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Op-Ed: Northwest Trail Alliance responds to Forest Park decisions

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 1st, 2010 at 10:33 am

[Portland-based off-road cycling advocacy group, the Northwest Trail Alliance, has a long legacy in Forest Park. In fact, they came onto the scene over 20 years ago (as PUMP, the Portland United Mountain Pedalers) in order to make sure cycling wasn't completely prohibited from the park.

That history gives you some idea of how long and how hard local advocates have worked to improve access for bikes in Forest Park. Several members of the NWTA were on the Forest Park Single Track Cycling Advisory Committee whose recommendations influenced the big decision yesterday by Commissioner Fish and Parks Director Santner. Below is an op-ed from the Board of the NWTA.]


"We believe that improving the overall conditions of the Park and increasing bicycle access could be accomplished simultaneously."

Bike access to Forest Park — this was the cause around which our group was formed 21 years ago, and one that remains important to us and to many cyclists in the Portland area. One that rightly stirs emotion, because of the Park's uniqueness (both its natural splendor and its proximity to the city), its popularity among various user groups, and consequently the need for these users to share this wonderful resource and jointly help in the stewardship of the Park.

When the Forest Park Management Plan was first being considered in 1989, a complete ban on bikes was being proposed. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and cyclists were granted limited access to the Park. Recently, great efforts went into identifying opportunities for addressing the growing demand for singletrack riding in the Park and adding reasonable bike access to select trails — both new and existing trails. The Forest Park Singletrack Advisory Committee engaged in a lengthy and complex discussion — one that is not captured by slogans or soundbites — and produced a slate of recommendations that would create additional singletrack riding opportunities in select areas of the Park in the near term. The recommended actions were measured, balanced and gradual, and with plenty of consideration of other users and the overall ecology of the Park.

"Now, more than ever, it is important that we have opportunities to recreate near where we live, without the need for a car or a long drive to the mountain."

We are very disappointed by the decision issued By Commissioner Fish and Director Santner yesterday. We hoped that they would implement the recommendations of the Forest Park Singletrack Advisory Committee. In recent months, it became evident that the discussion would be reframed, and that the issue of the long term ecology and stewardship of the Park would take precedence. And while we agree that more resources for the Park are warranted, we believe that improving the overall conditions of the Park and increasing bicycle access could be accomplished simultaneously.

"Increased bike access to singletrack trails does not threaten the health of the Park..."

Now, more than ever, it is important that we have opportunities to recreate near where we live, without the need for a car or a long drive to the mountain. We are encouraged by the voice of the League of American Bicyclists and others, who recognize it is important for cities like Portland to create more opportunities for recreational cycling in natural settings, and to embrace and actively promote off-road cycling as a healthy and green form of active recreation. For the mountain bike community, increased bike access to Forest Park will remain the benchmark of how much the City of Portland is committed to treating off-road cycling at par with other forms of active recreation.

Increased bike access to singletrack trails does not threaten the health of the Park and we are concerned that continued delays will alienate a user group that can, and will, bring significant energy and resources to bear to improve the Park. With that in mind, we will continue to pressure the Parks Department and the City to take a leadership position in efforts to increase access, and we will hold them accountable to their commitments. In the meantime, we invite those who share our view to voice their opinion in a respectful way with our elected officials. In an expression of that commitment, we invite all those who share our passion for riding in Forest Park to participate in a peaceful gathering at the Thurman Gate on Saturday October 16th at 9am, which will be followed by a group ride through the Park. More details about the ride will be posted on our web site at www.nw-trail.org.

The Board of Directors
Northwest Trail Alliance


In case you missed that final paragraph, Northwest Trail Alliance will hold a gathering and a ride on Saturday, October 16th that meets at the Thurman Gate at 9:00 a.m. Incidentally, this is the same day at the Forest Park Conservancy's Day of Stewardship.

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Comments
  • Michaewh October 1, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I think many of us already feel alienated. I'll be there for the gathering!

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  • Chris October 1, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Nicely put. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!!

    I'll be there and my check is literally in the mail to NWTA.

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  • Mike on Alberta October 1, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I was walking in the park Wednesday evening before dusk, when I came across a mountain biker who was screaming "Wow-wee" and "Woohoo" as he spead about 35-40 mph down Lief Erikson. If cyclists are ever going to be respected in the park people like this need to be held accountable. I'm sure there are many people who respect most visitor's desire to recreate and commune with nature. There are others who seek to exploit the park for their own needs without respect to others. Until this problem is addressed by the cycling community I have to side with Commissioner Fish.

    And before anyone states that I'm not a "real cyclist", I have 4 bikes including a MTB and ride over 6k miles a year.

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  • Will October 1, 2010 at 11:21 am

    I will be there with the family for the ride. Will be great to have a huge ride through forest park to show our support for increased access.

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  • rwl1176 October 1, 2010 at 11:33 am

    This former PUMP President would be there, but I'll regretfully have to pass. I'll be in Hawaii on my honeymoon.

    NWTA: Great work, keep up the the constant positive pressure, and always take the high road.

    LONG LIVE PUMP and many Thank Yous go out to Theo Patterson for forming PUMP 21 years ago!

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  • single track October 1, 2010 at 11:44 am

    go NWTA! way to say something that most of us feel but few of us can articulate.

    trail sharing NOW!

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  • k_t_w October 1, 2010 at 11:55 am

    @ #3

    You had to listen to someone yell yowee and yahoo? You poor baby.

    I am also calling BS on your speed claim. There is nowhere on lief where you can go that fast. A mountain bike isn't even geared for that. Spare us the hyperbole.

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  • tired of scary overestimations October 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    @mike on alberta, I doubt that he was going that fast. He may have been going fast enough to make you uncomfortable, he may even have been going faster that was safe, but the road is gravel, and not that steep, so unless he was superman I really doubt he was going over 35 mph.

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  • Jack October 1, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Also @ #3:

    If single track were made available, that screaming cyclist wouldn't have been on Leif Erikson pretending that a forest road is as fun as single track. He would have been on the single track, having more fun at much lower speeds.

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  • JF October 1, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    @ #3 (mike alberta)

    The speed claim on Leif is bogus. Additionally, if the cyclist had a desgniated trail where pedestrians would not be threatened, then everyone would be safer.

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  • pfarthing6 October 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    There's nothing wrong with "wowee" and "woohoo" so long as nobody is getting hurt or put out.

    Lief Erikson is a huge fireroad, if you can't do a bit of downhill bombing on it, then what's the point of climbing it?

    I used to do it every weekend and never even came close to bumping someone or scaring them.

    Banning bicycles without public input and especially without a VOTE is just one more government control tactic.

    This Nanny State mentality is one of the core issues of our time.

    If anything, we need a lot more "wowee" and "woohoo" in all our lives to cope with our stressful urban environment. Geez, just what's so wrong with people having fun?

    When will cyclists stop being treated as a fringe minority? Do we have to stage walkouts or something to show that we, especialy in P-town, are a force to be taken seriously? It's just so lame.

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  • Burk October 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Well said NWTA!

    It almost feels to me like the park decisions are being made in a vacuum. Other city's are doing this and having it work, Whistler for example. The Zappa trails are an amazing network of single track right next to the town of Whistler in a big "forested park" area. I'm no biologist but the woods sure looked o.k. to me.

    I don't understand why other cities are able to make this work and Portland can't. I get the fact that Forest Park is a fragile wooded area and we have to be good stewards of the land, but how is it any less fragile than the wooded area up in Whistler with all the single track?

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  • Matt F October 1, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Nicely done NWTA. Will be there for the ride on the 16th!

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  • john October 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    "...and that the issue of the long term ecology and stewardship of the Park would take precedence."

    Oh this is too bad, I really do like walking/hiking in the park as well. How are they going to limit/control the number of park visitors so that long term ecology is the precedence? (we all know that hikers cause, by far, the most damage too the park...)

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  • wsbob October 1, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    "I was walking in the park Wednesday evening before dusk, when I came across a mountain biker who was screaming "Wow-wee" and "Woohoo" as he spead about 35-40 mph down Lief Erikson. ..." Mike on Alberta #3

    Actual numbers aside, the point remains that on a trail...which despite Leif Erickson's dual purpose fire road multi-use path width...traveled by people on foot that includes kids, and people on bikes together, Leif Erickson actually is...the mountain biker was likely traveling at a speed that far exceeded an acceptable limit under the circumstances. 20mph would probably have been too fast.

    Off-road bike enthusiasts in past comments to bikeportland have claimed to be seeking in Forest Park, essentially the same experience that hikers do, with the addition of a bike as their mode of travel. If that is the experience off-road bikers seek on single track within the park, why then, on their bikes, are they commonly traveling speeds that far exceed that of a person on foot?

    Forest Park was established to provide Portland residents and guests to the city a closely accessible natural area that would allow them to get away from exactly the kind of activity Mike on Alberta describes.

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  • Jack October 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    @wsbob #15

    I'm pretty sure the speed of travel wasn't the point that enthusiasts were getting at when they "claimed to be seeking in Forest Park, essentially the same experience that hikers do, with the addition of a bike as their mode of travel."

    But you already know this and just offered this pointless question to be argumentative:

    "why then, on their bikes, are they commonly traveling speeds that far exceed that of a person on foot?"

    Sadly, it's baseless arguments like yours that consistently sway the masses away from logic.

    Forest Park was NOT established to provide Portland residents and guests an accessible natural area that would allow them to get away from OTHER PORTLAND RESIDENTS AND GUESTS who happen to enjoy mountain biking.

    To reiterate: Forest Park's reason for establishment is in the past and immutable. It does not change from day to day to suit your opinions.

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  • Au Naturel October 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    If NWTA wants to garner more attention to their cause (high-speed, mechanical access to FP's peaceful sanctuary) and also show they care about FP's natural environment, then I would suggest you all Bike Naked.

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  • wsbob October 1, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    "I'm pretty sure the speed of travel wasn't the point that enthusiasts were getting at when they "claimed to be seeking in Forest Park, essentially the same experience that hikers do, with the addition of a bike as their mode of travel." " Jack #16

    Jack, you neglected to offer suggestions as to what you thought they may have been getting at. The tone of your response suggest to me that you don't intend to contribute anything but rudeness to this discussion.

    Other remarks you made in your comment:

    To my comment:

    "... Off-road bike enthusiasts in past comments to bikeportland have claimed to be seeking in Forest Park, essentially the same experience that hikers do, with the addition of a bike as their mode of travel. If that is the experience off-road bikers seek on single track within the park, why then, on their bikes, are they commonly traveling speeds that far exceed that of a person on foot? ..." wsbob #15

    You remarked with the following:

    "...Sadly, it's baseless arguments like yours that consistently sway the masses away from logic. ..." Jack #16

    Baseless? What do you imagine to be baseless about the statement I made that people on bikes in Forest Park are commonly traveling speeds that far exceed that of a person on foot?

    Visitors to trail in the park where bikes are permitted, regularly experience and report about people traveling on bikes at excessive speeds. This excessive speed is one of the fundamental objections people have to allowing access to bikes on single track in the park.

    More of your remarks:

    "... Forest Park was NOT established to provide Portland residents and guests an accessible natural area that would allow them to get away from OTHER PORTLAND RESIDENTS AND GUESTS who happen to enjoy mountain biking.

    To reiterate: Forest Park's reason for establishment is in the past and immutable. It does not change from day to day to suit your opinions. ..." Jack #16

    I repeat: Forest Park was established to provide Portland residents and guests to the city a closely accessible natural area that would allow them to get away from exactly the kind of activity Mike on Alberta describes. In other words, people traveling through the park on their vehicles...bikes...especially when that happens without due regard for park visitors on foot.

    Originally, as I understand it, the park was designated as a primitive, 'no vehicles' natural area park for people and wildlife. Bike use on the wide Leif Erickson seems to a be a concession to that original designation, made because it could be done without substantially effecting in a negative way, the fundamental continuing and vital purpose which the park was originally designated for.

    Your final words:

    "... To reiterate: Forest Park's reason for establishment is in the past and immutable." Jack #16

    I'm not sure what you're trying to say there. I'm not that familiar with the word 'immutable', so I had to look it up. The definition of that word is:

    "Not subject or susceptible to change or variation in form or quality or nature" WordWeb

    As I understand it, that definition suggests 'immutable' would not apply to Forest Park. The park is continually subject to change, but its original, fundamental purpose in service to people and wildlife as originally conceived, significantly excluding vehicular modes of travel in the area of single track seems to be one that the public chooses to uphold to this day and on.

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  • Charlie B October 1, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Bikes are legitimate park users.
    Bikes are allowed on singletrack (FL5).
    Continuing to ban bikes from other trails is discretionary and represents an unwillingness to share.

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  • q`Tzal October 1, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    How about a practical angle:

    Suppose nothing happens after this protest and the status quo is maintained: are we to suppose that cyclists will stop doing what they are already doing? I don't think any one expects that.
    Next, the political forces that brought about the current state will be left with a decision: allow that which they have denied or attempt to enforce a ban on one type of cycle activity in some very specific areas.
    Perhaps it'll be much easier to close the ENTIRE park to cyclists. If they are truly dedicated to what they say they are, ecological protection and not just NIMBY-ism, then they need to ban all bikes; maybe horses too.
    How do you enforce even that? With all the budgetary cutbacks at every level of government the police can barely keep up with violent crime. How are the police supposed to find violators, Predator drones? It'll be much cheaper to fence in the WHOLE of FP so that no one can get in. Ecological protection will be much more scientifically measurable if there is no one is there to disturb anything.

    My point is that right or wrong stopping cyclists from from doing whatever out there is going to be so economically odious as to require that they declare defeat or clamp down totally.
    Either can be turned in to a victory with advance planning.

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  • SkidMark October 2, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I've have been passed by joggers on singletrack trails while riding my MTN bike, I can't be going that fast.

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  • wsbob October 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    "I've have been passed by joggers on singletrack trails while riding my MTN bike, I can't be going that fast." SkidMark #21

    How fast were the joggers traveling? Of joggers and people on off-road bikes, which mode of travel would you say is capable of higher speeds?

    What would you think about future proposals for off-road biking on single track in nature parks such as Forest Park, having speed limits as part of such proposals?

    On their bikes, people are capable of traveling very slow. Slower even, than people walking. Without at least a clearly stated mandate that they keep their speed below a specified speed limit, many off-road bike enthusiast will likely choose not to travel on their bikes at speeds less than that of joggers or people walking.

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  • Bryan October 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    NWTA, well said. you guys are awesome. i will be there on the 16th and i think my membership dues are ready for renewal.

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  • f5 October 2, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Charile B #19: Thanks for cutting right through the windbaggery. There's really no way to dispute what you wrote... genius.

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  • jim October 3, 2010 at 12:55 am

    I can see the cities side of this and it makes sense. But then again forest park is just freakin huge, it seams like it shouldn't be that all hard to find an area that could be dedicated to bikes and hikers beware... This would be an added atraction for the city, especially if it were near public transportation for those that live far away. Myself I wouldn't use it myself, but I do see a huge benifit to it being in Portland. Look at PIR and its history. It gave young people a place to do their activities in a legal manor. That has worked out quite well for the city in all these years.
    Good luck -Jim

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  • Mike houck October 3, 2010 at 5:46 am

    I think Commissioner Fish and Park director Zari Santner made the best policy decision possible. As a long time field trip leader in Forest Park, Powell Butte, Oaks Bottom and other natural areas I have to say the entirely unsupported statement "that increased mtn biking would have no impact on wildlife" is unsupportable.

    I'm a cyclist and have taken hundreds of nature lovers all over the region bird watching for the past 40 years. I love cycling and agree more access, where it's ecologically appropriate, is needed. All Fish and Santner did was acknowledge that fact and pledge to do it right with full information on potential impacts to not only wildlife and habitat, but also to other users.

    One of my main concerns is safety. Durimg two birding trips to Powell Butte my group of senior citizens were literally terrorized by out of control mtn bikers caroming around a blind corner at high speeds, nearly running down an older man and woman. Ant future trails and trail designs must account for both significamt potential human impact on wildlife and on other park users, especially those who use our natural areas for quiet, contemplative experiences.

    It's far better for the city to take the time necessary to put a comprehensive plan together that will reduce conflicts, not exacerbate them. To rush an I'll-thought plan through would in the end be a disservice to the cycling comma ity.

    Those of us who have worked to protect urban Greenspaces like Oaks Bottom, where mtn biking is absolutely inapproproate, Forest Park, and Powell Butte, where I see significant conflicts, have learned over the past 40+ years of our work that patience is a virtue and well-thoughtout plans are worth the wait.

    Mike Houck, Director
    Urban Greenspaces Institute
    Mikehouck@urbangreenspaces.org

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  • Brian October 3, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Mike,
    Thanks for the reply. Funny you should mention Oaks Bottom. When I moved here 13 years ago I rode Oaks Bottom 3 or more days a week. It was my destination as I was learning to ride a mountain bike for a quick spin after work. Never once did I personally have any conflict, nor did any others I know who rode there. Quite the opposite, all of my encounters with hikers/birders were very pleasant, often ending up with us talking for a bit about an eagle above. I loved riding that place. Fast forward a few years later, signs went up that bikes were not allowed. What?? Where was the process? What logic was behind this decision? These are the scenarios that are upsetting to us as a user group. We can, and do, coexist in natural areas all over the world.
    Also, I take exception with your statement that this plan was rushed. The committee was far from rushed, and could have ended up with a plan that allowed for increased access. It may have been minimal to start with (extending singletrack to FL 5 for example, or allowing bike on Maple 3 days aw week). PP and R came back with nothing concrete, hence the angry response by the mtb community.
    Also, I have never once heard a mountain biker say that their choice of recreation has no impact on wildlife. Not sure where your quote came from. What we do believe is that mountain biking has not been shown to have "more" of an impact that other user groups. Birding has been shown to disrupt birds. Dogs have been shown to disrupt wildlife. To use "wildlife disruption" as an argument for exclusion is invalid.
    Best,
    Brian

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  • Mike houck October 3, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Brian,

    I absolutely agre that nature walkers, birders, and especially dogs have significant impacts on wildlijfe. That is precisely why we've worked with Metro to develop a green trails guidelines that address impacts of trails in general that are slated to go thru sensitive natural areas.

    You may not be aware of it, but we lobbied Metro to re-align the 40-Mile Loop trail at Smith and Bybee to avoid a bald eagle nest and large great blue heron colony. My point is we need to carefully assess trail alignment and design, regardless of the user group, whether they be cyclists, which I am, and birders.

    The rustic , unpaved Oaks Bottom trail was not closed to cyclists until the alternative trail from SE Milwaukie was put in place to establish an direct connection to Sprinfwater on the Willamette. The narrow , unpaved trail that skirts Oaks Bottom is entirely inappropriate for dual use by cyclists. I have had numerous negative encounters with cyclists on that trail, owing to the narowness of the trail. The issue at Oaks Bottom is safety, not wildlife impacts in my opinion.

    We are not your enemy, but we do lobby for responsible trail design and alignment to protect ecological values of urban Greenspaces. I'm puzzled by your inability to accept ther are specific cases where bikes, off leash dogs, and yes even birders should not have trail access as a matter of responsible stewardship.

    Respecfully,

    Mike Houck, Director
    Urban Greenspaces Institute
    http://www.urbangreenspaces.org
    mikehouck@urbangreenspaces.org

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  • wsbob October 3, 2010 at 11:02 am

    "... it seams like it shouldn't be that all hard to find an area that could be dedicated to bikes and hikers beware ..." jim #25

    For a nature park you're seriously suggesting sectioning a part of the park off for a 'bikes...hikers beware' area?

    Keep in mind that the huge clamor on the part of off-road bike enthusiast to gain access to Forest Park, is specifically directed towards securing access to the park's single track, for styles of riding that would not preclude the type of encounters for park users that Mike Houck describes in his #26 comment:

    "... Durimg two birding trips to Powell Butte my group of senior citizens were literally terrorized by out of control mtn bikers caroming around a blind corner at high speeds, nearly running down an older man and woman. ..." Mike Houck #26

    That I'm aware of, no off-road bike enthusiast offered proposal for access to single track in Forest Park has ever provided for restrictions on the speed that off-road bikes would be allowed to travel on park trails. No such proposal has ever specified safe passing procedures.

    Instead, off-road bike enthusiasts have proposed restricting hours and days that people on foot travel park trails, so that off-road bike enthusiasts could have the use of the trails.

    The park's extraordinary size was not assembled so that it could one day be sectioned off for vehicular recreation, which is what off-road biking is.

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  • jim October 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Where else could you build bike trails? Should the city go out and purchase more land just for that? I dont think so. We own plenty of land allready. Much of this is just woods, not being utilized. I think we could partition of a section of park that is not being used by birders.... I'm not saying lets go homestead, cut down the trees, build houses, just make the bike facilities for these guys so they can have a place to ride. close to portland... This park is freakin huge, they can afford to share a little bit. this project all makes better sense to me than 90% of the other bike projects portland has offered up.

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  • Lisa October 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Well, good luck to you with the proposal to "partition off a section of park that is not being used by birders." There's not going to be any partitioning off of any part of Forest Park. Ever.

    Start looking elsewhere i.e. a regional approach for access to single track. It won't be happening in Forest Park for quite some time.

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  • Mike houck October 3, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Since you didn't identify yourself, I'll simply refer to the guy who clearly has no environmental ethic. Read your response and note not one reference to the ecological health of the park. All you discuss is. "partitioning" the park off for various uses.

    The fact that Forest Park, Smith and Bybee Lakes, andd Powell Butte are large natural area parks , which by the way are managed SPECIFICALLY for their contribution to maintaining their ecological values, is not justification for carvingg them up willy hilly for whatever user groiup comes along. By your argument Forest Park, should paint ball freaks, off road vehicles, hunters, trappers, and whatever other "user group" that demands they should be allowed to carve out their "fair share" of the park ought to be accommodated.

    Do you honestly think that's why Portland's natural area parks were purchased? I don't think Portlanders see that as being appropriate foe Foerst Park, Oaks Bottom, Powell Butte or any of the region's naturalmarea parks.

    In my opinion those of you who apparently have little or no regard for ecological stewardship would be better served if instead of whining you got on board withnefforts to increase public ownership of parks, trails and natural areas so thatba coherent comprehensive plan can be put together at the regional scale that address your interests WITHOUT degrading important natural areas. Your argument to take existing sensitive areas and carve them up will garner no general public support.

    25 years ago a powerful coalition was formed wen trail and wildlife advocates came together to create a vivion for a regional park, trail and natural area system. We went through a period where similar concerns had to be ironed, recognizing that trails should not go into sensitive habitats. I believe if you and your colleagues developed a little more sensitivity regarding ecologiclpal issues you'd find we in the conservation community would be as good allies, just as we have been with trail advocates.

    That wood in my opinion be a far more productive approach than fighting over those areas we have fought to acquire for their significant ecological values.

    Mike Houck, Director
    Urban Greenspaces Institute
    We should expand
    Mike Houck

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  • Marid October 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    This is starting to sound like the "Tragedy of the Commons."

    I'm a cyclist. I love mountain biking. But I understand that hiking and biking on the same trails doesn't work very well unless there are very few people using the trail. That is not the case in Forest Park so I can appreciate that cycling needs to be restricted. We can't go cycling in Wilderness Areas or on the Pacific Crest Trail either, so I've never been under the illusion that every hiking trail should be bike accessible.

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  • Kevin October 3, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I'd just like to out that the only person in recent years to kill people and leave their bodies in forest park did so on foot, not on a bicycle.

    I think, in the interest of protecting prostitutes, heroine addicts and local wildlife, access to forest park should only be allowed to bicyclists - because they have no record whatsoever of dumping dead bodies in the park.

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  • Brian October 3, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Mike,
    Thanks again for the thoughtful reply. Actually, you may have misunderstood as I definitely agree with you that some places should be hands-off. I just don't buy the argument that groups of middle school students on a field trip are ok (I have experience as a teacher who has done multiple field trips in the outdoors, including FP), and me on a bicycle is not.
    Wsbob,
    You have been told many times on this site that trail construction/alteration will restrict speeds out of necessity. There is no need to include an unenforceable speed limit. Why you continue to ignore that important piece of information, I have no idea. As it stands, the places we are allowed to ride on encourage high speeds (ie. fall line firelanes that run perpendicular to the Wildwood trail), and we do not want that type of riding.
    Lisa,
    We have been looking at a regional approach for some time on our side. It is PP and R that is reluctant to offer the tiniest bone and assist us. Rest assured, one decision from them is not going to discourage us. We will continue to work for access in FP and elsewhere. Maybe someday we will share a nice moment on the Maple Trail looking at a beautiful hawk flying overhead, and you will realize that I am a pretty good dude who cares about the park as much, if not more, than yourself and other users.

    Best,
    Brian

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  • Anonymous October 3, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Brian,

    Happy to discuss at greater length over a beer at Lucky Lab

    I've taught middle schoolers. Places like FP and Oaks Bottom are ESPECIALLY important for them. I assume youve read Richard Louv's last Child In The Woods and Bob Pyle's The Thunder Tree? Powerful arguments for access to nature for kids.

    It's the adults we've got to get a handle on!
    Mike Houck

    Mike

    Mike

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  • jim October 3, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    There is allways going to be some people that don't ever want the woods used for anything except walking through. I don't believe that is why God gave us woods. We are stewards for them-yes. You wouldn't be living in that house your in right now if someone didn't go out and cut down a couple of trees. We will need to go out and cut down a bunch more trees too because there are a lot more people moving here and babies growing up and they all need places to live. so we will keep on going out in the woods and cutting more trees in spite of what the conversationist want. We also have a need for recreation, not just walking but other things too including bike riding. It would be better to have the cyclists in a confined portion of the park than riding all the trails- running old ladies off the path. if you were a hiker or a bird watcher wouldn't you rather those bikes were somewhere else?

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  • Jason October 3, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    This is wonderful news! A victory for Forest Park! There are way too many macho douche bags that will not respect the rules, and the park. Until we have people to monitor and police the park single track will never work!

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  • Tankagnolo Bob October 3, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I will be at the demonstration, riding my 74 Tankagnolo for the group ride through Forest Park that Saturday morning and I encourage others to go. If you are a roadie, BMXer, Zoo Bomber, or commuter, join in anyway. We all gain !!

    If Santa Cruz, Caly can have Wielder Park, we should have just a bit of Forest Park.

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  • Brian October 3, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Jason,
    Please explain how giving off-road riders access to current trails/improved firelanes/new, bike-only trails would not work without forest police.
    Thanks,
    Brian

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  • Charlie B October 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    @f5 #24: thank you and please feel free to repeat it often:

    Bikes are legitimate park users.
    Bikes are allowed on singletrack (FL5).
    Continuing to ban bikes from other trails is discretionary and represents an unwillingness to share.

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  • Mike Houck October 3, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    You sound like a bunch of spoiled brats

    Houck

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  • Zaphod October 3, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Charlie B +1 more

    Bikes are legitimate park users.
    Bikes are allowed on singletrack (FL5).
    Continuing to ban bikes from other trails is discretionary and represents an unwillingness to share.

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  • Bryan October 3, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Jason #38 - that is either the most sarcastic comment i have ever read or the worst attempt at trolling i have ever read.

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  • Mike Houck October 3, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    The offer of beer for a rational discussion stands

    Houck

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  • wsbob October 3, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    jim #30 ...Always a good question to keep in mind, is 'How did Forest Park come to be 5000 acres in size, and for what reason?'

    It's a fairly lengthy, but documented history that I can't quote from memory. Something of that history I'm fairly certain my memory is correct on, is that substantial areas of acreage in the park were donated by people that believed a natural environment that people living in the city could readily visit and experience, was an important.

    There may be people in the Portland Metro area that own large parcels of land, and that believe opportunities for off-road biking on single track are important enough that it would be worth donating their land for the purpose of providing for that activity.

    I'm inclined to think you don't mean to sound unappreciative in saying it, but when people make statements such as you did about the lands in Forest Park: "...Much of this is just woods, not being utilized. ..." ... I can't help feeling that people doing so have not yet come to understand quite what this parkland is.

    The lands in a natural area such as Forest Park, are not 'just woods'. That phrase sounds like something developers say just before they give the signal to bring the bulldozers in to clear land for construction. Forest Parks' natural lands are complex ecosystems. Critters and plant life utilizes them 24/7, 365 days a year. It logically figures that a human population growing in numbers will increasingly be making visits to the park. Areas that aren't currently seeing a lot of human visitors, eventually one day will.

    "... Wsbob,
    You have been told many times on this site that trail construction/alteration will restrict speeds out of necessity. There is no need to include an unenforceable speed limit. ..." Brian #35

    Your contention: "... trail construction/alteration will restrict speeds out of necessity. ..." . I don't buy this notion, and I don't think many people that recognize what Forest Park is, and truly who respect the service this nature park exists to provide the people of Portland with would either.

    (Incidentally, if you imagine your condescending tone..." You have been told ..." is leaving a positive impression of yourself with me, you're sadly mistaken.)

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  • wsbob October 3, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Correction:

    "... were donated by people that believed a natural environment that people living in the city could readily visit and experience, was an important resource to provide for.

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  • ninjacougar October 4, 2010 at 8:00 am

    If hiking and running were half as fun as mountain biking then walkers and joggers would all be screaming wowwee and yahoo as they recreated (they ARE recreating, is all, not saving the whole dang planet through their activities, you know).

    It is not steep enough to travel down Leif that fast. That's an absurd, hyperbolic claim.

    And for the rcord, would you all please stop calling Leif Erickson a TRAIL?!?! It's a dirt road! There's a difference!

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  • Evan October 4, 2010 at 9:10 am

    The biggest impact of not allowing bikes in more places (on properly constructed trails) in Forest Park? More illegal trails.

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  • pdxthinker October 4, 2010 at 10:42 am

    The fact that NWTA wants to organize a protest ride on the Day of Stewardship for Forest Park says quite a bit about the "concern" NWTA has for the park.

    Rather than having a protest ride, showing up to work for the park, wearing your bicycle helmets to identify yourselves, would have a peacefulimpact that is positive and much more powerful --ala Ghandi and MLK.

    But that would be for a mature group of people, and for a cause that is actually worthy --neither of which is fulfilled here. Again, those of our bicycle community that continue to petulantly want everything, to the detriment of ecologically sound practices and other people, identify themselves as supremely selfish, while hurting progress in other areas of biking.

    Again, why are you not happy with 30 miles of bike access in Forest Park. No city is required to provide single track. Amsterdam, the worlds #1 bike city, doesn't have any! By the way, Whistler is not a city --it is a small village, that was built for recreation and quite a distance from any urban center. It has become a "destination" for mountain bikers---something that Portland's Forest Park should never become. Let's remember that Forest Park is maintained by local taxes, the majority of which comes from the hikers/joggers/road cyclists who are the majority park users. Mountain bikers are a small percentage of users, yet clamor for "equal access", regardless of detriment to others. The alliance with IMBA in this issue also implies a desire to make Forest Park known nationally for mountain bikers. And exactly when do those mountain bikers contribute to the Portland Parks' coffers?

    Mike Houck - thank you for your comments and your work. Your approach will ensure natural resources will prevail for generations.

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  • Lisa October 4, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I've been thinking the same thing: 200 people (runners, hikers, bikers, those who want to make Forest Park a better place) will be scattered within Forest Park working on improving the trails on Stewardship Day. What are the rest of the bikers doing? A group ride. To protest...well....whatever it is they are protesting.

    There It Is.

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  • Eric October 4, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Ah, but pdxthinker #50 we did just waht you suggested in paragraph 2 back in 2008. As I stated earlier I spent my entire "day of stewardship" utilizing my 10+ years experience of building, maintaining, repairing, and restoring hiking/biking/multi-use trails repairing a horribly laid out and constructed hiking only trail. I was there with plenty of other mountain bikers to show our support and to show that we do, indeed, "lend a hand". So your arguement there is moot.

    "Let's remember that Forest Park is maintained by local taxes ...." Yes, let's do remember that. And as a tax-paying, home-owning citizen of Portland, my taxes go to pay to maintain Forest Park. Arguement = moot.

    NWTA's alliance with IMBA goes beyond just this issue. This alliance is a strategic alliance that is used to tap into IMBA's network of contacts, their experiences across the US and the world and other places where trail sharing is in effect. The alliance also taps into IMBA's extensive work building, maintain, repairing, and restoring trails of all shapes and sizes. And you ask "[a]nd exactly when do those mountain bikers contribute to the Portland Parks' coffers?" Answer: When they happen to be tax paying Portland citzens or when they happen to be visting Portland and spending their money at local business that then pay taxes and hire local citizens to work, who then pay taxes. Arguement = moot.

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  • BicycleDave October 4, 2010 at 11:45 am

    This reminds me of the situation in Hawaii when a new user group (windsurfers) began using a natural resource (the surf zone).

    There were many conflicts between existing users (surfers and divers) and the new users. Divers and surfers didn't feel safe with the sharp blade fins of windsurfers whizzing by (and with their riders probably yelling woohoo and weehee).

    A simple compromise was quickly (far, far less than 20+ years) worked out. Windsurfers would wait until after 11 AM to go out in the surf. At the most popular surfing beaches the best surf was reserved exclusively for surfers all hours. It was a win for all sides. Windsurfers were happy to wait because typically the best wind is after 11 AM. Surfers and Divers were happy because the best diving and surfing was before 11 AM anyway.

    Seems like a similar compromise could be found here. Open some trails on certain days/hours for mtn bikers. Leave many trails for the exclusive use of hikers. If this increases the numbers of users too much and the impact on the ecology of the park is impacted unacceptably then limit the number of all users equitably.

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  • pdxthinker October 4, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Eric - with all due respect you don't seem to understand the basics of democracy. Yes we all pay taxes, but the allotment of funds to fulfill what the majority wants, especially when it is something like Parks, takes precedence over minority wishes.

    Surveys taken several times during this decade have shown the majority of Forest Park users are hikers, joggers, bird watchers and those seeking peace in nature. Cyclists are far down the list (recently less than 8%) and mountain bikers a small percentage of that.
    Again, we are greatly fortunate to have Lief Ericson and the many firelanes to ride. Why does a small minority of mountain bikers think they have a "right" to "equal access" (ie single track) when that very access would ruin the access of the majority of the users? Enjoy the beauty of the park on Lief Ericson with your bike and then try hiking if you like nature on a trail. Otherwise, find you single track experiences elsewhere, just like skiers, kayakers and mountain climbers do. Portland does not need to provide for every sport there is.

    Stewardship by the way is a continual process. Again, if mountain bikers truly cared about Forest Park, they would continue to work in the park. The truth however is clear, you only care for it in terms of what it can do for you.

    What was JFK's famous quote? "Its not what your country can do for you, but what you can........

    Again, the mountain biking crowd does not appear to be anything but petulantly self absorbed.

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  • Mike Houck October 4, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    As an aside, undid a 9 mile run up Leif Erickson yesterday in a wonderful drizzly Sunday morning. Number of runners, walkers, jobbers (and in my case at least 1 bird song afficianado) around 400+, including one group of 40 U of P cross country runners.

    Number if cyclists, 3.

    Houck

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  • Brian October 4, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Mike,
    "Number of cyclists, 3." That's because almost 1800 of us were racing at Alpenrose yesterday. Also, I was going to take you up on your beer offer, and then I read statement #44.
    Pdxthinker,
    Taxes are used all the time for minority groups. None of us believes we have a "right" to Forest Park. If we did, we would all be riding whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We are willing, however, to show that we can bring about a lot of good for the privilege of riding real trails in the park. As for your claim that we don't care enough about the park due to one change in plans (ride instead of the DOS), you are flat out wrong. In the past I helped organize a "Ride to Work in Forest Park" party that brought 50+ riders to multiple sites throughout the park. I, myself, spent the day in Linnton pulling ivy. I had a great time, and did it again the following year. I have attended many work parties over the years, so to insist that I don't care about the park because of this one event is narrow minded. After this ride (people will be working in the park immediately after the ride as well, btw), many of us will be working in the park again. Will you be there?
    Best,
    Brian

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  • Brian October 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Mike,
    I was referring to comment #42.
    Best,
    Brian

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  • Eric October 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    With all due respect pdxthinker, I do understand democracy in action. I have a Masters of Science in Public Policy, with an emphasis on Environmental Policy. I also understand how the political process works, how surveys can be constructed and carried out in various ways to get the data that the end user would like to get. What was Disraeli's famous quote? I think it was "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

    And I think Brian #56 took most of the rest of my words right out of my mouth. So I won't rehash any of his astute coments.

    As for being "petulantly self absorbed" I'll refer you to pretty much any of Lisa's comments on this topic in this post or the others. Those with the most access can't see the forest for the ivy in their face. Who knows, I may wind up getting to another work party in Forest Park again soon and I'll be glad to offer up my labor to fix some of the poorly designed, built and maintained hiking only trails. If for no other reason then for the knowledge transfer that goes along with it.

    I'm sure I'll see you out there next Saturday.

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  • BicycleDave October 4, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    pdxthinker said "you don't seem to understand the basics of democracy. Yes we all pay taxes, but the allotment of funds to fulfill what the majority wants, especially when it is something like Parks, takes precedence over minority wishes."

    So Mob Rule is how democracy works? That's not my understanding of democracy.

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  • Outside October 4, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Arguing that Forest Park should exclude bikers because the majority of users don't bike is extremely idiotic. By the same logic you would have supported racial segregation of our public schools once established.

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  • pdxthinker October 4, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    B Dave- were you sleeping or out biking during 6th grade?

    Democracy: a form of government where each individual votes, the outcome determined by the majority. Premise: the results will be beneficial for most in the community and intelligent people will come to the best results.

    Mob rule: a form of anarchy where a group exerts its will by force/violence.
    Premise: if I don't get what I want, I'll take it regardless of who/what I hurt. Usually short lived.

    Nick Fish is an elected official, not a king. His job is to look at the data (user numbers, ecological impacts etc) and at what the majority of his constituents want. In this case he did just that and his decision was right. I am sure he knew there would be disappointment but he had to make the call. It would be enlightened of some of you to step back and see the over-arching wisdom.

    Congrats on your work for the park in the past, keep it up unless you plan to never bike there again, Yes, I will be at the Stewardship day. And perhaps you might like to know, whenever I go into the part of the park that is ivy infested, I remove the ivy from one tree. My way of saying thanks. Think if everyone did this---ivy would be yesterday.

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  • jim October 5, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Is there a part of the park that is for "Dogs"?

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  • wsbob October 5, 2010 at 11:29 am

    "... Arguing that Forest Park should exclude bikers because the majority of users don't bike ..." Outside #60

    That Forest Park should exclude bikers is not the subject of discussion. The subject of discussion is whether or not access to Forest Park's single track should be made available for off-road biking.

    Objections raised to off-road bikes on single track in this particular park and others like it consider experiential, ecological, and basic safety considerations.

    "Is there a part of the park that is for "Dogs"? jim #62

    I know there's a joke in there somewhere... . Routinely, the facts are raised that dog owners bring their unleashed pets into the park to leave...calling cards...and also that large numbers of fast moving runners come into the park in groups. People that feel those activities have become excessive, should be working to restrict their taking place in the park.

    On the same point, recreational activities that excessively deteriorate the quality of experience the park has been created to provide visitors to the park with, shouldn't be used to rationalize allowing additional types of activities that would further deteriorate the park's potential to provide a great experience for park visitors.

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  • Patrick October 5, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    @Mike 55:

    I biked Sunday afternoon, Leif Erickson to Saltzman, up Saltzman, down FL5 and back on Leif.

    I saw about 80 people, maybe about 8 bikes.

    I only saw about 10 people once I got past FL3, and about 3 of those were on bikes.

    The biggest conflicts I saw were with runners (probably the same UoP runners finishing) running three abreast down the middle of Thurman, people (runners that finished?) standing in the middle of Thurman by the motor homes, and then there were a couple of wandering off-leash dogs on Leif.

    And, last Thursday evening, the same ride, about 40 people, about 15 on bikes, about 1/2 of those cyclocross. Main conflicts were a couple of off-leash dogs (but not wandering on Leif, so not really an issue).

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  • David Anderson October 5, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    As a former member of the Board of Directors of Audubon Soc of Portland, and the Sierra Club's Redwood Chapter North Group I find the current "disccusion" on allowing increased use of crosscountry mountain bikes on singletrack trails in Forest Park and elsewhere very sad. There was a time in my life where I believed, hook, line & sinker, the rhetoric of the 'anti-bike' crowd. It was very hard for me to get on a mountain bike and ride on dirt because of the stuff, people I respected, said about the dangers of mountain bikes and their riders. I had all but given up hiking because of knee pain, but I still wanted to get out and enjoy the wonders of nature - away from the crowds. I wanted to enjoy the views one gets from ridgetops, and I wanted to enjoy travelling through old growth forest hearing birds, seeing flowers, enjoying nature in it's finest. I had a Doctor tell me to get some cardio exercise. He told me walking 18 holes of golf didn't fill the bill. So, I bought a bike on which I could ride in the city full of it's airpollution and noise, and on trails. The first time I rode on a singletrack trail I thought the Environmental Gods were going to smite me dead with lightening bolts since I was committing one of the deadly sins of environmentalism at it's extreme.
    Guess what!?!? I'm still here! I didn't see the extreme damage done to the trails that people railed on about. I didn't see any dead or maimed animals killed by mountain bikers, like I do on the streets and highways around town. I slowly realized that what I had been fed was a bunch of bunk. Pure and simple.

    Mike #42.
    When you made that comment you were looking in the mirror right?
    pdxthinker #54.
    I've done exactly one organized ivy pull party. I now spend my volunteer time and energy keeping up trails in a natural area where the land managers appreciate my time and welcome me to ride the singletrack trails with other user groups. I'm probably not going to participate another ivy pull work party
    since the conditions under which I'm allowed to ride in Forest Park are not what I like riding under. I don't burn fossil fuels to drive across town - I'll ride a hybrid on the Springwater instead thankyou. When I want to ride on sweet singletrack I'll drive out of town, fill up the gas tank outside of town, and spend my money and gas taxes elsewhere. So, when the surveys are done they won't reflect the fact that I would stay in town more often and spend more of my money in town IF I had the ability to ride miles of singletrack somewhere close by.
    I can, and have accepted, the fact that I can't, and am not able to, ride in some areas. However, I find it extremely ironice that wildflower enthusiasts insist on the right to travel, and trample, off trail in the Columbia River Gorge, that they don't see any harm that their feet do to the fragile soils in the gorge; that they don't see the fact that they are creating unauthorized trails by their desire to travel off trail to enjoy blooming wildflowers. Those same people complain mightily when they see mountain bikers using those same unauthorized trails that they started because they wanted to see a wildflower blooming.
    So, Mike Houck, if you'd like to talk about issues, why don't you bring your bike up to my favorite trail working area and we'll do some trail work that benefit multiple user groups; we can do some work and afterwards sit down and have a burger and beer.
    David Anderson

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  • wsbob October 5, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    "... I had all but given up hiking because of knee pain ... I had a Doctor tell me to get some cardio exercise. He told me walking 18 holes of golf didn't fill the bill. So, I bought a bike ..." David Anderson #65

    A doctor's advice to use a bike for transportation rather than walking might make for sufficient reason to be granted a variance from the park policy that doesn't allow off-road bikes on most of the park's single track.

    A person with such a need shouldn't require access to the park's single track to experience the park, given that there's a lot of miles of double width dirt road in the park that people on bikes could choose to ride slowly, as if they were hiking.

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  • Mike Houck October 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    David,
    Good to hear you're still out there doing your thing.

    Houck

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  • kgb October 5, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Today I went up Saltzman Road on my commute home. 2 people walking and 8 bikes.

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  • pdxthinker October 5, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Outsider

    Correction: Forest Park does not exclude bikes--we have 30 miles in a fantastic forest. If the majority of users are pedestrian and do not want a change in the current status of the trails that's democratic.

    Please do not tell me you equate mountain biking not being allowed on the Wildwood to African Americans not being allowed in European American schools several decades ago.

    The Dallas death of a pedestrian on an 8 ft wide multi-use path is an example of why the pedestrians do not want mountain bikers on their less than one foot wide and no line of sight trails.

    I bike and jog/hike so I see it from both sides. I don't want cyclists on the trails and I am not alone in the bike community in this opinion.

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  • Patrick October 6, 2010 at 10:16 am

    @pdxthinker 68:

    That's why one of the options is a bikes only trail built by those that would use it!

    Such a trail would also reduce the conflicts (primarily on Leif Erickson near Thurman) that you and others keep bringing up.

    But, that option has been rejected.

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  • Brian October 6, 2010 at 10:30 am

    pdxthinker,
    1. We do not live in a democracy.
    2. Show me the data that the majority of pedestrians do not want any change in the current status of trails.

    Brian

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  • pdxthinker October 6, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Patrick - my understanding is that cutting a new trail would be detrimental to the park and wildlife as the park is already criscrossed with trails. I do not think the illegal trail created helped the argument. Also, the park is going to have to deal with the propsed cutting of 300 trees so the gas line people can view the line via aircraft to comply with post 9/11 security measres (don't get me started) Furthermore, a mountain bike trail does not solve any commuter bike problems on Thurman. Most bikes in the park are road bikes.

    Brian - we don't have a pure democracy,as special interests and money can tip the balance, but it is the closest thing to it and I am greatly appreciative I get to have a say this November. In this FP case, the majority did speak out. Re data from pedestrians in FP--the city received letters from hiking groups representing large numbers - as one data point.

    Reading the blogs about the Dallas jogger death on a wide multi use path makes the city's decision against sharing the trails evermore reasonable and prescient.

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  • Zimmerman October 6, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    #71

    The speeds reached on a single track trail are much slower than can be achieved on a wide multi-use path or road such as Leif Erickson.

    Not that it will change your mind or any of the minds of the selfish set intent on keeping "your" park free of bikes on trails. Enjoy picking that ivy and cleaning up the dog feces. I won't be helping as I'm not a 'legitimate' park user.

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  • Charlie B October 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    First of all the speeds on an 8-ft wide MUP is potentially far greater than on a singletrack so the dangers inherent in unexpected collisions is far greater.

    Since on singletrack there is nowhere to make a clean pass, the biker must yield to the pedestrian and there is a mutual understanding about who shall proceed. In this sense, trail sharing actually brings these two user groups into a more intimate setting and (hopefully) promotes better relations. This has been my experience in 22+years of mountain biking.

    We may not be able to build a new trail any time soon, but we could easily share one in the mean time. Improving sight lines on an existing trail is a simple thing and can promote the health of the plants being trimmed. Around literal blind corners (earthen rather than plant impaired) speed controls can be added to the trail prior to entering the "danger zone."

    Using the tragedy in Dallas to further justify the banning of mountain bikes on trails in Forest Park is unconscionable and demonstrates the willingness by those opposed to a little equitable sharing to stoop to the lowest means.

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  • Charlie B October 6, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    My understanding is the effects of cutting a new trail is unknown, so the city and Parks has called for more studies.

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  • boohoo October 7, 2010 at 11:40 am

    @pdxthinker 71
    The Katy "Trail" in Dallas is more equivalent of the esplanade here in terms of foot/bike traffic and usage. I suggest you google it and look at the pictures. Do you suggest banning bikes there? Let's put an end to cycle commuting. Roads are for cars, not a vocal minority like cyclists.

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  • Frank Selker October 7, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Some neighbors and users don't want anyone else using "their" backyard park trails. There is no legitimacy to excluding us from 99% of trails, and it runs counter to the long-term good of the park. But members of the general public do care about facts, information, and equity among citizens, so we will eventually get trails.

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