This post was written by Daniel Greenstadt. Daniel last appeared on BikePortland for his testimony in favor of funding the off-road cycling plan at City Council in 2015. He’s a Portland-based hiker, bicycle rider, Girl Scout leader, and occasional equestrian trail user who also serves on the Board of Directors of the Concordia Neighborhood Association.
You already may be paying some attention to Portland’s Off-Road Cycling Master Plan (ORCMP). As the process now goes public, both online and in a series of open houses, I’ve had a lot of conversation with friends and colleagues about what kinds of input may be necessary, useful or effective in helping to steer the ORCMP in a direction that will lead to the best possible outcome both for land conservation and for off-road cycling opportunities in our city and region. I see those goals as complementary.
The ORCMP is a sprawling and evolving process and it certainly contains some very hopeful elements. But there are others that are cause for great concern and, more importantly, urgent action.
I encourage you to “vote and vote often” throughout the ORCMP process in order to ensure that your perspective is part of this discussion. Because I’ve heard quite a bit of confusion about some aspects of the plan, I’d like to share a snapshot of the issues and concerns as I see them. I hope this discussion will inspire your own thoughts and questions about how you can best contribute.
We’ve come a long way — but where are we, exactly?
“Forest Park stands to gain or lose quite a bit under the ORCMP and it currently remains very unclear where it will end up.”
First, I am very glad that we’ve come this far. Off-road cycling has been fighting an uphill battle (in the big chainring) for at least two decades with regard to gaining any reasonable level of accommodation on our local public trails. When former Mayor Charlie Hales announced in April 2015 that he would support a process and funding for the ORCMP, it appeared to be the first time that the city was going to take the issue seriously. But nobody knew what such a master plan really meant so the news was greeted by many with a combination of great enthusiasm and a bit of understandable suspicion. Too many promises had been made and broken in the past. But the ORCMP seems to mark a new era. So how is it looking so far?
The ORCMP stands to do many great things for families around the city. Combined with other facilities already existing or underway such as Gateway Green, Powell Butte, Ventura Pump Track, and Eichler Park (Beaverton), the plan holds out the promise that adults and children throughout the city and region will have greater opportunities for health-filled, accessible, family-friendly outdoor recreation. I’m using my small voice in the ORCMP process to encourage as much of that good stuff as possible. Nobody knows better than you and your neighbors what type of facilities may fit best in your local community so please spread the word and encourage participation.
The elephant in the room: Forest Park
But the ORCMP also has an elephant in the room. It’s 5,100 acres big and it stretches from downtown all the way to NW Newberry Road. Forest Park stands to gain or lose quite a bit under the ORCMP and it currently remains very unclear where it will end up. While some modest amount of singletrack cycling can happen elsewhere in Portland, Forest Park is the only place where significant singletrack riding opportunities can be created. In my view, the ORCMP is currently headed for little to no improvement in singletrack access in Forest Park. Here’s why.
“Based on the experience of other cities with comparable situations, an open space like Forest Park might accommodate upwards of 20-30 miles of high-quality, ecologically sustainable, bicycle-friendly singletrack trail.”
There is no indication that the ORCMP is going to produce the type of grand vision that would suit a city like Portland with a very large open space park like Forest Park. Other cities and communities around the country have demonstrated successful approaches to similar situations in which they are balancing conservation and recreation priorities through integrated planning and best management practices. Those efforts are successful typically because they include strong leadership within local government. That has never been the circumstance here in Portland’s recreational trail culture, especially in relation to off-road cycling. That leadership is still lacking, which is why you are so important.
But what should you do with your voice?
For context, here, here and here are just a few examples of management plans from other cities that Portland could be drawing from and aspiring to in Forest Park. Of course, conditions vary by location but these plans can offer many lessons. Are we learning? Based on the experience of other cities with comparable situations, an open space like Forest Park might accommodate upwards of 20-30 miles of high-quality, ecologically sustainable, bicycle-friendly singletrack trail. Currently, Forest Park has essentially none, and the ORCMP may generate little improvement.
What happens in those other cities mentioned above are conservation, recreation, and land management stakeholders working together as a community to address issues surrounding environmental, safety, and trail user experience. The overall goal is a sustainable recreational trails system that serves all users while advancing conservation priorities. The ORCMP is a city-wide master plan rather than a park-specific management plan, but if the ORCMP produces only a modest and highly constrained vision of Forest Park, any subsequent management plan changes or improvements will be severely crippled. While the vision and desired outcomes of the ORCMP are generally good on paper, there are a number of issues and impediments – both internal and external to the ORCMP itself – that will negatively impact the ultimate outcome in Forest Park.
Off the table before we came to the table
“Recommendations for which specific trails should serve which specific combinations of users should be part of the ORCMP process and should be based on data and best practices.”
Before the ORCMP Project Advisory Committee (PAC) even began its work, the city removed from consideration all current pedestrian-only trails in the southern section of the park as well as the entirety of the Maple Trail and the Wildwood Trail in all sections of the park. At the master-planning level, it would seem improper to preemptively remove any specific trail or option from consideration by the body charged with making such determinations. It may be perfectly reasonable to establish a goal that the ORCMP should preserve or create significant pedestrian-only trail opportunities, but recommendations for which specific trails should serve which specific combinations of users should be part of the ORCMP process and should be based on data and best practices.
One practical reason that these preemptory exclusions are so important lies with the Wildwood Trail. In the northern section of the park, it seems virtually certain that the city intends to ban any new trail construction. If the Wildwood Trail remains off limits to bicycle use, there will never be a singletrack cycling experience in the northern section, nor will there be any singletrack connection to bicycle-friendly trails that Metro is developing on its lands in the North Tualatin Mountains. People who hike, walk, and run in the park, however, will continue to enjoy exclusive access. This whole issue has now lead to confusion and consternation among some of the project’s advisory committee members. It’s time for you, the public, to get involved.
Portland’s trail design standards are out-of-date
Both the 1995 Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan (FPNRMP, page 174) and the City of Portland’s 2009 Trail Design Guidelines contain standards and technical information that are out of date, internally inconsistent, and are based on external standards that had been superseded even prior to the city’s adoption of the guidelines in 2009. The result is a confused set of trail planning and construction guidelines that aggravates some of the most fundamental issues surrounding environmental protection and trail user experience that are at the heart of the ORCMP process. While the city has hinted that the ORCMP may suggest changes or improvements to these outdated documents, there has been no detailed discussion or sense of urgency thus far within the ORCMP process. Unless these issues are clearly and strongly elevated in the ORCMP discussion (by you?), then any potential recommendations for changes to trail use designations or for new trail construction will never be realized.
The problem with the FPNRMP standards mostly boils down to the page 174 guideline requiring that any trails used by bicycles have a minimum tread width of 8 feet and a surface of “hard packed dirt or gravel.” That is a dangerous and environmentally unsound standard for a variety of reasons, and it is totally out-of-step with modern trail design practices. (The problems with the city’s 2009 Trail Design Guidelines are a bit more complex. Read my detailed analysis here.)
Taken together, these outdated guidelines prevent Portland land managers from using many of the most basic tools and techniques for constructing sustainable trails, controlling trail user speeds, and delivering high quality trail experiences for all users.
Project ‘screening tool’ makes new trails nearly impossible
In addition to the trail planning and design documents described above, any potential ORCMP recommendations regarding Forest Park will also face something called the Forest Park Project Objective Screening Tool (POST). While the POST has been mentioned during ORCMP advisory committee meetings, it has received no detailed discussion or analysis. And this is particularly alarming because the POST stands to halt virtually any kind of recreational trail planning or improvements in Forest Park. The POST was developed by the city in 2013 (adopted 2014) with little to no input from recreational stakeholders. While the POST may represent a worthwhile goal (rational and transparent decision making), it is far from “objective” in many regards and it creates a very significant impediment to Forest Park ever being the site of a modern, sustainable, recreational trails system for any users. A detailed discussion of the POST is too burdensome for this essay, so I would simply ask that you keep the POST in mind as you offer the city your input, questions and concerns.
Speaking of which, head on over to the City’s online open house and lend your voice to this plan today.
— Daniel Greenstadt
BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.
It’s OK to have a large extant of quiet green space without any contraption destroying the quietude. Peace and quiet are too precious to compromise–not everyone gets to use everything. In a shared urban environment where natural peace and quiet have already been impacted, the only land that is worth degrading to create this playground are private locations, & areas that have already been destroyed. Forest Park is too valuable to surrender for any activities that degrade it from it’s highest asset: peace.
Yes, I know there are firelanes that can be biked on & that is enough.
Hey Patrick no one is recommending anything but quiet recreation. There is no push for gas powered motorcycles in the park.
Yes & thank heavens!
Bikes are a very different encounter than another hiker. They can come up fast and scare people and the hikers need to yield the trail to allow the bike to pass. They become a dominant character of the space. Because of this, I advocate a conservative approach: the value of peace, & tranquility are too great an asset to surrender. The less dominant & impactive forms of use should be prioritized as this is the only space for quiet, forest hiking.
Properly designed bike trails have speeds that are similar to people running, and running happens on all the trails in the park at this point. Also it simply isn’t true that this is the only space for quiet hiking the Riverview property has been made hiking only. It is unreasonable to banish quiet recreational uses from a park that represents over half of the total park land in the city as there is plenty of room within the park to share between quiet uses.
Yay for 8-12mph trail riding, heck ya!
Was gonna say, my Strava would tell me that my speed mtn biking never seems to clear 10 mph average unless you are designing a wide, flat shared use trail akin to a firelane.
Since we are already talking about new trails and no access to existing trails like Wildwood, I think they could be designed for lower speeds. The twistiness of the trails up there already sort of lend to that. As someone that hikes and runs up there regularly, I’ll admit that I’m a more oblivious trail user as a runner (since i usually have headphones and am zoned out) than I am a mtn biker (no headphones, generally focused on picking my way through a trail quite quietly!)I think the fact that I’ve seen far more wildlife while biking than running tells me i’m not causing a lot of disruption.
If mountain biking is so loud and disruptive, why are hikers always so surprised to see me when I ride on the shared trails around Stub Stewart? You’d think they would have heard me coming.
By your thinking should we close all the trails to everyone? That’ s the only way to have a truly quite and peaceful habitat is to kick everyone out of the park. Are you willing to give up your hiking trails to achieve that? If not then I don’t think its fair you you to dictate that another group of quite and peaceful users cant use that space.
I’m concerned that there is a large constituency that is willing to forfeit their hiking access to Forest Park to keep mountain biking out.
From one Patrick to another:
Firstly, thanks for the input. As a block of recreationalists (made-up-word), we really need the opportunity to show y’all that mountain bikes will not be the end of the world for peaceful recreation in forest park. We’ll be far away from the trail heads and out of your headspace in a matter of seconds.
If you have a minute, I really encourage reading this article about what 98% of mountain biking is about (spoiler alert: it doesn’t look like the red bull rampage in forest park)
We’re going to get access to Forest Park eventually, and it’s going to be awesome for people on foot and people on bikes! We just need a chance to sit at the table and show you how it’s worked elsewhere, and assure you that we’re not going to diminish how peaceful Forest Park is. We’re going to make it better than ever!
I agree with you about peace Patrick… But I disagree that we shouldn’t improve bicycle access on those grounds. Should we also close NW Cornell Road, NW Germantown, and NW Burnside to driving? I can’t stand to hear people’s loud cars and obnoxious motorcycle and truck engines revving wildly while I’m hiking and biking in the park in peace and quiet.
The difference between loud roads and Forest Park is that this is one of the last deep quiet places in Portland. Yes you can still hear the city but the sounds are far away. Losing peace is something rarely regained. It is more valuable than for a minority use. I used to live near Leif Erickson Road and rode it and the Firelines weekly–it’s fun but not worth surrendering more land to mechanical hobbies. Henry David Throeau would not approve either 🙂
I hear you Patrick. Thanks. You make good points. These are important things for all of us to keep in mind.
Again, I agree with your sentiments, but I disagree with your remedies.
You ignored the question. Cornell runs directly through Forest Park, and bisects a hiking trail.
I’ve spent countless hours in Forest Park. Much of it is not very quiet, with railyard, industrial and highway noises distant but omnipresent. I think most of us who argue for bike trails in FP are pushing for them to be in the more “impacted” areas.
Personally, I’d like to ride in a place far away from disruptive joggers, dogs, and loud talkers.
The city is for people: its roads AND its green spaces.
It’s nice to share the green spaces with wildlife but the priority question for public city lands should be “how can this space best serve the people of the city?” If there’s a substantial demand for a recreational activity, the city should seek to serve that constituency. Otherwise we are just outsourcing the usage to less environmentally degraded areas farther from the city.
Slightly off-topic, but statements like this shouldn’t just get a free pass.
This is the kind of self-centered and short-sighted thinking that has led to much of our current mess. To extend your statement: Are the resources of the city just for the recreational pleasure of current people, or do we have an obligation to think of future people too? Is the county for people too? How about the state/country/world? Where do we draw the arbitrary line? Why is forest park on one particular side of the line?
There’s a huge demand for porn and freeways and mcdonalds, does that make them the right things to prioritize?
Do you believe demand is a static and immovable force?
These are not rhetorical questions. It would be wise for us to actually consider what we are doing.
People are unhappy and unhealthy and unviable without healthy populations of other life. To view our surroundings are merely a resource for our own gratification and enrichment is killing us all.
Demand is not static, but it can’t be ignored either.
If doing nothing results in significant numbers of people engaging in similar activities in much more sensitive areas, there is a net loss.
Forest Park is hardly a wilderness area and if making that place available makes things better overall, that’s a good thing. If you think about it, having people in parks is really hard on them. Humans, trails, and roads have an enormous impact. But it’s also important for them to go because that’s a good way to feel a connection with and learn to appreciate the many other areas.
Then rhetorically I beg the question where does your vision of saving the planet end in regards to allowing others to live in it?
Kindly said Jim, I find your ideals mildly fascist in their intent.
Off-road cycling in Forest Park will happen.
Portland has been politically suppressing the desires of a very large collective voice on this issue for over 25 years. Enough is enough.
Hmm, in answer to Jim’s question, “do we have an obligation to think of future people too,” well, I’d say, sure we do. As well as our own futures! I hope a lot more of those “future people” will be biking as transportation than “current” people do. And maybe part of achieving those greater numbers in the future is a place to learn skills now. So in answer to that first part of your question, Jim, “are the resources of the city just for the recreational pleasure of current people,” I’d say no, those resources are also important training grounds for future commuter cyclists.
Taking our kids on regular forest trail rides gives them the technical training—braking, swerving, skidding, quick thinking—that they’ll need in order to ride our city & counties’ unmaintained bike lanes.
It’d be nice if there were fewer cars to have to also deal with on debris-filled bike lanes in the future, because that’d be much more peaceful. It’d also preserve more of our natural resources, and bring back quiet, natural space for “other life” to dwell, right in our midst! Anyway, until people are willing to stop driving cars so much, shouldn’t we have a place to develop our biking skills? Ever had to intentionally crash because of failing bike brakes? Gone over your handlebars? An asphalt road’s a much harsher teacher than a forest to learn things like that.
Got any science to back up your NIMBYISM? Or are you just concerned about protecting your privilege?
Be careful with the word privilege. A $1700 full-suspension bike has privilege written all over it. Yes, I know you can ride the trails on a $100 bike, but I imagine the majority of users will be on high quality mountain bikes.
I have a 15-year-old MTB I bought for $800 when I moved to Portland. It’s in pretty good shape because it barely gets any use here. I’d love to support a local bike shop by buying something better, but with the current conditions, why bother?
“I have a 15-year-old MTB I bought for $800 when I moved to Portland. It’s in pretty good shape because it barely gets any use here. I’d love to support a local bike shop by buying something better, but with the current conditions, why bother?” dad a
Because you could bum a ride with friends, pool some money together, and take a better bike to Stubb or Sandy ridge, where you could put it, and yourself through your paces. If you thought you needed to spend more money to ride a bike on dirt trail, but your old trail wheels would probably do you just fine.
Most old mountain bikes are low priced…and by that, I mean, not dept store junk, but quality brand, rigid, un-suspended frames, even older than yours, 75-150 bucks. They’re built well, will ride well. Not for jumping I suppose…wha-a-a…too bad. Must be better though, than many of those home brew klunks used for gravel downhill, years ago at the dawn of the mountain biking era in marin county. Someone gave me a mountain bike. Simple, beautiful really, lugs and good paint. Trek 850. A warhorse. Saved it from very close to oblivion, the scrapper, because it had been allowed to rust up, sitting outside for years. Naval jelly, soap and water, touch up paint and elbow grease brought it back to life.
Why, seriously, would anyone feel the need for a better, more expensive bike, to ride trails people might be thinking would be suitable for biking in Forest Park…if that park were to be used for mountain biking? That’s an important question to keep in mind.
> Not for jumping I suppose…wha-a-a…too bad.
Thanks for telling me how I should feel!
And old mountain bikes actually don’t handle all that well due to their geometry. This, again, just shows how controlling and out of touch you are with mountain biking. Let people lead their lives how they want to. We all have a right to public green space if we use it in a respectful way. And jumping a bike isn’t disrespectful to anyone or anything.
With the negative attitude you’re indulging in, not many people are going to care how you feel or what you think. You don’t have to be a jerk to let people know you like mountain biking.
Jump your mountain bike all you want, at places where that’s appropriate for the land you’re using for that purpose. For people living in Portland, Stubb Stewart isn’t that far away in terms of time in the car. Under 2 hrs probably. Sandy Ridge isn’t that far away either.
Lots of people love early, traditional mountain bikes with simple rigid frames and relaxed geometry, and will pay a fair bit of money for them. Those bikes ride just fine on gentle grade trail that people with young kids out on a ride together would enjoy for the scenery and peace and quiet. Early ritchey’s, gary fisher’s, bridgestone mb’s, and for less money, certainly the older cannondale’s and the simple trek’s and specialized too.
For sure, somebody that’s looking for a more athletic kind of ride with jumps and steep twisty descents, is likely going to be interested in a mountain bike with far more sophisticated technology than old school mountain bikes have; suspension front and back, swing travel, comparatively lightweight frames. There seems to be virtually no limit to the technological advances in store for mountain bikes, and the prices for them…but just to enjoy an easy, relaxing ride out in the woods with the family, there doesn’t seem a lot of good sense in spending that kind of money for a bike…except for those that have that kind of disposable income, which of course, some people do.
Quite a number of used mountain bikes on craigs for 50-200 bucks, and while, it’s not as easy getting one of them and doing repairs as needed, as it is to go to the bike shop and getting some new thing for 1K and up…maybe, maybe, around 600 bucks if lucky…a modest budget can be quite an incentive builder.
> With the negative attitude you’re indulging in, not many people are going to care how you feel or what you think. You don’t have to be a jerk to let people know you like mountain biking.
My negative attitude? I have a very positive attitude in many ways and I like to ride my bike how I feel – without someone telling me how to do it. It is your negative attitude towards mountain biking and this post is a great example of it.
> Lots of people love early, traditional mountain bikes with simple rigid frames and relaxed geometry, and will pay a fair bit of money for them.
Did I say they didn’t? No, I didn’t. I want more people on bikes. Period. You are the one putting the limitations on people. Not me.
> For sure, somebody that’s looking for a more athletic kind of ride with jumps and steep twisty descents, is likely going to be interested in a mountain bike with far more sophisticated technology than old school mountain bikes have; suspension front and back, swing travel, comparatively lightweight frames.
I was speaking only of geometry – regardless of the newest technology or terrain, suspended or not, heavy or not. But please do act like an expert on everything, it would be out of character if you didn’t.
Honestly, I would be happy to ride a bmx bike up there and huck it off some jumps with some old tech and heavy bikes – maybe even without any brakes at all and a freewheel.
Hmm, yeah, it’s pretty rare that I want to ride my mountain bike so badly that I’m willing to sit in a car for 2 to 4 hours in order to do it. I’d love to get out riding on the trails with my boys more often, but they have even less patience than me. They can only ride for about an hour before they are tired, so to them it’s a huge waste of time.
Do you think people would be fine with sitting in a car for 2 hours every time they want to go on a hike?
wsbob- you are very well entitled to your opinion. Its quite privileged to suggest that those who wish to ride drive 2 hours. Why don’t you suggest hikers do the same? No one is asking for or expecting a Sandy Ridge Style trail in Forest Park. We are asking to either ride on the existing trails, or heaven forbid, create a new trail that is shared that offers the same meandering, ecological value, and opportunity to appreciate nature as do the Wild Wood and Maple Trails. I am aghast as a bike advocate that a fellow biker advocate is promoting driving as the solution. You should be ashamed of this argument.
“wsbob- you are very well entitled to your opinion. Its quite privileged to suggest that those who wish to ride drive 2 hours. Why don’t you suggest hikers do the same? No one is asking for or expecting a Sandy Ridge Style trail in Forest Park. We are asking to either ride on the existing trails, or heaven forbid, create a new trail that is shared that offers the same meandering, ecological value, and opportunity to appreciate nature as do the Wild Wood and Maple Trails. I am aghast as a bike advocate that a fellow biker advocate is promoting driving as the solution. You should be ashamed of this argument.” i wear many hats
I suggest people ride road bikes on the streets in their city, rather than drive somewhere to ride mountain bikes! Kind of joking there, no offense intended. Seriously though, if you want to mountain bike on single track, you ought to be prepared to go where the single track is. Nobody forced you to get a mountain bike…true?
Lots of people do drive to go hiking…the gorge is irresistible. They’ve got hiking in the city too, because that mode of travel is based on a long standing legacy of support for the values and ethics associated with natural land parks. Doesn’t seem at all the same for off-road biking and mountain biking. What meaning do you draw from that?
Why does neither Portland, Beaverton, Metro, or any other city in the metro area, not create opportunities for mountain biking within their city limits on existing park land, or put measures on the ballot to spend public money for the acquisition of natural park land specifically to be used for the mountain biking…not in general terms, but for the full range of mountain biking to which the term refers: easy touring, downhill, jumps, and so on?
People that are local mountain bikers, need to do a much better job than they have been, of interesting the public in having its natural land parks be used for mountain biking, and in acquiring new natural land for parks for that type of vehicle recreation.
wsbob, the entire meat of your argument is that the status quo exists because it’s good. Everything wrong in the world is actually right, and there’s nothing to fix or we would have already done it. And the longer something is the way it is, the more right it is!
WSBOB Writes: “… if you want to mountain bike on single track, you ought to be prepared to go where the single track is.” That’s correct, and the singletrack is in Forest Park, among other places of course.
WSBOB writes: “natural land parks…used for that type of vehicle recreation [mountain biking].” I think you’ve been reminded before that the only place the word “vehicle” appears in the FPNRMP or supporting documents is in the context of “motor vehicle,” and those are explicitly different from hiking, cycling and other passive uses that are approved for Forest Park.
On the other hand, if your intent is simply to be inflammatory, then by all means keep using the term as you have. But maybe now you can begin to imagine how people’s motives and tactics are sometimes called into question.
Go where the singletrack is? That’s funny, there is a ton of singletrack in Forest Park – so I will just go there. Thanks!
I would also like to comment on the sheer volume of wsbob’s participation in this conversation. It amounts to spam and somewhat of a denial of service attack on the conversation. He continuously says the same false things and renders much of these conversations useless. I would hope to see him moderated more.
There are plenty of “high-quality” $500-800 mountain bikes. As a mountain biker who often hangs out with other mountain bikers, I can tell you there are plenty of avid riders on moderately priced machines.
And these people have commuter bikes, cross bikes, and road bikes as well…
They may own a quiver of bikes because they own nothing else. What’s your problem Matt S.?
Because the privilege card gets pulled a lot in the Forest Park mountain bike discussion, usually in reference to people living on the hill near the park. I Just wanted to flip this sentiment on it’s head and remind people that mountain biking tends to be a privilege sport in itself, probably more so than any other outdoor sport. I know there’s ways to do it on the cheap, like everything else, but I’m just saying. I consider myself a privileged biker.
“probably more so than any other outdoor sport.”
No way. Compared to skiers? Compared to kite boarders? Compared to REI-geared campers?
Every outdoor sport can be expensive if you want it to be (even hiking with $300 boots and $150 hiking poles), and almost every one can be done on the cheap.
You’re reaching with this argument.
We have 14 bikes in our garage. If I sold them all, I wouldn’t make enough money to buy the 10-year-old car I have parked in the driveway.
For disclosure, I ride FP now and will ride (on a fully rigid mountain bike that is 18 years old and cost me close to $400 to refurbish) the new trails if built and I’ll help maintain them just like I help the Forest Park Conservancy do trail maintenance on Thursdays.
I’m mainly writing from a perspective that appears oppositional because I think the mountain bike community needs some awareness of how they’re perceived by outsiders (people that hike, don’t participate in the sport). And I think it’s important to be conscious of the image presented when trying to build a case for city council to approve new trails.
For instance, a comment by Phil on his concern after attending the open house represents my point:
“Noticing 100% were not people of color, 80-90% were Male (middle-aged white dudes)…”
This is what I’m attempting to convey when I lump mountain bikers into this privileged class. I understand it’s presumptuous, not entirely fair or accurate, but there’s a hint of truth to it. I use FP pretty regularly. I access the park at a few different locations: Thurman, Saltzman, Germantown. And I do occasionally hear families speaking different languages, I see strollers, people with dogs, older folk, new families with babies strapped to dad’s backs, etc.. But the further I go on the trails (3-4 miles), the casual users begin to thin out and I just see running enthusiasts.
What I hypothesize with this proposed MTB trail system in FP is that it’ll mirror this. Sure, you’ll see some families on their department store bikes, riding a few miles out and back, but the vast majority will be the mountain bikers that you and I know: full suspension, drive to Bend/Post Canon to ride type of folk.
This is all fine and dandy, but mountain biking has an image crisis when trying to sway popular vote. The hiker constituency sees us as a block of people that want to build the very same structures that they see in the windows of the bike shops here in town — large berms, log features, jumps, etc.. And if this isn’t the images they see, it’s of people on high quality bikes with appearances that don’t reflect who they are. You can provide all the literature on proper trail building you want to the opposition, but a picture says a 1000 words. The picture they see is disposable income and a forest playground.
If we want to build our case for new FP trail construction, we cannot only have middle-aged white dudes driving Range Rovers (I’m exaggerating here) or individuals from the bike industry advocating at these open houses.
The cost of a bicycle has nothing to do with privelage. Excluding individuals from certain areas and prohibiting certain activities based on your own personal views or interests does…
Someone invoked the NIMBY and correlated it to privilege. All I did was hold up the mirror to a mountain biker.
Earning a wage and buying a bicycle to ride is not a privilege. And stop with your assumptions. They are embarrassing.
Sure – but not as much privilege as a $1 million dollar home in the west hills. I would say that the average portlander could save up and buy a $1700 full-suspension bike if they wanted to, but the same couldn’t be said for a $1 million dollar home in the west hills.
In 2014, the median household income in Portland was 60k. Divide that out by two, equals about 30k for each individual. That’s about $14.50 an hour. If you don’t have a mortgage, children, car, or school debt — yes — most people can save for a bike of this magnitude. If you have these obligations, a $1700 bike for the casual user begins to appear more and more frivolous.
You’re reaching if you think the average value of mountain bikes allowed on trails in Forest Park would be $1700. Each of my 4 family members would like to ride in FP, and the total value of our 4 bikes might be $1000 on a good day.
And now you’re redefining frivolous as being a certain cost vs the amount of use it gets. By that measure, any bike bought by someone who doesn’t ride it is a frivolous expense.
Some families that hike in FP spend less than a $1000 on their cars to get to and from work.
Many people that want to ride in FP don’t own cars at all. The peak times in my life when I rode a MTB all the time were during high school and college, and I didn’t own a car either time. I did have access to trails that I could ride to in both locations, however, and it made for good cheap fun.
Isn’t there a GolfPortland site where you could have an easier time criticizing people for buying or renting golf clubs?
I think what this boils down to is that no one likes to be called privileged when it connotes a negative conation, regardless of how much one spend on their home in hills or on bicycles.
Consider our conversation good practice.
I did the same thing in college at OSU — McDonald Forest — doorstep to doorstep, I agree, makes for a good fitness oriented time without the need of a vehicle.
@Matt S. – yea – no one likes to be the target of name-calling. Why feed into it? Impoverished people in 3rd world nations calls impoverished people in the US privileged. In the end, it is completely avoiding the point of the conversation and frivolous. Not really worth bringing up.
All that being said, it is quite different than NIMBYism.
How does this disprove my point? Also, household sometimes assumes a single person, as well – so that metric is hard to scale directly as you did. Still much more likely to afford a bike that could be ridden on single-track than a home in the west hills. Nice try and all of that, but you trying to make mountain biking out to be a really expensive sport is nonsense. You can spend relatively little on a bike that is completely capable and fun. If people want to spend more, that is their decision.
My Specialized mountain bike was an 8th grade graduation gift 18 years ago. I had it powder coated and then I installed new/used components on it. I’ve ridden Oakridge, Bend, Corvallis, and Forest Park many times. I think my mother paid around $250 for it and I have since put another $300 into it.
Yes I agree, mountain biking can be done on the cheap.
I suppose you can call me jealous of all the full suspension on the back of Land Cruisers when I go to Bend.
Ok? So now you just threw away your whole argument? Great, hopefully you threw away your opinion on letting actual mountain biking in FP. I would be happy to give up the firelanes and get mile for mile singletrack there.
I’ve always been in favor of responsible mountain biking in forest park, building sustainable trails, and expanding usership. Sometimes you got to play devils advocate on this forum.
“Areas that have already been destroyed.”
The hillside that forms Forest Park was clearcut before Oregon acheived statehood, developed for a failed high-end housing development, then explored for oil. The City Club recommended a forested park in 1948, mainly to assign responsibility to some city bureau. The Wilderness Act describes areas of wilderness as “untrammeled by man.” Forest Park has been very trammeled. So why exclude the public from land they own, when there is no hope of reversing the clock? Make it easily accessible for more Portlanders, and more Portlanders might not hesitate to approve ballot measures to clear out invasive species and develop better trails.
I don’t think that anyone said anything about excluding the public from land they own. I don’t think that anyone said anything about making Forest Park a Wilderness Area either.
Yes, I too am aware of the history of Forest Park–even with that knowledge, it *feels* like you are far away and deep in a forest. Even natural forests experience major disruptions like flood, fire and landslide. There is no reason to justify losing peace just because that forest had (nearly a century ago) been logged.
The average hiking conversation is louder than a bike. Would you ban all talking in the park also?
Now you’re being silly. Talking is a natural thing that humans do. If they were using bullhorns, then yes I would advocate for that to stop!
Barking is also much louder than biking, but we continue to allow dogs. If total silence is the goal then there are a number of things we should be banning before cycling.
I hypothesis that many Forest Park hikers are willing to leave their dog at home for a couple hours to silence the ‘barking is louder than biking’ argument.
Some might argue that biking is as natural of a thing do to as talking. Is the criteria to exclude any kind of sound, or just the sounds you personally don’t like. I don’t like talking in the forest, so why can’t that be on the table for exclusion?
I lose peace when hikers yammer on incessantly, I lose peace when dogs crap all over the place, I lose peace when hikers threaten me, but I do not call for their exclusion. Natural spaces are vital to our human condition. I choose to see nature on a bike. While I support the ORCMP, I do not hold faith that all the NIMBY attitudes will wane in my lifetime. It is asinine to exclude so many nature lovers. Its disingenuous to cite “safety” and the “environment” when a plethora of science and data support shared trails. See you on trails.
Have you noticed the ditch along the Wildwood Trail near Cherry? This and several other ditches in the park were used to divert water to erode the slopes and provide material to fill what is now the Northwest industrial area. Forest Park is a great example of how given half a chance, nature will come back.
Personally, I find peace and quiet while riding a bicycle in nature, as does the rest of my family. I am confident that we can find ways to develop a quality natural experience for those who feel as I do, as well as those who feel as you do. What I do know is that riding on unsustainable, fall line, 10+ foot wide roads that bisect trails such as Wildwood is not one of the solutions.
Just like every car passing us on a bike makes our ride a bit less pleasant, every forest hiker that we pass on a bike makes their experience a bit less pleasant. The value of our large forested park’s peace is not to be undervalued. Some places I ride my bike, some places are best for walking. I would not want to consume what is a rare resource with a hobby that degrades it’s enjoyment for others.
You are but one opinion, of course. Others do not find a brief encounter with those who prefers to bicycle to be such a negative thing. That being said, as a hiker and cyclist I am ok with some trails being designated mtb and some hiking only. We should easily be able to accommodate those who prefer peace and tranquility on foot in the deeper reaches in the park far away from the more popular trailheads, trails for those on bicycles who prefer to not frequently encounter hikers and runners (I hiked past at least a dozen earbud wearing runners on my last hike on Lower Macleay to the Audobon Society) as well as find shared space for both user groups to interact who do not have an issue with doing so.
In a park adjacent, no actually IN a major city people should not have an expectation to not see other users or get a “wilderness” experience.
Are you okay with use-specific trails (i.e. the addition of bike only trails)? Then hikers could have their “peace”.
If I ever run for public office, the following statement will be used against me and out of context: Segregation is the key. I think that we need new MB-specific trails that don’t take space away from the current trail users.
This type of trail system you describe is used by many other location across the USA. Though rarely is it full segregation. Its prefered use, meaning the trails are built for mountain bikes but other users can use them. The link Daniel shared for master plans includes one for a park named Theodore-Wirth in downtown Minneapolis. That park uses another technique, called “boxing”. Trails inside the “box” (and Theo has 6 boxes) allow mountain bikes on them. Trails outside the box don’t.
This is a bigger issue here affecting Portland’s discussion of Forest Park and urban mountain biking. Many of those that are opposed do little if any research and often never look at how far ahead other places are. So they mention “problems” that other cities have address and produced a solution to 5, 10 15 years ago.
That insularity seems to be a problem with many issues in Portland. There is pretty clearly a “we’re different and we’re going to do it our own way” attitude in this town.
I just spent the weekend riding in the Gorge. I encountered hikers, dogs, birders, and other bikers. Everyone was stoked to be enjoying the natural splendor of the oak savanna. When I stopped 50 feet away from hikers to let them walk through on a narrow trail they motioned for me to keep riding. I was surprised and mentioned that we get the stink eye in Portland for just being present so I was giving them space. The man responded, “This is the gorge dude, not Portland.” I was taken aback. How can so many Portlanders (and Marin’ers) continue to exclude other people based on mode? Its got to stop. Its got to stop now. You dictate your attitude and your experience. The only person that gets to give you a bad experience is you Patrick.
There is a lot less “stink eye” if you ride at Powell Butte. Of course I do go out of my way to be polite and say hi or thank people I ride past.
Yeah, I’d ride there more if I could on the way home from work, unfortunately, my ride stays on the west side of the river, and as you know, there is no legal riding over here. I’d love to be able get some nature on my ride home, but I have to wait for late dry nights to do so.
Yes, why it’s so important to have options in all areas of the city. Living in outer SE, I rarely get over to Forest Park. One decent park in all quadrants should be the minimum requirement.
Every Quadrant needs access to nature for bikes
Logical fallacy much?
Patrick, question for you. Have you ever visited a city or a park with an integrated urban mountain biking trail system? If so, where?
Give mountain bikes their own trails then… If there’s no hikers there to hear them, do they make a sound?
Only in Portland, can bikes be seen as scary, environmentally damaging, and privileged.
Portland, loves to rail against wealth and privilege and then they turn and support the very wealthy landowners adjacent to Forest Park who want to keep the public from using a public park.
Considering that most of the time when I am mountain biking and I catch up to hikers I have to announce my presence and politely ask to pass, I would say that biking in the woods is a very quiet activity.
That’s way more often my experience on shared trails around Bend, Gorge, Mt. Hood, etc. I ride up and have to do a slow, silent stalking until it feels like a natural break in their convo/ stride where I can say, “pardon me, mind if I slip on by?”. Folks more often than not did not know I was there at all. Also, I’ve noticed that most people respond well to “pardon me”, cause it’s not as common parlance these days.
It’s funny – hikers complain that bikes are both too quiet (they get snuck up on) and then complain they are too noisy. My bicycle is pretty quiet – you do know we are talking about bikes without motors, right?
Quiet, like the sound of heavy truck traffic on route 30, or the sound of train traffic next to route 30, like the sound of the PDX flight path right over the park. It is a city park, there are city noises. Bikes are more quiet than trains/planes/trucks.
Thank you for your concerns which I share as well.
I live by Forest Park and my experience with cyclists in the streets close to the park and also while hiking has mostly not been good. I have encountered too many cyclists that zoom fast, scaring forest creatures and slower walkers. I say this with regret as I am a cyclist since age 4 who has never owned or driven a car.
Having spent my entire life hiking, rock climbing, bike riding, tree climbing, trail running, bird watching, mushroom hunting, salamander viewing, etc etc, I am still yet to have an encounter where another trail user collided with me. Nor have I collided with another trail user. Fear is a personal construct. Some people fear black people and cross the street. Is it justified? Most progressive people think not. Though mountain biking pales in comparison to the ongoing civil rights struggle, the tactics of the antibike community fall lock step into the tactics of the Jim Crow South. Demonize, criminalize, and harass.
Extra points for referring to something that has been around for over a century, integral to travel for millions (if not over a billion), is an integral apart of many world economies and responsible for freeing minorities, women and men from the internal combustion engine as a “contraption”.
Sort of destroys your credibility.
Excellent analysis. You did a great job describing a typically Portland SNAFU.
Thanks Daniel. Can’t say I’m surprised about the political hurdles. After 16 years of living here, as a backpacker, hiker, trail runner, and mountain biker, I just don’t get the attitude of those who want to exclude bikes from Forest Park. What have they chosen to believe?…that recreation and conservation are mutually exclusive? It’s not either-or! We can have both!!
The last bit about “POST” is interesting: you say “The POST was developed by the city in 2013 (adopted 2014) with little to no input from recreational stakeholders.” Developed by the city? Who’s that? Who pressured, lobbied, wrote this measure? Who’s behind it? The same individuals and organizations who have successfully lobbied for the exclusion of bikes in Forest Park in the past?
If there is no reasonable accommodation of cyclists in Forest Park, cyclists who want to ride in the park will just continue ‘poaching’ the existing hiking trails. Anyone who wants to do this knows there is pretty much zero enforcement.
People were drag racing fast cars in north Portland in the 1960s. Today, we have the drag raceway at PIR.
Cave people danced naked around fire. Today we have strip clubs in Portland.
“Reasonable accommodation” ? Can’t believe you’re playing that card. “Reasonable accommodation” is a right for people with disabilities, not people who want to do whatever they want, whereever they want. And for those who poach trails, you’re no better than motorists who drive as fast and as recklessly as they please, because there is no enforcement. Or maybe your actions are “civil disobedience”.
“And for those who poach trails, you’re no better than motorists who drive as fast and as recklessly as they please, because there is no enforcement. Or maybe your actions are “civil disobedience”.”
I don’t poach trails (yet), but I’d say it’s more like the second one.
No better? I would argue that the potential consequences are significantly different for speeding in a car and riding on a trail against trail rules.
I agree that the potential consequences are significantly different. My point is that people should not feel privileged to decide which laws/rules/codes apply to them.
Jaywalking = firing a gun inside a mall? Skateboarding in a public plaza = armed robbery?
Obviously not equivalent, but all technically illegal (though I’m not certain about the skateboarding one). Just because a prohibited action has a lesser consequence, doesn’t mean that the compliance requirement is on a sliding scale too.
Ever throw away junk mail you’ve received that was addressed to somebody else? That’s a federal crime.
Regarding the phrase “reasonable accommodation.” Different contexts; those words can either be used within the context of the legal requirements under ADA, or just the plain old denotations.
Yes, but it’s a loaded phrase. It’s difficult to avoid the connotation that the writer is asking that an inherent right (to ride in FP) be recognized, rather than a right be granted.
Fair enough, though I didn’t think of it in that context and I have been a special education teacher who has been advocating for reasonable, educational accommodations for 20 years.
“…whatever they want, whereever they want.” describes the situation currently enjoyed by hikers in Forest Park.
“And for those who poach trails, you’re no better than motorists who drive as fast and as recklessly as they please…” That analogy seems bad and inflammatory. A motorist driving fast and recklessly is a demonstrated threat to the safety of others on the roadway. That is not the case with bicycles on the type of trails we’re talking about in Forest Park. In addition, we’re talking about improving those trails and their management to further minimize any conflict.
I oppose cycling on closed trails but people who do it are not necessarily doing so like a reckless speeder in a car. A better analogy to the situation in Forest Park might be if we arbitrarily decided that blue cars can longer drive on the roadways (because I don’t like blue!). If blue drivers decided to drive anyway, would that make them reckless? And if they complained about their exclusion, would that make them sound privileged?
The city is forcing us to do just like what skateboarders did 25 years ago with the Burnside skate park. This is a good video on the method skateboarders used in order to get a space for themselves.
Both of your analogies are ridiculous. Thousands of people are dying on our roads every year because of reckless driving.
I poach trails and I say it’s the latter option – definitely civil disobedience. The trails in FP aren’t that fun to ride, but they are the closest thing we have that I can ride to.
Be polite when you do ride, 🙂
Absolutely ridiculous that there are no bike trails in Forest Park. The north end of the park is barely used by hikers. Plenty of room for bike trails out there. How can the city of Portland not have world class bike trails in this park? Nonsensical.
Also, I run a lot in Forest Park. The trails are in far worse shape than any mountain bike trails I have ever ridden. You would think if hikers were so passionate about the place they would do a better job of maintaining it. For sure the bike community would do a heck of a job keeping their trails in top shape.
Just join the next SW Trails PDX work party. They have work parties with Portland Parks on hiking trails. Join the conversation.
Your logic is flawed. Many of the riders in town are members of NWTA, which does a tremendous amount of work to maintain year round trails. I’d rather put work in where I’m allowed to ride.
They would like more boardwalks to make it easier to ride in SW. Just check.
Many good MBT trails in the region close for winter conditions. Wildwood to hikers never closes, maybe that’s the problem…
There’s a “bike community”?
Given the actions of members of the “bike community” on existing shared paths I wouldn’t expect them to be all that courteous on new ones in forest park.
>The north end of the park is barely used by hikers.
How many have to use a space for it to be okay to dedicate that space to them? What’s the standard for bicycle lanes? For sidewalks?
Its a chicken-n-egg situation. According to PP&R, 8% of Forest Park users are mountain biking. That number is like artificially depressed due to the crappy mountain biking experiences at Forest Park. This lack of experience is driving illegal riding on Wildwood, BTW. Did you look at the links Daniel shared as part of his article? If not, this is a link he included that you should look at to see how other cities create great experiences in preserves and urban wildernesses: http://www.duluthmn.gov/media/542144/duluth-traverse-trail-masterplan-draft-20170320-draft-1.pdf
I’m surprised the percentage is even that high, considering how limited the opportunities are. My guess is the vast majority are riding on Leif Erikson & Saltzman roads, which are really more suited to a CX bike than a MTB.
You didn’t answer my question.
There isn’t a usage amount for bike lanes and sidewalks. At least for sidewalks, they are in a cities standard road cross-sections for different road types (usually residential & downtown commercial locations). Bike lanes are a little weird because, while they should be part of the standard road cross-section, they often aren’t and some form of bike lane plan or lobbying is required to add them.
If there aren’t enough users should we get rid of a bike lane and make it a shared use lane? How many hikers would you need to justify keeping it a single use trail?
If it would be followed, I would strongly prefer alternating days for bike access than shared use every day.
Only cyclists are allowed in bike lanes? Where?
Alternating days has been tried other places in the past and it’s just not done anymore. It’s a management nightmare. As far as I know, no new alternating days trail systems have been greenlighted in at least 10 years, maybe longer. (See my other comment about Portlanders needing to do research on modern techniques.)
As to getting rid of bike lanes based on volume, that assumes the default mode should be cars. Maybe a better way would be to have the width of bike lanes would go up and down based on the potential volume, with lowest volumes being no bike lanes, just a wider shoulder.
What’s typical volume on those trails in Duluth? How many miles of trails do they have per capita compared to Portland? Shared use doesn’t scale well.
Duluth population: 279,771 (2010) with 85 miles of singletrack trails (currently) so that is 3,291 people/mile. Portland population (2010): 583,776 (2010) with the 7 miles of trails at Powell Butte (shared use, however, out of date management) and the approx. 2 miles of Gateway Green coming online, or 9 total miles of singletrack or 64,864 people/mile. That’s not counting Duluth’s tourism users, of course. http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/3938697-duluths-tourism-industry-continues-grow
Why do you think shared use doesn’t scale well? It works fine in MSP (over 100 miles of trails with more coming) at much higher usage rates than even Duluth.
No. Duluth has a 2015 population estimate of 86110; 1275 people/square mile. ~280k is the metro area population.
I meant shared trails don’t scale with usage, not miles. You could have a thousand miles of neighborhood greenways and as along as there isn’t much car traffic they can be great. But add a lot of car traffic and you lose the pleasant place to ride. Hikers/biker conflict is greater per user than hiker/hiker or biker/biker. What works in a city a seventh the size of Portland doesn’t necessarily work in Portland’s greater density and demand for recreational space.
The lower City of Duluth number would make sense if the Duluth metro area didn’t have direct access to the Traverse. Proctor, Esko, Hermantown, Oliver and Riverside all directly access the Traverse. Therefore their populations would use the Traverse system also. Again, there are the local users (that is 280k for the metro area) plus the tourists, of which I am regularly one, going to Duluth about 3 times a summer. You are not familiar with Duluth and so I can understand why you look at population and assume that is only metric. ( http://www.startribune.com/outside-magazine-names-duluth-best-town-ever/270402421/ )
Based on the metro Duluth population and not the smaller City of Duluth population, that would make it 177 miles of trails in Portland to match that density. That isn’t an obtainable number given Portland’s low amount of parks and natural area as percentage of city space, per the American land trust, Portland (Forest Park is 40% of the total park/natural area in Portland). That doesn’t mean a third of that number wouldn’t be obtainable.
Shared use works fine in Minneapolis/St. Paul a metro area. Those are cities with a combined larger population than Portland. There are even trails adjacent to downtown Minneapolis, at Theodore-Wirth. But those aren’t the only places that shared use works. There are just shy of 2,000 miles of urban mountain biking trails comprising over 270 different trail systems nation-wide, in cities as diverse as New York City (Harlem & Queens) to Tacoma, WA. 99% of them are shared use.
Never been to the one in Staten Island, but there aren’t hikers on the bike trails in Cunningham Park or Inwood.
>Based on the metro Duluth population and not the smaller City of Duluth population, that would make it 177 miles of trails in Portland
So people in the Portland metro won’t use these trails if they don’t live in the city of Portland? Half of the Duluth statistical area population you’re using is not in the Duluth urban area. How far away are these people living compared to other parts of the Portland metro?
I’d like to see mountain biking in Portland. But not at the expense of existing hiking trails. I don’t mind new trails in forest park at all.
To get to the same per capita level as Duluth Portland would need 600 miles of single track. Without that much recreation space what little that does exist in Portland will be heavier trafficked, which reduces the feasibility of shared use space. Portland has something like 150 miles of hiking trails, yes? Make all of them mixed use and per capita it would be a fourth of what you have in Duluth. The much higher population density here means shared use trails should be the exception, not the rule.
This is where many in Portland take what Portland has for urban mountain biking and assume that is how it is everywhere else. In fact, most cities that have urban mountain biking have had it for many years, if not decades, so they have learned a few things. They use a series of what is called “User Management Techniques” to create shared use that allows everyone to get along. You may have noticed that both the Duluth non-traverse trails and Theo-Wirth trails (Daniel linked to both) are one-way. This increases the number of people that can use the trails at once while reducing or eliminating conflicts. That is just one little method of this user management.
If density of users and trail miles are determining factor, as you suggest, then how do other cities manage to create vast trail systems that are shared? I mean if these people ( https://youtu.be/Rniv7nci-44 ) can create great mountain biking, then why can’t Portland?
From your video
This is how you want people riding on Wildwood? How many people hike on the shared trails you want to replicate, how many hike on the current trails in Portland that you want to make shared use? Did those other cities start by taking hiking trails and make then redesign them for fast mountain biking like in your video?
They survey Leif Eriksen, not the trails, and mountain bikers are not in Forest Park because we are not allowed there.
Well-built trrails are needed. PBOT largely doesn’t maintain the paper street trails in the city. Why expect them to make great mtb trails ?
We don’t. NWTA will.
In a large parts of the country, mountain bikers “run their own”, often to the benefit of other uses. The links Daniel shared from MN are 2 different trail systems that mountain bikers paid for, built and now the entire city enjoys.
Daniel…interesting article, with apparently some thought given to what you’ve written.
“…If the Wildwood Trail remains off limits to bicycle use, there will never be a singletrack cycling experience in the northern section, nor will there be any singletrack connection to bicycle-friendly trails that Metro is developing on its lands in the North Tualatin Mountains. …” d greenstadt
Plotting out a possible connection to the North Tualitan Mtn park, from the end of Leif Erickson Rd, and on to Cornelius Pass Rd, continuing more or less straight east-west through whatever lands, park, public or private, are in between, might be worth a try. Being convinced that only access to the Wildwood would enable a connection, sounds like an automatic fail.
I looked very briefly at the map. Some of the general route I’ve suggested is in the park, some isn’t. Easements can possibly be arranged, and that’s what was done on parts of the regional Westside Trail in Washington County.
I agree with bob. Opening the Wildwood to bikes is an automatic fail, politically. Building new trails north of Germantown is a stretch, but less of a stretch than allowing bikes on the WW.
The only thing I would note about that, is that historically, the groups opposed have had strong opposition to trails in that area because that is the more “natural” area of the park – and is where the old growth is located. This goes again to my long standing point that wsbob pays attention to very little about the politics surrounding FP and his knowledge of the park is not as deep as he likes to project.
People need to think about closer in to town. Option D on the plan. We need trails from Thurman Gate, so that we can ride to our ride.
The best chance for approval of a route as I’ve suggested for a connection between the end of Leif Erickson, and northwest to the North Tualitan Mtn park, likely may be one that minimizes the presence of bikes, or any other vehicles in Forest Park. At least, that may be worth looking in to, for a show of good intentions, if nothing else were to come of the effort.
I don’t know whether the city will eventually decide to use Forest Park for mountain biking, but I’ve been following this issue for ten years or so. During that time, I guess I’ve picked up some knowledge of the park, its history, and why this park isn’t used for mountain biking.
Maybe the city will simply change, by administration, the park’s long term status as the city’s probably earliest, grandest, and most expansive nature park, whose distinction is in part, that the park is vehicle free. All that city councilors and the mayor, would have to do, is decide to open the park to mountain biking. To date, and for decades prior, city hall has seemed disinclined to make such a decision. I think past and present Portland city halls’ reasons for not making such a decision, have been and are, very good. Of course, members of the current city hall, might change their minds.
“…Building new trails north of Germantown is a stretch, but less of a stretch than allowing bikes on the WW.” glowboy
For minimum presence of bikes in the park, any proposed increase in use of Forest Park for mountain biking, should plan to not use any existing trail. Get the topographic maps out, and plot a route as I suggested, if possible given the terrain, straight northwest to access North Tualitan. Next, go out and walk it cross country…take a compass, take notes.
Any place where a proposed route might intersect with an existing trail, try to handle it with an overpass or and underpass..timber or rock bridge would be great…as used for railroads and on the Historic Columbia River Gorge Hwy. Even the ancient steel Balch Creek viaduct has some appeal; all much smaller scale of course, relative to the setting. It may be worthwhile for anyone that doesn’t know the types of crossings I’m describing, to do some quick web searches for pics.
It seems to me that if mountain bike enthusiasts are really serious about more miles of trail for mountain biking, including some single track, being available in the park, then a strategy of making the Leif to North Tualitan connection, might the most effective. The value of minimizing the presence of bikes on trail in the park, is major…at least initially. First thing that would need to be accomplished, is getting in.
To conceive and have approved, the construction of a new, really beautiful mountain bike trail connection to North Tualitan, that possibly will show people how wonderful off-road biking in this park can be, may go a long way to relaxing some of the opposition to use of Forest Park for increases in miles of trail for mountain biking.
Most of you NEVER spend anytime in the big woods. The ridiculous allusion to Thoreau is out of context. How long have “you” been around? Do you know the history of F.P.? Peace…how do you travel to the “park”? Tri-Met is not peaceful. One thing is for sure, I must own a car to ride my mountain bike. Fortunately the drive is always worth it. If I have offended…
Bus 1 and 56 are pleasant.
Hikers want you to use your car and drive elsewhere to ride. Careful, fodder for the no mtb argument.
Hope: Attending the SW Open House last week and discovering about 90% of those in attendance were in favor of off-road cycling in our city. Much discussion around RVNA and the willingness of NWTA to build a viable multi-use trail system within RVNA in light of ease of access for so many via the new Sellwood Bridge and River View Cemetery as a willing community partner.
Concern: Noticing 100% were not people of color, 80-90% were Male (middle-aged white dudes), 0% Children (my 12-year-old son came with me, immediately felt uncomfortable and walked back out), 10% NIMBY’s (60+ year old white dudes most notably the long-standing pillars of Collins View NA). They attended to reaffirm their firm, but false-beliefs that english ivy, tent camps and hypodermic needles mixed well with off-leash (illegal) dog walkers to sustain the environmental conservation easement in RVNA better than families on bicycles enjoying nature. Advocates suggest these same families will be the first to show up for trail-building and habitat improvement work. This has been the case at Gateway Green already.
It reminded me of the article a couple of weeks ago from WW http://www.wweek.com/news/city/2017/03/29/steve-novick-was-kicked-out-of-portland-city-hall-now-he-offers-his-boldest-ideas-to-shake-up-a-broken-council/
In the last couple of paragraphs Novick highlights the problem with ONI (The Office of Neighborhood Involvement). As past-president of Markham NA (2015 NA of the year) I’ve seen first hand the culture of NIMBYism created through ONI and perpetuated at SWNI (Southwest Neighborhoods, Inc.). Most folks know Nextdoor.com has largely replaced traditional mechanisms for neighborhood involvement outside of ONI. As President in 2015 Donna Herron helped Markham NA rise from the ashes via Nextdoor.com w/out SWNI’s cooperation. She was ridiculed by many publicly and privately for wanting to involve EVERYONE in the NA.
I write this with my greatest concern that both Amanda Fritz (not an off-road advocate by any stretch) & Chloe Eudaly (in charge of ONI) will both do what they can to kill off-road cycling, regardless of the time spent or the plans created. Advocates would be wise to get Chloe on board.
Thanks for that story, I didn’t know that POST criteria was ever signed off on, it’s really quite ridiculous!
We really need to get a new trail for MTBing that starts by Leif Erickson & Thurman, and that connects into the interior of the park. So those in the city can ride to their ride.
Existing trails and areas should NOT be marked as off-limits to bikes as part of the ORCMP itself.
Given the now 20+ years that I’ve been riding Leif Erickson and patiently waiting for single track access to come to Forest Park, along with the absurd reasons for not adding access one way or another for bikes (with new trails or shared trails): if the ORCMP and the city fail to allow bikes access to more trails, I will seriously consider riding on any and all trails in the park, including Wildwood.
This is exactly the feeling that many (most?) law abiding mountain bikers are experiencing. I’ve lived here a decade and a ton of advocacy has achieved very little, if any improvement in access to FP. I’m waiting with my fingers crossed for this plan. Should it not allow riding in our parks (River View, Marquam, Washington, FP) I feel that many will begin to ride regardless. Be polite out there.
Maybe the management of open space and recreational trails is NOT a good place to “keep Portland weird.”
Actually, I just pulled up the Strava times for Swope Park, one of those in the video. KOMs vary from 9.7mph to 14.1mph. That is a little higher than the average. (When I biked KC, I wasn’t on Strava, so I can’t pull my speeds.) But to your question, no, don’t think the management techniques for Kansas City would be appropriate for Wildwood. If Wildwood is opened up, it should have similar management techniques to Theo-Wirth, where the KOM is 9.2mph. (Different places have different user management techniques, even within the same city. This one of the things most Portlanders don’t understand about urban mountain biking. We have tools that allow us to “dial in” the speeds and interactions we want.)
Actually, Portland trail design standards are so out of date (Daniel mentioned this above) that I would prefer a trail-by-trail consideration on whether it could handle shared use. If the trail could handle shared traffic then it should be upgraded to modern trail building techniques with management techniques before it’s opened to shared use. That’s if I have my trail design hat on. (I’ve designed 20 miles of shared use trails. 4 miles built last year, 4 miles this year, 12 next year. How many miles have you designed?)
First, it’s not “fast mountain biking”. For most urban trail systems the fastest people are doing 9mph-12mph, which is about the same speeds of a trail runner or a marathon runner. The average rider is doing about 6-8mph or the speed of a fast jogger. Again, we have ways to dial in what we want for speeds. Second, it depends on the location. Some of these trails were hiker first, then bikers came along. Some were built as shared use trails from the beginning. The USA’s oldest urban trail system, the James River Trails in Richmond, VA were all hiking first, biking later and then even later upgraded. Going back to Duluth, the original urban trails (that are 15+ years old) started out as hiking and then shared use, then were upgraded over time, then had new purpose built sections of trail added. The Traverse and Mission Creek were built from the ground-up as shared us. Theo-Wirth was purpose built as shared, but Battle Creek in St. Paul was an upgrade. I say “upgraded” because, by and large, these cities didn’t throw bikers onto a hiking only trail without doing some work on the trail and maybe working on management.
This useful exchange about deliberate trail planning and the experiences of other cities points to an issue that many of us have been harping on for years, and it’s at the core of what stands to kill the chances of Forest Park ever having modern management.
Most people, including many cyclists, have never seen a modern, urban trails system in real life. Hence ongoing questions and confusion about what it all means. That’s perfectly normal. Not everybody has an opportunity to visit such places even though they are increasingly plentiful outside of Portland.
What is totally unacceptable, however, are Portland land management agencies that also don’t seem to know how a modern, urban trails system looks and functions. Even if Parks & Recreation staff have managed to gather some information, they have apparently been so politically cowed for the past 20+ years that they can’t put any of it to use. With a city council and mayor also historically unaware of best management practices, it’s no wonder that Portland has been mired in misinformation, confusion and conflict.
City council, and the staff of the Parks & Rec, Planning & Sustainability, and Environmental Services Bureaus (as well as other stakeholders such as Metro, Forest Park Conservancy and Audubon) need to get in a car, train, plane or at least a conference call to visit with representatives of other cities where virtually every one of Portland’s supposed “problems” has been overcome in a successful and sustainable manner.
Man, we have been saying this for years! Get the decision makers out to see a real trail urban trail system somewhere! If money is an issue, I imagine we could crowdfund enough cash for airfare, hotel and some top-shelf meals in about ten minutes.
Or talk to bike clubs or people in target areas. I’ve had discussions with PedalMN and BikeMN and such a tour could easily be arranged if someone wants to do the legwork on the Portland side.
Come on out to Minnesota. I’ve got nine trail systems within a 60-90 minute bike ride from my house. Some of them are really, really good. I rode 3 of them last week, not a drop of motor fuel burned to get to them.
Goodness knows Portland loves to send its leaders on junkets.
Actually, both are open to hiking, Cunningham is rarely, if ever hiked. Inwood (actually Highbridge) is also open to hikers and when I was last out there, I did meet some trail runners. (I was hiking, no bike.) Never been to Staten Island.
But even if we didn’t use these three trails due to low hiking rates, that leaves us with 268 other trails in cities of varying densities and populations to look at.
Half the population I’m using (Duluth Metro) don’t live in the City of Duluth proper, they live in the adjacent towns. Outside of those towns, there isn’t much a population, northern MN is pretty sparse. Duluth Metro is city of Duluth and all the cities that directly border Duluth. Lots of cities are this way. The actual size/population of Chicago, for instance, is much lower than what we think of as “Chicago”. The town of Cicero is as much Chicago as Chicago is, yet it’s technically a separate town. So for the Duluth metro, you are looking at the population within 2 miles of the Traverse, 1 mile from Duluth municipal boundary, since towns like Proctor, etc. directly border Duluth and have bikeable connections to the Traverse.
The idea that its a zero sum game shows how many Portlanders get this wrong. When you create trails (or upgrade trails) for mountain biking, you think about this holisticly, not as hikers or bikers, but both together. As an example, you might know that hikers don’t like getting passed in and around corners (that typically have shorter sightlines). So you would design or rebuild a corner to accommodate both user groups respective needs, wants and, yes, fears.
If you are OK with new trails in FP, then you are wanting a boxed system.
In 2014, the median household income in Portland was 60k. Divide that out by two, equals about 30k for each individual. That’s about $14.50 an hour. If you don’t have a mortgage, children, car, or school debt — yes — most people can save for a bike of this magnitude. If you have these obligations, a $1700 bike for the casual user begins to appear more and more frivolous.
My Schwinn cost $40 and a sixer. I could ride it on Wild Wood without issue. This whole frivolous cost argument obscures the fact that local neighbors are trying use every trick in the book to maintain exclusive use of Forest Park for their own benefit. Its a public space, and it needs to be shared. The majority of people riding will be on department store bikes, and they will be enriched with getting access to nature.
I don’t think it’s just local neighbors.
I see many of the same neighbors commenting at public forums, so yes, its the immediate neighbors and their influential ($$$) friends. Its funny how on this site that the majority of commenters are ardent cyclists, either racers, commuters, family riders, tall bikers, etc. We can all agree on that riding bikes is fun, yet many of us advocate for mountain bikers to drive outside the city to ride when there is a massive forested park in town. Its illogical to advocate to ride but then to advocate for others to drive to ride. Ride to where we ride. There is room in the park, there is a way to meet all conservation and safety goals, and there is a way to allow mountain biking. The opposition has perverted every facet of conservation and safety to manipulate this process, and the park is still alive, vibrant, and full of hikers and bikers. All we ask to ride on the trails rather than the roads. Please don’t torpedo this process because the ORCMP addresses the entire city. We must serve all citizens, not just those who live adjacent to Forest Park.
You can think that all you want, but if you have actually attended meetings from different neighborhoods – RVNA, FP, Tualatin mountains, etc – you would see very few similar faces. Almost all are neighbors and if you listen to the discussions in the hallways, you would find out just how NIMBY it is.
“I don’t think it’s just local neighbors.” matt s
I would expect that’s right.
Think about it: …if over the years that use of the park for mountain biking has been prohibited, city hall had been consistently receiving from across the city, great numbers of requests from the public, from a range of people, not just mountain bike enthusiasts, to allow the park to be used for biking…and the only thing that was holding that up, was neighbors local to the park…city hall could easily find some way to resolve neighbor concerns and open the park to mountain biking. In Portland, to prompt use of Forest Park for mountain biking, nothing of that level of request has ever happened, that I’ve heard of.
_You_ would think that. Unfortunately you don’t attend the meetings to see the reality of the situation.
How many people have children in Oregon and wish for more spending at the state level on education, yet never pick up a phone or send an email? Your logic is flawed and you are really reaching here.
The more popular trail systems here in MSP (Wirth, Lebanon Hills, Murphy-Hanrehan and I believe Elm Creek) have one-way routing for bikes. Technically they may allow shared use, but you don’t generally see hikers on them. There are two major reasons: 1. Each of these parks also has miles of non-bike trails for the hikers to use. 2. The bike trail systems are built “tight” with lots of twists and turns (like Stella in Longview), packing mileage into relatively small space. It’s not that appealing to hikers to go a mile, end up 200 yards from where you started, and see people on adjacent trails 20 yards away as you go. Bikers don’t mind that.
The trails here that genuinely see shared use (like MN River Bottoms and Battle Creek) tend to have lower visitor volumes, allow two-way use and aren’t purpose-built for bikes (fewer twists and turns and ups and downs, which reduces the “surprise” factor that results in conflicts).
I think Duluth has shared use on some of its trails (my experience on the Traverse and Amity/Lester Creek was a mix of wheeled and non-wheeled users), but some of the most popular trail systems for bikers (Piedmont and Hartley, for example) are again purpose-built bike trails whose tight, twisting nature just isn’t that appealing to hikers. Again, not legal segregation but de facto segregation.
As far as population is concerned, metro area (MSA, not CMSA) population is usually a better metric for comparing cities than just measuring the core city, because municipal boundaries are drawn differently in different places. But even so, by that metric Portland (2010 population 2.4M) is still about 8x the size of Duluth.
I agree that Duluth wouldn’t scale well to Portland, because Duluth has as much open space as Portland but a fraction of the population. The recreation demand is more than 1/8 that of Portland though, because in many ways Duluth is a destination recreation town. It’s more like Bend than Portland.
The better comparison would be Minneapolis/St. Paul, which at 3.5M population is at least in the same general ballpark as Portland. Proportionally, MSP’s 100 or so miles of singletrack would translate to about 70 miles in Portland. That would be a bit of a challenge since (I think) MSP has proportionally more open space, including the vast Minnesota River Bottoms, the natural areas along the Mississippi Gorge (now a national park) and some very large suburban regional parks. But at least a few dozen miles should be doable in the Portland metro area.
Having trail be mixed use for both mountain biking and walking, may be fine. I hear that Stubb Stewart out in my county, Washington County, has mixed used trail. Sandy Ridge, east of Portland in what may be Multnomah County, supposedly has mixed use trail. One of the likely reasons those parks have mixed use trail, is that both of them are relatively new parks, neither more than a decade old, just guessing. And both of those parks were conceived of and designated to be foremost, parks for off-road and mountain biking.
Not so for Forest Park, and that’s the point of contention. Forest Park is many decades old, and was conceived, created, and has been sustained all these years, as a place to be free of all things city, which includes all vehicles, including bikes and bike traffic, and even the presence of bikes in the park at all. That’s a good, high standard to keep for a nature park, which Forest Park most definitely is. Actually, in allowing the use of bikes on the park’s utility roads and fire trails, the city’s residents have already made quite a concession to bike use in the park.
There’s most likely other land in Multnomah County that can be sourced for off-road and mountain biking. Right off hand, I don’t have a map for that county to check. I do have one for Washington County though. Washington County, besides Stubb Stewart, for who knows how long with the urge to develop, rampaging…still has many acres of undeveloped land, many smaller parcels than Stubb, that are already apparently reserved as parkland. It would be worthwhile to see what Multnomah County has that might make for a bigger park for mountain biking than Sandy Ridge or Stubb.
In general, acquiring more parkland is a good idea. A desire to have more places for mountain biking, is a good reason to try acquiring it. Persistently trying to have Portland’s oldest nature park, a vehicle free nature park, be used for mountain biking, seems like a worse idea with every passing year I read about the effort.
Here’s how Forest Park was “conceived” by the original “Forest Park Committee of Fifty” at the dedication of Forest Park in 1948.
“Provide facilities that will afford extensive nearby outdoor recreation for the citizens and attract tourists…”
TrailLover is right. Earlier plans for FP always called for enhanced MTB access.
Bob, Stub Stewart does have quite a few miles of mixed-use trails, but they are not heavily used by mountain bikers. Most of the mountain biking is done on a purpose-built trail system in a relatively confined area along the park’s eastern border, which is separate from the mixed-use system that’s spread across the whole park.
Very similar situation to the parks I’ve described in Minnesota, actually: most of the mountain biking happens on purpose-built bike trails that aren’t closed to hikers but also are more appealing to bikers than to hikers. Most of the hiking happens on less twisty trails that aren’t closed to bikers but are more appealing to hikers than bikers.
I think this is a really good model. There’s plenty of room in Forest Park (say in the lower Firelane 1 area) to build a dense network of fun bike trails in places that are already impacted by human activity, and have little impact on hikers or on natural values. There’s also the possibility to do this in several other parcels recently acquired by Metro and proposed for regional parks, but no matter what we do we get a lot of opposition from the hiking lobby.
Watch your mouth there GlowBoy! The hiking lobby includes me. I love hiking and running in Forest Park. I just happen to know that both hiking and cycling can be accommodated in a well-planned trail system. You’re going to need some different language for the folks who oppose bicycles because I and many other hikers don’t want to be associated with those people.
“Hiking lobby” means organized hiker-advocacy groups, not necessarily representing all hikers, just like the “gun lobby” doesn’t represent all all gun owners. But it’s always hiker advocacy groups (often stating their opposition using asburd environmental arguments) that oppose our every attempt to expand mountain bike access.
I’m a hiker too: Last summer I did a 35 mile, 3 night backpack across the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, a place I wouldn’t suggest be open to bikes.
I would not recommending opening the salmon huckleberry area to bikes either, but Forest Park, well yes.
Wasn’t part of that open to mountain bikes not that long ago? I don’t think it was overly used and I would be interested into why it isn’t appropriate for mtbs now? What has recovered since they have been banned? Why do you support their ban?
“Bob, Stub Stewart does have quite a few miles of mixed-use trails, …” glowboy
gb…I realize Stub has mixed use trails…I think I noted this in my comment. Also should mention that I feel terms like ‘—-lobby’ in discussion about mountain bike opportunities in the Portland and actually, the metro area, aren’t accurate or constructive.
The people, residents of Portland, and the city that conceived, assembled, established and protected the natural lands comprising Forest Park, are not ‘the hiking lobby’. They come from all walks of life. Not to suggest they’re all professionally so, but in heart and spirit, my impression is that they’re conservationists, biologists, naturalists, an so on.
Sure, they walk, or hike…same thing really, seems to me…because that mode of travel minimizes to the best degree possible, the impact of human presence on the urban adjacent natural area park they’ve worked together for decades to protect. The mode of travel though, walking, is not the primary value that’s motivated people over generations, to create, protect and enjoy this park as a place of natural wonder, right next to the developed urban and residential parts of the city.
This is the frustration for many of us who hike and ride bicycles in nature: “seems to me…because that mode of travel minimizes to the best degree possible.” What “seems to you” to be true isn’t necessarily so, and basing decisions that impact many others on what “seems to be true” isn’t a good system. What about hikers who slowly walk near,and interrupt, nesting birds? What about the countless switchbacks and continually widened trails carved by hikers? What about traveling at the same rate of speed and direction as countless others making it difficult to experience nature in solitude? I could go on but I don’t think it would really matter.
“…What about hikers who slowly walk near,and interrupt, nesting birds? What about the countless switchbacks and continually widened trails carved by hikers? What about traveling at the same rate of speed and direction as countless others making it difficult to experience nature in solitude? I could go on but I don’t think it would really matter.”
Sure it matters that the the type of human presence in natural areas has an effect on the experience those natural areas can offer them. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase in reference to parks in the country, about the danger of their being ‘loved to death’. This is no myth…it’s a fact. Lots of measures have had to be taken in order to try counter the bad effects of too much human presence, especially of the wrong kind in the nation’s and the state’s natural land parks.
This is what I suspect that Portland residents may be hoping to avoid having happen in Forest Park. At the least, they seem to be very reluctant to use this park for mountain biking, of any kind of single track trail. Keeping the northwest section of the park comparatively less accessible to visitors by virtue of it being farther away by foot, is probably a positive thing in terms of moderating the level of human presence there.
Even a straight through connecting trail between Leif and to the North Tualitan Mtn land…if that idea of mine were to happen, might chip away at that moderation some. Vehicular travel on the other hand, even bikes as opposed to foot travel exclusively, greatly enables accessibility.
For anyone interested in actual studies instead of guesses, American Trails has a really quick round up and summary here:
Spoiler quote: “No scientific studies show that mountain bikers cause more wear to trails than other users.”
To be clear,the trails in the MTB area at Stub are bike only: no hikers or horses!
I don’t think that’s required at Stub (well, no horses is nice in terms of trail condition – try riding some of the horse trails at Stub 🙁 ) and I wouldn’t ask for it in Forest Park, but hikers really would not want to use those trails at Stub – there really twisty, and loop back quite a bit on themselves.
I think the majority of those who oppose bikes in Forest Park have legitimate, rational concerns about safety and over-crowding on already popular pedestrian trails like the WW. But I also feel the majority are not necessarily opposed to expanded bike trails elsewhere in the park. By focusing efforts on safety, sustainable trail construction, and separate, bike focused trails separate from current walking trails, perhaps mountain bikers have a chance at showing what a great trail system can look like and bring to the outdoor community. Expanded, improved mountain bike access in FP would bring a huge volunteer stewardship group into the fold.
The lunatic anti-bike fringe will kick and scream no matter what. But I (perhaps irrationally) believe the majority on both sides are reasonable and willing to listen and share. There is an opportunity through rational dialogue, education, cooperation, and trail separation to vastly reduce opposition to mountain biking in FP in general. Advocating full access to trails like the WW is a non-starter sure to generate vehement opposition, but discussion of complementary, separate bike trails has potential to garner much wider support, or at least much less active opposition. Re-construct fire lanes, build new well-designed trail and make Portland a great mountain bike town!
I agree with many of your sentiments but I don’t think it’s good land management policy to cater to opponents who simply refuse to acknowledge that shared-use trails work perfectly well in countless other places. Once we allow land management best practices to be co-opted by irrational argument and fear of political backlash, there is no end to the potential corruption of fact-based decision making. If we allow Portland to build a bubble of land management ignorance in a master plan process, then we’re all going to have to live with it for many decades and it will simply feed the false narrative that trail users cannot coexist on shared trails as they do all over the world.
None of this is to say that all, or even most, trails need to be shared. And that brings us back to the Wildwood Trail. The city’s stated reason for taking the Wildwood (and other trails) off the table at the start of the process is to preserve the most heavily used pedestrian-only trails for pedestrians only. As I stated in my opinion piece, I’m very much in favor of preserving high-quality, pedestrian-only trail experiences on the park’s most heavily used pedestrian trails. But where are they?
Anyone who believes that visitation levels on the Wildwood Trail in the southern section are similar to visitation levels on the Wildwood Trail in the northern section has never visited one or both of those trail segments. The city itself has no data or definition upon which to make the determination that the Wildwood Trail in the northern section is “most heavily used.” I don’t have the answer either, but the Wildwood Trail in the northern section might be the perfect place to demonstrate how well shared use can work. But we’ll never have that opportunity if that section of trail can never even be considered. And, as I mentioned, with no chance of new trail construction in the northern section, cyclists will never have an experience of that beautiful area on anything but a 20-foot wide gravel road. Any other land management agency or process in the country would very likely be looking at the Wildwood Trail in the northern section as perhaps the ideal setting for a shared-use trail project.
What we need – and don’t have – from our city agencies and leaders is the will to stand up for best management practices and data-based decision making.
Portland does not have to use its Forest Park the way that other places in the country have used their natural land parks. There is no law that says Portland residents, have to allow this park to be used for mountain biking. Time and again, over thirty years or more, the city, with the support of its public, has declined to have Forest Park used for mountain biking.
If you were talking about any other natural land park in the city’s inventory of parkland, you might have some concession to the idea of mixed use trail in Portland. The city will be going around to neighborhoods with nearby parkland, asking people about ideas like this, as it talks about the idea of using those park land for mountain biking and off-road biking. Forest Park is extraordinary for many reasons. …I’m not so sure that concessions will be offered in the case of that park.
You mention less visitation in the northern section of Forest Park, relative to the southern section. Most likely true, and exactly one of the great virtues of the park’s progressively limited accessibility inherent in its 8 mile long rectangular size with its primary entrance having been on its east end. Fewer visitors means a more quiet, more natural urban wilderness environment to explore and experience for the people willing to make the effort to get there, than the more visited areas of the park can offer. It seems to me that allowing that area of park to be used for mountain isn’t likely to seen as sustaining that distinction.
The claim that “… cyclists will never have an experience of that beautiful area…”, is unfortunate. I’m a cyclist, or I should say, I ride bikes, and I’ve experienced beauty in Forest Park, because I don’t make biking in the park a condition of my taking advantage of the opportunity available to all, to visit and experience the wonderful beauty of this natural land park. Anyone that wants to visit this park, and is unwilling to make that concession, deserves to miss out, and the fault is entirely with them if that should happen.
To use this park for mountain biking, would not be a best management practice, if the public…(and by ‘public’, I mean more than the comparatively small, special interest group that mountain bike enthusiasts apparently are in Portland.)…that is, a majority of the public, does not want this park used for mountain biking. I think values take precedence over data bases, when it comes to making decisions about how cities should use their natural parkland.
When I read in yours and mike’s comments disparaging words referring to defenders of Forest Park, that immediately says trouble to me. You can continue to do it, but I don’t think it bodes well for any hoped for use of Forest Park for mountain biking…even for comparatively so little as a straight route connection between the eastern end of Leif Erickson and the North Tualitan Mtn park, now in planning for some amount of mountain biking trail.
“Time and again, over thirty years or more, the city, with the support of its public, has declined to have Forest Park used for mountain biking.”
Well that’s not true. I didn’t read the rest.
“Well that’s not true. …” dan a
You’re welcome to explain what you think isn’t true, and why, in the excerpt of my comment you’ve posted to your reply. Ask the city, or Portland Parks, or the FP Conservancy.
“Time and again, over thirty years or more, the city, with the support of its public, has declined to have Forest Park used for mountain biking.”
That is a non-fact.
Another year, another FP story, another retelling of the “Nature Park” fables.
Not only is it not true, it is the exact opposite of what happened. The public has given input and the majority wanted more bicycle access.
“There is no law that says Portland residents, have to allow this park to be used for mountain biking.” Actually, there is. It’s called the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan (FPNRMP) and it explicitly includes off-road cycling as an appropriate and passive use of the park. The problem is that Portland is fulfilling that mandate very poorly and in a way that is inconsistent with best management practices and science. Forest Park currently allows off-road cycling, but it does so in a way that is bad for the environment, creates unnecessary hazards for trail users, and does not meet public demand for cycling opportunities.
I would never use “disparaging words” to describe anyone defending Forest Park. The problem is that some people who oppose cycling are not doing so in defense of Forest Park, but instead in defense of their exclusive access to the park for their personally-favored form of recreation. For that, and for intentionally spreading misinformation and fear, I would hope that you might join in disparaging them as well. If they give up those bad faith actions, then we can all return to pulling ivy, recruiting volunteers, encouraging stewardship, voting more money for parks, and all the other things that make us true “defenders of Forest Park.” I hope you’ll join us.
Well said Daniel. I couldn’t have said it better myself. The majority of Forest Park ‘friends’ are those seeking to preserve exclusive access by excluding a large group of conservationists. Their actions are self serving and a detriment to the health of the park. And their actions are counter to the FPNRMP.
“The majority of Forest Park ‘friends’…” Personally, I think it’s a very small – but highly vocal and sometimes well-connected – subset of the “Friends” who are engaged in the really bad behavior. But part of the problem is that they fly the banner of good intentions (of which they have many) and they manage to fool a significantly larger group of followers into believing much of the misinformation they’re spreading about bicycles.
Not many people have the time to educate themselves about these sometimes complicated or counter-intuitive issues (like narrow trails being safer than wide trails for ALL users) so we all like to rely on people we think we can trust to distill things for us. But with the city itself doing very little to push back on misinformation, the fake news easily rushes in to take advantage of the void and the lack of responsible leadership. The predictable result is bad policy.
(“There is no law that says Portland residents, have to allow this park to be used for mountain biking.” wsbob) Actually, there is. It’s called the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan (FPNRMP) and it explicitly includes off-road cycling as an appropriate and passive use of the park. …” greenstadt
Review the managment plan again. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I’ve not heard that the plan makes any requirement that the city use Forest Park to provide single track trail for mountain biking. The plan calls for off-road biking, which the park provides for on the service and fire roads within the park.
Now if you want to try make the case that the experience available on those roads isn’t really an ‘off-road’ experience, go right ahead…but you’re facing a very tough argument, considering that ‘road riding’ as those words imply, connotes a ride experience that involves very many factors in addition to the width of the road..such as: motor vehicles, asphalt surface, oftentimes, buildings instead of natural surroundings, noise, and dirty smelling air…all of which would be very adverse to an off-road biking experience.
Forest Park’s available off-road riding experience, offers a beautiful, quiet setting, no motor vehicle traffic, smells good. It’s just not ‘mountain biking’, in the full sense of that word.
I’ll semi-take back what I said about you using disparaging words in reference to people that are defenders of Forest Park. Granted, you didn’t use such words explicitly, but I think that’s the implication of words you’ve chosen to use.
“…to cater to opponents who simply refuse to acknowledge that shared-use trails work perfectly well in countless other places. Once we allow land management best practices to be co-opted by irrational argument and fear of political backlash, there is no end to the potential corruption of fact-based decision making. If we allow Portland to build a bubble of land management ignorance …” greenstadt
I’ll just simply say instead, I think you’re mistaken, if you believe that resistance to use of Forest Park for mountain biking, arises from the kind of views you describe in you comment which I’ve excerpted above. I think that people in Portland that have defended this park for years, and continue to do so to this day, know that people in other places throughout the country use their natural lands for mountain biking, and that Forest Park could be used for mountain biking. From the knowledge gained from examples of those other places, they know the issues, and that’s why they choose not to use this park for mountain biking.
If you’re trying to put a positive face on mountain biking, and what that would be like for the continued natural environment experience available to Portland residents in Forest Park, you’re not doing a very good job of it. Your implying that defenders of this park are arguing irrationally…that they’re co-opting best management practices… that this is “…potential corruption of fact-based decision making. …”, and that Portland is building “..a bubble of land management ignorance. …”, sounds to me, as I said earlier…like trouble…for the future of off-road biking opportunities in Portland, if the viewpoint you’re taking about the people defending this park, is what mountain bike enthusiasts intend to use to try gain the use of Forest Park and other natural land parks within Portland city limits for mountain biking. .
WSBOB writes: “Review the managment plan again. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I’ve not heard that the plan makes any requirement that the city use Forest Park to provide single track trail for mountain biking. The plan calls for off-road biking, which the park provides for on the service and fire roads within the park.”
I think you may be missing the point or perhaps I could have been more clear. The FPNRMP, as I said, includes off-road cycling/mountain biking as an approved use of the park. So there’s the law that you were(n’t) hoping to find.
But the FPNRMP goes on to describe all kinds of goals, standards, guidelines, restrictions and management practices that impact various uses and activities in the park. And it includes a mandate to review, update and adjust management to meet changing conditions and demands. That’s what we’re trying to implement.
To your point about the FPNRMP not “requiring” bicycle access to singletrack trails, it’s actually much more restrictive than even that. The trail guidelines contained in the FPNRMP do not allow a bicycle on anything narrower than an 8-foot trail bed of gravel or hard-packed dirt.
Putting aside the fact that the word “singletrack” does not even appear in the FPNRMP, it’s clear that the Plan authors were very much anticipating and trying to account for off-road cycling. And I think they probably did their best based on the limited information (or limited research effort) that was available to them at the time regarding the management of recreational trails and bicycles. It’s hard to blame them for establishing a standard that would later be proven to be relatively dangerous (for all users), environmentally unsound, and a significant impediment to accommodating the type of off-road cycling that the public actually wants.
The mandated goal was the inclusion of off-road cycling, and the establishment of the 8-foot guideline was the best they could do at the time. Just like other elements of the FPNRMP that no longer fit current knowledge or best management practices, the 8-foot standard requires an update. And an Off-Road Cycling Master Plan seems like a natural place for that process to begin.
WSBOB writes: “Forest Park’s available off-road riding experience, offers a beautiful, quiet setting, no motor vehicle traffic, smells good. It’s just not ‘mountain biking’, in the full sense of that word.” With all those wonderful features available for users of the park’s relatively undesirable, dangerous and environmentally unsound system of fire lanes, surely you’d be happy to advocate that pedestrians simply switch places with cyclists, at least to some degree. Pedestrians can walk on the fire lanes and the cyclists will ride on the trails. Or would those fire lanes not be “hiking” in the full sense of the word?
“…The trail guidelines contained in the FPNRMP do not allow a bicycle on anything narrower than an 8-foot trail bed of gravel or hard-packed dirt.
Putting aside the fact that the word “singletrack” does not even appear in the FPNRMP, it’s clear that the Plan authors were very much anticipating and trying to account for off-road cycling. …” greenstadt
daniel…you were clear enough, which is why I wrote what I did in the comment via this link:
There’s no mandate in the plan that the city use Forest Park for ‘mountain biking’, other than the off-road biking type of mountain biking the park already has provided. I guess that has something to do with why you keep coming back trying to persuade me that the city is somehow required by law, or something, to use this park for mountain biking. So everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about, maybe come up with some clear definitions of other types of mountain biking you believe the park should be used for, and submit that to city hall or portland parks, as a proposed mandate.
If you really feel the city is depriving you of some right to use the park for mountain biking, maybe you have grounds for a suit, a class action suit.
You don’t have to persuade me on what seem to me to be questionable merits of using Forest Park for mountain biking, and that’s a good thing. I’m an independent on that question. I don’t live in the city, don’t know anyone on the FP Conservancy, or city council. To get what you’re seeking, you and other mountain bike enthusiasts in favor of this use, probably have got to persuade a majority of the people residing in Portland, that your idea is a good one.
WSBOB writes: “There’s no mandate in the plan that the city use Forest Park for ‘mountain biking’, other than the off-road biking type of mountain biking the park already has provided.”
Your characterization of this reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book in which a group of road-weary Zizzer-Zoof seed salesmen are exhausted after yet another day of “unsuccessfully trying to sell Zizzer-Zoof seeds, which nobody wants because nobody needs.”
The law says that Forest Park shall provide off-road cycling, and it’s up to the off-road cyclists to tell the city what kind of off-road cycling they want. Leif Erikson Drive and a bunch of unsustainable fire lanes are the Zizzer-Zoof seeds that the city – and you, apparently – wish the cyclists wanted. But that’s a fantasy intended to serve a different agenda.
WSBOB writes: “To get what you’re seeking, you and other mountain bike enthusiasts in favor of this use, probably have got to persuade a majority of the people residing in Portland, that your idea is a good one.”
No we don’t. The people have already spoken. The city surveyed Forest Park users in 2012 and the number one desired improvement in the park was “increased bike trails/mountain bike access.” So what I and other mountain bike enthusiasts have to do, and I think I’m doing it right now, is try to get people to stop preventing the city from doing what the citizens of Portland have already asked for.
As for persuading “a majority of the people residing in Portland,” I can’t quite recall when the city asked the entire population of the city if it wanted the basketball court in my local park. Yet somehow we got it anyway…and it seems to be working out pretty well.
> I’m an independent on that question. I don’t live in the city, don’t know anyone on the FP Conservancy, or city council. – wsbob
And yet, you act like someone who does live in the city and not independent on the topic at all. You are squarely against it. If you aren’t local – or live in the city – can you please stay out of the conversation instead of being the the commenter with the most posts and opinions?
Daniel- you are doing an excellent job of using facts, science, and logic to refute the tireless wsbob. Keep it up. He often drowns out all logical discussion of mountain biking in Portland. Thank you for your commentary, and many thanks for using history, science, and evidence to support your argument.
There wsbob goes again with his fake news. Time and again, the repeating of the same, false story degrades the comment section here. If he has something new to add, I would be willing to hear it, but sadly, he doesn’t.
Who is being silly, here?
There is always a group that is claiming the sky is falling in some way. Good to see that, hopefully, Portland is seeing through those lies. Humans (Men, women, children) need a place to ride their legs out just inside of town. What a great place Portland will be!