(Photo © J. Maus)
Last month we shared a new, grassroots effort to open up more of Portland’s Forest Park to bicycles (currently, only 1/3 of a mile of trail — out of over 5,000 acres — is open to bikes).
Frank Selker, a citizen activist who is passionate about riding off-road, decided that the path to more bike access was to join the the Forest Park Conservancy. As a non-profit, the FPC has worked as a respected partner of the Portland Parks and Recreation Department for many years.
Selker’s idea was that if that the FPC had more active, bike-centric members, it would send a clear message that the time has come to work toward a solution for more bike trails and access in the park — and that the FPC would have the people power to get it done.
“This effort has also seemed to get quite a few folks at various organizations talking about progress…in providing some single-track in the city.”
— Frank Selker
Frank challenged the community to become members of the FPC. He said that if 100 people joined by March 1st (and noted “cyclist” on the application form) he’d give them $500 and continue his one-man advocacy mission to work on the issue and to make his voice heard with elected officials.
His idea sparked a lot of enthusiasm in the community (read the 134 comments on our story) and now we’ve got an update on how the membership drive is going.
Selker — who has been working with FPC Stewardship Director Stephen Hatfield to track the new members — told me this morning that “we are well over 50 new members at this point.” Selker added that cyclists gave over $4,000 to the FPC in December (that’s over half of all their donations).
Selker also said that in talking with these new bike-riding members he has found they are “clearly motivated by hope for more singletrack (trails) in the future.” He also said that the buzz around this issue has been heard loud and clear:
“This effort has also seemed to get quite a few folks at various organizations talking about progress in getting Portland to catch up to other cities around the country in providing some single-track in the city, which is great.”
People who want more places to ride off-road near the city aren’t the only ones stepping up to help this effort. Fat Tire Farm in Northwest Portland is giving 10% off to customers who flash their FPC membership card.
This morning, I confirmed that Sellwood Cycle Repair has also stepped up to sweeten the pot. Co-owner of the shop, Erik Tonkin said he’ll raffle off a 2008 Kona Caldera mountain bike (retail price: $950) to one lucky member. Anyone who has joined FPC (and noted “cyclist” on their application form) from December 17 (the day our story broke) through March 1st is eligible.
There’s a lot more to come on this issue. Right now, we’re following up with the Parks Bureau about the status of white paper on mountain bike access that was commissioned last year. We’re also hoping to bring you thoughts on the issue from Portland’s new Commissioner of Parks, Nick Fish. Stay tuned.