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Crunch time for off-road cycling plan with all eyes on Portland Parks Board meeting

Posted by on March 23rd, 2018 at 9:53 am

An advisory committee meeting for the plan in March 2017.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In case you haven’t read or heard yet, it’s crunch time for the City of Portland’s Off-road Cycling Master Plan.

After years of meetings and planning, advocates are making their final arguments, a draft version is being reviewed by the influential Portland Parks Board, and a date at City Council for final adoption is likely this summer.

Everyone agrees this is a plan our city needs; but it’s less clear if this is the plan our city wants.

I was at the March 12th Parks Board meeting and shared a snapshot of how Mayor Ted Wheeler and a few advocates are feeling about the plan. Earlier this week I shared a guest post from Daniel Greenstadt, an advocate who has followed the plan’s development very closely and has participated in several of the planning meetings.

Those two stories, along with a search of our archives on terms like “forest park singletrack” and “off-road cycling master plan” should give you plenty of background information to understand this issue and make an informed opinion about it. (We’ve covered every twist-and-turn of this issue for over a decade, so there’s a clear historical thread that can be easily woven by anyone with the energy and interest. If you have a question about the plan, the process, or the politics, feel free to ask in the comments!)

Screen grab from NWTA website.

Now all eyes are on a Parks Board meeting set for April 3rd. That meeting will be a public hearing on the draft plan. Daniel mentioned this meeting in his post on Monday, but it’s worth re-upping to the Front Page so everyone has the latest information.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) put out an email today that gives us an idea of what to expect at the meeting.

First, due to a high level of interest, they’ve changed the location to the 1900 Bldg (BPS HQ) which is located at 1900 SW 4th Ave. The hearing will be held on the 7th Floor in Conference Room 7A from 3:00 to 5:00 pm (here’s a BikePortland Calendar listing).

Also because of public demand BPS says they’ve extended the time alotted for public comment. You have until 1:00 pm today (3/23) to submit written testimony to the Parks Board. To do that, send an email to Hailee.Vandiver@portlandoregon.gov.

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The “vision” from the plan.

If you can attend the meeting, here’s what to expect: There will be four panels. The first 10-minute panel will be for people, “concerned about additional off-road cycling in Forest Park.” The second panel will be for people, “in favor of additional off-road cycling in Forest Park.” The third panel will be about off-road cycling in Riverview with two people in favor, and two with concerns about it. And the fourth panel will consist of six people chosen via a random drawing who can speak on any other aspect of the plan.

The Parks Board will consider making their own comments on the draft plan and all of their recommendations and comments will be forwarded to their Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

As for those final arguments from advocates…

The NW Trail Alliance has issued an action alert urging their members to email the Parks Board and Portland City Council. Their pitch is all about the positive impacts that “increased community access to natural environments” can have on our city. They see better bike access to places like Forest Park as an important way to offer safe physical activity for all ages within the city limits and that if a new generation of park users don’t have appealing options we’ll lose valuable stewards that can ensure the health of our parks and natural areas for years to come.

NWTA supports the plan itself but they feel it doesn’t go far enough. They say it’s “too heavy on restriction/closure recommendations” and that it only offers, “disappointing options for Forest Park.” Specifically, they say, the Forest Park options in the current plan proposes trails that, “do not meet community needs, as they would be too steep for most youth and beginners, and do not provide connectors to create a longer ride.” The plan also fails to create access to existing trails in Forest Park and in other areas that could provide bike-friendly routes and neighborhood connections.

John Miller.
(Photo: John Miller)

Independent advocate John Miller has published a detailed argument for why he opposes improved bike access in places like Forest Park and River View Natural Area. “Who will speak for nature?” he askes on his website. “The [plan] fails to acknowledge some basic environmental ethics and important legal conditions that preclude mountain bikes from being allowed in Forest Park, River View Natural Area, and smaller natural areas in our region.”

Miller, who supports the non-controversial aspects of the plan like pump tracks, says the arguments for singletrack trails from the “mountain biking lobby” are “a bunch of malarkey!”. “Beware of the Mountain Biking Industrial Complex,” he warns. “The season to act is Now. Monied interests will not let up, unless legal frameworks are put in place.”

Visit the official project page to view the draft plan and learn more.

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

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Carrie
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Carrie

I just wish I could find the Mountain Bike Industrial Complex and all the people who are making money off of these opportunities and somehow join them. It’s like the scientists who are somehow making money off of climate change research — I used to hang out with people who did climate change research but could never seem to find the money making cabal.

Dan A
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Dan A

I couldn’t make it through John Miller’s capitalized Hysterical Diatribe.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I believe that many of the people involved in this decision-making process are biased to John’s side of the argument, which is why those of us who are in the opposition need to speak up time and again. We have gotten past the point that “they” see “us” as Mountain Dew commercial freeriders. They know we aren’t asking for that experience in natural areas, and the hyperbole and generalizations about who we are is plain wrong. We need to speak plainly about our various needs as they do not have our experience with bikes and trails; challenging trail options are badly needed in multiple trail networks, long trail loops in natural areas are needed, trails for beginner riders are needed, etc. Speak your mind today.

rick
Guest
rick

The “Mountain Biking Industrial Complex” ?? Like the military industrialized complex ? wow.

JBone
Guest
JBone

So frustrating these hyperbolic, ignorant opinions get so much air-time with decision makers. Out of all the pics Mr. Miller could have put in his ‘report’, he chose a DH rider slamming through an eroded root section. Though impressed with the efforts of those who have been fighting this fight for a long time, it is a little sad that there is not more public outcry from the mtb masses. I’m cutting out of work early on April 3rd for the meeting, hoping many others can join.
Jonathan, can you explain these panels, especially the first two re: Forest Park? Who will be presenting?

Bryan
Guest
Bryan

“I’m against mixing of mountain bikes and hikers on wooded hillside trails. Why? It’s Common Sense.” – John Miller

Wow, just wow. Does not even give a reason other than “common sense” so i guess all the other places around the US doing this lack any common sense. Everybody is entitled to an opinion, but his lack of knowledge in so many areas he speaks to, makes me sick.

RH
Guest
RH

I think every person that speaks at this meeting against mountain bikes should be required to say what part of Portland they live in. #NIMBY

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

grinding people down with yet more meetings, way to go COP, the City that Jerks its citizens around.

CityMTB
Guest

Remember to use anti-mountain biking claptrap as a way to make your arguments about mountain biking that much stronger. Examples, facts and cited sources are your friend.

https://www.citymtb.org/home/learning-from-anti-mountain-bikers-to-create-better-urban-mountain-biking-proposals

BikeSlobPDX
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BikeSlobPDX

From the Miller screed: “Mountain biking facilities of every kind would need to be as numerous as ballfields and tennis courts in the city. Indeed, some old sport facilities should/could be converted to bike parks.”

Great idea! Let’s incorporate that as part of the plan.

mark
Guest
mark

I won’t be able to attend, but can someone please be sure to mention the study that was done before bikes were banned from Riverview?

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/478080

It clearly states, at the top of page three, that dogs are more disturbing to water quality and natural environment than bike riders.

If they want to continue to ban cycling in Forest Park, citing concerns for damage to the sensitive natural habitat, then they need to first ban dogs, even on a leash. Hypocrites.