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Cycling advocates pack meeting of Parks Board as they consider Off-road Cycling Plan

Posted by on April 4th, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Not nearly a big enough room for all the people who took time out of their day to show support.
(Photo: Gabriel Amadeus)

Yesterday dozens of Portlanders took time out of their day to send a simple message to the Portland Parks Board: Our urban parks should have better — and more — opportunities for off-road cycling.

“Successful conservation happens with partners and not by excluding user groups. This is especially true when human pressure is growing and the demands are becoming more diverse.”
— Bob Lessard, President of NW Trail Alliance

The meeting agenda focused on the Draft Off-road Cycling Master Plan that’s been developed over the past two years by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) and an advisory committee. Panelists were invited to speak against and in favor of off-road cycling improvements in both Forest Park and River View Natural Area — two locations that have been flashpoints of disagreement in the past.

Board Chair Patricia Frobes opened things up by saying they’ve received more public testimony on this plan than any other issue. Citing the 185 pages of testimony posted to the Parks Board website, she said, “We appreciate that this plan raises issues that people are very passionate about.”

The overflow crowd showed up to remind the Board not just that there’s a huge demand for off-road biking, but that the positions they take on the issue will not go unnoticed. On a procedural level, the Parks Board doesn’t make any binding decisions about the plan. This meeting was targeted by advocates because the Board is drafting a detailed recommendation about the Off-road Cycling Plan that they’ll pass onto BPS and Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R). These recommendations are likely to influence PP&R, who is in turn likely to influence the all-important opinions of Mayor Ted Wheeler and the four City Commissioners.

The Parks Board was prepared for this meeting. They pre-selected panelists to speak about their concerns or support for cycling in Forest Park and River View. There were four on each side for Forest Park and two on each side for River View.


The panel on top is concerned about cycling in Forest Park. The panel on the bottom is concerned about the lack of cycling in Forest Park.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Marcy Houle, a biologist, author, and de facto leader of the loudest anti-cycling voices around the Forest Park issue for many years now, kicked things off for the concerned side by reading a letter she claimed was written by former Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts. “Forest Park is facing the most serious threat in its history,” Houle read from the letter. The letter went on to explain in detail how the park’s wildlife would be threatened by the presence of more bike riders and more trails.

“Venues for new recreation uses can be designed at other locales,” Houle read. “What Forest Park offers, however, is irreplaceable. Forest Park is too precious to lose by allowing short-sighted gain at the sacrifice of what makes this park truly great.”

Marcy Houle.

Catherine Thompson, a pediatrician and a dedicated critic of cycling in Forest Park, addressed the assembled crowd: “To all the cyclists here,” she said, “We’re in this together and we need to share our park.” That was an interesting statement coming from someone who has worked extremely hard to keep the unlimited access to the park they currently have and to prevent improved access for others. Thompson also mentioned the park’s designation as a “wild habitat” area and advocated for more ecological monitoring and studies about user impacts (both of which are clearly stated requirements in the plan).

Thompson’s final remarks, which centered on her belief that cycling on trails is inherently dangerous to other park users, resulted in audible grumbles from the crowd. “We are loving the park to death… We have more children walking in the park than cyclists of any age,” she said, looking directly at people holding helmets and pro-cycling signs. “And we need your to help protect them. We need you to respect the rules about the trails.”

While the first panel promoted a fear of cycling and a vision of earth-destroying hoardes on two wheels that will spell doom for Forest Park, the next panelists spoke about a much brighter future once cycling is finally embraced.

“Gateway Green shouldn’t be the only place in the city for kids that like to ride their bikes in the woods and away from traffic.”
— Evan Smith

Evan Smith, who works for an environmental nonprofit and lives in the Linnton neighborhood adjacent to Forest Park, spoke about the role parks have played in the life of him and his daughters, ages seven and nine. “Like most kids their age, they much prefer to bike than hike,” he shared. “But where is there for them to ride in Portland?” Smith said he’s driven his girls to a trailhead off NW Germantown Road to ride the unpaved Leif Ericson road inside Forest Park, “But it doesn’t hold much appeal and the off‐leash dogs are scary to them,” he explained. “Everything else [in Forest Park] is way too steep for them — and for most beginning cyclists.”

Smith added that his kids love riding at Gateway Green, the new bike park in east Portland, but that it, “Shouldn’t be the only place in the city for kids that like to ride their bikes in the woods and away from traffic.”

Then Smith shared a point that’s become one of the central rallying cries from bike advocates: “Like the prior panel, I share the concern about the long‐term ecological health of Forest Park. Unlike them, I think the biggest threat to the health of our natural areas is not more users; but apathy.” Smith’s point, echoed by others at the meeting, is that if we don’t find a way to engage new and different populations of park users, we’ll miss out on thousands of future volunteer hours and millions of future donor dollars that could help protect and preserve the park.

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Just part of the crowd.

Another panelist in favor of cycling, Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA) President Bob Lessard (who also has a Master’s Degree in forest ecology and a PhD in wildlife conservation), put it this way: “Successful conservation happens with partners and not by excluding user groups. This is especially true when human pressure is growing and the demands are becoming more diverse.”

Tonya Booker raised a point of concern about equity and inclusion, given that all the people who spoke in support of the plan (and nearly everyone in the crowd) was white.

NW Trail Alliance Secretary Jocelyn Quarrell, a former board member of Friends of Gateway Green, told the Parks Board in her testimony that the plan is a “step in the right direction.” However, she has concerns that the plan pre-emptively prohibits cycling access or improvements on large swaths of existing trails. “Please carefully reconsider the closures and trail restrictions made, as they were made outside the committee process without discussion or clear data to base the decisions,” she said. “Opening up and improving existing trails to allow for off-road cyclists is by far the least expensive and most responsive action that can be made.”

When it comes to River View Natural Area, panelist John Miller said he wants it completely removed from consideration in the plan. He and another panelist said that the natural area is a crucial watershed that feeds into the Willamette River and its ecological value is simply incompatible with cycling. Countering that argument was NW Trail Alliance Advocacy Chair Andrew Jansky. He read a statement from Metro (who owns the River View easement) that “nature-based recreation” — which cycling qualifies under — is permitted. “Trails can be made in ways that would not degrade the ecological values,” Jansky said.

At the end of the meeting Parks Board member Jim Owens (who acted as board liaison to the Off-road Cycling Master Plan) led a discussion about a letter he’s drafted that outlines the board’s recommendations to BPS. His constructive criticisms of the plan included concerns that it only includes city-owned properties and therefore prevents planners from building an inter-connected off-road cycling system; and that it lacks a list of priorities or implementation plan (he suggested BPS reconvene the committee to create one).

Board member Tonya Booker said she’s a mountain biker, but like many people, she sold her bike when she moved to Portland 10 years ago because there’s no place to ride it in the city. Booker also raised a point of concern about equity and inclusion, given that all the people who spoke in support of the plan (and nearly everyone in the crowd) was white. Booker is concerned that the demand for off-road cycling isn’t coming from from all parts of the city — especially places where black and brown people live. While the people who showed up yesterday are not an accurate representation of how the plan was developed, Booker’s message was heard loud and clear by the advocates I’ve heard from since the meeting. “That was a missed opportunity on the part of the cycling advocates,” one person shared with me, “and we should have anticipated it.”

Another advocate forwarded me a video of kids riding off-road in Ventura Park, the site of the Portland’s first pump track (the plan calls for building a network of these around the city).

One perspective from bike advocates is that the reason off-road cycling is currently so white is that it takes privilege to participate in. You need a car, money to fill it with gas, and lots of free time to drive to a trail. If we expand opportunities to ride off-road in local parks (where people can bike to), the thinking goes, the faces will change. This is already playing out in places like Ventura Park (as seen in the video above) and at Gateway Green.

There was a lot of talk among the board about a lack of funding to build the trails and new facilities envisioned in the plan. “Given budget constraints, unless a group steps up to help, nothing will happen in the short-term,” said Board member Jim Owens. His comments were followed by several people in the crowd holding up signs that said, “Let NWTA Help.” Those signs underscore a strong feeling that if the City would just embrace off-road cycling it would open up exciting partnership possibilities with a well-established local nonprofit and hundreds of dedicated volunteers just waiting to step up.

Owen said one way to get cycling improvements sooner would be to do a pilot project. Bike advocates would love to see this. Many cities across the country have already implemented trail-sharing plans and other creative trail use programs that could be applied to Forest Park and elsewhere.

The next step is for the Parks Board to complete their recommendation letter. Once that’s done, we’ll share it here on the front page.

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

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

87 Comments
  • rick April 4, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    Forest Park’s most serious threats are the nature and current function of Highway 30 and the clear-cut private property turned into landslides: check NW Newberry Road.

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    • matt April 5, 2018 at 7:00 am

      The Newberry Rd slide isn’t the result of a clear cut. More like a failed culvert.

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  • John Liu April 4, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    I cannot see why a few MTB trails in Forest Park will damage the park, its wildlife, or the experience for other park users. If the bike trails are placed correctly, you won’t even be able to see them from the hiking trails, just like you can’t see Wildwood from Leif Erickson.

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    • I wear many hats April 10, 2018 at 9:15 am

      Yes, yes, yes, yes. This is what logical people need to hear. Thank you for saying it!

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  • Chris I April 4, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    If they are really concerned about the ecology and runoff issues in Forest Park, they should be advocating for the closure of all roads that intersect the park and the demolition of all homes to feed runoff water into the park. It is absolutely absurd that these people cite the negative environmental impacts of cycling while ignoring the real impacts that cars and houses have on air quality and storm water. Hypocrites.

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  • RH April 4, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    I think virtual reality mountain biking will exist before trails in Forest Park are built.

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    • Alan Love April 4, 2018 at 3:05 pm

      Instead of Zwift, Zhred?

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      • matt April 5, 2018 at 7:09 am

        I already hit Zwift up about that… They have no plans for it. 🙁 Currently smart trainers can’t simulate the power curves needed to accurately replicate mountain biking. Although, the road surface feel on the new Tacx is pretty coolfor cobbles and gravel.

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  • Alex April 4, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    “One perspective from bike advocates is that the reason off-road cycling is currently so white is that it takes privilege to participate in.”

    Tonya (I am forgetting her last name), a board member, made a comment about how this is mainly being advocated by white people and not inclusive. She also mentioned that she hung up her mountain bike when she moved to Portland because there was no mountain biking. This, to me, was sort of a highlight of the evening – this is completely chicken-vs-egg thinking. She admits that she (a minority) quit mtn biking because it wasn’t accessible, yet she expects there to be more diversity in the crowd. If we don’t have local access – especially at places like Dog Bowl, which is very accessible by bicycle to historically minority communities – how do we get more diversity in the first place. I also heard John “Mountain bike industrial complex” loudly agree with her – which I found ironic considering that everyone representing his point of view was retired (or near retired) and all white.

    I also found it ironic that basically all of the people arguing about sustainability looked like they drove to the meeting and did not bike or take public transport. Maybe Marcy hopped the bus from Sauvie Island, but I am kind of doubting it.

    The parks board also iterated why the funding was going to be a problem, it was one of alignment with their goals. I think the mtb community needs to talk that queue, organize their arguments to align with the language the parks board is using and go from there.

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    • Alex April 4, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      Ha – wrote my comment before reading the article. Booker it is! And I am super happy that you pointed that fact out – I thought it was key.

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    • rick April 4, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      I was right by Tonya when she made that statement yesterday. Does the board forget about the people in poverty in Aloha, Hillsboro, or North Portland? Maybe some of those people want to use mountain biking to get to work on the other side of the West Hills ?

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      • David Hampsten April 4, 2018 at 11:13 pm

        A second question should be, just because you don’t see very many “visible” minorities at the meeting, how do you know they are not there? Many people who identify themselves as American Indian, Puerto Rican, Latina/o, and African American do their best to blend in, to look “white” to avoid outward signs of discrimination and oppression, while there are others from Europe, especially from Eastern Europe and Russia, not to mention LGBT, who suffer a lot of the same discrimination in spite of their skin color while living and working in Portland.

        To misquote another commentator further on, “photos lie.”

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    • JBone April 4, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      True all of this. I have nothing more to say at the moment other than http://www.tripsforkids.org and http://www.nationalmtb.org. Please consider getting involved. These are wonderful ways to be a change agent in this ORCMP trail endeavor and in the life of a kid.

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    • Gabriel Amadeus Tiller April 5, 2018 at 2:04 pm

      Totally agree with you on Tonya’s comments and the chicken/egg conundrum.

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    • I wear many hats April 5, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Her point was made despite the Park’s Board synopsis (delivered prior to the hearing), stating that the MTB issue is much like the skateboarding issue in the past. It was the domain of white males, but then the Parks department built skateboard parks all over, and they heavily serve the community, and are filled with all types of people now. Its disingenuous to suggest that this plan does not reach people of color. It specifically calls for access throughout Portland, in communities of color. The video of the Ventura Park pump track is great and illustrates the need. How can a board that is so powerful be so ignorant of their own parks needs? It smells of cronyism, and not ignorance.
      PS. the Powell skatepark serves far more people than any tennis court.

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      • Dan A April 9, 2018 at 8:05 am

        I am not the kind of person to poach trails.

        But…I don’t think we’d have very many skate parks if all of the skaters just drove out of town to skate somewhere else. Skating in public plazas and becoming a general nuisance has helped to motivate the public to support dedicated venues for skateboarding. It wouldn’t surprise me if the same thing worked for mountain biking too.

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        • q April 9, 2018 at 8:23 am

          Yes. In fact, people who don’t like mountain bikes are the people who could really be wise to support trails for them, for that reason.

          It’s the same with dog parks. When someone tells you to that if you want to walk your dog off leash, you should take them to a dog park, and your reply is, “I’d love to, but the nearest park is 5 miles away”, that’s a valid argument, even if not a legal excuse.

          If your dog is off leash, and you’re a 500 yard walk away from the dog park, your excuse evaporates.

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  • NC April 4, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    “Tonya Booker raised a point of concern about equity and inclusion, given that all the people who spoke in support of the plan (and nearly everyone in the crowd) was white.”

    I think that applied to the older white folk against the plan also.

    “Booker is concerned that the demand for off-road cycling isn’t coming from from all parts of the city — especially places where black and brown people live.”

    This equally applied to the all the folk against the plan too. Just not too many minorities in the wealthy west hills.

    It was noticed that the process has drawn more comments from both sides than any other issue before the board, this was noted a number of times, so to dismiss the interest so rapidly was interesting.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 4, 2018 at 2:27 pm

      Yes you are probably right NC. I too felt like some of the comments from the Board were unfortunate because they came off as being dismissive of the plan’s importance to the community. I mean, there are literally thousands of volunteer hours over 8-10 years if you go back to the modern origins of this battle over Forest Park. Then we get to this point of finally having a master plan — one that has resulted in more public comments than any other in the board’s history — and the comment from Board Member Kathy Fong Stephens that it just doesn’t rate as a major priority for them was very off-putting to me (note that I left her comments out of the story). I actually followed up with her after the meeting and asked her to clarify why she appeared to say this plan doesn’t meet “the highest values” of the parks’ board. She said her intention was to make it clear that, just because they might end up supporting the plan, it doesn’t mean that investing in off-road bike trails is their #1 funding priority — given all the other projects in demand citywide.

      I figure we should wait until their recommendation letter is complete. If there’s something in there about equity/inclusion and priority/funding than we’ll delve more into this.

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      • Alex April 4, 2018 at 10:33 pm

        I whole-heartedly agree about Kathy Fong Stephens comments and attitude. There was a protest of 300 people after banning mtbs in RVNA. When was the last time that they had such an engaged user group with so much energy?

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      • Amy April 5, 2018 at 7:23 pm

        30 years, Jonathan. PUMP was founded 30 years ago because of Forest Park access. Parks has said “next year” or “when we have money” to mountain bikers for thirty years. We don’t need money. We can build and maintain sustainable trails, with equal access.

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  • rick April 4, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Regarding the funding, what about the 2017 reports from the Willamette Week and Mercury newspapers about Portland’s public golf courses suffering from a decline of customers and that money?

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    • Chris I April 5, 2018 at 9:54 am

      Rose City golf course would make a fantastic public park with running trails, mountain bike trails, sports fields, etc. It would also allow the grid to be somewhat reconnected in that area.

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  • Dave April 4, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Advocates are 100% correct to bring up apathy as an enormous risk. As is, I have no reason to visit Forest Park, no reason to take my family there, no investment in it. I can count the times I’ve been there over the last 20 years on both hands. If developers proposed turning it back into the subdivision it was originally platted to be, I’d barely notice. Contrast with areas like Sandy Ridge or Gateway Green that were, not long ago, forgotten corners full of weeds and illegal garbage dumps. Now they have armies of dedicated users, and are actively growing and improving, both from ecological and recreational perspectives.

    If Forest Park dies, and it very well could, it’ll be because selfish people like Marcy Houle smothered it, not because other users were given an opportunity to “love it to death”.

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    • Cyclekrieg April 4, 2018 at 4:37 pm

      A great example of what you are talking about would be the James River Trail System in Richmond, VA. One of the oldest purpose built urban mountain bike trail systems in the USA. When the trails (mountain biking; hiking trails existed previously) went in, they started a long-term project to see what would happen to the bio-diversity. Answer: if humans take care of place and allow nature to be nature, it gets more diverse and animals come back. The trails, especially if placed based on ecology (which the existing trails in Forest Park definitely weren’t) have very little effect on the flora and fauna.

      The Friends of James River have done more to restore and maintain the naturalness of this park than any of people in these “friends of”, “coalition to save” or “conservation project” groups that testified against the ORCMP. And they (Friends of James River) did it all while embracing different user groups instead of shunning them.

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    • Alex April 4, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree. I rode down Leif for the first time in years. I enjoyed it less than ever and have little reason to go back. I want to be excited, but the attitude of the people who defend has ruined it all for me.

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    • wsbob April 4, 2018 at 7:05 pm

      The land making up Forest Park isn’t going to die. The land doesn’t need involvement of people to sustain it, and would do fine on it’s own as nature has done for eons. This is a key part of the principle upon which Forest Park, established as a refuge from the trappings of civilization, is based on.

      Mountain bike enthusiasts seek to bring vehicular recreation to this park. This type of recreation is entirely counter to the key principle upon which Forest Park is based. Some mountain bike enthusiasts have attempted to rationalize and justify the introduction of vehicular recreation to this natural land park, noting that some of the park’s visitors bring cell phones and other devices from the city into the park. Those devices, are not vehicles, though people using them should certainly be discreet with their use, just as they should be in libraries and concert halls where quiet is called for.

      If there is a great demand and need for mountain bike opportunities within Portland city limits, mountain bike enthusiasts ought to be able to rally great support for the acquisition of new land specifically designated to be used for mountain biking. They should not need to have to try persuade the city’s people to allow use of land designated for non-vehicular recreation, to be used for mountain biking.

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      • q April 4, 2018 at 9:48 pm

        Why?

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      • Alex April 4, 2018 at 10:35 pm

        Do you ever get tired of saying the same thing ad nauseam and just ignoring the facts in front of your face? Because I am definitely tired of hearing the same old lies.

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      • mran1984 April 4, 2018 at 11:50 pm

        ***sentence deleted by moderator****. You do not know the history of FP either. I’ll keep driving to the big trees if only to avoid the poison that Houle has spread over Forest Park. Does anyone even remember the fiber optic cable destruction that runs the length of Saltzman? Does anyone remember the irresponsible developer who caused the massive landslide two turns before the top of Saltzman? No, of course you don’t. Human excrement, English Ivy, illegal camping… no problem, but two wheels not good, uh. No wonder Trump is “our” president and Pruitt protects the environment. I will not be seeing you on the trail.

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      • John Liu April 5, 2018 at 7:51 am

        Forest Park is large, hilly and densely wooded. A few MTB trails could be located where they would not even be visible from the hiking trails, just as Wildwood can’t be seen from Leif Erickson.

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      • Snowden April 5, 2018 at 7:59 am

        Wsbob – The land making up Forest Park isn’t going to die. The land doesn’t need involvement of people to sustain it, and would do fine on it’s own as nature has done for eons. This is a key part of the principle upon which Forest Park, established as a refuge from the trappings of civilization, is based on.

        This is a ridiculous statement. Don’t pretend the park is an oasis, outside the influence of human influence. The park is impacted continuously by our activities – air pollution, human traffic, dogs, introduction of invasives, stormwater discharges, etc. As such, it does need our care. Without it, it will continue to degrade. Bringing more interest and involvement from Portlanders is a good thing.

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      • Daniel Greenstadt April 5, 2018 at 12:45 pm

        “vehicular…vehicular…vehicular” Maybe you think that repeating the word often enough will help paint cycling with the disdain that you clearly harbor. But I have bad news for you: the 1995 Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan explicitly recognizes, allows, and encourages this “vehicular recreation” in the park. But the plan just calls it cycling and it is explicitly one of the passive recreational uses that the park is intended for. You can read the plan here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/469536

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      • Ben G April 5, 2018 at 2:27 pm

        The real history of the park is has roads built in it. A large section of it was literally sprayed off to fill in NW industrial area. And its pretty much all been logged. Lets not pretend this is Eden. It’s a public park. For the people. We want more people to love it. Large sections will get more attention than they’ve had in decades if we let cyclist plan new sections.

        And to all the naturalist claiming it’s bad for the environment have you been outside Portland much? I was out near Vernonia and went by multiple clear cuts, use your energy to get mad at that. So many times more damage to wildlife and habitat than a few trails. Lets be real, its not the environment its that you don’t like change and/or don’t like bikes.

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      • Gary April 5, 2018 at 3:28 pm

        You’ve chosen an interesting rhetorical strategy. “Vehicular”– relying on a statutory classification of a bicycle as a vehicle. Why does that distinction matter in this context, though? Why’s that the line at which you’re drawing acceptable uses of the park?

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      • q April 5, 2018 at 3:38 pm

        But by your own logic, wsbob, if mountain bikers are successful in getting the city to purchase new locations and create new trails on them for mountain biking, won’t those be immediately overrun with people driving cars or motorcycles on the trails? After all, if mountain bikes are “vehicles”, then the trails would be open to all vehicles.

        Or could it be that bikes are something other than typical “vehicles” and riding them can actually can be a perfectly fine addition to activities in Forest Park?

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  • David April 4, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    If any of these people against mountain biking actually cared about the wildlife or ecology in Forest Park they would be asking for dogs to be banned. Most of them end up off-leash at some point and as Jonathan has covered previously dogs are more harmful to these types of environments that hikers or bikers by quite a bit. Getting rid of off-leash dogs would also go a long way to making Forest Park more inviting to everyone.

    Also an interesting contrast in those pictures of panels for and against mountain biking in Forest Park. As others have noted everyone is white but the people against look to be roughly twice the age of the people who are for. Either there is some wisdom that wasn’t passed down or this is about preserving the status quo without regard to outside information.

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    • maxD April 4, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      I ride up Saltzman a lot. The majority of dogs I encounter are off-leash and I have never had a problem. The only close call I had was a dog on an extend-o-leash, and the only time I have been growled at was by a dog on a leash. I really don’t get the hatred toward off-leash dogs or bikes. IMO, the both stem from a desire to overly control every situation.

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      • Charley April 5, 2018 at 10:43 pm

        Maybe you’d understand if you’d been bit, by an unleashed dog, while minding your own business, riding on Leif Erickson. As they say, once bit, twice shy: after getting bit, I no longer ride on Leif Erickson.

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        • Dan A April 6, 2018 at 9:24 am

          All park users should be responsible for their own safety, and be required to wear bite-resistant clothing.

          https://www.bite-pro.com/

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  • x April 4, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    One of the requirements for community gardeners (and one of the metrics of success) for Portland Parks Community Gardens is for a minimum 6 hours of volunteer activity per year. Does somebody have a number for the average volunteer hours of NWTA members?

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  • Andrew Kreps April 4, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Thompson’s final remarks are the same recycled argument I’ve heard since the early 2000’s. It’s never backed up by facts or evidence. Can we put a burden of proof on people speaking at events like this?

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    • Alex April 4, 2018 at 5:50 pm

      Ha – she has been active for years, saying things like “We need to come together” and then taking a completely divisive stance. Watching her reactions to points being made didn’t make me think she was trying to build bridges between communities, only digging the trenches deeper.

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  • David Hampsten April 4, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    One of the reasons the meeting was so “white” is that it was scheduled downtown during the day, when most “working-poor” people are working. If they had the meeting at David Douglas High School on a weekday evening or on a Saturday afternoon, what would the crowd have looked like?

    Considering they were primarily discussing two large parks in the whitest and wealthiest parts of predominantly-white Portland, do you think the discussion would have been different if they were discussing Powell Butte and Kelly Butte Parks? Would as many hikers and bikers have shown up? Would Bike Portland even be there to report on it?

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    • Alex April 4, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      Exactly – which speaks even more volume about the mtb community. The people against it were mainly retired people without full time jobs. The mountain bikers had to take time off of work to show up – I know I had to.

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      • David Hampsten April 4, 2018 at 11:03 pm

        Being a citizen involves far more than voting and serving on juries, so I’m glad you took the opportunity to attend and that your employer gave you the opportunity to attend. For many of the working poor, their employers are not so generous, while the time needed to get downtown and find parking or make the needed bus connections each way would have wiped out half their day.

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        • Alex April 5, 2018 at 9:15 am

          I agree and that was completely the point I was trying to make.

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    • Gabriel Amadeus Tiller April 5, 2018 at 2:11 pm

      Seriously. Ugh.

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  • Brian April 4, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Looks like we need some knowledgeable off road cyclists on the Parks Board.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 4, 2018 at 7:44 pm

      I agree. And it just so happens they have four positions opening in July.

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      • q April 4, 2018 at 9:53 pm

        That link doesn’t seem to be leading to where it should be.

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      • David Hampsten April 4, 2018 at 11:16 pm

        If you want to change the makeup of any board, you need to change the makeup of your City Council. They decide who does or does not serve on the Parks Board (or any other city board and commission for that matter.)

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      • I wear many hats April 5, 2018 at 12:02 pm

        Thank you for the heads up. Applications are due next week. I don’t know whether to state my NWTA membership, or leave it absent. Public comment records would surely show my bias however. Only filling out and turning in the application will tell if its an exercise in futility. But I guess I’m growing accustomed to that.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 5, 2018 at 1:17 pm

          Don’t shy away from what you believe in! If they don’t want you because you have a passion for an issue and are dedicated to doing something about it — then it’s not a group worth joining IMO.

          And the fact that you are even thinking this shows the depth of the bias that exists against bicycling in America. It’s really sick. I’ve heard of people being kicked out of jury duty because they are “bicyclists” and therefore can’t be trusted to be impartial on a traffic crash case. Give me a break. The assumption that you are biased simply because you participate in a marginalized, minority activity is a load of BS — What about people who only drive? Do we ever see society calling out their bias?

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  • Portlandia Skit April 4, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    The Left Eats its Own, episode 2634. This whole process has been a) tragic & b) a case study of leftist cognitive dissonance. “I only like legalistic coercion when I get to chose who’s liberty is violated. Spoiler alert: not my own.” SOME are more equal than others. Moonbat enviro leftists in Bike City USA(tm) RAIL against letting bikes on trails in a 5,172 acre forest. “To protect the birds from hearing a skid! (shudders with fear).” It’s a forest so large people get lost. Bodies have been dumped, then discovered much later, decayed. The Pantheist environmental zealot serfs on each side trip over each other to plead with the all-powerful council of Lords, about whom is the more faithful sect at worshipping nature. A minority plays a race card, & white leftists melt with guilt. Hands are wrung. If people’s basic liberty & pursuit of happiness weren’t being so wantonly violated, this would all be laughable. At the western edge of Forest Park, there’s a huge mine! Check google earth. As we all know, another edge is a 4 lane highway! Just another simple example of what Portland desperately needs: some, ANY, intellectual diversity, a reasonable voting block that rejects the constant usurious taxing, pantheist zealot, redistributing, zoning-dominating, coercive, woke, jokers. There’s only one way for a Portlander like me to have trails where I live: move away.

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    • Chris I April 5, 2018 at 9:59 am

      Tell us how you really feel.

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  • Rain Waters April 4, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Two pictures worth a thousand words.

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    • rick April 5, 2018 at 6:55 am

      Which two pictures?

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      • Rain Waters April 5, 2018 at 3:18 pm

        The two pictures of panels of four. Note their facial expressions.

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  • I wear many hats April 4, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    The frustrating thing about this whole exercise was that the Board already had been briefed, and only had public comment to mollify the crowd. It was interesting seeing how disinterested the board was when others were speaking. What is the value of this public process and comment barrage if 12 people get to derail 2 years of work by the PAC and the BPS? The Board has not heard, or will not hear, that the Forest Park option trails are a disservice to everyone involved, and should be shelved until trail standards are modernized. How do we make them hear that? No one is going to wait 25 years to ride on the Fire Lane 1 trail option. What do we do until then?

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  • ################ April 4, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    1. The age difference. 2. The lack of diversity. 3. Protests start now!

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    • rick April 5, 2018 at 6:54 am

      What about the people who would like to use Forest Park as their bike commute? Many jobs are on Columbia / Lombard and in Washington County.

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      • Alex April 5, 2018 at 6:15 pm

        You have the bike friendly, beautiful hwy 30 on for all of your commuting needs.

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  • rf April 4, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    I will give up riding trails if they give up leaving plastic bags of dog shit.

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  • JB April 5, 2018 at 12:10 am

    This city is ridiculous! Self-righteous, exclusionist attitudes by the folks making the same unsubstantiated agruments against mountain biking and preventing sustainable MTB trail development are part of the reasons my, and other families, recently moved to Bend. The strong opposition to mountain biking amidst the power structures of this city is mind-numbing.

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    • I wear many hats April 5, 2018 at 8:04 am

      Planning my exit as well. It is mind-numbing to continue to present a scientifically valid, and honest argument to a city entity, only to have it beaten back by fear-mongering and outright lies every time a decision is being made. Those who are fed up do not need to leave town. They need to unite not only for advocacy in a high rise, but also on our local trails. Be seen out there. Forget the night rides and set a good example during the day.

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      • Brian April 5, 2018 at 8:27 am

        Same. Hood River and Bend are looking better and better with each passing year.

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        • Eric April 5, 2018 at 9:40 am

          Don’t sleep on Sisters!

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          • Brian April 5, 2018 at 9:57 am

            Good call.

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  • Kurt April 5, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Does anyone under the age of 60 oppose more opportunities. Talk about a lack of diversity.

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  • Jim Lee April 5, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    For the record, JM years ago I was INCLUDED on a jury because my favorite TV show was, “Buffy, Slayer of Vampires.”

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  • antianti April 5, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    How lopsided to push the narrative on inclusion and privilege. Kudos to all who push back against this backwards line of thinking. My family which is mixed, cannot afford adventure vehicles with V8’s, but we can afford decent off-road bicycles. Get off the virtue and false science concerns Portland, and build a system of trails for all your citizens.

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  • tomg April 5, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Some how I found myself on your web page and was saddened but not surprised that you folks up in Portland are facing the same hypocrisy over access that we have down here in the SF Bay Area. The tide is changing in some areas but largely we hear the same tired arguments from self-proclaimed “environmentalists” about how the land is “pristine” and must be protected from bicycle-induced erosion, etc. Meanwhile the land and trails are totally neglected by the public agencies that own it. I think we need to form alliances with other trail users (runners, equestrians) and, yes, get those young and not-so-white folks out to the meetings and rides.

    The photo of the guys holding those signs “let us help” resonated with me because our bike group (BTCEB) has invested thousands in tools and can mobilize a hundred [strong] volunteers to build and fix trails….if only they would let us!

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    • rick April 6, 2018 at 9:54 am

      Have you told the many people in the Bay area about the invasive trees and plants? I’ve heard about the threat towards wildfires. The Bay area seems amazing in regards to the easy process of adopting and / or rebuilding staircases and stairways; it is so slow here for those wanting to hike or use a “cyclecross” experience.

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      • Tom Gandesbery April 6, 2018 at 12:15 pm

        Interest groups divide and sub divide. Now there are environmentalists who want (rightly so) to control invasive trees (like Eucalyptus) and restore to more a native landscape, and another group who sues and present pseudo scientific mumbo-jumbo to stop such work. Net: [some] land managers and Fox News sit back and laugh at how all those self-righteous Berkeley liberals eat each other up.

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  • Solution Finder April 8, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Just happened to see this 32 acre property for sale near Skyline Blvd, just past Cornelius Pass Road. $275K. Not sure if it would have enough slope to be interesting to cyclists, but it might. Type these coordinates into Gobble Earth: 45.6528, -122.9106

    That’s the ballpark location. Here’s the Zillow data on it:

    https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/fsba,fsbo_lt/house,land_type/119266698_zpid/43560-_lot/pricea_sort/45.677581,-122.853842,45.61806,-122.989969_rect/12_zm/0_mmm/?

    Maybe your comrades in the city government will provide some funds to buy it for you. Look around on that Zillow website – may be better properties in the area somewhere.

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    • Cyclekrieg April 9, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      That is great property. Though for urban access it has issues, not really being close enough to be accessible by public transportation or from neighborhoods. That is really the issue here. As mentioned above, park of the lack of diversity for mountain biking advocacy in Portland is the fact to currently have a good experience mountain biking, you must have a certain level of financial ability to own a vehicle and the free time to get to the trails.

      As to slope, slope is less important than surface undulations, regardless of how small. That allows sustainable trails to be built in sideslope.

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      • Solution Finder April 9, 2018 at 8:30 pm

        It’s not single-track, but I like riding from top of Thurman on Leif Ericcson, to Saltzman and up to Skyline and back to Thurman. The ride down Saltzman is fun!

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  • JBone April 10, 2018 at 9:01 am

    Great write-up (as usual), Jonathan, but I think a significant part of the Parks meeting was omitted from your story: The 30 minute presentation of the Albina Vision that preceded the ORCMP panel and discussions and, in my opinion, loaded the room with concerns of equity.
    (https://bikeportland.org/2017/09/11/albina-vision-would-restore-historic-rose-quarter-neighborhood-put-biking-and-walking-first-242490)

    Personally, I’m a big fan of the Albina Vision on many levels, including restorative justice. But I must say Rukaiyah Adams, the first speaker, was kinda off-putting to me with her subtle condescension and vilifying of white people. I think the presentation, and her tone in particular, set the mood for ORCMP discussion among Parks board members as their main concern seems to be around issues of equity (and as it relates to funding priority). My recollection, from what I was able to audibly hear, was that very little of their comments re: the ORCMP plan in general (Forest Park and Riverview excluded) had anything to do with the traditional concerns: environment, shared use, etc.

    I respectfully attempted to speak with Tonya Booker after the meeting and briefly let her know that the ORCMP could directly address equity through programs like Trips for Kids (which could work hand-in-hand with PPR’s GRUNT program) and having bike parks in diverse locations across the city. Surprisingly, she wasn’t interested in hearing what I had to say. I’m waiting to see if she responds to an email I sent her office.

    Additionally, I believe that having trails in the city is crucial to Portland livability, and a special committee/task force needs to be established within NWTA to address the ORCMP concerns of the PPR board and in the future the city council. A few folks in NWTA have done great advocacy work, but seems this issue is going to require an army of advocates, some with professional-level marketing skillsets. One part of this would be a PR campaign. Most people I chat with about this (even mtb’ers) don’t even know about the plan. What if a short 15-20 minute documentary be made and/or a press campaign took this issue to the eyes and ears of the masses? I think the public outcry would be significant and might be the tipping point in our favor. Or it may backfire and all the misinformed, zealous enviros would come out and squash the dream. Any other opinions re: this?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 10, 2018 at 9:04 am

      Hi JBone,

      The reason I didn’t mention the Albina Vision is because this was a post about the Off-road cycling plan, not about Albina Vision. But more importantly, I have already covered that project. In fact, BikePortland was the first media outlet to cover it! Here’s the story from back in September – https://bikeportland.org/2017/09/11/albina-vision-would-restore-historic-rose-quarter-neighborhood-put-biking-and-walking-first-242490. I would have done another story but there were no significant updates shared by Adams or Santner.

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      • JBone April 10, 2018 at 9:10 am

        Thanks for the reply:) Do you have an opinion re: my assertion that “the presentation, and her (Adams) tone in particular, set the mood for ORCMP discussion among Parks board members as their main concern seems to be around issues of equity (and as it relates to funding priority).”?
        I think these “elephants in the room” too often get ignored and unaccounted for.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 10, 2018 at 9:26 am

          That’s a complicated question JBone… and it’s one that’s very prone to being misinterpreted when shared electronically by a white bike advocate.

          But yes, her comments did set the tone. In my experience once someone mentions racial equity around a table like that, many other people around the table will mention it too… in order to make sure everyone knows they believe it’s a priority to (whether they truly believe that or not).

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          • I wear many hats April 10, 2018 at 9:32 am

            Its very difficult to advocate in Portland without whitemansplaining, and equally difficult to recruit POC to advocate with us without tokenizing them, whether inadvertent or not. While equity is important, it did very much color the remaining 75% of the meeting, to the detriment of a robust equitable ORCMP.

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  • JBone April 10, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Appreciate your candor and points are well taken.

    FWIW, I think we are more than white bike advocates, though I understand that reductions like that are more convenient and sometimes necessary.
    For instance, I grew up as a white minority in urban Dallas (no, some white dude didn’t bestow upon me the nickname ‘JBone’:) and I’ve made it my vocation to serve undeserved minorities through cycling programs, as a SPED teacher, and a volunteer mentor.
    It’s unfortunate the cynical and skeptical assumptions we have and the categories we put groups of people in.

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