Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on October 25th, 2010 at 11:26 am
“As Parks Commissioner, I take this challenge seriously—and I am pleased to report that we are making progress on city-wide solutions.”
— Commissioner Nick Fish, a letter to Andy Clarke
City of Portland Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the Parks Bureau, has responded (read in full below) to League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke about the issue of bicycling in Forest Park.
The City of Portland is very proud of its “Platinum” Bicycle Friendly Community rating, and one of the criteria for that designation is urban singletrack cycling opportunities. In response to the Forest Park decision, the Northwest Trail Alliance has made it clear they will use the potential of a Platinum downgrade as leverage in their continued pressure on City Hall to move on the urban trail access issue.
Read Commissioner Fish’s letter to Andy Clarke (which was also CC’d to Mayor Adams, among others) below:
Andy Clarke, President
League of American Bicyclists
1612 K Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006-2850
I write to follow-up on my recent announcement regarding singletrack cycling in Forest Park.
Portland is proud to be considered a “Platinum” bike-friendly city. Thanks to the League’s formal designation and the support of our local advocacy groups, we are working to expand our network of bike infrastructure.
Jonathan Maus reported on BikePortland.org that an important criteria to maintaining our “Platinum” status is expanding off-road biking opportunities. As Parks Commissioner, I take this challenge seriously—and I am pleased to report that we are making progress on city-wide solutions.
Last year, we launched a public process to look at how we can improve singletrack cycling in our biggest natural area, Forest Park. The committee produced several trail options to explore in the future. At the same time, the general consensus of the committee was that we needed to invest in the ecological health of the park.
In response to this widespread concern, the Parks bureau has committed to a number of important management actions that will have an immediate impact on the environmental needs of this critical natural area.
We also committed to improving some of the existing 30 miles of unimproved roads and firelanes currently open to cyclists in the park. Within the next two years we will narrow at least one firelane so that more of the trail meets singletrack criteria, adding switchbacks and enhancing the existing recreational loops. We are also laying the groundwork for successful land use applications to expand singletrack cycling in two years.
In addition to the improvements within Forest Park, we are working to improve singletrack cycling city-wide. For example, in Powell Butte Natural Area we are providing access to the Mt. Hood trail and re-designing segments to improve the cycling experience on over 10 miles of trails open to cyclists. We’re also in the process of creating two new bike skills parks through a partnership with NW Trail Alliance.
With the full support of Mayor Sam Adams and our regional partners, we are taking the lead on Gateway Green, a new 35 acre park that will prioritize off-road cycling.
These are important and long-over due steps. We also recognize that, when it comes to expanding access to active transportation options and recreational opportunities, there is a lot of work left to be done.
Continued collaboration between public agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses and bicycle advocates is vital to advancing Portland’s vision of a “platinum” level bike-friendly, nature-friendly, people-friendly city.
Thanks for your continued support and leadership.
Nick Fish, Parks Commissioner
CC: Sam Adams, Mayor of Portland
Zari Santner, Parks Director
Jonathan Maus, BikePortland.org
Tom Archer, NW Trail Alliance
Rob Sadowsky, Bicycle Transportation Alliance
— Read past coverage of this issue in our archives.