(Photo from River View Natural Area Management Plan)
The Portland parks bureau has released its final management plan for the River View Natural Area and they’ve left the door cracked open — ever so slightly — for the possibility of off-road cycling access in the future. However, because the city’s process prevented a robust discussion of all potential trail uses, the plan is full of uncertainty. If it’s adopted by City Council as scheduled in mid-December it could have the unintended consequence of making it harder to allow cycling even if the city’s own planning process deems it appropriate at a later date.
First, some background…
The 146-acre parcel that borders Lewis & Clark College and Riverview Cemetery in southwest Portland was the subject of a bruising public process that left biking supporters scorned. After the city bought the parcel, off-road cycling advocates worked hand-in-hand with the parks bureau with an understanding that biking — which has taken place at River View for decades and is by far the most requested use of the park in the city’s own surveys — would continue to be part of the future of the site. When the unexpected and unexplained decision to prohibit cycling came down in March it led to an appeal with the State Land Use board by the Northwest Trail Alliance.
That appeal was ultimately dismissed and the process continued toward its goal of creating a management plan that will dictate how the parcel will be developed in the future. That plan has now been released.
Planning for uncertainty?
“We have the chance to do this correctly by allowing the Master Plan process to be completed, and then making sound decisions based on that process.”
— Brian Baumann, NW Trail Alliance
At issue is a question of process and timing: The management plan itself doesn’t preclude the possibility of future cycling trails, yet it was intentionally developed without cycling in mind. Therefore, if the management plan is adopted by city council only to have the ongoing Off-Road Cycling Master Plan determine that cycling is a compatible use, the city would then have to re-open the plan and make a change. The un-sealing a plan that has already been adopted by council might prove too large of a process hoop for cycling trails to jump through.
Because of that unexpected and unexplained decision back in March by Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz to ban not only cycling itself but also any discussion of it during the planning process, the plan’s trail concepts and recommendations do not adequately reflect the valuable off-road cycling expertise and perspective that was on the project advisory committee.
The NWTA’s Brian Baumann said he thinks the management plan should not be adopted until after the master plan has assessed River View. Here’s what we heard from Baumann via email today:
“It is a ‘cart before the horse’ scenario to approve the RVNA Management Plan and begin to build trails while off-road cycling is temporarily banned. We have the chance to do this correctly by allowing the Master Plan process to be completed, and then making sound decisions based on that process… I see no harm in taking more time and not moving forward with it in it’s current form.”
A glimmer of hope with “interim” status
The one small victory for cycling advocates is that the management plan does not shut the door entirely to future cycling.
In a section listing public uses that are “allowed” and “not allowed,” biking is put in a separate category: “interim prohibited.” “The use of mountain bikes will remain a prohibited use until completion of the City’s Off-Road Cycling Master Plan,” the plan states, “through which RVNA [River View Natural Area] will be considered as a candidate property for cycling.”
Is that “iterim” designation a legitimate placeholder for a full consideration of cycling at River View or is it just a political stall tactic? (Both parks bureau staffers assigned to this project are currently out of the office and unavailable for comment.)
The city has promised that the main goal of the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan is to take an objective look at all parcels in the city and assess whether or not they are compatible with cycling trails. The concern from bike advocates is that the management plan is set up in such a way to essentially guarantee that the Master Plan process will not find River View as a feasible site for cycling.
When cycling at River View comes up during the master plan process, it’s likely to stir up debate yet again, which is why some people felt it should have been dealt with more thoroughly in the management plan.
The debate today and what’s to come
“I take issue with this plan not expressly prohibiting mountain bikes as a use.”
— Torrey Lindbo, Tryon Creek Watershed Council Board President
In an official comment published with the management plan, the Collins View Neighborhood Association said that the mere consideration of cycling at River View is “irresponsible” due to ecological concerns. “Why is River View Natural Area being considered [for cycling],” their statement reads, “… Collins View is wary that the report leaves the Natural area totally open to off road cycling without qualifying the site’s suitability.”
In official comments on the plan, Tryon Creek Watershed Council Board President Torrey Lindbo also said cycling should be prohibited. He wanted the city to put cycling in the “not allowed” use category. “The site does not appear to provide conditions that would support safe incorporation of mountain biking as a trail use. …I take issue with this plan not expressly prohibiting mountain bikes as a use. …I will be extremely disappointed if the city considers allowing mountain biking within RVNA as part of the Off‐Road Cycling Master Plan process.
Countering those viewpoints, another influential conservation group supports biking in River View. Audubon Society of Portland Board Member and project advisory committee member Jay Withgott said he feels the city erred in not definitively answering the cycling question during the River View planning process:
“Speaking for Portland Audubon, I will mention that others at Audubon feel strongly that the issue of mountain biking should have been addressed as part of a holistic management plan for this site at this time, and not postponed pending a larger landscape scale review. They feel that there was sufficient information to have decided this issue at Riverview as part of the current process and that there is a place for mountain biking at River View.”
The minority report
Three members of the River View project advisory committee signed a minority report to express their disappointment with the management plan process and urge the city to make cycling a higher priority. In their dissenting opinion, Baumann with the Northwest Trail Alliance, River View neighbor Chris Sautter and professional cyclist Charlie Sponsel claimed that since hiking and running are acceptable uses at River View, cycling should be too. “No credible reason has been cited for removing off-road cycling from the plan,” they wrote. Their letter claims that properly built trails can handle biking and hiking without harming the ecology.
Here’s more from their letter:
“… off-road cycling can be done in a sustainable manner on properly-built trails. Off-road cycling on trails was not considered a significant ecological impact to RVNA during the initial surveying process. Off-road cyclists bring trail building expertise to RVNA, as well as the necessary volunteer labor to maintain trails. Off-road cyclists volunteered more than 450 hours of their time, in partnership with Portland Parks, to make the multi-use trails at RVNA more sustainable, and have proven to be the best trail stewards in many projects across Oregon. As we heard from PP&R’s staff, singletrack mountain bike trails do not pose a threat to TEES Interior habitat designations and do not pose a threat to Willamette River water quality or temperature. Those are the two most important resources we are tasked with protecting at River View, and the city’s own experts do not consider trails to be a significant threat.
… the draft plan as written provides reduced recreation opportunities for all uses, including off road cyclists and pedestrians. The proposed single large loop around the perimeter of the property and smaller upper loop are significantly limiting the variety of trails and routes.”
The signees of the minority report are also still stinging from how the River View process was handled. They say City Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish circumvented the public process when they “unilaterally and arbitrarily” banned cycling and any discussion of it back in March. “Before the ban,” the statement continues, “the Technical and Public Advisory Committees were engaged in spirited debate about mountain biking and its compatibility with the environmental and recreational goals for River View.”
The plan is scheduled for a council vote on December 16th. If Baumann and other advocates get their way, that “spirited debate” will play out long before any plan is set in stone.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
“Tryon Creek Watershed Council Board President Torrey Lindbo also said… ‘The site does not appear to provide conditions that would support safe incorporation of mountain biking as a trail use…’
Oh really? What are those conditions? Please tell us.
While you attempting to figure those out look at this site that is similar is size to RVNA, containing a multi-use trail system, with steeper terrain, a freeze/thaw cycle and it seems to he incorporating safe mountain bike trail use safely for nearly a decade. http://www.mtbproject.com/trail/5843518
I’m sure nothing good can come from responding to a “position” with some scientific facts, but the unsuitable conditions my comments are based on come from soil science – check out the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation. I won’t even try to calculate how many tons of sediment likely move from the trails of RVNA into the streams we are trying to protect (this property was purchased primarily with BES funds for watershed function, not by Parks for recreation), but even well built trails can’t change the rainfall or soil conditions present on site. While the overall slope of the site can’t be changed, the master plan does recommend trail designs that limit the slope length/steepness factor. Trails under 4% slope covered in gravel would mitigate for some of the RUSLE factors, but would a trail like that provide the MTB experience you are after?
I am thinking you are greatly exaggerating the impact the trail has in regards to the amount of soil being lost. I, for one, would love to see you try to calculate the impact of the well built trails that were proposed – and while well-built trails can’t change soil composition or rain fall, they can greatly mitigate erosion without requiring a 4% grade or covering it in gravel.
Unless you really want to provide numbers, throwing around words used by actual scientists doesn’t really make you sound smart or help your cause. Please come back with actual data.
And lastly, recreation was one of the factors considered for the site, regardless of who spent the most money. Parks doesn’t even have the mountain bike master plan under its control, so should we be using that as some sort of measuring stick?
Oh, lets do the science. I do civil/environmental engineering and I <3 science.
First, mountain bike trails are built to a set of guidelines known as IMBA 2004/USFS 2007. The "IMBA 2004" part is referring to the International Mountain Biking Association's guide/textbook "Trail Solutions" that came out in 2004. In 2007, the United States Forestry Service adopted in whole the IMBA guidelines for their own. The USFS accepted those standards because they are the gold standard on building sustainable trails that. In fact, any new hiking trails built to this guideline are actually built to a guideline set up for mountain biking. These standards include things like grade reversals, 10% slope max. aggregate grade, rolling contour layout and many more methods to make the trails as sustainable as possible.
We have to understand that part to understand this next part. No one is suggesting the existing trails are anything but a mess. That is why the management plan (as it is now) abandons the existing trails. So new trails will have to be built at RVNA, regardless of what use ultimately goes on those trails. That means as we continue on, when I mention "trails", I am talking about new trails being built to IMBA 2004/USFS 2007 standards.
Well built trails, as you said don't change the rainfall or the soil they are made with. That is true. But they can change how the soil and rainfall interact. How? Well, simply put, trails are shaped in way to prevent water from gaining energy as it flows over and across the trail. Water without energy can not transport material (silt, etc.) Without transportation of material, the water entering drainageways is doing so cleaner.
Also, we need to remember that trails used for mountain bike trails (we get to bike/hike trails in moment) revegetate except for the treadway (where the wheels go). On mountain bike only trails, treadway widths are easily in the 12" range. I've seen uphill treadways in the <12" range on mountain bike only trails. But at RVNA, we would want hiking and biking. For trails that have both biking & hiking (like my local trails) the treadway area ranges from 12" to 24", usually around the 18" mark. This revegetation adds another bonus as far as run-off. since we have a relative narrow areas of exposed soil, it's that much less soil that could be directly affected by rainfall.
But wait, what about tires? Don't they affect the soil? Yes, they do, but not as much as people think. You should look at the studies that have been done regarding impacts of mountain biking vs. hiking. The ones by the Parks service and BLM are good places to start. Governmental agencies and used both observations and active collection methods like silt traps. All these can be found IMBA's trail sciences page.
I know you're thinking, "But the soil at RVNA is pretty awful stuff and that is why everything you mention above doesn't matter." You are right, if you look it on the NRCS soil survey its not going to win any awards (mostly Cascade Silt Loam with Urban complex thereof). However, the great thing about NRCS soil survey is that you can see soils from across the country, including those in Winona where the Holzinger Laps are located, that I linked to above. If you thought the soils at RVNA were awful, you should see the ones at the Holzinger Laps (Lacresent silt loam, Brodale cobbly loam).
Another thing to consider is that mountain bike trails aren't built by a bunch guys with a mini-ex and case of beer. These are highly engineered trails with lots of input by biologists, geologists and trail building professionals. If you want to see how much engineering goes into these things, take a look at this last years (2015) bid documentation for the Duluth Traverse, a urban mountain biking system knitting the city of Duluth's 3 existing urban mountain biking trails into a single unit. You can find that here: http://www.duluthmn.gov/media/RFPs/Closed/15-0449%20Duluth%20Traverse%20Trail%20Construction/3%20-%20Special%20Provisions.pdf
Properly built and properly maintained sustainable trails will not affect the watershed functions of the is property. In fact, a set of sustainable trails being built combined with a decommissioning and re-wilding of existing social trails should actually enhance the watershed function of the property by reducing vegetation impacts.
What I find just weird (and maybe I shouldn't, I've dealt with anti-mountain bikers for years) is that many groups are acting like mountain biking trails at RVNA would be the end of the world while none of them have said boo about MacAdams Ridge PUD, which is just north of RVNA (4500' from center to center). MacAdams Ridge represents a 47% habitat loss of greenspace and drains directly into the Willamette River. Doing a area affected calculation, the area of just roadways would be equal to the construction impacts of 6 miles of mountain bike trails, the total area affected works out to 36 miles of construction impacts from mountain biking tails and if you throw all the new impervious area (which will drain into the Willamette, BTW, and with lots of contaminants) through the TR55 calculator, it comes out to some insanely large number for run-off vs. mountain bike trails. (That calculation is at home, and I forgot the exact number.)
Impacts are impacts are impacts. If we really care about the impacts from mountain biking trails, fine, I'm cool with that. But if we apply an impact standard to mountain biking trails then we should apply it to everything else. If we don't, we are being unfair and hypocritical. I don't know if MacAdams Ridge PUD is in the Tryon Creek Watershed Council's wheelhouse, but if it is, this raises a real question: do you care more about real impacts or do you just care about the impacts of an activity you just don't like or "get"?
What I find just weird (and maybe I shouldn’t, I’ve dealt with anti-mountain bikers for years) is that many groups are acting like mountain biking trails at RVNA would be the end of the world while none of them have said boo about MacAdams Ridge PUD, which is just north of RVNA (4500′ from center to center). MacAdams Ridge represents a 47% habitat loss of greenspace and drains directly into the Willamette River.
End of MTBikeLuv snippet.
None of them have said boo? Actually the Collins View Neighborhood Association joined forces with South Burlingame NA in opposition to the Macadam Ridge development, with officers attending meetings and so on, on just the grounds you cite, plus the poor access and adding traffic along Taylors Ferry Road, and so on. While some mountain bikers live in Collins View, those active in the NA are not in favor of bikes in the natural area.
Also note that years ago Collins View testified against the Measure 37 claim filed by the River View Cemetery (not really relevant) BUT also against the prosed housing development using flatter parts of what is now the Natural Area. Basically, it was an earlier version of Macadam Ridge on River View property. So the reason RVNA is left relatively untouched is partly due to diligence on the part of CVNA’s Land Use committee. (By relatively, I mean my logging, logging roads, and ad hoc trails.)
***sentence deleted by moderator***
Oh really? I hadn’t seen that in any of the Collins View Neighborhood Association minutes nor on River View Friends.
What month did the CVNA discuss MacAdams Ridge so that I can read up on it in your minutes? I like to keep my arguments grounded in the facts. Sorry for not mention CVNA had been opposed to the MacAdams Ridge. If I had known, I would have mentioned that.
You can find Macadam discussed and a letter approved in Jun 2015 minutes on CollinsView.org . Also discussed in Sept Oct. (CVNA does not meet in July/Aug). You can find lots in the SWNI paper and contact South Burlingame yourself if you like of course.
Thank you! Added it to my records.
Found those TR55 calculations, FYI.
Macadam Ridge = 1-yr 24hr rain event peak flow discharge Qp = 2.14 ft3s-1 (Aggregate CN number for townhouses since I don’t have the layout of every impervious surface)
1 mile of natural surface trail = 1-yr 24hr rain event peak flow discharge Qp = 0.03 ft3s-1 (Splitting the difference between a packed dirt road & fair wooded for CN numbers due to revegetation on backslope and sides of bench)
Rain event numbers for Portland per NOAA. Same Time of Concentration between the two, which doesn’t consider the solubility of the soil at RVNA, a number not in the management plan for RVNA and I’m sure no one wants to run out and do a perc test for me. 🙂
“If it’s adopted by City Council as scheduled in mid-December it could have the unintended consequence of making it harder to allow cycling even if the city’s own planning process deems it appropriate at a later date.”
this sounds exactly like what was intended back when Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish shut down the trails in March.
Exactly this. This was been brought up time and again at all of the public meetings. This was an intended consequence.
Thanks Jonathan for keeping this relevant. This whole process has been a bait and switch. The public committee was a farce to give a degree of public input. The majority of RVNA commenters support ecologically sound trail use and the city commissioners bailed on the public process. This document should not and CANNOT be finalized prior to the “off road cycling plan”. Otherwise, it will preclude any trails for bikes to ride on. We can share and preserve our wild spaces. A vocal few have corrupted the public process and they are hamstringing future wildland advocates. Who will stand up for wild spaces if we do not allow the children of today to develop a love for them?
You mean the public process, where dozens of us showed up, voiced our desire for mountain biking and were continually told that Parks wasn’t allowed to talk about mountain biking?
It seriously felt like a 3rd grader was running those things.
Things like this make me glad that I will likely be moving from Portland in a year.
If you believe the Management Plan for RVNA (or at least the Trail portion) should be put on hold until the Mtb Master Plan that the City Council initiated has been completed, please consider an email….
Email addresses of City Council members:
Rustic houseless dwelling and the associated refuse piles and sanitary facilities are not on the “Not Allowed” list, so I guess those are a go. As has been mentioned previously I hardly a booster for Mt. Biking, but the urban Riverview location with well planned and built trails would be about as good a location for that activity as could be imagined, and it would take pressure off of higher value natural areas. Also having people there with forthright intentions would make the site less attractive to illegal campers.
Currently there are two groups of people using River View. Cyclists and Dog Owners. If dogs are going to be banned from the site we should join forces and rally together.
It is the cycling dogs that are the real victims here.
That’s an incredibly misleading picture, shame on you bikeportland.
The preponderance of the acreage within the natural area is barren clay on steep slopes. Where it isn’t barren, it’s covered in invasive weeds that do nothing to stabilize the slopes. It’s prone to erosion, and introducing bike trails without mitigation is going to dump a significant amount of subsoil into the creek and its outlet at the river.
I’m not against allowing biking there, with the caveat that significant time, money, and effort will be needed to design, create, and maintain appropriate trails.
It’s a photo of River View from the plan itself. I’m not ashamed of running it at all.
And who exactly is advocating “introducing bike trails without mitigation”?
I certainly am not. And as a matter of fact, the NWTA has the experience, expertise, the time, and the money to build world-class hiking and biking trails but the city is choosing to not partner with them.
That’s an incredibly misleading picture, shame on you bikeportland.The preponderance of the acreage within the natural area is ba…
Your assertions are the ones that are misleading Scott. Trails have been present on this property for years without dumping a “significant amount of subsoil into the creek…” There is no evidence that I’m aware of that would support this assertion. If there is, please provide that. Trails are constructed and successfully managed in similar situations and environments all over the globe. Our soils and habitat are no more special here than they are elsewhere. If there was evidence to support your assertions, those would have been provided as part of the public process. They don’t exist, and that’s why this decision came down as an edict from our elected officials rather than though an open and transparent process. What a sham.
I suppose all those trees in that picture must have been photo shopped in. As such, they probably don’t add any stability to those slopes.
Isn’t the internet great? People can literally just make stuff up out of thin air and print them on the interwebs. It’s like the propaganda machines of WWII..without the newsprint….woohoo!
Poor Charlie Brown, he just keeps trying to kick that football…
Well said Jonathan, I want to think positively but I expect the city to follow through with a full long term ban on cycling in that parcel.
We have a large group of people that are willing to volunteer as well as donate money to get that work done – but the city (well, some people that are currently employed by the city) and a vocal minority of people aren’t allowing them to participate!
I used to bike there (starting about 20 years ago), bringing my kid there on one of his first off road adventures. Then they banned that. Then I returned, for runs with my kid and my dog. Now they’ve banned that. I’m starting to think this city doesn’t like me any more (or maybe it’s just that they don’t like my kid…)
The city wants you to play soccer. If you want to do anything else, get in line.
If the process explodes and RVNA gets shut down to MTB permanently, I really hope Gateway Green, and the North Tualatin Mountains come to the rescue.
It seems the mountain bike community is all about themselves. This is an environmental site, not one purchased for recreation. I get that it sucks to get in your car to go find trails but deer and elk (a recent sighting in the area) don’t have the option to jump in motorized vehicle to go find a better lunch spot. Can’t we all just get a long and support our fragile wildlife corridors that have been set aside for their use. We’re just a small part of this ecosystem and can’t put our wants in and needs first.
Most mountain bikers enjoy the outdoors and want to preserve the environment. Many of us also work hard to preserve or expand wilderness in our local areas.
You thesis suffers from 2 problems: mountain biking and wildlife management are not mutually exclusive and your solution (drive somewhere else) actually feeds into the 2 issues that put the largest amount of wildlife at risk: climate change and development sprawl (with its paved roadways).
We can all get along. And we do quite well in other parts of the country that have had urban mountain biking for some time. There mountain bikers, hikers and natural lovers of all stripes work together to maintain and even expand natural areas in their towns and cities.
The more people we can encourage to get outside in their neighborhood, the more people we’ll have to vote for wild lands preservation and vote against sprawl. That’s right: the best way to create environmentalists is to get people (kids, especially) outside! Encouraging passive recreation, like hiking and cycling, is a win/win for the environment: get kids outside (on a bike, on foot, etc.) and bond them to Mother Earth, then reap the benefits years on down the road when they vote to preserve more wild areas, both in their neighborhood and in wilder, farther away places.
Cycling is considered active recreation and transportation.
Not according to Portland Parks and Recreation and the Forest Park Management Plan. “Recreational use at Forest Park is PASSIVE; that is, walking, running, hiking, BIKING and equestrian trail use.”
Forest Park has Roads. You can always ride your bikes on roads, actively or passively.
Cycling is considered passive recreation by almost everyone. You are going to need to show me citations. Please quite making things up.
“Passive recreation refers to non-consumptive uses such as wildlife observation, walking, biking, and canoeing. In the HLD restoration plan, the goal of providing passive. recreational uses is to ensure the least impact on the wetland ecosystem.”
Aw Alex, don’t you know that when your thinly veiled attempts to keep people from parking in “your neighborhood” by excluding bikes from a public park are refuted by science, you have to switch to making up your own activity definitions? There are so many ways to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt, aren’t there?
Stop making things up
Aww John, your wit is only surpassed bitterness.
The existence of roads is irrelevant. There is also doubletrack and 1/3 of a mike of singletrack. The definition doesn’t change. I quoted an official document. How did you arrive at your definition of active vs. passive?
Really? So bikes want to exclude everyone else? Didn’t know that. It’s an environmental sight? That’s a new one. We making up stuff now? Well, if it’s a biodome…nobody gets in. Nobody.
It’s still incredible to me that people who have only one mission to exclude everyone else receive any consideration from our leaders. The exclusive clause should be an automatic disqualified.
Seems to be a lot of that deleting.
What I said that was deleted:
“You should have stopped after your Engineering analysis.”
This warranted deletion? FYI.
I don’t believe it should have been deleted. Snideness should not reason for deletion.
Mr. Miller, I think you should visit a place with an robust urban mountain biking scene. I think you will find it much different than you think it is. I have a recommendation for you, if you are up for it. I’ll even be a tour guide. 🙂
Let’s face it. The reality is, there will always be those that create false scenarios based on strawmen arguments. They simply need to be outnumbered..not out talked.
Brian – Why do I think that mountain biking is Active? I have that impression from watching MTB movies that invariably feature lots dirt shredding set to heavy metal music, lots of bombing downhill and around banked corners, lots of photos in of MTB splashing through streams on the web and in magazines, and hearing the whooping, hollering, and downhill swooshing of bikers in RVNA while I have hiked there. Somehow I just picture the sport as Active. That is consistent with considering road cycling as an active form of transportation. A cyclist is actively engaged with the roadway; a biker is actively engaged with the trail and must keep moving downhill lest they skid.
Brian refers to the ORCMP as the “Mtb Master Plan”. The ORCMP is about more than just Mountain Biking, we are told.
MNBikeLuv – No thanks on tour. I can use without the attitude of “get it”. You blew off the fact that CVNA has tracked Macadam Ridge as well as RVNA.
MNBikeLuv states that “sustainable trails being built combined with a decommissioning and re-wilding of existing social trails should actually enhance the watershed function of the property by reducing vegetation impacts”. How about just re-wilding? Seems like re-wilding alone would suffice. Trails might not hurt, but can’t possibly /improve/ the watershed function. BTW, you didn’t answer Lindbo’s real question: Trails under 4% slope covered in gravel would mitigate for some of the RUSLE factors, but would a trail like that provide the MTB experience you are after?
Charley – You claim that biking in natural areas programs young minds, cultivating future votes to “preserve” more wild areas… for biking? “Bonding them to Mother Earth”? I won’t digress, but I find this highly spurious. Voters are eager to preserve and protect natural areas of all kinds. The challenge is to continue to shape a Wilderness Ethic in future generations. A small urban natural area needs all the [non] help it can get to remain wild.
Brian – So, Forest Park has 1/3 mile of single track in 5000 acres. Scaling that for RVNA (147 acres) would result in 52.8 feet of single track. Maybe a big loopty loop? (Sorry)
Alex, Zimmerman – not sure, but you seem to be one and the same, having a conversation with yourself.
I’ll pass on the straw man and NIMBY comments.
Jonathan Maus – “Which has taken place at River View for decades” – I thought you had discovered an appreciation for the fact that was done by trespassing on private property. You seem to have come back to a softer version of this deliberate misinformation.
Lastly, the comments about folks having ready cash to develop RVNA into a MTB park are simply breathtaking.
Pass on NIMBYcomments ? Why…because you are/were a Collins Veiw Neighborhood board member ? That seems relevant.
No, because I think NIMBY comments are a diversion from discussing the issue in a mature manner. Making fun of a comment with A “Get off my lawn” type remark does little to justify anything. Neighbors and citizens of the region have legitimate concerns about activities allowed in River View Natural Area. Consider a New kind of NIMBY: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2011/06/a-new-kind-of-nimby-nature-in-my-backyard/
Why not see a place with a robust urban trail system? If you argue that the issue with urban mountain biking is the activity itself, then certainly viewing/riding/walking a location (or locations) with a robust urban mountain biking system would bear that out. However, what happens if you go and look at place with a robust urban trail system and none of your fears are realized? Wouldn’t you then have more information than you started with and therefore could make a more informed set of decisions?
As to Lindbo’s question, there are 2 issues with it and I didn’t address it directly because of those issues.
The first issue is that modern trails (hiking & mountain biking) are benchcut trails; i.e. the bench (the part you walk/ride on) is cut into the hill perpendicular to the hills slope direction. Because of that, the “slope” we care about for runoff isn’t the slope parallel to the bench, but across the bench (usually 5%). Modern trails are built to encourage sheet flow across the trail, not down the trail. So the slope of the trail itself is less important than the slope of the bench itself. There comes a point where the slope of the trail can overcome the sheet flow effect (usually about 10%, hence why your aggregate slope shouldn’t go above that), but for the most part, that sloping of the bench is enough. Also, modern trails are rolling contour, meaning the don’t contain one sustained slope. They go up and and down. So even if you get flow down the trail, a grade reversal will slow the water down and allow it to exit the trail via the bench slope. Grade nicks, grade steps, etc, can help here too.
The second issue is that gravel surfacing will do two things you do not want in natural surface trails: increase runoff directly (gravel is more impervious than soil) and indirectly (slows/prevent vegetation regrowth) and it move to the outside of the trail, blocking the sheet flow effect of a sloped bench.
I never used the word “fear”. That’s your word. I got involved in the RVNA vs MTB fiasco when NWTA filed an appeal with LUBA. In looking around I saw the map of trails proposed by NWTA on Bike Portland. Let’s say I was “astounded” at the audacity. http://bikeportland.org/2014/01/13/off-road-advocates-propose-biking-trails-at-river-view-natural-area-99805 I’ve also been in PAC meetings where I observed a professional MTBer insisting the management plan was absurd and willing to settle for nothing less than a trail right down though the middle of the interior forest. If you were there, you know what I mean, and you know the city’s response. Any firsthand observations of the current “trails” in RVNA are irrelevant because according to the experts here, they are all wrong, were poorly built by greedy amateurs, etc.
I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth here, but this: “Any firsthand observations of the current “trails” in RVNA are irrelevant because according to the experts here, they are all wrong, were poorly built by greedy [ed: really? really?] amateurs, etc.” is kind of point most of the “pro” urban mountain biking trails people have been arguing. So if we agree that we can’t rely on what’s there currently, then we have to rely on some other metric. That sword cuts both ways, those arguing for mountain biking in Portland would have consider other examples other than RVNA (like other 256+ urban trails system currently in the USA), but those who arguing otherwise can’t then argue RVNA or mountain biking there represents anything close to reality of what urban mountain bike is.
As Mr. Sponsel (the professional MTBer you refer to), he argues in the PAC comments (shared by 2 other PAC members) that the issue with the proposed RVNA management plan is that it could be superseded by a new management plan products as part of the ORMP. Then the city would have to vacate the proposed management plan and adopt a new one. (As this article points out, that could be hard to do.)
As the NWTA’s trail map, I’m very familiar with it. As someone that does trail design, I’ll be honest and say it wouldn’t make my list of “Top 10” trail designs. That being said, that doesn’t mean the idea of mountain biking at RVNA is a bad one. Maybe with a different design you might find their proposal less “audacious”.
I don’t want to make this personal, but if you don’t fear urban mountain biking, why all the fuss?
Dear MNBikeLuv (whoever you are): I didn’t know I was being fussy. :^) Sorry. I was only clarifying that because the trails in RVNA are garbage, they should be no basis for any negative comments, and that I understand that. I assume you’d agree that they should be closed down and allowed to revegetate.
I used the word ‘greedy’, because the trails were built evidently by 1) trespassing, and 2) to maximize biker thrill over any environmental concern. I don’t think this is debatable. Mr Sponsel stated in the PAC that “There is nothing here for me. This is no fun.” He wants a trail down through the middle, however he can get it. Indeed, the NWTA plan was was way too much for that small area — as if they were cramming an amusement park in there. I was chastised here for stating such at the time. Maybe River View is too small to support anything other than a carefully graded trail between the river and the college or neighborhood. I understand the dilemma of starting the ORCMP after the RVNAMP might be approved. And I saw the calls by Bauman to lobby city council members to defer approval of the RVNAMP or the trail portion of the RVNAMP. Interesting situation all around. FYI – As time permits, I may try to comment on your ranking criteria. Thanks.
That’s Baumann. 😉
I can’t speak for Mr. Sponsel, but I can say that I was looking for a less restrictive plan that would allow more leeway to accommodate a better riding experience for off-road cyclists. This was under the assumption that hikers may want at least some separated trail, and that the preferred trail design may be different for hikers and cyclists. This didn’t necessarily mean a trail running straight through the core habitat. The TAC could have also looked at parallel trails along the perimeter, or embedded loops for cyclists closer to the perimeter, but we don’t know what they discussed as their notes have not been made public. I do not believe that the current trail plan is ideal for other users either (I hike and bird watch in RVNA, as well).
For what it’s worth John, I do appreciate your desire to have a dialogue about RVNA. I was going to chat with you a couple of times at meetings, but you were busy conversing with others and didn’t want to interrupt. I am always willing to chat and am open to answering any specific questions about off-road cycling. You can reach me directly at email@example.com
Yes, revegetation as you build out new trails would be the way to do. It’s a standard practice if existing social trails exist.
RVNA is not too small for mountain bike trails. Its actually a good size. The “back of the napkin” rule that gets used for urban trails is 1 mile of trail occupies about 10 acres. (Single loop.) RVNA is 146 acres, so that would be 14.5 miles. But, RVNA its a single slope with streams and we don’t want to cross the annual streams (which, FYI, the current management plan trail layout does; bad design, very bad design). So let’s cut the expectations in half to allow room for the streams and maximize the untouched forest habitat, so that puts at sub-7 miles. 5 or so miles of multi-use trails should be easy to get into RVNA and would fit the general area quite well.
So, above when you say “considered” you are referring to your own opinion and not that of official policy. Thanks for the reply. I do find your characterization of all mtb’ing as that which is found in movies as naive (intentionally?). It’s akin to comparing hiking in our local parks and natural areas to hiking such as http://www.placesyoullsee.com/25-most-dangerous-hiking-trails-in-the-world/
I’m not a lawyer or an official. Is MTB legally “considered” an active form of recreation? Obviously, it depends on who is doing the considering. IMO, the MTB industry finds it convenient and necessary to classify MTB as a “passive” form of recreation so it can claim access to areas open to passive recreation.
As for movies, look no further than the locally-produced River View MTB Ban (Fat Tire commercial and MTB propaganda) on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/122273197
and an anonymous video along side that: “yesterdays garbage” (no info where recorded)
MTB videos seem to include obligatory dirt and roots. Riding over roots damages them and creates entry points for fungus. I unapologetically suspect the Fat Tire Farm video was toned down for a more public target audience.
I quoted a Management Plan from the city, not the “mtb industry.” I would argue that it is those who oppose mountain bikes in certain areas who are manipulating the definition of active versus passive recreation, and incorrectly identifying mountain biking as “active” to oppose the inclusion of said user group. Other examples of passive recreation (human powered that requires little administration): kayaking, canoeing, trail running, hiking, bird watching, rock climbing, etc.
Regarding roots, yes mountain bikers ride over them. As do hikers. I haven’t read any research that has shown mountain bikes to be more damaging to trees as a result of riding over roots versus stepping on them with hiking boots, or any research on tree root damage and trails in general. In theory it might make sense that hikers and mountain bikers do harm to trees by riding over hiking/riding over their roots, but as we all know, theory and reality are often in opposition.
Speaking of trail damage, have you hiked this one recently? Talk about exposed roots and trail widening.
Brian, I understand that from your point of view, you suspect wrongheadedness. But that seems to me a simply rationalization of your “Opponents” mentality, associating negative motives to what can just as easily been seen as positive ethic toward nature. More later about that some day.
Taking your list of passive recreation, I think there are shades, not just black and white. Canoeing is often cited as equivalent to biking because of the equipment. But really, a canoe glides through water and leaves only a wake (unless paddling deeply in to stream bed or lake bottom). It’s probably /better/ than people swimming naked in the water. I could go on. The leave-no-trace ethic could apply to trail running in areas where wildlife would be disturbed by rapid movement. (Check it out?) Rock climbing may seem passive, but certainly rules apply concerning hammering pitons into cracks, and so on. Passively hammering pitons into rock.. hmmm. Would you say that the Monkey Swing at Smith Rocks is Passive recreation? Well it is, except for the illegal contraption that was bolted onto Monkey Face. More to the point, biking from Banks to Vernonia is different from MTB down through Sandy Ridge. I would say that the former is passive while the latter is active.
As for roots. Hikers typically step over roots. Do bikers jump over them all, or savor each one? Few hikers jump up and down along a trail. Here is a snippet from a Friend of River View: “Phellinus weirii fungal infection is the greatest threat to mature Western Red Cedar trees. It causes rot from the roots on up. Butt rot is the colorful term used to describe cedar trees with the core heart wood at the base rotted out. It is not apparent from the outside until the tree falls, usually in a windstorm. The weakened cedar tree may live 40-50 years or more before it falls.”
On Angel’s Rest, I have not hiked that popular spot. I have hiked parts of the PCNST before it was fashionable, etc. I read through Tom Kloster’s blog and noted the parking situation:” Even on the grayest of winter weekends, cars spill far beyond the overflow parking area at Angels Rest, lining the shoulders of the Historic Highway.” So, I’m not sure what citing this trail has to do with ORCMP other than to warn that certain sites may become overloaded with demand. BTW, I worked with Tom for 13 years, but only recently learned of his Oregon waterfall expertise and passion for hiking.
Somebody did the work for you: http://www.wnymba.org/static/active-passive-2.doc
American Heritage Dictionary uses this definition for passive recreation: “Outdoor recreational activities, such as nature observation, hiking, and canoeing or kayaking, that require a minimum of facilities or development and that have minimal environmental impact on the recreational site.” By that definition, mountain biking would be passive.
As to the two movies the difference in style is one that is shot in a way to show typical mountain biker trail riding (first one) and one that is shot in a style typically seen on freeride videos (second one). The latter one would take a decently skilled rider to perform. Also, if the rider in the second video ever rode like that on the trails I work on, he and I would have words.
Typically, when you design urban trail systems, you keep the trail design firmly in the XC/all mountain style of riding. The jump/freeride/downhill style stuff is typically relegated to separate skills parks or areas. A really good example is Highbridge, Harlem, NYC. The singletrack is firmly XC and the jump park is in a rewilded parking area in the same park. Another good example would be Duluth, MN. The city-wide trail system is very XC/all mountain, but jump and downhill runs are on Spirit Mt., a ski resort area.
American Heritage .. my favorite dictionary. Unfortunately, I didn’t see MTB listed there, so the definition is deficient in that regard. The DOC says:
“Active park use refers to structured recreational activities which require specialized parkland development and management which may restrict general use of the parkland or facility. Passive park use refers to less structured recreational activities which require little or no specialized parkland development and management and are enjoyed on a first-come, first-served basis.”
I’m glad to hear that you would not approve of a biker just riding down through the brush! That was weird.
On the special skills areas, are your refs, what do you think of this one:
Shows bike skate parks in urban area, but Jumps out in the forest?
Dylan Bibbins // Seattle Evil (Guy Bikes??)
Do you see this kind of Skills area at River View Natural Area? There was a skills area on the NWTA plan for RVNA.
Thank you, MNBikeLuv, for your clarifying and constructive post. And Thanks for that DOC on passive vs active. Will study more. Appreciated.
I found this defination for “passive recreation area” recently and I love it to pieces:
I should have included it yesterday. Its perfect and doesn’t specifically call out one thing or another, but gives enough of a “end result” defination you know exactly what the goal is. (And yes, an urban mountain biking trail would meet all these criteria.)
I believe that video was partially shot at Duthie Hill in Issaquah, WA. Don’t quote me on that. But given the Seattle references in the video, Duthie Hill is the most likely location.
About Duthie Hill… So when someone brings a video or picture of Duthie Hill to some public meeting regarding urban mountain biking and says, “This is what a mountain bike trail looks like,” the trail design people in the room all do the Picard facepalm together. Let’s just say I’m not sure who was smoking what in putting those types of structures in a forested park. The actual singletrack trails at Duthie are pretty standard, but the wooded pump & jump courses are unusual to say the least. The general rule is that you do these types of off road cycling uses in pre-developed or post-industrial properties.
Based on the preceding paragraph, you might guess that I know of no area within RVNA I personally would put anything but singletrack (i.e. no pump track or jump course). However, what I would say is that I could see how such a course COULD be put in a wooded area IF said wooded area was post-industrial. In such a scenario, you (likely) would be dealing with low quality first generation growth with lots of invasives. Then building a pumptrack or jump course, combined with a robust revegetation/invasives removal plan, could actually add better quality green space than would have occurred naturally (at least in the short-run). Extra bonus points if any structures are left in place to have ruin value.
Really? That page says:
Definitions vary by locality. The following is an example of what falls under the definition of one community’s passive recreation area:
6 conservation reservations
10 municipal parking lots
75 traffic islands at 58 locations throughout the Town
3 walking paths or parkways
Police Station grounds
I was more interested in the bullet points that preceded that one communities rather broad definition.
There is no perfect definition, but that definition defined passive use in process and outcomes vs. in activities. That makes it a better definition than one that listed specific activities.
The definition that you were ‘loving to pieces’ was on a Legal site, and it listed no activities .. of any kind .. leaving it up to local definition, as indicted by the same page – Definitions vary by locality. I rest my case. :^)
I’m not sure what case you are resting. As far as I’ve read in these comments, no one was suggesting that “passive use” definition was solid. All these commentor are saying is that biking is usually included in passive use definitions. The WYMBA document, for instance, links to many localities definitions, showing there is not a single definition but also showing a majority list biking as passive.
The reason I liked the USLegal definition was that it is a ‘by these fruits you will know them’ type of test. You don’t have to have an exhaustive list, you just need to verify if said use meets the tests included in that definition.
Good questions, John. The skills park was originally thought of as a small area for kids with a trail (envision having a small log to ride over) or two to practice bike handling skills away from roads, not the type of video you linked to. There is one pumptrack in all of Portland that is located on SE 119th and Stark. Currently, there is nowhere on the west side where kids (of all ages, of course) can practice bike riding skills and have fun. Would it have been a great idea for RVNA? That we cannot say for sure as it wasn’t even considered (to the best of my knowledge), though it isn’t the bike park idea that some have come to assume.
Regarding the link to Angel’s Rest. The reason I posted that is this discussion is often erroneously simplified to hiking = fine for the environment, mountain biking = bad for the environment. Angel’s Rest is an example of a trail that does not have bicycles on it, yet it is more degraded than any mountain biking trail I have ever ridden. All users have an impact, even something as seemingly harmless as bird watching.
Brian wrote: “The skills park was originally thought of as a small area for kids with a trail (envision having a small log to ride over) or two to practice bike handling skills away from roads..”
Seems like that sort of thing could be added to practically every urban park of reasonable size. Does it necessarily need to be in a natural area? No. It would Not be appropriate in or near the RVNA “swamp” as shown in the NWTA plan. Maybe between whatever trail there is and Palatine Hill Road for the kids in the neighborhood. Note: A pile of rubble was dumped years ago at Brugger that has been used as a jump into RVNA.
MTNBikeLuv Wrote: “I’m not sure what case you are resting. As far as I’ve read in these comments, no one was suggesting that “passive use” definition was solid.”
Really? I though people here were adamant about MTB being passive. Must have missed something. I was referring to my case or your case. How about referring to the reply I made to Brian at December 8, 2015 at 12:18 pm? The paragraph starting “Taking your list of passive recreation, I think there are shades, not just black and white.”. The kind of biking and the terrain suggests whether the recreation is active or passive, in combination with common sense. E.g. I might consider a 400 mile Cycle Oregon trip to be passive before I considered certain forms of mountain biking as passive. (Although each year I have seen broken bikes and broken riders.) Bird Watchers typically don’t go rushing down a trail at breakneck speed, and so on. It’s just common sense.
You forgot the most important thought in my statement. Is there a single definition of “passive use” used in every municipality across the nation? No. Do municipalities that define “passive use” (including Portland, BTW) include bikes as a passive use? Yes. So you are correct, there are shades of gray in the “passive use” definition. But the shade of gray everybody seems to include is biking.
I know we keep circling back to this and I know you think I’m being a jackwagon in mentioning it, but in fact I’m trying to get to a ground truth here. Your idea of what urban mountain biking and urban mountain biking trails look is just not reflective what it’s actually like. If you are trying to describe a orange and I’m trying to describe an apple then we are both are going to talking past each other. So, if we want to have constructive conversations with the same thing in mind, then you need to see a robust urban mountain biking trail system in use, something that doesn’t exist in Portland (and is quite rare west of the Rockies). That way, when we talk about construction, usage or user group interactions, we both have the exact same reality in mind.
LOL, John Miller, for getting your impression of MTB by watching “shredding” vids.
So, would you say the annual high-flying, snow-shredding ski films by (your cousin?) Warren Miller represent the vast mainstream of what’s happening on the slopes? Or, by and large, are families and duffers giving whoops and hollers over managing to catch a tiny bit of air off a modest mogul, or maybe even over just making it through a black-diamond area without having to lay it down?
There now. Why, exactly, would you expect MTB to be any different?
Actually, I got my Specialized Stumpjumper in ~1985. Originally I thought I might use the bike for desert treks, but I just use it now around the region and around camp when I volunteer for Cycle Oregon. Damn Goat Heads!
FYI all, I won’t be responding to every snarky comment. Got stuff to do. My Uncle Ike was Warren Miller, but not that one.
So you are among millions of people who bought MTBs and never used them as such? Or are you saying you actually do ride single-track?
If you do, you are in an even better position to understand that MTB shredding vids are no more representative than ski shredding vids. Or are you saying you _do_ ride at that level on your ’85 Stumpy?
You could at least answer the direct, serious question previously posed: Why, exactly, would _you_ expect MTB vids to be more representative?
As I recall, the StumpJumper was a 1-off of a field bike built by Specialized under a contract with the Army. I bought it for my personal, non-military use. I have not ridden it into battle yet, nor have I jumped over any stumps. You focus on Movies. I mentioned web and print, and firsthand experience and observation. We also see MTB in the news – rogue bikers building illicit trails on Mt Scott cemetery property, and so on. It has a culture and language of its own.. Movies? Take ‘Pedal Driven’ or ‘Build’. I don’t know of or expect any movies to show a truly passive form of the activity. It’s about taking the machine in to the wilderness.
Um, taking it _where_, exactly? Into the “wilderness” of SW Portland between Macadam and Terwilliger? Well, there it is, I suppose: You may not have jumped any stumps, but you seem adept at jumping the shark.
Yet you still didn’t answer the question: Do you expect “shred” movies (or similar print matter) to somehow be more accurately representative for mainstream MTB than they are for mainstream skiing? If not, why rely on such to form your impressions of the activity?
And actually, _you_ mentioned movies first and extensively in your 11:24. And the only first-hand observation you described is _hearing_ whooping and hollering. As for the trails over in the next county, I don’t know that it’s been established just how “rogue” they are. They lead down to some cemetery maintenance sheds– where cemetery employees might equip themselves rather well to make trails on cemetery land. And you saw news footage of trails only, not people riding them, so you may still not really know what you’re so eager to condemn.
And anyway, what better than some close-in legit trails to prevent rogue trails?
Tell you what: During the next stretch of dry weather, bring your military-grade ’85 Stumpy (which will be just fine) and we’ll go out to Powell Butte to do some mainstream-style trail riding. (I’m an old guy, so you’ll most likely be able to keep up.) We’ll take a look at your bike to make sure it’s in good trim, we’ll make sure you know the necessary technique to keep your speed in check downhill without skidding — and before you know it, just maybe, you will whoop or holler yourself. Or at the very least, you’ll be equipped to condemn based on authentic experience.
Oops sorry. I avoided the term ‘wilderness’ in an earlier post. That is a whole other debate going on at the National level. Guy named ‘Charlie’ brought up the notion of wild areas, I was only referencing that.
You’ve got it wrong about my first hand observations. Evidently you just want to dismiss anything from me as being objective. I’ve heard the arrogant claim time and again: “IF ONLY people would just get out and ride the trails, they would get it”. Whatever. To clarify, I was not referring to rogue trails in RVNA. This is not about whether John Miller is an old guy, or should ride his “stumpy” to hoop & holler in order to “get it”. It’s about whether it is /appropriate/ to permit MTB anywhere and everywhere without regard to anything.
Thank you for the polite dialog and the offer, which I must decline as not germane. My guess is that if you got all the policy makers out to ride, they’d still be obligated to consider the big picture. Let’s all take a step back. I don’t see this small parcel becoming home to 100’s and 100’s of mountain bikers In my initial response to the RVNA Master Plan, I was in open to some sort of bike connector through RVNA between Sellwood Bridge and Collins View, IF Feasible. Such a route between SW and SE Portland has some appeal, but it would develop heavy use, in my opinion.
If your first-hand observation really is audial only, as you yourself described, then _you_, sir, have it wrong — and willfully so.
Well excuse me. To put your concerns to rest — I’ve SEEN bikers biking in RVNA. What difference does that make? I’ve seen the results and so on. Again, while this is somewhat about MTB behavior, and somewhat about the (mitigable) impacts of MTBs on the earth, etc, it (to me) is more about the appropriateness of allowing MTB literally everywhere. This Bike Portland article is all about how the Off Road Cycling Master Plan might interact with the (supposedly) completed RVNAMP. Do you have anything for me on that?
Yes, I have this for you: It is difficult to see you as even minimally credible when you deploy such breathless hyperbole as “literally everywhere.” Please point to the specific passage(s) in the article from which you drew that inference.
And: So you have actually seen what it looks like when local duffers ride, or you have only observed afterward what you assume to be the results of that duffing?
OMG how typical this is. It doesn’t matter what site you pick: the hiking clubs will come in and say it’s a special wildlife area, biking will absolutely destroy it and cyclists are being just selfish for wanting to ride there. I’ve been around long enough to see how the clubs set their rhetoric on continuous loop and hit PLAY.
This is NOT an environmental issue. It is a turf battle, plain and simple.
Glad I escaped this nonsense to Minnesota (I’m sure the anti-bikeists are glad too). I can ride 13 different trail systems within my metro area, 8 of which are within 30-90 minutes’ biking from my house.
Not that I don’t want Portland to get past this and have at least ONE trail system within the UGB. But I see the same thing happening over and over and over again. The only way we can stop history repeating itself is to step back and see what’s really going on.
Hello Glowboy in Minnesota. It may be a turf battle, but not plain and simple. If absolutely no turf is off limits to MTB, then I think the MTB industrial complex will pick and choose the choicest spots, and simply take them (buy them) for their own. (Please – spare me the “anti-sharing crowd” label, that’s probably next from some one.) Is there any Kind of place that might be considered off limits for MTB? If nowhere is off limits, why not have (rogue) trails everywhere? This is something the ORCMP must address. That plan must factor in more than just where good slopes and can go, or where the demand is. What’s the criteria? I’ve heard nothing about that yet, just that the city seems to be meeting with Trails and industry folks. Where can I go on-line to tap into an Open process? I signed up for news from the ORCMP. Nada.
All turf seems to be off limits to you and some other very vocal opponents and currently there is no mountain biking anywhere in Portland. Where do you suggest we ride bikes? What makes an appropriate place in your mind?
Your hyperbole about mountain bikes being everywhere shows just how out of touch you are with the reality of the situation.
Bill – you had me at duffer.
Alex et al. You are misreading me. I’m not suggesting all sites should be off limits. I’m asking this group what criteria could be used to evaluate which (urban, rural) sites are appropriate for MTB. If you have no criteria, then essentially you think that ALL sites are appropriate. I have a problem if the ORMCP is simply going to cherry pick the best sites without regard to various impacts. MTBs like to claim of course that there are no impacts, so end of discussion.
We don’t claim there are no impacts. We know (from studies and history) our impacts are in line with the impacts you will see from constructing and using a hiking only trail.
The biggest impacts of any non-motorized/non-equestrian trail are in the construction phase. (When we construct trails we follow full NPDES runoff BMPs and go a step beyond with coconut geotextile on cuts over 30″ and shredded straw on any exposed surface.) After construction you will have period of revegetation. Where I live like we build in the late summer and early fall (mostly) so the trail goes through a full frost cycle (to stabilize the soil) and then when the spring comes that initial blast of growth revegetated a good portion of the disturbed area. Obviously, Portland would revegetate faster due to a less harsh winter. You might be looking at a first year re-growth area percentage approaching 60%.
Since you asked, here are criteria used to rank properties for possible mountain bike use (note, BikePortland forums don’t like direct linking, so I had to cut/paste these from my “how to do urban mountain biking” information):
i. How big is the property?
ii. Are we seeking to use all of the property or a portion of the property?
i. How is the property used?
ii. Does it have a steady use or peaks in usage?
i. How many users does it see on an average day?
ii. Could we double that usage safely? (stress test question)
i. What are the average slopes on the property?
ii. What is the predominate soil on the property?
i. What percent of the property is wooded and/or natural space?
ii. Are there macro ecological encumbrances?
i. How easy is it for the most amount of users to get to this property?
ii. Can the property handle more parking or does it have room to construct an appropriate sized parking area?
i. How many miles of trails would we like at the location?
ii. Do we want to make this a draw for the neighborhood or for the city?
Here are the considerations to we don’t consider on a macro level:
I. Specifics of ecology
i. We design around any ecologically sensitive areas within a property; all trail alignments will be inspected by biologists, geologists, social and historic interest personnel.
ii. Urban properties are usually degraded from an ecological standpoint; trail construction/expansion is usually tied to ecological restoration goals and rewilding plans
I was saying there are shades between active and passive. Sorry for the lack of clarity on that. So all I need to do is see an urban mountain bike site with all the same conditions, setting, and so on, and I will see it your way. Nice argument. My problem is that MTB complex wants to lump MTB into the passive category with all biking. That grants MTBs access to all natural areas where passive recreation is allowed. Boom! No more thinking, common sense, or judgement required. MTBs anywhere the ORCMP chooses. Not sure what that process will be, or who is driving it, so you perhaps you can understand my skepticism.
Actually quite a bit of thinking, judgement and common sense is required.
So let’s take the part you say you have a problem with and explain why mountain biking is generally considered passive use. (Longer post warning.)
Q: Are their greater impacts for construction for infrastructure (trails in this case) for mountain biking vs. other passive uses?
A: No. Mountain biking and hiking trails are built to very similar, if not the same standards (IMBA 2004 or USFS 2007). Whatever impacts you would get with hiking trail you would get for mountain biking trails.
Q: Does mountain biking have greater post-construction vegetation, soil or runoff impacts vs. other passive uses?
A: Generally not if the trails for mountain biking are built & maintained correctly. How do we know this for sure? Well, we have a series of studies that tell us that, but more importantly we have 25 years of urban mountain biking history with 15 years of real intense expansion and use of mountain bikes in urban parks, greenways, etc. If we look back at that history, from trails in multiple environments, soils and vegetation matrixes we find that proper construction, proper maintenance and proper management means the long-term impacts are very similar to other passive uses.
Q: Does mountain biking have greater impacts, during construction or post-construction, on the wildlife vs. other passive uses?
A: Generally not. When designing mountain bike trails, especially in an urban environment, the landowner (municipality) will verify the proposed alignment has minimum biological impact. During construction they will be performing inspections and having biologists ahead of the construction crew looking for issues. The construction is re-routed accordingly. But mountain bikes are viewed differently by wildlife than hikers. So special precautions must be followed. For raptor nesting sites, a minimum of 50′ buffer must be maintained and for nesting/birthing sites a buffer equal to that species’ flight distance should be maintained. For areas with large amounts of amphibians or water dwelling reptiles, boardwalking may be required within a certain distance of streams or wetlands. All these will be determined by professionals in the required fields. This is part a lot people get wrong, they assume its bunch of yahoos out with tools and PBR building trails. When you do urban trails, everything has to be professionally built.
Q: Does mountain biking have greater impacts to other users of the same property vs. other passive uses?
A: Mountain bikes have different impacts to other users and at some point it becomes a value judgement rather a than scientific one. However, do to the perception that mountain bikers have greater impacts to other uses (the “screaming mountain biker” trope) urban mountain bike trails are designed to keep speeds low so that there is less chance of other users feeling uncomfortable. The trail design standards help (rolling contour) but ultimately it comes down to avoiding extended downhills (and uphills), keeping the corners tight and keeping the trail as close to trees and rocks as you can. What the history of urban mountain bike trails has taught us is that some type of user group management is required. Most urban mountain bike trails systems have simple and maintenance-free ways of helping user groups interact positively, usually controlling the direction the trails are used. At some point though, values are different. As an example, at my local trail system, hunting is allowed, so in the fall you will come upon hunters with firearms. Doesn’t bother me one bit, but we have had visitors that get really uncomfortable with it. I can’t promise you that there won’t be that one guy whose day is ruined because he saw a mountain biker while hiking. What I can say is that if Portland follows the example of other cities then everything will be done to limit possible negative interactions.
Q: Does mountain biking have a greater cumulative impact to the property vs. other passive uses?
A: Just like any passive use, not if the amount of users (total) is below what the property can handle. Before we go further, we have to take a side trip here on how Portland has handled (or not handled) urban mountain biking vs. other cities. In other cities, urban mountain biking came about in an organic process. A small trail is built first, usually as a demonstration or pilot project. As the city and community learn about urban mountain biking and the demand grows, other locations soon gain urban mountain biking trails. Over a time, a system develops. Previously, every attempt to start small in Portland, to lay the first step of a system, has been killed in some way. The last 2 attempts (Forest Park in 2010 and RVNA in 2014) were killed via direct city action. The result is that the demand and pent up desire built up to a point where the city found itself in the position of having to throw a “hail mary pass”, the Off Road Cycling Master Plan. The problem is that now, whatever property gets the first sizable urban mountain biking trails will get POUNDED. It may get overwhelmed with users and that amount of users may have larger cumulative impact than a new section of trail would normally have. It will be wise in the Off Road Cycling Master Plan to choose the first property trail building based on its ability to handle high demand. However, let’s remember that problem is the City of Portland’s doing, not a function of mountain biking itself.
Because of these reasons (and many more), mountain biking is generally considered a passive use. It fits the criteria for passive use: impacts in construction at or below other passive uses, impacts post-construction at or below other passive uses, it allows other passive uses to take place at the same location, it avoids unneeded short & long term ecological and social impacts, it exists with minimum of management, infrastructure and maintenance needs.
OK, so lets say everyone agrees with that. Then how do we know if mountain biking is right for a property? The best way is to have a set of criteria, usually linked to a points or yes/no system that help make the decision. In essence, you let the property tell you what it can handle. Then you choose trail mileage, design and management techniques to fit that property. Because of that, it’s possible to have properties practically next door to each other with very different styles of trails.
Why do I keep saying you have to see a urban mountain biking trail system to understand what I’m talking about? Is there another mirror universe RVNA out there? No. And we don’t need one. Just like when I’m designing a road or a landfill, I don’t need a previous example EXACTLY like it to draw conclusions or decide on design choices. I can look at examples similar or quite dissimilar to see what I might expect of of the project I’m working on. The same is true of urban mountain biking. What do you honestly know of it? Some bushwhacked trails built by amateurs at RVNA? Some equally non-conforming trails at Powell Butte? You’ve never seen a legally processed, professional scouted, professionally built, urban mountain biking trail or trail system, managed by a city and mountain bikers hand-in-hand. That isn’t your fault, there just aren’t any close by. But to suggest that decisions, advocacy for a group or groups, let alone city wide policy can be done in absence of the knowledge of what that really looks like, well… Anyway, I’m more than willing to make suggestions if you want to go see what urban mountain biking is really like.
Lets move this discussion off the comments here. (Give the poor moderators a break…)
If you wish, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
So, I’m effectively banned from further posts on Bike Portland?
Man, I sure hope not. Your NIMBYism is extremely entertaining!
Thanks for your support! I get an error when I try to post anywhere but right here.
You may have tripped a max comments per a period rule, depending on how the comments are setup. Or it just may be a comment error.