Here we go again.
After seven months of advisory committee meetings, tonight the City of Portland will unveil a first draft of a list of potential sites to build new off-road cycling facilities. And like we’ve seen several times in the past, now that the moment of truth is drawing closer, people who want to prevent any improvement in bike access in local parks and natural areas are digging in for a fight.
This time the action is swirling around the city’s Off Road Cycling Master Plan process, a $350,000 effort to once-and-for-all create a comprehensive strategy to address the growing demand for places where Portlanders can ride a bicycle on dirt trails that doesn’t require a drive to Hood River, Sandy, or the Coast Range. The plan doesn’t draw any lines on the map, nor does it mandate the construction of any new trails. Its goal is to create a citywide inventory of where off-road cycling could work and what type of facility could be built at each site (it’s looking at all forms of dirt riding, from singletrack to skills parks and “pump tracks”). Part of that inventory is likely to include Forest Park, a location steeped in emotion and controversy on boths sides of this debate.
And since this is Portland and the city is talking about riding bicycles on dirt trails in Forest Park, a group of people who are vehemently resistant to any changes to the status quo have emerged to try and stop any forward movement.