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City: Tells us where to build off-road bike trails

Posted by on March 22nd, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Ventura Park Pump Track grand opening-17

The pump track at Ventura Park. Where should we build more of these?
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Where should we build bike parks and pump tracks? Are there parcels of vacant land where a network of dirt cycling trails could be stitched together? Should we consider improving and/or expanding bicycle access on trails in Forest Park?

These are the questions the City of Portland wants help answering as they move closer to the completion of Portland’s first-ever Off-Road Cycling Master Plan.

After 14 months of meetings with an advisory committeee the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (they’re leading the project but the parks and transportation bureaus are also involved) released a virtual open house today. BPS has also released dates for four open houses and two community events in April.

Tons of potential. Now is the time to leave your comment about specific sites where off-road cycling should happen. View the map here.

The star of the virtual open house is an interactive map that displays a citywide inventory of parcels that have been vetted and analyzed for their cycling trail potential. The map includes places like Powell Butte and Forest Park where you’d expect off-road cycling to happen; but it also includes places with perhaps unexpected cycling potential. Overlook Park in north Portland for instance could be a perfect spot for a short singletrack trail or a bike park.

The map separates out the potential sites into three categories: “potential opportunity,” “less suitable,” and “unsuitable.”

You can click on a property, learn about its potential, and then leave a comment directly on the map.

While the City reaches out to the public with a broad agreement that Portland is ready for more off-road cycling opportunities in park areas throughout the city; there’s one key issue simmering just below the surface. Yes, you guessed it — Forest Park.

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The debate about how best to improve bicycle access in Forest Park has plagued Portland for well over a decade. The city tried to make progress on the issue in a lengthy public process that ended in September 2010. Unfortunately they failed and the process only led to more frayed nerves.

The hope for a new master plan is that it would establish a policy and planning framework that would help the city make fair decisions about off-road cycling not just in Forest Park but in parcels throughout the city. The goal is to connect Portlanders of all ages and abilities with places near their homes where they can ride in the dirt. The vision includes a network of bike parks (like a play-gym for bikes where kids can test their skills on different features), pump tracks, and singletrack trails.

While much of the new plan enjoys the full support of the committee (and soon the public, once more people learn about it), the Forest Park issue is still a major sticking point.

At a meeting last week of the Off-Road Cycling Plan Advisory Committee there was sharp disagreement among committee members about how to approach the Forest Park issue. The city said that bicycle access on Wildwood and Maple trails should be off the table before discussions even begin. But at least one committee member objected to that idea, saying he wasn’t aware that the committee ever agreed to that.

While everyone on the committee realizes that bikes don’t belong on the entirety of Wildwood and/or Maple, some members feel there might be specific portions where bicycle access could be safely and sustainably accomodated — especially where doing so would open up loops with other roads and trails.

Given the importance of Forest Park to all types of users, the public outreach stage of the master plan process takes on even greater urgency. Please get involved and leave your feedback.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

29 Comments
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    rick March 22, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    That is easy. The forested area of Barbur Blvd’s 45 mph zone by ODOT and Parks-owned property, Woods Memorial Park near SW Taylor’s Ferry Road, Gabriel Park, Riverview Natural Area, and so much other wasted ODOT property. Lots of forested ODOT and Park’s owned land by Highway 26 by the zoo.

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      GlowBoy March 22, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      How about finishing the Slavin Court/Red Electric connection from Barbur, now that ODOT’s construction camp has moved out of there? You could have parallel dirt and paved trails through there.

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        axoplasm March 22, 2017 at 5:41 pm

        It would only take a weekend or two of trailbuilding to connect the end of Slavin Road to the Capitol Hwy ramp. I can almost do this already

        I’ve long imagined a network of trails connecting all the way to Himes park or (on the other side of Barbur) even as far as Riverview. An intrepid hiker can hike along Stephens Creek, should be possible to build trails there too. Kind of a gap there around Brier I guess.

        It’s fun to imagine though!

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        rick March 22, 2017 at 5:41 pm

        Yes ! I know qualified people who would volunteer to build that Red Electric Trail segment which needs a parallel mtb trail.

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    Brian March 22, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Done. I focused on adding longer XC trails at River View and Forest Park; adding advanced trail options at Powell Butte, Washington Park, and Mt Tabor; and the low hanging fruit of smaller bike parks (pump tracks, dirtjumps, skills parks, etc) all over the city that kids of all ages can ride their bikes to. Spread the word!

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    GlowBoy March 22, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Riverview already!

    Kelly Butte.

    The more human-impacted sections of Forest Park, such as the lower Firelane 1 corridor.

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    David Hampsten March 22, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I’m very underwhelmed – It’s not so much a plan as an inventory. It really doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know, and nothing has gotten resolved.

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      SE Rider March 22, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      well the process isn’t not over yet, right?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 23, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Hi David,

      The plan isn’t done yet. It is just now going out for public comment.

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        David Hampsten March 23, 2017 at 5:29 pm

        Ok, Jonathan, I’m game. Who is collecting the data, the staff or the committee? How will they use the input from your readers? Neither what you have written nor the city web map tell me answers to what should be very basic planning questions. I had thought the formation of the committee was to find a panel of outside experts, sort through the data and issues, and come up with a set of possible solutions. Instead, what I see is an attempt to use “public input” as a substitute for committee input, and a “structured” inventory that tells the public the evaluation criteria without first asking them what the evaluation criteria should be. As far as I can see, the city staff didn’t get what they wanted or expected from the committee and has resorted to “taking the project public” in order to maybe get what they want, whatever that is. Mind you, I’m not at all sure what staff want, exactly.

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          MaxD March 24, 2017 at 10:10 am

          I agree, this is a very coarse inventory. I was excited to start reviewing it, but I noticed the Japanese Garden was included I realized that this was a very low-quality inventory. Was this thing simply generated by a GIS query? THere are a number of properties on there are in no way appropriate to even consider to mountain biking. I cannot imagine why they are included.

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    Buzz March 22, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Not likely to reach people who aren’t computer savvy and/or connected to transportation issues with this approach.

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    Noraa March 22, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    A new 20ish mile loop in Forest Park for mt bikes seems like a no brainer. The park could easily accommodate this and there would be no user conflict. Kelly Butte is another under used green space that would be great for a bike park. Then add a few smaller regional networks for the kids.

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      Alex March 24, 2017 at 7:58 am

      It does, doesn’t it? That being said, that will never happen – frogs stuck in tire tracks, etc. *sigh*

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    MadKnowledge March 23, 2017 at 12:45 am

    Small parcels for pump tracks and skills parks are fine, and a good, but only partial equation of what we really need to even budge the needle on the demand for off-road cycling that doesn’t require a car to access. YES, we do need much-expanded access in Forest Park, which has plenty of room for purpose-built long sections of cross-country trails as well as sections of purpose-built freeride areas that can be placed as to not cause user conflicts. I have communicated this to the City.

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    Eric March 23, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Should we consider improving and/or expanding bicycle access on trails in Forest Park?

    Really?

    How many times does this question need to be asked? How many times do we need to answer YES! How many times will Charlie Brown ask Lucy to hold the football so he can kick it…

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      Brian March 23, 2017 at 8:48 am

      Form a committee. Have meetings. Gather data. Analyze. Ask for more feedback. Repeat.

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        Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 23, 2017 at 10:42 am

        I hear both of you and completely agree. It’s beyond frustrating that the City of Portland hasn’t figured this out yet. Unfortunately the city is caught between a rock and a hard place… There are many insiders who believe any improved bicycle access in Forest Park is a zero-sum equation that means hikers will lose something and that the ecology will suffer. Neither of those things is true but that narrative is very strong.

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          Dan A March 23, 2017 at 1:26 pm

          Even if hikers DO lose something, there are like 70-80 miles of trail in FP alone. There are ~152 miles of trails in Portland (www.portlandoregon.gov), and thousands more miles of hiking trails nearby, just outside of the city. They could give up some of those trails (not that I’m suggesting that, specifically) and still have an abundance of hiking trails.

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    karl March 23, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Mt. Trashmore! aka St. Johns Landfill!!!

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    karl March 23, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Red Electric (off road) Trail!

    Pendelton Park / Hayhrust Woods are part of the Red Electric and they would be great off for road. and take you to Aplenrose

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    karl March 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm
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    karl March 23, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Dog Bowl https://goo.gl/maps/DtdaTM4xQAz 3011 N Willamette

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    Randee Peppercorn March 24, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Creston Park Dual Slalom

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    TrailLover March 24, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Anybody interested in this topic might like to see (and share) these related docs.

    The first one paints a big picture of the context in Forest Park:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/c57noxtzihe7si0/ForestParkVision.pdf?dl=0

    The next one is a video talking about modern trails management and the city of Portland:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/6z4f4a42wdiwvrs/SingletrackSolutionsForPDX.mp4?dl=0

    The last one talks about the fallacies surrounding the current 8′ trail standard in Forest Park:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/z7er4t4gcd9c4nx/EightFootTrailDiscussion.pdf?dl=0

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      TrailLover March 25, 2017 at 6:39 am

      Here’s the video in a better format the people can link to or embed.

      https://vimeo.com/user35133993

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      TrailLover March 25, 2017 at 6:40 am

      Oops, better link here:

      https://vimeo.com/209622101

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        Dan A March 25, 2017 at 10:54 am

        Cool video! If I could inject one suggestion…..I had to pause the video frequently to give myself time to read everything. Sometimes it moves to the next frame before I could read the text that had just appeared. Maybe extend the time a bit before moving to the next frame?

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