The Northwest Trail Alliance, a non-profit devoted to improving off-road cycling access in the Portland region, is urging its members to attend this Thursday’s City Council meeting. The group is concerned that if the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau passes the River View Natural Area Management Plan in its current form, there will be no future for bicycle access in the 146-acre parcel.
NWTA President Kelsey Cardwell sent out an email to members yesterday telling them, “I urgently need your help.” A resolution to adopt the plan is on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting at 2:00 pm in city council chambers.
The River View plan has been plagued by controversy and uncertainty ever since the Portland Parks Bureau abruptly prohibited cycling at the parcel last spring and then took the strange step of not allowing the plan’s advisory committee members to discuss cycling at all.
The process that developed the management plan was so flawed that the Trail Alliance appealed to the State Land Use Board (their case was ultimately declined).
Because no input about cycling was considered in the planning process, Cardwell and other off-road cycling supporters say the plan features a trail alignment that isn’t compatible with cycling (some say it’s not adequate for hiking or running either). Parks says cycling is on an “interim prohibited” status at River View pending the completion of the city’s ongoing Off-road Cycling Master Plan — but advocates are worried that once the River View plan is adopted it will take a bureaucratic and political miracle to open it up again to re-consider bike access.
Back in April Mayor Charlie Hales fast-tracked $350,000 in funding to develop an Off-road Cycling Master Plan. That plan’s goal is to inventory and assess all the potential sites — including River View — for off-road cycling in Portland.
The Trail Alliance wants city council to either delay adoption of the River View plan until the site can be assessed through the Off-road Cycling Master Plan process. Or if that doesn’t happen, pass the River View plan with an amendment that either strips out the trail alignment or includes a clear statement that it will be possible to re-consider cycling access at River View once the Off-road Cycling Master Plan is completed.
“We universally agree that the public process was rigged and lacked transparency,” Cardwell wrote in her email to members. “Let’s ask our councilors to do what’s right and make amends. Help us start the off-road cycling master planning process off on the right foot.”
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – email@example.com