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Call for city to create off-road biking plan draws 550 signatures in 36 hours

Posted by on November 20th, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Sandy Ridge

Sandy Ridge, one of the many places Portlanders travel to ride mountain bikes.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Hundreds of local mountain biking lovers are piling signatures into a new petition saying Portland is “decades overdue” on writing a plan for “how to meet the overflowing demand for recreational cycling access.”

The petition, which picks up a suggestion from city Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz, was created by the Northwest Trail Alliance, which focuses on building and advocating for mountain biking routes. It’s the latest overture in a years-long debate over where to designate new mountain biking facilities in the city and surrounding lands.

At the center of that debate is Forest Park, the huge hilly, wooded and largely undeveloped area northwest of the city. After taking over the Parks and Recreation Bureau last year, Fritz rebuffed an effort to add a new mountain biking trail there.

In her blog post explaining that decision, Fritz wrote that “a citywide Master Plan for cycling recreation is needed prior to embarking on individual projects.”

Northwest Trail Alliance President Kelsey Cardwell said in an interview Thursday that after months of sharing their objections to that decision, the group decided to change course and urge the city to take up Fritz’s suggestion, which the group estimated would cost $200,000.

“We wanted to keep the conversation positive,” she said.

Whatever the reason, the idea has caught fire among mountain biking fans. Cardwell forwarded the link to four Northwest Trail board members Wednesday morning and asked them to share it. The proposal drew 298 signatures on its first day and was up to 551 by 4 p.m. Thursday.

Here are some samples from the comments people left, from David Messenheimer of Portland:

A city with our parks and our outdoor-oriented population desperately needs in town trails to ride. Let’s stop forcing cyclists to drive over an hour out of town just to ride trails.

and Max Miller of Portland:

The problem and solution are identical. Build trails. If the city does it, we all win. Pdx allready houses a veritable militia of trailbuilding resources. Why not be the west coast capital of urban off road cycling opportunities. Why not put a bike park in forest park. Mt biking is the fastest growing action sport and women’s and kids segments are exploding. A Pdx off road cultural renaissance could create massive economic gains for the city as well.

and Sean Corey of Vancouver, Wash.:

I speak for many others when I say I would love to volunteer to build and maintain LEGAL and environmentally conscious trails in Portland City limits!

and Ian Ness of Beaverton:

If there were more off-road cycling trails available closer to Portland, I believe we would benefit from increased revenue from people wanting to visit the city for its off-road cycling! But for now, all of that business is going to Hood River and the Mt. Hood communities.

and Susan Sherman of Portland:

Unbelievable that in the wonderfully progressive and vibrant city of Portland, we have to drive an hour to ride single track. Let’s make a change!

and Ryan Francesconi of Portland:

The need for off-road recreational trails open to bikes is obvious. Take this example: I was riding my road bike in Washington Park one day and was stopped by a mom who had two kids with her. All had beginner mountain bikes. She asked me if there were any trails there which they could ride, pointing to the Wildwood. ‘Sorry, no. There are no trails here you can ride on. In fact, it’s illegal to ride your bike in Washington park except on paved surfaces like this road here.’ ‘But there’s nowhere to learn how to ride with the kids besides the road?’ ‘No. Your best option is to drive 45 minutes to Cascade Locks.

and Patrick Fink of Portland:

Portland is one of the few cities on the West Coast which has not realized the boon that mountain biking brings to the community. Look to Seattle, Bellingham, Vancouver, BC and Whistler, and you’ll see that it’s an untapped industry. It’s time to move past the stagnant land management policies that have mired Forest Park and limited its uses. For every dollar spent expanding riding opportunities there, many more will come in to local businesses well beyond the biking world. The tourism behind mountain biking is enormous. Worried about costs? There are other models than pay-from-the-pocket. In Squamish, BC, the local riders foundation supports a full-time work crew that builds and maintains trails without municipal money. Worried about land management? Look to Sandy Ridge, Duthie Hill, or Galbraith mountain to see how small areas can be managed to provide world-class cycling opportunities. That there is no good mountain biking here is absurd. We are in the same forest that supports Whistler’s destination riding economy.

and Melissa Chernaik:

It’s time, friends.

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Cardwell said the energy for progress among advocates comes from a widespread feeling that Portland has no good places to mountain bike. She described a recent conversation with a stranger in a restaurant.

“He had just moved to town and gotten rid of his mountain bike because it wasn’t needed here,” Cardwell said. “Another gal I met recently said she doesn’t even bother bringing hers to Portland. She’ll leave it in Bend. … People who are new to town all say the same thing. We just want to be working toward a place where we’re not all saying that.”

There’s strong evidence that mountain biking, including mountain-bike tourism, is a fast-growing economic force. In a press release about the petition Wednesday, Northwest Trail Alliance observed that “Sandy Ridge, a trail system an hour outside of Portland, will see between 80,000 and 90,000 visitors in 2014, up from 32,000 in 2012, according to the Bureau of Land Management.”

Cardwell said they decided to address the call to the entire Portland City Council out of a feeling that direction needs to come from the city’s top leadership.

“We don’t feel like we have a champion within Parks,” she said.

Cardwell added that trails advocates also want to show the city that they’re “ready to sit at the same table and talk to any and all groups that want to be part of that conversation.”

“A lot of our members are in support right now of Forest Park being what’s going to meet the growing demand,” she said. “But there are a couple other opportunities. … Basically we just need a plan that’s going to meet the needs of a group that’s felt shut out.”

If you’d like to add your voice, here’s the link.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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davemess
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davemess

Well we passed the Parks bond (with almost 50% of the voter approved funds not being accounted for already). So let’s start working on this Amanda.

wsbob
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wsbob

It’s a great idea to open additional areas for mountain biking near urban centers in Multnomah and Washington counties, as long as the target for mountain biking use, isn’t nature parks, of which Forest Park is one.

I don’t know what barriers there may be to availability for use, but there does still seem to be plenty of undeveloped, forested land on the south face of the Tualitan Mtns, northwest of Laidlaw Rd and Skyline Memorial Gardens up on Skyline Rd. Looks like these lands are outside the Urban Growth Boundary, currently. By this older now, paper Bike There! map, I have, these forested south face lands go way out to and past Springville and Germantown roads.

I’ve hoped for a long time that these lands won’t gradually be converted to housing developments. The view over the valley is the big selling point for people with extra bucks. It’s beautiful now, looking eastward towards the mountains, even from the lower roads, such as NW Germantown Rd at 185th, and also just north of Germanton on Kaiser.

If mountain bike enthusiasts are determined to insist that Forest Park be used for mountain biking in hopes that someday it could be offered up for that use, they could perhaps help work towards securing new south face forest lands for additional park land. That is, with an agreement that in exchange for south face lands secured, some trail in Forest Park, closer to the city, if that’s essential, be assigned to mountain biking.

Brian
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Brian

Portland doesn’t have a single, legal dirtjump. The five or so miles of trails are all beginner trails, in terms of their technicality. There is one pumptrack in the entire city. In 2008 Portland Parks created the Skatepark System Plan. The time has come to do the same for mountain biking. The need is there, and it is growing and diversifying. Portland Parks and Rec is OUR government agency. Get involved. Please take 30 seconds to sign the petition and help spread the word via your various outlets.

Aaron
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Aaron

Woo Hoo…A mtb article on Bike Portland. I’d love a 10 to 15 mile singletrack loop in Forest Park. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy like Sandy Ridge, just some singletrack that is close enough that I don’t have to get into the car get to the trailhead.

Ryan Francesconi
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Ryan Francesconi

Thanks Guys! Here is info for the Dec 2nd meeting with Metro in regard to the North Tualatin Mountain development: https://www.facebook.com/events/719278561487656/

This in itself is worth another story!

Dmitriy Zasyatkin
Guest

Please share the petition with your friends and lets see how many signatures we can rack up.

Its really hard for politicians to ignore that kind of noise.

If you’re interested in helping with MTB advocacy, please sign up for our new Advocacy Alerts Emails:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/nwta-advocacy

Great job summing it up Kelsey!

Chris
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Chris

I am sure many members of the local mountain bike community are trail maintenance folks and can organize support for trail clean up at Forest Park.
In return for their service, is there any reason why the PRB wouldn’t allow a trail festival once or twice a year on Wildwood Trail or a similar path in Forest Park? Two days out of the year to ride the trails in Forest Park shouldn’t be an issue.

Rob Kerr
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Rob Kerr

Trail cycling is a natural experience. Forest Park is an abandoned housing development choking in ivy and unhealthy from fire suppression. Great trail stewards could spread users out and use the educational opportunities to revive the land. Wildwood users would never see the four mountain bike trails 35 feet adjacent to them. Cyclists should enjoy nature and not be associated with cars and roads, though I champion those that reduce traffic and parking problems.

gutterbunnybikes
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gutterbunnybikes

I know that Forrest Park is kind of the gold standard, however it seems like you could do some side trails on the future I-84 bike path from Lloyd to Gateway. Looks like there are some fairly large undeveloped (and likely not possible to develop because of the slope areas) on the hills there.

Honestly haven’t spent any time on the tracks through there, but perhaps a possibility.

mh
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mh

Please don’t beat the life out of Forest Park.

greg
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greg

This needs to go to Metro Parks too! There is a regional deficiency in recreation opportunities for mountain biking. The grass roots efforts and persistence will get results. I’m really impressed with IMBA and NWTA. Support them!

Ian
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Ian

If a trail system in Forest Park diverted 10,000 car trip annually (a conservative estimate) it would save close to 500 metric tons of CO2 from entering the Earth’s atmosphere. I am not sure how someone could call themselves an environmental advocate and not support a trail system here.

Brian
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Brian

If this issue was dealt with in a wise manner here in Portland, imagine the time we (those for and against off-road cycling) could divert to conservation and maintenance of our natural areas by working together. Imagine the strength of the Forest Park Conservancy with the members, dollars, person-power, and machinery that the mountain bike community brings to the table. Imagine the great parks we could have for kids to play in with their bikes throughout the city if bike parks were considered as important as basketball courts, soccer fields, and skateboard parks. The time has come to stop imagining and start demanding of our government that they work for us, too.

mran1984
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mran1984

Forest Park is not a nature park. There is a road right through the middle. Rule of thumb… any group that refers to themselves as “friends of” is suspect. Garbage, ivy, human excrement… sounds like the park needs new friends.

Zaphod
Guest

It seems that a vocal minority is having their way in FP

Imagine this wild proposition: Suppose we keep Wildwood trail as it is with a hiking-only designation while opening up everything else?

I know… the horror right?
But if you are a serious trail runner or an avid hiker, Wildwood is a lovely piece of trail. And riders/runners/hikers can peacefully coexist. There are countless examples of such.

The stereotypes on all sides are skewed. Mountain biking is often co-opted in advertising as an adrenaline filled endeavor. The reality is that our most talented human astride the very best mountain bike, on average, travels more slowly than nearly all creatures in the forest. The average speed for a typical rider is 6mph.

It seems a reasonable request to have citizens of PDX use the park as they collectively deem appropriate.

Petra
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Petra

What about preserving and reconstructing some of the Scapoose trails? I think the plan is to log there, but maybe it can be bought? It’s a beautiful area and it would be sad to see it clear cut. I wonder who owns it?

Alex
Guest
Alex

wsbob,

You don’t have to play coy – you know exactly who I am. I have not been sarcastic, called you a name or anything and here you are slinging mud. If you don’t want that type of behavior aimed towards you, perhaps you shouldn’t aim it at others – which you do on a regular basis.

The city actually did speak and they said they wanted more bicycle access to FP. Perhaps I should link you again to the results that we have discussed many times before that showed users wanted more access as part of the FP single track advisory board (of which Houle was a member and was completely hostile at meetings). The city council, on the other hand, keeps putting up red tape but hasn’t really “stopped” it – it is just political maneuvers that they have been pressured into from some outside sources (I have some guesses as to which organizations and people).

Please link me to articles where Houle talks about bikes being “vehicles” as a reason to keep them out of FP – I have not seen that in writing or anywhere. The last thing I saw her write was an op-ed piece to the Oregonian that was completely passive aggressive and didn’t mention bikes by name, but was rather a thinly veiled attempt to keep mtbs out of FP. The ironic thing about the argument that bikes shouldn’t be in FP because they are “vehicles” – if it is indeed one of her arguments – is that bikes _are_ allowed in FP and as others have pointed out, there is no designation for “vehicles” to not be allowed in “nature parks”. Your misleading rhetoric and semantic games are a complete waste of time for you and everyone else – please engage in some useful conversations about how we can move forward instead of just calling names.

Ryan Francesconi
Guest
Ryan Francesconi

No vehicles in Forest Park? Someone tell Parks and Rec! They are always driving their trucks right through it in the name of “maintenance”. How dare they!

We need all of you to come to the December 2nd meeting about the new Metro parcels. Lets start with that and enter into a productive conversation with them first. When that makes some inroads, lets approach the Forest Park issue directly. Have you all signed the petition? Have you joined NWTA? That’s the stuff that’ll help. We need numbers united. Not arguments.

While the petition seeks to implement this Master Plan that Fritz put us off with, what’s more important is that the community stand up to this issue. There is little reason for City Council to bother with this as it’s damn unlikely that any of them mountain bike anyways. So what do they care personally? Not much. It’s amazing that an issue as simple as a bicycle get people so riled up. This shouldn’t be an issue at all and it’s crazy that we have to tackle it in the first place. It’s just a path through the woods.

There is enough emotion around this that if they don’t pay attention they’re going to end up with an Occupy Forest Park and trails will get ridden regardless. Unless they’re muddy. We’re too responsible for that. You can’t say the same for the legal dogwalkers and their plastic bags of crap they leave for everyone.

Thanks!

http://nw-trail.org/petition/