2016 is starting off with a bang for off-road trail riding in Portland. Two major plans — one that could bring bike access to the River View Natural Area and the other that develop a blueprint for off-road bike access in parks and other spaces throughout the city — are both moving forward in significant ways.
Back in November we shared some of the uncertainty that looms over a management plan for the Portland Parks Bureau’s River View Natural Area. That plan was controversial and spurred a legal action by off-road cycling advocacy group Northwest Trail Alliance.
The River View plan was set for City Council adoption last month, but the hearing was rescheduled. Now it’s set for next Thursday January 14th at 2:00 pm.
The Advisory Committee will guide creation of a citywide vision and plan for a system of off-road cycling trails and facilities where children, adults and families can ride for fun, exercise and to experience nature in the city.
— Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
The key issue on the radar of off-road advocates is that the current plan as written does not reflect any of their input or expertise. That’s because, even though they were on the committee, the Parks Bureau made a strange decision to prohibit any discussion of bicycle access on the 146-acre parcel. Advocates fear that if the plan is adopted without additional amendments it will be impossible or very difficult to retroactively add bike access in. “Our concern is with the proposed trail alignment,” said NWTA’s Andrew Jansky in an interview today. “Because mountain biking wasn’t talked about openly, it was not included in the context of the trail alignment.”
Parks has put bicycling access on an “interim prohibited” status in River View. They say the future of biking in River View will be determined through a separate plan, the Off-road Cycling Master Plan currently being developed by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS). If that’s the case, cycling advocates say, wouldn’t it make more sense to delay adoption of the River View plan until after the Off-road Cycling Master Plan is complete?
There’s also uncertainly whether the Off-road Cycling Master Plan would have the power to change or undo policies adopted in the River View Management Plan.
On a related note, this morning BPS released the names of people who will serve on the 16-member Off-Road Cycling Master Plan Project Advisory Committee (60 people applied in all). That committee will work with outside consultants and city staff to come up with a list of recommendations that BPS says will, “Guide creation of a citywide vision and plan for a system of off-road cycling trails and facilities where children, adults and families can ride for fun, exercise and to experience nature in the city.”
Given Portland’s past struggles with off-road bike access, the make-up of this committee is very important. They’ll essentially be voting on the future of off-road cycling in Portland (keep in mind this means not just singletrack trails in parks, but pump tracks, gravel roads, and other off-pavement opportunities). Here’s the list, with short bios from BPS:
Punneh works for Partners in Diversity, an organization partnering with Oregon and SW Washington employers to attract and retain professionals of color. Her academic focus was outdoor education and recreation and overcoming barriers to participation for communities of color. Punneh represents the Community Cycling Center and enjoys off-road cycling and racing.
Kelsey is the communications director for Stand for Children Oregon, an advocacy organization focusing on preparation for and access to college for all children. She is also the President of and represents the Northwest Trail Alliance, a mountain bicycling advocacy and trail stewardship organization encompassing NW Oregon and SW Washington. Kelsey is an off-road cyclist and trail runner.
Erin is an environmental specialist for the Federal Highway Administration Western Federal Lands Division, reviewing environmental impacts of road and trail projects. She has a background in biology and a Masters in Environmental Management. Erin is an off-road cyclist and racer.
Matthew is an attorney and manager at Legal Aid and previously worked with El Programa Hispano, supporting low-income, English as a Second Language and minority residents. His educational background is in economics with a focus on valuation of natural resources. Matthew is a road and off-road cyclist and bike racer.
Jocelyn is an active volunteer within the off-road cycling community and is a certified mountain bike instructor, with a focus on encouraging more women and youth to ride off-road. She is also a member of the Komorebi Cycling bikepacking group. Jocelyn serves on the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Friends of Gateway Green board, both of which she represents.
Mike Houck has been a leader in urban park and greenspace issues since founding the Urban Naturalist Program at the Audubon Society of Portland in 1980. He helped found the Coalition for a Livable Future and now directs the Urban Greenspaces Institute. He is a member of The Intertwine Alliance’s core group and its board of directors. He is an avid hiker and urban naturalist. Mike serves on the City of Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission.
Adnan is a professional cycling coach with Aeolus Endurance Sport and member of the Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership. He is on the board of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), where he works to implement programs in low-income neighborhoods and with at-risk youth. Adnan is a member of the Buckman Community Association and enjoys off-road cycling, hiking, and trail running. He represents the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA).
Carrie is a children’s bike specialist with Islabikes, Inc., a company that produces high quality bikes for children. She has a background in freshwater conservation and engineering. Carrie is a road cyclist and trail runner, and her children are off-road cyclists. Carrie is a member of the Portland Society, a group of professional women who are passionate about business and bicycling.
Torrey is the Water Sciences Program Manager for the City of Gresham, bike commuting daily from SW Portland on the Springwater Corridor. He is also president of the Tryon Creek Watershed Council, and has served on the Johnson Creek Watershed Council for eight years. Torrey is a hiker, trail runner, and on the board of Team Red Lizard, a Portland running club.
Kelly is an occupational therapist with Legacy Memorial Hospital and volunteers with Adaptive Sports Northwest, focusing on accessibility for people with disabilities. She is a hiker and trail runner and has begun riding off-road with her husband, who uses a handcycle.
Renee is the Director of the Forest Park Conservancy, which she represents. The Forest Park Conservancy’s mission focuses on the interdependent values of protecting Forest Park’s ecological health while encouraging responsible recreation and access. The Conservancy works directly with Portland Parks & Recreation to restore the park and build and maintain natural-surface trails.
Jim is a public policy, land use planning and community engagement specialist with the Cogan Owens Greene consulting firm. He has worked on many complex environmental and recreation projects and plans, including environmental impact statements for recreational uses in Northwest Forest lands. Jim serves on and represents the Portland Parks Board. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Portland Parks Foundation.
Nastassja leads Oregon bicycle tourism development efforts at Travel Oregon, with a focus on building local economies around outdoor recreation tourism. She serves on the Scenic Bikeway Advisory Committee, convenes the Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership, organizes and facilitates Oregon Bicycle Tourism Studio workshops, and oversees the Oregon Bike Friendly Business program. Nastassja represents Travel Oregon.
Bob is the Conservation Director for the Audubon Society of Portland. He has worked on urban natural area and natural resource issues for over 20 years, serving on the Portland Parks Board and the BES Watershed Management Plan Advisory Committee, and has participated in off-road cycling planning efforts in Forest Park, Riverview and Powell Butte. Bob represents the Audubon Society of Portland and is an avid hiker and naturalist.
Evan is Senior Vice President of the Conservation Fund, a national environmental organization, overseeing 200,000 acres of forestland managed for sustainable timber harvest, watershed restoration and recreation. His educational background is in geology and hydrogeology. Evan is an off-road cyclist, trail runner and bike commuter. He lives near Forest Park in the Linnton Neighborhood.
Michael owns the Lumberyard Bike Park and located his business in an under-served area of East Portland to provide recreational programs to youth. He is also President of the Oregon Big Tent Recreation Coalition, which advocates for safe and responsible recreation in Oregon.
The first meeting of this committee is set for January 28th.
Stay tuned early next week when we’ll know more about Thursday’s council action on River View.
For full background, browse our River View Natural Area and Off-road Cycling Master Plan story archives.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – email@example.com
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3 Cheers to Jocelyn being on the council! I have no worries now.
Pretty good news but I do have one concern:
Looks like most of these people are xc racers, roadies or runners. Hopefully some of them have experience with designing and riding more advanced mtb trails. I’d hate to see our city off-road bike network turned into a giant IMBA pump track.
That is a great point and it is a concern I share; however, Jocelyn is an all around rider who fancies the tech. So that is at least one rider. They should (will?) be gathering input from the mtb community about what we would like to see and it will be important to voice opinions at that time.
Urban doesn’t have to mean a snoozefest. But it is harder to do freeride/downhill style riding due to sustainability & litigious concerns.
As an example, at Duluth, MN most of the city trail is XC/all mountain and the FR/DH style trails are at Spirit Mountain a ski area (also city owned, but with a separate insurance).
For us, a rock in a trail would be a step up in technicality.
How thorough does this process get? Do they have to hash out what specific types of trails will be at different locations at this point? Or just more where ANY trails will be?
If you share the concern for River View I would ask that if you are able, to please attend the City Council meeting and voice that concern. It’s important for our elected officials to also hear our concerns.
I will say one thing for the selections, at least Marcy Houle isn’t on the committee. I was concerned that she would be and that this would just be a repeat of the waste of time that was the Forest Park process.
Oh, make no mistake- these anti-bike birder zealots will certainly find a way to halt this
You do realize you’re suggesting that mountain bike enthusiasts’ argument for using Portland’s natural land parks for mountain biking, was so weak that it could not withstand the reservations expressed by Houle?
I don’t Houle was or is the obstacle mountain bike enthusiasts are faced with.
Maus…I posted a singe comment to this discussion a few days ago. I think the least you could do if you choose not to post the content of the comment, is to publish the post heading as a record that I did offer some thought about the subject.
I don’t think that’s what Bjorn was suggesting at all.
Looks like a great roster of highly capable people! I would like to hear more about Bob Sallinger’s participation “in off-road cycling planning efforts in Forest Park, Riverview and Powell Butte”. In my experience (mostly with Powell Butte) he was not at all supportive of any recreational uses in forested areas. I hope his views have evolved since then and that he has come to appreciate the value of getting people people into wilder places inside the UGB in order to build stewards and create a love of Oregon landscapes!
I agree. I’m a little worried about someone’s whose main credentials have been to reduce and shut down access.
I get that this won’t just be a 100% pro-MTB committee, but I also think it is counter productive to have folks who will be obstructionist (not sure if any of these people will be).
Glad that Erin Chipps made it. She will be a great resource. Impressed by the amount of women on the committee, although I remember reading they were searching for that. Nice to see they found so many qualified people.
That’s a really strong committee: lots of relevant skills and backgrounds. There’s a few on there that give me pause. That said, a committee like this might be strengthened by having a few anti-bike activists on it. Their presence could “up the game” of those interested in parks for all
Happy to see Staj Pace on the committee to represent tourism concerns. I know she is pro-MTB, and I am certain she will be as effective here as she is at her day job.
Hmmm….I don’t like seeing “Audubon Society”, “Forest Park Conservancy” included in this grouping. I’m naturally and historically suspicious of such groups. Please prove me wrong. I can’t help but have this feeling that an “I told you so” may be in the future. We should move forward with great support of the process but be careful that they’re people and groups that have no interest in increasing biking access. Sorry, but I’m hardened by the crap that we’ve all seen. I really hope for the best. I believe the advocates are going into this with honesty and integrity but they’re up against people and groups that I fear don’t operate with honesty and integrity.
TheRealisticOne, do you realize that goods folks from the Audobon Society and Forest Park Conservancy think exactly the same thing when they see people from The Lumberyard and NW Trail Alliance on the committee?
I don’t think the concerns are similar. The audobon society and FPC both know that the NWTA is not going to pretend to be part of the process for months and then intentionally scuttle it at the end so nothing changes. The past actions of Houle create a reasonable level of distrust for FPC, which is the reason I stopped giving them money. There is no history by either the lumberyard or NWTA that would give anyone to think they aren’t honest actors in this process.
Jonathan, as a blogger, you should respect the fact that people that have lived in Portland for a long time may not trust certain groups. You should also respect their perspective. Also, as with Mike, if you read my post you certainly will sense a cynical viewpoint but I hope that I am wrong. Truthfully, I finally got a Jonathan response to a posting, kinda cool I think. It’s kinda like the new phone books arriving…I’m somebody 🙂
Honestly, I do hope for the best. I do have experience in some of these things, I spent 6 years on a Transportation board of my local community, I’ve worked on Comprehensive Plans for that same community and have gone back to volunteering for a citizen group to try and improve cycling safety and access. I applaud your work Jonathan, I’ve met you in person and think you’re a cool guy, keep up the good work!
I’ve known and worked with Bob Sallinger for years and find the @realisticone’s suggestion that Sallinger lacks honesty and integrity contrary to this site’s “rules of engagement” and off-base. For the record Salkinger’s responses to requests for input from the city and Metro in its regional mtn bike assessment have been open minded and reasonable. His concerns for natural resource protection, which I share as well, are based on sound science. He has in fact stated publicly that mtn biking and hiking use on Powell Butte seems to have smoothed out after a pretty rough start. What you can expect from Bob is an honest assessment of where it makes sense to allow public access—of any kind, bike or ped, makes sense from an ecological perspective. I pledge to do likewise. Mike Houck
Where it “makes sense from an ecological perspective” is subjective and where the disagreement lies, of course. This is where the off-road cycling community feels that the needle has been historically pushed to one side; hence the cynicism. Perhaps there will be areas identified that public access might need to be minimized and cycling will be the preferred and allowed use? That would go a long way to restoring faith in the process.
The Audobon Society (which both Mike and Bob are part of) seems to be mainly be against mountain biking. They say they aren’t, but their actions speak louder than their words.
I don’t know if you can put the Audobon purely in the “anti-mountain bike” camp. Jay Withgott of the Portland Audubon said in the RVNA management plan the following: “the issue of mountain biking should have been addressed as part of a holistic management plan for this site at this time… and that there is a place for mountain biking at River View.” That would suggest there is some nuance there. Or at least a lack of uniformity within the Audobon Society.
I definitely agree with that. That being said, it would be nice to have even 1 real mountain bike trail in my lifetime in Portland and not have to wait for a never ending pile of paperwork to be done before anything happens. We didn’t need a comprehensive plan for skateparks in the city to build the first skatepark. It would be nice to see what people want and how they use it before we go writing a whole plan without any knowledge of what the real community needs and wants are.
**This comment has been deleted by moderators because it was combative and rude to another commenter. — Jonathan**
He participated in the single track advisory committee whose recommendations were completely ignored by the city (on behalf of the Audubon Society). Even so, his opinions (or the Audubon Society’s more correctly) and votes were interesting to read. My reading of their opinions was this, no new trails for mountain bikes (save for 2 insignificant trails one near the thurman gate and the other at the top of FL5 to connect it to skyline), but bike specific improvements could be made to places where bikes are already allowed (FL 1, FL 3, FL 5). This really isn’t supporting mountain biking. Everything that was listed as supported also adamantly called for an increase in enforcement and that any work done forwarding mountain biking came from a separate fund (that mountain bikers could put together) as to not detract from other programs.
Page 87 in this document: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/312553
If this is an example of the Audubon Society “supporting” mountain biking, I don’t think I want their support. It all seems like a very politicized and calculated way to keep any sort of real access to mountain biking in Portland.
On a completely separate note, I shouldn’t have gone back and read Houle’s votes/opinion in that document…just reminded me of how polarizing this issue can be. That being said, I do find the comments of the Audubon Society to pretty much line up with what she stated (you can find that on page 147) even though they didn’t vote the same way Blaise and Houle did or express the opinions in the same way (again, this appears to me as more of a calculated political move than it shows a disagreement with her opinions). Perhaps I am wrong, but from what I remember of those times (and as sentiments other people who worked on Powell Butte with them have noted in these comments), I don’t feel I am.
Jonathan….really? combative? because I mentioned tighty whitey’s? Come on now. Please read the post again. You’ve allowed others who were truly combative. Did I offend YOU in some way? Did I not mention that I appreciate your work?. Mike made a direct assault on me regarding Sallinger, which I NEVER mentioned in the first place. I guess commenters such as Mike are the preferred ones now. Disappointed to say the least. Tell me why I should support BikePortland with this kind of editorial preference? Have you read the majority of the comments on this thread?
It’s sad, before moving to portland I had such a positive association with the word “naturalist”, but after living here for 6 yrs and trying to enjoy nature on my bike, the term just leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It is too bad. I hope everyone is coming to the table to CREATE quality and accessible off-road TRAILS for the public to ride enjoy. I hope decisions are based on science and not just on preferences about the outdoor experience. As for the MTB folks on the list, thanks so much for stepping up! Be strong.
realisticone, I was referring to your statement that you feel those with whom you disagree (read anyone from the conservation community) are neither honest nor have integrity. I felt that snarky comment was outside the philosophy of these blogs, not to mention wrong. You may not agree with those whose first concern is with protecting the environment, whether from inappropriate development or inappropriate public access (whether on foot or bike or boat) but to state or insinuate they lack honest or integrity is inconsistent with honest debate Mike Houck
Wow…Mike. You are off base. I never mentioned your friend as you implied, I don’t appreciate that and YOU SHOULD APPOLOGIZE! If you’re a man of honor. You obviously don’t respect that people who’ve lived here for some time will be skeptical. You seem to have a chip on your shoulder or, are fighting some other battles, but my post doesn’t deserve your comments. Have you read the other postings? Why don’t you go after them? Now, you may move on, leave me alone. I don’t tolerate such nonsense. If you can’t have conversations with people who initially don’t feel the way you do, then you shouldn’t be posting. I think everyone posting here are willing to have debates and conversations. Mike, you have completely twisted my words to suite your own ideas. Your words and actions, not only show a lack of respect but they give us an idea of how you may deal with issues in the future. I will stand by your side in support, but not with this kind of misguided attitude. I didn’t ask to be combative, you started this yet Jonathan deleted my response. Right now, you’ve got a big job to earn my trust again. I have had political experience, I’ve always looked at both sides of an argument and found solutions. Next time, ask me, I’ll be glad to share, and with a smile!
FYI to all: regarding interest in having access to nature and recreational opportunities INSIDE the Urban Growth Boundary, particularly those new yo the region, I couldn’t agree more. In fact I started work on that concept when I started working on saving Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge as a PSU biology grad student 46 years ago. In 1982 we created the Urban Naturalist program at Portland Audubon which by the way was cteated in 1902, before there was a national Audubon Society.
The Urban Naturalist program has worked for the past 34 years toward creating an URBAN parks, trails and natural areas system. Working with other NGOs (including trail advocates), we convinced Metro to become engaged in this system. Metro now owns 17,000 acres inside and around the UGB. While the primary focus is on ecosystem health, responding to climate change, and protecting biodiversity, the system is also explicitly about providing access to nature where people live, work, and play. Access includes walking, kayaking, and cycling. I have worked with the 40-Mile Loop Land Trust and Cycle Oregon for years advocating for funding and planning for the bi-state trail network.
All that said, there have been and will continue to be done places that Metro, Portland Parks and other park providers that are too ecologically sensitive for public access. Ascertaining when that’s the case can only be determined on a site by site basis, with sound ecological science (and yes best professional judgment in many cases).
Bottom line—those among you who enjoy access to the region’s ever growing system of parks, trails and natural areas (The Intertwine), including a fabulous trail network, owe a lot to Portland Audubon Society and other conservation and trail advocates.
With all that being said, bottom line – there is about 0 mountain bike access and in the past year there has been more taken away.
While I enjoy it, I think the tone of this post is combative and why we have as many cynics in here right now. If you are going to be serving the public, you have to have a thicker skin and be able to deal with some criticism without all the anger that I see in your post.
Mike, thank you for your efforts, I really enjoy Oaks Bottom. It’s a treasure within the city. I appreciate the efforts of the A.Society, my skepticism is only focused on biking access issues. But my skepticism can be changed, my ears and mind are open to being educated. I applaud the process. It’s a passionate issue for some and will be fascinating to see how we can balance access with protection of the natural environment. I don’t know how to do it, therefore I would look to the people who have the experience, such as yourself and the other groups. I’m glad the discussions are starting, this will be interesting, educational and fun.
I’m amazed that Alex would suggest my post was “angry.” Far from that. Me thinks there’s some projection going on. Really, truly I was simply responding to those (apparently not Akex) who have expressed interest in access to nature INSIDE the UGB and pointing out that those same people might be interested in and benefit from some historical context for the conversation at hand. There’s far more common ground than some posts postulate there might be.
Let me give a case in point, the 40-Mile Loop. I don’t recall tha total length but it’s something like 160 miles. I/we have partnered with this group for 30+ years. There is only one (1) instance in all that time the conservation community has been at odds with trail advocates. The Loop’s alignment along the Columbia Slough was established in 1980 through the Comprehensive Plan. I’m the late 1990’s we realized the proposed alignment adjacent to Smith and Bybee Lakes went right through a Bald Eagle nest and 80+ nest Great Blue Heron colony. The upshot: I and others argued to Metro Council the trail needed to be re-routed to the south side of the Columbia Slough, which Council did. The issue was controversial with some trail advocates argued was unreasonable because we changes a 20 year old trail alignment. The problem lay with the fact that the alignment was established with ZERO environmental analysis.
If someone says screw the Eagles and herons, there should have been no reassessment of a 20- year old alignment, then yeah we’d have a fight on our hands. If, on the other hand, you would agree an eventually successful reroute of the trail that serves the original objective of constructing a segment of regionally significant trail system, while protecting the eagle and heron nests, then we have a basis for constructive dialogue.
Mike Houck, Director
Urban Greenspaces Institute
Mike, thanks for being willing to join in on the discussion here. I moved here 18 years ago and have seen the amount and quality of trails decrease. From the cyclists’ perspective it appears as though “best judgment” has not always prevailed, but rather anti-off road cycling bias has led the way. We feel there are multiple reasons that may have led to these decisions, and we are cynical as a result. Who wouldn’t be? I am hopeful that this process will change those perceptions and we will finally see a paradigm shift in Portland, much like what has already happened in many other cities in the nation.
I remember riding in Oaks Bottom when I first moved here, and had many great after-work experiences there. The trail was fun (even challenging in spots), and I had never had a single negative encounter with others. It gave me a quick opportunity to get out and enjoy riding and wildlife without having to get in my car (I rode the 6 miles to get there). If there are problems with riding in places like Oaks Bottom I hope we can look to ways to mitigate them, rather than simply excluding an entire user group. Oaks Bottom would have been a really fun place to ride with my son as he enjoys riding and bird watching as much as I do.
I don’t think I was projecting, but this is definitely an issue that can get my blood boiling quickly. When I hear someone saying “you should be thanking me”, I see that as combative (Donald Trump said it to Britain recently, for example), especially considering there is no mountain bike access in Portland. Also, the language you use seems to make a stark contrast between you and mountain bike advocates, implying they are at odds with trail advocacy and conservation (perhaps I am wrong, and jaded from reading too many conversations with “conservationists'” who really do have an open mind when it comes to mountain bike access) . I, for one, consider myself a trail advocate and conservationist.
With that being said, I am very happy you are here having this conversation, I think it is great and I implore everyone on the committee to do the same. What I would really like to see is a neutral space (online) where this is discussed – not a bike forum, not a “friends of …” site, or something where it is a polarized from the beginning. I hope this committee, its findings and resolutions are a less contentious process than what has happened in the previous 20+ years when this issue has come up here in Portland.
Hey Mike it seems like you are in the loop so it also seems weird that you don’t seem to acknowledge that there is a real reason why after what happened with the Forest Park stuff that folks are distrustful. There clearly have been folks who got involved not to have a reasonable process but to scuttle the process no matter what and that is why the trust has been broken. I hope that Bob will be able to overcome that and that it isn’t warranted but lets be honest there is a real reason why people are skeptical at this point.
This right here is what I am talking about: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/01/post_153.html
It has been awhile since I have seen such a ridiculous level of spin. Somehow citizens wanting to volunteer their labor to remove invasive species in parks, and a local small business who wants to donate money to the parks department are negative things.
Since so many others are speaking for me or about me on this blog, figured I would speak for myself and Audubon.
I believe that the City has done an abysmal job of handling the mountain biking issue to date. From Audubon’s perspective natural areas need to be managed first and foremost to protect natural resources and provide quiet access to nature. The more uses that are loaded into a natural area, the more those values are diminished. We believe very strongly in creating access to natural areas and in fact, we were one of the first conservation groups in the United States to recognize the importance of establishing urban natural areas to support both the environmental health of our community and to ensure that everyone has access to nature within walking distance of their homes. Many of the natural areas in this city exist because of Audubon advocacy, and we continue to focus,, not only on protecting the most ecologically important areas, but also sites that may be of low ecological value but which are in underserved neighborhoods that have too often been left out of the benefits of having access to nature.
We do not explicitly support or oppose mountain biking in urban natural areas–what we want to do is ensure that any uses of natural areas are done in a manner that respects and protects natural resources and the quiet enjoyment of those resources.
With respect to the specific planning processes discussed elsewhere in this blog, I would say the following:
Forest Park: I felt the process was a disorganized, poorly run disaster. It seemed to pivot between two extremes–no mountain biking trails at all or a major new trail along the lines of Wildwood. Audubon did not believe that a major new trail bisecting the length of the park should be something that was decided by a narrowly focused mountain biking committee–the implications are huge and that is more the purview of a masterplanning revision process. We also did not think the options that were selected for exploration were particularly useful. Those who served on that taskforce may recall that I disagreed with some Forest Park natural resource advocates as frequently, if not more frequently than with some bike advocates. Some tangential benefits did come out of that process however— city did address some fundamental deficiencies such as enforcement and natural resource planning that should make any future discussions about expanded access more productive.
Powell Butte: We were generally fine with mountain biking on Powell Butte. However we felt that the Water Bureau overreached in two ways. First, it left a mountain biking/ hiking trail bisecting a wetland. We will never support anything other than a very carefully designed elevated trail through, as (opposed to around) a wetland and even then only on in very special circumstances. Second, we thought the amount of dual use should have been slightly lower–that their should have been a few more ped only trails. That being said, we expressed those concerns, but did not mobilize opposition. Most of our focus in that process was on natural resource restoration that had nothing to do with mountain biking. For the record, I take my kids mountain biking on Powell Butte and I think it is working pretty well.
Riverview Natural Area: We advised Portland Parks to take a careful look at any legal limitations presented by the BES funding in advance of the process. They ignored that advice. We were blindsided just like everybody else when those issues derailed the process months later. Legal issues aside, we also urged PP&R to make sure that any trail system (bike or ped) avoided streams and stayed out of large intact interior habitat areas. We believe that the trail system that the city ultimately developed accomplished that goal and were prepared to support mountain biking at Riverview. Our comments reflect that perspective.
Metro North Tualatin Mountains: Generally we supported Metro’s proposed plan. We did request that Metro relocate the joint ped/ bike trail around rather than through the elk meadow at McCarthy Creek. We also requested that Metro take a look at overall trail density and potential impacts from trails to state listed sensitive red-legged frogs at Burlington Creek.
I will end by saying that I have doubts about this task force as well. On the upside, I believe that this group can be useful in terms of reaching some conclusions about how Portland compares to other cities, best practices for mountain biking, demand for mountain biking in the city versus other demands on the park system, and perhaps some general ideas about strategies to move forward. On the downside, I still believe that you need to look at individual natural areas at a much more detailed level than this committee is equipped to do before you start adding any sort of significant new trail system—-you can’t do that at the 100,000 foot level without a detailed understanding the natural resources at the site and the other competing uses/ demands on the site. Also, I do believe that the committee is too heavily weighted toward people with a mountain biking orientation—I think in order to really develop a system plan, you need a lot more people representing other interests that will be affected by this specific use. While it may appear like a victory to have it loaded with mountain bikers, I think in the end, it may undermine the process. Finally, the inclusion of IMBA as a technical/ factual adviser is I believe a mistake–IMBA is an advocacy group. Their inclusion on the technical committee is not appropriate. If they are going to participate, it should be as a stakeholder.
This should give folks some understanding of how we have approached mountain biking in the past and how we will approach it going forward.
Thank you for response! It was very well articulated and I appreciate the thoughtfulness and effort you put into it. Overall, I agree with all of your assessments of situations stated here (that I know anything about). You have definitely changed much off my cynicism.
I would be very interested in hearing more about your doubts in this task force. It seems airing those concerns earlier than later would be a great way to avoid as many missteps as possible.
Again, thank you.
“…Forest Park: I felt the process was a disorganized, poorly run disaster. It seemed to pivot between two extremes–no mountain biking trails at all or a major new trail along the lines of Wildwood. …” sallinger
Forest Park is the key natural park land resource the committee will have to consider advising the use of for mountain biking. At 5000 acres, it’s the city’s biggest and longest standing natural lands park.
The city could proceed to approve use of some part of the park for mountain biking. As part of doing that, it should recognize that by purpose and function, this is a vehicle free park, and that approving use of the park for mountain biking, would represent the introduction of vehicular recreation into the park.
Maybe this type use of the park is what residents of Portland want. Determining what use the public would like to be able to make of their park lands, is part of what I expect the committee should be doing. Seeking to responsibly meet the wishes of the city’s public is what I expect the committee’s task to be. People on the committee should seek to be as neutral about the usages, current and proposed, made of the park, as they can be.
“Maybe this type use of the park is what residents of Portland want.” It isn’t a question of “maybe.” Myself, my wife and my son want this type of use in our park. I also know a few others who do, too.
Again, for the billionth time, this is not a vehicle free park. Bikes are already allowed there. If you don’t believe me, here is a link to the map: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/finder/index.cfm?action=ViewFile&PolPdfsID=81&/Forest%20Park%20Mountain%20Biking%20Map.pdf
> Maybe this type use of the park is what residents of Portland want.
It is, they voted to increase cycling access to it (I have linked you that document many times before).
There you go again with the ‘vehicular recreation’ nonsense.
You mean that they should put out a survey of park users to see if they want more bike access?
Interesting point about IMBA, can you suggest another group that has the level of off road bicycle trail building knowledge and experience that IMBA does that could be selected to advise on trail construction? I can’t think of one.
Also I don’t see anyone from IMBA on the list, are they being included as sort of a 17th non voting representative or something?
Since there has been no response I am going to assume that it is inaccurate that there is any IMBA involvement.
I think the biggest issue here (and the one truly dividing folks on this issue) is the idea of what is “natural space” and what is an urban park. Clearly people differ on their views of what level of “wild-ness” Parks within city limits should be expected to have.
There’s some screwy with having this ‘pristine natural preserve’ that can’t be disturbed by people on bikes, and yet Germantown and Cornell cut right through it. I mean, we hear these serious concerns about how hikers might have to share a trail or two with people on mountain bikes (which already happens in Forest Park, BTW) but there doesn’t seem to be a problem with them having to cross Cornell while hiking on the Wildwood Trail. It’s hypocritical hooey.
How about Powell Butte? Where we cut off the top and put in a leaky reservoir? Nature at it’s finest.
IMBA is an advocacy group just like the Audubon…the only reason we don’t have MTBing in this city is that the Audubon does a way better job at it. We all have different ideas about how to enjoy and manage natural lands. In an urban setting, even a massive park like Forest park is greatly influenced by the city, even if we excluded all human (and dog…and horse) access. I feel that the degree of ecological protection excluding mountain bikes from these areas creates is so minimal that it does not out way the devastating consequences of creating a “look but don’t touch”, fenced view for our nature hungry city children. The kids growing up are going to know nothing but video games, diabetes and “no” signs. That’s not how you create stewards or nature lovers. So Bob and the Audubon can continue to fight to keep bikes out based on little to no evidence of their impact while kids get fat and the ever growing demand for mountain bike trails don’t get addressed. Imagine the ecological benefit these groups could have if they where as active at kicking out horses…not saying they should, just saying this is a preference of use issue, not an ecological, scientific issue like they like to promote…done ranting…sorry, i didn’t get to go riding today, I am a little cranky…
“two extremes–no mountain biking trails at all or a major new trail along the lines of Wildwood”
No trails at all sounds extreme, the other one does not sound so bad to me.
I cam back to this post to see if you or Mike had added anything, and I am not disappointed! Thank you (both) for your thoughtful replies and your professed willingness to help create a network of mtn biking trails within the UGB! Good luck everyone!
I’m confused by your opinion that IMBA should be excluded as an advisory committee member due to their advocacy work. I concede that IMBA does serve in an advocacy role. They also serve as technical advisors and consultants, and IMBA’s trail design standards are recognized as being state of the art with regard to modern trail construction.
Furthermore, I’m pretty sure there are examples where Portland Audubon and Mike’s group, the Urban Greenspaces Institute, have served as technical advisors (either formally or informally) for similar committees? Certainly Audubon and UGI would be considered advocacy organizations, yes? If true, then how is Audubon’s and UGI’s involvement in similar processes different that IMBA’s here?
You indicated above that Metro consulted Audubon on the proposed trail plan for the North Tualatin Mountains. I don’t see how that is different from IMBA’s prospective role here.
I’m also concerned by your issue with the makeup of the committee. I actually think the committee is pretty well balanced. Certainly the presence of yourself, Mike and Renee from Forest Park Conservancy (all legitimate heavyweights in the conservation movement) and representatives from Parks and BES should ensure a balanced discussion?
The City is pouring a tremendous amount of resources into the Master Plan process, and we need to get it right. It’s critical that all parties buy into the Master Plan process, so I hope that your concerns can be addressed.
Technical advisory groups typically do not include external groups that will also be advocating for a specific outcome. They are usually reserved for folks that have technical expertise in a topic area but will not also be playing an advocacy role. Audubon, although it brings technical expertise to the table, is almost always on the stakeholder committee (as is the case here) because we also advocate. In the case of Metro’s Tualatin Mountain process, we did not serve on either the technical advisory committee or a stakeholder committee. We simply weighed in as an interested organization. With regards to the overall composition of the stakeholder committee, I think it would have been important to have a much more diverse group of people with interests in park issues more of whom were not associated with mountain biking as advocates or for their business income. The danger with having so many mountain bikers on a committee that this plan will not be integrated effectively into overall park demands and challenges and it will again blow-up at the end. I think for example, mountain bikers got much further on the Powell Butte Process where there was a more holistic look at Powell Butte (ie mountain bike interests were integrated with the whole range of other issues affecting the butte) than they did in the Forest Park process (where the focus was pretty much exclusively on mountain biking.) The problem with committees that are somewhat narrowly focused is that these parks have for most part had a ton of planning, public investment, cooperation, compromise, etc already. When you try to come in and overlay a new use on the park system without having it integrated into the broader context of park uses, it tends to blow-up at the end.
Mike and Bob are basically politicians. And after reading their comments here, I’ve gone from being hopeful about this process to being resigned that ain’t nothing gonna change.
Bob, thank you for the post, it’s a good update. Sadly, your friend brought you into a tough conversation. Both of you seem to be taking a defensive posture, which I believe will change as we move forward but, I suggest listening to what people are saying on this thread because it’s justified in their experience, and specifically my experience. Now, you seem to have a lot of experience, you’ve seen the importance of trusting, having faith in the people and groups involved. I don’t believe anyone is blaming you specifically for the issues of the past, I look to the City for most of the failures, you’ve obviously served your community well, but you can see that people are skeptical and have limited trust. You were blindsided like everyone else. I hope that we all move forward with an open mind in a transparent process that will build trust and quality results. IMBA is an advocacy group with a tremendous amount of technical experience in responsible trail building. An asset that we are very fortunate to use. The A. Society is an advocacy group as well and I expect that they’ve both worked together on projects with success. Thank you for volunteering on this process.
“This should give folks some understanding of how we have approached mountain biking in the past and how we will approach it going forward.”
So we can expect more of the same…
Almost ten years since this post: http://bikeportland.org/2006/06/26/new-criteria-for-platinum-singletrack-1564
Those who disagree with off-road cycling will surely be in attendance on Thursday at the City Council hearing. I am hopeful we will have a good turnout to voice our side prior to a City Council vote. Here is an opinion piece by someone who stands in opposition. http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/01/post_153.html#incart_river_home
Brian, thanks for those postings. I think everyone here should read that BikePortland thread. I can see this type of rhetoric happening again. Roger had some points that should be shared again. It seems that the people most willing to compromise are the mountain bikers. We will see how the process goes, hopefully those in the process can have a respectful conversation about how they will find a compromise.
Agency Representatives and Resource Members
To assist the Advisory Committee, staff will be available to offer factual information, feedback and perspectives relevant to their agency. Their participation will help ensure the Committee accurately and adequately considers technical, policy and implementation issues and requirements, but they will not be voting or contributing to the final Committee recommendations.
Portland Parks & Recreation: Maya Agarwal, Astrid Dragoy, Jeff Hough
Portland Bureau of Environmental Services: Shannah Anderson, Jennifer Devlin
Portland Bureau of Transportation: Abra McNair
Metro: Robert Spurlock
Robert is a Regional Trails Planner with Metro and leads the planning effort for Metro’s Tualatin Hills properties to protect habitat while providing recreation opportunities.
International Mountain Bicycling Association: Matthew Weintraub
Matthew Weintraub is the Associate Pacific Region Director with the International Mountain Bike Association. He has professional experience in forestry ecology and natural resource management, and brings IMBA’s expertise in model trail development.
Well my response was supposed to be a reply to Bjorn’s question about IMBA involvement but not sure how it got posted at the bottom.