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River View bike ban might not be permanent, Fritz says

Posted by on March 11th, 2015 at 9:23 am

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Amanda Fritz

Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz has taken a lot of heat over the past week for the decision she made along with Environmental Services Commissioner Nick Fish to ban biking at River View Natural Area as of March 16th. The decision was made abruptly and came as a huge shock to many advocates who were working in partnership with the City of Portland to restore the 146-acre parcel and hoped to see biking access improved and officially sanctioned at the end of a public process.

We are working on the story and hoping to understand more about the decision from the commissioners, advocates, and other insiders this week.

In the meantime however, it looks like Commissioner Fritz has already heard from so many concerned Portlanders that she has issued an update about the decision, saying that there’s still a chance the city will reverse course. Here’s what she just posted to the official River View Natural Area website:

A message from Commissioner Fritz regarding the recent changes at River View Natural Area:

The decision to prohibit mountain biking for now at River View was made in partnership with Commissioner Fish and the Bureau of Environmental Services, with due consideration of the reason for dedicating ratepayer dollars to purchase the site to protect water quality. We are not saying River View will never be used for mountain biking, rather just not now, before the citywide assessment of appropriate places for cycling is funded and completed. I encourage you to participate in the upcoming City Budget process, to urge funding for the citywide Master Plan for cycling that Portland Parks and Recreation and I have proposed in our requested budget allocations.

-Amanda Fritz, City Commissioner

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Besides giving the public a ray of hope that the ban might eventually be reversed, the key part of this comment is, “with due consideration of the reason for dedicating ratepayer dollars to purchase the site to protect water quality.” This is a reference to the 2011 lawsuit filed against the City of Portland for what the plaintiffs said were purchases made with water ratepayer funds for parcels and projects that had nothing to do with water quality. A judge ultimately ruled in favor of the City of Portland, but the courts are still monitoring the purchases.

The largest target of that lawsuit was the $6 million the city paid to purchase River View. While it seemed obvious to assume that lawsuit is what scared Fritz and Fish into the abrupt bike ban decision, they had previously maintained that it had nothing to do with it.

The initial memo about the decision (PDF) she and Fish released on March 2nd said nothing about the lawsuit and focused entirely on their “abundance of caution” to protect the parcel’s streams, ecosystem, and fish habitat.

The insinuation that bicycling was somehow in conflict with conservation goals — something that has never been proven by any city studies — was salt in the wound for bike advocates.

What’s even more confusing is that we’ve since heard from high-level sources at the Parks Bureau that the lawsuit had nothing to do with the decision and that it’s more general antipathy toward mountain biking that exists among some Parks and Environmental Services staff as well as influential advocates that have pressured the city to prohibit bicycling. We’re still trying to get to the bottom of all this.

Either way, Fritz’s acknowledgment that this decision is not final is a hopeful sign — but I doubt it will do much in the short-term to alleviate the frustration and anger that her handling of the issue has caused so far.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Dan
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Dan

I believe her!

/s

Madison Wellington
Guest
Madison Wellington

Hallelujah! Hopefully they will reconsider this after so many people have been speaking up about it. I know I emailed her personally urging her and Comm. Fish to re-consider that decision. Portland needs more local mountain biking! None of us have cars, so mountain biking that can be ridden to is crucial on my eyes!

jeg
Guest
jeg

The antipathy toward mountain bikers is well earned. We need separate usage trails for this to work, and a sea change in the entitlement and roughshod of the mountain biking community. I’ve been nearly killed multiple times by mountain bikers breaking the law.

Michael Whitesel
Guest
Michael Whitesel

Attempted murder is a serious charge. Did you file police reports?

Paul Atkinson
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Paul Atkinson

Hyperbole is literally the worst thing ever.

jeg
Guest
jeg

I will next time, for sure. But, honestly, do you expect much from the paramilitary police?

VTRC
Guest
VTRC

If you honestly feared for your life, I hope so.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Who said anything about attempted murder?

When a cyclist hits another cyclist or pedestrian, it is ok because they are not driving and therefore less dangerous.

jeg
Guest
jeg

Breaking one’s neck from a muscley mountain biker hitting them at 30 MPH can kill someone.

Bjorn
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Bjorn

Seriously where are you getting this 30 mph number, no one is going 30 mph on a narrow cross country singletrack mountain bike trail.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

I couldn’t manage to go faster than 12mph at Powell Butte. No doubt others can go faster, but 30 mph is just a dream except on dedicated downhill runs.

Dan
Guest
Dan

I’m a mid-level short track MTB racer, and on the rare occasion that I do any singletrack by myself I typically don’t go much faster than someone would if they were running.

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover

Jeg is obviously pulling that number (30mph) out of her imagination but, infammatory hyperbole aside, the real point of her post is that she believes bicycles to be a threat to her and others on the trail. While she almost certainly was not “nearly killed” as she asserted, she clearly felt unsafe. The question is did she feel unsafe because her safety was actually being threatened by the bad behavior of another trail user or did she simply perceive a threat when none existed. Or was it somewhere in between?

We’ll never know what actually happened to Jeg out there on the trail but we do know from various studies that most conflict is more perceived than real. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a real challenge that the trails community needs to face. Jeg should feel safe on the trail. Some of that may be Jeg’s responsibility (experiencing and learning more about other trail users and how interacting with them results in “killing” or injury almost never) and some is the responsibility of other trail users to behave safely and responsibly in ways that Jeg finds reassuring. Together we can invite the Jegs of the world, as well as her alleged oppressors, to join the rest of us who get along just fine every day on shared trails all across the country.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Has anyone ever been killed on a trail by someone on a mountain bike?

jeg
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jeg

Plenty have sure been killed in intersections of SF by speeding bikers. That’s proof enough, even given the different context.

Buzz
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Buzz

‘Plenty’ as in two? Compare that to the 40,000 people per year killed adn the countless others injured and maimed by motorists each and every year in this country.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

Ah, if only we had data and historical statistics so we could say, compare the amount of people killed by cars vs people killed by bicycles with numbers and other factual methods instead of personal anecdotes. That would be swell.

matt picio
Guest

Why do we need to? We could have zero cars in the world, and I still wouldn’t want to be killed by someone riding a bike. Just because it’s safer doesn’t mean it’s “safe”, or not a concern.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

I’m not suggesting you ought to be injured or killed by someone riding a bike. Just that if we’re going to argue, we ought to argue about facts, not things that people have imagined.

matt picio
Guest

That’s a fair point, and overall I agree. I just don’t see why the comparison is necessary – it’s like saying why should we address cycling deaths when we should be addressing heart attacks. Heart attacks kill far more people. The answer is they are both important. I’ll acknowledge that the number of people killed by bikes on trails (or specifically on singletrack) is at most in the single digits, and possibly zero – but injuries definitely happen, some serious. It sounds like several commenters (not aimed at you personally) are arguing that because it’s not killing people every day we shouldn’t address it at all until it does.

I think my overall point is that there’s no reason why any of these park areas shouldn’t have hiker-only trails – as long as there are also shared trails, and (preferably) some which are bike-only and equestrian only. It’s a big city, and a lot of parkland, and if we could just get people to stop viewing it as their backyard, and able to acknowledge that there are different groups with different needs who all should be able to enjoy their activity somewhere that isn’t a 2 hour drive away, then I think that would be a really great start.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Thank you. As a non-mountain biker, we would love your support. If you have a minute please consider a quick email to Ms. Fritz, Mr. Fish, and Mr. Hales. It would be great for them to hear from you.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

You recognize that there is a giant set of hiker only trails 1 block from here right? Tryon Creek Park has a network of miles of unpaved trails all of which are already off limits to mountain biking. If the concern is conflict between user groups then the right answer is to point hikers at Tryon Creek and Forest Park and make River View bike only, but really wouldn’t it be better to leave it as mixed use and allow people to decide if a bike free hiking experience is important to them, and if it is they have many options very close by.

Opus the Poet
Guest

Number of pedestrians killed by collision with cyclists in SF since 2000 : 2

Number killed by motor vehicle in the same period : thousands.

Percentage of killer cyclists convicted in SF : 100%

Percentage of killer drivers convicted in SF : 1.2%

Frank
Guest
Frank

I love this use of the word “entitlement.” So, who is feeling entitled – maybe the ones who currently have essentially ALL the trails to themselves? Maybe NW Portland neighbors who don’t want users in “their” park? Maybe Audubon and FPC who act like it is their own park, not the citizens’ and taxpayers’?
But I do agree that on well-used trails it’s better to separate bikes and pedestrians. That can be by providing dedicated, separate trails or by designating times. Both are done in many place around the country.

Dan
Guest
Dan

The word “entitled” is for those who have everything and feel they deserve everything too. The word for the rest of us is “uppity”.

Tom
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Tom

The antipathy toward DRIVERS DRIVING TO THE TRAILHEAD is well earned. We need separate usage TRAFFIC LANES for this to work, and a sea change in the entitlement and roughshod of the DRIVING community. I’ve been nearly killed multiple times by DRIVERS breaking the law.

jeg
Guest
jeg

Hey, calm down there. I am for curtailing dangerous auto drivers as well. Being for safety doesn’t mean I want trails excluded from MT bikers; I just think safety needs to be addressed, not simply someone’s desire to feed an adrenaline addiction.

I go hiking for peace. Many do. Mt bikers severely damage that reason for access. I think there would be much more respect all around if safety was honestly addressed rather than outright dismissed as it has by many in this thread.

spencer
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spencer

I go mountain biking for peace, and try to avoid heavy hiking trails because its NOT peaceful. IE coyote wall in the spring.

MNBikeLuv
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MNBikeLuv

jeg – While I have connections to PDX, I live in MN. Here (and in WI & MI) we have tons and tons of MTBing trails. Seriously, most cities with 20,000+ residents have at least 1-2 miles of MTBing trails in town. I can tell you that we have no issues with hikers and MTBers. None. We have had urban MTBing for 15 years, so its not a new thing also.

What you consider a dismissal of safety by other commenters is actually a reflection of the reality. Done properly, there will not be issues with MTBers and hikers.

As I often comment on MTB based articles on BikePortland, if any person within the PDX city government or any commenter from PDX thinks urban MTBing is the unleashing of hellspawn, come to MN. We will go on a tour. And after we talk to land managers, elected officials, users, and other user groups, I can guarantee that person or persons will go home to PDX being in support of urban MTBing trails. Why? Because once you have seen it done, and done right, you understand all the “concerns” about MTBing don’t really exist.

As a side note, PDX can’t even accomplish what a town of less than 20,000 can accomplish: http://stillwatergazette.com/2015/03/13/public-meeting-scheduled-for-proposed-stillwater-mountain-bike-trail/

Karl Dickman
Guest

I grew up in Bend. I’ve run, ridden, and hiked miles and miles of trails, at Swampy Lakes, Shevlin Park, Phil’s, Tumalo Falls, Mrazek, and the Deschutes River trail (both the in-town and out-of town sections), starting at the age of 10. Some of those systems have hiking only and biking only trails, but the vast majority are mixed use. With this experience, the idea that mountain bikers and hikers can’t possibly share the same trails makes no sense to me. Do you really think that parents shouldn’t be allowed to take their kids riding in a beautiful forest, that a retired couple should have to stay home?
As Jonathan says, you can’t hold mountain bikers as group responsible for the behavior of a few bad apples. I spent a two years as a volunteer XC coach at Lewis & Clark. On a Wildwood run, one of the young women on the team was knocked down when three men shoved their way past her. They left her bleeding on the trail without looking back. Her shins were covered with blood from her knees all the way down to her socks. Some runners can be just as rude and inconsiderate as some mountain bikers, but it would be crazy to conclude that running should therefore be banned in Forest Park.

VTRC
Guest
VTRC

One of the things I really want to see out of a new set of trails, is a system designed to reduce this kind of conflict. Trails that are planned and built so that speeds are moderate, sightlines are good, and erosion is a non issue.

It really sucks that you’ve had bad experiences, but I think that this is something we can plan for and mitigate and makes something we can all enjoy. I think we can do that in Forest Park and we can do it here.

davemess
Guest
davemess

What “antipathy”?
A few angry neighbors in NW? A couple employees of the Parks dept?
A misinformed environmental group?

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Even with the lawsuit and salmon, there is no reason to close the area to bikes. Without any clear science requiring it, they closed it anyway. Now, its going to be much harder to open again politically with hiker type groups now feeling something (bike free trails) is being taken from them.

I’d give them a <5% chance of opening it again.

oliver
Guest
oliver

Salmon Shmalmon. The properties adjacent to FP and RVNA are populated by the same demographic.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

If city doesn’t fund the mountain biking plan, or maybe before, we as a community should look towards filing our own lawsuit against the city for more access.

Jessica Roberts
Guest
Jessica Roberts

What would be the basis for a lawsuit? I am not aware of any guaranteed right to access laws.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

I am not sure. Maybe it won’t work. But it does seem to be the thing that makes the city to take action. It does look like some snowboarders tried the same thing a while back and it didn’t work… http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865611596/Judge-tosses-snowboarders-lawsuit-demanding-access-to-Alta-Ski-Resort.html?pg=all Oh well.

phreadi
Guest
phreadi

Alta is a privately held business and can do what they want. River View is a city owned park we’re all paying for, and they’re ignoring (their own) science as rationale to unfairly ban a legit form of trail user under false-pretense, and actually choosing not to deal with the biggest eco threats. The question is who’s got the $ and appetite for risk involved with a lawsuit. I don’t’ think the NWTA or IMBA has the ability to enter into litigation, but what do I know.

jeg
Guest
jeg

“Alta is a privately held business and can do what they want.”*

*within the law

redhippie
Guest
redhippie

The environmental argument is laughable.

What are the water quality environmental impacts created by mtbs on trail vs hikers on a trail?

It is the trail construction and its proper use that impacts the amount of erosion and subsequent Total Dissolved Solids in water bodies. How does a trail discharge more or less sediment with hikers vs bikers? If it is more, then build the trail better.

Is it nutrient or bacteria loading caused by folks and their animals going to the bathroom. How would this differ from hikers or the people who live in the woods or in the pirate fleet anchored just off shore.

Can anyone explain what the exact environmental impacts are that result in this closure?

Pete
Guest
Pete

We’ve had the same complaints – danger to hikers, and environmental impact – on Mission Peaks in Fremont, CA. No lawsuits have been filed, and Parks & Rec now uses a volunteer MTB crew to patrol the hillside. The main problem we see is that ‘scofflaw’ MTBers will ‘drop’ off trail, cutting swaths straight down the slope rather than staying on the switchbacks, and that results in significant erosion when winter/spring rains come. We’ve put together several work crews to fight the problem with instructional signs, fences, and volunteer efforts to repair the existing damage.

http://bayarearides.com/rides/missionpeak

I don’t know of any studies that have been funded, bans, or lawsuits… just problems and solutions (see the article “Loved to death”):
http://issuu.com/tcvarchives/docs/tcv-130212/36

Dan
Guest
Dan

Hikers are known for cutting switchbacks in both directions. Neither problem will completely go away.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Yes, good point; we had to frequently reprimand people for trying to cut down the swaths we were repairing (while walking past the blatant signs).

Joe
Guest
Joe

All those cut switchbacks in Mission Peak Open Space Preserve are cut but lazy cows who can’t be bothered with staying on trail.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

OT:

Who put up the Yellow signs that can only be read in one direction on Powell Butte? With new names that do not match the signs at the entrance.

davemess
Guest
davemess

That would be our Parks Dept. I find them pretty weird. They’re so bright, and seem to go against the “nature park” designation a bit.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Yellow is ok for wayfinding, maybe better than standard park brown. I just found them very hard to read, I hadn’t been up there since they were installed last year.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

Of course they are saying it isn’t the lawsuit that has them worried. How would it look in the court to have a quote from Fritz like: “We improperly used funds to buy this land and we are worried they will notice so we banned mountain bikes to try to help cover our impropriety.”

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

I’m pretty tired of Amanda Fritz treating people on bikes as “the other” who can be pushed to the margins and subjected to the broad brush of collective punishment. Her tone and in this case, her actions, show very little interest in dealing with bike issues in good faith. I am VERY interested to see who might challenge her next time around.

This latest “ray of hope” convinces me of nothing other than the fact that she’s felt the heat. We should keep that heat up.

dan
Guest
dan

There’s no nice way to say this: Amanda Fritz comes across as rather loopy. Haven’t met her in person, but her policy decisions seem erratic and based on personal preference dressed up as objective reasoning. Is she all there?

Michael Whitesel
Guest
Michael Whitesel

According the Portland Parks, “Portland is home to more than 152 miles of completed regional trails”. https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/42336

How many miles of dirt trails do we “entitled” mountain bikers enjoy? Well, we have an amazing ½ mile of trail on FL #5 in Forest Park and maybe a mile or two at Powell Butte.

Well according the the Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report 2014 http://outdoorindustry.org/images/researchfiles/ResearchParticipation2014Topline.pdf?207, bicycling in general is way more popular that hiking. While mountain biking specifically is growing three times faster.

Looking at the rates of participation, at worth mountain bikers should have access to ¼ of the trails that hikers have access to. That should translate to 38 miles of dirt trails for access by mountain bikers. BTW, this is referencing a nation study. I suspect participation rates in Portland are higher. And that they’d be higher still if there was proper access locally.

Youth (rank)
2. Bicycling (Road, Mountain and BMX) 23.7% of youth, 19.2 million participants
5. Hiking 13.1% of youth, 10.6 million participants

Adult (rank)
3. Bicycling (Road, Mountain and BMX) 13.1% of adults, 27.4 million participants
4. Hiking 11.4% of adults, 23.8 million participants

Participation (6:+)
Hiking (Day) 34.4M
Bicycling (Mountain/Non Paved Surface) 8.5M
Bicycling (BMX) 2.2M

jeg
Guest
jeg

Entitled in terms of safety to hikers, not that they have trails. I agree we need more separate tracks for MT bikers.

Brian
Guest
Brian

And proper trail design and implementation for shared trails. I share trails with hikers all over the state (and at Powell Butte) without a single incident. There are many solutions for safe shared use when resources are in competition.

dave
Guest
dave

Huh? Entitled in terms of safety to hikers? I do not think that word means what I think you think it means.

oliver
Guest
oliver

“Mountain biking will not longer be allowed…Plan for RVNA…common goals of:
protecting water quality and watershed health,
restoring aquatic and and terrestrial habitat,
and providing recreation access that is compatible with the protection of natural resources”

Commissioners Fritz and Fish’s memo vis a vis banning mtb use at RVNA says nothing at all about hiker safety, or trail conflicts.

This issue is not about your fear of or risk from people riding mountain bikes.

Duncan Parks
Guest

Wow, and you just accept that without question? Even when it is in direct contradiction of the city’s own Technical Advisory Committee? Even when Fritz claims “we have no studies or findings”? Sheesh.

matt picio
Guest

I think you’re confusing “trail” with “singletrack”. The city doesn’t use the same definitions.

Michael Whitesel
Guest
Michael Whitesel

Source?

matt picio
Guest

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/409097

“Hard surface trail”, “Soft surface trail”, etc. State definition is anything that’s not a road, but I’d have to spend more time finding the actual reference in the ORS or other documentation.

Regarding the Portland Parks & Rec definition specifically, I’d need to track down the exact reference – since the city’s site changed, it’s harder to find things like internal Parks & Rec documents. It’s a lot easier to see on park regulation boards and park maps like the one linked, where the actual definition categories are reproduced on something public-facing.

Page 10 of this reference would be the best example:
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/38306?a=250105

This is one of the big issues when talking about “trails”, since the city definitions rarely match what the advocacy community is talking about – and the average reader of the Oregonian just sees “159 miles of trails” and wonders what all the cyclists are complaining about. The MTB community is correct in saying that there’s only 0.5 miles of dedicated dirt singletrack. I agree with them 100% that there should be more. I don’t know if it should be in River View, or in Forest Park, or Powell Butte, or somewhere else, but it should be somewhere. Put in a dedicated facility (or three) in one of those three spots and people will use it. But if they’re going to close it to bikes to protect nature, then they should ban dogs as well. Dogs do far more to damage the watershed and harass wildlife than bikes do.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Regardless of whether the RVNA is opened to Mt. bikes, the community needs to self-police bad behavior. Shred shaming, erosion guilting and wildlife harassment harassment should be imparted on those who are poor stewards of the land and bad ambassadors of the sport. It is easy to picture the salute one would get by trying to impose good behavior on a sparking adrenaline addict, but if the sport is going to be accepted as not destructive, then those with the most to gain/loose need to educate their brethren.

http://onthisdayinfashion.com/?p=12729

Fred
Guest
Fred

I hear what you are saying Grandpa, but do hikers call out other hikers that cut across switch backs and trail runners that run when the trails are muddy? Do drivers correct other drivers when they break the law? Like any group, there are people who are rude and careless, but the majority of participants within most groups are courteous and respectful.

jeg
Guest
jeg

I do call out hikers that cut switchbacks. All. The. Time.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Do you call for those trails where you’ve observed bad hiker behavior to have hiking banned?

phreadi
Guest
phreadi

I called out a hiker last saturday a.m. that was letting her off-leash dog rip around off-trail and she laughed and kept walking.

ChrisM
Guest
ChrisM

I agree with you Granpa. But, we would all be well-advised to become educated on the appropriate use of trails by all users. I’ve seen hikers startle people on horses (which is never good) because they don’t know that they should give fair warning on approach. As a young self-absorbed lad, I was called-out by some old codger while cutting a switchback when hiking my way up to Yosemite Falls. He was old as hell, had on a marathon t-shirt from the 80’s (from when I was born), and I couldn’t keep up with him to save my life. I had never really thought about erosion before that, but I’ve never forgotten. But, what really made it work was my willingness to listen, (and value his experience), but I’ve since found that most people don’t want to listen. However, it does add some credibility when you’re using the same mode of travel and not perceived as the Other.

Geoff Grummon
Guest
Geoff Grummon

The mountain biking “community” has been promoting good behavior on trails for decades. IMBA’s rules of the trail are ubiquitous at trailheads all over the country.

https://www.imba.com/about/rules-trail

Every group ride that I have been on has always emphasized good behavior and being polite to other trail users. Advocacy groups like NWTA have dedicated countless hours towards maintaining trails. The behaviors that you describe are not considered acceptable and have not been for a long time. In the unlikely event that I happen to see someone on a bike harassing wildlife or eroding a trail, I’ll be sure to talk to them.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

telling an athletic stranger what to do in the woods is asking for a beating… I’d rather not put my life in danger like that… I call people out in the middle of the city all the time because I have crowds of people around to protect me should the person become offended and seek to take out their frustration on me…

Eric
Guest
Eric

Sounds like a lot of the same from past Forest Park conversations. Not now…maybe in the future…not now…maybe in the future. Keep trying to kick that football Charlie Brown. One of these days Lucy might actually let you kick 😉

Rick
Guest
Rick

Dog poop causes far more damage than mountain biking.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…This is a reference to the 2011 lawsuit filed against the City of Portland for what the plaintiffs said were purchases made with water ratepayer funds for parcels and projects that had nothing to do with water quality. A judge ultimately ruled in favor of the City of Portland, but the courts are still monitoring the purchases.

The largest target of that lawsuit was the $6 million the city paid to purchase River View. While it seemed obvious to assume that lawsuit is what scared Fritz and Fish into the abrupt bike ban decision, they had previously maintained that it had nothing to do with it.

The initial memo about the decision (PDF) she and Fish released on March 2nd said nothing about the lawsuit and focused entirely on their “abundance of caution” to protect the parcel’s streams, ecosystem, and fish habitat. …” maus/bikeportland

Apparently, money was made availabe to buy parcels of land on condition that their continued function was to be able to preserve water quality. City officials involved in and responsible for overseeing the purchase arrangement, may have had various ideas about the range of uses, in addition to water quality preservation, that the city could possibly use the land for.

Questions about what those ‘various ideas’ are, and how consistent they are with the conditions of purchase, may be where the hitch is in terms of allowing the land to be used for mountain biking, in addition to water quality preservation.

Could be, but I kind of doubt Fritz and Fish were “…scared…” in to declining to move forward at present, to allow the land to be used for mountain biking. Sounds much more like they’re carefully vetting the city’s purchase arrangement before signing off on use of the land for mountain biking. Seems like questions about whether the land, according to the purchase agreement, could be used for mountain biking in addition to water quality preservation, should have been raised and answered, before the purchase rather than after. Otherwise, Fritz and Fish seem to be doing just fine, so far.

Brian
Guest
Brian

“Recreation” is listed as an acceptable use on the Conservation Easement.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Is ‘vehicular recreation/mountain biking’ also listed on that Conservation Easement?

Brian
Guest
Brian

#4 under General Purpose: “Protecting natural, scenic, and open space values of real property, ensuring its availability for agricultural, forest, recreational, or open space use.”

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

So your answer to my question, is essentially, No.

Having mountain biking clearly recognized for being the recreational form it truly is, I think, at least in Portland, likely essential for use of park land to be offered for mountain biking. Making that recognition up front, addresses one of the fundamental obstacles hanging over efforts to have city park land used for mountain biking.

Brian
Guest
Brian

1. Your opinion of “their interest” is just that, your opinion. The opinion of one man with a bias against mountain biking with no data to back it up.
2. Saying that mountain biking is “inherently at conflict” with the “vast majority” of those who walk is the opinion of one man with a bias against mountain biking with no data to back it up.

You have the right to repeatedly state your singular, biased opinion, but I think it might be more impactful if you had actual data to support it.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Sorry, this was Darn, this was a reply to your comment below.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Brian…Forest Park is unique with respect to all other Portland parkland, natural or otherwise. This distinction obliges a bias that must be acknowledged and factored into any decision regarding the use of this parks’ land for recreation. As such, mountain biking as a form or vehicular recreation, is not compatible with that park’s fundamental purpose to the Portland public. So, it’s not just ‘one man’s’ bias that’s at play here. It’s a citywide bias wit respect to a unique urban natural land park.

Of course, the city and its people could re-evaluate the purpose, and do whatever it wants with the parkland. The city and its people could add mountain biking to the park, and other forms of vehicular recreation as well. Doing something like that may make lots of ATV’ers happy, or maybe not. The city could sell off some of the land and let houses or factories be built on it. It has gone some length to avoid that kind of thing, as it may well continue to do, regarding mountain biking.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

The only place I’ve ever seen mountain biking referred to as “vehicular recreation” is here, on bikeportland.org, and only by you.

“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

– George W. Bush

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover

WSBOB – No “re-evaluation” of the purpose of Forest Park is needed because mountain biking is entirely compatible with the park’s existing designation. Please produce the slightest amount of evidence to contradict that statement.

For a fellow who asserts that we all have so little idea of how the general public feels about mountain biking that we need to invest public funds and resources to put it on a general ballot (sheesh!), you seem to have no problem concluding for yourself exactly how Portlanders feel about mountain bikes. And what a coincidence indeed – Portlanders seem to agree with your anti-bicycle views! While we’re at it, I don’t recall a general election ballot asking me specifically about my desire for baseball diamonds, climbing structures, tether ball poles, drinking fountains or, frankly, foot-only hiking paths. Surely you’d like to put each of those to a vote of the people as well.

Psyfalcon
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Psyfalcon

Forest Park is not designated as a nature park or a natural area. If the city wanted to designate it as such, it would.

Brian
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Brian

My point is that other forms of passive recreation that are allowed are not listed either.

f5
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f5

Can you cite any example (besides yours) where bike usage on single track trails is called ‘vehicular’?

Eric H
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Eric H

To paraphrase bob “So the answer to your question, is essentially, No.”

spencer
Guest
spencer

its not defined that way bob, you know it, and you keep spouting it as gospel.

Fred
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Fred

Or, maybe they could use science to make that determination?

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover

“…should have been raised and answered, before the purchase rather than after. Otherwise, Fritz and Fish seem to be doing just fine, so far.” -WSBOB

What you’ve just said is that despite the fact that Fritz and Fish totally bungled, both initially and now again, one of the most obvious and fundamental elements of this project – recreational management – they’re doing a great job. Wow.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

How is it you think the two commissioners “…totally bungled…” recreational management of this project?

TrailLover
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TrailLover

Just read your own description of what’s happened and read the commissioner’s own backpedaling statements and anxious plea not to abandon her on funding for the master plan. Or simply call the commissioner’s office and listen to them apologize for not handling the whole thing better. No mystery here.

wsbob
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wsbob

Say why you think the two commissioners “…totally bungled…” recreational management of this project. Don’t just try borrow from what I or someone else has written about the commissioner actions.

Bungling recreational management of the land, would be for example, entirely failing to get the land, at all. Or, once having it hand, failing to put together a recreational plan and responsibly regulating types of recreational use for the land. They’ve not failed in either respect.

Made some mistakes? Maybe. Most likely along with other parties involved in the deal as well. Not going to pay to point fingers, and listen to unofficial city hall gossip to get the situation squared away. Best thing probably will be staying focused on key questions yet unanswered in the purchase agreement.

TrailLover
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TrailLover

You’d like to argue over the definition of the term “bungle?” Would you prefer “botch,” “mismanage,” “fail to properly administer,” “neglect to anticipate the obvious” or some other language that would explain why the commissioner is scrambling to undo the mistake, oversight, damage, error that appears to be threatening her credibility, policy and perhaps political fortunes?

wsbob
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wsbob

“You’d like to argue over…” TrailLover

I think you should explain in at least some depth, what you meant. Since you’re accusing somebody of bungling something. Explain what you mean instead of simply insulting somebody.

I don’t think the commissioners are ‘scrambling’, nearly as much, if at all, as you and some other people commenting here, would like to think. Some details weren’t clearly worked out before or at time of purchase, so they’re trying to get that straightened out. Meanwhile, impatient mountain bikers rant and rave, trying their best to demonize people that are earnestly trying to add to Portland’s inventory of natural lands for water conservation and recreational uses.

As usual, Portland mountain bike enthusiasts vocal at bikeportland, rally together, to inflict upon themselves, a black eye. No wonder that nothing even close to a majority of Portland residents have spoken out in favor of using city parkland for mountain biking.

TrailLover
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TrailLover

I think the “bungling” has been explained pretty well on these pages. You can also hear about it from, of all places, the Oregonian editorial board: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/portland_sticks_it_to_mountain.html

wsbob
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wsbob

traillover at: http://bikeportland.org/2015/03/11/river-view-bike-ban-might-permanent-fritz-says-135407#comment-6262562

TL…you’re the one, directly in comments to this discussion, that accused the commissioners of “bungling”. That obliges you to provide an explanation of what you mean, rather than to mimic things other people have said, or post links to sources you suggest would explain what you mean.

I read the Oregonian editorial, and the impression I get from it, is that the board is grasping for answers they don’t have. It’s the old story of second guessing somebody else’s work, which the board, and a bunch of people commenting to this bikeportland comment section are also doing. Taking potshots is about all it amounts to.

The land was purchased by the city, in part, for preservation as natural land. That in itself was a major success, rather than to have it eventually sold off for some less worthy use. Who bought the land? Taxpayers.

Mountain bike enthusiasts didn’t buy the land. Why not? Did they even try? Would have been great if they did. But they didn’t. And locally, they show no indication that they ever will try do something such as that, on a smaller scale of, for example, The Nature Conservancy’s work. That organization has land donated to it. It’s able to raise money for saving land for activities consistent with values embraced by the entire nation. If they want stronger, broader support across the population, mountain biking enthusiasts are going to have to work much harder than they have to date. Using greater care in expressing criticism of public officials would be a good start.

davemess
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davemess

“Mountain bike enthusiasts didn’t buy the land.”

Are “mountain bike enthusiasts” also not taxpayers? (And I will point out at this point that you are not a Portland taxpayer)

Evan
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Evan

“I encourage you to participate in the upcoming City Budget process,”… I encourage you to participate in the upcoming Election Process, let’s get some new leadership in city council!

TrailLover
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TrailLover

Based on “an abundance of experience” with Commissioner Fritz, kicking and screaming is the only way she will ever accommodate bicycles on Portland city trails. Even the yet-to-materialze Mountain Bike Master Plan that she now touts wasn’t even on her funding radar until she was begrudgingly forced to include it by an overwhelming outpouring of community demand at the public hearing in January.

Her suggestion that bicycling might be allowed at River View at some point in the future is pure backpedaling after she botched yet another opportunity to help Portland move forward on an issue that the city has been bungling for 20 years. The commissioner is not to be believed regarding any promises or hints of future improvements at River View or elsewhere.

As evidenced by her current plea for community support for the funding of the Master Plan, it is the commissioner’s own bad actions that are the greatest threat to the Master Plan moving forward at all.

matt picio
Guest

Agreed. There needs to be more opportunities for mountain biking than currently exist. There’s a huge demand, and as many other people have mentioned, the majority of MTB’ers are courteous, considerate, and just want a place to ride. There’s enough trails (and space for more) to be able to accommodate hiker-only and hiker/MTB or MTB-only trail uses. Pressure *does* need to be applied to Parks in general and Fritz in particular to accommodate those use cases.

wsbob
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wsbob

“…There’s a huge demand, …” picio

In Portland, there’s not much indication of a huge demand, population percentage-wise to use Portland park land for mountain biking.

Resident taxpayers are the people forking out the dough to buy parcels of land like the Riverview. Their interest in using this, or any other parkland for a given type of recreation, especially when it’s one such as mountain biking that’s inherently at conflict with the vast majority of other recreational forms engaged in on foot, should be carefully considered.

Mountain biking in Portland, yet remains to become among the standard forms of recreation made of Portland park land. Until it becomes so, expect it to continue to receive the close scrutiny it does. Applying “…Pressure…” in efforts to have mountain biking received favorably, in the form of malicious claims, could wind up with a bad result.

Scott H
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Scott H

Your own perception of demand should never be confused with actual demand, something entirely different.

TrailLover
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TrailLover

WSBOB – You can keep repeating the opposite of the truth but it doesn’t make it so. Mountain biking is fundamentally COMPATIBLE with other trail uses as evidenced by the thousands of miles of shared use trails all over the country. Maybe you should look into that.

Second, “…not much indication of huge demand?” Would something like a large survey of park users help shed light on that? If the results of that survey showed that more bicycle singletrack is the number one desired improvement among trail users, would that constitute an “indication?” Because that’s exactly what the city-sponsored survey revealed in 2012.

wsbob
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wsbob

Like I said:

“In Portland, there’s not much indication of a huge demand, population percentage-wise to use Portland park land for mountain biking. …”.

The petition indicates no such thing. How other parts of the country have received mountain biking, is no clear indication that Portland wishes to do similarly. If you really want definite confirmation or rejection of the idea to use Forest Park for mountain biking, also as I’ve said before, put the choice before the public on a ballot. There’s an election not too far away.

There’s nobody, aside from the 2000 or so NWTA mountain biking association, visibly calling, if at all, for the use of Forest Park for mountain biking. In fact, there’s good reason to suspect that a majority of Portland residents may not be interested in having the city’s largest, earliest established, vehicle free except for park roads, nature park, to be used for mountain biking, at all.

Scott H, you made an effort at a snappy answer. How about adding some substance to it: To what “actual demand” relative to Portland parkland do you refer? Do you suspect that demand would have been sufficient to swing a citywide vote of Portland residents, to spend 6 million bucks for 146 acres of land for a mountain biking park?

davemess
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davemess

Ah yes, the “Portland is unique” argument. That’s my favorite!

davemess
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davemess

Two hundred and seventy people signed up on a Monday night to do a protest ride (in a far corner of the city) is a sign of demand whether you want to believe it or not.

Go up to PIR on a Monday night in the summer for mountain bike short track races, and tell me there is no interest in mountain biking in Portland.

Bjorn
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Bjorn

One thing to note is that there are miles of trails for horses right next to this property, I can’t imagine there is actually more demand for horseback singletrack than mountain bike singletrack in the city, but there are more trails for horses than for bikes.

Paul Souders
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Paul Souders

Because the plural of “anecdote” is apparentlly “data” … I live directly next to Tryon Creek SP, hike in it weekly, my wife runs in it daily, and we have never seen a single horse in four years.

I do occasionally step in some evidence of equestrian usage however.

spencer
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spencer

mountain biking does NOT conflict w/ conservation bob.

f5
Guest
f5

I know of at least 30 cyclists personally in the portland area that would love to have more access to single track in FP (and now Riverview), and none of them are members of the NWTA. Consider that I’m just one person and this town is full of cyclists.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Add me to your list.

Geoff Grummon
Guest
Geoff Grummon

Jonathan and Michael – thank you for continuing to cover this story. I look forward to hearing more about how this decision was influenced by city staff members and anti-mountain bike advocates.

maccoinnich
Guest

Off topic, but that photo of Fritz always reminds me of Marge Simpson in “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield”.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Team Robot…. awesome!

spencer
Guest
spencer

allow existing uses the the RVNA. enough said. study it as its used. NOTHING occurs in a vacuum. keep the pressure on !!!!!

Brian
Guest
Brian

We need people from our Parks and Rec to visit some of these systems. Most people are visual learners, and I think they need to see what we are talking about. I’m happy to get the Kickstarter for plane tix up and running.

MNBikeLuv
The prevention of accidents on a trail, shared or otherwise, is about trail design and user interaction design, not the setting of speed limits.
First, you can cut the speed down by designing the downhills to be tight, twisty and choked up. That way you “design in” a maximum speed.
Second, you can do some simple things, like adding directionality to the trail so that user group interactions are always face-to-face. That makes impacts far less likely.
Third, most urban systems avoid such issues by not not having extended downhills, placing higher speed/higher skills areas off by themselves, or going fully segregated for urban trails. Or all three (like they do here in the Midwest).
Seriously, if any commentor thinks urban mountain biking is impossible or dangerous or damaging to the environment in an urban environment, come to MN. We will do a tour. And after they talk to park managers, elected officials, neighbors and other user groups, as well as going for some MTB rides, I will *guarantee* that person will return to PDX wanting some urban MTB trails. We you see it done right, all the “concerns” melt away.
Recommended 1

MNBikeLuv
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MNBikeLuv

Brian,

If those in the PDX MTB scene would be serious about doing something like that, I would be glad to help. I have connections on my end. Rooms, rental bikes, people, etc. If this is something you want to pursue, reply back and we will figure out a private way to communicate.

Dan
Guest
Dan

wsbob
Brian…Forest Park is unique with respect to all other Portland parkland, natural or otherwise. This distinction obliges a bias that must be acknowledged and factored into any decision regarding the use of this parks’ land for recreation. As such, mountain biking as a form or vehicular recreation, is not compatible with that park’s fundamental purpose to the Portland public.

Hmm….let’s look at the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan, and the “Goals for Trail Management” contained within. Among the 10 goals listed is Goal 2: Provide Opportunities for Passive Recreation:

“Forest Park should offer the citizens of Portland Opportunities for outdoor recreation in keeping with the Park’s resource values. Forms of recreation must be appropriate for Forest Park and must be passive in nature. Examples of passive recreation include walking, running, bicycling, riding horses, walking with pets, and observing fauna, flora, and other natural history features. Opportunities should be created for these activities which implies the need for appropriate facilities as well as controls on the level and location of the allowed uses.”

Duncan Parks
Guest

Fritz is alluding to the court case judging the legality of using ratepayer dollars to buy River View. Couldn’t one make the case that pursuing an essentially made-up resource plan banning mountain biking – rather than pursuing the priorities the TAC identified as threatening water quality – be seen as a reckless disregard for the goal of preserving the resource? If the TAC says A,B, and C threaten water quality into the Willamette, and Fritz and Fish do D, shouldn’t *that* be a cause for concern from the Judge?

Dan
Guest
Dan

What did I say? I’ve been stuck in moderation for 4 hours…

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

“Who bought the land? Taxpayers. Mountain bike enthusiasts didn’t buy the land. Why not? Did they even try? Would have been great if they did. But they didn’t. …” wsbob

Hi Bob – I’m a taxpayer in the city of Portland and a mountain bike enthusiast. Help me square that dilemma up.

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover

“Who bought the land? Taxpayers. Mountain bike enthusiasts didn’t buy the land. Why not? Did they even try? Would have been great if they did. But they didn’t. …” wsbob

The local tether ball enthusiasts didn’t buy Wilshire Park, the local basketball enthusiasts didn’t buy Mt. Tabor, the local hiking enthusiasts didn’t buy Forest Park. We the people bought or preserved those places and we the people like tether ball, basketball, hiking, mountain biking and a host of other wholesome activities. Maybe scraping flat a 12,000 square foot pad for a basketball court is inconsistent with the other goals for River View but nobody…nobody…let alone the experts supposedly managing this project has presented any evidence to show that an existing use like mountain biking is inconsistent with the other purposes of the land.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

From the wayback machine: (http://bikeportland.org/2010/02/23/unauthorized-bike-trail-damages-pristine-habitat-in-forest-park-29920)

a.O February 24, 2010 at 8:30 pm
Rick, I will bet you $100 that Jim Labbe, Bob Sallinger, Nick Fish, etc are all saying the same bullshit about how they support access and blah, blah, blah for the next five years and somehow it mysteriously just won’t get done and on Feb 22, 2015 there will still be no legal singletrack in FP. Care to put your money where your mouth is?

5 years later, still no singletrack, and we’ve lost more with RVNA.