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Metro Council unanimously backs mountain biking trails north of Forest Park

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on April 21st, 2016 at 5:10 pm

tualatinmap

Portland’s regional government unanimously approved a plan to allow mountain biking trails in the North Tualatin Mountains Natural Area Thursday in a session that gushed with praise.

“This project took a lot more work than I thought it was going to,” said Metro Councilor Sam Chase, whose district includes the natural area just north of Forest Park, to chuckles around the room. “We have really come to a fantastic place.”

The vote came despite organized objections from a cluster of people who live nearby, in some cases with property immediately bordering the public land. As we reported last week, some of them held a protest outside Metro’s headquarters to argue that allowing mountain biking trails in the natural area would do undue harm to local wildlife.

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On eve of vote, Metro has heard all sides of Tualatin Mountains debate

by on April 20th, 2016 at 11:50 am

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The council heard concerns and praise
at a public hearing last week.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The seven-member Metro Council will decide on Thursday whether or not to approve the creation of new off-road trails near Portland.

If their North Tualatin Mountains Trail Access Plan is passed it will set into motion the development of over six miles of new off-road routes open to bicycles. This plan would be a major milestone because the first phase of trail construction (at Burlington) will happen just 10 miles north of downtown Portland and 2.25 miles of those trails will be built specifically for bicycle riding.

“Bicycle-optimized trails,” to use Metro’s term (a.k.a. singletrack) are rare and coveted for many Portlanders who don’t want to drive a minimum of 45 minutes just to ride. Forest Park only has 1/3 mile of singletrack and Powell Butte (about 13 miles east of downtown Portland) is small and offers only limited options. Off-road cycling advocates have been trying for years (without much success) to improve bike access at Forest Park and more recently at River View Natural Area in the southwest hills. Both times the Portland Parks and Recreation Bureau has pulled the rug out from under them in favor of the status quo.
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After protest, Metro Council set for public hearing on Tualatin Mountains plan

by on April 13th, 2016 at 3:39 pm

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Protestors in front of Metro headquarters last Friday.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In over 10 years covering bike issues in Portland I had never been to a protest outside Metro headquarters. That changed last week when about two dozen people marched and held up signs in opposition to Metro’s plans to build new trails on two parcels in the hills north of Forest Park.

Now the debate will head into Metro Council Chambers where a public hearing will be held tomorrow (4/14) on the North Tualatin Mountains Access Master Plan.
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Anti-trail group influences bike access plans for Metro’s North Tualatin Mountains project

by on April 7th, 2016 at 2:17 pm

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Hank McCurdy in a Youtube video posted
by the Tualatin Wildlife Alliance. McCurdy
lives adjacent to the Tualatin Mountains and
is opposed to new trails.

Once again improvements to cycling access in an off-road area near Portland is in jeopardy because of opposition from people who claim the new trails will harm wildlife.

Back in November we shared exciting news that Metro planned to develop two parcels (out of four) in their North Tualatin Mountains Natural Area just north of Forest Park. Unlike the City of Portland, that so far has failed to adequately manage bike access in its parks, Metro worked with mountain bike advocates from the early stages of this project in order to create a plan that included a significant amount of new singletrack trails. The first draft of the plan released in November included about 10.6 total miles of unpaved roads and trails that would be open to bikes in the Burlington Creek and McCarthy Creek parcels. We called it “a historic step forward” for off-road cycling in Portland.

But things have changed in the past four months. Metro has altered the initial plan amid increasing pressure from people who oppose biking in the area.
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Metro proposal rejects Safe Routes to School, spends more on freight routes

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on March 31st, 2016 at 10:53 am

A Safe Routes to School event in 2010. The Metro regional government is proposing to start supporting the program in suburban schools, but not to increase funding for accompanying street improvements near those schools.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

A two-year campaign for regional funding of better biking and walking near schools, backed by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and other advocacy groups, is in tatters.

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‘Rapid’ bus plan on Powell-Division stalls after it turns out not to be rapid

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on March 18th, 2016 at 10:53 am

full route
Until now, this has been seen as the preferred route for an express bus line.
(Map: Metro)

A $200 million project to improve bus service and change zoning through Southeast Portland and Gresham is in limbo after project managers realized that it wouldn’t actually make it faster to ride the bus.

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Counting votes at Metro: Will the region invest in walking and biking near schools?

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on March 9th, 2016 at 10:53 am

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Biking to school in North Portland.
(All photos by Jonathan Maus unless otherwise noted)

With Portland’s locally funded Safe Routes to School program seeming to pay clear dividends — biking, walking and rolling to primary school became more popular than driving in 2010 and have kept rising — the case for bringing the idea to other cities may seem strong.

But the For Every Kid Coalition that’s been lobbying the regional government Metro to put $15 million into a regional Safe Routes to Schools program is competing for cash with two major forces: public transit and private freight. As Metro continues to accept public comments on the subject, we wanted to share what its councilors are thinking.

So we called all of them.

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Metro will install 400 new route signs on regional trail network this year

by on March 7th, 2016 at 2:12 pm

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The new signs aim to present a unifed brand aesthetic no matter where you find them.
(Photos/images: Metro)

With dozens of different jurisdictions managing over 100 walking and bikings paths and trails in our region, the design of route signs is all over the map. There’s no consistency from one path to the next and many signs are outdated and not nearly as helpful as they should be. Thankfully Metro is working to change that. They plan to put up 400 new signs on paths and trails in 2016.
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For Every Kid coalition takes $15 million ‘safe routes’ funding push straight to regional leaders

by on February 18th, 2016 at 12:02 pm

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Rally outside Metro headquarters this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

For Every Kid, a regional coalition that wants more money for biking and walking infrastructure around schools, made their strongest statement yet when they brought their message to Metro’s regional headquarters this morning.

At their monthly meeting in April, Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) will decide how to spend an estimated $125 million in regional flexible funds. This coalition — which includes the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, the American Heart Association, the Community Alliance of Tenants, the Community Cycling Center, Oregon Walks, Upstream Public Health, and others — is asking JPACT to allocate $15 million of those funds to spread the Safe Routes to School program across the region.

The $15 million ask is a bold move because competition for these flexible funds (so named because they come from federal sources not tied the Highway Trust Fund and can therefore be spent on anything) is fierce. The For Every Kid coalition has support from several state legislators and hundreds of families and kids from all over the region. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance has made expansion of the Safe Routes program one of their five main advocacy campaigns and they’ve tapped into partnerships at schools throughout Portland for support.
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Powell-Division Transit Project in-depth: Bike lanes and bus lanes both unlikely on 82nd

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on January 20th, 2016 at 10:52 am

south on 82nd
A draft rendering of one possible design for 82nd Avenue with one block of “business access transit” lane approaching the right turn onto Division. Cars could legally use BAT lanes only to turn into a driveway.
(Images via TriMet)

The Oregon Department of Transportation says it needs to preserve five auto lanes on 82nd so the dramatically increased number of cars that Metro expects on the street by the year 2035 will have somewhere to sit during rush hour.

Should a new high-capacity express bus line through Southeast Portland run on the most important street in Southeast Portland, or 30 blocks away?

The question seems odd. But as Metro and TriMet ask the region whether the new “bus rapid transit” line they’re planning should run on half a mile of 82nd Avenue, here’s part of the subtext: In order to get permission to run the bus line on 82nd Avenue, project planners have agreed not to aspire to do anything for biking, walking or transit on 82nd that might significantly reduce the number or capacity of cars there.

In fact, even if the highest-quality version of the project currently being considered were built, buses there are projected to travel slightly slower in 2035 than they do now. Rush-hour travel times would rise to about four to five minutes for the half-mile stretch, up from about three minutes during the afternoon peak today.
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