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New signs clarify "No Bicycles Please" on Mt. Tabor trail

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 8th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

A new sign greets visitors to the
Green Trail in Mt. Tabor Park.
(Photo: Harrison Fishback)

About a week ago, new signs appeared on a popular dirt trail in Mt. Tabor Park that read, "No Bicycles Please."

The new signs are on what's known as the 'Green Trail' in the northern section of the park. The trail connects via Salmon Street and goes around the playground and amphitheater.

We heard about the signs from readers and we were also pointed to a thread in the MTBR.com forums about the issue. In a city like Portland, where singletrack is rare, any narrow dirt trails accessible to bikes are coveted. On the MTBR forums there was disappointment at the signs and confusion over whether or not they were legitimate.

Turns out they are.

We asked Portland Parks & Recreation policy coordinator Emily Hicks about them.

Hicks says the signs were recently installed after the City heard complaints from the non-profit group Friends of Mt. Tabor Park about user conflicts. The park's master plan (adopted in 2000), she pointed out, clearly states that trails narrower than six-feet wide are intended to be for "pedestrians only."

Here's a detail from page 33 of the plan (PDF here) that shows the trail designations:

"Over the years" Hicks wrote us via email today, "we have received several complaints about safety, sight lines, and user conflict on this trail."

Hicks says the complaints by the Friends group led to a closer look at the Green trail. The City's Park Maintenance Supervisor walked the trail, confirmed the risks, and installed the signs. (Note: The city ordinance referenced on the sign no longer exists. Parks is aware of that and will remove it to avoid confusion).

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Comments
  • Uncle Muscles June 8, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Fantastic... America's "bike" city becomes even more unfriendly toward mountain bikes. Maybe we should just make all singletrack within 50 miles of the city illegal until it becomes 6 ft. wide. Sextupletrack: It's gonna be awesome! I used to hate on poachers, but I think I've seen the light. Enough is enough.

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  • JR-eh June 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    crap. anyone want to buy a mountain bike? little used.
    What they need to ban in this park is public smoking and auto access. Grrr

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  • Gabriel Amadeus June 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Huzzah! Another step in the @#$%0&*% direction!

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  • Paul June 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Wow, the hits keep coming. Ridiculous.

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  • Brad Ross June 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Damm! I hate it when they ask nicely.

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  • Matt F June 8, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    The "user conflicts" amount to people who walk/hike/jog on the trails don't like it when people ride bikes on the same trail as them at the same time. I try to be overly friendly and cautious with walkers and 9 times out of 10 they look really unhappy with me. Chalk that up as a "conflict".

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    • davemess June 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm

      They look that way when you are also a pedestrian! Kind of the default face of the Portland train "hiker".

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  • Rain Panther June 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I hesitate to say so, but this strikes me as more or less reasonable. It's tough to safely share a 3 foot trail with pedestrians of all ages, fitness levels, etc. Honestly, there are times when I get pretty stressed out walking around up on Tabor with my wife and 4-year-old.

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  • Sean Chaney June 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I take my 2-year old up there several times per week and the only thing that stresses me out are off leash dogs and a small percentage of long boarders who are disrespectful. Would it be reasonable to request to ban dogs and skate boards from the park?

    I'm disgusted that these trails were closed to bikes. Now that they're gone, there's practically no chance of getting them back. With all the potential Portland has...it's pathetic.

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    • Greg June 8, 2011 at 6:09 pm

      Off leash dogs are already illegal outside of dog parks.

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      • davemess June 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm

        Do you know anyone who has gotten a ticket? Off leash dogs are everywhere!

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  • DK June 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Good grief. In other states, user groups actually share the resources. It's only in the West Coast states of WA, OR, and CA that I've seen this level of division between outdoor enthusiasts. ...In other places things like bikers coming across hikers leads to one or the other slowing/stopping to allow for a pass. Hell, they might even offer one another a friendly greeting. All in all, it's a pretty civil undertaking...go figure!

    After walking the trail to confirm limited sight lines, why is it they erect the signs? Instead, why not modify the friggin' trail to accomodate? ...Or build alternates? Answer...They (parks dept) suck!

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    • Michweek June 8, 2011 at 9:38 pm

      They may have chosen not to widen the path due to erosion concerns- then no one would have a path. Further more it is a natural area and we do get lots of rain. I think the flora and fauna were here long before use and deserve just as much if not more respect.

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  • single track June 8, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Friends of Mt Tabor? **portion of comment deleted by moderator** Inattentive pedestrians being "surprised" doesn't constitute reckless riding, just reckless walking.

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    • Marcus Griffith June 8, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      "reckless walking".... O' where, O' where have I heard that term before?

      http://cleanairinitiative.org/portal/sites/default/files/history_automobile_-_walking_Canada.pdf

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      • Michweek June 8, 2011 at 9:49 pm

        I bet those are the same people who are aggressive pedestrians!

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    • Dave Thomson June 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm

      Perfect - if I run you down its because you didn't pay attention and jump out of my way. Amazing how much cyclists talking about walkers sounds like motorists talking about cyclists.

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      • single track June 8, 2011 at 5:51 pm

        I didnt say I'd run you down, just that when I slow down, say "on your left", then proceed to pass I get the riot act about it. WE ALL NEED TO SHARE, and when in kindergarten did is say that we only share when its just for us?????

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        • single track June 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm

          furthermore, i haven't run anyone down, and I ride in the park frequently. I pass with respect, and often dismount around small kids. the point is that we need to share, and not ban low impact user groups from using our PUBLIC spaces. The FOMT have now just alienated a vibrant community of cyclists that promote trail stewardship.

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  • Forseti June 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Yes, because the park is "for" pedestrians and others are allowed, or not, to use the park at the "Friends" whim. Ridiculous.

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  • Andrew Kreps June 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Since when has Tabor had gravel trails? I've never ridden on anything but pavement or dirt up there.

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  • Atbman June 8, 2011 at 4:21 pm
  • Corndog June 8, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    WOW this sucks. I figured the day would come though. Portland is so not a bike friendly city. I have lived in Mt tabor for 5 years and am at the park nearly everyday. I have never once seen any problems with Mt Bikes on the trails. Not Once. Can they point to any specific incidents that happened to warrant this? I am like the person above, always making extra space and slowing down to a crawl just to not make the walkers mad, though they often seem to be anyway. So bummed about this. Time to fight!

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    • Gil Ormerod June 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

      I used to live in Laurelhurst and trained on the Mt. Tabor trails every 'cross season. Frankly, we were asking for this. I've been amazed at the stupidity of cyclists who think that "training" involves flying downhill on these trails. I'm not surprised at all that there have been complaints. Too many cyclists have been too reckless there. It's not a freaking gravity park, you idiots!

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  • wsbob June 8, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    It appears that the Mt Tabor advocacy group, Friends of Mt Tabor, Portland Parks and Recreation, as well as some citizens, all have made efforts to be certain whether or not bikes are an allowed use for this trail.

    Since the park's master plan specifies clearly that bikes aren't an allowed use on the trail, the park's bureau put up signs on the trail to better inform trail users of this fact.

    It's probably fair to say that, the Portland Parks and Recreation Master Plan trail use specifications are, for the most part, supported by residents of Portland.

    So why does bikeportland's staff allow certain people commenting to this story, to refer to the aforementioned people and groups in a rude, contemptuous manner, even stepping so low as to use derogatory names? At least one person commenting has already used the word "... Fascists..." to describe one of the groups.

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    • single track June 8, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      its not derogatory to state a fact. Fascism is a an ideology. Furthermore, a small vocal group propagating NIMBYism is exactly that, the beginnings of a fascist group

      "The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. ”

      — Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Message from the President of the United States

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      • David Parsons June 8, 2011 at 6:56 pm

        Well, why don't you propose to the city council that they change the master plan so it allows bikes on those trails? Overheated rhetoric about fascism, as emotionally satisfying as it might be to you, is not likely to convince anyone of the rightness of your cause.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm

      wsbob,

      please understand there is no such thing as "bikeportland staff." I have a few columnists and someone who (used to) help me with advertising sales and other operational things. The content, the comment moderation, and all editorial decisions are the work of one person. me.

      thanks for sharing that you do not appreciate the tone of some of the comments on this story. i will take a look at them and decide how/if to moderate.

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      • wsbob June 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm

        maus...thanks for checking on the tone of the comments. Sorry if I was mistaken in assuming "Team Bikeportland", the phrase used in the right sidebar to note people that are helping bikeportland function, indicated a staff of sorts that might have occasionally shared the chore of monitoring comment content.

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  • dwainedibbly June 8, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    So, how do we get some of these trails widened?

    I don't ride off-road unless I'm being squeezed over, but I have sympathy for those who do. This would drive me nuts.

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  • Paul Manson June 8, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Why can't there be an alternating day rule for the narrower trails? Odd numbered days of the month it is hiker only, even number its MTB?

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    • single track June 9, 2011 at 8:10 am

      Exactly- "SHARING"

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    • Mabsf June 9, 2011 at 9:10 am

      I think that's a great idea, paul!

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  • Jennifer June 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    The way this is handled, it makes it appear that there has been a lot of conflict and bikes are a huge problem-- which I seriously doubt. I have walked this trail literally hundreds of times and rarely seen a bicyclist (and never someone rude or out of control). I think it's a real shame our supposedly "bike-friendly" city does not-- seemingly willfully refuses to-- create and promote a healthy culture around multiple modes of recreation (and transportation), including shared-use trails. Someone said that this master plan must reflect the desire of residents, but I've lived in this neighborhood since 1997, and I really had no idea what was in the master plan (I certainly don't support this aspect of it). In other cities, shared-use trails are common and signage helps clarify who-yields-to-whom and promote positive experiences. Although these signs horrify me, the "bikes on pedestrian trails only" signs, also recently posted, are even worse. If people off-trail are a problem, then post generic signs asking folks to stay on the trail. Instead, this kind of signage promotes the impression that bikes are a huge problem, which then causes people to look for problems and creates an us-vs-them environment that is totally counter-productive to a healthy shared use park. (I've definitely never seen a bike off-path; all the other users-- dogs, hikers, campers, smokers, skateboarders taking the short way up-- that's another story).

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  • mmann June 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I suspect this is another example of a solution searching for a problem. I'm a local; I run on Tabor at least once a week and the Green trail is part of my loop. In my own experience I've shared the trail with lots of cyclist and never once been brushed, threatened, had to step off the trail, etc. This is after several years of regular use.

    I also use the green trail in late summer/fall as part of my own cyclocross practice loop and I'm alway aware and cautious of walkers and slow down and let them know I'm there. The other cyclists I see up there do the same. My experience has been peaceful coexistence for years now. The only problems I've ever had on the trails is being bitten by a leashed dog while running, and clotheslined several times by dog leashes.

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  • wsbob June 8, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Posting of the 'No Bicycles Please' sign did not come about because of some "... small vocal group propagating NIMBYism...".

    The sign came about after a sequence of events, part of which was apparent recognition by numerous people, at least one advocacy group, and a city bureau that riding bikes on certain of Mt Tabor Park's trails was not supported by the park bureau's master plan.

    Just some basic reasoning here: a document such as the Park's bureau master plan is by proxy, a representation of the will of a great number of residents of Portland regarding the planning and management of the city's park resources; Not all of the city's residents, but it's probably a safe guess to say, quite possibly at least as many people as voted for the mayor, which would be more than a majority of people that voted.

    In other words, it's not just a small group of people objecting to off-road bike riding on single track in Mt Tabor's, or for that matter, most of all of the rest of Portland's parks; It's apparently a great number of Portland residents that hold this objection.

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    • single track June 9, 2011 at 8:19 am

      wsbob- the vocal minority pushed to enforce a literal interpretation of parks master plan. I've been harassed by walkers for going 5 mph on the paved roads and I've been verbally b**** -slapped for riding on said trail in a safe manner around FOMT walkers. I know that the FOMT group DOES have a leg to stand on in a literal sense, but it still is a case of NIMBYism that is now creating the an unfair sharing and utilization of our public spaces. There is no reason to exclude cyclists or hikers. WE CAN SHARE, and its what we have been doing for years, and now the FOMT has forced the Parks bureau to play along to a poorly devised master plan that excludes "low impact user groups".

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      • wsbob June 9, 2011 at 11:05 am

        "... the vocal minority pushed to enforce a literal interpretation of parks master plan. ..." single track

        The vocal minority pushed to enforce a literal interpretation of parks master plan...that's more than likely supported by more than a majority of Portland residents.

        How is that in the restriction of off-road bikes from 6' and narrower trail in Portland Parks, you're seeing the "...creating the an unfair sharing and utilization of our public spaces...."?

        The decision to restrict off-road biking in Portland parks from certain types of trail, was made by way a fair process. Members of the public were permitted to voice their opinion and work together to create the specs.

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  • Jj June 9, 2011 at 3:46 am

    I am a courteous driver. I always stay well away from bikes and slow when they are around. Therefore, I oppose bike lanes because, after all, I am a courteous driver, therefore everyone is a courteous driver.

    Sound familiar?

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  • beelnite June 9, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I ride the paved roads through Tabor on my commute and for training. I think this is a good thing. Mountain Bike enthusiasts need their own trails with signs: "CAUTION! MTB Trail!"

    Riding Tabor is like thinking your skiing on one of those mechanical slopes with fake snow in front of REI.

    What a bunch of whiners. It's a park. I don't like cars racing through the park on the roads anymore than I enjoy MTB's on the walking trail.

    Lemme ask this MTBs how would you feel about sharing the trail with motorized dirt bikes?

    Yeah. S'what I thought. Let's pour our energy and angst into getting some REAL trails for th off road ride!!!

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    • single track June 9, 2011 at 8:24 am

      I am a roadie, and a mt biker. We do need trails in PDX, and we get farther away from this goal when small bits of trail are taken away from riding.
      Directional trails to slow speed, alternating preferred use days, and an understanding that WE CAN SHARE is all that is needed to allow all to participate in a clean, quiet, and respectful manner.
      In response to your Moto Bike reference, the use of non motorized bikes IN NO WAY compares to that of a motorcycle. Its inflammatory and has nothing to do with this argument.

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    • Nathan June 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      We should look at reactions on this forum as people going through some stages of grief. There are desperately few singletrack opportunities inside of Portland and as this loss is news to many people. Learning of already having lost the trails (10 years ago) from a passive sign seems more hurtful than having a timeline laid out where after a date, bikes won't be allowed.

      Instead of name calling, I'll just say, "I'm sorry that these trails aren't available for the use that you may have been enjoying."

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    • ovrdbrs June 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      Two of the most oft visited mountain biking destinations in the greater Portland area, Browns Camp (Tillamook State Forest) and Post Canyon (Hood River), ARE shared directly with motorized dirt bikes. We are thankful for the every inch of these trails and as a community have countless hours invested in stewardship. We would like to show Portland how good we are at sharing.

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  • Jill VW June 9, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I'll agree with several other comments here: I run at Tabor at least twice a week, on the green trail, along with several others, and have never had a problem with bikes. I just noticed the signs recently, having replaced the confounding "bikes on footpaths only".

    As there has been tacit approval of bikes for years on this trail, and overt approval with the "bikes on footpaths" signs, shouldn't there have a been a public process for excluding a user from this trail?
    I understand that they have a (woefully outdated) policy for trail widths for shared trails, but this was effectively managed as a shared trail.
    Also, there are few places where the trail is narrower than 6 feet, particularly if one measures the original constructed trail bed (not just the active tread).
    It's far from an ideal place to mountain bike, with wide gravelly trails and road crossings every 1/4 mile, but it's one of the few places we have!!

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    • wsbob June 9, 2011 at 10:36 am

      "... As there has been tacit approval of bikes for years on this trail ..." Jill VW

      You're not clearly specifying the 'who' in your statement. That various people you've coincidentally encountered on the Mt Tabor trail while riding your bike there, did not in some way voice objection to your use of a bike on the trail does not necessarily mean they do not take exception to your use of a bike on that trail.

      More likely, is that some of the people on foot that you encountered on the trail as you rode your bike there, tolerated, politely, the use of your bike on the trail rather than speaking to right then and there. That's not 'tacit approval'. Many people are uneasy speaking up to strangers. They're not necessarily going to put such general anxiety aside to stop you, to take time out your day and theirs, to tell you something about use of the trail in the park that you probably should already have known before even bringing the bike on the trail.

      "... I understand that they have a (woefully outdated) policy for trail widths for shared trails ..." Jill VW

      The Parks bureau specs for trail use based on width of trail isn't outdated; it's current. Indications are strong, that in Portland regarding the use of trail in its parks, that policy is widely supported.

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      • Jill VW June 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm

        Tacit approval comes from the Portland Parks and Rec: never signing it as closed to bikes, though it has been regularly used by bikes for years, and this activity is well known by Parks staff. The signs placed a few months ago reinforced this approval - "bikes on footpaths only" signs along this very trail, telling me that use of these designated trails (not off trail or on unmarked trails) IS explicitly authorized.

        My experiences are from running the trails and encountering bicyclists. While I wish others the opportunity to do so, I rarely ride off-road at Tabor.

        Finally, I would say that the trail specifications and maintenance for PPR are outdated in that they haven't been updated sufficiently to reflect current best management practices (e.g. spreading pea gravel and bark chips on trails is not recommended in most settings). Many urban trail systems, and most National Forests, BLM properties, and State Parks, allow some portion of their singletrack trails (<5' width) to be shared by cyclists and pedestrians.

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        • wsbob June 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm

          "... "bikes on footpaths only" signs along this very trail, telling me that use of these designated trails (not off trail or on unmarked trails) IS explicitly authorized. ..." Jill VW

          You're the first person to mention, at least in comments to this story...any such signs. Are you saying such signs were posted on the 'Green Trail' maus writes about in this story? If such signs were posted on the trail it's likely not due to the parks bureau having decided to give tacit approval for off-road bikes to be used on this trail. Instead, someone with the parks bureau may have been confused about the policy.

          Contact someone with the parks bureau. Try to get the scoop on the signs you're claiming to have seen, straight from someone from the bureau that knows. Report to maus what you learn. He might do a story on the info.

          About the items you mention upon which you base your general conclusion that the park's master plan is out of date: Couldn't say about Portland Parks Bureau's use of bark and pea gravel on trail in some situations. I can say though, that THPRD in Washington County uses it on at least one example of trail that comes to mind.

          In stories Maus has written and posted about off-road biking controversies within the city limits, in comments to those stories, someone usually raises the point that examples you offer: other cities urban trail systems, certain National Forests, BLM properties, and State Parks...allow off-road bike use on singletrack.

          That raises questions such as, 'If those places allow off-road bike use on single track, do Portland residents have to allow off-road bike use on their park's single track?'.

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  • Rain Panther June 9, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I see a lot of assertions here that amount to "but hey I'm a nice considerate mountain biker who goes slow and says 'excuse me.'" I get the point that you're not a-holes. Problem is, you guys are the best case scenario and rules aren't made to accomodate best case scenarios- they have to account for the a-holes who ride too fast and who don't announce their presence. I guess I feel okay about protecting the more vulnerable users in situations where there may not always be enough room for both groups. Of course, I also can't see any good reason why an every-other-day sharing approach shouldn't be a consideration.

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    • single track June 9, 2011 at 10:10 am

      word

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  • Scott Steele June 9, 2011 at 10:34 am

    single track
    furthermore, i haven't run anyone down, and I ride in the park frequently. I pass with respect, and often dismount around small kids. the point is that we need to share, and not ban low impact user groups from using our PUBLIC spaces. The FOMT have now just alienated a vibrant community of cyclists that promote trail stewardship.

    If that's true, I wish everyone was like you. We both know that's not true.

    There are plenty of places where it's OK to ride - what if there was just one place where old folks and little kids could walk in a park, where they were reasonably assured that they wouldn't get knocked on their ass by some jerk going way too fast?

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    • davemess June 9, 2011 at 5:26 pm

      I don't think you seem to be grasping the fact that in Portland, there are almost no trails to ride! The grandparents and kids you speak of have sole access to EVERYTHING!

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  • kgb June 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    I don't ride trails that are closed to bikes but that may soon change. I pay a lot of taxes in this city and I don't feel this is fair so I'm going to just join all the dog owners in Forest Park and make my own rules. There doesn't seem to be any consequences for them so why should I expect any.

    Don't wsbob, I'll be doing this in Portland where I live an pay taxes, not in you suburb.

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  • Greg June 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Walkers want to ban bikes.
    Bikers want to ban cars.

    And so it goes.

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  • Paul Johnson June 9, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Looks like OpenStreetMap is a bit incomplete on access issues in the park...is there city-published map with this data?

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  • Bryan June 9, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    This truly saddens me. It makes me not want to live in Portland, which i love.

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  • Charley June 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    This city is full of selfish people who do not want to share. They don't want to share streets, and they don't want to share trails. Riders get squeezed on both sides.

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    • Paul Johnson June 9, 2011 at 11:19 pm

      +1

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    • davemess June 10, 2011 at 11:18 am

      Probably the same people, driving their cars to the park to walk around!

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  • Corndog June 9, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    No mountain biking alowed yet it is totally fine to bomb downhil on a skateboard at close to 30 mph and then hang onto a car as it tows you back up the hill. And no problem to let your dog run off leash or tethered to a 20 foot leash that stretches completely across the road so ridding downhill you have to come to a compete stop.

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  • mikeynets June 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Besides feathers being ruffled has there been a single documented instance of a biker injuring anyone in Mt. Tabor as a direct result of reckless biking?

    I run, walk and bike in Mt. Tabor. I've gotten the stink-eye from walkers while on my bike yet like the posters above, I go out of my way to slow down, sometimes stopping completely, to ensure walkers not only feel safe but are truly in no danger due to my biking. The FOMB and FOFP definitely do not represent the majority of Portland, though.

    Post Canyon, Syncline, Brown's Camp, Lewis River, McKenzie River, Mt. St. Helens trails — I could go on and on — all are shared safely by hikers and bikers with bikers going much faster than in Mt. Tabor. How does it work? Is it magic? Or is it simply people acknowledging that these are multi-use trails. The Portland Parks method of conflict resolution whereby multi-use is severely skewed to one group is not a reasonable solution.

    Yes, Mt. Tabor is a city park, but it doesn't matter. South Mountain Park is Phoenix's "Forest Park." Massive, beautiful and used by all sorts of people—including downhill MTBers — which is a far cry from the people doing cross-country style laps in Mt. Tabor. Maybe Phoenix should get all the ink Portland does about being "the ultimate bike city" and "progressive."

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    • wsbob June 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm

      "Besides feathers being ruffled has there been a single documented instance of a biker injuring anyone in Mt. Tabor as a direct result of reckless biking? ..." mikeynets

      Are you suggesting that bikes injuring people on the trail should be the factor that decides whether off-road bike use on Portland park's single track should be allowed?

      Relating to many of the city's streets, people generally accept that nearly any mode of travel or type vehicle should be able to use those streets, unless a particular type of vehicle use, or manner of using it causes injuries to other road users.

      People accept this broad use of city streets, because it's generally recognized that traveling public roads is essential for getting to work, to the store, hospital, and so on. A similar condition that would direct the use of Portland's park's single track to allow off-road bikes on this single track, doesn't exist. That may explain why there hasn't been any great call from Portland's general public to allow off-road bikes on single track in Portland's city parks.

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      • mikeynets June 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm

        To a certain extent, yes I'm suggesting injury — or safety in general — is certainly pertinent to the discussion. Safety has been cited repeatedly as a concern — fair enough — but show me the proof that bicycling on these trails has led to increased injuries.

        I'm trying to get my head around your logic regarding shared usage, though. I see it as flawed in two respects.

        1. Are you making the case that road usage is strictly ultilitarian? Therefore, no one is biking for leisure? No on is driving somewhere to have fun or just driving for fun? I thought, as long as the users are being safe and following the laws, it's none of your business what their purpose is on the road.

        2. Even if utility was the measuring stick for streets, park usage is primarily for leisure and so the "similar condition" doesn't really apply. Explain to me why the dirt paths should be exclusive to walkers/runners. Safety? See my first point. If there's no history of injury, what gives?

        Single-track by its very nature implies off-road usage. Why can road bikes share paved paths with pedestrians all over town without a hiccup?

        And to your specious point about the lack of a general call to allow off-road bikes on PPR single-track, there similarly has not been a general call to disallow it either. There has been a spirited debate between core user groups.

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        • wsbob June 10, 2011 at 8:48 pm

          "... 1. Are you making the case that road usage is strictly ultilitarian? ..." mikeynets

          Roads are fundamentally utilitarian infrastructure necessary to meet community travel needs.

          Single track footpaths in city nature type parks are fundamentally recreational infrastructure.

          "...about the lack of a general call to allow off-road bikes on PPR single-track, there similarly has not been a general call to disallow it either. ..." mikeynets

          Using the word you've chosen, mountain bikes on single track was disallowed from Forest Park back around the late 70's, early 80's. I'm mostly guessing that the rest of Portland's city parks gradually came to go with the same restriction of off-road bikes from single track that was adopted for Forest Park's single track.

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          • mikeynets June 10, 2011 at 11:55 pm

            I understand the primary purpose of the road infrastructure, but that doesn't make secondary usages just disappear. Bikes on streets w/o bike lanes is a perfect example.

            A decision by the park to disallow biking or any other activity should not be conflated with a great call by the general public, to use your words. We're not talking about a direct democracy here.

            Up until the new signage in Mt. Tabor banned bikes, I didn't think those paths were specifically footpaths. Knowing the restrictions that exist all over Portland, I assumed if they weren't signed otherwise, then bikes were allowed. That may have been presumptuous, but I think reasonable. I don't have the time to check through the master plan of PPR as a whole or on an individual park basis everytime I want to ride my bike or go for a walk.

            Still, I don't see the logic behind banning bikes. As a clear advocate of this policy, maybe you can explain it to me.

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          • wsbob June 11, 2011 at 12:56 am

            "... Up until the new signage in Mt. Tabor banned bikes, I didn't think those paths were specifically footpaths. Knowing the restrictions that exist all over Portland, I assumed if they weren't signed otherwise, then bikes were allowed. ..." mikeynets

            Signage for park regulations probably varies from park to park. There may not be signs at each and every type trail in a given park, advising people about what use they are or aren't allowed. So people for some reason, not seeing signs, and not having otherwise been made familiar with policy relating to a particular use they may have in mind for a certain type of trail, might be fine in assuming the use they have in mind is allowed.

            I don't know what to tell you that would help resolve your questions about the public's position on the Portland Park Bureau's policy specs for off-road bikes in city parks. Actually, I believe the park's bureau master plan policy is probably at least direct democracy in some respects. That's because those kind of processes often tend to include citizen members of the community on boards, committees, and so on, rather than relying exclusively on elected representatives. It's still representative democracy, but a more grass roots inclusive form of democracy than a lot of political decisions are.

            Your "...banning bikes." remark suggest to me that you're either not very serious about understanding the logic underlying the restriction of off-road bikes from single track in Portland city parks, or you're not yet prepared to understand it.

            If, or when you are serious in understanding it, start asking questions of people on the trail that are on foot. Be pleasant, congenial, upbeat. See if you can get them to share their thoughts and feelings about possibly allowing off-road biking on the city's park single track.

            You could even take your bike along with you...as a conversation starter (walk it, don't ride it...maybe sit astride it to the side of the trail, but don't be moving.). Watch their reaction when they see you and the bike, especially if they have kids, or if they're older, or have some kind of physical disability that makes walking difficult.

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        • David Parsons June 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm

          mikeynets
          Single-track by its very nature implies off-road usage. Why can road bikes share paved paths with pedestrians all over town without a hiccup?

          Because they're 6+ feet wide, and provide plenty of room to maneuver around people demonstrating brownian motion to their friends?

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    • Paul Johnson June 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      While I agree that flyover country (in this sense, somewhat broadly applied) is severely underrated by folks on the coasts, but I think Arizona has a long way to go in general in making it a place where you can operate if only because a new driver's license issued today in Arizona won't expire until 2091. You can imagine how frequently folks crack open a driver's manual or brush up their skills as a result.

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  • mikeynets June 10, 2011 at 11:32 am

    And in response to the previous comment about comparing Portland's usage policy to other cities — how can that not be relevant? Is Portland above the fray of what happens elsewhere? If anything, based on Portland's rep for bicycle-friendliness, we should be the gold standard by which other cities are measured. I think it's constantly brought up b/c of how out of sync the actual situation is with the national perception of Portland. Maybe we need to add the qualifiers "road" and "commuter" to "bicycle-friendly" when talking about Portland.

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  • Jim Kysela June 10, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    How about an update on the planning/development of the Gateway Green project soon then? If we're not allowed to 'share' other park resources that we pay tax $ towards like everyone else, maybe we can concentrate on getting that venue up and going for both cyclocross and mtb.

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  • mikeynets June 11, 2011 at 8:52 am

    "Your "...banning bikes." remark suggest to me that you're either not very serious about understanding the logic underlying the restriction of off-road bikes from single track in Portland city parks, or you're not yet prepared to understand it.

    If, or when you are serious in understanding it, start asking questions of people on the trail that are on foot. Be pleasant, congenial, upbeat. See if you can get them to share their thoughts and feelings about possibly allowing off-road biking on the city's park single track."

    I'm trying to have that type of dialogue right here, with you! Granted, this is impersonal, but all the same I've tried to get your take on this. Sharing the trails, alternate usage days, etc. has worked in other places, why is it portrayed as off the table in Portland? Again, if it's not a safety concern, then what is it? And if it is safety, is it founded?

    There are basketball courts and tennis courts in Mt. Tabor that I've seen being used for things other than those sports! There's two horseshoe pits that I've never once seen used. If horsehoes has more sway in Portland Parks than bikes, you have to think that the master plan might need some looking at. You mentioned Forest Parks restrictions being crafted in the 60's or 70's. A lot has changed since then.

    I have a kid, I'll be in Mt. Tabor today, walking. I won't feel threatened by bikers in general. If I come across a biker who is acting reckless, I'll say something. Is that so hard? Unlike a previous poster, legislating from the point of worst case scenarios in this type of setting is absolutely wrong. If that were the case, no one would be allowed to be in Mt. Tabor at all b/c some people drink alcohol, smoke pot, fight, steal, etc. in the park.

    I seriously want to understand. What is the problem with bikes on dirt paths? And how is it different from bikes on pavement?

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    • wsbob June 11, 2011 at 10:12 am

      mikenets...I can't really answer your question in, so to speak, 'so many words'. In past here at bikeportland, I've addressed at length, questions such as those that you've raised here, that have been brought up by other people commenting to bikeportland stories about the issue of off-road biking in city parks. All of that is probably still in bikeportland's archives.

      At any rate, my reasoning on off-road biking in Portland's parks, is just my own take on the situation. Talking with other people that actually visit Mt Tabor, might be worth a lot. Going to the neighborhood association and talking with people there could answer some questions too.

      In the metro area, it's not only Portland that hasn't made single track available to off-road biking. I haven't heard of any singletrack/mountain bike available in westside cities city parks either; Beaverton, Tigard, Hillsboro, Tualitan, Wilsonville, and more.THPRD (tualitan hills park and rec district) is getting to have quite an inventory of parks, both the groomed city type parks and natural area parks. I'm fairly certain though, that THPRD does not allow off-road biking on any of its single track trail.

      Same for Metro, which, a year or so ago, acquired a new 1143 acre parcel, Chehalem Ridge Natural Area (east of Gaston.). That's most likely not a city park, but I've not heard that off-road biking on that park's single track trail will be among the activities available there.

      I'm thinking it's a good guess that the overwhelming majority of people residing within westside cities mentioned, are happy with the situation regarding off-road bike accessibility to park trails, as it currently stands. If they weren't happy with the situation, they'd be placing great pressure on area leaders to open those trails up to off-road biking. There hasn't been any kind of pressure like that to allow off-road bikes on single track in the parks.

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      • mikeynets June 11, 2011 at 11:04 am

        You're probably right. And I think that's what the MTB community is working on. The little access that we have had has been sub-par (by our standards) and that little access has largely been rescinded. The bike lobby — specifically MTB — needs to become more prominent. That is largely an internal task. However, this is not a small, fringe segment of the population. At some point, it will have to be taken more seriously. And, extending access to another user group to an already in place resource is far less expensive than, for example, building and maintaining a tennis or basketball court.

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        • wsbob June 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm

          I think that over the last 20-30 years, even longer maybe...since shortly after development of the mountain bike, in the Portland area, opportunities to possibly set aside land for off-road biking may have been passed up.

          The Tualitan Mountains northwest of Cornell Rd is one example. This is the ridge upon which Skyline Rd runs. Forest Park is on the north side. I often think how unfortunate it is that the kind of visionary people that thought to work to set aside the north side of the Tualitan Mtns for Forest Park apparently weren't available to work to set aside the south side of those mountains for public use as a nature park that could have included single track for use with off-road bikes.

          If off-road bike enthusiasts at the time would have had the vision, strong following and connections, they could possibly have helped to make such a park happen. A 1000 acre or larger bike single track inclusive nature park, instead of the Forest Heights housing development that exists their now, (a visual blight on the landscape that's visible from many points in the valley...intersection of Jenkins and Murray is one example.) on the south face of the Tualitan Mtns, could have been a very important, closely accessible recreational resource for the metro areas growing population.

          Somewhat similar situation with the Westside Trail, that Metro and adjoining communities have been working on for years (how many people even know what this trail is?). It's a regional trail. Planners decided to make it a paved trail, but why could it not at least have had an accompanying dirt trail somewhat paralleling the paved trail? The easement required for the trail is fairly wide. I'm guessing part of the reason, was that off-road biking lacked a sufficient following and/or support to have a bearing on the direction the plans went.

          That's the way it goes. Off-road biking possibly needs a bill gates/paul allen type of person backing that activity. Even people not quite so stratospherically wealthy and connected might help. Maybe a Les Schwab kind of guy...but he's long gone.

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