Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 1st, 2007 at 9:14 am
Cities across the country are embracing mountain biking and adding singletrack trails to urban parks.
According to an article in the NY Times last Friday,
“…in cities from Philadelphia to Santa Fe, mountain biking is gaining as a viable urban activity. Extensive trail networks designated for the knobby-tire crowd, some many miles in length, now wind through parks…or under freeway viaducts in places like Seattle…About 15 major metropolitan areas have legitimized mountain biking in urban parks…including Pittsburgh, Austin, Louisville, Tucson, Salt Lake City, suburban Los Angeles; and Vancouver, British Columbia…The increasing desire to suit up, clip in and ride a mountain bike from home to nearby trails is prompting recreation managers to reassess a sport long outlawed in city parks.”
Absent from that list, despite being home to one of the nation’s largest urban parks, is Portland. The 5,000 acre Forest Park, includes many miles of trails, but bicycles are not allowed on any of them.
Photo: Brian Ellin
There are several logging roads and one recently added, 4 foot wide “trail”, but local mountain bikers are not allowed to use any of the more desirable, and narrower, singletrack trails.
The article also features a quote from Chris Bernhardt, a Hood River-based consultant with the International Mountain Bicycling Association. He says,
“the face of the sport is changing, with urban terrain receiving more attention than traditional wilderness trails in some areas…It’s great to take a weeklong bike trip to Moab or Colorado, but people want trails closer to home for riding on weekends or after work.”
Fueled by growing demand and a lack of mountain biking opportunities close to the city, pressure is building from advocates to take another look at Forest Park’s trail policy.
Some members of PUMP, a local mountain bike club, see a new survey of Forest Park users as a golden opportunity to demonstrate the size of the off-road biking community. A group of Portland State University students is working with Friends of Forest Park and Portland Parks and Rec to collect information about park users.
There was an effort to develop a Bike Skills Park in Portland, but last I heard it was shelved when the leader of the project moved away.
If Portland politicians and bureaucrats are serious about becoming a “Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community“, they might want to take heed of a recent announcement from the League of American Bicyclists. They have added access to singletrack mountain bike trails as an essential criteria for attaining Platinum status.
The sport of mountain biking has matured in recent years, and so have its enthusiasts. Now it’s up to them to work with Portland Parks and Rec, Parks Commissioner Dan Saltzman, and the Friends of Forest Park, to open up more trail-riding opportunities for Portlanders.