Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Holman Lane makes key connection through Forest Park, but only in one direction

Posted by on December 18th, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Holman Lane (red line) in relation to northwest Portland (to the right), Forest Park (shaded green), NW Cornell Rd (at the bottom) and Skyline Blvd (bottom left).
(Graphic: RideWithGPS)

Holman Lane is an unpaved fire lane in Forest Park. It winds uphill from northwest Portland almost a mile and nearly 500 feet in elevation from the corner of NW Aspen and Raleigh (map) before it meets with the quiet and tree-lined NW 53rd Avenue. Holman is open for cycling, and for those who know about it, provides a beautiful and safe connection between downtown and the West Hills, Skyline Boulevard, and points beyond.

But there’s an important detail about Holman Lane: bicycling is permitted only in the uphill direction. That’s too bad for people like Mike Owen, a Portlander who recently discovered Holman’s charms and utility.

“It is awesome,” Owen wrote to us via email last month. He likes it not just as a place to find solitude and urban recreation. To Owen, Holman is the preferred alternative to riding on busy and narrow NW Cornell and Thompson. Those roads are a popular gateway between downtown Portland and Skyline Blvd and the West Side for many road users (not just those on bikes). For fit and experienced riders, Cornell-Thompson aren’t too bad. “But it’s a terrible route for kids, families, timid riders or many commuters,” Owen wrote.

Here’s more from Owen:

“The alternatives [to Cornell/Thompson] are all the way out to Saltzman Road (Firelane 1 is unrealistic to go up), up to Pittock Mansion (tough) and dead-end on busy Skyline Blvd at Barnes, Zoo to Fairview and then again a long Skyline slog with cars and no shoulder or room to bike, or maybe backtrack to NW 61st, similar to where a Zoo route down and then up the Highway 26 route could take you.”

Owen likes Holman (for many of the same reasons as I do) because it’s wide, it begins in a quiet neighborhood that’s easily accessible by bike, and it ends up in the hills on NW 53rd, a very quiet street that sees very little auto traffic.

For those reasons, Owen wonders, “Wouldn’t an awesome commuter route that parallels Cornell through Forest Park be a win for everyone?”

As it stands, Holman’s isn’t a viable route because you can’t legally ride a bicycle in the one direction that holds the most potential. Its use as an uphill route is limited due to its steep grade (averages around 10%). But downhill, it would be a very useful road for people who want a safer option away from the traffic on Cornell-Thompson.

Elevation profile. (RideWithGPS)

So, why the downhill biking ban?

As far as we could tell, it dates back to the early 1990s. A 1992 article in The Oregonian refers to it:

“Mountain-bike activists worked hard to open two fire lanes and Holman Road in Forest Park to cyclists, after cyclists were limited to Leif Erickson Drive. But after only a year, residents near Holman Road already are pushing to reclose the little-used lane.”

And the ban was set in stone when it was called out specifically in the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan (Chapter 4, page 75) which states, “One way bike traffic is allowed on Holman Lane, cyclists are allowed to go up only.”

We were aware of that language in the plan; but we had still had questions about it because the signs posted on the fire lane itself makes it appear as though only the bottom 200 yards are off-limits to biking. There are two signs posted on Holman Lane that address this issue — on in the uphill direction and one in the downhill direction (both of the signs are just south of its intersection with Wildwood Trail).

Here’s the sign in the uphill direction (which refers to an outdated section of Portland City Code)…

Holman Lane in Forest Park

And here’s what you see in the downhill direction (about 0.8 miles down from NW 53rd)…

Holman Lane Forest Park-2

We asked Portland Parks & Recreation for a clarification and alas, it appears the entire 0.9 mile length of Holman lane is uphill-only. “It appears that bike traffic on Holman Lane was directed to be unidirectional because of the steep grade and a concern for pedestrian / bike safety,” wrote Parks spokesman Mark Ross to us via email. We didn’t find any record of actual conflicts (or mention of them in The Oregonian archives); but as we know all too well, the word “safety” can have a powerful and broad impact on policy.

“Riders speed down Holman Lane, which is posted as an uphill only trail.”
— Catherine Thompson in City Council testimony on November 21, 2013

As the 1992 mention in The Oregonian alluded to, there are some people who wanted no bike access on Holman Lane and safety concerns were a convenient way to argue their case. It doesn’t appear that anyone is trying to close Holman to bikes completely these days; but the downhill ban in the name of safety seems to be as strong as ever.

Just last month, Forest Park activist Catherine Thompson addressed Mayor Hales and members of Portland City Council about a myriad of bike-related concerns. Among them were that people on bikes make Forest Park unsafe. “Riders speed down Holman Lane,” Thompson claimed, “which is posted as an uphill only trail.”

While the ban persists, folks like Mike Owen are curious if it’s possible to revisit it. As a safe bicycling route between the Northwest Heights neighborhood (around Skyline Blvd) and northwest Portland, Holman Lane could increase access for many people at no cost to anyone. Walking nearly a mile downhill on a dirt road isn’t feasible. If safety (or even erosion for that matter) is a concern, perhaps a 5 mph speed limit is a better solution?

We plan to explore what it would take to consider a change in this policy and open up Holman to bicycling in both directions. We’ll report back what we find out.

In the meantime, what are your experiences with Holman Lane? Do you ride it? What do you think about the downhill biking ban?

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

  • matt f December 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I ride up it quite a bit on my mountain bike. It’s pretty dang steep especially if you don’t have the low gearing of a mountain bike. And it’s a sloppy mess most years from November through June.

    I think it would be great if it was open both directions, but I don’t think a lot of people would use it for commuting…you would need at least a cross bike to ride it up or down. But it would be a nice option.

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    • davemess December 18, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      agree, this “trail” is pretty muddy for a good portion of the year. Not something I would want to go down (except for a few dry late summer months), and even then probably only on my mountain bike.

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  • medium-fat tyres December 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    as a newly minted owner of an all terrain bike, who apparently missed the memo on the fact that most of Mt Tabor’s trails are currently closed to bikes… is there anywhere in PDX where you can ride a bike on the dirt downhill?

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    • spencer December 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      Riverview Trails # 6, its expert level riding, go with a buddy

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    • Psyfalcon December 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      I thought it was just one trail. (Now, that is the trail that I do want to ride).

      Make a loop with the steep trails going up the east side, then come down the north side. Stay on that trail just south of Salmon, around the round reservoir, and then around the knob.

      Is it real mountain biking? Not really, but you can get a few hill repeats in while staying on dirt.

      Link to previous story with map:

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      • medium-fat tyres December 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm

        siiiiick… thanks bro. I guess I just kept hitting the closed signs on that one trail at the bottom repeatedly and got fed up… feels like I hit 5 separate no bikes signs. will repeat ride with much more dirt next time.

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    • davemess December 18, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      At risk of blowing our little-used “secret” park, Powell Butte just built some mountain-bike oriented trails in addition to the ones already there. It’s not the best riding in the world, and not super technical, but there is a lot of climbing and cornering and not too many other users there. Easy access from the Springwater as well. Spring and Fall nights (with lights) are the best, as you basically have the park to yourself.

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  • spencer December 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Good luck changing or adding access for bikes. The Original Forest Park plan called for responsible and active usages by peds, bikes, and horses (even camping). Does that really jibe w/ how the park is managed now? The down hill ban is an egrarious example of letting NIMBYism control our public spaces. I for one, walk and ride responsibly and am NOT a safety concern.

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    • Rob Chapman December 19, 2013 at 12:14 am

      The original plan sounds pretty delightful actually. A couple of well designed campsites could be a real gem. Having shared trails in the Eagle Cap with horses with no problems at all, those wouldn’t bother me up there either. More users means more people who care about the park. As it stands personally, outside of the occasional Lief ride I’m sort of “meh” about Forest Park. I’ve been in real wilderness and FP isn’t one.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Since I discovered Holman only about a year ago, I ride it all the time and I love it. To me it’s great not just because I like the climb and the dirt and the trees and stuff, I ride it specifically because it means I don’t have to worry about speeding cars on Cornell/Thompson. If it was legally open in the downhill direction it would be the main way I drop back into town from the many rides I do up in the west hills.

    I don’t think “safety” concerns are a good enough reason to close it. It’s very possible to simply ride down slowly and in control.

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    • John Lascurettes December 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      It’s not like anyone is keeping you from walking the bike downhill. .9 mi is not that far. Yes, it would be nice if they allowed a 5mph speed limit for bike use as stated in the article, but that’s not much faster than a brisk walking speed.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm

        A walking-only rule for .9 miles is a deal-breaker and means no one – including myself – will rely on this route on a regular basis.

        Ideally, I’d like to see no downhill ban and no set speed limit. We should simply place caution signs and use education as a first measure. There are very few users of Holman Lane at this time and I haven’t heard of any documented collisions between users (not that lack of documentations means it doesn’t happen).

        The onus to prove why a ban on a particular use should be on the people who insist on the ban. So the question we should ask in 2013 is why is a ban needed? Perhaps it’s time to revisit the policy? If not, why not?

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        • L December 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm

          How do you know there are “very few users of Holman Lane at this time”? You must not ride it much in the winter when the mud shows clear evidence of many, many foot prints from runners and walkers, dog prints and tire prints. Holman Lane is used as much as any other part of the inner-city section of the forest. Which is to say – plenty To be running uphill on Holman and look up and see a bike careening downhill in muddy conditions would be a dicey situation. Will the biker slow down? Will they stop in time or will they rely on the more vulnerable user to get the heck out of the way? I don’t care to find out, thanks.

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          • Spencer December 18, 2013 at 7:53 pm

            Foot prints AND tire tracks stay for weeks in mud, they are not evidence of abuse, just use. The park was created to preserve and restore a burned out clearcut and to provide recreation opportunities. Not every bike rider is a downhiller, in fact the majority are card toting liberal enviros’, the park and this lane can be used responsibly by the bike community if given the chance to take ownership in the park. As it stands now none of us bikers give a blank about it because our community has been expelled from the management plan

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            • L December 18, 2013 at 10:10 pm

              I wasn’t opening the door to a conversation about “abuse” just use – Maus was implying Holman Lane isn’t used much. I was saying it is used lots – by bikers, runners, walkers.

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              • Alex December 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm

                It isn’t used lots. I have spent a lot of time on Holman Lane over the years and lived basically across the street from it for a few years. This isn’t “heavily used” or perhaps our definitions of “heavily used” are quite different.

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    • matt f December 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      you got disc brakes on that road bike?

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    • Todd Hudson December 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      It’s unfortunate that the suggesting things like opening this trail to two-way bike traffic triggers the histrionics of the Marcy Houle types.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm

        FWIW, Catherine Thompson was testifying alongside Houle. I just didn’t mention Houle in the story.

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        • Todd Hudson December 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm

          I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!

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          • Doper December 18, 2013 at 9:20 pm

            I have truly enjoyed my time bikecycling in the Houle-Thompson off road recreational bikecycling pristine wildnerness. Houle-Thompson makes some mighty fine trails, with my mustard, MmmmmmHmmmm!

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    • wsbob December 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      “…I don’t think “safety” concerns are a good enough reason to close it. It’s very possible to simply ride down slowly and in control.” maus/bikeportland

      I suppose your thoughts about that may vary depending upon whose safety is at issue. If the Holman Ln fire lane is still being used by people on foot, they, as vulnerable trail users may feel uncertain about being able to rely on people riding down the lane, to go slowly, or necessarily with a level of control that will be safe for people on foot…or other people on bikes.

      From Maus’s story, here’s something to think about:

      “…Walking nearly a mile downhill on a dirt road isn’t feasible. …”

      Maus, for some reason, suggests that walking a mile isn’t feasible. A mile on foot, at a normal walking speed is about 3mph, so…20 minutes. Put one hand on the bar stem, guide the bike along, shoulder it maybe occasionally, no biggy. I’ll be interested in reading what top to bottom times by bike, people expect a ride downhill would approximately be. At 6mph, it would be about a 10 minute ride. To say an extra 10 minutes makes walking down a deal breaker, isn’t persuasive.

      There likely are people in Portland that would like…love Holman Ln to be a downhill off-road bike route…and that in no small part, is exactly how they should frame discussion about whether the lane should be opened to riding it downhill by bike. Suggestions that opening the lane to downhill bike riding, would just be for commuter purposes, is likely to be suspected of being either an attempt to slide an aspired to downhill mountain bike road under the radar…perhaps inadvertently, an opening to people that would choose to ride their bikes downhill in a brisk manner.

      A 5mph bike speed limit set is good idea. Ideas about effective ways people riding bikes could be kept from exceeding that limit, would be welcome.

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      • davemess December 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm

        6mph on a bike (even on a steep downhill like this) is ridiculously slow.

        I’m sorry Bob, but walking a bike through one particular section of a road or trail is just silly. Do we make dog walkers pick up their dogs an carry them?

        Frankly I don’t see a lot of point in opening this to downhill traffic anyway as others have noted, it is muddy most of the year, very steep, and not even really an enjoyable ride down (like most of the firelanes in FP). But to use safety as the reasoning is pretty weak.

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        • wsbob December 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm

          “…I’m sorry Bob, but walking a bike through one particular section of a road or trail is just silly. …” davemess

          Explain why you think it’s silly for this location; the dog analogy doesn’t cut it…maybe you’re imagining people riding wildly galloping dogs through the forest. Walk your bike occasionally, it’s not the big deal some people seem to think it is. In races, cyclocross riders have no problem dismounting, shouldering their bikes, running with them on their shoulders. People not in a race ought to be able to casually pad down a dirt fire lane road for 20-30 minutes, leading their bike alongside them.

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          • Alex December 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm

            You are perhaps the least practical person I have seen commenting on the internet.

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          • davemess December 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm

            Because no sane person wants to walk a bike for almost a mile. Either make it banned for biking or make it allowed. The purpose of a bike is to move a pace faster than a walk. Requiring people to dismount and walk completely negates the fact that they have a bike.

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      • Alex December 19, 2013 at 12:32 pm

        I was waiting for you to comment on this with ridiculous suggestions! You always come through for me. Walking a bike downhill is ridiculous and causes more damage to the trail than just riding the bike downhill.

        Regarding your point about safety concerns, I think you are pretty much a zealot regarding perspective. Bikes and hikers and equestrians share trails all over the world and it works out just fine. It is really a small, vocal and very political group – of which, you are included – that keeps mtb’s out of forest park. It is completely out of hand. Bring some science and keep your illogical fears at home.

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    • MaxD December 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      I agree that it is possible to ride down safely and in control, but I frequently ride up Leif Ercikson and Saltzman and frequent encounters with inexperienced or arrogant cyclists flying down hill and forcing everyone (other cyclists, joggers, dog walkers) to get out of their way. You may not be one of them, but there are more than enough macho jerks on bikes to make me support the uphill-only in Forest Park. This is a fairly crowded, urban woods, and slow speeds are appropriate. Bikes have not shown that they can self-police; check out the esplanade if you doubt it.

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  • Granpa December 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I have climbed it and it is a brute. I always felt accomplished on reaching the top. I haven’t done that for a few years. Considering the depth and breadth of mud mid-climb I support the directional restrictions.

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    • matt f December 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      just to clarify, you support the downhill restriction because of the mud?

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      • Granpa December 18, 2013 at 3:52 pm

        I support downhill restriction. The mud makes this trail a sensitive area. I will bet you a beer that the mud zone is a wetland. The mud wallow will grow deeper and wider with increased use of the path. As riders try to avoid the mud they will widen the impacted footprint. Maintaining the downhill restriction is a speed governor that prevents kamikaze downhill riders from (I believe the term you use is) shredding and it is a use limiter as the volume of traffic on the uphill only trail will not be as great as if it were a two way ride.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 19, 2013 at 9:56 am

          I ride this pretty frequently and I don’t think mud is as big of an issue as folks are making it out to be.

          Also, the presence of mud should not lead to a ban on an activity. Horses and hikers also have an impact on muddy trails. If it’s very muddy, the policy should be to discourage use and educate people about impacts.

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          • davemess December 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm

            Granted I last rode Holman in April, but there were some crater size puddles and the few rideable lines we took (on mountain bikes) were still quite wet and slick. Having spent a lot of time in FP running, I know how wet those trails stay for most of the years and how swampy the soil can be.

            Maybe I have a skewed perspective but I just don’t see that route be a viable option for very many people unless it was rebuilt or seriously/consistently maintained.

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          • kgb December 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm

            It gets muddy we are just in an unusual dry spell.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu December 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    The lack of a safe route to the west side is one of the most glaring “holes” in our bicycle infrastructure. This unpaved road won’t solve it, even if it were bi-directional.

    Have there been any realistic proposals or attempts to get a bicycle connection over the hills?

    I drive and ride Cornell/Thompson, and can’t see how it could be expanded to accomodate anything better than a pair of four foot bike lanes with only painted-line separation from traffic lanes. Burnside looks even worse. I’m curious if there is a better solution out there.

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    • davemess December 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Washington Park to the 26 bike path?

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      • Martin December 19, 2013 at 10:30 am

        ^^^That is the best route. I used to commute from NW 21st to Hillsboro a few times a week for years and I tried almost all the routes over the west hills from Newberry to Vista. After lots of experimentation, most of the time I would take Washington Park->Marconi->Kingston->Fairview->Skyline->26 bike path. It is pretty frustrating to think that the cars and train get a tunnel built for them straight through the west hills, but if I want to go on bike or foot I have to climb over the damn thing.

        I never knew Holman was an option though. For me those windy busy roads (Cornell, Burnside, Skyline, Thompson, Germantown, Newberry) are sketchy when travelling uphill because a bike is moving slow relative to the cars and there are blind corners and no shoulders, but downhill isn’t so bad because you can take the lane and go close to car speeds. So why not just take Holman up and Cornell down? Zipping down Cornell is fun and safe only takes like 5 minutes top to bottom. I can’t imagine this dirt trail is faster than that.

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        • wsbob December 19, 2013 at 11:07 am

          “…I never knew Holman was an option though. For me those windy busy roads (Cornell, Burnside, Skyline, Thompson, Germantown, Newberry) are sketchy when travelling uphill because a bike is moving slow relative to the cars and there are blind corners and no shoulders, but downhill isn’t so bad because you can take the lane and go close to car speeds. So why not just take Holman up and Cornell down? Zipping down Cornell is fun and safe only takes like 5 minutes top to bottom. I can’t imagine this dirt trail is faster than that.” Martin

          Exactly…and as you explain so persuasively, that Cornell downhill is fast and quick, is one of the reasons the pitch for use of the Holman Ln dirt fire lane for riding bikes downhill as a bike commuter route, is not persuasive.

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          • Alex December 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm

            Cornell downhill during commuting times isn’t a great option. There are so many cars and the road is narrow and the drivers can get pretty reckless through there. But I get your point – come up with any reason to keep mtb’s out of forest park because “think of the children”.

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            • wsbob December 19, 2013 at 1:12 pm

              “…But I get your point – come up with any reason to keep mtb’s out of forest park because “think of the children”.” Alex

              I think you get the point that Cornell isn’t bad for downhill on a bike, even during commute times.

              It’s unfortunate you weren’t able to say so without following that up with a counterproductive wisecrack.

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              • Alex December 19, 2013 at 1:24 pm

                That was exactly my point – it isn’t a good option for an evening commute downhill.

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          • davemess December 19, 2013 at 1:35 pm

            So because there is an alternative Holman just shouldn’t have access? That’s a very loaded statement. By that logic, since Skyline basically goes North-South the Wildwood trail is completely unnecessary for walking.

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    • trikeguy December 19, 2013 at 10:37 am

      I climb Fairview daily. I wouldn’t mind an uphill bikelane paired with no parking on the right-side going uphill – but it’s not a requirement.

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    • Chris I December 19, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Burnside doesn’t really need two uphill lanes. That would allow for at least 5ft bike lanes on each side.

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  • Noel December 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    If they opened this path I would consider riding this route to work. I usually have to ride next to 26 and up council crest then down Montgomery.

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  • Bjorn December 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Let’s call Thompson and Houle what they are “anti bike” activists, not forest park activists. Their goal isn’t to keep two way traffic off Holman it is to eliminate bikes from the park entirely. Someone who really cared about the park would be working to fix the real problems in the park, invasive species and illegal camping.

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    • lunchrider December 18, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      ad hominem attacks are inappropriate, get facts before speaking is always a good idea, Marcy and Catherine care passionately about the park, and are not anti-bike , they are however concerned about how bicyclists use the park and how we can all use it together. and yes they do care about fighting invasive species

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      • Brian December 18, 2013 at 8:06 pm

        Until they voice concerns of the impacts of all user groups (including themselves) and focus solely on cyclists, they will be considered anti-cyclist. They are extremists and they should be viewed as such. Their most recent anti-bike rant is safety. If that is truly the concern, there are obvious solutions that would be considered fair compromises by non-extremists.

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      • mran1984 December 19, 2013 at 9:53 am

        There are no facts to support this. Zero!

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        • Bjorn December 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm

          These two people continue to push the idea that Forest park is a wilderness and therefore should not have bike access, it clearly in no way qualifies as a wilderness, that is just more misinformation. Just like the idea that pedestrians in the park are scared to death of cyclists, I go hiking there several times a year, and I can’t remember the last time I even saw a cyclist while I was walking because when I walk I am usually on the trails that don’t allow bikes. Houle got herself placed on the Parks Singletrack committee and then didn’t bother to show up to the first 2 meetings (why show up at the beginning if you already know that your only goal is to disrupt the process). She came to the third meeting and then refused to discuss the issue with those who had been working towards a consensus at the earlier meetings, and then set about trying to wreak havoc with a monkeywrench. Unfortunately her tactics were successful at that point in time.

          Later in a letter Houle represented to the city council that photographs she had were of damage caused by cyclists in the park and that she was ready to show that damage to anyone who wanted to see it. I contacted her two times asking to see the damage first hand, and all I heard back was crickets. In my opinion that is because the photos in question were not from forest park which is why she could not show me the “damage”. Unfortunately people seem to think she is some sort of an expert on the park, but I have found her to be less than an honest participant in the debate about how to open the park to single track mountain biking with minimal conflict between user groups.

          She doesn’t just oppose any increase in cycling on the trails where it is currently not allowed she has also publicly opposed creating new separate trails that would be cycling only to eliminate the conflict and safety concerns that she touts. Marcy offers only roadblocks and has nothing to add to the discussion nor has she proposed any alternative solutions. In contrast people like Frank Selker and Tom Archer who have been active in trying to pursue a real solution seem open to a myriad of possibilities from sharing trails based on the day of the week to new cycling only trails. The problem is what progress can possibly be made with someone who opposes the very idea of sharing the park with anyone whose use pattern doesn’t mirror hers exactly and who has no logical arguments against the change, only fear.

          Initially they said that their opposition was because of possible ecological impacts, but now that the wildlife study has been completed that says that isn’t a real problem they have had to go to their backup that cycling is too dangerous for the park. If a study is completed showing that there is no safety issue with cycling in the park you can bet they will be ready with a new reason to oppose it claiming that nothing should go forward until another study can be done. Enough with the stall tactics, lets reform the committee with people who are honest actors and move forward toward a solution that allows mountain biking in the park while minimizing conflict.

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          • Manville December 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm

            And that is why I rock Forrest Park on the MTB when it is dry. I don’t have time for ignorant extremist

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 19, 2013 at 10:03 am


        I have followed Houle’s actions around this issue closely. She collaborated with a friend posing as a reporter at a local media outlet to spread blatant propaganda that was meant to mislead people about the impact bicycling has on Forest Park. That’s not my opinion, that is fact.

        You can read more about it here:

        Houle has done everything in her power to stop any compromises that would lead to improved bike access in Forest Park and she has produced no solid evidence for her case.

        I think if Houle was in this because she cared about the future of Forest Park she wouldn’t be spending so much time and energy preventing so many potential stewards (bike riders) from getting involved in helping keep it healthy far into the future. I think what the park sorely needs is improved bike access, combined with good management and education.

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        • wsbob December 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

          “She collaborated with a friend posing as a reporter at a local media outlet to spread blatant propaganda that was meant to mislead people about the impact bicycling has on Forest Park. That’s not my opinion, that is fact. …” maus/bikeportland

          Maus…cool your jets. You allege Houle is posing as a reporter, yet there’s nothing in the story you provide a link to, that provides facts to support any such thing. Next in your comment excerpt above, your rambling opinion alleges intent “…to spread blatant propaganda…”.

          Which you use to allow your rambling opinion to further allege, was to “…mislead people about the impact bicycling has on Forest Park. …”.

          Maus, there’s not one bit of fact in your comment. In fact, that particular comment of yours was entirely of your opinion, and nothing more.

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          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 19, 2013 at 11:37 am


            I said Houle collaborated with a reporter. I didn’t say she posed as a reporter. And I think propaganda is an accurate term to describe what she did by working with the publisher of the NW Examiner (who is also a well-known bicycling skeptic and who called people who want better bike access in Forest Park “zealots” in a strongly-worked opinion piece a few years ago) in order to put together a story that was presented as news yet was clearly opinion. And the story was full of unfounded assumptions, speculations, and so on.

            And yes, you’re right, these comments are my opinions… Which is why I’m sharing them in the comments.


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            • wsbob December 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm

              “I said Houle collaborated with a reporter. I didn’t say she posed as a reporter. …” maus/bikeportland

              I started out writing, ‘Fair enough, thanks for the clarification on that point’, until I re-read your response here, in which you say: “…Houle collaborated with a reporter. …”, rather the earlier: “…with a friend posing as a reporter at a local media outlet….”. Hard to tell whether you’re now saying something different, or whether you’re making a contradiction.

              Going on…if, as opinion where opinion is justified, you want to use words such as ‘propaganda’, that’s your choice, even though that word is what some would describe as being ‘loaded’, or inflammatory. Simple definition for readers:

              “Information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause.” WordWeb

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              • davemess December 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm

                Bob, he basically repeated it back to you. You just didn’t read it right the first time, which is incredibly ironic as you love to cut and paste so much and hold people to their words.

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            • Manville December 19, 2013 at 7:24 pm

              I agree with you opinion; keep them coming

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        • L December 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm

          When are you going to sit down with “Houle”, face to face, and have an intelligent, one on one interview with her. Demonizing people is non-productive.

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          • Bjorn December 22, 2013 at 5:59 pm

            I doubt this is possible, I tried to reach out to her to find out more about the damage she told the city council was occuring within the park and she would not respond. She doesn’t want to have an intelligent debate about the issue she wants to destroy the process so that things stay exactly as they are now. Part of the reason for that is that she has a financial incentive as she makes money selling books and giving tours claiming that Forest Park is a Wilderness Area.

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      • kgb December 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm

        I also disagree. They are clearly anti-bike.

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  • Robert Ping December 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Age old argument against mountain biking, sad we haven’t grown past this. And funny how NIMBYs always scream ‘safety’ in these cases! So, she feels that riding on a high speed, curvy commuter route (SW suburban, no less; you know what I mean by that) with a long line of fast moving, 4-6,000lb cars and trucks is safer for bikes?

    Oh…wait a minute…what she may actually be saying is that SHE doesn’t like the inconvenience of having to worry about bikes when she is walking in HER neighborhood (does she walk with a dog, too?).

    I encourage anyone in this debate to find (or create) comparative crash data between those two options – Holman and Cornell or Cornell/Thompson. I would be willing to bet the crash/close call/buzzing/harrassment data, especially on Cornell, supports getting cyclists off of Cornell/Thompson.

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  • Robert Ping December 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    There are certainly viable solutions…

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  • GlowBoy December 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    I would agree that a 20 minute walk would be a deal breaker for a lot of people, and (as a daily Portland-Beaverton commuter, who sometimes “detours” home through Forest Park) that the lack of good connections between Portland and the Westside is THE biggest hole in our system.

    Still … I’m not sure allowing downhill travel on Holman is a good idea. You’d get a ton of fast downhill riding and shuttling.

    BUT there is a good downhill alternative: Firelane 1. It’s mentioned above as not being a good uphill route (which I agree with) but it also works great downhill. Part of why it’s been OK to have Holman as uphill-only for 20 years is that it makes a good loop route in combination with 53rd and FL1.

    If you’re coming down NW 53rd ANYWAY, just hang a quick left up Forest Lane and it dead-ends into FL1. Which is a pretty steep downhill, but so would be Holman. Firelane 1 will drop you onto Leif Erickson a couple miles from the trailhead, but it’s mostly downhill from the junction. Sure beats walking your bike a mile down Holman.

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  • dennis December 18, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Why not close it to pedestrians, and make it a bike only path? Solves the “safety” concerns.

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  • davemess December 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Same crap, different decade…….

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  • Ryan December 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    One thing no one has mentioned is that … Why aren’t more trails opened up in the uphill direction only? Is it due to them not being wide enough by some master plan regulation?

    There are a few single tracks that would be nice to be able to legally ride up in forest park. Ridge, Trillium, Tolinda, etc They are all so steep in general that collisions really aren’t much of an issue. The signs should really read, No Mountain Bikes. CX bikes ok. 🙂

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    • davemess December 19, 2013 at 7:31 am

      But you have to give people places to go down to. We don’t live in MC Escher’s world (sadly).

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      • Ryan December 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm

        In forest park, there are always other ways down, including paved streets. having more ways up would open up a number of new routes and possibilities.

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        • davemess December 19, 2013 at 1:39 pm

          Possibilities to what? Ride up a trail and then down a road? I don’t think that’s progress. People want to ride on trails up AND down.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

      That’s a great question and one I’ve thought about a lot myself. There absolutely should be some existing trails where people are allowed to bike up. There is absolutely no safety or erosion or habitat argument against riding a bike uphill on a trail. This lack of ability to come up with creative solutions has unfortunately plagued the Forest Park bicycling committee and debate. The biking question has been seen as an either/or proposition instead of having cool heads come up with common sense compromises that would improve bike access while being sensitive to existing uses and trail conditions.

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      • MaxD December 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

        Potentially, the danger is allowing bikes to ride uphill because it is safe and doesn’t cause erosion and then you wind up with cycling activists wanting to add downhill after a couple of years!

        I am an avid cyclist. I bike through Forest Park at least once a week during the dry/daylit half of the year. I love riding off-road and think we should have more off-road options in Portland. I also recognize that narrow trails and shared paths in the city work best at slower speeds. I also know that cyclists, not all, but enough to make some rules worthwhile, will not ride slowly or safely. EVERYONE in a car or on a bike over-estimates their ability at least some of the time. It totally sucks to have some fool on a bike careening down a slippery path (or weaving through path users on the Esplanade) selfishly ruin the experience for other users including slow, uphill riders. I love the idea of expanding uphill riding in Forest Park, downhill not so much.

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  • Ryan December 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    But also… the only person who will commute via Holman is a bike racer. And a motivated one at that.

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  • resopmok December 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Sorry, just pointing out a small confusing typo in the paragraph after the elevation gain graph: “So, why the uphill biking ban? ” I think it’s supposed to read: “So, why the downhill biking ban?”

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  • gutterbunnybikes December 18, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Muddy firelane trails don’t really translate to “commuter path” to me.

    Can’t you just state the real point. You want a downhill Mt. bike path.

    I’m all for either, but a commuter path would require pavement…which we all know aint gunna happen there.

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    • Brian December 19, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Some commute on cross bikes and mountain bikes.

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    • Alex Reed December 19, 2013 at 9:22 am

      I could see some of my coworkers being very into commuting via Holman. An opportunity to have a country/forest experience in the city. Many of them change and shower in the morning anyway, so the dirt wouldn’t be an issue for them.

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    • Paul Souders December 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      I would commute on this fire lane.

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  • Ted Buehler December 19, 2013 at 12:54 am

    “ride” — definition is “to sit on and manage (a horse, bicycle, etc.) so as to be carried along.”

    I’ve always assumed that if I wasn’t sitting on, or astride of, my bicycle, that I wasn’t “riding” it. Sometimes on clear downtown sidewalks I’ll “scoot” my bike — stick my right foot on my left pedal, hands on the handlebars, and stand straight up on my right leg. If needed, I can crouch my right leg and push with my left foot to “scoot” along the sidewalk. I’ve always assumed this was perfectly legal, kinda like riding a segway.

    When you’re “scooting” you’re not nearly the hazard to pedestrians as when riding. You can’t go very fast under your own power, you can instantly “pedestrianize” yourself by touching the brakes and hopping off.

    The sign on the top end of the trail says “walk bikes for next 200 yards.” And the “riding prohibited” section is 0.9 miles. So, it seems that a bicyclists could walk for 600′ “a 2 minute walk if you’re moving along) and then “scoot” for the next 0.7 mile.

    I’ve never been on this trail (but I sure like it on the map as a way to get to Beaverton & environs). I’m wondering, could folks scoot the downhill section at 5 mph?

    Ted Buehler

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  • Andy K December 19, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Thank you for the research and spotlighting Holman Lane – a hidden, rarely used gem for bikers in Forest Park. I have used it as a shortcut and for hill repeats and have still not seen another human using it. I tried to be good and walk my bike back down after the first repeat but it was excruciating so I rode it down after that. It is sad that this appears to be a NIMBY issue masked as a safety one because if you’ve ridden this trail downhill (shame!), you already know there are other, more dangerous trails in the park that are open to downhill bikers.

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  • Brian December 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

    It is time for the FP management plan to be updated. It was written in 1995, I believe. It is outdated. This document was recently released, which did not address the recreation aspect.

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  • Ryan December 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Perhaps another reason that downhill is banned on holman is that it intersects Wildwood near the bottom. That close-in to town you get lots of meandering walkers.

    Also, in terms of alternate routes, it’s really not much farther to legally slither down Forest Lane / FL1 – also off of 53rd. The route is more technical, but probably only adds a few minutes of ride time if you’re coming from Skyline. You can take FL1 all the way to St Helens Rd or join to Lief.

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  • kww December 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    not to worry friends! I have just come into bargain lot of 19,000 SRAM hydraulic brakes – now we can ride downhill safely again!

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    • davemess December 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      only above 32 degrees though!

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      • kww December 19, 2013 at 6:30 pm

        Comrades, in Soviet Portland, brakes break you! purchase with confidence!

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  • catbot December 20, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I used to live near Holman lane and loved walking it regularly. It would sometimes get super duper muddy, which made it quite a fun adventure on foot. Now it’s more of a treat a few times a year when I get over to the area.

    It’s plenty wide for the occasional people using the trail on foot or on bicycle, but I don’t feel like we have any established way to share that kind of a trail/road. On foot, I would definitely wander all over the place to avoid mud spots or check out interesting things growing and probably would be in the way of people traveling downhill on a bicycle.

    I’m more than happy to include people on bicycles if the trail continues to be good for people on foot and the environment. And I guess some of its charm is the lower usage. I’m not aware of good norms for sharing that kind of a forest path, and I’ve definitely been startled by people riding downhill in the forest in the past. If we could sort out good norms, including people heading downhill on bicycles keep a nice eye out for people, I think it could work. I wonder if some of the work that has been done between snowmobile and snowshoeing communities might be helpful?

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  • Spliffy December 21, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Way too muddy most of the year to even run up
    That can and needs to be fixed –
    Otherwise a great trail- fire lane

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  • Spliffy December 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Why not wood chips or a gravel
    Strip or elevated planks above the mud pits ?
    Closest off road hill climb to downtown and its unusable most of the year

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    • Mike Owens January 9, 2014 at 5:36 pm


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  • tom December 22, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    not to stir the pot but ahh, who cares….portland is full of hiking fascists…this is the only city ive ever lived in where mountain bikes are seen as a veritable pariah…good luck getting any kind of sane discourse going with anyone who doesnt ride.

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  • Mike Owens January 9, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I can’t believe I missed my Bikeportland highlight! Thanks Jonathan, I appreciate all you do.

    I’d like to make a few quick points, though in reality I realize that opinions here have covered most.

    My vision is Holmon = Saltzman. Fix the mud. Saltzman is a great ride up, as many of you know. Holman is more of a challenge but if surfaced like Saltzman much less so. It would be much more usable for walkers, less damage and erosion. If you don’t have to puddle hop when walking, more usable space for multi-use too. Is it historic or wild to leave it muddy? I guess, but really??

    I also wondered about not riding back down Holman. I ride Cornell down all the time, and I agree perhaps it is just as well to go down Cornell. But it is BUSY with cars, and issues do arise in conflict, where next door Holman is quite the opposite. Would it just be possible to gravel Holman so that it IS more user friendly going up?? Would that take a major change?

    Downhill for Holman could make the bike permitted Sections of FP into better loops, so if you don’t want more MTB in the park I can see how this is a good place to make your stand. It’s irrational however, with many steeper and busier firelanes already permitting downhill at any speed.

    Last I wonder if the homes nearby did not want lots of bike traffic passing through. I can see how having your own limited access to FP would be wonderful, except that it is public.

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