‘Free Forest Park Ride’ aims to keep heat on trail access issue

Posted by on April 6th, 2015 at 10:55 am

forestparkride-lead

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:

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“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.

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justin Gast
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justin Gast

I’m all for trailriding but there are some trails in FP that should NOT have any cyclists on them.

For example, trails like Ridge, Hardesty and Wildwood are not that wide, yet there have been multiple times where my wife and I have had to jump off to the side (some of these trails don’t have shoulders, just drop offs) or risk getting hit by a mountain biker flying down the trail. That’s not cool.

If there are designated trails, that would be great. But don’t think just because a trail is there that anyone can use it. There’s a reason ceratin trails are off limits to bikers and horses.

VTRC
Guest
VTRC

That’s a pretty reasonable view to have. I don’t feel that bikes need to be on every trail, or even all the time depending on conditions.

There are a ton of strategies we could use to make sure everyone has a great time in the park. Different days, single direction trails, modification of current trails, new trails… The list really goes on and on that would let more users of the park really appreciate what we have here, and even appreciate it while riding bicycles.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Fortunately, there are plenty of areas in FP that are currently covered in ivy and invasive species, and would make fantastic downhill flow trails. The volunteer trail builders could even clear ivy as they do their work. Seems like a win/win…

Dan
Guest
Dan

The rich neighbors don’t want ‘win-win’, they just want ‘win’.

rick
Guest
rick

The Wildwood Trail needs a bridge over West Burnside.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Wait, who was in charge of Parks in Oct 2010?………..

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

I haven’t heard anyone arguing for bikes on all trails.

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

This was intended to be a response to Justin’s comment above.

spencer
Guest
spencer

There ARE trails that could be shared in Forest Park, while there are some that would best work in a directional manner. I hike as well as ride, and the current park management plan excludes its citizens. It also badly maintains its resources. It also ignores years of FS and BLM trail maintenance best practices. I’ll be there to show my support.

davemess
Guest
davemess

It’s more than likely that making a few bike included trails (that are worth riding for much) would pull many of the rider (although I don’t think there are ton of them) that are currently poaching foot only trails.

Give them a decent place to ride and people will stay off the other trails.

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover

Yes, there are reasons that certain trails are off limits to bikers and horses…and even hikers sometimes. But it’s important to examine exactly what those reasons are.

In your case, you say that you and your wife have had to “jump off the side” in order to avoid being struck by a “flying” trail user on a bicycle. And those experiences apparently happened specifically on no-bike trails in Forest Park. I’ll take your word for it. Not cool indeed. But what remedies are available to us if we would like our public lands to serve as many members of the community as possible? Is closing an entire trail the only tool that we have? Wildwood is 30 miles long. Do you believe none of it would be safe to share? What if we worked together to identify the parts of the trail that really are problematic and we discussed possible modifications that would improve safety and user experience? Maybe we need some new trail construction as well. Maybe we should step back and take a look at how we can best manage and preserve Forest Park for the benefit of as many citizens as possible.

The thing that has the cyclists so frustrated is that the type of dialogue that I just described has not been foiled in Portland for 20 years. Does that seem like good land management practice? Other communities all over the country moved on to better models years ago. And they’ve had great success. Portland is stuck. It’s time to unstick it.

Wells
Guest
Wells

Came across a probably authorized bike cut recently. It swerved to the right from a paved ped/bikeway. The problem was its location too near the edge of a 30′ drop off, a steep 60 degree or so slope through slack shrub. One unforeseen mistake and you’re over the edge.
This is motocross off-road thinking. “Trees, wildlife, blah blah.”

Dan
Guest
Dan

What is a “probably authorized bike cut”?

justin Gast
Guest
justin Gast

I think a good start would be to create a stakeholder group, who would be in charge of assessing all the trails in FP and deciding what trails have the capabilities to being open for all, such as the Firelanes, Leif Erickson, Springville, etc.

Hell, the Forest Park Conservancy most likely knows which trails these could be. These trails could then be marked with a certain trail marker, such as Wildwood is with the blue diamond. With the Firelanes, there may be a way to connect many of these trails, creating a course.

I have no problem sharing a trail with a mountain biker as long as the trail is wide enough for everyone (runners, hikers, bikers, etc.) to play safe.

VTRC
Guest
VTRC

One reason the level of frustration is so high right now, is that the MTB community has been actively and diligently trying to work with the public process and the city yanks the rug out from under us over and over. The recent events with RV are very typical with how the city has treated MTBers.

Yes, everyone would be better off with a public process where more users could happily use the park. It isn’t going to happen in Forest Park.

Alex
Guest
Alex

In fact, during the public process, we discovered that the majority of people were in favor of opening Forest Park to more mountain biking, yet it still somehow didn’t happen.

I wish there was a good timeline of this stuff so we wouldn’t have to rehash the completely history to people that are new to the topic.

Charlie Sponsel
Guest

In fact, a public process featuring members of the Forest Park Conservancy did happen, and they vetoed all singletrack mountain biking in Forest Park: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/312553

Brian
Guest
Brian

Trails when designed/re-designed properly, even if narrow, can accommodate both user groups. It is the responsibility of the mtb’er to stop and yield the right of way. It happens many, many times every single day at Powell Butte, for example. I stepped off my bike four times to allow hikers to pass me last weekend on the Bridal Veil trail. It was nice taking a minute to greet one another and chat for a bit.

Brian
Guest
Brian
davemess
Guest
davemess

That was my first thought. We’ve been down that road before.

DZ
Guest
DZ

How about sharing the trails just one day of the week, so we have a day to legally ride? If some hikers don’t like to share the trail, then they can choose to use the park any other day of the week. This is something that could be implemented right away and would restore some good faith in working with the City and Parks.

Kurt Morris
Guest
Kurt Morris

@TrailLover: That same thing has happened to me as well. The bike was indeed “flying” and the cyclist was as rude as he was uninformed about trail usage. I can certainly take the poster’s word for it, as the same has happened to me. I should note that I’m *for* expanded mountain bike trail access, but this sort of rider, while not, I’m sure, indicative of the typical mountain biker, does the movement to open access no favors. It would, I think, behoove mountain bikers to reach out to hikers — of which there are many more — to get a meaningful dialogue started.

Dan
Guest
Dan

There are idiots using every transportation mode, even walking. We shouldn’t be banning a mode because of those idiots.

caesar
Guest
caesar

Yeah, but in the eyes of most people mountain biking ain’t “transportation.” It’s leisure. And as such, it’s non-essential. Which is why so many people have no problem at all “banning” it when it appears that mtb-ers pose a hazard to the other leisure-ists on the trails, who are usually slower, quieter, and (most significantly) more numerous.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Are the motorcyclists zooming back and forth on Skyline on the weekends using it for transportation or for leisure? Certainly cyclists outnumber them and are put in danger by their presence. Would anyone think it reasonable to ban motorcycles on Skyline?

caesar
Guest
caesar

Motorcyclists on a street could easily argue that they are commuting – to the store, to their friend’s house, to visit mom, whatever. Not so for mountain bikers in a forest (at least not credibly).

FWIW – I’m a mountain biker and would lover to see the trails opened. But certain lines of logic just won’t work with the community at large.

Wade
Guest
Wade

FWIW I used to commute to school on my bike through forest park.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I commute through FP too.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Is hiking “essential” or is it “leisure”? I would argue it is a leisure activity and really, no one is required to go to Forest Park to live. They are both leisure activities.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Speak softly and carry a big stick…

TJ
Guest
TJ

I’m more in-favor of developing new trails (and amenities) for mtb that can be accessed via Leif, Newton or other more single-track hiker trails to allow riding from home. Single-track access trails should be primarily flat and cautioning mtb user to not mash it at 20 mph. I’ll ride Maple on my cross-bike, but it certainly lacks flow and screams bomb-me on a travel bike.

Spending much of the winter weeks in Hood River, I’ve been spoiled when Post is ride-able. Door-trail-door is amazing. Friends in Ocala Florida have it better than riders in PDX.

Pete
Guest
Pete

…and as you’ve likely noticed in Post, plenty of people also hike there and coexist with mountain bikers quite well.

MNBikeLuv
Guest
MNBikeLuv

@Kurt Morris, @justin Gast:

I don’t want to get into your personal experiences, other than to say those are the typical symptoms of the lack access. Its prohibition syndrome.

What I will get into how places that have urban/suburban MTBing handle the trail usage. As you might guess from my moniker, I live in MN and lurk on BikePortland due to my social connections to Portland and my interest in bike advocacy.

MN has a lot of urban mountain biking. 13 trail systems of 85 miles currently in the MSP metro area, with another one coming this summer adding 16 miles. Most towns in MN over 20,000 people and any amount of public land have a mile or two of MTB trails. What as been discovered over 15 years is that good design saves a number of headaches, including negative hiker/MTBer interaction. The trick we have found in MN is to estimate traffic volumes and flow BEFORE any dirt gets moved and design the trail around that.

The result is for high usage trails in dense population centers, like Theodore Wirth (3 miles from downtown Minnie, on the Grand Rounds), the trail is segregated use, directional in nature. Contrast that with the Duluth Traverse System (it will be 100 miles total in the city of Duluth) where the connection trails between the existing city park trail loops are 2-way multi-use (5′ treadway) and the loops themselves are directional multi-use (MTB go one way, hikers go opposite) with standard single-track widths of >24″ treadway. Little city trails like Grand Rapids, MN (pop: 11,000 with 2 miles of trails) tend to be 2-way preferred use with a 12″-16″ treadway.

While the above trails are all different, they are all designed to handle the volume of different users, hiker and MTBers, that those trails are expected to see. That is part of good MTB trail design. But for that good MTB trail design to happen, you have to have legal MTBing and legal trail building access, two things Portland currently is lacking.

Dan
Guest
Dan

MNBikeLuv, can you send me your email address? I know a portland reporter who would like to ask you some questions for a story. Hit me up at danfrisbeeman@yahoo.com

Kurt Morris
Guest
Kurt Morris

@MNBikeLuv: Agreed that Portland Parks has done a dismal job in regards to MTB in Forest Park. But “prohibition syndrome”? Please. Rationalizing the behavior of a few boorish cyclists is exactly the opposite of what proponents of expanded trails should be doing.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Which is what?

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

It is related. Anyone on those trails is already breaking city law, not really the group you’d expect to be considerate towards yielding.

Open up more single track designed for bikes and they’ll probably use that. It would be more fun. Secondly, you’d have more riders showing proper behavior, and at the very least their yielding might clog up the numbskulls a bit.

MNBikeLuv
Guest
MNBikeLuv

I’m not rationalizing. I’m just explaining what happens when activities go underground. Prohibition syndrome happens when a person believes the rules are dumb and hence invalid. Breaking the law is easy to self-justify. But you can still get punished by some authority. So to reduce or minimize that possibility you often end up doing other things that are rude to others. It becomes a cycle and an normal way of doing things.

Cycling example: Marin County, CA. Marin County is THE birthplace of MTBing. However, since the early 90s MTBing has been banned in Marin County. In fact, a vast majority of the MTB-hiker-equestrian negative interaction articles you will see are from Marin. All kinds of crazy stuff happens on those trails. Traps are set up to injure MTBers, MTBers and hikers getting into fights and more. I’m shocked there hasn’t been a murder, honestly. So are the MTBers in Marin a bunch of jackwagons? Well, in Marin MTBing is an underground activity. You can’t really stop for other users because they might call a ranger to ticket you. So you have put the blinders on, so to speak, and keep riding. If someone says something to you, its the one-finger salute and maybe some words. Situations escalate.

Now contrast Marin County, CA with Dakota County, MN. Dakota County is 5/8ths the size of Marin, double (2x) the population and yet MTBers in Dakota County aren’t at war with other trail users. Why not? MTBing is legal in Dakota County with lots of great trails and Dakota County has a defined process to get more trails. There is no prohibition syndrome because there is no prohibition. Why would you want or need to go against trail rules like directionality, permitted trails or weather closures? In the end MTBers become a part of the civil functions of the trails, the parks and the cities. They build a better community.

Caesar
Guest
Caesar

Alex
Is hiking “essential” or is it “leisure”? I would argue it is a leisure activity and really, no one is required to go to Forest Park to live. They are both leisure activities.
Recommended 3

True. But no one has to stand aside to let hikers pass by and no one is worried of being run over by a hiker. I have never read or heard of a mountain biker complaining that an aggressive hiker almost knocked him off the bike or forced her to stand back off the trail. Again, the logic is flawed. Hikers to the general public appear to be the most natural and least aggressive of all users of the park. We may disagree with that ( I do) but arguing that mtbs should be allowed on trails simply because motorcycles are allowed on streets is a losing proposition.

Dan
Guest
Dan

I am worried about stepping in poop and being licked and/or attacked by a dog. There. Now let’s get to banning those dogs.

Caesar
Guest
Caesar

Can’t argue with that.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Oh… those hikers do exist. They’re often armed.

Alex
Guest
Alex

I have heard of mountain bikers being attacked by hikers – I would do a quick google search. In fact, the hiking couple that pulled a gun, tazer and pepper spray on people just got convicted. Also, Make Vandeman was convicted of attacking mountain bikers.

> Again, the logic is flawed.

It’s not the logic that is flawed, it is simply the public perception that is either flawed, uninformed or just generally sympathize with hikers because most of the population walks.

> arguing that mtbs should be allowed on trails simply because motorcycles are allowed on streets is a losing proposition.

I am not arguing that at all. I would love to see separate use trails for mountain biking.

danny
Guest
danny

Jonathan: People can disagree about policies, including mountain bike access. But restricting or banning mountain bikes from parks is a “tragedy for Portland”? Hyperbole does not advance reasonable dialog.

VTRC
Guest
VTRC

Mountain biking is the purest fun on a bike someone can have. Coming back from it after commuting and road biking I’m always shocked at how “pure” fun on a bike can be. Just you, the environment, and your wheels.

We live in a great place for nature biking. We have some fantastic parks and places right here where we live, to go and experience it. And we have been utterly failed by our political leadership as they cave to small and narrow minded interest groups over and over, year after year.

I don’t think it is hyperbole in the least. It is a tragedy. But even if it wasn’t, coming to the city and working in good faith, with good intentions, and politely has been utterly futile.

elpenguino
Guest
elpenguino

Danny, close your eyes and think of your very favorite activity, one that you enjoy participating in and share with your friends, family and loved ones. Perhaps this activity decreases your stress from a week of hard work. Perhaps this activity has incredible benefits to your health and mental well being. No doubt the activity you are envisioning is incredibly meaningful to you. How could it not be. Now imagine somebody keeping you from doing that activity…for no good reason.
To call Jonathan’s argument a Hyperbole is truly lacking the ability to see things for another person’s perspective. It is a tragedy that kids in this city cannot enjoy riding single track in the city parks. My best memories of my childhood are the ones of me and my family and friends exploring nature on bikes. It was good, healthy fun. It shaped who I am today and I try to share that experience with as many people as possible. Jonathan’s comments to me, were in no way exaggerated, overstated or embellished. Thank you Jonathan for your continued coverage of this topic.

caesar
Guest
caesar

danny
But restricting or banning mountain bikes from parks is a “tragedy for Portland”? Hyperbole does not advance reasonable dialog.
Recommended 0

Agreed.
Diverting water from the Columbia RIver down to California (you just wait…) – now that will be a tragedy.

Wade
Guest
Wade

I just don’t understand why the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Managment, Oregon State Parks, Oregon Department of Forestry, the US Forest Service, and private forest landowners all allow mountain biking and the City of Portland cannot stomach the idea of mountain bikes in “natural areas”. RVNA and FP are not natural areas like Waldo Lake, and I can ride my bicycle around Waldo. Stop sending tourism dollars away from Portland and let us build bike trails.

Lori
Guest
Lori

Consideration of each other is key. I ride/hike with my family. We’ve had speeding mtbkrs nearly run us over while we were hiking on single track trails; but we’ve also been forced to slam on our brakes and hope for no collision while riding on Leif Erickson because of completely unmanaged off leash dogs running wildly across the road. (This has happened numerous times – owners only say something like “he’s friendly.”) Sorry, but dogs should be kept on a leash like the signs say they should be. Seems like if we were all actually considerate of each other and of the natural world (using trails at appropriate times so as not to damage them), there’d be no problem.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I think cyclists and hikers can co-exist on some trails, just as they co-exist on MUPs. But we don’t even have to test that theory right now. Dedicate a few trails in Forest Park to “bikes only”. Locate and design them appropriately. Use volunteer labor to build and maintain. Post clear signage to identify the bike-permitted trails. Then see what happens and decide on next steps.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Makes sense to me. There are over 80 miles of trails in Forest Park. Surely SOME of it can be given to people who want to ride instead of walk.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

This issue, like not funding Gateway Green or not prioritizing city bikeway infrastructure is why we are losing Eco-tourism dollars. Oregon, and Portland in particular, is uniquely set up to become a hub of eco-tourism.
Between the Coast, Cascades and Columbia, we could set ourselves up to be an international leader. Think of all of those California Tourism dollars that will flow north as their quality of life collapses under the weight of climate change…yet they could come north for a cool bike riding experience. Mountain biking, neighborhood greenway rides during spring blooming season, paths to the coast and gorge…..I see this and I do not even mountain bike.

Instead we can not come up with facilities for this demographic. The Park’s department does not prioritize Gateway Green because of some outdated “not enough people with a half mile” rule and bikeway funding is the first thing to get cut city wide by this administration.

With the Willamette Falls Legacy project combined with the North Portland Greenway Trail and a connection through the NW Hills west. We could become Bike Eco-Tourism Capital of the Pacific Rim and City council does not seem to understand in the slightest. Instead they seem to prefer a propane export terminal.

Beth
Guest

When balanced against the needs of people who live here year-round, many of whom are being priced out by a lack of both living-wage jobs and affordable housing, is “Eco Tourism Capital” something Portland really should aspire to? Better yet, should we want the only jobs available to be tourism dependent? I, for one, do not. I appreciate that the folks who tried to work with the process got screwed by the City, but I also think we ought to consider a much, much bigger picture than the current topic affords us.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Eco-tourism does bring money to they city – perhaps it could help the housing situation by bringing more jobs. Including eco-tourism into the overall plan of what the city should be is not mutually exclusive with other long term goals. Why should we exclude it? We have the ability/space to make it happen – why not embrace it? I agree there are larger issues, but that doesn’t mean that this can’t be another angle to help deal with some of those larger issues.

Beth
Guest

Because those larger issues — developers buying properties with cash, shuttiing out first-time homebuyers on a limited budget and effectively reducing the likelihood of more affordadle rental housing for low-income Portlanders — will NOT be addressed by focusing on tourism as the great economic saviour of Portland. When you make a place more enticing, people with means will want to move there. People whose jobs depend on serving tourists will have to live in substandard housing very far away from where they work — and that’s already happening. Portland is becoming, like San Francisco, another city for People With Money — and in some ways this clamoring about mountain bike access feels, to me at least, strangely connected to that vibe.

I would love to see the mountain bikers take their “grass-roots”, scofflaw protest energy and focus it on the growing economic gap in this town, and elsewhere. Screaming bloody murder over a lack of trail access when there are people reduced to living in the thickets alongside the Springwater path just looks silly.

..::ducks as flotsam is thrown in my direction::..

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

Have you given up everything you enjoy to help improve the issues you’re discussing?

Improving recreational trail riding opportunities in the city could help improve the lives of every person that owns a bicycle or is interested in bicycling and/or spending time in nature.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“another city for People With Money — and in some ways this clamoring about mountain bike access feels, to me at least, strangely connected to that vibe.”

How did you get to this conclusion?
I ride Powell Butte pretty regularly, and more than half of the other people I see riding the trails are all local to the area (meaning middle-lower income East Portland residents) and having a blast riding the trails. Mountain biking is not exclusively an upper class sport.

Brian
Guest
Brian

And as a high school teacher I would love to see people write/call state senators for better funding for education. The education system in Oregon is sad. The truth is, people have limited time and energy and participate in politics in the areas they are most passionate about.

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover

Beth – Housing, poverty, equity, justice and quality of life issues are complex topics that certainly deserve attention. But should every person and resource in Portland be devoted to nothing else? Are there no other worthwhile endeavors that anybody should engage in? You seem to feel that all the local environmental, public safety, recreation, roadway safety, jazz music and sports-oriented organizations and individuals should just drop everything they’re doing and focus on income inequality. Is every hour of your day devoted to nothing but social justice?

The fact is that many seemingly diverse issues overlap on the topics that you are highlighting. Poor kids in Portland are wanting for a lot of things. But one thing that a LOT of them seem to have is some kind of fat tire “mountain bike” and an undying desire and need for adventure and exercise. Well, unless they or their parents also have a car, a bike rack, half a tank of gas and a full day off work, those kids have virtually nowhere to ride their bicycles on dirt. As a result, they may be getting less exercise, seeing less nature and are likely to grow up with less connection to conservation ethics that benefit all of us.

The people protesting the city’s treatment of cyclists are pointing to a broken public process, bad governance and bad policy making. Does that not fall anywhere on the spectrum of what you feel is good for ALL Portlanders? By the way, maybe some of the volunteer bike advocates you’re criticizing for being misguided spend their professional and other volunteer time working on exactly the issues you’re highlighting.

VTRC
Guest
VTRC

I think TrailLover really nails it. It’s about the broken public process, the lack of political recourse, the poor decisions during a land purchase, and the willingness to squash an interest group.

MTB on trails in Portland Parks is a trivial issue, with easy solutions, with a volunteer force ready to make it inexpensive. That it is such a trivial issue and we’re getting ground up by the bureaucracy just makes it galling.

davemess
Guest
davemess

That’s exactly it. These trail “problems” have much more easy solutions (and cheaper since mountain bikers have proven time and time again willing to donate their time for free) than many of the “bigger” more important problem.

Beth
Guest

Fine. If the process is broken, filing a lawsuit with someone highewr up is a good beginning to try and correct that for at least this one issue. But inviting a bunch fo folks to poach trails in a gleeful hissy-fit only serves those who want to ride mountain bikes there, and casts a long negative shadow on anyone else seen riding a bicycle anywhere in this town. Sorry, I can’t get behind it.

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover

But didn’t this protest walk (not ride) the trail?

Alex
Guest
Alex

The growing economic gap is so much bigger than this city. This is a worldwide problem. Honestly, who is saying that mountain bikers aren’t taking an active role in that situation? I put quite a bit of energy towards those ends as well. They are not mutually exclusive and I don’t want to live my life like you (nor do you want to live your life like me) – please don’t force that upon anyone in such a naive manner.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Why can’t we do both? We’ve got a large city government capable (depending on who you ask) of addressing many different issues and problems.
I don’t think Terry is suggesting that we throw our entire economy out the window and try to be Bend. Certainly that would be ridiculous.

Beth
Guest

So far our large city government seems to be losing the plot on too many of those issues. Sorry, I’m not convinced.

Alex
Guest
Alex

You realize we just passed a huge parks levy, right?

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover

WSBOB – Your entire premise is perverse. Adding mountain bikes to the family of Forest Park trail users does not represent a “fundamental change” to anything. Trail sharing and cooperation among non-motorized users is commonplace and relatively trivial…except in Portland. It’s revolutionary only in the minds of folks like you and Marcy Houle and the few but well-placed people who are satisfied with hyperbole and misinformation. Trail sharing is the standard, Portland is the deviation.

I don’t think you appreciate how pernicious Ms. Houle has been in her counter-factual campaign against bicycles. Ms. Houle’s “evaluation of mountain biking” is no such thing. She hasn’t engaged in any evaluation at all. She has done nothing more than repeat per personal distaste for sharing her park and her trails with anyone on a bicycle – all under color of authority as an expert on the park. She may know a lot about Forest Park, but she has never connected that knowledge to a coherent or defensible case against bicycles.

Let’s take a look at her integrity on this. In her book “One City’s Wilderness,” which might be better titled “One Woman’s Wilderness,” she opens with a quote from Thornton Munger (1883-1975), the founding champion of what was to become Forest Park. Ms. Houle quotes Munger, in part:

“This Wilderness within a city is not a place for speeding…”

Notice Ms. Houle’s (not my) use of an ellipsis, a tool used for brevity and clarity but never for altering the meaning of the original quote. Well, I’ve read Munger’s original statement and it turns out that Ms. Houle’s space-saving ellipsis eliminated just one single word: motorists. So Munger’s original quote actually reads:

“This ‘Wilderness within a city’ is not a place for speeding motorists;”

For years now, Ms. Houle has used her incomplete and misleading version of Munger’s statement to rail against cyclists, who she equates with speeding, as being inconsistent with the original vision for the park. In my view, Ms. Houle has intentionally mislead many people with this and many other of her public statements. She does not appear to be the standard of integrity on Forest Park issues that anyone should be aspiring to.

By the way, Ms. Houle does a similar disservice to equestrians when, elsewhere, she conveniently drops the single word “equestrians” in favor of an ellipsis as well. I guess horses don’t fit with her personal vision of Forest Park either.

You say the mountain bikers haven’t convinced the people of Portland that bicycles should be allowed in Forest Park? Gee, I don’t remember you or Marcy Houle or a vote of the people convincing the city to exclude bicycles either. On the other hand, we do have the city’s own 2012 survey of Forest Park trail users that determined that increased singletrack bicycle access was the number one desired change in the park. And that’s despite the fact that cyclists were certainly underrepresented on a survey in a park where the cyclists are largely excluded and therefor were not present to be surveyed in nearly the numbers they would be otherwise. You can’t claim that the status quo (no bicycles) represents the will of the people any more than the inverse. The public sentiment that the city has successfully solicited points in the opposite direction of your assertions.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…On the other hand, we do have the city’s own 2012 survey of Forest Park trail users that determined that increased singletrack bicycle access was the number one desired change in the park. …” TrailLover

And yet the city was not persuaded to use Forest Park for mountain biking. Read more of Houle’s book. Last year, the Oregonian published a guest editorial written by Houle. It also has some quotes about the intended character of park, by notable Oregon citizens.

It does not look as though the city or its residents will decide, on the debatable reliability of the 2012 survey, to use Forest Park for mountain biking. Them’s the facts, plain and simple. The city’s residents as a whole, so far show no intention of coming forward to support use of this park for mountain biking. That’s what a citywide vote could confirm or refute.

If instead, you’re happy arguing for infinity, that Portland residents and the city stand in favor of using Forest Park for mountain biking, while in actuality, they continue to opt for having the park be one free of mountain biking, that’s certainly your choice.

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover

Your claims MIGHT be true: the general population doesn’t support bicycles on singletrack trails in Forest Park. But what you point to as proof, a long-standing prohibition, isn’t necessarily evidence of anything more than administrative inertia, failed leadership and possibly casual corruption. Look no further than the still unfolding River View fiasco to see how expertly the city has been handling such issues.

What we actually DO have evidence of is unmet demand for singletrack access. Your vague and unqualified reference to the “debatability” of the 2012 survey results aside, that survey and the overwhelmingly clear sentiment that has been expressed at virtually every public meeting on this subject constitute the best indications we have for what Portlanders actually want.

The thing standing in the way of the city moving in the only direction that the evidence points to (i.e., greater bicycle access) is not the general populace who you like to assume is opposed to bicycles but instead a small number of highly vocal elitists who would like to preserve Forest Park exclusively for their favored form of recreation.

I used to think that Marcy Houle actually believed that she was upholding and defending the vision of Forest Park’s founders. But the more I read about the history, and the more of Ms. Houle’s writing I read, the more I am convinced that even she doesn’t believe what she’s saying. Why else would she feel compelled to so carefully distort the statements of people like Thornton Munger?

You suggested that I read the rest of Ms. Houle’s book. I did. More importantly, I also read the source material that she is selectively drawing from. I believe we all recall Ms. Houle’s strident attempts to reclassify cycling – contrary to all land management practice, including Portland’s – as “active” as opposed to “passive” recreation. Well, immediately following Munger’s bit about “speeding motorists” are some of his comments about recreation:

“Greatly increased recreational use of the area is hoped for and expected. As soon as adequate supervision and protection are assured the roads should be open to the public, except when road surfaces or acute fire danger indicate otherwise. Small picnicking spots should be developed with simple facilities for the passive recreationist. There will be requests for facilities for active recreation: play equipment, play courts, swimming pools, with accompanying buildings, parking lots, etc. This is not the place for such active recreational uses. Portland is well supplied with many and better parks for such uses.”

Admittedly, Munger probably was not anticipating the modern mountain bike. We can wonder what he might think of bicycles today but one thing is for sure: Portland is NOT “well supplied with many and better parks” for off-road cycling. Personally, I do not imagine that Munger would have lumped pedaling a bicycle along a rustic trail into the same category as swimming pools and play courts.

To be sure, Munger and others were very wary of overdevelopment and wanted to defend and protect Forest Park as a sanctuary for wildlife and rustic pursuits – things that Munger felt were “…exemplified by multi-purpose management.” Munger praised the 1947 City Club Committee objectives for Forest Park that included, “To provide facilities that will afford extensive nearby outdoor recreation for the people and attract tourists.”

On the other hand, he also thought Forest Park should grow and yield timber to raise revenue. Nobody’s perfect.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

*TrailLover drops the mic

Frank
Guest
Frank

BS Bob. The PUBLIC survey conducted during the committee process showed that 60-75% of respondents – including those whe identified as hikers – favored improved bike access to trails. The ratio of letters supporting cycling to those opposed was strongly in favor of cycling.
The reason we didn’t get trails wasn’t public sentiment – it was inordinate influence by neighbors, an ill-informed City Club report (the writers of which knew nothing about mt. biking), and Parks internal resistance in part due to long-standing ties to hiking groups (e.g., FP Conservancy and Audubon). The public, the committee, and the science all supported more cycling.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Having spent quite a bit of time in wilderness, not only in the Pacific Northwest but across the West and the upper midwest as well, I can confidently say that Forest Park is NOT wilderness.

It’s lovely and sublime in places, especially considering that it’s in a city, but it is very far from wilderness. The main thing that is special about it is that it’s in a city.