Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Popular trail at Mt. Tabor Park now signed “No Bikes” – UPDATED

Posted by on August 23rd, 2012 at 11:29 am

Trail use conflicts continue to plague one of Portland’s most popular urban sanctuaries: Mt. Tabor Park. For many years, the several miles of narrow singletrack trails looping around the park have been known as a fun place to ride a mountain bike. But, given the park’s urban setting and natural beauty, the crowded trails are also known as a place where user conflicts are common.

Last year I reported that complaints about trail conflicts between people walking and biking, led to the installation of a new “No Bicycles Please” sign on the Green Trail. The Green Trail is a 1.7 mile loop and is one of three trail loops that circumnavigates the park. Earlier this week a reader contacted me saying that several more signs had recently gone up.

The reader was frustrated to see the new signs. “I fully intend to ignore them,” he wrote, “Trail access in Portland, as you know, is becoming a bigger issue as recreational cycling in our city continues to grow.” His frustrations are shared by many others.

Unfortunately for people who want to maintain access for bicycles on these trails, the Mt. Tabor Park Master Plan that was adopted in 2000 clearly prohibits bicycling on trails that are narrower than six feet. According to PP&R media relations staffer Mark Ross, all of the Green Trail is less than six feet wide and some places are less than three feet wide.

UPDATE: After pointing out to PP&R that their existing trail map was terribly inadequate and probably leading to confusion… They just completed this updated version (!) which is much more helpful/clear….

Updated map from PP&R showing where trails are closed to bikes.

Back in January and February of this year continued trail user conflicts led to meetings between PP&R staff and representatives from the NW Trail Alliance (an off-road bicycling group) and the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association. The topic on the table was to educate trail users about what activities are allowed on certain trails.

At the meetings, representatives from both groups agreed that the concerns over user conflicts had reached a point where more public awareness about trail access limitations were necessary.

Tom Archer, advocacy director for the NWTA was at those meetings. “What they’re doing is enforcing the rules set forth in the Master Plan,” he said yesterday, “They’ve been getting complaints. And the neighbors have the Master Plan to lean on, so there’s not much we can do about it.” (UPDATE: Please see important clarifications and a statement from Archer about this issue via his comment below).

For context, this is not a new issue in Mt. Tabor. Check out this post to an MTBR forum thread from May 2002:

“This is probably the most crowded place I have ever rode my bike at speeds approaching “creepy dangerous”. The more people walking the trails, the more dangerous it gets for all.”

An article about bicycling in the park published in The Oregonian in 2004, provides more historical context of the user conflict issue:

“If you want to ride hard, crank up the hills because you need to go easy everywhere else. Lots of walkers and dog owners use the trails, too. If you go too fast, you could hurt somebody, which could hurt mountain biking in the park.

Pat Billings, the park’s district supervisor, says dog owners want him to close the park to bikes. But he would rather keep it open if everyone can just get along.”

Ross says they’re adding 15 four new signs on the Green Trail (like the ones at the top of this post) and the installation process began last month. These signs are in addition to seven existing signs. PP&R are working with the non-profit Friends of Mt. Tabor Park group to identify locations for the signs. I’m awaiting more details from Mr. Ross at PP&R about the nature of the complaints that has led to this new round of signs as well as a confirmation that the other two main trails will remain shared use.

Have you seen the new signs? I have never taken a mountain bike onto the Tabor trails, so I’m curious what folks think about this. Do you ride these trails? What do you think?

UPDATE, 2:39: I’m getting new information from PP&R: Mark Ross says only some portions of the Green Trail (on the west side of Tabor) are off-limits to bikes. Ross added that someone placed a sign by mistake on the Blue Trail. That sign is being relocated immediately. He also wanted to make it clear that bikes can still ride on the Red and Blue Trails as well as the north, east, and west sides of the Green Trail. Sorry for any confusion caused by my initial report. Please spread this update if you can.

UPDATE, 3:51: This story originally had a trail map that was difficult to read. PP&R just sent me a much nicer version, which I have inserted into the story.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Psyfalcon August 23, 2012 at 11:49 am

    See, thats the only colored or labeled map I’ve ever seen of the park, and its incomplete. There are Blue trail signs that aren’t on that map. The map on their website does not have any trails labeled.

    Poor signage makes it very hard to follow the trails walking, never mind at bike speed.

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    • Dave August 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      +1. It’s almost impossible to know what routes are and aren’t usable without spending a lot of time just riding aimlessly around looking at signs. Last time I was there I got completely frustrated and went home thinking I’d just look up a map, only to find jack squat. If they’re going to make the park substantially less user friendly for a big group of users, the least they could do is document it a little.

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      • Chris I August 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm

        So adding the signs is a good thing?

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        • Dave August 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm

          No, adding signs is pointless – they already had signs on these trails. What they didn’t have, and still don’t have, is a way for you to figure out what IS open or even a legit trail until you’re already on it.

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  • Stretchy August 23, 2012 at 11:51 am

    If the “Don’t feed the ducks” signs at Laurelhurst Park are any indication, I expect zero compliance for any posted rule by any park user. Go ahead and wiki “tragedy of the commons” to see where this is heading.

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  • SilkySlim August 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Frankly, I think most riders that have attempted to make Tabor a MTB destination have already come to this conclusion. The venue just isn’t that great for off-road riding. Except for maybe some hill repeats once in a while.

    I have gone running on Tabor nearly every day since moving to SE in 2008, and have never had anything resembling a conflict with riders, largely because of their absence on the trails. So, I really don’t think signs are necessary.

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    • Burk August 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      Totally agree. It has some nice little moments but just not a lot there. I’ve done some cross riding on Tabor but spent most of my time on the grass.

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    • Dave August 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      There’s at least a couple mountain biking guide books that will send you to Mt Tabor. I tried one of their routes (which includes now closed sections) back when I was first getting into mtbing, and was totally unimpressed. Both crowding and trail quality are really lacking for actual recreational mountain biking.

      The real loss here is for cx folks – you could get a great workout and some decent technical practice in without dying from boredom by linking all three loops together for hill repeats. With the green trail verboten, this will become much much harder to do, and the only options will be to a) drive somewhere else, b) poach, or c) stick to the wider trails which are in my experience actually more dangerous and conflict prone thanks to much higher use and designs that invite higher speeds.

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  • cdog August 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I won’t comply with this. It is so stupid. It’s true that on a summer weekend the park is packed but most of the time there aren’t that many people up there, and most of them are dog walkers with their dogs off leash or pot smoking skateboarders speeding down the hill. How Mt Bikes get singled out is beyond me, but I will still ride those trails. Good luck catching me.

    Anyone down for a protest ride?

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    • Stretchy August 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      Hear Hear! We should all just stop complying with laws and rules we don’t like. That will make cycling much more safe and enjoyable.

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      • Randall S. August 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm

        I’ve heard people use that argument for cars: “If everyone is ignoring the speed limit, then it means there’s a problem with the law.”

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      • Spiffy August 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm

        it works for stop signs…

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    • Jeff August 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      well, hey then, thanks for ruining it for the rest of us. brilliant logic.

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  • Granpa August 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    A mountain biker traveling at admitted “creepy fast” speed on a crowded trail is exactly why the closure is justified. There is no middle ground between adrenaline inducing thrill riding and a soul quieting walk in a nature park.

    I agree with stretchy that these ambassadors for cycling who perform these thrill rides will not change their behavior.

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  • Jeff August 23, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    So, does this mean mountain bikers are still tolerated on the blue and pink trails? I’m confused — I thought bikes were now basically booted from all unpaved surfaces.

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  • Zach August 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I don’t ride off-road, so please provide any correction needed, but isn’t the whole point of trail riding to ride fast?

    Who in their right mind could think it’s appropriate for a cyclist going 15mph or more to share a narrow trail – one with bumps etc. that must be jumped or dodged – with people and dogs? It’s completely ridiculous. The cyclists I’ve met on trails have always slowed down for me, but even then they’re moving much faster than any other trail users.

    There just isn’t enough room for mountain bikes to share narrow urban trails with other users. I fully support sharing wider trails/roads, and building dedicated mountain bike trails in forest park – especially those cool ones with all the wooden ramps and stuff. I just want cyclists to stay away from hikers. The two activities are quite often incompatible.

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    • Jeff August 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      Hi, Zach —

      No, the point of trail riding is to ride trails! There are countless examples of shared-use trails that work perfectly well. Cyclists are required to yield to pedestrians on these trails, and slow down or stop and pull over as necessary. It works perfectly well on Powell Butte, another city riding destination — pedestrians wave or say hello, or ask how the ride is going. As for what speeds people are riding — it depends on the conditions, and what is safe, just like when bikes and cars and pedestrians intermingle on paved roads.

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      • davemess August 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm

        I think it works at Powell Butte because there are just not very many people there period. Cyclists or people on foot.

        The Portland area has some problems in trail design, in that EVERY park is VERY dense and green. Steep hills, high, quick turns. In most other locations that have success with shared use trails, the trails usually have good sight lines and less tight turning. There’s not much chance that you’re going to unexpectedly plow into a hiker when you can see down a trail in Colorado for a mile.

        Sadly, I think the best solution is separate trails. Which is what it seems like the city is going to (only they are forgetting about the part where they are supposed to build trails for bikes).

        Those signs have been up for at least a few months. I have ridden my CX bike in the park a few times. Mostly I just run there. Powell Butte is about the same distance from my house and at least there is a little more options there, and I can actually ride on one trail for longer than .25 miles.

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    • Brian August 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      We share singletrack trails all the time, all over the world. Mtb’ers know when to control their speed, and that hikers have the right of way. I have been riding on the trails on Powell Butte, Oaks Bottom, Forest Park, and Mt. Tabor for 15 years. I have yet to have a single conflict with a pedestrian or equestrian. If the trail is too narrow, I stop and let the other user pass. It really is quite simple. The ONLY time I have had any conflict is riding TO the trail.

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    • Duncan Parks September 26, 2013 at 10:07 am

      I can tell you don’t ride off-road, because 15 mph is *really* fast on most twisty singletrack. For example, the lower Hide and Seek trail at Sandy Ridge drops 1.5 miles at (-) 7.4%, and is super-fun with bermed turns and a variety of features to go fast. The top *pro* time on Strava? 13.4 mph. A typical skilled and fast recreational rider (me)? 11 mph on my best day. The only places on Tabor where you could really ride faster are totally illegal fall-line blasts – or on any of the paved roads. The green trail isn’t even close – not nearly that kind of gradient, and flat- to off-camber turns which are much slower.

      I’ve had quite a few encounters where I stop in plenty of time when I come upon a hiker around a corner, but the person is still pissed off because they were surprised. Sorry, but being surprised by me (as opposed to being in actual danger from me) does not seem like a valid case of user conflict. Of *course* bikers need to be alert and considerate (especially around blind corners), but some folks are gonna complain no matter how courteously your ride.

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  • Sunny August 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    A little work on the ‘B’ will fix this right up.

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    • Dave August 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      Stay classy.

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    • Chris I August 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      No Mikes? That seems a little cold-hearted…

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  • Jeff August 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    No hikes? Eh, there’s plenty of room for hikers, too.

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  • Chris August 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    is there not plenty of space for dogs to roam with their masters elsewhere in the park besides this trail?

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  • michweek August 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    So no single track on Tabor aye? Bummer. I want some bike only and ped only trails. I don’t wanna share everything!

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  • Terry D August 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I live very near here and noticed a few of the signs a few weeks ago. I am pretty sure that some compromise sets of trails can be created. The park master plan was created before the bicycle master plan of 2010 and the recent court orders that require covering of the drinking water reservoirs. Hopefully we can find some money in there during construction to come up with a three tier trail system of sorts. First, a real paved MUP connecting Yamhill, Salmon and running past the reservoirs to hook up with the service road, Harrison and eventually to 64th. This would create a route parallel to 60th, plus give access to whatever we end up doing to that area when the the reservoirs are covered…I know a touchy subject, but we should think about the possible uses of that new open space above the water and think of it as an opportunity.

    We can also designate the widest dirt trail loops for “mixed use” and one for Hiker’s only and do some upgrading of the more narrow sections. Maybe some single trail downhill routes (which I would not use) but support. Some of the dirt trails are on steep slopes and very narrow.

    We have never had conflicts with a cyclists while hiking, but I can see some being a little skittish about sharing the path in the steeper sections. This is a wonderful park but a lot of the infrastructure is a little dated.

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  • Chris I August 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Personally, I’ve had enough conflicts while trail-running on the Green trail that I would never consider trying to ride it. Plus, it doesn’t seem very interesting or challenging enough. I’ll just go out to Powell Butte if I want something close.

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  • spencer August 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    the thing about Tabor is that its in town, many people can ride from their home, “mountain bike” and ride home, without the need to drive to the trailhead. it creates urban space to recreate on, rather than just dodging cars on the streets, cyclists, runners, hikers, can all recreate in town. This now seriously damages this shared use of the commons for cyclists. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it now. The conflicts that arise are (anecdotally) most often made more dangerous by extend o leashes on ill behaved lap dogs, and on all users using ipods and phones without paying attention to all park users. Any yes, I’ve hiked, road biked, run, walked, and ridden bikes off road.

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    • spencer August 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      This ruling and signage just criminalizes a legal act, much like skateboarding in the 80’s, 90’s. Just let us ride, PLEASE.

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    • Jeff August 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      Exactly. That’s what I really want. I don’t own a car, don’t plan on owning one, and whenever possible, I strongly prefer to get out and mountain bike without the enormous environmental cost of driving.

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  • Jolly Dodger August 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    If it’s too far to ride to forest park on MTB tires, then bus there. Some great single track up there that is hardly used by anyone. And Powell Butte offers some perfect trail thrills for ‘close-in’…you can even ride city/hybrid/multi-use tires from the top to the backside (springwater corridor) and get some road miles in as well. The first dog owner who loses a beloved family member to an adrenaline junkie too lazy to ride to a designated trail is going to ruin the reps of all riders.

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    • spencer August 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      I ride in Forest park, Where I live, you’re looking at a 4 hr ride to make it to German town and back. The singletrack thats “legal” in FP hardly is a destination. In fact the singletrack on Tabor WAS greater in distance than FL 5

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    • Brian August 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      What about when I have an hour to spare between the end of the work day and picking up my son from school?

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      • Zach August 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm

        What other non-road outdoorsy recreational activity could you possibly participate in during that timeframe? Maybe climb at Rocky Butte? I think it is important for people to have places to mountain bike in the city, but the activity we’re talking about here is more akin to kiteboarding than anything resembling a necessary social function like commuting or running errands on a bike.

        You have no right to participate in any particular form of recreation at a time and place of your choosing. A lot of people also wish there were more places to lap swim after work. Same deal.

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        • davemess August 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm

          Yet, there are oh I don’t know 30 pool options in Portand. How is that relevant. Most every other sport has options in Portland. Mountain biking doesn’t, and it could. That’s the point. The parks are there, we just can’t use them.

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        • Brian August 24, 2012 at 9:07 am

          Because it is my one passion in life, and there are no reasons for me (and many others, including kids) to not be able to enjoy it. Many other cities in the U.S. understand the benefits of providing for this opportunity, why not Portland? Take, Kansas City, for example: http://mobikefed.org/content/kansas-city-mountain-biking-mecca-oh-yeah

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  • GlowBoy August 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I don’t ride at Tabor a ton, but I’ve run into absolutely NOTHING even remotely resembling a conflict there. Then again, I usually ride the trails there at less-than-busy times. I would NOT ride Tabor’s trails on a sunny summer weekend afternoon.

    The admission of riding “creepy-fast” seems cherry picked to me. If you spend any time AT ALL on MTBR, you’ll see that most mountain bikers — especially the experienced and aware ones — are extremely aware of how all-powerful the hiking groups are and what a precarious position we’re always in with respect to trail access. So most of us are scrupulously careful to advocate not riding in a way that leads to major conflict. A lot of us BEND OVER BACKWARDS to make sure we’re not putting our trail access at risk. There are a few vocal exceptions, such as Mr. “creepy-fast”, but they are in the minority, at least among riders with any experience.

    As a similar example of this, look at just about any discussion of the popular Mckenzie River Trail in which a n00b is asking what it’s like to ride there, and there will be people imploring them not to ride that trail AT ALL on weekends. It’s VERY heavily used and we’re on the verge of losing access to it, so most of us avoid the busy times completely so we’ll still be able to ride there at less-busy times.

    And echoing Jeff’s response to Zach, NO the point is NOT necessarily to ride fast. Zach, I think you’re projecting a road-bike mentality onto a different sport, and it just doesn’t fit for a lot of us. Personally, I just enjoy riding trails in the woods. To me it’s an inherently more leisurely activity than biking on the road. I see the whole POINT as enjoying being out in nature; I’m NOT on a clock like every other waking moment, so I’m pointedly NOT in a hurry. Speed is only one of many enjoyable facets of mountain biking, and it does not always need to be part of the experience. In fact, if time is of the essence and I just want to get a fast-paced training ride in, I will take the pavement bike and ride the park road to the top and back down.

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    • Zach August 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Ride fast, do tricks, whatever. Activities incompatible with busy recreational use. I’m sure it’s more of a stroll down a trail for some riders, but you’ll have a lot of trouble convincing me that’s the majority’s approach to the sport.

      I could personally care less what bikers do on less popular trails in the hinterlands. There are quite a few places where there is more than enough room for everybody. Mt. Tabor is not one of those places.

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      • Brian August 24, 2012 at 11:08 am

        I disagree. A trail or two could be added, while at the same time addressing the need to deal with invasive plants. Or, a current trail could be handed over to mtb’ers to make their own. There is plenty of space for all.

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  • Spiffy August 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    can you get out there and get some pictures of the trail in different spots? I haven’t been on the unpaved trails in years and can’t really remember what they’re like… I remember them being wide and open, but it must have been a different trail…

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Hey folks… I just added an important update and clarification:

    UPDATE, 2:39: I’m getting new information from PP&R: Mark Ross says only some portions of the Green Trail (on the west side of Tabor) are off-limits to bikes. Ross added that someone placed a sign by mistake on the Blue Trail. That sign is being relocated immediately. He also wanted to make it clear that bikes can still ride on the Red and Blue Trails as well as the north, east, and west sides of the Green Trail. Sorry for any confusion caused by my initial report. Please spread this update if you can.

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    • Jeff August 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks for the update, Jonathan — that’s great to hear! There’s still a pretty nice loop we can ride on the remaining trails.

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  • Brian August 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    This is asinine. With Mr. Fish at the head of PP and R we continue to lose more trail access. It’s clear that off-road cyclists have zero political clout in this city, or else they would have found an actual solution (building some mtb-specific trails to take the place of the trails lost, for example). This city is in desperate need of an off-road/recreational riding master plan. The benefits for recreational, off-road riding are aplenty. I would love to hear some fresh ideas for ways to get OUR elected officials to finally wise up and get up to date with countless other cities in the country. So, how do get the city to work with NWTA on this matter? And who’s willing to dedicate some time to implement these ideas?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm


      Did you read the update I posted? This Tabor situation is not technically a loss of trail access. PP&R is putting up signs in places where bike riding was already off limits but they felt it needed stronger enforcement.

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      • Brian August 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm

        Yep, thanks Jonathan. I was typing that while you posted it. It doesn’t change my view though, as we have lost trail mileage in the 15 years I have been here (and have gained very little in other places). I still stand by my belief that we desperately need a master plan for off-road cycling, and will continue to do what I can to see that it happens. Thanks again for all of your effort. Aside from the great work NWTA is doing, you seem to be the only person holding the city accountable in a public forum when it comes to access.

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        • davemess August 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

          I think that’s because most who care about mountain biking and have the option to move do just that. And those that love it, just do a lot less of it (I’m in the second camp for now). Or they just admit defeat and every weekend or two drive out to Hood River or Bend.

          I did write an email to PPR complaining of their recent “makeover” of the trails at Powell Butte.

          Jonathan, you might want to cover that story too, if you’re looking to start a whole series on Portland MTBing.

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  • Spiffy August 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    what’s with the different city code referenced on each sign?

    the new one in this article is code 20.04.040 and it looks like the old article code is something like 16.25.250 (although the old image is very hard to read)…

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  • kate August 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    i run the green trail and saw this sign at a very logical and highly-used ingress today–immediately adjacent to another trail-ingress without any restrictive signage. it all seemed very equitable. sometimes i take this trail and my 8-year old is with me (human child, not dog on an extend-o leash). she’s not a terribly steady-on-her-feet kind of kid, but i never worry about meeting up with bikes on this signed part of the trail, honestly, because i can’t imagine its in the least interesting to a trail rider–flat-ish, tiny hills, clear of rocks… perfect for running or hiking, but riding? there are better trails for that, and no such signs in place. i love mt. tabor in that somehow, somewhere, it provides space and access for everyone -cars, bikes, boards, runners, walkers, kids, dogs.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Another important update: PP&R has just finished a new map showing bike trail access which is much easier to read than the one I initially shared in this story…

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    • She August 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Any way to get PP&R to also mark on here the trails that acceptable for cycling. I coach a HS CX team and this is a great training area for us. I coach the kids to be careful of people and dogs and to slow and yield to them but for us it is an amazing resource. It is difficult to get a group of 5-10 kids over to Powell Butte or Saltzman on a weekday and still have plenty of time to ride and get back in a reasonable amount of time. Mt. Tabor is nice and centrally located for our group.

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      • She August 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm

        Oops this first sentence should have been a question. JM you assistance in getting the PP&R to publish this on their website would be super helpful.

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        • davemess August 25, 2012 at 9:56 am

          Woodstock park (though a bit further south) would give your group some decent CX options. I was just thinking about that when I was running by it last night.

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  • Tom Archer August 24, 2012 at 7:51 am


    Thanks for continuing to cover these issues, it helps with the overall level of visibility and putting pressure on Parks to include mountain bikers in their policy discussions.

    I need to clarify a few things related to your article and our general position with regard to Tabor and other urban parks.

    1) NWTA wasn’t part of discussions with Mt. Tabor N/A. I attended a meeting with Parks staffers and was told they were going to enforce the trail designations as part of the master plan. There was no discussion. They asked if I would get the word out. I explained that we would, but that it would be difficult/impossible for us to play any role in compliance, particularly since trail riding options in the City are extremely limited. Up to that point, we had only heard anecdotally that there had been complaints. When I asked Parks how many complaints they received, they indicated it was 6-8 per year, which in my opinion, would seem to be relatively minor in the larger context and number of users.

    2) Because the N/A lodged complaints, Parks was really left with no option but to enforce the terms of the Master Plan. Yes, the Master Plan could be revisited, but it is a significant undertaking and in the context of NWTA’s limited resources, it just hasn’t been something we’ve been able to dedicate resources to.

    3) NWTA (at that time PUMP) wasn’t at the table when the Master Plan was drafted. Our user group hasn’t had a significant voice in larger recreation policy/planning efforts until recently, and even now we can only dedicate so much time to this issue. We work with over 10 different land managers throughout our region, and still being a volunteer organization, we have to prioritize our efforts. This isn’t to say we are neglecting issues within Portland, it’s just that we have to pick our battles.

    4) With regard to my quote “there’s not much we can do about it” let me qualify that statement. What I should have said is there’s not much we can do about it in the short term. These issues require a lot of time and patience to make progress. This isn’t fun stuff like riding or building trails – it’s sitting in meetings, reviewing policy and sticking with it over the long haul. Our experience is few people have the time/patience for this. One place to start would be to get a mountain biking representative on the Mt. Tabor N/A. If someone is interested in doing that, they should contact me.

    Portland Parks policy towards mountain biking has been and continues to be severely lacking, non-existent, and in many cases ill-informed. In part, that is because we haven’t been organized as a user group. Not to toot our own horn, but I believe we’ve made strides, and we are now being included in longer term discussions with Portland Parks, METRO, Intertwine, etc. I honestly think that the attitude within these organizations is changing, but it can’t happen fast enough. That is all the more reason for people to support NWTA’s/IMBA’s efforts. The first way to do that is to become a member. Numbers matter when we are advocating for increased access. Although our membership has increased 4-5x over the last few years (now about 500), it is still small relative to other advocacy groups, and the number of mountain bikers that live in our territory. We encourage people to stand up and be counted!


    Tom Archer
    Board Member/Advocacy Director
    Northwest Trail Alliance

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    • davemess August 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      “When I asked Parks how many complaints they received, they indicated it was 6-8 per year, which in my opinion, would seem to be relatively minor in the larger context and number of users.”

      Does that mean we only need 9 people a year to complain to the parks dept. about lack of mountain biking access?

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    • davemess August 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Tom, I’m curious if NWTA was aware of the recent “trail improvements” at Powell Butte? If you haven’t been out there, they’ve widened the trails and dumped at least 6-8in. or dirt on top of the trail, covering any roots.

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      • Tom Archer August 25, 2012 at 7:20 am

        Yes, in fact NWTA had significant input on the trail realignments, working to protect what access we had and improving this resource. As for the work that is going on there now, I haven’t been out since they first started. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the trails “dumbed down”. Trail specifications are for multi-use, not bike specific. That said, the contractor working on the project is very familiar with building MTB trails, having built alot of the trails in the Bend area. So, to the extent they can, they will try and incorporate “flow” into the re-design and keep them interesting for MTBers. We’ll wait and see what the end result is.

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        • davemess August 25, 2012 at 9:54 am

          Thanks for the reply. The only changes I have seen are making a few of the trails a solid 3 feet wide now (looks like they just used a mini bulldozer), cutting a lot of the greenery around the trail down and then dumping a bunch of dirt on the trail. I really take issue with this, since it is “Powell Butte NATURE park”, and many of the complaints we here about extending cycling access are all about how cyclists destroy nature.

          Maybe after a year of packing down the dirt the trails will be in fact even better than they were (shouldn’t take much right?), but I just don’t understand how widening a trail is the way to go in a “nature” park.

          Thanks for keeping up the fight, just signed up for NWTA yesterday. Sorry it took me so long.

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          • dennis veatch August 31, 2012 at 10:38 am

            I live on the Butte and have met and spoken on numerous occassions regarding the PB Trails, as well as the sytem being built and rebuilt. During construction then expect a lot of moon dust until winter sets in. Also, due to construction and realignment, expect a wide area of affected vegetation.
            I too was concerned, but over the course of the winter we should see a lot of improvement to the flow and feel of the trails after they’ve been rained on and bed in some. Tom is right, they will be ‘dumbed’ down a bit but in the grand scheme of things, this is a good move toward shared trails and reduced user conflict.

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    • She August 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      Tom – I will be contacting you to see how we can help each other.

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  • John J. August 24, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Well, if this is enforced as loosely as the leash law is cyclists have absolutely nothing to worry about.

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  • Jeff August 24, 2012 at 9:40 am

    You have no right to participate in any particular form of recreation at a time and place of your choosing. A lot of people also wish there were more places to lap swim after work. Same deal.

    This seems pointlessly confrontational. I haven’t heard anyone suggesting they have an automatic right to a place to mountain bike. We’re saying, “as taxpaying citizens of Portland, we’re interested in expanding the options for mountain bikers.” If enough people want a public amphitheater, or a playground, or a statue in a park, then there is a compelling civic interest, and the state can determine how best to meet that interest.

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  • GlowBoy August 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Agreeing with Jeff. No one’s talking about “rights” here. We believe it is in the public interest to expand mountain biking. It’s a clean, non-destructive and recreational activity that promotes health and gives kids another constructive activity.

    It is VERY much in the public interest to offer more opportunities in town rather than requiring people to pile themselves and their bikes into a car and drive an hour or more to do it.

    No one is claiming a “right” to a skatepark either. But I think it’s definitely benefited the public where we have built them.

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  • She August 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Is is possible to get this map with the routes that are acceptable to ride bike on it so we can be clear where we are ok and where we are not?

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  • She August 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Interesting the Mt. Tabor park description does not include biking as an activity.

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  • Hayduke August 25, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Face it. This park is in the middle of a major metropolitan area and you can expect to see anyone anytime on these trails. While I was walking 2 dogs there recently a biker came screaming down the trail going “creepy fast” and screamed at me “Get the f*** out of my way” without even slowing down. It was a very close call. Who would have been liable if said moron had injured someone? Think he would have offered to foot the vet or hospital bill? Think he would have been able to? Think he had any kind of insurance? Fortunately almost all riders are more considerate and should be allowed to ride where they want but only if they can ride like responsible human beings. On the other hand if some bikers are going to be a menace why should they be allowed on pedestrian trails in a major metropolitan area? One asshole can and will screw it up for everyone. That’s just the way it works.

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    • Duncan Parks September 26, 2013 at 11:43 am

      By this logic, we should close down roads to cars. I have had similar experiences with crappy drivers, but that is a reason to hold that person responsible, *not* ruin it for everyone. I don’t want to see this jerk hurt anybody, but you can’t hold everyone responsible for his (isolated) lame behavior. I doubt a trail closure sign will stop him, either…

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    • christopher November 23, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      seems like a fake story to me

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  • DK August 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    In principle: Disappointing to lose access in our beloved city of mt. bike challenged destinations.

    In practice: Who really cares? Mt Tabor was/is a lame place to ride a mt. bike.

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    • Tom Archer August 29, 2012 at 6:20 am


      Mountain biking is different things to different people. It may not be your cup of tea, but there are others who would enjoy riding their bike here.

      As a result of this discussion, we will have a representative at upcoming Neighborhood Association meetings to see what progress might be made.

      Tom Archer
      Northwest Trail Alliance

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  • dennis veatch August 31, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I live on the Butte and have met and spoken on numerous occasions regarding the PB Trails, as well as the system being built and rebuilt. During construction then expect a lot of moon dust until winter sets in. Also, due to construction and realignment, expect a wide area of affected vegetation.
    I too was concerned, but over the course of the winter we should see a lot of improvement to the flow and feel of the trails after they’ve been rained on and bed in some. Tom is right, they will be ‘dumbed’ down a bit but in the grand scheme of things, this is a good move toward shared trails and reduced user conflict.

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  • Duncan Parks September 26, 2013 at 10:18 am

    The real losers here are beginning riders. Lots of folks have learned to ride on the mellow and close Tabor trails – they’re easy to get to without a car, and very forgiving. Myself, I’ve led a couple of really fun beginner rides with my daughters’ Girl Scout troops. Green was perfect – just a few hills, very little potential for out-of-control speed, a confidence-inspiring narrow track. The only feedback we got from other folks on our rides were big smiles and encouragement from folks watching the girls hooting and hollering as they cruised together down the trail. This closure corresponds almost exactly with that great beginner route.

    Frankly, this is not going to be the trail of choice for the gonzo rider. And Tabor is not the place to go for challenging freeride terrain. Not everyone is a gonzo freerider, however, and they should have accessible places to ride as well.

    I’m off to try to modify my ‘cross training loop there so it doesn’t use Green, because I’m not willing to drive to find some mellow off-road terrain.

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