Story by former Northwest Trail Alliance President Chris Rotvik.
It’s 2020. Tucked away in a semi-wooded corner of the 148-acre Luscher Area in Lake Oswego is Farr Bike Park (just 10 miles south of Portland), with trails designed by local builder Chris Bernhardt. Riders, many of whom pedaled in on BMX bikes and dirt jumpers, drop in to one of four lines — beginner to black diamond — and punctuate each run with the fist-bumps and bonding that flow like trails in this segment of off-road cycling.
Luscher Farm Trail Plan Community Forum
March 21st, 6:00 to 8:00 pm at City of Lake Oswego Maintenance Center (17601 Pilkington Rd)
Each line makes use of the seven acre site’s natural slope, so pedaling becomes secondary to extracting the maximum fun (and skill progression) from the in-built technical features. These features run the gamut from widely-spaced, gentle rollers and berms with optional bridge and log rides on the green line, to the black line’s five-foot jumps, wall rides, aggressive drops, and rock pitches among frequent, large rollers, tables, and berms.
Soft-surface trails built with cycling in mind connect the bike park into Luscher’s larger multi-user network. At about two linear miles initially, that network is a rough match in distance to Gateway Green in east Portland, but rambles about on more than three times Gateway Green’s acreage. Riders of all ages — including many training for Oregon’s National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA)-affiliated race series for middle and high school students — hot lap their trail bikes on a circuit within the site’s easternmost Brock property, the most engaging in terms of terrain and user separation. Closer in to the amenities, families bike-stroll the trails alongside runners, walkers, and dogs.
It’s all part of an inspired vision. Rewinding back to now, Ivan Anderholm, Lake Oswego’s director of parks and recreation, sees the Luscher Area trails as the first of a set of bike-friendly segments throughout the city, all easily connected via short jaunts on pavement into a sizable circuit, drawing out residents and drawing in employers.
Everyone gains from this investment, particularly our kids. Captivated by — and often captives of — their digital devices, kids are becoming less and less interested in the outdoors. According to one study by Seattle Children’s Research Institute (and there are many more stating similar results), youth aged 10 to 16 spend just 13 minutes a day in outdoor activities. This lack of contact with the outdoors hurts their physical and mental health, sense of well-being, academic performance, and respect for the environment.
We need to give them more urban recreation opportunities. Despite the rarity of suitable trails close to home, mountain biking and BMX have grown significantly in terms of participation nationwide — about 25 percent since 2007. Over the same period, traditional ball sports have declined as much as 38 percent. Now, mountain biking and BMX, taken together, matches soccer in popularity, ranks above softball and football, and lags only slightly behind basketball and baseball.
Unfortunately, reminiscent of Portland’s tempestuous relationship with off-road cycling, there’s a “not in my farmyard” reaction taking place among a few folks who use the historic core of the parcel — a mid-century dairy occupying 15 percent of Luscher’s total acreage — for community farming. This historic core is untouched by the bike park and trail plans, and those plans are consistent with the Luscher Area Master Plan.
Places like Luscher Farm are indeed precious, and are made even more so as they become more attractive to our children. Let’s share the harvest, instead of spoiling it.
Come join me for the final plan reveal and add your voice (non-residents are welcome) on March 21st at 6:00. Details are on the City of Lake Oswego website; if nothing else, please take the online survey.
— Chris Rotvik
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