2015 is shaping up to be a great year for off-road cycling in Portland.
We have just learned that the PP&R requested budget for 2015/2016 (PDF) includes $350,000 for an “Off-Road Cycling Master Plan.”
This is nothing short of huge news for mountain biking advocates in Portland who see the lack of such a plan as the last remaining hurdle to more local trails, building more pump tracks, and so on. Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz called for the plan one year ago and just last November the NW Trail Alliance started an online petition to persuade Parks to fund it.
The Off-Road Cycling Master Plan was not initially prioritized in Parks’ budget. According to a letter an email we’ve received from a parks staffer, the $350,000 line item was added “because of strong public support.” Parks asked the public to help them weigh priorities via an online survey and a public hearing that took place on January 7th. As a result, two new projects were added to the budget: the off-road cycling plan and a community garden program.
Here’s the official description of the master plan investment taken from Parks’ requested budget (emphases mine):
Off-Road Cycling Master Plan – $350,000
Strong demand in and around Portland for off-road cycling, particularly single-track trails, is creating a need for a region-wide master plan to identify appropriate sites for this recreational, social, and health-focused activity. Currently, the City only has two sites with very limited trail lengths and quality for this type of cycling, and some users are creating their own trails that are impacting natural areas. Portland’s status as a bike-friendly city would be enhanced by expansion of more off-road opportunities. This package would fund a joint effort with Metro to identify several sites, possibly within and outside of Portland, in which to build sustainable trails, access points, and facilities for off-road cycling that would not negatively impact natural resources.
Expected Results: If this package is funded, percentage of residents rating the overall quality of parks and recreation activities as good or very good may increase.
In a letter to Mayor Charlie Hales from Parks Budget Advisory Committee Chair Kathy Fong Stephens, she wrote that the outpouring of public support persuaded BAC members that the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan was a priority for the community.
The NW Trail Alliance’s petition urged Portland City Council to create more places to ride in the dirt. “Let’s catch up with the overflowing demand for off-road cycling opportunities,” it read. That petition has been signed by well over 2,500 people so far and NWTA representatives delivered it in person during testimony at the January 7th budget hearing.
The 2015/16 budget request also includes $250,000 for matching funds that will go toward the Gateway Green bike park project.
Keep in mind that this is only the bureau’s requested budget. From here, all the bureau budgets go to City Hall where they’ll have to get through the political process before becoming officially voted on and adopted by Council in June.
We’ll have more on this plan as details get fleshed out. Stay tuned for updates.
And thank you to everyone who spoke up and helped make this happen!