Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 11th, 2015 at 8:55 am
Update 3/12 at 5:30 pm: This ride was originally named the “River View Freedom Ride” but after hearing concerns from the community that the name co-opted important civil rights era history, the organizers decided to change the name to River View Protest Ride.
Portlanders are livid at the recent decision by Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish to ban bicycling at River View Natural Area.
In response, 259 people (so far) have said they plan to attend the “Freedom Ride” that’s planned for March 16th — the first day of the new ban.
The ride is being organized by Charlie Sponsel, a member of the Parks bureau’s River View Natural Area Technical Advisory Committee and a lifelong bike rider who has used the trails inside River View for many years. Sponsel graduated from Lewis & Clark College (which is directly adjacent to the 146 acre parcel) in 2013 and has become the leader of a grassroots revolt against the bike ban.
For background on the ride, and why Sponsel has decided to take the route of civil disobedience in response to Fritz and Fish’s decision, below I’ve pasted a post written by Sponsel that was posted to the event’s Facebook page earlier this week (emphases mine):
“To answer some questions. Yes, the ride will be occurring on the first day of the ban. Yes, Parks and Rec is aware of the ride. We will also be notifying The Oregonian, Portland KGW, Bike Portland, Bike Magazine, and Willamette Week, so this ride is by design going to draw some attention. We have over 170 riders signed up already! Keep sharing and we can hit 200.
And yes, we do not want 200 people getting misdemeanor citations for riding Riverview. Part of the reason Riverview is so valuable is that for people working 9-5, Riverview is the only place to get a ride in Monday to Friday. It’s the only place to ride within an hour of the city. If the City of Portland responds with police, we are not asking 200 hardworking people to take citations for trespassing.
If police are present, we will shoulder our bikes and carry them down a shorter, truncated trail loop through the park.
It’s really important that this ride not be about riding at all. It’s about making a political statement about a political process that broke down. It’s not about getting our shred on at Riverview one more time. With the Riverview bike ban the city abandoned the public process and ignored input from their own people. The Riverview Technical Advisory Committee report states the top environmental concerns are:
– Dogs on and off-leash
– Off-trail use by cyclists and pedestrians
– Illegal camping/party spots that create wildfire risk
– Climate change
None of those concerns were addressed by Parks, they just decided to ban bikes. When asked to clarify the evidence used to come to this decision, Amanda Fritz said this:
“We don’t have studies or findings. We made the decision exercising an abundance of caution”
This ride is not so much about access to trails for mountain bikers. This ride is about access for citizens to the democratic process. Mountain bikers were working patiently alongside neighborhood representatives, environmental experts, and city workers to establish best practices and a plan going forward for Riverview, knowing full well that mountain bikers may or may not be included at Riverview at the end of the long term public planning process. That was the deal. Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz apparently did not like the direction those meetings were going, and in issuing this unilateral edict they showed their real colors. Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz value citizen engagement and the public process, so long as it gives them the answers they want.“
Sponsel has also made stickers and a t-shirt that he plans to have for sale at the ride. The slogan reads: “Portland Hates Me: Mountain Biking is not a crime.”
We are working on more coverage of this story. Stay tuned.