Support BikePortland

Editorial: Portland’s irrational fear of off-road cycling

Posted by on March 26th, 2018 at 3:57 pm

How could more of this be a bad thing for our local parks?
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

As Portland’s Off-road Cycling Master Plan (ORCMP) rolls ever closer to its big date at City Council, interest groups throughout the city are taking notice.

The usual opposition to better bike access on dirt trails in Portland is very well-known. But I’ve noticed something new in the past few weeks: Advocates for local parks who oppose parts of it based on fears that anything that attracts more off-road bikers will negatively impact the park and its current users.

I find this reflexive opposition very unfortunate.

“There are real potential conflicts with off road cycling mingling with other users of the Park… I do not have faith that off road cyclists will remain in a designated area.”
— Kelly Pergande, Friends of Pier Park

Take the Dog Bowl (along Willamette Blvd above Swan Island) and Pier Park (in St. Johns) for instance. Both locations are included in the plan as possible sites for upgraded and/or new trails in the future.

On the four acres of Dog Bowl, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability thinks it might be possible to build a “sustainable loop trail” along the edge of the property.

At the much larger, 87-acre Pier Park, the plan says there’s room for a “medium-sized bicycle park” (about one acre) near the existing skate park, a “natural surface loop trail for family-friendly cycling, walking, running and enjoyment of nature” and some “skill features” like rocks, logs or bridges interspersed along the edges.

These are extremely minimal proposals that are nothing more than placeholders at this stage. The plan makes it clear: both sites would have to go through master plans and a community input process before anything would change.

Nevertheless, advocates for the parks have expressed opposition.

Overlook Neighborhood Association Chair Chris Trejbal wrote a letter to the Portland Parks Board on March 23rd. “The ‘potential loop trail’ shown in the Draft ORCMP,” he wrote, “would preclude the lower-impact activities that take place there now.” Here’s more from his letter:

“Contrary to the draft’s vision, the usable area of the 4-acre site could not be divided in a way that would accommodate those uses as well as off-road biking. A large portion of the Dog Bowl is steep, landslide-prone hillside and a special habitat oak woodland. The remainder is not sufficient to accommodate off-road biking and other uses without immediately generating conflicts.

The Draft ORCMP was developed without community input from the Overlook neighborhood and the dozens of people who use the Dog Bowl daily. We recognize the need for infrastructure to support the city’s off-road biking enthusiasts, but the Dog Bowl is not a suitable site.”

Thanks for reading BikePortland.

Please consider a $10/month subscription or a one-time payment
to help maintain and expand this vital community resource.

Dog Bowl as seen in the Draft Off-road Cycling Master Plan.

I emailed Trejbal to ask why he assumed off-road biking at Dog Bowl would lead to conflicts and why he thought it would preclude people from doing what they do there now.

Trejbal said he feels an improved trail would leave, “Very little space for the historic uses of the property.” He feels that, “Dogs running around and trail biking are a combination that is certain to lead to negative interactions when a dog chases a biker or a biker hits a dog. Likewise, walkers, runners, kids or people eating lunch are not a good fit crossing and immediately next to off-road cycling.”

“The question, then,” he continued, “is whether the Dog Bowl should continue to fill its role as a small neighborhood open space with diverse uses or should it be handed over to a single activity that would be incompatible with dogs and kids running around. As a neighborhood, we favor the former.”

Trejbal would rather put the activity somewhere else: “I have nothing against setting aside space in Forest Park for off-road cycling.” (Of course people who oppose off-road cycling in Forest Park are a big reason the City is looking at places like Dog Bowl.)

Again. There’s nothing in the plan that should lead someone to believe that Dog Bowl will be “handed over” to cycling.

A similar reaction comes from advocates of Pier Park.

At that location, BPS has also proposed very minimal, early-stage concepts where nothing would happen without a full master planning process.

Yet Friends of Pier Park’s Vice Chair Kelly Pergande and Chair Matt Kuntz oppose it.

In a response to the City of Portland posted on their website, Pergande writes,

“There are real potential conflicts with off road cycling mingling with other users of the Park… I do not have faith that off road cyclists will remain in a designated area. It is inevitable that there will be off road cycling throughout the park… Preserving the ability to utilize the pathways for pedestrians and current cyclists without adding off road to the mix, will be even more important as the population increases in our city.”

And Chair Matt Kuntz writes:

“We do not feel that PP&R Recommendation #3 (‘natural surface loop family friendly trail…inside park’) could be feasibly designed without drastically reducing safety and usability for other park users. The current family friendly path (paved & mixed-gravel) that exists today is heavily used by walkers, joggers, strollers, kids, dogs, bird-watchers, and slow moving bicycles. Any sanctioned off-road bike course or track would add speed and unrestrained bike riding styles into the equation that would be unfit to mix into a family friendly path. Course features mentioned such as “rocks, logs or bridges” would have these higher speed bikes moving back off-and-on to the trail which would be unpredictable for regular traffic flow. Our regular path users would not want to use such a trail.”

Kutnz also thinks any new trails in the park, “Would lead to biodiversity and habitat loss in the Park, which we firmly oppose.”

Similar to Trejbal, Kuntz and Pergande assume a worst-case scenario if anything is done to improve off-road bicycling in these parks. They assume people who ride these bikes will be inconsiderate and rude and won’t follow the rules. They assume danger and conflict and a loss of access. They assume if the experience of the park for one type of user is improved, the experience for others will automatically get worse.

That’s not how I see it. We can all gain something as we grow and change. But we’ll never find out what that is if we aren’t willing to let it happen.

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

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

Please support BikePortland.

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

  • Al March 26, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    There are plenty of opportunities to mountain bike in the Portland AREA but this means that you have to chuck your bikes in the back of a vehicle or on a rack and drive to bike there. The people most served by opportunities to which you can actually bicycle will be kids.

    I live in a neighborhood that saw a skate park put up years ago. Although I don’t scooter or skate, my bmx days are mostly behind me and had no kids, I thought it was a fantastic idea. Unfortunately, the neighbors thought otherwise and put up a fight. It finally did get approved and while sometimes there is a rowdy crowd, it’s actually quite impressive how different age groups, different genders and mixed users get along. I have young kids now that suddenly picked up scootering and I’m glad they have someplace within walking distance to enjoy it.

    Outdoor recreational areas are a way for the community to engage with kids. It’s good for kids but it’s also good for the community.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • SafeStreetsPlease March 27, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      As a car free household due to a need to save funds, it’s totally an accessibility issue. These folks at neighborhood associations, most of whom are middle-class homeowners, speak out against such plans leaving folks like me out. And most NA members are not renters, so our voices are left out of the discussion yet PBOT and the city put so much stock into their influence. I don’t have a car to gain access to existing trails, and would love to have options in the city for my partner and I to explore. But neighborhood associations don’t seem to care about accessibility until it is convenient to tout it. It’s such BS.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Glenn F March 26, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Should all the dogs be under leash control at this Dog Bowl Park anyhow?
    The experience for others automatically gets worst with unleashed dogs, and people not pickup after there dogs.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dan A March 26, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      Park user group that doesn’t like to follow the rules? Dog owners.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Gary March 27, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      It’s not even a park. It’s BES property. As far as I know, leashes are thus required, as designated off-leash parks are the exception to that rule.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • JJ March 28, 2018 at 4:38 am

        And 10-20 foot zip lines are not leases either.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • christopher March 26, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    The Dog Bowl is the perfect place for a pump track and small trail network. Such a bummer. Regardless of a trail gets built or not it won’t be anything worth pedaling too. I am going to say it again and again. The time is now to start packing a shovel and making a physical impact on our community. Don’t you want a bike jump at the Dog Bowl? Well, I don’t want to walk or ride through dog poop. We’re all in this together. Smile and carry on. =)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Carrie March 26, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    To quote something I saw on Twitter last week (I’m sorry I can’t give proper attributes) Schrodinger’s cyclist is the one riding 30 mph on the sidewalk terrorizing pedestrians while also riding 10 mph on the road and impeding car drivers. Clearly same rules apply to off-road cyclists as well. I don’t know where off-road cyclists got such bad rap as downhill speed demon daredevils. I usually pass them while trail running uphill! 🙂

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • I wear many hats March 26, 2018 at 5:15 pm

      Must not have been me :). I love sharing trails. I get stoked to stop and say hi, see how others are enjoying nature. Every bike hater should be aware that NIMBY ism under the guise of environmentalism and/or safety, will only force more people to elect to share our “existing” trails. That may ultimately cause more conflict than just providing park space and spaces for a legal and tax paying user group.
      As far as the dog bowl is concerned, its just a connect the dots approach to a longer ride, or a place for locals to ride with their kids. Its time to share our spaces, not just provide knee jerk reactions to mountain bikers.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Eric Ivy March 27, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      I found this on a Twitter search. Your version is just as good!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Eric Ivy March 27, 2018 at 5:00 pm

        whoops forgot to paste it:

        Schrodinger’s cyclist:
        *Bikes are always in the way.
        *Cities are wasting money on bike lanes that nobody will ever use.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Phil Richman March 26, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    Rest assured, the NA NIMBY’s will appear at the meeting on 4/3. Will you?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mike Quigley March 26, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Off road cycling is no different than off road motorized. They never stay on their designated trails.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Cyclekrieg March 26, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      They do where I live. I would love explain to you how we do. Also, we have doing in for almost 20 years.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dan A March 27, 2018 at 8:04 am

      I don’t understand this comment. Do you see a lot of bushwhacking cyclists?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Ben G March 27, 2018 at 10:25 am

      I don’t agree. If you let cyclists build the type of trails they want to ride and mark them reasonably well very very few will stray off of them. Instead what we have in Portland is mostly terrible trails for riding with almost no markings. Bad infrastructure leads to bad experiences.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • I wear many hats March 27, 2018 at 12:25 pm

      Where are the designated bike trails in Portland? There aren’t any, (virtually any). That is the entire $*&(%$(* point of the ORCMP! Plan, survey, build, meet the needs of the city. Until that’s done, you will see more and more people “sharing” city trails this summer. Block the plan, and everyone will come ride regardless.
      Your blanket statement is an overgeneralization, disguising NIMBY bias. I often ride near moto trails, but not on them (and vice versa). It works for Tillamook State Forest. Sharing and/or providing cycle specific trails will work in Portland.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Cyclekrieg March 26, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    I will always blame part of this on the people running the ORCMP in not spending enough of the meetings and in the document itself explaining how other cities do urban mountain biking, lesson they learned and how to apply those lessons in Portland.

    Certainly if these people can do it, Portland could too:

    The local trail featured in that story, the Devil’s Racetrack is in post-industrial land outside of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness. (Because no matter what Marcy says, there are tons of urban wildernesses across the country. Some are bigger than Forest Park. And yes, they have mountain biking in them.) The Knoxville Urban Wilderness alone has 42 miles of trail. Now, why was Knoxville and the lessons they learned not discussed as part of the ORCMP? Your guess is as good as mine.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • christopher March 26, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      Totally agree with you. Travel Oregon has been doing such a good job lately, it’s too bad they didn’t team up with them.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Daniel Greenstadt March 26, 2018 at 5:53 pm

      In general, Portland seems to have a fetish for curating its own problems and solutions as if it’s part maintaining Portland’s pedigree of “uniqueness” and “weirdness.” We seem to love to re-invent the wheel, even if it means decades of limping along on squares, triangles, and parallelograms while the rest of the country rolls smoothly forward with systems and solutions that are proven and effective. The waste of time and money is one thing, but to see the good name of environmental protection sullied by people invoking concern for the land (or public safety) in order to further their fact-free NIMBYism is truly sad.

      That’s why we’re all writing letters and preparing to show up at meetings, right?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • ps March 27, 2018 at 9:45 am

        This is the most true statement about Portland, ever. It can be housing, outdoor access, infrastructure issues, taxes, etc., any issue really, and rather than acknowledging there have been other humans in other places with similar issues in the past, everyone here (particularly leadership), says, nope, we’ll go our own way, and it will be a messed up road to get there and in the end it will likely be a sub par solution in the end.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • q March 27, 2018 at 10:00 am

        Totally true, but it’s even worse. If Portland fails at something, it turns around and says that’s what it wanted all along.

        Or, it thinks it succeeded because it misunderstands the results. The City has bragged, for example, about residents of neighborhoods like the Pearl District having very high per capita incomes. In other words, it’s a subsidized neighborhood that most people are priced out of. Oops.

        I’m not convinced Portland (mainly talking about government) sees the lack of off-road bike facilities here compared to elsewhere as a sign that Portland’s doing something right.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • I wear many hats March 27, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      The ORCMP was “guided” by the BPS and the facilitator. Much of the content and agenda was set for each meeting. It seemed that viable ideas were often negated outright and not given due process. Sharing was eliminated as a trail option without open debate on the PAC, even though that’s how most municipalities provide access. In addition, every trail in Forest Park, Marquam, and Washington Park was eliminated from discussion and from the ORCMP plan. Its asinine to eliminate virtually all of the existing trails from the ORCMP and then expect to construct equal mileage for bikes only. That would just disrupt more natural space, and that is politically untenable in Portlandia. It seems that by design the ORCMP was made into a trojan horse to blow apart any hope of actual trail access in our city.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bobcycle March 26, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Been going up to Powell Butte off and on for a number of years. Seems like it’s a good example of hikers and bikers and dog owners getting along. This is my experience and may not represent everyone’s experience there. But if it can happen there, it can happen in Forest Park and Dog Bowl and Riverview.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Frank McDinald March 26, 2018 at 6:51 pm

      The difference for the Dog Bowl is that it’s such a small property. There’s really only about an acre of usable space, and that’s not much room for biking, loose dogs, kids and walkers. The Pier Park, Powell Butte, Forest Park, those are all giant in comparison. We’re going to burn ourselves if we insist on cramming off-road into tiny green spaces that neighborhoods already use. Let’s focus on the big wins.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 26, 2018 at 6:54 pm

        It seems to do just fine with all those uses right now doesn’t it?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • shirtsoff March 27, 2018 at 8:20 am

          Yes, THIS! The space is already being utilized by a range of users and it is okay. These plans help formalize and create more clear expectations of the space’s usage. It doesn’t do anything that is not already happening. This is of benefit to everyone.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • maxD March 27, 2018 at 2:24 pm

            Agreed! I was at the neighborhood meeting and was the only person there to vote against writing a letter to oppose the bike trail. The bigger problem is how uptight Portland?PP&R is about everything! They act like every scrap of openspace is a precious/fragile ecosystem, every biker is unhinged speed demon, and an off-leash dog is a rabid terror. Personally, I would love to see this space developed a bit. A cycle loop with a parallel soft-surface walking trail (separated by 6-10′) outside of it, plus a little bit of space outside the loop with a couple of picnic tables would naturally direct users. tell dog owners to keep their dogs under control (voice or leash) and tell bikes to to yield to other users and take it easy when it is crowded. Then let people figure it out. So much conflict comes from trying to over-regulate and separate people.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • JBone March 27, 2018 at 9:37 pm

          Frankly, no. As I’ve said here before and on the interactive comment site last fall, this is not a good co-use site, because some dogs naturally/innocently/‘harmlessly’ (won’t bite/attack-just annoy) chase bikes. Dogs and their owners go there in the wet season when the arbor lodge dog park is a swamp. They don’t go there in the summer when dangerous spear grass is present. Simple solution: dogs in wet season (nov-may) and bikes in dry season (jun-oct.). Another benefit to this idea is you could really use all the topo flow of the bowl instead of a boring loop. Btw, if the city provided trash cans, owners would be much more inclined to pick up poo.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • christopher March 27, 2018 at 9:28 am

        A pump track would be a perfect addition to the Dog Bowl while keeping the cyclists in one zone and out of the way of other users.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Gary March 27, 2018 at 12:32 pm

        Even if biking would displace some of those uses (which I don’t agree it would, except maybe your illicit off-leash dog use)–so what? Why are the uses you like the right ones?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • JBone March 27, 2018 at 9:41 pm

          Prolly more dog folk than mtb folk in neighborhood (I’m both). Unfortunately as with off-road bike trails, the city is woefully lacking in proper, sanctioned dog areas. Sidenote: how about converting the unused horseshoe pitch at Columbia Annex for one.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • ps March 27, 2018 at 9:47 am

      Short of a complete lack of yielding to uphill traffic, Powell Butte is pretty decent when it comes to hikers behavior.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • I wear many hats March 27, 2018 at 1:45 pm

        in the grand hierarchy, wheels always should yield to hooves and feet, regardless of up/down, though bike specific flow trails (coyote wall) are grey areas.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Roland Klasen March 26, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    The dog bowl is just fine the way it is, please just leave it alone. There is room for everyone.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Alex March 26, 2018 at 9:09 pm

      There is room for everyone…except mountain bikers?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Roland Klasen March 27, 2018 at 4:05 pm

        There is room for everyone, including mountain bikes the way it is right now. Fencing in 90% of the dog bowl users in a small area that will be a big mud pit 9 months out of the year so a few bikers get the run of the place is a horrible idea. People will just walk their dogs outside of the fence anyway.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Alex April 2, 2018 at 1:42 pm

          Except there isn’t trails there for mountain bikes – so they are basically excluded.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Cyclekrieg March 27, 2018 at 6:32 am

      This type of off road cycling infrastructure would be perfect for the dog bowl:

      The people in Columbus, OH aren’t better or smarter people than those in Portland. They are just more willing to try something than reject it out of hand.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt S. March 26, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    I’m worried the only people who want bike trails in these green areas are people who ride bikes. There sure is a lot more people who don’t ride than do ride…
    I’m worried the only access bikers will have are the ones that can drive…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • paul h March 27, 2018 at 9:19 am

      Could we say the same thing about any other user? For example, “I’m worried that the only people who want dogs to be allowed already have dogs”?

      Mountain biking is a great way to introduce people — especially children — to healthy, eco-friendly activities and to appreciate nature.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • I wear many hats March 27, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      I’ll ride to everyone of these spaces, in a big loop, without a car, and perhaps meet my friends with kids for a short loop at the dog bowl.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Kyle Banerjee March 26, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    “I find this reflexive opposition very unfortunate.”

    I do too. Sadly, when many people hear what is a trigger word for them, they oppose whatever people who feel positively about that word think is good, regardless of the merits of the situation at hand.

    For some people, that word is “bikes,” for others it is “dogs,” and yet others it is “cars.” When this happens, things don’t work out as well as they should for anyone.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Brian March 27, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Lot of fear in those comments, or fear disguised as something else.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Michael Whitesel
    Michael Whitesel March 27, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Look up “Last Settler Syndrome”.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Nola March 27, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Thank you Jonathan for these thoughts but my experience, not ‘reflexive opposition,’ is different.
    I live by Forest Park and walk in the park and by it daily. While there are many considerate cyclists I often encounter cyclists who have no awareness of other park visitors. These are not just the rare ‘ bad apples’ but many. They threaten pedestrians and forest animals and birds by their fast rides and ‘I can do whatever I want’ attitude. Sometimes they do not stay on the trails and sometimes they are on their phones, or with headphones on, and that adds to their obliviousness to anything beyond their immediate gratification.
    I have been a daily cyclist since age 4 who has only missed time on my favorite form of transportation and transformation if sick or if there was snow but I am opposed to further trails being opened until I can be convinced that this attitude, a danger to others’ safety and enjoyment of parks, is not present.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 27, 2018 at 10:14 am

      Thanks for the comment Nola. Appreciate hearing your perspective.

      A few thoughts: First, one of the reasons we need to evolve as a city and do more to accomodate off-road cycling in Forest Park is precisely because existing conditions encourage the type of negative experience you’ve had. It’s no different than how many people in their cars on city streets see “scofflaw bicyclists” — when much of the reason bicycle riders ride the way they do on our streets is because the infrastructure doesn’t work for them.

      Put another way, the entire goal of the Off-road Cycling Master Plan is to update trails and parks to make them work better — not just for bicycles users, but for everyone — thus improving user behavior and creating better interactions between park users (by building bike-only trails, improving existing ones, and so on).

      Another important point is that, while personal anecdotes are important, they are not the best/only way we should create long-range plans or establish policies.

      Also, just because a certain type of user doesn’t behave properly, the response shouldn’t be to continue to ignore their needs or to essentially prevent them from using an area. The reaction from our city should be to say: What can we do to improve the infrastructure in a way that will improve behaviors?

      If we set policy and changed infrastructure solely because a specific type of user behaves badly a large amount of the time (as you allege) — than it would also make sense to ban auto users from all of our streets. Put another way, as a person who bikes on our streets daily, I can share the exact concerns you have with bikers in Forest Park with people who drive in Portland. Yet I choose to advocate for better street designs and policies that improve behaviors. I really wish people with concerns like yours would do the same in Forest Park, instead of railing against the bad apples and villifying an entire slice of Portlanders.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Nola March 27, 2018 at 1:12 pm

        I still disagree with you but appreciate you detailed and respectful reply.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Kyle Banerjee March 27, 2018 at 1:25 pm

        ‘It’s no different than how many people in their cars on city streets see “scofflaw bicyclists” — when much of the reason bicycle riders ride the way they do on our streets is because the infrastructure doesn’t work for them.’

        I categorically disagree with this. If people rode that way because of the infrastructure, all types of cyclists would engage in this behavior and it would be more common where the infrastructure is worse.

        However, I personally witness this behavior most often in areas with relatively good infrastructure and the people that act like “scofflaw cyclists” belong to a subculture consisting overwhelmingly of young white males with a narrow spectrum of cycling interests. In other words, the behavior is inversely correlated with what one would expect.

        There is a form of aggression where the aggressor claims victimhood. Those who go looking for battle will find it every time, and I have personally witnessed many cyclist/motorist conflicts where the cyclist clearly provoked or escalated situations.

        Portland has by far the best bike infrastructure of any place I’ve lived and yet cycling etiquette is by far the worst. Some of my friends who have lived and cycled in other places share my sentiments.

        The fact of the matter is most cyclists are quite decent as are most motorists. There’s a certain type of personality that that’s all about taking whatever they can get regardless of the impact of others. These people drag everyone down.

        No one should feel like the rules of the road don’t apply to them. No one should be blowing by peds with only a foot of clearance at speeds well over 20mph — anyone who rides the Hawthorne and Broadway bridges will see this daily. No one should pass another cyclist a foot away unless they have specific reason to believe the person being passed can handle it.

        There’s no excuse for being inconsiderate.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Brian March 27, 2018 at 10:18 am

      Hi, Nola. Can you tell me where you have seen cyclists riding off-trail in Forest Park? What trail, specifically, were they leaving from and where in the park was this happening? It sounds like something cyclists may want to address. Thanks.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 27, 2018 at 10:33 am

        Brian.. Good on you for following up with this. Just be careful to not get caught in the trap of thinking you have to personally answer for the behavior of others. How some people choose to act has nothing to do with all “cyclists”.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Brian March 27, 2018 at 11:31 am

          For the life of me, I can’t think of a single place in FP where cyclists would want to leave the trail (well, a better descriptor might be “road” or “lane”). Unlike hiking, cycling is far less desirable and doable “off trail.” Where are these people seeing cyclists not staying on trails?

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Matt S. March 27, 2018 at 10:57 am

        I saw a biker on Wildwood, over where it intersects with Lower Macleay trail. To his defense, he looked oblivious and slightly lost. I honestly think he didn’t know where he was.

        This is an example of failed infrastructure and a lack of access.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • I wear many hats March 27, 2018 at 12:29 pm

          He was on a trail though. The only novice trail in Portland.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Nola March 27, 2018 at 1:21 pm

        Thanks Brian.
        Firelane #3 and Leif Erikson Drive.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Daniel Greenstadt March 27, 2018 at 3:30 pm

          Nola, Perhaps I’m not following this thread correctly, but I think Brian asked where you had experienced cyclists riding off trail. Both Leif Erikson and FL3 are open to cyclists. Were you responding to a different question?

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Cyclekrieg March 27, 2018 at 10:48 am


      I wanted to thank you for your thoughts. I come at this from a different point of view than you because I live in a place with lots of urban mountain biking, including trails in metro downtown and in urban wildernesses that are more wild than Forest Park. I also design mixed user group trails for urban areas.

      What you describe is the function of 2 issues, separate but linked:
      1) Portland’s lack of off road infrastructure that is, at least, a decade, more realistically 20 year, behind similar cities. This lack of infrastructure is causing users to ride regardless of their legality to do so. That breeds Prohibition Syndrome where users get used to doing a thing that might be “against the rules”.
      2) Portland’s trail design guidelines (2009) are woefully out of date and were out of date the day they were issued. When Portland updated these in 2008-2009, they intentionally choose older (at least 10 years older in most cases) trail guidelines as the basis for their “new” guidelines. The result is that they make sharing of trails tough. Just so we are clear on this, its likely Portland made these choices because new trail guidelines factor in mountain bike use and Portland likely didn’t want to open up trails to mountain bikers. (see point #1)

      I could provide you plenty of examples of how other cities share trails without issue. Portland could choose to adopt those methods of doing that. You can email me at if you would like to learn more.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Daniel Greenstadt March 27, 2018 at 3:52 pm

      Nola, I’m very interested in your concern about cyclists “[threatening] forest animals and birds by their fast rides…” I’m not aware of any science to support that assertion so I’d very much like to learn the basis for your statement.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • I wear many hats March 27, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      I appreciate your response in this discussion. Its well worth hearing, though I do disagree with most of what you say. My opinion is based my experience, and a wealth of data and science. Its ironic that you say that bikes leave the trail and threaten animals, as that is EXACTLY the behavior of bird watchers. If I see a towhee, a wren, a junco, a raven, a stellars jay, a black capped chickadee, a chestnut chickadee, a barred owl, a bald eagle, an osprey (you get my drift right?), I see them. I appreciate the birds, but I do NOT stop my bike in close proximity (or my hike) because that behavior is predatory and gives wildlife more human exposure, ultimately adversely affecting wildlife behavior. I am , egad!, a bird enthusiast and a mountain biker, and I look forward doing so in our natural areas. This argument is obscured by an environmental and safety red herring, whereas the strong pushback to the ORCMP is from Forest Park (and other local) neighbors who don’t want to share.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • q March 27, 2018 at 11:52 am

    I’m sure there’ve been a million articles and studies about how introducing kids into sports they can continue through adulthood makes a lot of sense, in comparison to ones that not many will want to or be able to do after high school. And nobody disputes that adults are better off continuing to exercise. So to me, it makes sense to encourage things like off-road cycling facilities, especially if we’re spending money on football fields and stadium lights.

    But the real benefit to me of activities like off-road cycling in comparison to more organized sports–for kids and for adults–is the need to (for lack of a better term) self-refereeing. Everyone’s out there together, and you have to work things out, including with a lot of people you’ve never met before. If someone’s monopolizing a jump or whatever, you don’t have a bunch of adult referees and coaches there to solve things for you. It’s how the world is, and it’s an important skill to learn early, and to keep in practice with. That alone is a reason to make sure there are places for these types of activities.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Brian March 27, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      This is a great point I’ve never considered.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • q March 27, 2018 at 4:42 pm

        I think the anti-off-road cycling sentiment would be less if more people involved had done more off-road cycling themselves in their lives–not just because they might then want the facilities themselves, but because they would have had more experience sharing.

        And it wouldn’t have to be just off-road cycling–skateboarding, surfing, pick-up basketball…any non-structured use of a limited resource could do it. Instead, this feels like the adult version of kids running to the teacher or coach to tell the new kids to stay off the field.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Gary March 27, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    At it’s core, the expressed concerns indicate an understanding of off-road bicycling that is high speed and reckless. This has been addressed here before, but the perception seems to be a Red Bull commercial is going to occur in the Dog Bowl.

    “Likewise, walkers, runners, kids or people eating lunch are not a good fit crossing and immediately next to off-road cycling.”

    I would gladly do any of those things near this hypothetical track. We’re talking about bikes going ~10 mph on a loop track. I, and many many others, do all of those things adjacent to motor vehicles travelling much faster every single day of our lives.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dabby March 27, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    The grotesque levels of entitlement that we are dealing with in this City just blows my mind. “Not In My Backyard!” should be our City’s new slogan. Paint that on a big wall…
    Also I love how they require masterplans, unrealistic time lines and certainly huge design costs for easily designed and inserted features.
    Luckily there are other ways. Looks like we are going to plan B!
    (Yes, there is one)
    First you don’t know, now you know.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Lester Burnham March 27, 2018 at 1:07 pm

      Hey now…we are Platinum!…aren’t we?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Rain Waters March 27, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    As to mountain biking in Portland;

    A hit and run driver dented my fender because of insufficient parking at Lief Erickson trailhead. . .
    That was 2005. What has improved ?

    America is a generally mean spirited realm. Sunday evenings media event makes this undeniable. “Mountain biking” is very expensive, elitist and above all fun. The vehicles used are so far from any practical definition of a bicycle as to render it a niche activity. How would generally mean spirited Americans react to such ?

    How bout a couple golf holes carved out of Gabriel park for instance ?

    Mountain biking is encouraged in areas of Oregon primarily populated by wealthy transplants from elitist zipcodes. There are so many officially maintained trails in Ashland they actually tear them up and replace with new every ten years. A lot of kids enjoy this activity in the lower watershed although theres a LOT of shuttling to the top. This is NEVER gonna happen in Bull Run because there aren’t enough wealthy residents to demand such accomodations. Portland is still a part of America where money calls every shot.

    I dont see enough excessive conspicuous consumption in Portland to tag the area gentrified completely. Yet.

    As soon as your “houseless” population is identified, vetted, inventoried, managed or subtly encouraged to ‘relocate’ I dont see any official support for a mountain biking “scene”.

    Note the recent instance of the self driving car gang to co-opt a totally unnecessary, unfortunate fatality in Arizona as an in your face declaration that “Self driving cars are a foregone conclusion so outa the way losers”. Such is the futility of Portlandias “vision zero” dream. I hope you can wrap your mind around this.

    As stated by a previous comment, in Portland mountain bike equals automobile trip.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Eric H March 27, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      I can’t wrap my head around anything you said in this post. But thanks for playing along.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mtnbikeskillworms March 27, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Wake me up when it’s all over.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • q March 27, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Years ago the Oregonian asked my opinion about the Zoobombers when I lived along their route. I think I shocked the reporter when I told them I liked them, and that I’d look out every weekend to see them go by. I said there’s hardly anything left that’s fun to do that’s legal and not over-organized anymore, and what they’re doing is creative and should be encouraged. Also said Fairview might not even be their first choice but they’re barred from riding in the park. I got some flack because I was also the neighborhood association president, and mine wasn’t the expected response.

    And here we are years later–still not many areas to ride.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • JJ March 28, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Ride where thou whilst.

    There are trails/roads/lanes in FP, Riverview, and Dog Bowl…ride them. What is stopping you? Respect others and don’t be a d1#%. What more is needed?

    A piece of paper with a map and fancy sign?

    Almost every neighborhood in PDX and the surrounding metro has little green spaces with trails you just need to ride them. No they aren’t Sandy Ridge…and no they don’t have huge jumps and cement forms to pump around in circles but last I looked there are “buttes” and “parks” everywhere.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • I wear many hats March 28, 2018 at 8:58 am

      9/10 mountain bikers now do not feel comfortable “breaking the rules” even though we’ve found that the trail restrictions in Portland are based in NIMBY prejudice. I’m with you. Ride, and be polite, pick up some trail runner trash, and be a “dog poop fairy” that picks up after littering dog owners.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Kate March 28, 2018 at 11:07 am

        Exactly, it would be a dream to ride an actual ‘trail’ in FP- but I’ve also been a rule-follower and the guilt of breaking the rules or fear of being chastised by someone on the trail has always prevented me. Instead I drive 2-hr round trip to Sandy or Hood River or Tillamook Forest.
        Reading the comments though, from neighborhoods and op-eds, etc. – it seems everyone already considers me a monster by virtue of sitting on a bicycle with suspension so maybe I just need to let go of the guilt and embrace their skewed Red Bull version of me (even in strava tells me my avg. mtb speed never even reaches 10 mph on a ride).

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • I wear many hats March 29, 2018 at 8:18 am

          Be polite, keep the speed differential minimal, and go get it. Some trails get A LOT of foot traffic so I’d recommend skipping those as you will be on/off the bike the entire ride. Be friendly out there and have fun. Ironically, the people who get the most upset are those with their dogs off leash :). That said, most people I encounter are happy to see someone else enjoying the woods. There are only a few bad apples that will initiate truly negative interactions, and it rare that you’d be lucky enough to encounter them.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Kate March 29, 2018 at 9:50 am

            Do you have some recommendations as to trails that might be a good place to check out. I lived near and ran in FP for many years but I really only know the popular trails above NW portland which would be a bad place no doubt.

            I’d guess trails at the very north end of FP, but I haven’t ventured much up that way. Maybe something off Newberry?

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • I wear many hats March 29, 2018 at 5:16 pm

              2 miles from Thurman and Germantown thins out the crowds very quickly.North of German Town is like going to another country. People smile, they say hello, even, “have a good ride”.
              Also, the only thing I’ve seen in River View is well draining trails (far better than the FP and Parks built trails, even when wet), a few dogs, a few camps, and a few trail runners. Out east, check out the topo maps, everything that’s tall has social trails scratched into it, not just Gateway Green.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Nola March 29, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Hello again,
    This article makes sense to me, asking us to stop all new plans for the park until previous promises and commitments are followed, including the completion of the comprehensive wildlife, vegetative and geologic studies that the city promised 22 years ago.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • q March 29, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      That’s bad that the City’s performance on that study has been apparently ridiculously slow. But it’s also unfair to ask other people to have their requests for use of the public land denied.

      Think of it, people who’d first asked for some mountain bike trails to ride with their kids when their kids were five years old are still waiting for the trails, and their kids are now 27 years old, with five-year-old of their own!

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • q March 29, 2018 at 5:07 pm

      And with time frames like 22 years, it makes it all the more tempting (and reasonable) for people to just start biking on all the trails, to force the issue. And I’m a normally by-the-book guy. Why would anyone not expect the study to take another 22 years?

      22 years ago, we were in Bill Clinton’s first term as president.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Cyclekrieg March 30, 2018 at 8:15 am

      Nola, if the writer of that article you referenced was sincere in wanting the city to do the science before proceeding, I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. However, in the 22 years, the groups that crow the loudest about “we can’t do mountain biking because of these studies” haven’t attempted to pressure the city to do the studies nor have raised the funds themselves to do said studies.

      As I mentioned before, I live a place with lots of urban mountain biking and in places that are wilder than Forest Park. The idea that mountain biking creates higher impacts to flora and fauna is a myth. Every study that has come out has shown very few differences of impacts between hikers and mountain bikers. In fact, recent studies argue that we have UNDER estimating hiking impact. A recent study discussed that in length, “Wildland recreation disturbance: broad-scale spatial analysis and management” by K. Gutzwiller,

      If you want real studies done, fine, pull out the concept plans for Forest Park out of the ORCMP and stop trying to prevent mountain biking in Forest Park. Instead, make the mountain biking community raise and pay for those studies. I guarantee they will get done in a few years. Then, based on those studies, lets look at Forest Park holistically and decommission trails that are unsustainable or having an undue impact to flora and fauna. Then lets build a modern, ecological and truly fair trail system for hikers and mountain bikers.

      Look at the Duluth Forest Preserve (Duluth, MN) or the Knoxville Urban Wilderness (Knoxville, TN) for good examples of building trails for everyone in urban wildernesses wilder than Forest Park.

      Again, if you would like to learn more, please feel free to contact me:

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Brian March 30, 2018 at 8:46 am

        If trail degradation, flora trampling, trail widening and the like were reasons to not build/provide shared-use trails for cyclists then every trail I hiked this week should be shut down. Immediately. I was floored by the condition of the trail out to Cape Lookout. It was far worse than any mtb trail I have ever ridden, yet no voices to shut it down to hikers. Dog Mountain had a “rogue trail” to every rock outcropping and view, and trail widening around all of the muddy, eroded areas. The Wildwood Trail has many, many impact issues along it’s length. Should it be closed due to flora/fauna impacts until the study from 22 years ago has been completed? Maybe FP should be closed to all until it has been assessed?
        It’s obvious to any of us who hike and ride in this beautiful state that it really isn’t about the impacts.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Dan A March 30, 2018 at 9:59 am

          Blame the Hiker Industrial Complex and their nefarious plan to sell boots.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

        • q March 30, 2018 at 10:13 am

          Exactly. Twenty-two years ago, if the study were important, the trails should have been closed to everyone until it could be completed. Or, at the very least, trail use should have been capped at whatever number of people were using them in 1995.

          If people are really serious about wanting the study, they should support those actions. As it stands, Parks has no pressure to complete the study, because the people pushing it aren’t having their own use impacted, and in fact are benefitting by Parks using the lack of a study to keep cycling out.

          And the study proponents and Parks seem to be relying on a hope that the off-road cycling users are too small a group to be effectual in gaining access for cycling.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Brian March 30, 2018 at 10:33 am

            Looking at what is being recommended by the ORCMP, it is clear that they are not taking the community of off-road cyclists seriously. Given the increasing diversity and popularity of off-road cycling, it looks like Portland will be taking a reactive approach yet again in the not-too-distant future if they don’t get it right this time.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Daniel Greenstadt March 30, 2018 at 10:56 am

      If you’re questioning (or just willing to consider evidence) that Mr. Aitchison and others might be bike-haters first and, at best, environmentalists second, look no further than the many pedestrian-only trail projects and expansions they have enthusiastically supported over the past 30 years all in the absence of the wildlife study that they now insist, incorrectly, is “required” before reasonable efforts can be made to accommodate cycling.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • q March 30, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Hello again, This article makes sense to me, asking us to stop all new plans for the park until previous promises and commitments are followed, including the completion of the comprehensive wildlife, vegetative and geologic studies that the city promised 22 years ago. 0

    To that statement, I’m getting the impression that many “study proponents” are adding (but not openly admitting it): “And until that study is complete, I ask the City to continue to allow me to use the public trails for the activities I enjoy, and to allow unlimited expanded use of trails by similarly-minded people. I also ask that you not only prohibit building new trails for biking, but that you also define allowing bikes on existing trails as being “new plans for the park” so people such as myself continue to have exclusive use of the trails”.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • I wear many hats April 4, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Something’s got to give. No one in the room last night is going to wait 25 years to ride Fire Lane 1. The diversity argument is valid, but it was made in spite of the Parks’ Boards’ synopsis that stated the same arguments were made regarding skateboarding 25 years ago where it was dominated by white males. Now, the skate parks are very diverse, serving underserved communities of color, and the park’s board even stated that in their printed review. It was sad to see board members then bring up the diversity card though it was already explicitly addressed in the plan. To end the meeting on Tennis court funding made even less sense, given that we were discussing the ORCMP.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Justin Lewis April 5, 2018 at 7:05 am

    Just say yes to all recreation.

    Recommended Thumb up 0