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Riders rally at River View, urge city to reverse biking ban

Posted by on March 16th, 2015 at 8:09 pm

River View Protest Ride-25

“Raise your hand if you think we’re compatible with the resource goals at River View!”
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

69-year old Hillsboro resident Roger Lynn just found out about the bike trails at River View Natural Area a few weeks ago. “I’ve been looking for a place like this, so I’ve been here three times in the past week. It’s just such a shame that the trails are closed now.”

River View Protest Ride-5

Roger Lynn rode out from Hillsboro.

The over 300 people who showed up at River View on the first day of the new ban agree with Lynn. They wore shirts emblazed with “Portland Hates Me,” “Mountain biking is not a crime,” and “Free Forest Park.” One man held up a sign that read: “Bureau of Evasive Sycophants” (a play on BES, Bureau of Environmental Services) on one side and “Fish is rotten” on the other (a reference to BES Commissioner Nick Fish). There were men and women and people of all ages. They gathered among River View’s tall trees and under sunny skies just off SW Palatine Hill Road to protest the recent decision by Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish to ban biking in the 146 acre parcel.

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Chris Daniel came from Vancouver because he’s afraid of this type of policy-making might creep up to his local urban trail riding area in Camas. “This is about sticking up for a political process. If we let this happen here, more politicians might think, ‘They did this in Portland and no one seemed to mind.'”

As the crowd filled in at today’s ride, organizers passed around a petition that read: “I support ending the River View bike ban.”

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This issue has galvanized the community in an unprecedented way. Ride organizer Charlie Sponsel, a member of the River View Natural Area Technical Advisory Committee who thinks the way this decision was made is “totally unacceptable,” told a TV news crew at today’s event that he feels it’s “the best thing that could have happened.” Why? “Because it shows the commissioners’ true opinion about mountain biking.”

In Sponsel’s view, the River View bike ban comes down to one thing: “Antipathy from City Hall toward mountain biking.”

River View Protest Ride-9

Event organizer Charlie Sponsel
River View Protest Ride-16

Several TV stations showed up.
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Frank Selker, the citizen activist who tried to improve bike trail access at Forest Park seven years ago, knows that antipathy all too well. Selker was at today’s protest.

“It’s discouraging,” Selker said as he looked over the large crowd, “People are really upset by this because they’ve been riding here forever just fine while it was under private ownership. The irony is, the public finally took it over (it was purchased by City of Portland in 2011) and now the public is being excluded.”

Another veteran of Portland’s struggle to embrace mountain biking was at the event. Chris DiStefano, who gave an impassioned speech about the need for more local singletrack to a meeting of the City of Portland’s Bicycle Advisory Committee way back in May of 2007, showed up to support the protest. When I asked him about that speech today, he said, “Eight years later and we’ve still got nothing to show for it.”

Before the ride began, Sponsel grabbed a megaphone and stepped up on a log to address the crowd.

Sponsel shared a personal story and pointed out the potential of a riding area like this for kids.

“I started mountain biking when I was seven years old and it was one of the most positive forces in my life. It has made me the person I am now. The city of Portland doesn’t want to give kids a place to ride, and I can’t figure out what that’s all about. With all of the couches and video games available to kids these days, why does the City of Portland not want kids recreating and getting into nature on bikes? It’s mind boggling.”

Feeling like he and other advocates were “kicked out” and “abandoned” by Commissioners Fritz and Fish, Sponsel now says he plans to fight until he’s let back in. “We want to be back at the table and we want to be stewards of River View… We’re not going to let Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish forget about the mountain bikers of Portland,” he said, “we’re going to keep the pressure on.”

— In related news, I was a guest on OPB’s Think Out Loud radio program that covered the River View issue today. The audio from the segment is below…

UPDATE: Check out this excellent short video from the protest ride, accompanied with audio of Charlie Sponsel speaking at the event:

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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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Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

Outstanding!

Gabriel Amadeus
Guest

Thanks for all the great coverage, it was great to see so many good-naturedly angry folks out there today!

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

Great to see everyone out there today, but it looks like we have some really heavy lifting still to do.

I found it Interesting, but not surprising, to read in the O’s coverage that the City Budget Office released their analysis on March 9th that recommends against funding both the Gateway Green Match Funding and the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan.

You can read it here: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/article/522065

Frank
Guest
Frank

I will vote against Fish and Fritz unless/until they represent all citizens. I will also encourage others to do so, and encourage good people to run against them.

velograph
Guest

Thanks for the coverage Jonathan. I was quite proud to be a Portlander today. This is the first time I have felt like we have something attainable to rally around. Let’s get our trails back!

Curtis Roth
Guest
Curtis Roth

Impressive.

Trail Rat
Guest
Trail Rat

It was such a great vibe out there today. I was proud to be a part of it.

Amy
Guest
Amy

Really nice work on OPB today for us, Jonathan. Thank you. And thanks for the continuing coverage!

Bella Bici
Guest

I relocated here from Colorado. Mountain biked almost everywhere in beautiful Colorado. (and other Rocky Mountain states)

Jefferson County (on the eastern border of Denver) has an exemplary park service that allows ALL users to share the resources. This has included mountain bikes for over two decades now.

Portland is simply abysmal when it comes to mountain biking options. And, this is not a result of lack of resources. It is because of backward thinking policy makers.

Listening to Amanda Fritz’s effete rational for excluding biking from River View demonstrates this.

When I am told that Lief Erikson offers mountain biking options in Forest Park and Portland I cringe.

Look at the example other cities invest in here: Jeffco Open Space Parks and Trails

Rick
Guest
Rick

very rad

Snowden
Guest
Snowden

It was an impressive showing of solidarity yesterday. The fact that the commissioners are avoiding the press here is telling. Fish’ response last week was laughable, as were Fritz’ remarks in the TV coverage. I thnk both have terribly underestimated the will and collective power of our constituency.

Word is that both the Technical Advisory Comittee and the PAC are reconvening. We’ll all be very interested in to watch how that develops. I’m not at all confident that the process will be any more transparent than it has been up to this point. Look at the Riverview project website. Notice anything missing? None of the work of the City’s project consultant Vigil Agrimis, nor the work of the TAC is included. Heck, not even the names of the TAC members are listed. Think that’s a coincidence?

Maus, if you haven’t already, reach out to Jane Bachieri and Paul Ketchum at BES. Oh, and have you seen Mike Houck’s recent testimony before the Planning and Sustainability Commission? He seems very committed and confident in his statement about “keeping mountain bikers out of Riverview”. Does he know something we don’t?

This whole thing stinks.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

Please people…vote these people out of city council.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Very cool

m
Guest
m

I am not a mountain biker but this seems like a no-brainer to me. Great location for an under-served population in the area.

Frank
Guest
Frank

I was looking around at the amazing equipment there and thought:

250 people x $100 each* = $25,000 for someone to run against Fritz or Fish.

*Amount a couple can give a political candidate and get 100% of it back from Oregon on your taxes.

Jon
Guest
Jon

The odds of a sitting Portland city council member losing an election is nearly zero. In the last 22 years not a single incumbent city council member has lost an election. We are better off building support with the general public and working with the existing council. Most likely a different councilor will be in charge of Parks and BES after the next election because they are shuffled around every couple of years.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Now imagine the turnout if they held the rally sometime outside of business hours.

As much as I like mountain biking, I have to work first.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

It seems Amanda Fritz has been asking everyone to be patient and participate in planning for a fraudulent Off-Road cycling master plan she never intended to fund or complete. Hher budget office recommendation is to NOT fund either the plan or Gateway Green because they need to focus on other underserved user groups…

The woman has no qualms about lying to and trying to game us. Keep up the pressure. Keep making the issue public and get River View reopened.

Currently the CBO of the City of Portland is not recommending funding the off-road master plan. “Off‐Road Cycling Master Plan, PK_17, $350,000, 0.00 FTE.
The bureau requests $350,000 of General Fund one‐time resources to develop a master plan for off‐road
cycling at several sites in Portland. Specific sites have not been identified, although prime areas for
feasibility analysis include Forest Park, River View property, and East Buttes properties (south of Powell
Butte). It is estimated that an off‐road cycling master plan may identify four to six miles of new trails.
Metro will also contribute resources in FY 2015‐16 to identify additional potential sites outside Portland
city limits, which would potentially improve connectivity between City and non‐City owned sites.
The City provides few options for off‐road cycling in Forest Park and Powell Butte; for the options within
Forest Park, cyclists share trail use with pedestrians. Current estimated cyclist usage of Forest Park and
Powell Butte Park is unknown. Stub Stewart State Park (34 miles west of Portland) receives approximately
20,000 annual (non‐unique) bike visits for its six miles of bike trails. Neither the bureau’s five‐year capital
plan nor its 20‐year capital includes off‐road cycling projects. The estimated costs of four to six miles is
$120,000 to $300,000 per mile, depending on steepness of topography, soil conditions, and the amount
of trees and tree removals involved.
The cycling community has expressed strong interest in expanding off‐road cycling options; however, the
current focus of the bureau’s current capital plan reflects its most pressing needs: maintaining assets and
expanding access to underserved resident. Because this project is not included in capital plans and the
bureau has other, higher priority capital needs, CBO does not recommend funding this project.
CBO Recommendation: $0.”

davemess
Guest
davemess

Jonathan. Good coverage and good OPB interview. But I would remind you that there actually have been scientific studies showing that MTB and hiking have same impact on trails. That would have been a good point to make on the radio show.

http://www.americantrails.org/resources/ManageMaintain/WKeenImpacts.html

Mike
Guest
Mike

Has anyone considered a recall initiative against these two?
Approximately 35k signatures would be required. 90 days to gather them.

If we truly believe they are not acting in our best interest, or even flat out lying to us, why wait until 2016 when they will probably just get reelected?

Eric
Guest
Eric

Maybe Nick and Amanda need to go on a field trip to see how it can work.
https://www.evergreenmtb.org/trails/duthie-hill

phreadi
Guest
phreadi

while I haven’t been do Duthie, it’s pretty freeride-centric, yeah? I could be wrong, but I don’t think anyone involved wants such bike-specific trail planning as a free-ride network with stunts for river view, and getting parks to buy off on something like Duthie might get us no where when they’re trying to prove the case for trailsharing in a highly-contested natural area.

Eric
Guest
Eric

Davemess, agreed Duthie is a little out of the way, unless you live and work on that side of Lake Washington. I just think Nick and Amanda would appreciate, the trail building, the different kinds of riding, how the riders co-exisit with the neighbors, and the relationship between Evergreen and Parks and Rec.
I haven’t ridden at River View, but can you imagine a Duthie type system there? I think it seems reasonable

Joe
Guest
Joe

hey thanks to everyone! lets keep mountain biking free, seems we are not really understood as nature lovers I feel.. :/ reason I ride on the trails get away from cars..

spencer
Guest
spencer

Thanks everyone! I ride to get out in the woods to enjoy nature. Lets get some woods to ride in IN Portland!

Adam
Guest
Adam

Loving the photographs. They really opened my eyes to what the mountain biker demographic actually looks like. It’s basically everyone! Dads, moms, kids, old dudes, young dudes… etc!

I feel it’s a darn shame that mountain bikers seem to have a reputation that precedes them – a bad one – that doesn’t really seem to be warranted. It’s like having to fight a fight, before you’ve even fought the fought.

I feel like so much of this ban is really about the City seeing mountain bikers as a bunch of stoner dudes, or hippies, or…. something! Scofflaws in any case.

They don’t seem to have a problem with hikers.

Or dogwalkers.

Or runners.

All of whom cause equal amounts of damage to our urban forest spaces. Dogs in particular spread invasive species (English Ivy, Garlic Mustard in particular) in Forest Park like wildfire. It gets caught in their coats as they brush against the vegetation, particularly if they are off-leash, which, basically, they ALL are.

The whole Riverview affair seems fraught with hypocrisy more than anything.

James
Guest
James

The off road master plan won’t be funded. Fritz and Fish know this. Here’s what’s happening: fear of another lawsuit from the anti-government nuts who brought the first suit about proper use of ratepayer funds, or pressure from influential types like Mike Houck and his cronies, including his friends in BES. Perhaps some combination thereof. At this point it may not matter, but either way, the process has been rigged, the answers haven’t been genuine, and the disappointment in our elected leaders should be profound. It’s too bad. I think Houck and his Ilk have done a lot of good. They do seem to have a pathological fear or dislike of the idea of people riding bicycles on trails, though. As a conservationist and trail runner who’s also a bike rider, I really don’t get it. They’re just bicycles, folks, not some alien “other.” They seem to see it that way, though. Still hoping the elected officials show some courage and demonstrate that Portland, like so many other places, can do this the right way. Right now, they’re reactionary, timid, and way behind the rest of the country.

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

Did you see the article in today’s O, page A8? I thought it was favorable toward our wish to keep River View open to the public – including mountain bikers. It is also wonderful to see so much community spirit in favor of our cause. My 12-year-old son’s favorite after-school activity is mountain biking in River View, which also happens to be the only activity that allows him to be engaged and challenged physically, and connected to nature. How ironic that the City is taking the opportunity away from him, and from all the other kids that enjoy riding in River View!

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

As a comparison to Multnomah County, Benton County managed to add 5 miles of new trails last year: http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/local/team-dirt-launches-funding-push/article_a8851eb7-b3ad-5574-8f9c-9fa231e4f798.html

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Big discussion amongst bikeportland readers this week, may be the group mountain bike enthusiast guest editorial appearing in tomorrow’s Sunday the 26th Oregonian. The writers seek Mayor Hales help towards having the city provide mountain biking opportunity within city limits.

Of course, Forest Park, the city’s largest natural land park: from it’s conception and by generations of Portland residents ever since, regarded as an immediate to the city, nature-wilderness park, could be on mountain bike enthusiasts’ list of parks to acquire the use of for mountain biking.

The guest editorial may help raise the question to the attention of a broader range of Portland residents than past efforts have, hopefully something approaching a majority, of what they consider is the park’s function to the city and its residents. Also, as to whether they feel the use of this park or some part of it, for mountain biking, is compatible with that function.

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover