Reactions are starting to come in from this morning’s big announcement by City Commissioner Nick Fish that there are no plans to improve singletrack bicycling opportunities in Forest Park. The President of the League of American Bicyclists, Andy Clarke, has expressed his disappointment in the decision. Here’s a statement from Clarke:
“While we are obviously pleased to see the commitment to expanding off-road opportunities throughout the city, Forest Park remains a signature community resource that really deserves better single-track and other off-road experiences. It’s disappointing to see such a hopeful process end this way – at least for now – and stands in contrast to exciting developments in other bike-friendly communities such as Boulder, Colo., Philadelphia, Pa., and Chattanooga, Tenn., where the mountain bike community is working with park agencies to develop first-class riding opportunities in the city.”
Clarke is referring to how several major U.S. cities have figured out how to allow off-road cycling in urban parks. A New York Times article in 2007 reported that:
“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.”
The League is the organization that doled out Portland’s coveted “Platinum” bike-friendly city status. Back in 2006, the League announced that urban singletrack riding opportunities are an important criteria to achieving and maintaining that status.
In November 2009, in an interview with Commissioner Fish about bicycling in Forest Park, he said:
“… We’re a ‘Platinum’ city, but the one area where we have a weakness is off-road cycling opportunities. It’s the area we have been challenged as a city to put more time and resources into developing our system; and it’s an area where the mayor has asked the council to be creative. I start with the premise that we’re doing really well as a bicycle town but this is an area where we need to do better.”