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.