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Gateway Green’s bike park opens amid optimism, huge crowds

Posted by on June 26th, 2017 at 8:31 am

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(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Isn’t this fabulous?!”
— Amanda Fritz, Portland city commissioner

“Allow me to share a visual representation of our mission statement,” said Northwest Trail Alliance board member Joceyln Gaudi as she waved her hands toward a crowd of onlookers at the opening of Gateway Green on Saturday. “You are in it!”

Never again will off-road cycling advocates have to try and explain what they’re working for. Never again will they have to scour the Internet for stock images showing kids enjoying an urban mountain bike park. Now we have one of our own.

Gateway Green isn’t just the realization of an 11-year vision by community advocates, it’s the embodiment of the benefits urban off-road cycling can bring to Portland. It’s like the off-road version of Sunday Parkways.

And like Sunday Parkways, it appears to be an instant hit.

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Even before the event officially opened on Saturday, NW Trail Alliance President Chris Rotvik said people were streaming in. They’d been waiting in anticipation of a previously vacant and abandoned parcel of 25 acres north of the Gateway shopping center in east Portland being transformed into a city park they could be proud of.

I met a local resident on the I-205 path while biking to the event. He said he recently moved and decided to remain in the Gateway area in large part because of the new bike park. It’s this type of destination attraction that real estate developer Ted Gilbert envisioned 11 years ago.

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Ted Gilbert, the man behind the vision.

“You can walk here, you can bike here, you can ride a skateboard here, you can run here — but you cannot drive your vehicle here. That fits our ethos.”
— Mike Abbaté, director of Portland Parks Bureau

Gilbert first shared his vision with BikePortland in 2008. “We hope this park becomes the branding tool that helps people take a fresh look at East Portland,” he said back then, “and once people are out here recreating, then they might want to move here.”

Saturday’s crowds were impressive despite heat well in to the 90s. The turnout speaks not only to how popular the park is — and will increasingly become — to Gateway residents. It’s also a sign of how easy the park is to get to. Tony Pereira and his six-year-old son Oscar live in North Portland. They rolled down to the Lloyd Center and hopped on a red line MAX train to Gateway. The total trip took around 30 minutes.

Portland Parks Director Mike Abbaté embraced the fact that the park doesn’t have direct automobile access. “It’s notable that this is a carfree park. You can walk here, you can bike here, you can ride a skateboard here, you can run here — but you cannot drive your vehicle here. That fits our ethos.”

Another way Gateway Green is decidedly Portland is how it came to life. Ted Gilbert, a real estate expert with an eye toward community development, wisely allied with veteran east Portland advocate Linda Robinson 11 years ago. Together, they built an impressive coalition of support that went from the grassroots all the way to the Governor’s office in Salem.

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Just some of the elected officials, city staff, and advocates who made Gateway Green possible. L to R: NW Trail Alliance President Chris Rotvik; Friends of Gateway Green Chair Linda Robinson; Portland Parks Project Manager Ross Swanson; real estate broker (and project visionary) Ted Gilbert; NW Trail Alliance Board Member Jocelyn Gaudi; Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish; Portland Parks Director Mike Abbaté; Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz; NW Trail Alliance Volunteer Susan Rotvik; Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Off-Road Cycling Master Plan Project Manager Michelle Kunec-North.

Over 1,200 individual donors stepped up to help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars through crowdfunding campaigns. The park was also funded by Parks Bureau system development charges and a “Nature in Neighborhoods” grant from Metro.

Robinson, chair of the Friends of Gateway Green, said the journey from vision to reality led to the adoption of a new personal motto: “Patient persistence.”

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Linda Robinson.

“Crazy ideas can become a reality,” Robinson said during a speech Saturday.

It took much more than money and political support to make Gateway Green. It also took a lot of physical labor. Thousands of volunteer hours have been spent pulling ivy, clearing brush and logs, and cleaning up trash. That labor continued right up to Saturday as professional trail-builders worked to finish the job.

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Trail-builder Shea Ferrell of FlowRide Concepts.

Shea Ferrell and his team from Denver-based FlowRide Concepts, worked 20 straight, 12-14-hour days to shape and smooth Gateway Green’s trails, flow-lines, ramps and jumps. Dirty and tired, Ferrell was still working the excavator in Saturday’s blazing sun. “I didn’t want to disappoint anyone,” he said through a big smile, clearly excited to see so many people enjoying his creations.

And boy did they ever…

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I’ve been excited for this project for the past nine years, but seeing it all come to life managed to exceed my wildest expectations. There are so many fun trail features to explore: the forested single-track, the gravel road climb up to a fun downhill descent, the pump-track, the flowy skills area, and the jump lines.

Combined with the huge and diverse crowd, it was enough to make even Commissioner Amanda Fritz go off-script: “My goodness!” she exclaimed in her English accent in a speech during the dedication ceremony, “Isn’t this fabulous?! I was here pulling ivy months ago and I could never have imagined it was going to be this today.”

“You know what’s going to happen don’t you?” she continued. “Everybody in the rest of the city is going to say, ‘They’ve got the best place, can we have one of those?’”

The opening of Gateway Green is a watershed moment for cycling in Portland. What it means in a physical, mental, and political sense is incalculable and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Gateway Green Bike Park is open everyday from dawn to dusk.

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Matt Meskill
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Matt Meskill

It was a total blast to be there!

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Typo under the group photo: Cithy Commissioner Amanda Fritz – City

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

Well done everyone! This is a watershed moment. Keep up the hard work and continue to pressure Fish an Fritz to accommodate trail riding throughout the city.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I find it noteworthy that Amanda Fritz, who has consistently thrown sand in the gears of anything that smells of cycling-for-transport, is so thrilled by this effort.

I know many of you don’t share my feelings about the recreational/transportational distinction in the realm of cycling, but her bifurcated stance I think suggests perhaps we take a closer look at this matter.

Ted G
Guest
Ted G

It is always fun and exciting when something new starts out….much like Sunday Parkways. A couple of years ago the numbers of people riding it made it difficult to move safely. Yesterday my family and I rode down Willamette Blvd and we were completely alone. I am sure the heat kept many away but the activities at the parks were half what they were and there were hardly any lines.

Gateway Green looks great but time will tell as to its lasting impression on Portland. It looks like something that will require a good bit of maintenance and if it’s. It maintained, it won’t be used as much.

nc
Guest
nc

“Isn’t this fabulous?!”
— Amanda Fritz,
Yes, now imagine how awesome it’d be if Forest Park had some of this.

Jane Archer
Guest
Jane Archer

***This comment has been deleted by request of its author.***

rick
Guest
rick

It was awesome being there. I heard the sewer department might have plans with ODOT to make a wetlands to filter stormwater runoff from the adjacent freeway.

Michael Mann
Guest

Been watching, anticipating for years. So excited to roll through the gate Saturday morning and see the reality and the smiles. This is huge for East Portland and off-road cycling in PDX. and less than10 minute roll from my house in Montavilla, well that’s gravy!

Steph Routh
Guest

I’m not crying, you’re crying. Just so amazing! Linda and Ted are heroes. The place was already hopping by 8:00am, and this is just Phase 1. #heartswelling

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

So you’re telling me that mountain bikers aren’t just 20 year old men?

So awesome to see these kinds of crowds and this level of excitement. Can’t wait to ride over and check it out this week.

Eric Porter
Guest
Eric Porter

So great to see all this happening, even with the heat on Saturday. We rode from our house in M’villa, over 205 at Glisan, and up the I-205 trail. Wish there was better access around Tillamook/Rocky Butte. It’s easier for us to just ride the max one stop from 82nd ave station than it is to loop north/south on bike. Hoping that 92nd ave/Halsey underpass path happens sometime soon, it’s not scheduled until 2020 or so.

monkeysee
Guest
monkeysee

I’ve lived in Portland now some 16 years. I arrived with seven types of off-road bicycles in my quiver …I’ve sold them all for lack of out the door amenities.
This is in my opinion one of the most important bicycle related accomplishments the city has managed to put together.
I do not identify as a “mountain biker” even though I’ve ridden , raced, toured and lived with them all my adult life. I’m a cyclist.
Portland will never be a true cycling town until it’s leaders understand how important it is to stop ignoring the gold mine off road cycling is. Not in just revenue, but in overall balance to the culture of cycling.
I applaud all the people who made this happen. Hats off to you.
There’s no need to examine the issue further, the rest of the nation is leaving us in the dust. We aren’t included on one single list of top destinations for mountain biking. That is an embarrassment.
Let’s move forward.
Happy trails.

axoplasm
Subscriber

So tell me again why we’re subsidizing golf courses but not MTB trails?

Hotrodder
Guest
Hotrodder

I missed the Grand Opening, but I went over there yesterday (Sunday) and wore myself out after a couple of hours of exploring all the fun… I could barely make it home afterwards in the 101 degree heat, but I’m not complaining, not one bit!!! (Buuuut, all I have is a gravel bike, so I guess now I need yet another bike, plus one. Dang.)

Ross just happened to be there, and I talked with him for a while. Great guy, great enthusiasm, great park.

(PS, I was the only one there. Get out there and take advantage of this asset, all you Hep-kats and Kool-Kittens! It is a blast!)

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

It is easy to underestimate the importance of a place like gateway green in building the off-road cycling skills we will need to get around after the big earthquake. Once the overpasses and bridges have fallen down, and the gas has dried up those who have honed their skills at Gateway green will rule the land.

Fred
Guest
Fred

I was there at 8am sunday morning. There were three *families*, and three individuals riding. I was definitely impressed by the demographic. Still scratching my head tho as to how this is any step towards single track for bikes in Forest Park.

Dennis Hodges
Guest
Dennis Hodges

I went down there Sunday to check it out and there is a lot of potential here for lots of different skill level riders. Great start but I would like to see how this will be maintained and if they will pipe some water down there for the up keep on the jumps.
I’ve seen a few pump tracks and parks with jumps starred up in portland only to be left in disarray after their initial start up.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Awesome!!

Have to ask… are there plans for any more trees? It looks a little more Gateway Brown than Gateway Green!!

JJ
Guest
JJ

What’s going to be done to ensure camping doesn’t start all over again in this area? During the trail builds and clean ups the vast evidence of past camping and drug use was all over the place. In fact I think I picked up more needles than ivy at times.

Alex
Subscriber
Alex

Just got home from my first visit there with my wife – it was great! Thank you all again for all of the hard work and dedication you showed. It is greatly appreciated.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Wells
Oh I see… Brian gets 5 ‘likes’ for a simpleton cell phone text/comment.
The group think of small minds never ends.
Recommended 0

Up to ten, and please continue!

Brian
Guest
Brian

I rode there yesterday for the first time and had a blast. The skills area is great and has a little something for everyone. I wasn’t expecting much from the trails in the woods and enjoyed them a great deal, as well. Nice work, everyone!

Hotrodder
Guest
Hotrodder

A good start!

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

I specifically attacked mountain bikers who indeed recklessly destroy natural environs (by cutting unauthorized trails) and who ‘rudely’ fly through narrow paths past hikers who’d better just get the hell out of the way.

This is literally the first mention of these issues (that I think most mountain bikers would agree are problems) that you’ve presented here. If you’d lead with these, and not been so antagonistic (and at the same time defensive) people would have been willing to have a real conversation with you.

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

9watts
“Brian’s comment was well received because this forum is closed to all those who don’t chant the same mantra.”
Piling on does happen here, to be sure, and it isn’t the nicest feature of bikeportland, but in this case the tone of your comment signaled to a lot of people that you were spoiling for a fight, not seeking to be constructive in the least. Bikeportland is many things, but it in my experience it is emphatically not a place where group-think dominates, where dissent is not tolerated. There are a lot of differing opinions here, despite what some assert.
Recommended 2

Really? Then you’re not reading the same BP the rest of us are. This forum is the very definition of an echo chamber. Then again, you 9watts are one of the “special ones” under the protection of Maus. It must be nice.

Welsh Pete
Guest
Welsh Pete

Checked it out yesterday. Great location and access. Lots of people of all ages and all types of bikes, having a great time. I was surprised at some lack of etiquette here and there (people generally standing in the way, cycling the wrong way, two abreast etc.) but overall it looked like a great time, so I’m really surprised by some of the killjoy criticism here. I was on a gravel bike, so did some of the single track and the dirt path- then continued on my way into the Gorge. As a skateboarder- I’ll be back on a quiet day to check out that concrete pump track on skateboard- after all bikes have been using skateparks in this town for decades… he he…

Angela Kockler
Guest
Angela Kockler

I took my boys, 4 and 6, out to Gateway Green today – our first visit and we are so impressed! Close to home, great tracks and tricks, well-designed and I felt completely safe the whole time. Thank you to the volunteers who made this possible.