A group of frustrated and fed-up mountain biking advocates hope to keep the pressure on local decision-makers by staging a mass ride in Forest Park tonight.
While much of the recent focus in the community has been on River View Natural Area, Forest Park remains essentially off-limits to trail-riding. With a paltry 1/3 mile of singletrack trail open to bicycle users, it’s a potent symbol of what many see as a systematic bias against mountain biking from the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau.
The image chosen to publicize tonight’s ride (above) expresses some of the building frustration in the community. Scrawled across a billboard advertisement from the Forest Park Conservancy that features people happily pedaling in Forest Park is the hashtag and rally-cry, “#PortlandHatesMTBers.” (The billboard really chaps the hide of mountain bikers, many of whom see it on Highway 26 as they drive home from the Sandy Ridge Trail Area — a drive they do in large part because bikes are not allowed on trails at Forest Park).
The ride has been organized by individual activists and is not sanctioned by the Northwest Trail Alliance or any other non-profit advocacy group. Here’s more from the ride leader Üma Kleppinger:
“The City of Portland doesn’t deserve to be called “Bike Friendly” when year after year mountain bikers are denied access to park trails. Portland boasts some of the largest city parks in the country, yet selfishly hoards access for a few user groups. Let’s keep the heat on and build upon the momentum established at the River View Protest Ride — this time with a protest in Portland’s iconic Forest Park. Although this ride is staged in Forest Park, it’s meant to show a need for access to city parks, period.”
So far, 181 people have RSVP’d for the ride. A similar ride on March 16th to protest the River View bike ban drew over 300 people.
Kleppinger says the ride is meant to be a “show of force.” Details of the ride are being kept secret, but Kleppinger is urging everyone to wear good walking shoes — which leads us to believe part of the protest will include walking bikes on what are currently designated as hiking-only trails.
“This is a peaceful protest and a no-conflict ride,” Kleppinger explains on Facebook, “When we encounter other users on the trail, we will explain why we are there and why this measure is necessary… This is a demonstration of need, pure and simple.”
It’s been four and-a-half years since bike advocates last took to Forest Park. In October 2010 the NW Trail Alliance held a rally there after being left at the altar of access by the City of Portland.
Tonight’s ride meets at 6:00 pm (4/6), rain or shine, at the NW Thurman Street gate. See the Facebook event for more info.