PDC says BMX facility near Burnside Bridge is a no go

The vacant lot at E Burnside
and 2nd that is slated
for an “interim site use” by
the PDC.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Advocates for a pump track and bike riding facility on a vacant lot adjacent to the Burnside Bridge are a bit miffed now that their idea has been scuttled by the Portland Development Commission (PDC).

There are several vacant parcels of land north of the bridge that are in line to be developed as part of the PDC’s Burnside Bridgehead project. While the project itself languishes for various reasons, there is an opportunity for a host of “interim site uses”. One of the interim uses under consideration was a bicycle pump track and skills area.

Back in February, the Portland Business Journal made it seem like a done deal when they reported that, “In the short-term, the site will be put to temporary use as a parking lot and bicycle motocross park.”

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I followed up with the PDC a few days later and found that it wasn’t quite in the bag. Project manager for the PDC Trang Lam, stopped short of confirming the plans but told me she liked the idea and thought it might be a good fit.

“Unfortunately the description is not accurate and we are afraid this characterization could also be very damaging.”
— Will Heiberg, on a quote by a PDC staffer about his bike park idea

Meanwhile, citizen advocates David Reese and Will Heiberg — who are working to find more spaces for BMX and bike skills areas in close-in neighborhoods — had been in communication with the Portland Parks Bureau about the site. When I followed up with Heiberg about the status of those communications, he said the Parks Bureau told him to sit back and let them handle future negotiations and discussions with the PDC.

Fast forward to an article in the Daily Journal of Commerce published on Monday (4/27) and now it seems like those discussions didn’t go quite as planned.

The DJC reported that the PDC evaluated a proposal for a “BMX bike facility for kids, but passed on the idea”. PDC project coordinator Geraldine Moyle told the DJC that “the thought of kids performing death-defying stunts on tricked-out bicycles near a construction site did not sit well.”

That quote comes as a shock to Heiberg and Reese. First, they feel it is an incorrect characterization of their proposal and second, they never said the facility would only be for kids.

“I think some wires got crossed on that one,” Heiberg said via telephone today. He feels like Moyles’ quote is inaccurate and that the characterization “could also be very damaging” to their future efforts.

Heiberg said their goal with the space was to “give people of all ages and abilities a fun and controlled environment to develop bike handling skills and gain confidence.”

Trang Lam is the PDC’s project coordinator for the interim site use. She said they decided against the kids bike skills facility because it would be right across the street from a future construction site. “It’s not a good use at this time,” she said, “we wouldn’t have any interim site uses that would bring kids to that area.”

When I asked her where she got the notion that the site would only be for kids, she said that’s all that the Parks Bureau presented to them. Lam also said that she feels the site is too small to accomodate adult riders.

Heiberg disagrees. “It’s absolutely big enough,” he says.

In the end, Heiberg said he appreciates the opportunity to work with Parks and the PDC (both of whom say they are actively looking for other sites where a bike park might fit) and he looks forward to dispelling any “mis-conceptions with the PDC and other Portland agencies” in the future.

— Learn more about pump tracks and watch a video of one in action in our previous story.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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matt picio
14 years ago

“we wouldn’t have any interim site uses that would bring kids to that area.”

Right. Because kids never use the skate park, and never walk or skate around that immediate area.

coaster
coaster
14 years ago

alright kids… you want a pump track? BUILD IT YOURSELF! grab a shovel and get to it, you know that dirt lot will just sit empty for years anyhow… how do you think we got Burnside Skatepark?

Dave
Dave
14 years ago

The cynic in me thinks they’re probably more worried that it’ll be popular, and when they get ready to permanently develop it they’ll suddenly have a bunch of photogenic kids on the news saying “Why are they taking away our park for a shopping center? Now we’ll all have to find something else to do, like smoke crack and push little old ladies down the stairs.”

SkidMark
SkidMark
14 years ago

News flash: there are TONS of adults who ride BMX. Think this blog is directed at “kids” ?
http://teamshralp.wordpress.com/

The site is too small to accommodate adults? Just like how a 20″ BMX is “too small” for an adult, right?

Racer X
14 years ago

Ok. Next site?

How about that empty gravel covered block in Vancouver next to Esther Short Park on Columbia?

I think the city parks department owns it.

true
true
14 years ago

What Dave said.

matt picio
14 years ago

I think that’s a very valid point, Dave – and that’s something the PDC can’t allow, because they have “development” in their name, and that’s synonymous in the business community with “commercial interests”. The entire Burnside “bridgehead” or whatever they want to call it is in desperate need of community space, and an honest-to-goodness PARK.

Perhaps PDC brings out the cynic in me (as my earlier sarcasm demonstrates), but there are other considerations besides commercial development, and the Eastside Warehouse District seems to be being groomed as the next Pearl. Before we start kicking the homeless out from under the end of Salmon and upending the neighborhood maybe we should start looking at ways to serve the existing community rather than pricing them out of every neighborhood in Portland.

shovel weilding outlaw
shovel weilding outlaw
14 years ago

Once again… try and jump through the hoops to make a legal place to ride and what happens. You call this a bike friendly town?

MattyK
MattyK
14 years ago

Yo, I have a pumptrack in my backyard. I’m 30 years old and it is 40′ x 25′. The proposed area is absolutely large enough for kids and adults. It is far less dangerous than the burnside skate park that sits just a stones throw away.

mark
mark
14 years ago

take whatever space you see sitting empty. if you can’t do it in your backyard, or even if you can, use what you find. what’s the worst they can do? fill it in? big deal, find another spot. do it again.