– Video/Slideshow below-
(Photos © J. Maus)
Despite their recent setback, the push by advocates for improved off-road cycling opportunities in Forest Park has not wavered. That fact was made clear by Tom Archer, President of the Northwest Trail Alliance, while speaking in front of an estimated 150-200 people who showed up for the “Share the Park” rally and ride on Leif Erikson Road in Forest Park Saturday morning.
Archer said his group’s focus on Forest Park remains. “It will remain a focal point for us.” Archer has already started working with Parks and Commissioner Fish’s office on a plan to “re-green” two fire access roads to make them into narrow bike trails. “When the studies are done, we’ll hopefully be in a position to put in a land-use application and we’ll continue to push and lay groundwork for other things in the same period.”
The event came three weeks after City Commissioner Nick Fish and Parks Director Zari Santner decided that the 5,000 acre urban park is not ready for new or improved trail access for bicycles.
Speaking to the crowd on a sunny and crisp fall morning (watch a video of his speech below), Archer joked about what it will take to make progress on this issue. “I will take this weather as a sign from above that our mission here is being looked upon favorably. Sometimes I think it’s going take some form of divine intervention to get more places to ride in this park.”
“I will take this weather as a sign from above that our mission here is being looked upon favorably. Sometimes I think it’s going take some form of divine intervention to get more places to ride in this park.”
— Tom Archer, President of Northwest Trail Alliance
Getting more places to ride is important to 46-year old Daniel Greenstadt who showed up to the rally towing his 8-month old daughter Gigi in a trailer behind him. He said he supports more single track trails in Forest Park because he wants to share them with her when she grows up. “I want to be able to enjoy the same experience with her that turned me into a conservationist years ago… which is riding on narrow, intimate, wooded trails.”
The event took place during Forest Park Conservancy’s annual Day of Stewardship where people work in the park removing invasives and doing trail maintenance. The Day of Stewardship had about the same turnout of volunteers as the rally, which underscores how many people feel that by excluding bikes from trails, the City of Portland is also turning away scores of willing volunteers.
Portland State University professor Robert Sanders showed up to remind the City that, “We’re here and ready to help with all the problems the park has.”
On Saturday morning the mood was positive and smiles came easy (typical on a sunny fall day before a bike ride), but several people I talked to were not optimistic that much would change in the coming years. Looking 1-2 years ahead — the period of time Commissioner Fish says it will take to do the requisite wildlife and user surveys in the park before any decisions about trail access can be made — Daniel Greenstadt said he won’t get his hopes up because, “The fundamental political landscape will not have changed.”
On a more positive note, it’s clear that this issue has galvanized off-road cycling advocacy in Portland. In dealing with Forest Park and other local trail access issues, the NWTA has matured immensely in the past year. With continued support from the community, hopefully the organization will continue to grow. When we look back at the City’s recent decision, we’ll likely (hopefully) see it as, not the end of the road, but the beginning of the trail.
— For background on this story, browse our archives. Watch Tom Archer address the crowd in the video below…
Thanks Tom and NWTA for all you are doing! Those of us who could not be with you in person were with you in spirit. Mia Birk
Maybe I should qualify my depressing quote a little bit. The point I was making is that if the impending studies are not completely co-opted by the anti-sharing folks, even a set of positive reports that support greater bike access in the park will have little effect on the views of existing opponents. They will continue to vocally – and secretly – do whatever they can to avoid having to share the trails.
The task facing the bike community will be to continue to keep as much pressure as possible on elected officials and agencies to act not out of fear of the anti-bike folks, but instead in accordance with science, modern land management practice and a basic sense of fairness. Good luck to us all.
Well done NWTA. Just wanted to let you know you are all awesome!
Great job with the ride! If I was in town that day I would have been there as well.
I would recommend not over-reaching at first. If you can select a single trail as a test trail for sharing and then demonstrate the MTB community’s ability to use it responsibly and provide a volunteer base to maintain it, then I believe that would counter any argument about how evil MTB’s are.
Let us know the date of the next event in Forest Park and I will be there. Thanks!
Daniel @ 2
The Forest Park Conservancy are not anti-sharing nor are they anti-bike. They are pro science and pro environment. Their strategy is to work the science to evaluate how bikes impact the park, to determine which critical habitats within the park should be off limits to bicycling, which areas are especially vulnerable to erosion. Expect them to identify locations where threatened or endangered plants are located. By identifying critical and sensitive areas they are identifying less pristine and vulnerable areas where bicycling can be allowed. To label the “friends” as if they were bicycle haters is not only wrong, it is counter productive.
It has been said, but bears repeating that there are elk, bear, piliated woodpeckers, bobcats, spotted owls and other wildlife in the park. Mt bikers who want to use the park as an adrenaline charging thrill ride are incompatible with those aspect of the park, and even slow, technical riding is enough to spook these animals. To expect mt. bike riders to notice, much less identify threatened plants is laughable. Riders can not be expected to respect this aspect of the park so the should be kept apart from those areas.
In the echo chamber of this blog there is little mention that the values being protected by the Forest Park Conservancy are true and enduring values. That fact is quickly overrun by opinions that are not fed by a long view.
The ride was a good idea and it will produce results in opening areas to mt. biking in the park. This will happen. It will happen in areas best suited to biking. Let the process work.
The anti-bike forces at work here taught us an important lesson: manipulate the system.
All’s fair in love and war but anything goes in politics.
Double dealing, backstabbling, collusion, under-the-table deals and blantantly ignoring any law that you don’t agree with: these are all tools of modern political groups that have any power. As reprehensible as they are this is the battlefield and tactics presented to us by out foe.
Asking a bully nicely to stop bullying is never effective; a show of force is neccessary. We’ve been shown that we’ll need to step up our game.
Bob M @ #5,
Gee, I don’t remember mentioning the Forest Park Conservancy. I was referring to individuals who are not only willfully ignoring existing environmental, trail and land management science from hundreds of other locations, but have proactively spread fear and falsehood regarding shared use trails and user impacts. It sounds like you’re equating the Conservancy with those behaviors. If true, that’s a real shame. But I prefer to think that most Conservancy members are well-intentioned and fairly well informed – or at least interested in learning about what certainly can be a complex topic.
Your second paragraph really tips your hand. “…adrenaline charging thrill ride?” Who? Me and my 8-month old daughter? While we’re name-calling, how about those trail runners and the dangerous psychosis they euphemistically call “runner’s high?” And how about those birders who will stop at nothing to feed their insatiable desire to selfishly penetrate even the deepest forest just to intrude on wildlife with their high-tech binoculars and bird calls? And I’d love to know where you learned that slow, technical bicycle riding spooks animals more than hiking, running, birding, horses and other trail uses.
Finally, as incredible as it may sound to you, I’ve been riding a bicycle in the woods AND appreciating nature all at the same time for decades. Maybe you should try it sometime.
While I (and every mtb’er I know) agree with the need to include surveys when considering new trails (which is one of many solutions), I don’t understand your need to act as an echo chamber and continue to mischaracterize mountain bikers. Here’s a link to some blogs where mtb’ers do indeed, notice flowers:
I think you have the right idea at heart, but with all due respect-you speak from a perspective of ignorance. Because mtbe’rs choose to spend their time between flower sightings/mountain views/wildlife sightings differently does not mean that our outdoor experience is any less meaningful, or more anthropocentric. I’d be happy to speak in detail about this issue with you. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com
Great job at the rally everyone. We continue to demonstrate our integrity as a community, and for that reason alone I am proud to call myself a mountain biker in Portland. The fact that those who oppose our inclusion need to resort to hasty generalizations (adrenaline junkies who don’t appreciate the environment; mtb’ers don’t care about the park at all because they aren’t working beside me on this particular day of stewardship) confirms my belief that we are right, and our reasoning is sound.
come out with a comment that runs contrary to the zietgiest of the echo chamber and get pilloried. I am 56 years old and have ridden many tens of thousands of miles. I currently own my forth mountain bike as well as a nice road bike and a freighter of a commuter bike. I love bicycling, I enjoy off road bicycling and I clock mileage daily. I am hardly anti-bike.
Without calling anyone an adrenaline addict I bought this concept forward. The term seems to have really stuck on some people. Anyone who bicycles knows that adrenaline addicted riders are among our ranks. This is the type of rider that has got the “friends of” type in a froth, and rightly so.
Saying that a mt. bike rider is unable to appreciate or identify endangered plants is hardly a stretch. Even on a slow pick, rocks, roots, ruts and slime demand focused attention. Sure one can look up to see a view or bloom, but if you are not paying attention to the ride then you will regret it. I never said that slow mt. biking was more disturbing to animals than other wilderness access pass times, but a birder siting, waiting with binoculars clearly has less impact on wildlife than a bike rider.
My original post stated that single track mt. bike paths should be located where they are appropriate. That means that they should not be located where they are not appropriate. Is the goal of the mt. bike group to have access to every inch of the forest park?
Q’Tzal – all may be fair in love, war and politics, but to take that ethos into the area of natural resource management defies science, which is a fair arbiter. Do what you want with lovers, warriors and politicians but the park and its nature are innocents and not deserving of acts of force.
OK I’m done for now.
“but a birder siting, waiting with binoculars clearly has less impact on wildlife than a bike rider. ”
That is false. The birders sustained presence has been shown to be a greater stress on the adjacent wildlife over the transient vistor.
Bob M. I’m sorry, I hate to reply like this off the cuff, I rarely do, but you have opened a door and I, though blindly it may be, am obliged to walk through it.
A birder has less impact than a bicyclist? And you know this how? Because you are a bird? You don’t know that. Science may not even no that, so to assume that is laughable. What are basing that upon? Conjecture because you love nature? Well I love biking and nature and my perspective, if I were a bird, would be much more annoyed by the peeping Tom who hangs around waiting, wanting and hoping to see (perhaps the act of love), as opposed to the random biker who approaches and then disappears.
Congratulations for owning some bikes.
Just want to let everyone know that I’ve deleted several comments on this thread. Please be respectful of all opinions… whether you agree with them or not. Thank you.
Disagreeing with an opinion means you don’t respect that opinion. And the wildlife that lives in forest park doesn’t care what our opinions are at all.
The only times I’ve ever seen Pileated Woodpeckers are while on my mountain bike in forest park.
Let me know where to find the piliated woodpeckers though … I’d love to see one.
“…bully…” q`Tzal #6
That word aptly describes the approach many off-road bike enthusiasts commenting to bikeportland have taken in regards to discussion about off-road bike access in Forest Park.
It’s their choice to present themselves as they see fit. I would imagine that plenty more than off-road bike enthusiasts check in on this weblog, even if they all don’t leave comments in response.
But…on to more important considerations:
In all the proposals off-road bike enthusiasts have presented for access to Forest Park single track, I do not recall any willingness to include or support a speed limit for off-road bikes on single track, or any fire road substituting for multi-use trail in the park.
I believe what this basically implies, is that off-road bike enthusiast wish to leave open to off-road bike enthusiasts, the option of riding any trail in Forest Park this group may eventually be granted access to, as hard and as fast as the trail design allows. If this is the intention of off-road bike enthusiasts relative to their possible use of the park at some point in time, it seems that a reasonable question is, ‘Does the public wish to allow off-road bike travel in the park, unrestrained by clearly posted speed limits on Forest Park single track ?’.
Forest Park is a nature park. Some mountain bike enthusiasts have sought to rationalize off-road bike access to park single track by disputing either that identity, the name designation, or by interpreting provisions of the park master plan in ways that might compel the public to allow off-road bikes onto park single track.
Such efforts aren’t likely to be successful, unless the public is willing to allow a re-identification of the park that would include as one of the park’s allowed uses, off-road biking unrestricted by clearly posted signs that would seek to limit the speed such bikes are capable of traveling.
“In all the proposals off-road bike enthusiasts have presented for access to Forest Park single track, I do not recall any willingness…on their part…to include or support a speed limit for off-road bikes on single track, or any fire road substituting for multi-use trail in the park.
A fast pedaling cyclist will be the hero one day when he happens upon a crime occurring against a lone hiker on an empty trail. Cyclists patrol remote areas where criminals may lurk. Ever notice there’s never been any murders on Forest Park trails where cyclists are allowed? What cereal killer could do his work for fear of a cyclist arriving quickly to the rescue?
I’m all for science.
I’m especially for logic and rationality; I prefer the Vulcan way of doing things over Lord of the Flies.
The system in power now is characterized by screaming and flinging excrement, then it gets nasty.
To paraphrase a bit of Machiavelli’s “The Prince”:
“when dealing with belligerent neighbors: you might be the most intelligent, benign, fair and just ruler in the world but for the sake of your people you will have to deal with enemies on their level unless you have overwhelming force.
Try as we might to slay this dragon by talking reason to it we will end up having to attack: there is no other way without overwhelming power which the cycling community sorely lacks.
As for science: as a life time adherant of science and logic I know that I will depend on science and the law of nature to detemine how I would deal with Forest Park. Due to the fractal nature of the natural world we see more complexity the closer we look and more interconnectedness the closer or further we look from the system.
While it is logical to base our scientific opinions on the latest peer approved science it is with the knowledge that newer more detailed scientific studies may change our view in ways we never considered. Keep your mind open.
To this end more public access is needed, not less. The “common sense” knee jerk reaction is that the public will only damage natural areas.
That damage is already happening.
The only way we can hope to modulate or stop it is throught the increased vigilance of many more concerned users.
Just an FYI:
And a question for wsbob: How would a speed limit be enforced? Do you envision consequences of some sort?
I’m impressed with the organizational effort, but I’m not sure shows of strength are the best strategy for acceptance here. These aren’t decisions that will, or should, be made democratically, so there’s not much point in showing numbers. It could backfire as opponents will quiver at the thought of all those barbarians at the gate.
In fact, I am a mountain biker, but I’d probably pedal the other way if I saw that kind of crowd at a trailhead.
I have a question: is there a reason the Share The Park peaceful protest ride did not also include park/trail work since it was afterall Park Stewardship day? I know the NWTA does lead a lot of trail work there and I’m not trying to downplay that, but I feel that not actually participating on that day was a bad move. I don’t get it.
Why take part in a trail work day in an area where bikes are not allowed on trails?
If they wanted me to help maintain the .247 miles of firelane 5 I’d be okay with that.
Patrick # 14: PIleated’s are all over the forest. You are almost guaranteed a sighting or aural evidence in the section of Wildwood between Holman Lane and Alder. Look for big chunks of freshly excavated tree innards along the trail and large rectangular holes excavated in trees and snags.
Love the “cereal killer” reference. Never knew Grape Nuts were so dangerous.
The dearth of females is pathetic. Most “bike infrastructure” is advocated on behalf of the timid and insecure — aka females and children — and when advocacy for single track is needed, they’re nowhere to be found. Shame on you.
what “dearth of females” are you referring to exactly? There were a lot of females at the rally event and there are a lot of females involved in advocating for improved bike trails. Can you please elaborate on what leads you to write, “they’re nowhere to be found”?. thanks.
Yes, a couple reasons why we didn’t participate in the FPC workday.
1) We wanted to hold the rally while the issue is still fresh, this date was the earliest we could pull it together. Sundays are out due to a conflict with Cross Crusade.
2) We didn’t think we could get many people to commit to spending an entire day in the park. Many people had children along
3) We withheld our participation from this event in part as a symbol that many bikers feel alienated by recent events and over the past number of years. As such, they are reluctant to commit time to Forest Park, which does not offer singletrack riding opportunities of any significance (and yes, I know that over 20 miles of roads ar eopen to bikers, but it’s simply not the same). It’s similar to asking hikers/runners, etc. to come out and spend time at Sandy Ridge (which for those of you who don’t know, is a purpose built bike trail that has little appeal to non-bikers). I realize that’s simplifying it somewhat, but you get the picture. Bikers could be a significant resource to the park but we have been sidelined becuase of the many delays over the years.
President – Northwest Trail Alliance
There’s 4 possibly 5 women in the first pic. If there were 150 at the rally, there must have been, at most, 15 women. That’s a 10:1 ratio, an inconceivably low number compared to a road cycling advocacy rally. Maybe there should be a women of the woods mtb group to introduce women to mtb’ing. Sort of soften the image of mountain biking from adrenaline junkies to nature loving mother earth types. I think it’d really appeal to the more fearful of cycling to consider riding in the woods as a safer alternative than in the streets. Maybe it’s a different demographic from those who ride in the streets solely for transportation. Whatever, it doesn’t help to appear as though only creepy old men with jiggly bits are set to take over the park.
Can anyone provide a reference for (or link to) the often cited National Park Service study that found bike tires cause less trail damage than feet?
Thanks and keep it clean and positive people. Noone is the enemy here.
I don’t know if anyone has asserted that bikes have less impact than feet, although that is no doubt the case in certain circumstances – and vice versa. Either way, it’s probably not good to reduce potentially complex and sometimes geographically-specific issues to a single study or generalization, so here’s a link to the resources (and overview) that IMBA has assembled. As far as I know, this represents the best collection of relevant studies and materials on issues relevant to trail user impacts and management. Anyone who makes assertions regarding bicycles without being at least somewhat familiar with these materials really can’t be taken seriously. If anyone knows of other credible sources of relevant information, please share here and with IMBA.
The comment you may have seen was probably referencing the 2006 “Marion” study that said, in part:
“This study also provided an opportunity to examine the relative contribution of different use types, including horse, hiking, mountain biking, and ATV. Trails predominantly used for mountain biking had the least erosion of the use types investigated. Computed estimates of soil loss per mile of trail also revealed the mountain biking trails to have the lowest soil loss.”
Soil erosion is probably not the issue here as bike tires make some pretty deep ruts in wet weather and are unsightly. I think we can agree that most opposition refers to this, regardless of esoteric erosion studies. This whole “environmental impact” study and other attempts to obfuscate is a smokescreen to bar mountain bikers from leaving unsightly bike tire trails and ruts. If there is a tire designed not to do that, perhaps we can overcome this obstacle. Maybe a fat balloon type tire?
By the way, since this issue came up earlier in the comments, please see below (also included in the research summary on the IMBA site):
“A study of the Boise River in Idaho examined flushing distances of bald eagles when exposed to actual and simulated walkers, joggers, fishermen, bicyclists, and vehicles (Spahr 1990). The highest frequency of eagle flushing was associated with walkers (46 percent), followed by fishermen (34 percent), bicyclists (15 percent), joggers (13 percent), and vehicles (6 percent). However, bicyclists caused eagles to flush at the greatest distances (mean = 148 meters), followed by vehicles (107m), walkers (87m), fishermen (64m), and joggers (50m). Eagles were most likely to flush when recreationists approached slowly or stopped to observe them, and were less alarmed when bicyclists or vehicles passed quickly at constant speeds. Similar findings have been reported by other authors, who attribute the difference in flushing frequency between walkers and bikers/vehicles either to the shorter time of disturbance and/or the additional time an eagle has to “decide” to fly (Van der Zande and others. 1984).”
Opponents are mostly neighbors who want to use the park trails in their preferred way, at their convenience, and without competition. It is not about nature, safety, etc..
Many are frequent users themselves or even promoters of their preferred use (e.g., Marcy’s book), although they argue that it has too much use when bikes are discussed. In reality, trails have little use once you are away from Thurman gate, esp. on weekdays (see user survey), but they want to keep them all to themselves just in case.
I think it is interesting that opponents never raised a hue and cry over a dozen 10′ wide bare dirt rutted tracks going straight down the fall lines for miles (aka “fire lanes”), but they are alarmed at “errosion” when they see a tire track in a trail puddle. They just don’t want bikes on “their” trails.
The FPC was open to alternating use and finding ways to provide bike trails (I had extensive conversations with staff and Board members) until Marcy Houle falsely accused them of selling out. They panicked – fears about alienating supports, I believe – backpedalled, and became resistant. It was telling that they especially backed away from alternating use, although that would create no change in the forest and would bring needed help. They do wonderful work for the park, but for now they are more focused on their percieved supporters than on “conservancy.”
I hold out hope that they will evolve on this over time, and I think we will ultimately gain access to some trails, as is currently enjoyed by pedestrian users.
Most areas of the park beyond Thurman Gate are not as conveniently accessible by foot as bikes. If bikes are allowed, then people would actually be in the interior and remote areas of the park. Oh my! A lot of Portlanders actually enjoying all areas of the park like the Olmstead brothers intended. We can’t have that. Seriously guys, if you can’t run a campaign exposing the extreme greed of the likes of Marcy Houle, who doesn’t really seem like that great a political foe, I don’t think we can hold out hope for future trails.
I participated in the rally ride, and had a great time riding with so many people. Great turnout!
A few of my friends and I headed up to about mile 6, then decided to turn back due to other commitments. I suggested we turn off on the bottom half of firelane 1 for some singletrack, then spin St. Helens back to the car. We stopped halfway through frielane 1 to chat, and we had an idea.
While watching the OPB Oregon Field Guide episode highlighting Forest Park earlier in the week, a graphic was shown depicting a “health” map, according to a recent study. It showed that the lowest health areas were mostly skirting along St. Helen’s road and hwy 30, which is understandable from the traffic and proximity to industrial/port activities. The narrator went on to explain that it was decided by the Parks Department that the cost of bringing the unhealthy areas of the park up to snuff was prohibitive and would not be done, and that funds would be used to maintain the healthier areas.
With this being said, perhaps a solution would be to allow legal bike trails to be built in these “unhealthy” areas, expanding on the bottom half of firelane 1.
1. These are areas that the parks department is effectively writing off(they are being left to deteriorate).
2. Users focusing on pristine natural experiences might be less interested in these areas(less user conflicts).
3. Allowing a user group that is interested in trail maintenance to actually maintain these areas would be beneficial to all(NWTA and other advocacy groups could further prove themselves as mature and even restorative stewards).
4. A sense of ownership for the cyclist user group of an area of the park could promote a more positive/less rogue attitude, and reduce the need for illegal trail building.
While it might be easier to gain access in such areas, I’m not sure I like the message it sends by relegating cyclists to the lousiest parts of the public open space. “Separate and not equal” has a bad ring to it.
TrailLover @ #36
Yeah, sorry, I wasn’t suggesting that this would be the only area that bikes would be allowed, or relegated to. But it is a good opportunity to create new trails, dontcha think?
And these areas are not “lousy” in that i think you would be bummed to be there, they’re just considered unhealthy by a study that the Parks Department is using to determine how their budget is used.
Thanks for the reply though.
I definitely appreciate your constructive thinking and you are absolutely right that this is worth considering as part of an overall strategy/solution. I just want us to be careful because, as we know, there are plenty of anti-bike folks who – if they had to give any ground – would be all too happy (and completely unashamed) to see some kind of Jim Crow version of trail sharing.
If someone were to ask me where to put a trail, I would say parallel the Leif Eriksen trail about 100 yds below. Roughly parallel the contours, but gradually climb, all the way to Saltzman, then take Saltzman south (up) to about 100 yds above Leif Eriksen and complete the loop back to the trail head at Thurman. This is the area already most impacted by humanity. This is the area most easily accessible to the city. So by siting the trail there no new wildlife impacts are created, and it is ready access to trail users.
It may well be that a single birder watching a bird has a greater impact than a single (or married) cyclist rolling by. The city of Portland has over 550,000 residents and the metropolitan area more than 2 million. About 20,000 persons participated in the commute challenge, so there are lots of cyclists here in town.
The concern is not about a single rider, but a throng of riders in an constantly renewing procession riding through the more pristine areas of the park.
So your concern about impacts has nothing to do with bicycles but instead is focused on the absolute number (“throng”) of users of any type. You seem to be advocating for some way of limiting the number of users and it sounds like you wouldn’t support restrictions that target one user group over another. That’s progress!
You are so right bikeliker. It seems like a win-win-win-win solution:
1. Take an appropriate, unhealthy piece of the park (per the City Club report) that is not receiving the resources it needs
2. “Lease” that area of the park to off-road cyclists to donate financial and physical resources to create appropriate trails, and maintain/enhance the area of the park as a whole (with professional guidance from the Forest Park Conservancy)
3. Record baseline data prior to, and two or so years after
4. Use this data for further decisions about the inclusion of off-road cyclists
Please consider writing the decision makers. Your letter may be the tipping point.
The Maple Trail is already on that route, it starts across from the bottom of FL3, meets the end of Koenig Trail, crosses Saltzman, and then ends at Leif Erickson between the bottom of single track 5 and Saltzmann.
Are you OK with allowing mountain bikes on Maple Trail?
I’m sure that in the 5000 acre park we can carve out a couple hundred acres for sustainable riding trails. I would think the area around FL5 would be good. It’s not beautiful, has lots of trash, homeless camps and car break ins. It’s a perfect dumping ground and MTBr’s will certainly clean it up and keep an eye on the area. It will be safer and better than ever to get more people in this park and caring about it. Right now it’s a dangerous place and a breeding ground for illegal activities and violence. FP is one of the least diverse parks I’ve ever been to, so to say it is some sort of wonderland is rediculous. I always refer to riding on L. Erickson as ground hog day. Every turn is the same as the last.
I worked as a volunteer for the Forest Park Conservancy on that Saturday, got quite a bit done and felt great about it. One of the protesters came riding up the Wildwood where the group was working—don’t think that was a slick move.
Just to clarify: 200 people worked as volunteers but many more wanted to but were turned away as the Park only has enough staff to supervise 200. So I don’t think you can correlate numbers at all.
Personally, a a cyclist that loves to ride Lief, I am chagrined that fellow cyclists had the poor taste of this “rally” –it only bespeaks of emotional attitudes that should have been left behind in the sandbox. Come on —show some more character!
Also, as a scientist, I have reviewed some of the IMBA studies on bike versus hiker impact. They are poorly designed and have a built in bias (ie conducted by IMBA) and are scientifically invalid.
As you can tell–I like to get facts straight—everything else is hyperbole.
The rider on Wildwood announced himself as one of the protesters? Really? At any rate, if somebody was on Wildwood, they were not riding it as part of the NWTA protest ride.
Your critique of the protest ride is perplexing. It’s the “emotional” sandbox attitudes of the anti-sharing folks (“not in MY sandbox!”) that are EXACTLY what’s keeping bikes out of FP. A group of citizens who are disappointed with a piece of public policy holding a calm, peaceful, friendly, coffee/donuts event to express their concern and solidarity is EXACTLY the kind of civilized, good character behavior that bike opponents constantly assert that the bike community is not capable of. Maybe that’s why it irks you so much.
Regarding the impact studies you “reviewed” and completely mischaracterized, I’m fairly sure that NONE were “conducted by IMBA.” Please read the bibliography. So maybe you’d like to clarify your comment. That said, there may very well be ways we can all improve on the science. As I scientist, by all means please share your unbiased analysis.
This is apparently a very heated issue in Portland. The amount of emotion this is sirring is strange to me. Why? I’m from Minnesota and we have many urban parks with singletrack in them. That presence of singletrack and the expansion thereof never seems to create such a heated debate.
Let get this out of the way first: all movement across the surface of soil causes erosion. Bug’s feet, snake’s bellies, deer hooves, human feet, and bike tires will, with enough time and repetition, cause erosion. But if that erosion is such that it is slow and minimal or less than the speed that nature can replenish the soil structure (by the breakdown of biological debris), its fine.
The state of Minnesota has many urban trails. Some like Theodore-Wirth are small affairs located in larger park complex, some like Lebanon Hills in Eagen, MN are separate from other uses. The result? Besides giving the mountain bikers something to do they have not adversely affected the parks. People still come and have picnics or walk through the trails and get over as bikes go through. There are not dead endangered plants piled under the massive amounts of erosion. In fact, even with Crisco-like soil at many of these parks, MORC and IMBA often use them as models of how to work closely with land managers to create a sustainable and fun trail that will be hear for the grandkids. If you doubt that mountain biking can work in an urban park setting, please come to Minnesota and walk the trails and see how little nature is adversely affected.
As to biker-vs.-wildlife issue, I ride at Cuyuna, a 22-mile purpose-built singletrack in an recreational area. (Opens spring of 2011 to the public, BTW.) So the wildlife has not seen many mountain bikers. Earlier this year I did kick up a few deer, including mothers and fawns. Now, these same deer watchfully munch on grass as I go by. These are not urban deer, they are defiantly wild. Yet, they quickly realized that mountain bikes, though strange, are not a threat. The turkeys don’t seem to care either, they strut around and gobble. The eagles and osprey watch from roosts with a wary eye but otherwise are not affected. I’m sure the beavers hate it when we move there fresh cuts off the trail, but they haven’t protested formally yet. While I am not a biologist and observations I have made anecdotal, it seems that the wildlife have come to view mountain bikers to a annoyance that quickly pass by.
So Portlanders, let me say this: Mountain bikers in an urban park will not cause an ecological collapse of epic proportions. It will not cause the forest fairies to steal your children in revenge. In fact, that Mac you typed your “hell no to mountain bikers in the park” reply to this article caused way more damage to the environment than a mountain bike trail ever will (and is probably responsible for death of a few people in Africa & China).
But I also say this: calm down everyone. Instead of telling the anti-mountain biker person he or she is NIMBYfied hippy, why not invite them out to some coffee and then take them to a park or forest with singletrack and have him stand about 30 feet off a trail and see that nature has not weeped a thousand tears because a mountain biker went by. Invite him or her to a trail build event or trail school so that he/she can see we mountain bikers actually care about the environment and we respect the forest. After all that, they still may not like the idea of bikes in the park, but they won’t think you are a complete tool.
And failing that, how about you move to state not filled with self-righteous NIMBYfied hippies sipping on coffee while their Mac boots to sound of the Congolese family that was slaughtered for the neodium in its hard drive while they tell you that your mountain bike trail will cause an ecological collapse not seen since the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event. Just an idea.
So, overly emotional Portlanders, please be respectful as you work your way through this. Treat everyone with respect and stay calm in public forums and on electronic forums.
And please, come visit Minnesota and ride our many trails, paved and singletrack and see what Minnesota nice is all about.
The term “anti-bike forces” implies we are against bikes. Many if not most of us are not against bikes, we are against bikes in places where they don’t belong.
And thanks for the earlier comment about “cereal” killers, my laugh for the day!
The problem, Susan, is that “…where they don’t belong” is a baseless statement that hinges on nothing but your personal desire to assert only your individual version of a proper Forest Park experience. That’s “anti-bike.” It may be confusing to you why everyone can’t feel just like you, but Forest Park belongs to a diverse public. Some people would like to experience and cherish our park occasionally by bicycle.
I am an avid walker on the nature trails of Forest Park and I would love to see the ban on off-road cycling continue. Nature is natural, walking is natural. Cycling is either transportation or a sport, neither of which belong in a nature preserve. I am also against people running for fitness on the trails, but as they use the same equipment used by walkers, there’s nothing I can do about that.
Just a point of fact, Forest Park isn’t a nature preserve. It’s a city park. Also, the number one threat to its natural ecosystems is invasive species. One of the major benefits of figuring out how to improve bicycle access would be thousands of new volunteers who could help fight invasives. Overall, allowing improve bicycling opportunities could help the natural health of the park.