2014 cyclocross coverage on BikePortland is sponsored by Sellwood Cycle Repair.
What if there was a world-class bicycle park conveniently located in east Portland? A place that could host everything from weekend nature escapes to singletrack riding and national-level competitions?
On Saturday, a few hundred people peered into that future reality at the Community Cross event held at Gateway Green. It was the first-ever bicycle event held at the site, which will likely be known someday as a premier cycling destination.
Gateway Green is a 30-acre parcel of land situated at the junction of I-205 and I-84. Real estate developer Ted Gilbert and east Portland neighborhood activist Linda Robinson first shared their vision for this land back in 2008 and as of three months ago, it was finally handed over to the City of Portland. Now all that’s standing in front of their vision becoming reality is a few million dollars and a few permits (and there’s strong momentum on both fronts).
Once Portland wrested control of the land from the Oregon Department of Transportation, the non-profit group Friends of Gateway Green wasted no time showing it off. Their “Community Cross” event on Saturday was a chance for people to discover the project — and the place — for the first time.
Event organizer (and Friends of Gateway Green board member) Jocelyn Gaudi said 107 people took part in the races, which were really more like group rides given that it was only an exhibition and had no official placings or timekeepers. The course took advantage of the natural topography of the land which has a large hill on the south side, a wide open meadow with undulating terrain in the middle, and a steep, wooded section to the east (which we didn’t ride through because it doesn’t have any trails yet).
Along with a chance to take part in Gateway Green’s first bike “race”, Saturday’s event offered an opportunity to see how the space feels when activated with crowds of people. It felt great. As someone who has covered this project for over six years, it was almost surreal to actually be there at an organized event. I kept saying to myself (and to others), “We’re racing bikes at Gateway Green!”
Ted Gilbert, the east Portland real estate developer who believes this project will put Gateway on the map, was beaming as he bundled against the wind chill. “This project will make Gateway a destination,” he shared, as he spoke about an eventual land bridge he hopes to build over I-205 that would “unlock” the 80 acres of Rocky Butte across the freeway. Gilbert also said he has hopes that TriMet will add a MAX stop on the property. Currently, the Airport MAX line runs right through Gateway Green, but as the park becomes popular, Gilbert thinks the increased boardings will get TriMet’s attention.
Beyond what Gateway Green will mean to his neighborhood’s property values, Gilbert seemed just as excited at how a transformation of this formerly forgotten plot of land will impact the social fabric of the area. Looking out at all the smiling faces of people cheering each other on and enjoying conversations over tacos and beer, he said, “Look at this! This is such a great community!”
(Photo by Linda Robinson)
Gilbert is right. It would be hard to imagine a more powerful way to bridge inner and outer Portland than a new park where people from east and west could meet and enjoy healthy, fun activities like cycling, walking, jogging, and playing.
One neat quirk of the park is that it has no automobile access. It’s surrounded by freeways and roads with no access to the land. All the supplies and food and beer for Saturday’s even were brought in with electric cargo trikes thanks to B-Line Urban Delivery. It was pretty cool to see people ride into the event straight off the I-205 path. (There is auto parking — and excellent bus and MAX access — at Gateway Transit Center, just a few tenths of a mile south.)
The first phase of construction for Gateway Green calls for a network of bike paths and trails. There will be a freeride skills area, a pump track, singletrack trails, and even more paved paths to improve circulation within the park (currently, the only paved access is the I-205 multi-use-path.)
Check out these new design drawings that were on display on Saturday:
To realize these visions, Gateway Green backers have some serious fund-raising to do. The good news is the community is clearly behind this project. The other big thing will be securing the necessary construction permits from the City of Portland. A tough ask, but definitely possible.
Yes, there are still challenges ahead and this project will continue to need our support. But as Community Cross demonstrated, Gateway Green is slowly but surely proving itself to be a cause worth fighting for.
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Yes! This is fantastic. Naysayers come join us!
Yep, truly fantastic. I could be considered a naysayer because readily admit that in many locations, mountain biking is not compatible with other uses, but at this location bikes belong.
can we go ride these trails now?
No new trails have been built yet. But as far as I know, the land is open to the public. People have been biking and walking in there for a long time.
thanks, to clarify, i meant the existing trails.
On behalf of the Friends of Gateway Green, we were so grateful to the whole community who came out to race, watch and volunteer at Community Cross! Also deserving of huge thanks is the City’s PP&R and TriMet, who’s assistance was instrumental in making this event happen. Finally, so many local businesses stepped up to provide fantastic raffle prizes – thanks to them as well!
Please stay tuned into project develops by visiting gatewaygreenpdx.org. We’re hopeful that this next spring will see another fun community event!
Great news! A ped bridge to Rocky Butte makes sense, too, and access via Sullivan’s Gulch trail, hopefully someday.
“Gilbert also said he has hopes that TriMet will add a MAX stop on the property.”
…doesn’t add up for me. As Jonathan went on to write, “There is auto parking — and excellent bus and MAX access — at Gateway Transit Center, just a few tenths of a mile south.” Google Maps puts the ride from Parkrose/ Sumner Transit Center to Gateway at 19 minutes, 2.4 miles, so very accessible from either end already. MAX works better without too many stops.
I agree. I’m enthusiastically in favor of everything being proposed for this site, except the MAX station. Anytime you put in another stop, that adds 2-3 minutes to the trip of every person who rides through, even if they’re not stopping there (which 98% won’t be), for every day, forever.
MAX already suffers from a handful of unnecessary stops gumming up the system. The parcel is already easily accessible by bike from MAX, just a short ride from Gateway TC.
awesome, I hope this is built some day. But I can’t help feeling it’s absurd that it will take 6+ years and several million dollars to become reality.
Jonathan, nice to see you there racing, and nice story – this is such an exciting project! Portland needs this kind of park, and the community has done an AMAZING job of launching it. Now just a few million dollars…. 🙂
The permits just take dedicated staff and time.
Interesting pump track-oriented bike park from Zurich I saw recently, including light rail running right next to the park…
It’s great what can be done in such a small space, although the concrete surfacing makes me cringe a bit and makes changing the layout a bit more challenging to say the least.
“Eventual land bridge [to] ‘unlock’ the 80 acres of Rocky Butte across the freeway”. Yes please!
A connection to the east would be nice to have, as well. There is a huge gap in the east/west grid in this area.
A few quick notes: has anyone asked the citizens if Maywood Park how they feel about this project? That area is a haven for homeless (camp fires are seen in the evening). How is this expensive park going to be taken care of from vandalism or transient squatting?
Maywood Park? Probably they hate it, like every rails-to-trails project ever done anywhere. But: our fearsome homeless people already have access. New development will make it less conducive to hypothetical lawbreakers because lots of bikeportland commenters will be out there. Now, if they put in a coffee shop or a bike corral, that would feed a crime wave. “I only left it for five minutes.”
Wait, so having a more visited and up kept park, would result in MORE homeless people than the current situation?
I’m failing to see how more homeless people would be attracted to this area, that aren’t currently attracted.
This is great, but let’s hope this place doesn’t become another big haven for homeless camps and bike chops shops. The proximity to MAX is scary.
Yes, it’s a good idea to stay well away from such large machines, and those automatic doors just give me chills!
Thank you Joci!!! Wish I could have made it
I wish a group of volunteers/businesses could all just come together to build this thing in a timely manner….like the good ol’ days of raising a barn for a neighbor! 🙂
Maybe the homeless could assemble a few dirt jumpers from chopped parts and show us a thing or two on the pump track.
But really, the more people that come to the park to recreate, the less the homeless will want to be there. And I have no problem with the homeless as long as they don’t cause trouble (crime, drugs, garbage, theft, etc).
***you’re right Eric. I didn’t like that comment so I’ve deleted it. — JM ****….ooops, This forum is probably too PC for that comment……sorry.
I think the Gateway Green project is wonderful and it deserves lots of city and community support. That said, using the terms “world class” and “singletrack” in the same paragraph is a bit misleading. The ONLY way the city of Portland could approach the term “world class” when it comes to singletrack trail is for the city to stop bungling the Forest Park issue and embrace a state-of-the-art shared use trails network that will meet conservation and recreation priorities. If successful, at least Gateway Green may help shine a light on the land management and political fiasco that is ongoing at Forest Park.