River View update: Protest ride, OPB radio coverage, new video

As of 12:01 am this morning — for the first time in well over 20 years — it became illegal to ride a bicycle in a 146-acre parcel just west of the Sellwood Bridge known as the River View Natural Area. We’ve got more info on today’s protest ride and other updates below…

As we’ve been reporting for the past two weeks, the surprise decision to stop allowing bicycles in this area came from Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish. Despite an ongoing public process, the decision was made unilaterally without any input from citizen committee members. Adding fuel to frustrations to many people in the region is that neither politician has fully explained how they arrived at their decision other than to say that the City of Portland, “must ensure the uses of the natural area match the… mission to protect the watershed.” (More background here.)

Here’s the route for today’s ride:

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As the community waits to hear more from the commissioners, River View Natural Area Technical Advisory Committee member Charlie Sponsel, says he plans to move ahead with his Protest Ride today at 4:00 pm.

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Obviously because the dirt is still wet from weekend rains, all riders will be advised to stay completely off the trails. Here’s more from an update posted on the event’s Facebook page (emphasis mine):

“After talking to a lot of folks in the MTB community, we believe the bad weather has presented us a huge opportunity. There are people who are hoping we thrash the trails tomorrow so they can post pictures of the damage and claim “I told you so.” Instead of adding fuel to the hate fire, we’re going to take the high road and stay off the trails. This will drive our critics crazy, and will communicate three key points:

First it shows that mountain bikers are advocates for sustainability, and we are self policing. We want to be equal partners in protecting River View Natural Area, and we will take necessary steps to safeguard the trails from weather and abuse.

Second, by not walking our bikes on the trails we won’t inadvertently communicate that riding on wet trails is bad and walking is somehow better. It’s not.

Third, the sight of 325 mountain bikers out of place riding mountain bikes on the road around the park speaks powerfully about the fact there’s no where else to go. With the closing of River View, there’s really no place to ride mountain bikes in Portland.”

opb

Today at noon.

There’s also a new video (above) on the issue that has been published by Fat Tire Farm, a local shop that specializes in mountain bikes. In the video, Sponsel and others share why they feel maintaining access for bicycling in River View is so important.

On the media front, tune into OPB’s Think Out Loud radio show today at noon for a live conversation about this issue. I’m headed into the studio and producers say the River View segment will air at the top of the hour.

We’re continuing to work this story and hope to shed more light on it this week. Stay tuned.

Follow all our River View coverage here.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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UncleMuscles
UncleMuscles
9 years ago

This is a great response to the rain. I wish I could be there but I’m stuck up north in a place that actually allows mountain biking.

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
9 years ago

Mountain Biking isn’t a Crime

spencer
spencer
9 years ago

remember to show up AND write the BES and the ENTIRE city council

spencer
spencer
9 years ago
Reply to  spencer

To Whom it may concern,

I am writing you to express my profound disappointment in hearing that the River View Natural Area is slated to exclude the mountain biking community and citizens of Portland. I feel that the recent decision to close the area to mountain bikes was a severe corruption of the public process. The City Council has backhandedly executed this action without any scientific evidence to substantiate it. We all know that sustainably built trails coexist well with native salmon runs. The policy expressed in the recent announcement does not adhere to nor reflect scientific evidence. The recent turnaround at the city level is dismaying. Mountain biking did not make the list of threats for the River View Natural Area, and in fact it was identified as a recreational priority for the area.

From the onset, NWTA was committed to working with all user groups and agencies to ensure a high quality, sustainable, natural area with a variety of trails built using modern techniques. NWTA advocated for trails that would be accessible to people of all ages from ages five to seventy-five years, and for beginner through experienced riders. Throughout this process, we helped facilitate work parties that contributed over 450 hours of volunteer labor, removing garbage, repairing trails, and re-routing multi-use trails.

You have profoundly disappointed the mountain biking community, the cycling community, and the greater Portland community. Our city needs access to trails for mountain biking in the city limits. Please reverse your decision as it negatively impacts our city’s livability.

Brian
Brian
9 years ago

Fantastic video. Thank you to all involved, and also to BikePortland for the continuing coverage.

Whitekitten
Whitekitten
9 years ago

Jonathan, thanks for representing Portland mountain bikers on OPB. You did a great job.

elpenguino
elpenguino
9 years ago

thanks thanks for spreading the word Jonathan, great performance on air too

Adam H.
Adam H.
9 years ago

Good luck, everyone!

Matt F
Matt F
9 years ago

That the media coverage is this widespread the media coverage is unbelievable…Fritz and Fish have actually (probably unknowingly) pushed the mtb bike access debate forward…it really feels like this is a turning point that took 20 years+ to get here…thank god

Bill Walters
Bill Walters
9 years ago
Reply to  Matt F

Thanks are due also to WSBob, Mike V. and maybe Jeg for their tireless work in portraying the mindset and disposition of the opposition. Whatever else they may be, they are excellent foils.

wsbob
wsbob
9 years ago
Reply to  Bill Walters

“…work in portraying the mindset and disposition of the opposition. …” Bill Walters

A different perspective? Yes. The “…opposition…”? No. That’s some sarcastic contrivance of your own.

From the get-go, I’ve written numerous times in reference to stories on bikeportland about Riverview, that I personally think that use of that parcel of land for mountain biking is probably fine. I think that when the commissioners and the city have time to go through all the data on their desks, the result will be some recreational plan for the land that will include its use for mountain biking.

Seems to me that a lot of people have been jumping the gun in speculating that plans are to permanently suspend mountain biking from Riverview. Many mountain bike enthusiasts writing in comments to bikeportland, have been rude and uncivil in reference to Fritz and Fish, which is likely one reason those two are less than delighted to talk with enthusiasts about the suspension of mountain biking in Riverview.

Sure, they’re politicians, but if you’re mean to them, you’re not making friends. Having been blasted with that kind of approach, time and again, they may have decided to double the caution in proceeding carefully towards possibly resuming use of the park for mountain biking.

spencer
spencer
9 years ago

I love the circumnavigation of the property plan. Stick it to them!

Charley
Charley
9 years ago

Sponsel should get an award for all his efforts, both before and after the ban. And that video is awesome!

TonyT
Tony T
9 years ago

Amanda Fritz simply does not know what she is talking about. Portlanders should be deeply embarrassed to be represented by someone who so blithely makes decisions from such a position of ignorance.

She should be embarrassed too.

caesar
caesar
9 years ago

The video is awesome. Especially the short statements by the riders and shop owners. However, I’m going to rain on this parade a bit by injecting some cold hard utilitarian realism into the mix – as it relates to the video itself, and to the actual riding footage in particular. As a tool to preach to the choir (other mtbikers), the video indeed hits the mark. But…as a means to enlist the support of those who do not ride, those undecided non-cyclists who just happen to have heard about the controversy and would like some further information and clarification: this video fails.

Go back and re-watch the riding footage. Those bikes are careening down those trails. They are bombing those trails, they are attacking them aggressively, they are “shredding,” they are jumping over exposed stumps along three-foot wide gashes of bare earth, making loud mechanical noises of tires on earth and chains clattering against frames. Folks, that’s not something that non-biking Joe and Jane Doe will probably conclude is a minimum impact, nature-respecting, forest-nurturing outdoor activity. It looks awesome to those of us who bike, but c’mon, in reality it’s quite aggressive riding. Should a unweary hiker have been kneeling in that trail just around one of those trees tying his shoelace he would have been creamed by one of those bikes at the speed they were going. I would never conclude that such a style of riding is appropriate on a multi-use trail. I can’t see how this display of this style of riding at this critical moment in time, when mtbikers are trying to enlist public support, serves to enhance the position that we (the mtbiker community) are good stewards of the natural environment. It just looks bad.

I’ll be there at 4 pm today with my two kids to support the cause. Just wish this video had been edited in a different way – more sensitive riders carefully pedaling at low speed and pointing up at the birdies in the trees, less kick-ass shredding and wheelies.

The Medium is the Message.

daisy
daisy
9 years ago
Reply to  caesar

I agree with this. I’d love to see a woman on a bike — even better, a mom on a bike with a small kid behind her. It’s unfortunate that the only woman in the video is Amanda Fritz.

Also, isn’t Nick Fish as much a problem as Fritz in this whole thing?

Psyfalcon
Psyfalcon
9 years ago
Reply to  daisy

Fish managed to not go on video, Fritz made the mistake of doing that.

Its not clear if BES or Parks (ie Fish or Fritz) is more at fault, but Fritz also has a previous history of opposing bike projects. From BP in 2011:

“In an email to a constituent who urged Fritz to support bike share, the Commissioner said she won’t support it because she sees too much bad bicycling behavior already downtown and she’s concerned bike share will just make it worse. In the email, she also accuses “the cycling community” of not doing enough to curb what she calls “dangerous behaviors.””

bjorn
bjorn
9 years ago
Reply to  Psyfalcon

Agreed Fritz has proven herself openly anti bike, Fish seems more indifferent publically although he may also be working against bike projects in the background.

Psyfalcon
Psyfalcon
9 years ago
Reply to  caesar

I thought it was rather sedate actually. The opening bike gets a bit of air, but everything else is pretty well planted with good sightlines. Where do you think the proposed creamed hiker would be?

Maybe the video can be improved (oh my, the helmet strap…) but I don’t think we need to sell this as sedately plodding along with kids. I mean there were even kids in it.

dave
dave
9 years ago
Reply to  Psyfalcon

I think most mtbers will look at that and agree it’s pretty tame, but this is unfortunately all about optics. I’ve talked to a number of non-cyclists about the issue lately and this fear of getting “creamed” by a bike is very real, if unrealistic. The testimonial from the hiker in the video was a good start to address it, but I think it needs more attention.

dirt_merchant
9 years ago
Reply to  Psyfalcon

Yes, but to your mom, or my mom for that matter, this is “crazy” riding that they simply do not relate to. To someone unfamiliar with mtn biking, its very foreign, and that is the opposite feeling we need to instill.

davemess
davemess
9 years ago
Reply to  dirt_merchant

yes, Should have focused on beginners, kids, and older folks. Seriously this is the demographic that can benefit from mountain biking that the Portland cyclists need to put forward. Make everyone in the city picture multiple people in their lives who can ride.

daisy
daisy
9 years ago
Reply to  dirt_merchant

Agreed, except that “woman with child” is not necessarily “your mom.” I know some 30- and 40-something moms who shred.

Joe
Joe
9 years ago

#portlandhatesme

Joe
Joe
9 years ago

well really #portlandhatesyou hope to make this ride..

rick
rick
9 years ago

mtb is transportation

Robert Rockford
Robert Rockford
9 years ago

I’ll still poach it anyhow, and deal with whatever they do if they ever catch me. That is, if they can catch me!