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City Club report, Parks survey see different future for Forest Park - UPDATED

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 24th, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Cover of City Club's Forest Park:
A Call to Action
.
-Download PDF here-

Deciding how to move forward with improved and expanded biking opportunities in Forest Park got a lot more complicated last week.

On Thursday, the City Club of Portland released a 65-page report on Forest Park that, among other things, states unequivocally that there should be no additional bike trails or access of any kind until various studies are completed. But just a few days before that, the results of a Portland Parks survey on biking in Forest Park found that a majority of respondents favored more bike access (on new and existing trails) and funding for more trails was rated the #1 priority among a list of "management actions" while completing studies ranked at the very bottom of the list.

How Parks Commissioner Nick Fish and Parks Director Zari Santner interpret the scope of these studies and how they balance the City Club report with the survey findings, will be key to the future of biking in Forest Park.

In February 2009, when Fish first went on record in support of expanding biking in Forest Park, he told me:

"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."

And nine months later I again asked him about how he'll fulfill this promise without a major revision to the existing plan (which would require a lengthy public process):

"The plan is not the Bible. It has not been handed down by God. It is a plan that sets forth some basic parameters..."

Of course those things were said before this highly contentious process had played out and it remains to be seen whether or not Fish's tone changes in the coming weeks.

"I think it's a thorough report... But I think the picture in regards to bikes is incomplete."
-- Tom Archer, NW Trail Alliance

Fish has overseen a committee on biking in Forest Park that is set to forward their recommendations following a final meeting tonight. Many of those recommendations call for expanded bike access and all of them were developed within the confines of the existing Forest Park management plan.

Off-road cycling advocate and president of Northwest Trail Alliance Tom Archer is a member of that committee. He disagrees with how bikes were characterized in the City Club report.

The report states as fact (and with no citation) that, "off-road cycling can lead to rutted trails that gather water and create erosion and other potential ecological impacts." Archer takes issue with that statement and says, "There are sustainable ways to accomodate bicycles in the park... All users have an impact."

Archer feels the City Club did not adequately represent the cycling side of the issue:

"The only cyclists that were consulted were Erik [Tonkin] and I, and it was at the beginning of the process and they never came back to us...

I think it's a thorough report, and I applaud them on that. But I think the picture in regards to bikes is incomplete. If they were going to go to that level of detail, we would have liked a chance to respond to their charges."

Archer is concerned that there is no ability for the public to comment on this report, unless you go to the City Club luncheon on Friday where an up-or-down vote will take place (*please see update below).

Archer's concerns are validated by a recent Parks survey which asked Portlanders directly how they feel about the issue of biking in Forest Park.

Over 1000 people took that survey. Of the respondents, 51% said biking is their primary activity in the park. Hikers, walkers and trail runners made up the rest of the respondents with 14.8%, 10.7%, and 16.7% respectively.

The survey showed broad support for biking in the park -- even among respondents who did not identify themselves as mountain bikers. When asked about trail sharing, 67% of all respondents said it should be considered (unfortunately the committee didn't reach consensus on trail-sharing and therefore it's not likely to be part of the final recommendations they give to Fish and Santner). When asked how best to provide new cycling opportunities in the park, 91% of respondents voted for some form of expanded access. Only 8% chose the option, "Do not provide any more opportunities for biking"

After looking over the survey results, Archer says, "I was encouraged by them, I think it shows overwhelming support even among people that don't identify themselves as bicyclists... Many of them support trail sharing and expanding the network of bike trails in the park."

How and when that happens won't be an easy decision.


-- City Club will vote to adopt this report at their Annual Meeting on Friday (6/4).
-- The Forest Park Single Track Cycling advisory committee meets tonight.

UPDATE: There's an opportunity for public input on the City Club Report this Wednesday (5/26) from 5:30 - 7:00pm. A Town Hall on Future of Forest Park will be held at City Club Commons (901 SW Washington St).

Join the study committee members who produced the report for a lively and interactive "town hall" discussion about the report's findings, conclusions and recommendations. The town hall is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Please RSVP to tony@pdxcityclub.org or call 503-228-7231 x103.

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  • D.R. Miller May 24, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Two things. The response to the Parks survey was to a certain extent self-selecting (especially with publicity and a link for several days here on Bike Portland) in favor of trail-bicyclists. I'm probably in the minority in that although I am a daily cyclist, and do support some additional bike access in the Park, I am not a fan of mountain biking on narrow muddy trails. The impact of bikes on such trails typically is at least as bad as the "rutted trails that gather water and create erosion" cited in the City Club report, in my experience and observation. Bikes are something close to my religion (an accessory to it anyway,) but even more basically I am a contemplative walker and nature lover. That's what i love to do in Forest Park, and that's what I think the Park is primarily "for", to the extent that it is "for" any human activity. I think that the right balance in the Park is achievable, but let us realize that bikes are human-transport *machines* designed to go faster than walking.

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  • J.R. May 24, 2010 at 3:08 pm
  • Dan Porter May 24, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I'm a dedicated daily cyclist and mountain biker that is also "not a fan of mountain biking on muddy trails".

    I want to ride mountain bikes on single track in Forest Park. I however can restrain myself from riding my bike when the weather is bad. I don't even like riding L.E. when it is muddy. I think most mountain bikers (in particular with education and after spending some time doing trail work) could/would refrain from riding on muddy days. It has worked at Powell Butte. Bikes are (or at least were) restricted during really wet weather.

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  • ecohuman May 24, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Archer is concerned that there is no ability for the public to comment on this report, unless you go to the City Club luncheon on Friday where an up-or-down vote will take place.

    Except that the plan the City Club is referring to had plenty of both public and expert input.

    Here's what the City Club is *really* calling for (from a recent Oregonian article that you might want to consider):

    Weighing in on the bike trail question, the City Club panel asserts that the Parks Bureau hasn't followed its 1995 management plan to assess such requests. "Instead, the city established a committee whose stated goal is to increase biking in the park, without having first done the studies required in the 1995 plan," the report says.

    In other words, a Plan's been in place--yet for political ends, it's being tossed in favor of a "survey" (and yes, that survey deserves to be in quotes) that favors access. Fish panders with the best of them, when there's an agenda to push.

    Let's be honest. The report covers a lot more than the "anti-bike" characterization you're trying to make here. I'd invite all blog visitors to actually read it, and consider what it attempts to do.

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  • kgb May 24, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    'Only 8% chose the option, "Do not provide any more opportunities for biking"'

    Paging wsbob, I have a plate of crow for you to eat.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    ecohuman,

    I have read the entire report and obviously I realize it covers a lot more than i mention in my story. My intent was to share what it says specifically about biking, given that biking is what this blog is about.

    I've also read much of the Forest Park Plan and it is open to very broad interpretation of what must be done.

    As for your assertion that the City Club report had opportunity for input... Can you share with me some details on that? I've been following this issue closely for years and I had never heard of the study until it was released last week.

    also, yes it had expert input... but what's important is who are those experts and what agendas are they pushing? Given what I heard from Mr. Archer, they did not have any significant level of expert mountain bike input.

    And you are the only one saying that the 1995 plan is being tossed for this survey.

    Do you realize that the 1995 Plan includes bicycling as one of the approved methods of "passive recreation"? Do you realize that every one of the bike access expansion options put forth by the committee (and that were overwhelmingly supported by all takers of the survey) fall within the confines of the plan?

    I agree with you that this issue and this process has been political from the start -- but the politics have been played by all sides.

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  • Chris Smith May 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Actually, City Club has a "town hall" on this report Wednesday evening:

    Town Hall on Future of Forest Park
    Forest Park Wildwood Trail Sign

    Date:
    May 26, 2010 - 5:30pm - 7:00pm

    City Club Commons, 901 SW Washington St.

    In the 1940s City Club issued an influential report that ultimately led to the creation of Forest Park. A recently released City Club report examines how the park is now faring and whether the larger community has the will to protect and manage it properly. Forest Park: A Call to Action, finds that the health of Forest Park is at risk and that many of the excellent goals of the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan, adopted by City Council in 1995, remain unfulfilled.

    Join the study committee members who produced the report for a lively and interactive "town hall" discussion about the report's findings, conclusions and recommendations. The town hall is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Please RSVP to tony@pdxcityclub.org or call 503-228-7231 x103.

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  • ecohuman May 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I've also read much of the Forest Park Plan and it is open to very broad interpretation of what must be done.

    Then you haven't read the plan. It's fairly explicit on what the process is to follow for considering changes.

    Do you realize that the 1995 Plan includes bicycling as one of the approved methods of "passive recreation"?

    Which is not what the City Club took issue with. It's pointing out that the City Council in this case (as it often does in others) picks and chooses which plans it wants to follow, and to what degree, based on a political agenda.

    And, you also misunderstand what a management plan is for, and the intention of this specific one. The most critical part of the plan is preservation, not "provide recreational opportunities". In fact, one of the primary reasons the Plan was written (as stated in the Plan Summary) is "recreational overuse". In other words, the park's being slowly decimated by the triple problem of invasive species, development, and human trampling (both foot and bike).

    And I didn't say the "report" had input, I said the Plan. It's here:

    http://www.portlandonline.com/bps/index.cfm?c=47529&a=103939

    The City Club's recent report claims, among other things, that the city's ignoring the Plan for its own ends.

    And you are the only one saying that the 1995 plan is being tossed for this survey.

    Then you haven't been following this issue very closely at all. For starters, that's exactly what the City Club is saying.

    Jonathan, once again I'm sensing a very "us vs. them" view of the issue. But the City Club isn't "anti-bike". If you think they are, why not try and get membership, or attend an open meeting?

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  • Chris Smith May 24, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Having been closely involved with City Club's research and advocacy efforts in the past, I can provide some insight into the process here.

    Keep in mind that City Club is a private organization (although membership is open to anyone), not a public agency. Some respect is due for the fact that these are volunteers coming together to highlight important issues in the community.

    The report is not City Club policy until adopted by the membership. There are two additional opportunities for discussion (and potential amendment).

    As noted above a town hall is scheduled for Wednesday evening. This is an opportunity to hear the committee present an outline of the report and ask them questions about it. This is open to the public (but the space is somewhat small).

    At City Club's June 4th meeting, members (and only members) will debate the report and can potentially amend it and then adopt it or not. Amendments under the Club bylaws are limited to removing particular recommendations.

    It would seem that this is the relevant recommendation:

    "R-8. No changes in park usages should occur before these studies are completed."

    That seems like a kind of motherhood statement (do the analysis you promised to do). But if someone wanted to affect the report, they would want to find a club member willing to offer an amendment to strike that recommendation (I'm not volunteering).

    Recommendations are the name of the game, because the club only does advocacy around adopted recommendations.

    The discussion leading up to adoption may be an important opportunity to educate about the cycling issues in the park, I'm not sure that the adoption or non-adoption of the report or a specific recommendation would really change the outlook for new trails given the Parks Commissioner's existing statements about further studies.

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  • hemp22 May 24, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Johnathon - are the results of the Parks survey available online somewhere?

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  • Marcus Griffith May 24, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    After spending the time to review the available studies on multi-use trails, the evidence suggests that there are no statistical meaningful increased risks with properly managed multi-use (aka shared trails) trails as compared to foot traffic only trails.

    I was one of the more vocal bike advocates expressing concern about increasing bike access within Forest Park due to what was primarily a concern for risks to foot traffic and especially small children. The concern was and remains valid; but the available evidence simply does not support a ban of expanding bike use withing Forrest Park. cyclists (and parents) just need to be mindful of toddlers being toddlers.

    As for the speculative concerns that bike tires can leave ruts, well, I would facetiously counter that one could speculate anything. One could speculate that obese persons leave deeper footprints on wet trails which contributes to increase damage. Therefore no one over the arbitrary weight of 110 pounds should be allowed on non-improved trails during or after rain storms. And maybe congressman should be banned from Forest Park to avoid small children coming across someone playing Hide-and-Seek Souder style.

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  • matt picio May 24, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    ecohuman (#9) said "the park's being slowly decimated" - that's a bit of an exaggeration, isn't it? The park ecosystem stabilized less than 50 years ago when logging was ended. Even with no access to the park, invasive species, landslides and other events would change the nature and character of the park. And it is a park, not a nature preserve - while the character of the park needs to be maintained to an extent, it needs to be balanced with recreational needs - or reclassified as a preserve. At the moment, Forest Park is arguably better protected than the Mount Hood National Forest (the non-wilderness portions, anyway).

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  • spare_wheel May 24, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    "Keep in mind that City Club is a private organization (although membership is open to anyone), not a public agency."

    Its open to anyone who can pay $165 a year. City Club has always favored slick real estate developers and "richard florida" gentrification hucksterism. They should have no more voice in this decision than the BTA.

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  • Jack May 24, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    @1 (D.R. Miller) regarding "...let us realize that bikes are human-transport *machines* designed to go faster than walking."

    Yes, thats one way to describe an aspect of bicycles.

    But, my mountain bike is recreational equipment. Thats what it was built for. Thats what I bought it for. It is not meant for getting me to and from work. Frankly, it kind of sucks at that. It is absolutely designed for climbing rough, rocky hills, making incredibly tight turns, and flying down rugged single track.

    Speak for yourself. We don't need to "realize" what your apparently close-minded perspective of a bicycle is.

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  • xtr May 24, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Disparaging City Club, a la comment #14, is uncalled for. As Chris Smith noted, City Club is hands-down the most influential and effective policy voice in Portland. And has been for a long time.

    They've earned their influence through rigorous, well-intentioned work. While I haven't seen this report, I suspect it's good work, like all their work is.

    That said, the $165/year in dues inarguably limits those who can effectively participate. Side note: Sam Adams once pointed this out to the former ED, Wendy Radmacher-Willis; she went ballistic and has criticized Adams ever since.

    The following is a generalization, but I suspect a fair one: the anti-mountain bike attitude is old school eco-Portland, represented by Audubon types. Some of these folks are religious about keeping single track out of the park. That recent op-ed in the Oregonian is a perfect example.

    Younger, more thoughtful types understand that mtb trail development has come a long way over the years, and that the mtb community has proven it can peacefully coexist with the got-there-first modes like hiking.

    The $165/year dues will keep the younger generation out. And I have little doubt the people who did the research and writing probably reflect this reality. I'm not saying they're bad people; I'm saying they're probably out of touch. It doesn't sound like single track mtb got a thorough analysis from these folks.

    In fairness, the mtb question was just a tiny piece of their big picture review. That's probably why it didn't get the attention it deserves.

    The irony is that by responsibly bringing mountain bikers into the park you're expanding your constituency of park supporters. Mtb types are pretty DIY. If I was Portland Parks & Recreation, I'd want these scrappy can-do folks on my team rather fighting me. That's a fight you're bound to lose. That's why Fish is committed to making single track happen.

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  • q`Tzal May 24, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    xtr #16
    That post just sounded to well reasoned and rational.
    Off the Internet with you!

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  • wsbob May 24, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    "...It is absolutely designed for climbing rough, rocky hills, making incredibly tight turns, and flying down rugged single track. ..." Jack #15

    Yes, but is Forest Park the place the Portland public believes should host that type of recreation? That's part of the question related to uses that urban nature areas should be making available to the public.

    I don't see that D.R. Miller #1's reference to bikes is much different than yours. Bikes certainly can be recreational equipment. Many people would readily agree on that. Specifically though, the recreational equipment in question are vehicles.

    Consider the following excerpt of pg 4, Part One, The Inspiring Vision, of the City Club report:

    "...Nine months later, they were ready to submit their findings. They had intensively studied the potential for various uses of the area — residential, agricultural, industrial —and concluded that none was feasible. Instead, they said, the only sensible thing to do was make it a public park,but “of a primitive nature, rather than a park in the ordinary sense.” ..." city club report

    All who are debating exactly what type of park the public might be thinking Forest Park should be sustained as, note in the above excerpt, the phrase 'of a primitive nature'.

    If the public widely agrees that what it would like is the presence of people on off-road bikes recreating in Forest Park in the way Jack describes in the excerpt from his comment that I've pasted at the top of this post...then it would certainly seem that access for this type of off-road bike riding access may be in the park's future.

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  • GlowBoy May 25, 2010 at 12:24 am

    Just read the whole report myself. For me the discussion of our area's ecoregions and Forest Park's unique ecological importance was incredibly eye-opening. Check out the USGS ecoregion map on page 10 for a striking visual on this.

    The report concludes that ecological conditions in the Park are very significantly degraded, and invasive species are BY FAR the greatest threat to the park's ecology. At current funding levels the problem will only worsen, but with adequate funding the condition of the Park could be dramatically improved.

    I personally have a hard time imagining that the improvements recently recommended by the off-road cycling committee would have any significant ecological impact. And for the most part the report does not make a clear case that lawful recreational use is having a major impact on the Park's ecology. The cited impacts are: (1) erosion resulting from switchback cutting by hikers, (2) numerous impacts resulting from offleash dogs, (3) the unsupported comment on page 26 regarding trail damage that off-road cycling "leads to." For the most part the primary impacts of responsible recreational use (including cycling) appear to be clearly social (i.e., user conflict), not ecological.

    Unfortunately the city has completely failed to implement two strong recommendations made in the 1995 Management Plan: (1) conduct a survey of users, (2) create a citywide plan for off-street cycling. The '95 Plan actually requires that these two actions be performed before any expansion of bicycle access in the park can occur, the City Club seems determined to make sure we stick to that.

    Given City Club's influence, there's no way in hell we're going to get increased access until these things happen. In terms of expanded access we've just run into a brick wall, but the report does give us a path forward. I, for one, am going to advocate strongly that the city (1) drastically increase funding for invasive species removal in the Park, (2) finally conduct the Park user survey and (3) complete the citywide off-street cycling plan. The latter of these will finally force the city to face up to the lack of local mountain biking trails.

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  • GlowBoy May 25, 2010 at 1:03 am

    re: wsbob (#18) "Specifically though, the recreational equipment in question are vehicles" ...

    It's true that we cyclists frequently advocate for the idea that bicycles are vehicles for purposes of access to the roadways.

    But they are still human-powered vehicles, and entirely compatible with "primitive" recreation. Even the debates leading to the 1964 Wilderness Act clearly included bicycles as compatible recreation, and the word "mechanized" used in that legislation was clearly intended to refer to motorized conveyances in which a power source other than the user is used for propulsion. I don't see how a bicycle in a primitive area is any different than a pair of skis, or a canoe or kayak, all of which all of which are mechanical devices (often very high-tech) that aid the user in using his/her own power for propulsion, sometimes at high speeds, and which are widely accepted for use in "primitive" recreation.

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  • Trek 3900 May 25, 2010 at 1:05 am

    I've never noticed any big problems in Forest Park. In the winter it is wet and muddy everywhere and walkers cause big mud wrestling type mud pits in low areas. I have seen quite a few bikers coming out without any fenders, hineys covered in mud, heading for their cars- I would not want to get in my car covered with mud. But if they want to it's not hurting me any.

    Who cares - it's muddy. It dries out when it stops raining.

    I just do not see a problem in Forest Park. I usually go in on LE at Germantown, or at Thurman, and bike up Saltzman to Skyline, etc. But I only do that when it's dryish.

    I'd say some government bureaucrats are whining in the hopes of imposing some fees to make a few dollars for the bankrupt government.

    Keep stackin' your gold and silver.

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  • Trek 3900 May 25, 2010 at 1:13 am

    I did not notice Glow Boy's comments about bikes in Wilderness Areas, #20 above. I disagree and so does the law.

    Bikes have no place in designated wilderness areas. They would spook pack animals, causing major problems, and they would run over hikers also. The Wilderness Act is clear: no bikes in wilderness. I did not always agree, but finally gave in, got a pack, and went into the wilderness on foot. I now agree that bikes do NOT belong in wilderness.

    I am all for bikes on LE in Forest Park, but there isn't room on most of the single track for them. If they want to make some single track trails in Forest Park that bikes can use, I'd be all for it - just mark those trails so hikers know to stay off if they don't want to get run over. FP is not a wilderness, has few qualities of a wilderness area, so bikes would not be a problem.

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  • Trek 3900 May 25, 2010 at 1:26 am

    Post #19 said: "(1) drastically increase funding for invasive species removal in the Park, (2) finally conduct the Park user survey and (3) complete the citywide off-street cycling plan. The latter of these will finally force the city to face up to the lack of local mountain biking trails."

    Where is our bankrupt government going to get "drastically increased funding" for anything?

    I'd predict that the user survey is going to be: bikers say there are too many bikers; hikers say there are too many bikers. Actually I do both and don't see a problem. I do see a problem with too much dog poop on LE - but one turd is too much if your tire hits it.

    Local Mountain bike trails? I'd be for adding some mountain bike trails in FP. It'll give the ambulance drivers something to do. :)

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  • Trek 3900 May 25, 2010 at 1:53 am

    So a private club, City Club, is going to get together and decide policy for the rest of the citizens of the metro area? Sounds illegal. Aren't we supposed to vote on things that affect us or else have our elected officials decide so we can boot them out if we don't like their thinking?

    Bottom line for me:
    Forest park seems fine when I want to go bike or walk. I have no problem with it the way it is.
    As a long-time backpacker/climber with a LOT of experience in designated wilderness I do not view forest park as any kind of pristine environment. It isn't. I think most of it has been logged, and it is covered with roads, trails, pipelines, power lines, etc and you are never far from a paved road.

    This whole issue sounds like a bunch of whining for nothing. Leave FP as it is. LE is a great mountain bike path.

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  • wsbob May 25, 2010 at 2:23 am

    "...I don't see how a bicycle in a primitive area is any different than a pair of skis, or a canoe or kayak, all of which all of which are mechanical devices (often very high-tech) that aid the user in using his/her own power for propulsion, sometimes at high speeds, and which are widely accepted for use in "primitive" recreation. ..." glowboy

    The report isn't referring to type of recreation when it uses the word 'primitive'. It's referring to the type of environment available to be experienced by visitors to the park.

    There are certainly modern renditions of skis, canoes and kayaks, but all of them are actually ancient, if not necessarily primitive forms of conveyance. Contrary to what you have said in your comment, none of them are mechanical in any way or form.

    In contrast, bikes are a modern form of self propelled conveyance using gears, chains and sprockets...a mechanized invention springing out of the industrial age.

    Matt P #13 has got the right idea in sense. Get people with a vested interest in this park, in other words...the public, to evaluate what type of experience they expect the park to be sustained as.

    If nature area, or 'nature reserve' as Matt tends to put it, is contrary in form to what the word 'park' implies (I, and I think many other people would disagree), and is no longer what the public wants the park to be available for use as...sure...make Forest Park accessible for the full range of off-road biking styles.

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  • Brian May 25, 2010 at 6:47 am

    If you are interested in this, and other local mtb issues (and actually having fun on mtb's!), tonight is the Northwest Trail Alliance general meeting at our new location-ROOTS Brewing.

    Due to increasing membership and attendance, the Northwest Trail Alliance is shifting our monthly meeting to a new location: Roots Organic Brewing Company, at 1520 SE 7th Ave in Portland starting Tuesday, May 25, 7pm.

    Roots offers a larger meeting spot, better acoustics and a screen for multimedia presentations. "We've just outgrown the Lucky Lab's Northwest location," says NWTA president Tom Archer, who also extends grateful thanks for the Lucky Lab's support over the past several years, NWTA having held meetings in both the northwest and east side locations.

    To kick off the new venue, this month's will feature a presentation by Tom Slovak on recent meetings with Longview Timber, owners of the riding area in Scappoose. We'll also hear about some of the upcoming work parties and other events scheduled for National Trails Day, June 5th.

    Hopefully see some of you tonight.
    Cheers!

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  • GlowBoy May 25, 2010 at 8:29 am

    The inherent problem with statements like wsbob's (#24) is that they view bicycles in the same category as snowmobiles, jetskis, motorboats, ATVs and motorcycles.

    Bicycling is clean, quiet and nonpolluting. It is closer to hiking, canoeing and cross-country/backcountry skiing than it is to any of the motorized activities I've referenced above.

    The reason I reference the 1964 Wilderness Act (which contrary to #21 was NOT clear on banning bikes - that was done in a later revision of the Act) is not that Forest Park is wilderness, but that the original Act's debates provide great insight into discussions of primitive recreation BEFORE the hiking groups became aware of mountain bikes and got all in a tizzy about them, confusing territorial resentments with ecology. Since the appropriateness of bicycles in primitive areas is being called into question here, the discussion is entirely appropriate.

    And so as for the "artificiality" of gears, sprockets, wheels, etc., I've got to call BS on that too. The original 1964 discussions clearly stated that the use of "mechanical advantage" (in the form of motors) did not constitute primitive recreation, but the use of leverage to propel oneself at greater speeds than possible on foot was okay -- as long as the propulsion was ultimately self powered. Like bicycles, skis/bindings and kayaks/paddles use leverage to propel the user at higher speeds possible than on foot. They may not have as many complex moving parts, but they certainly ARE mechanical.

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  • RWL1776 May 25, 2010 at 9:12 am

    wsbob#24

    "There are certainly modern renditions of skis, canoes and kayaks, but all of them are actually ancient, if not necessarily primitive forms of conveyance. Contrary to what you have said in your comment, none of them are mechanical in any way or form."

    When you put one hand at the end of a canoe paddle, and the other in the middle, then place the blade of the paddle and pull back, using the middle of the paddle as a fulcrum and the other hand as a lever, you are using the paddle in a manner as the oldest form of tool known to man: the lever and fulcrum to improve propulsion.

    What is a trekking pole? A carbide steel tipped lever to provide stability to a hiker. How much damage is caused everytime that carbide steel tip pole is forced into the ground, next to the trail tread, widening the pathway?

    What about a ski? That platform spreads the weight of a person across the surface of the snow, allowing the person to traverse the terrain with greater ease. Same with snowshoes.

    A backpack allows the hiker to carry more weight in a balanced, compact fashion on their back, utilizing a ladder type aluminum constructed frame, making the act of hiking along a trail (or off the trail as shown in many REI ads) much easier. How about geo-caching?
    They suggest you stash your cache off the trail. Just great for the environment, people trampling the underbrush looking for a geocache.

    I could go on and on, but it's obvious all equipment used by all trail users is utilized to make the conveyence along the trail or surface easier, and so you can travel farther in the same amount of time.

    Gosh, those all sound like a forms of tools to me.

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  • Eric May 25, 2010 at 9:22 am

    The idea that making some trails multi-use will instantly lead to constant and serious accidents is way over blown.

    I started mountain biking in Philadelphia. Yes, in the city of Philadelphia there is more off-road biking than in green, green Portland. And all those trails are multi-use trails, and no, hikers (and equestrians) are not getting mowed down left and right by out of control cyclists. Do you know why? Because the cyclists want to avoid accidents just as much as the hikers do.

    Perhaps this would work for the narrow trails: even number days (of the month) are hiking days, odd number days are cycling days. Both parties get a day each weekend, and the millions and millions of imminent collisions would be easily avoided.

    Eric

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 25, 2010 at 9:27 am

    The idea that making some trails multi-use will instantly lead to constant and serious accidents is way over blown.

    i completely agree.... and i'm disgusted by people that are contributing to this by spreading their opinions as fact and playing up the fear tactics. unfortunately it seems to be working.

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  • spare_wheel May 25, 2010 at 11:49 am

    "Disparaging City Club, a la comment #14, is uncalled for."
    Expressing an opinion is not "disparaging".

    "The $165/year dues will keep the younger generation out."
    Nice attempt at spin but those dues are about limiting membership to a particular social class. God forbid that we might have a fixie riding anarchist asking Richard Florida unseemly questions.

    "They've earned their influence through rigorous, well-intentioned work."

    I happen to disagree with many positions in that "well-intentioned" report.

    I do not want improved access to vehicles. Nor do I want a proliferation of obtrusive signs.

    IMO, much of the opposition to single-track trails comes from a certain class of individuals who do not want their forest park picnics (*said in sarcastic tone*) to be interrupted by the sight of unseemly bike hooligans.

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  • wsbob May 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    "The inherent problem with statements like wsbob's (#24) is that they view bicycles in the same category as snowmobiles, jetskis, motorboats, ATVs and motorcycles. ..." Glowboy #27

    Not true. All of those vehicles use gasoline burning mechanical engines; noisy, filthy smelling machines. Human powered bikes are far quieter and don't burn the same kind of fuel (humans got to eat y'know!).

    Still, it's on the narrow confines of single track that bikes pose issues in places long thought of and used as natural areas where people can experience a primitive or wilderness environment.

    RWL1776 #28...bikes are vehicles. Vehicles are a form of conveyance, but unlike some of the other forms of conveyance we've been discussing, I think the term 'vehicle' is more commonly associated with the type of conveyance that uses wheels...like motorcycles and cars do.

    As to Trek 3900's remark, "...FP is not a wilderness, has few qualities of a wilderness area, so bikes would not be a problem." in comment #22, I think many people would not agree. Forest Park may not be as grand as some wilderness designated areas, but within it, it's certainly easy enough to get away from all roads, fences, and other junk of civilization he mentions in his later comment.

    maus #30, while some people definitely have worked to focus attention upon various disadvantages that bikes on single track pose to park users in general, as I recall, very few of them in comments to bikeportland stories have claimed that '... making some trails multi-use will instantly lead to constant and serious accidents... .

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  • ecohuman May 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Imagine a place in the city where humans can go and attempt to commune with nature a bit, rather than viewing nature as a "recreation resource".

    I know this is a challenge. I've even heard some claim that riding a bicycle down a dirt trail is "communing with nature" for them. I'd claim that we have different ideas of what that means, and that the difference between walking and biking actually matters quite a lot.

    I don't expect anybody to notice the difference, even self-proclaimed "outdoor enthusiasts". Again, I'm talking about something different. One doesn't attempt a relationship with nature by (1)first defining it as a "resource", then (2)building trails for mechanical access, then (3)claiming invented "rights" to ride through that "resource".

    What parts of urban nature might you consider off-limits to machines, I wonder? When discussion devolves into masturbatory abstractions about what "machine" means, it means you've missed the point entirely. If that's how you justify a position--by arguing about termonilogy--what are you trying to acomplish?

    Here's my position, put simply: I'd like places in the urban environment where humans can go quietly, peacefully, on their own feet, to make attempts at slowly and thoughtfully contemplating the natural world they're passing through. We have no "rights" to access these kinds of areas. There's no such thing. Every year, efforts are made to pry open and develop Forest Park. it's been going on for decades. Some folks are tired of it; some take a more radical position. More bike trails, in my opinion, is just one more way of attempting to "pry open" spaces like this, all in the name of "recreation" and "rights".

    So what's it gonna be? An argument about who's got a right to access the park, or an attempt to pause and consider what nature even means to us?

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  • Drew OShea May 25, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    The park allows biking rt now and it sucks. The access to the park sucks and if you do find somewhere to park chances are your stuff will be robbed. I want the current biking trails and firelanes and parking issues at non-existent sketchy trailheads fixed. I was on lower Springville yesterday-unbikeable. Leif Ericson is like biking on a raisin bran covered wagon road. Firelane 1 trailhead is a non-existent joke. I can run over people on Leif on my cross bike as well.
    Just Sayin

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  • Brian May 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    ecohuman,
    I don't think that mountain bikers and the people you are describing are necessarily two different groups. In fact, I would be willing to bet that most people on both sides of this issue have similar ideologies, have read many of the same books on the subject of nature, and have participated in the same nature-seeking experiences. I have yet to meet a mountain biker who is familiar with Forest Park who does not feel as you do. We want areas of Forest Park to be left as untouched as possible, where nature can exist with little to no disturbance. We also feel that there are parts of FP that can be utilized for our preferred choice of recreation, and in doing so will not harm the ecological integrity of the park as a whole (and will still provide ample opportunities for communing with nature). We make the argument that our inclusion will in fact help to restore the natural integrity of the Park; therefore, we should be seen by other user groups as an ally. We think there is a balance that can be attained through thoughtful discourse, and proper planning and maintenance. In ten or so years we will take a look at how amazing Forest Park is for all users and inhabitants- great and small, and we will be proud that we came together as a community to share and nurture the Park.
    Brian

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  • Psyfalcon May 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    wsbob (#32)...

    I think its unfortunate then that the only place that you can ride bikes in our urban wilderness preserve is on roads. They are wide enough to still be used as roads if there is a need (ie for firefighting purposes).

    Would people be shocked if they knew that people dog sled in there? Some times XC skiers get in there too, but the roads tend to be better when it snows (fewer cobbles sticking through).

    Ecohuman, I don't know, I find the fireroads, hikers, sometimes with strollers, and dogs to also ruin the wilderness aspect. I've also heard the industrial portion of town from leif before.

    Bonus question: Are big wheeled strollers (ie the Jeep brand) a mechanical device? They have no gears but they do use wheels.

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  • Trek 3900 May 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Other than a tad too much dog doo in FP, I think it's OK the way it is. Well, that toilet 1/2 mile in from Thurman seems to attract a bunch of trash - why is that?

    FP has no wilderness qualities, but it is still a very nice urban park and I think we ALL agree on that.

    While I think bikes have no place in Congressionally designated Wilderness Areas, I would not have any problem if a few single track trails were added in FP. I'm sure the mountain bikers, Sierra Clubbers and city club could probably come to an agreement on trail locations if they tried. I'd suggest a high trail near Skyline, and a low trail near Hwy 30/Germantown with the existing fire roads used as connectors AND with the requirement that users go in one direction so the trail can be narrow and avoid problems with passing. That's my suggestion just as a starting point for discussion. Other things to consider: who would pay to build/maintain the trails?

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  • GlowBoy May 25, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    re: "I've even heard some claim that riding a bicycle down a dirt trail is "communing with nature" for them. I'd claim that we have different ideas of what that means, and that the difference between walking and biking actually matters quite a lot." (ecohuman #33) ...

    I strongly dispute this assertion. With all due respect, who are you to judge? On my bike rides through Forest Park I frequently admire the spring trillium, listen to the birds, munch on thimbleberries, gaze up at the treetops, take in the view from a ridge or simply clear my head. In fact I would venture that I do these things *more* frequently in Forest Park when I'm bicycling there than when I'm walking my dog or hiking there with my family (both of which I also do regularly). If I'm on my bike I'm far more likely to be alone, a condition which to me matters far more in connecting with nature than whether I've got boots or wheels under me.

    Put more succinctly: if YOU find a bicycle distracting and are unable to commune with nature while riding one, then don't ride one!

    And if we are to speculate about others' communing with nature, it doesn't appear to me that the average Forest Park visitor on foot is any more likely to be doing that, at least as I (and I suspect you) conceive of it, than the average visitor on wheels. I've seen more trail runners cruising down the trail with headphones blaring, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings, than I have cyclists, that's for sure.

    If you want to commune with nature without the "intrusion" of wheels and "machines" (the definition of which is easiest to dismiss as "masturbatory" when it's someone else's visitation you are trying to limit, I might add), there are nearly 50 miles of bike free trails in the Park upon which you may do that. Even the most optimistic (you might say pessimistic) scenarios of improved bike access won't change that figure very much.

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  • ecohuman May 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    With all due respect, who are you to judge?

    With all due respect, how many people wanting no bicycles in the Park would it take to convince you to limit bike access? One? A hundred? Ten thousand?

    It's a rhetorical question. I already know your answer--you think if somebody takes a "poll", and enough people say open it, and recreation trumps any other purpose, then that's good enough. Right?

    Let's apply that rule to other policy, then. I'd say let's take a poll about bike lanes, and see how many Portlanders want to spend $650 million to 1.2 billion over the next twenty years to create bike infrastructure. I'll wager it'll be a minority. Can we apply the "poll" logic to that?

    No--because everybody wants their "rights" of access. If in the minority, they demand their version of "justice". If in the majority, they demand their "rights".

    Enough with the ad infinitum moral relativism. There *is* such a thing as morality when it comes to this kind of issue, and there *is* such a thing as right and wrong. Problem is, most seem to want some sort of "equity" that never existed in the first place.

    And most of all, you're just as I described above--a person who views the park as a "recreational resource". Primarily, you want access to it with your bicycle. Not because you crave some deeper understanding of nature--because you want a dirt track to pedal on.

    That's enough from me. Somehow, the idea of ethics and morality has largely gotten lost in the current generation of "nature users". They're quaint terms now, almost devoid of meaning, whether in ecology or in local politics. They've been replaced by superficial versions of "equality" and "rights" and "opportunities". As if Forest Park were some kind of communal kitchen were humans have the right to go and eat.

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  • GlowBoy May 26, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    ecohuman, you've claimed I'm advocating for "rights," "justice" and "equality" when I have not put bicycle access in those terms. You've claimed to already know my answer (incorrectly) to a rhetorical question. And you've claimed to know my inner motivation for advocating bicycle access, dismissing my experience as non-contemplative.

    You've quoted my "who are you to judge?" question, yet failed to actually answer it with any insights as to how you presume to know that your Park experience is more contemplative than mine.

    You've condemned any discussion of "rights" to the Park, yet in post #33 came closer to claiming your vision of connecting with nature as a "right" than I have done with respect to biking.

    You've decried certain semantic discussions in this thread as "mental masturbation", then launched into your own semantic hair-splitting, condemning your opposition as "nature users" looking for "recreational opportunities" while your own experience as a USER of the Park is on the side of "morality".

    Excuse me for remaining unconvinced.

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  • kgb May 26, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Wow Eco nice rant, it didn't really make much sense but you sure do think you are better than the rest of us.

    re: "I've even heard some claim that riding a bicycle down a dirt trail is "communing with nature" for them. I'd claim that we have different ideas of what that means, and that the difference between walking and biking actually matters quite a lot." (ecohuman #33) ...

    You've heard some claim? Are you kidding? I'm sorry you obviously have a massively inflated ego and sense of self righteousness but I going to have to draw the line at you defining what my interactions with nature constitute.

    It's a pretty subjective thing so your OPINION on the matter is much less significant than I'm sure you believe it to be.

    'Somehow, the idea of ethics and morality has largely gotten lost in the current generation of "nature users".'

    A. What generation is that? You are just a regular well-spring of assumptions are n't you. Not to mention any historical perspective isn't going to exactly bode well for older generations you know like the one that clear cut the park. Based on you hyper inflated ego I'm just going to assume you are a baby boomer who came of age in the 60s.

    B. WTF are you talking about, how so.

    Since you are so concerned about the over use of the park I'm sure you no longer visit it, really it is the least you can personally do right, one less person right? Oh I forgot the park probably needs you and your ethics and your morality to help it to survive.

    Because in case you haven't been paying attention we are talking about people riding bikes in the park and if done correctly that has no more impact on the park then you going on a walk making everything you have said and stated completely self serving.

    Anyway don't hurt yourself while your climbing down from you soapbox.

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  • Trek 3900 May 27, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Wow, did you see the list of "Witnesses" at the end of the report? That was quite a collection of government bureaucrats - no wonder the government is bankrupt. (I know they didn't get paid to work on this report.)

    The report was an outstanding piece of work really, except it could have an executive summary. I mean I could not have done as well. Problem is, the report was about a lot of problems with Forest Park that simply do not exist. This is a typical example of a proposed government project that simply does not need to be done!!! This is EXACTLY why the USA is bankrupt, as well as most of the states, and most of the cities.

    Forest Park has excellent access. Rarely do I have any trouble finding a parking place, there are access points all around the park so crowding is rarely a problem. Is it possible that those folks on Thurman are complaining to City Club about all those stinkin' joggers and bikers parking on their street? Let's have full disclosure now: HOW MANY of the city club members live high up on Thurman, or near there, or near an entrance point to the park? Fess up now.

    Just a note: Referring to FP as "wilderness" degrades the meaning of wilderness. FP has no qualities of wilderness. In FP you can listen to ship horns, train horns, car horns, harley hogs, trains cars thumping, jets, planes, loud cars, etc, etc, etc.

    My recommendation: Everyone stop whining, leave FP as-is, and save yourselves A LOT of money. Can you imagine the annual expenditures for FP if a government bureaucracy like Metro takes it over? They'll have cops in little green uniforms giving tickets for people who don't pay their entrance fees. Ya think? What will the tickes pay for? Cops in little green uniforms, nothing else.

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  • Jonathan Radmacher June 4, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    xtr, #16, to put a more fine point on it, I understand that when you say Wendy Radmacher-Willis "went ballistic," what she did was explicitly criticize him for being a sexist, belligerent bully. And honestly, can anyone disagree with that?

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