildwood Trail. They deserve this access because they continually demonstrate that that they care about the park with their work ethic, and more recently with their dollars.
    One thing we agree on is the need for an Environmental Impact Study. I am confident that an impartial study will be unable to find the data that would be needed to exclude mountain bikers (based on the “potential” for impact), in light of the fact that groups of people have been hiking, walking dogs, and running on it since 1948, including teams of college students.
    I guess we also agree that just because I want something to happen, doesn’t mean it will. I would add that if something doesn’t happen (or hasn’t happened), doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have happened.

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  • wsbob April 17, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    If, as a visitor to the park you’re one that walks and has reservations about the park providing single track off-road bike access to its trails…you’re a ‘hiker’. Is that about right? Not a parent, a student, a homemaker, a family, an amateur photographer, botanist, or naturalist, but…just a ‘hiker’. In the words of commenter zim #9:

    “… This is obviously a case of one user group, (hikers) selfishly refusing to share access to a public park. …”

    And there’s Tony Pereira #3 seemingly echoing that same calculated bias to launch the ‘guilt trip’ strategy:

    “…The selfish people that won’t share the trails should be ashamed of themselves. …”

    Although, Tony doesn’t actually use the word ‘hiker’ in the #3 comment. Maybe he has someone else in mind, like the homemakers or the birdwatchers or, who knows?

    Well that’s just great. An arbitrary categorization of the park’s users, made by a special interest group having the objective of securing a use of the park that favors them, and not really anybody else. Most everybody seems to be able to walk along just fine and enjoy every natural wonder the park has to offer.

    But somehow, certain of the people that have taken up off-road biking for a pastime, can’t seem to enjoy the park…unless they’re riding their bike…and not on quiet roads already provided that allow ample room for all park users to easily and safely pass by each other…but rather, on trail whose 2′-3′ width is basically the same as that which the the park’s visitors walk on.

    For dependence upon riding a bike to be so great that it impairs certain person’s ability to enjoy a marvelous natural area urban park like Forest Park…on foot…must be a terrible thing.

    Occasionally, as an effort to support the idea of single width trail access to Forest Park, people commenting will note examples of other states and other parks in other states and cities that have made such trail accessible to off road bike use. In other words, ‘Hey look at them! They’re doing it! So it must be o.k. to do it here to!’.

    Really? Well that makes things simple. Why should the people of a city like Portland bother to think about and make sound decisions about what’s right for its own resource if it might be easier to follow the example of what they did over in Tahoe or North Carolina with their resource.

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  • Bjorn April 18, 2010 at 1:54 am

    It seems to me that it we substituted motorist for “hiker/birdwatcher” in wsbob’s post and left biker as biker, the same arguments are what we hear from folks who want bikes off the roadways because they are for cars.

    Don’t look to examples in places like Europe that have created better cycling opportunities because what could we learn by looking at examples that work well from other places.

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  • Lisa April 18, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Brian @18, A couple clarifying points:

    1. WW is 30 miles long. Maple is 4.8 miles long.

    2. I am surprised to read your point that “this has nothing to do with the Audubon Society.” You might want to inform yourself a bit more about Audubon’s role in wildlife, bird and habitat management in our Fair City.

    3. Nobody’s freedoms are being restricted. Want to bike in Forest Park? You’ve got almost 30 miles of trails/roads/Fire Lanes to bike on.

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  • Lisa April 18, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Oops. Sorry Maple is 3.48 miles long. My bad.

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  • Aoshea April 18, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    What about holman ??
    It’s a wide, muddy, mess yet has potential
    how about some freeride structures-bridges and such above all that mud it is wider every time I run up it and is unbikeable when wet

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  • dan April 18, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    bjorn, #23:
    You echo my sentiments about this issue precisely. Whenever I hear the arguments from the anti-singletrack crusaders, I can’t help but equate their position to that of all the car/pickup drivers who think that the roads are for cars, and bicyclists shouldn’t be allowed.

    Another issue I have is the extreme misconception coming from a lot of people that singletrack mountain biking is inherently some sort of thrill-seeking, adrenaline fueled act. What they don’t understand is that we ride singletrack for the same reason they would rather walk or run on singletrack rather than some gravel fireroad.

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  • Lisa April 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Except that people on foot are not cars.

    What about the “more vulnerable user” argument that cyclists rally around when it comes to sharing roads?

    When trail sharing happens the more vulnerable user is the pedestrian. The cyclist is more like the car in your scenario above.

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  • another bicyclist April 18, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Isn’t it interesting when bike riders are on top of the “food chain”? Suddenly, all the justifications that auto drivers give and bicyclists ridicule are coming out of the bicyclists mouths, verbatim.

    Sadly, one day soon there may no longer be place where people on foot an actually walk unmolested my mechanical traffic. Already in the US off-road bikers are pushing for more, more, more access in wildlife and wilderness areas–just like motorists. One piece of land at a time, bikes tear it up. It’s been going on for decades now. It’s changed the face of entire national parks.

    But of course, this won’t make a bit of sense to off-road bicyclists. THey seem to view it as some sort of “right of access”, and act as if they’re doing nothing that a hiker hasn’t already done. How odd.

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  • Bjorn April 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    @another bicyclist that argument might hold some water except we are seeing hundreds of miles of accessible mountain bike trails in oregon being removed by the federal government, and the people who are asking for access to forest park are asking for some access to some trails, and many of us would like that access only one or two days a week. I agree that the park has too many users for trails to be shared at the same moment in time, however weeks are long and I really think it isn’t asking to much to say runners have to move over to wildwood on wednesdays. Also I would like to point folks to the triangle mtb webpage where trail status reports are updated practically in real time based on how wet things are or in the case of new light if it is sunday or not. This type of a site could be used to let people know if it is too wet to use the trails in forest park on a winter day.

    http://trianglemtb.com/

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  • Brian April 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    another bicyclist #29
    Can you please send me a link (or links) about these situations you describe:
    “It’s changed the face of entire national parks.”
    That sounds pretty drastic and I’d like to know more about these national parks and what exactly took place.
    Thank you.

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  • Minnow April 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    The city does not have the money for signs or enforcement of alternate day use. The city has said, “no” to that.
    Those trails are muddy from November to March. This is the Pacific NW. We are Oregon. We all live here and love Oregon because it isn’t the East coast. We get it , remember? We love our environment and the livability here. That is why the committee has decided on no shared trails. They have met for eight months. This was not decided overnight. It was a thoughtful process by a host of people with different backgrounds.

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  • Lisa April 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Bjorn @30: How would you possibly manage this vis a vis enforcement in Forest Park? Where does the money come from to manage your proposal? Alternate day sharing was not one of the committee’s recommendations precisely because the proposal needed to have a management plan that was actionable. Alternate days are just not going to happen in Forest Park for the forseeable future and mountain bikers are just going to have to deal with that fact. Same with trail sharing on Maple. It’s not going to happen.

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  • Bryan April 18, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    unreal. i just cant get over the lack of problem solving. 8 months of a committee getting together and we can not figure out how to share. blows me away.

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  • brian April 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    That is all this boils down to…sharing. Hikers do not want to yield their wealth of trails to any other user group. I hope your kids do not know about your anti-sharing stance.

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  • Bjorn April 18, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I believe that the need for enforcement has been seriously exagerated. My point was that the experience of places like Chapel Hill shows that when bikes are allowed reasonable access self enforcement works and is effective. The website I suggested is managed by the local mtn bike club but the open/close info is from whoever has authority. People call or see the closed signs and then update the website. I believe that NWTA could create a similar site that would allow for forest park to be shared using an alternate day method without enforcement. The need for enforcement is in my opinion a red herring thrown out by folks who don’t want any bike access because they know that it won’t be funded. They can say no sharing til we get rangers but what they are really saying is no sharing.

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  • Brian April 18, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Rest assured Lisa, the last thing we are going to do do is just deal with it. Our numbers are growing, and we will continue to participate in our local government until an agreeable compromise is reached.

    Minnow-I continue to be amazed by how much we (cyclists and I am assuming that you are a runner given your posts) have in common. We love Oregon, the environment, and recreating/exercising in it. It’s why many of us have moved here, and why we stay here. You simply prefer two feet while I prefer two wheels.

    Enforcement of trail sharing would be accomplished the same way all other policies in FP are enforced, by the users and signs. In addition, mountain bikers have proposed creating a mountain bike trail patrol group to assist with education and outreach, especially as it relates to new trail agreements. The patrol would be CPR/First Aid trained, and would provide free data on trail conditions (and whatever else, small maintenance perhaps?) to a financially strapped PP and R.

    Signs? Mountain bikers would be happy to pay and install them! It would give us much joy to finally post a sign that reads, “Mountain bikes *ALLOWED* on this trail!”

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  • Zaphod April 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    The tone of this “conversation” seems the antithesis of what Portland represents to me. In my experience on other singletrack in other lands, hikers and bikers get along perfectly fine. Most cyclists are respectful as are the hikers/runners. Contrary to the anecdotes above, getting along with smiles and peace is the norm.

    The fictional caricature of cyclists as thrill seeking out of control speed freaks is getting old. Riding a bike on a trail is treading lightly.

    Welcoming this user group to FP will make it better for all users. We’re motivated, we work hard and many of us have experience with trail work through IMBA and other organizations. We can, have and will, pull out invasive species. We’ve put our money where out mouth is. It would be lovely if we could end the vitriol and move thoughtfully and positively for all of Portland’s citizens.

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  • are April 18, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    re comment 2, i do not accept that this issue has anything to do with “cyclists” generally. recreational trail riding is not transportation, and the equipment used in that sport bears only superficial resemblance to a road bike. re comment 23, disregarding nature and stuff, a closer analogy would be to not allowing semi trailers on residential streets. or monster trucks or formula one racers or whatever. hummers. fighter jets. the surface grid was not “made for” cars alone, but there actually are vehicles that are out of place there (not bikes and peds). similarly, it is just possible that there are uses for which a forest preserve is inappropriate. i actually don’t know anything about it, but my point is, your rallying cry is addressed to offroad sport cyclists, not to transportational cyclists.

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  • Coaster April 18, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I know the focus here has been on shared use of existing trails, but I don’t see much response to the concept of new trails. It there not enough space in FP to build an area of bike specific trails? Seems there is lots of land along the eastern park edge, butting up against industrial use, where nature seekers don’t prefer to go, but mt.bikers would be happy to ride. It sounds like the bikers are capable and willing to plan, build and maintain those new trails… and it looks like they are willing to sit through all sorts of bureaucratic torture to get it done… Okay, I can understand not wanting to share existing trails, childish as it is. But why not allow new users to help create new park experiences? Isn’t the point of the park to help people connect to nature?

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  • Lisa April 19, 2010 at 4:41 am

    These are the facts: alternate day trail use is not being recommended to Nick Fish, shared use of Maple is not being recommended to Nick Fish, shared use of WW is not being recommended to Nick Fish.

    Enforcement done via signs and users? How do you explain the multitude of tire tracks on trails not open to mountain bikers? I can see that the current signs and current users have done a great job of enforcement. NOT.

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  • Bjorn April 19, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Right now cyclists who believe in following the rules rarely enter the park because the rules don’t allow riding. The experience that I see other places is that when reasonable legal use is allowed the illegal use decreases. There will of course probably be a few bad apples, just like the last time I was in the park I saw people with unleashed dogs, I mentioned to them that they were not in an off-leash area, they didn’t seem to have any leashes but maybe next time they will. Regardless I don’t think that all people with dogs should be banned from the park because a couple of people aren’t following the rules, and I am tired of those of us who are following all the rules being told that we will never be granted access to any singletrack trails because someone saw what looked like a tire track near wildwood.

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  • Brian April 19, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Lisa,
    Your facts are correct; however, PP & R/Nick Fish could still decide that the committee process did not come up with the best solutions in it’s proposal (especially given the decision making process used) and that trail sharing could still be a reasonable outcome. If more singletrack is not part of the short-term solution, I am confident that cyclists will not take it lying down. That’s the beauty of local government, we have the power to change that which we find unacceptable. Have a nice week.
    Brian

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  • Lisa April 19, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Ok. So if a group doesn’t like the outcome of a committee of 20 people comprised of myriad constituencies that has met for 8 months, then that group can have at it for a second (or third or fourth) go round. Read the recommendations. Go to the Open House. There is more single track proposed. Good luck.

    Bjorn, the rules do allow riding in Forest Park. Almost 30 miles of riding. No, there is not as much single track currently available as mountain bikers would like. More is proposed with more access points (Gas Line) proposed.

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  • Bjorn April 19, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I have ridden all trails that are open for riding, there is about 1/4 mile of mountain biking. Roads are not mountain biking, and my comments reflect my belief that double track doesn’t count. If I want to ride double track there are plenty of logging roads around and I’ll take my cross bike.

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  • Anonymous April 19, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Bjorn, it’s actually less than one quarter mile of trail open to mountain bikers.

    Legitimate Trail Users.

    At some point we will run out of dogmatic and rhetorical hairs to split, as well as excuses for turning away the thousands and thousands of volunteer man hours and and support dollars pledged by business and individuals who aren’t opposed to sharing with other Legitimate Trail Users.

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  • Anonymous April 19, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Lisa-

    the current recommendations by the advisory comittee were tasked specifically by Nick Fish to just recommend the “low-hanging fruit” to allow for some progress in opening up trIls for cyclists to happen this year.

    This is not the end, but rather just the start. There may well be a third and fourth round of the trail advisory committee recommending further access for bikes in the park, thanks for wishing us luck.

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  • wsbob April 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

    “… Another issue I have is the extreme misconception coming from a lot of people that singletrack mountain biking is inherently some sort of thrill-seeking, adrenaline fueled act. What they don’t understand is that we ride singletrack for the same reason they would rather walk or run on singletrack rather than some gravel fireroad. ” Dan #27

    The “…same reason…”. Dan, what reason might you be thinking of? I consider there to be many reasons people visit a nature park such as Forest Park. There are probably a number of reasons that off road bike riders would like access to single width path, but to what extent those reasons are similar to those of the people that visit the park by foot is something to consider carefully. I hope Commissioner Fish and the Advisory Committee is doing so.

    Just a couple examples of how foot use and off-road bike use in the park on single width path might obviously differ: People that walk, travel…say two to three and a half miles and hour. Would people that want to be able to ride their bikes on single track in the park be happy having those speeds be maximum speeds for their bikes?

    Runners, also on foot, travel faster than walkers…I don’t know how fast they run…say seven to ten miles per hour, but they…unlike people riding a bike, transport themselves through the park entirely under their body’s own power. They don’t use a vehicle to extend their energy and vastly enhance their ability to achieve higher speeds.

    I’m inclined to think that runners, in not having the encumbrance of a bike to manage when meeting other park users on the trails, are much more likely to respond as pedestrians to people on foot traveling single width trail, than people astride a bike would.

    Are people that have been requesting off-road bike to single width trail/single track in the park willing to shoulder their bike when they approach park visitors on foot? Have any of them even ventured such a suggestion? How about the NWTA?

    Do a little reading, ask around, and it becomes apparent that single width trail accessible to off-road bikes (also known as ‘single track’)…has a broader meaning than the gentle amble along a forest path that certain off-road bike enthusiasts in comments to stories on bikeportland suggest.

    To some enthusiasts of off-road biking, ‘single track’ implies, among other things, fast descents and jumps. The fantastic aerial leaps of ‘free ride’, or super fast descents of ‘downhill’? Probably not. But it does seem very likely that many of the people looking for single track riding opportunities, are not going to be content to limit themselves to a two to three and a half mile per hour roll over the park’s single width trail.

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  • ecohuman April 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

    “When the purpose of being “in” nature is to consume it–to race through it, ride over it, tear across it–why bother to be there at all? Wilderness then ceases to be nature and becomes little more than a painted backdrop for our thrillseeking and stimulation. This is not contemplation of nature; it is molestation and self-gratification.”

    –Edward Abbey

    He was speaking of mountain biking, but explained that it applied to motor vehicles, too.

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  • Brian April 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Hey wsbob,
    How is that research on the FP topic of banning bikes 20 years ago coming along?
    Brian

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  • casey April 19, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Wow, it is amazing me to read this. Whether they want to admit it or not, there is a surprising underlining theme from those opposing singletrack for mountain bikers of a complete obliteration of mountain biking in general. The issue that started out as a question of access in Forest Park has risen to a sentiment that forests are not the place for mountain bikes at all. All forests have wildlife and natural habitats, so by the thinking outlined in many comments here, we shouldn’t be able to ride in any of them? If that’s not the case, why would you consider some forests and sets of wildlife more special than others?

    Cross country mountain biking is an Olympic sport, a healthy activity, and for me it connects me to the forest in a spiritual way that people like wsbob and others here will never understand. Suggesting that my chosen means of experiencing the forest is “molestation and self-gratification” is insulting and misguided. Essentially suggesting an abolishment of the sport so many of us love is just sad.

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  • ecohuman April 19, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    “Cross country mountain biking is an Olympic sport, a healthy activity”

    Healthy for whom, and for what?
    Slalom and Super-G skiing is healthy and part of the Olympics too–but I don’t think it belongs in Forest Park.

    “Suggesting that my chosen means of experiencing the forest is “molestation and self-gratification” is insulting and misguided.”

    What places that humans go do you think bikes should *not* be allowed? And, if your measure of appropriateness for use is “it’s healthy and spiritual for me and I like it”, then why not allow dirt bikes in Forest Park?

    Let me guess: you think it can be healthy and spiritual–unless you add an engine of any type.

    You see, you have a level of acceptance and your own standards just like everybody else. You just feel that there’s some inherent “right” allotted to bicyclists; myself, I feel that exploiting nature for mechanical access if at best a selfish act, and at worst destructive and narcissistic. So–I aim for the least impact possible.

    And, I’d just like to have more areas that are left alone for quiet walking, leaving no trace, and with maximum respect for the nature that lives and grows there.

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  • jj April 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Casey

    Another overwrought posting. Sorry, i have mountain biked a lot in Oregon, Idaho, and Utah. It’s great fun in designated areas. However, an urban forest like Forest Park is just not the right place for a mountain bike trail. This is not the “end” of mountain biking (if it were, how would you be here in the first place?).

    Yes, there are some wilderness areas where, yes, no mountain bikes, no motorized vehicles, no campers, no hunting. Yes. The reason is the amount of damage done by various activities and anyone who has done serious trail maintenance can tell you about mountain bikes.

    We don’t allow motorcycle riding in Forest Park either … we don’t allow bow hunting … are these all similarly privileged interest groups that deserve their place at the table?

    Another way to think of this is the worst case users. For a runner/hiker, the worst they can do is wander off trail and drop trash. But anyone who is unwilling to admit what the worst case cyclists do to trails is not being honest. We’ve all walked and ridden on deeply rutted, heavily damaged areas that damaged by thrill seekers.

    If you put a mountain bike trail like this in a dense urban environment, the zoo-bomber type rider who cares nothing about your self-monitoring system will rapidly take over.

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  • Minnow April 19, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    I agree with you JJ. I just finished a 9 mile run on Wildwood, Hardesty, FL 7 and Ridge. There is not enough room for mountain biking with shared trails. Yes, there were cycle tracks on Ridge, which was sad to see. It was a glorious day out on the trails, and Forest Park is beautiful. We have to keep it that way. And yes, I know you mountain bikers want to have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty, but it might just be time to start training for the triathlon and start running the trails instead of wishing to bike them.

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  • Minnow April 19, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Sorry, Brian. I am a Master Gardener. I do it all myself. All organic for the last 19 years. It is the only way. Vegetarian, too.

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  • Tony Pereira April 19, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Hope to meet some of you all tomorrow at the open house. Since I’m about the only one on here who signs with his real name, you’ll be able to easily find me.

    I have read all of the above comments and still uphold that those users opposed to sharing existing trails are being selfish. There are about 50 miles of singletrack trails in forest park on which hiking is allowed. Bicycles are allowed on one singletrack trail which is less than 1/4 mile long. Certainly you could spare some of those trails some of the time? There would still be plenty of opportunity to commune with Edward Abbey and your mountain biking friends would be happy too.
    Thanks to everyone that has worked on this so far.

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  • casey April 19, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    “an urban forest like Forest Park is just not the right place for a mountain bike trail”

    This is your opinion, and you’re certainly entitled to it… I just think it’s a great place for one, since it would mean not having to drive 1 hour to get to a real trail.

    I also strongly agree with Tony, it’s simply an issue of selfishness, and I’d add misconceptions.

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  • Bryan April 19, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    mountain bike tracks on Ridge trail!!??

    Won’t somebody think of the children?

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  • Paul April 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Hi. I’m a mountain biker. And what do you know, my dad’s a runner. We’ve both been enjoying trails all over for years and get along on the trails just fine. He run’s them and I bike them. Other people walk them, but we all share a common need. Trails. Portland is by all means a horrible place to enjoy the outdoors without getting in a car first. Yet there are a few good places to go to enjoy the outdoors here without getting in a car, and FP is the biggest and presents the most logical way to do this for all user groups. And FP is anything but a wilderness area, or something special. About the only thing that is special about the place is that it’s right next to a substantial city and it’s relatively large for what it is. That’s it. You want to see beauty, go 25 minutes into the Gorge, or take a quick drive out to the coast range. You can find hudreds of miles of hiker/horse only trails to your hearst content at the pure exclusion of bikers. And even the Feds have you back on that one.

    Forest Park is not some sort of Oasis, it’s just a resource. Without places to do what you love, what you do doesn’t matter much, does it? These places are not to be taken granted. Users who have access to a resource at the exclusion of others have a PRIVELEGE, at the sake of over other users. And that’s not a right. There are a massive number mountain bikers and they pay taxes just like the rest of us, my dad, other runners, hikers, day trippers, whomever. Even mountain bikers pay taxes. And just because we all didn’t inherit or buy some house next to a major park in the city of Portland doesn’t mean that we don’t have a right to use this resource in a responsible way, just like most current users of FP are.

    By the way, speaking of being responsible, the best way to make people behave irresponsibly is to outlaw something. The law has nothing to do with it. Respectable mountain bikers do, will, and always will ride the current trails of FP when it’s responsible to do this, when it’s not too wet and won’t damage the trails. And they will ride when they won’t see a conflict with other users. Think what you will, but this is just common sense, being responsible. And yes, most mountain bikers are responsible people, just like most hikers and other users of trails. But give them their own trails or allow partial mixed use (the best formula for mixed user trail access anywhere I’ve seen), and you might be suprised at how well riders will stay on sanctioned trails and truly want to avoid conflict with half-crazed users on foot who think it’s their right to have the trails to themselves.

    FP is the only major resource of it’s type close to Portland, people. Don’t you think that perhaps the wildlife of this area might just be a little differenct than it was hundreds of years ago than when you built your last 3 story house on either end of this still relatively small swath of land? It’s still a natural park these days but not so natural that you need to exlude other users just because you fear change. And lets face it, you hikers who reallly oppose bikes in the park, on trails, real trails, really don’t want to see anyone else as it is. You don’t even want other hikers on the trails, you just want the park for yourselves. Kind of selfish if you ask me.

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  • wsbob April 19, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    “Hey wsbob,
    How is that research on the FP topic of banning bikes 20 years ago coming along?
    Brian” Brian #50

    Brian, it’s off-road bike enthusiasts favoring single width trail access to the park that stand to benefit from doing that research. Knowing that history may help them effectively address and correct ongoing issues associated with off-road biking which continue to restrict that activity from the park to this day. I don’t intend to do their work for them. If you wish to help them…good luck!

    Or maybe you’ve concluded that mountain bikes never really were banned from the park at all? Or, if they were, that it was all the fault of, as some people seem to like to say…’the hikers’, or ‘the selfish hikers’, ‘the selfish people’…or whatever. That would give you an excuse not to make an effort to find out what went wrong.

    “…Suggesting that my chosen means of experiencing the forest is “molestation and self-gratification” is insulting and misguided. Essentially suggesting an abolishment of the sport so many of us love is just sad.” Casey #51

    Casey, you have run so far afield of the subject at hand. The subject is issues related to possible increased access of off-road bike use to single track path in ‘Forest Park’; not government, commercial, or private forest land in general.

    Nobody in comments to this story, is speaking of abolishing the sport of off-road biking.

    A partial sentence of yours that’s important to respond to:

    “… why would you consider some forests and sets of wildlife more special than others? …”

    Rather than whether or not it’s more ‘special’ than others, the more likely area of concern related to Forest Park, is that, by virtue of its close proximity to a major metropolitan city…without very carefully considered and implemented protective measures, it is potentially more threatened than others.

    Opening the door to off-road bike access to this park in the Portland metro area where there is a minimum of that kind of riding available, could easily overwhelm the park’s ability to provide residents the natural experience, and the refuge from urban mechanized life that it, as I understand, has been set aside for.

    There is other woodland in the metro area that needs protecting from commercial and residential development, for example, the south face of the Tualitan Mountains west of Laidlaw Rd. This land is very close to Forest Park. Look on the map. Big tracts of land, privately owned, I suppose. Still, probably a great place for a cross mountain off-road bike trail that off-road bike enthusiasts could have long ago started work to secure.

    There’s a good argument for close in off-road bike single track in the metro area, but focusing only on Forest Park for that sport does not seem very farsighted. If the NWTA isn’t going to do it, someone needs to start looking for at least a couple more options besides Forest Park.

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  • Tom Archer April 20, 2010 at 7:07 am

    wsbob,

    NWTA has and will continue to look for other opportunities to create places to ride other than Forest Park. We are currently working with Oregon State Parks (Stub Stewart State Park see recent articles here), BLM, in areas east of Sandy, METRO, THPRD, Portland Parks (Gateway Green), City of Gresham, private timberland owners, and others to create riding areas close to where we live. We are not only focusing on Forest Park – but it has the potential to serve some of the clearly demonstrated need. We were asked by Parks to participate in the advisory committee and are simply trying to work toward what we believe is an equitable solution.

    I look forward to meeting all of you at the open house tonight. Bikers meet at Fat Tire Farm at 5:45, we’ll depart at 6pm.

    Tom Archer
    President-Northwest Trail Alliance

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  • Bjorn April 20, 2010 at 8:13 am

    If firelanes are so great why not remove all the other trails entirely? It would certainly reduce the impact of people on the forest right?

    Oh wait what is that, I am hearing from the runners and hikers that the firelanes aren’t the same as the trails and they prefer to use those…

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  • wsbob April 20, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Tom Archer #61…Stub Stewart is fine, but the point off-road bike enthusiasts have repeatedly made, is that they would like to not have to drive as far as Stub or Scappoose to enjoy single track with their bikes.

    They want something close-in. Is Forest Park really the only parcel of land the NWTA has explored as ever being expected to provide this?

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  • Will April 20, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    wsbob, I think if you re-read Tom Archer’s post, you will see he lists specific locations as well as different agencies and land managers. There has been extensive time invested in looking into possible parcels of land in the metro area.

    In addition to the ones mentioned, off the top of my head I can add ODOT, the school district and the water bureau and I”m sure we are still missing a few. As you can well imagine with each entity, there are relationships that must be developed, individuals to be educated in terms of cycling needs and what can be brought to the table, rules and regulations that must be understood and dealt with, and the list goes on….

    The big point here is that the Northwest Trail Alliance was asked by Portland Parks to be part of the committee. This committee was created to decide IF there should be more single track biking opportunities, but was charged with, by Parks, to identify ways to create these opportunities.

    At the end of the day this is a 100 percent volunteer organization that has finite bandwidth, so there may well be areas that are feasible and have yet to be identified. It sounds like you have some great ideas and interest in helping find a solutions, would love to have your help if your offering :)

    best,
    Will Heiberg

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  • Will April 20, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Sorry, correction – “This committee was created to decide IF there should be more single track biking opportunities, but was charged with, by Parks, to identify ways to create these opportunities.”

    should read “This committee was NOT created to decide IF there should be more single track biking opportunities, but was charged with, by Parks, to identify ways to create these opportunities.”

    ;)

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  • ecohuman April 20, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    “Forest Park is not some sort of Oasis, it’s just a resource.”

    Ah. I’d ask all of you to pause and consider the term “natural resource”, and what that implies.

    Let me begin that consideration: When your mindset is that the planet is a “resource”–that is, merely inputs for whatever human consumptive use you decide it’s appropriate for, and that there’s some inherent “right” to consume it–then the world looks entirely different to you. Limits only become inconvenient obstacles, only implemented when the “resource” might run out and you’d have to consume something else in its place.

    And that mindset, dear reader, is at the core of every environmental problem we have. The planet is not a “resource”. Nature, trees and land like Forest Park is not a “resource”. As difficult as it might be to fathom, a place like Forest Park is more precious than you can imagine. Every year, somebody’s seeking to take more of it, convert more of it, pry it open more, until it’s a theme park of human consumption. A “resource” conveniently arranged for your “enjoyment”.

    But really, most all of that will fly right by those that want it otherwise. We won’t stop until it’s too late; instead, we’ll continue to try and change the world by making slightly different purhasing decisions. We’ll buy a hemp bag rather than stop tearing up a park. We’ll buy parts made in China, but decry the treatment of Tibetans. We’ll buy aluminum bikes made from the most extractive mining technique possible, then praise that bike as the epitome of “greenness”.

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  • brian April 20, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    when a new baseball field is built, do they ask basketball players for permission?

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  • Anonymous April 21, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Will #64…Tom Archer, in his comment offers the following as places the NWTA has or is in the process of looking at as possible locations for off-road bike single track:

    “…BLM, in areas east of Sandy, METRO, THPRD, Portland Parks (Gateway Green), City of Gresham, private timberland owners, and others… ” Tom Archer #61

    Is any of the private timberland or ‘others’ he mentions, the NWTA has on its radar, close enough to FP to be an alternative option to the park for off-road bike single track? I’ve asked the following question in comments to past stories about this subject: How far are people happy to bike or drive to get to off-road bike single track in the metro area?

    Last time, a commenter said he travels from Sellwood to get to Forest Park. I figure most people would rather bike and not drive at all. Would northwest and southwest Ptlnd residents generally be happy riding or driving out to Gateway for singletrack? I seriously doubt it.

    Take a look on Metro’s website about The Westside Trail. The northern end of that regional trail project will go directly to Forest Park. If other land for off-road bike single track located adjacent to this trail isn’t sought out, Forest Park may come under much greater pressure than it does now, to bear that burden.

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  • ride/run April 21, 2010 at 10:54 am

    A hypothetical question for off-road riders who use Forest Park:

    Let’s assume that off-road cyclists had full reign of the Forest Park trails. Full access, the ability to carve out new trails, and adapting existing trails as needed. Basically, the “dream” situation for Portland-area off-road riders, where FP becomes a cycling-only park.

    What would this situation look like to you? What changes would you make to the park? Would you build new trails? Environmental concerns/ideas?

    Share your vision, using this scenario, with all of us here.

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  • Brian Engelen April 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Ride/run

    I would like to see single track trails that are like the Wildwood or the Maple. Trails that meander and stay at roughly the same elevation. Unlike the existing fire lanes that go up/down on a slope that is too steep to ride.

    Thanks for asking,

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  • Dan Porter April 21, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Ride/Run,
    I don’t think any of us are asking to make Forest Park a bike only park. I don’t think any of us want to have “free reign for creating new trails willy nilly. I wouldn’t want this because I’m not only a mountain biker. I’m also a hiker, a dog walker, a runner (well not really), a parent, etc.

    What I want is just a bit of equity. Like Brian (comment 70) said. Some meandering trails that are designed with bikes in mind. I don’t even need them to be bike only. I don’t mind sharing.

    I don’t personally feel like Wildwood should be a shared trail. I think it is special as a pedestrian trail. However at the same time, I would like to see an equivalently designed bike trail.

    And you know what? If we had it, you would have a whole bunch of stewards that would be willing to build, maintain, pull ivy, donate money, time, etc. for the health of the park.

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  • f5 April 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Because this recommendation is likely ‘offensive to no one’ via the necessity of a committee consensus, doesn’t mean it accomplished much of anything towards Nick Fish’s stated goal.

    The risk that is run with ‘endorsing’ this small collection of detritus roads/trails and steep firelane conversion trails is that then ultimately need to be retained as fire-access roads is that if they get built, they won’t get much bike traffic becuase (drum roll please) they will suck. Everyone for greater bike access that understands what “expanding singletrack opportunities for cyclists” actually means, knows it. They will likely get little use. The anti-bike crowd would easily be able to point to low bike traffic as evidence of low demand and a waste of tax money, comittee time, etc.

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