Since the day it opened in 2017, one of the things I always hoped for with Gateway Green was that it would attract a diverse crop of riders.
A visit on a sunny spring Saturday confirmed that my hopes have been realized.
Portland’s first (and only) off-road bike park, situated on 25 acres between two freeways just north of the Gateway Transit Center, recently got a massive upgrade. Now Portlanders are voting with their feet and the popularity of the park has skyrocketed.
There’s so much to love about Gateway Green. It offers a wide variety of trails and skill areas that can help nearly any rider progress from newbie to novice and well beyond (there’s even a trail for adaptive bike riders!). But beyond any of the features or facilities, what stands out to me every time I visit is not what’s in the park, but who’s in the park.
Kids have flocked to Gateway Green. All types of them — from different social, economic and racial backgrounds. They come with parents from all over the region, and they also bike to the park alone from nearby neighborhoods. On Saturday there were kids everywhere — most of them (I assumed) had ridden in via the I-205 path. They were all so active and social, it really gave me hope!
Check out a few more images to see what the crowds are looking like these days…
Gateway Green is one of the greatest things to ever happen to cycling in Portland. Where should we build the next one?
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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There should be one of these built at every golf course owned by the city of Portland. Colwood, Eastmoreland, Heron Lakes, Rose City and RedTail Golf Center, though RedTail is located in Beaverton. I’m sure we could share some of the acres of land reserved for golfers.
Yes! The amount of land consumed by golf courses is way out of proportion to the number of people who use them. It’s clearly not the best use of the land, if we value providing park facilities to the greatest number of people.
Could not agree more. Nothing against golf but it serves a smaller demographic at a higher cost.
Golf course are often a money looser for cities too. A lot of the loss is buried in the parks overhead column. On paper the golf course looks to making money or at least breaking even. Dig into the details there is lot of money being shoveled out the door.
Just a cost difference analysis here: the generally accepted cost for hiker/biker singletrack in a city costs the city $500/mile. That includes everything – insurance, maintenance, etc. Since the average trail occupies 10 to 20 acres, that makes natural areas with singletrack one of the cheapest public amenities per an acre.
Can you tell me where you get the $500/mile number? I’d like to contact the folks who charge this.
City of Duluth. Its their costs per a mile of trail. That is EVERYTHING, a lot of it is in opening/closing the trail during hunting season & spring (they don’t have volunteers do it), regular inspections, costs associated with insurance, licensing and winter grooming items not covered by COGGS.
https://duluthmn.gov/media/6830/rfs-final-duluth-traverse-trail-masterplan-final-20170424.pdf – Page 39
I was there on a recent weekend too and I was thinking the exact same thing…there is so much diversity! The park is such a treasure. I’d even say it is one of my favorite parks in the world. There is just so many things to love about it…it’s really amazing.
That’s cool to hear. I just wish the I-205 path there wasn’t so “scary” for kids.. I once ran into a pretty aggressive guy on the path (appeared intoxicated or high) and then there was some guy shooting up right next to the bike trail in the park. I personally would be anxious riding there with younger kids and I unfortunately opt to drive,. 🙁
I used to enjoy riding up and down the 205 path but gave up on it. Same with the Springwater. Too many scary encounters with the “neighborly” people who have commandeered the paths. I’ll take my chances with cars while in the bike lanes. Peace.
How is what occurs along the bike path different than what occurs in East Portland neighborhoods, or even at home for that matter? I dare say lots of East Portland kids have seen relatives and family shoot up, get drunk, and act weird, not to mention all those crazy impaired fast drivers on the streets. Everything is relative. If you were growing up in Portland, wouldn’t you prefer the drug addicts along the path to the drug addicts driving on the city streets?
If a kid is seeing bad stuff in their neighborhood, isn’t that all the more reason to clean up bike paths to provide a safe respite?
I have no idea what you are really saying here. Everything isn’t relative. It’s not about choosing between people on the path or driving high. Those are’t the only two choices. John brings up a great point about the lack of safety on the path and it’s affect on GG usability.
For me, the key difference when cycling is escape routes. On the Springwater and I-205 paths, there are many places where you can get easily boxed in. On a neighborhood street, you have more options for avoiding possible conflict, even with cars.
I don’t understand your comment. There obviously is some of what you say at homes in East Portland but there are a lot more of good families who love their kids, take care of them and strive keep them from being exposed to drug use, violence and substance abuse. I don’t think we should tolerate violent and/or intoxicated people in the streets or the bike paths. Doing so is not compassion, it is enabling.
It’s not just scary for kids, I stopped riding the I-205 path from Vancouver for my commute since its now completely blocked under the railroad overpass by Sandy Blvd. I now drive into Portland and park at a friends house for my commute into downtown
Start with replacing the dirt mini XC/whatever course that they threw at New Columbia with an asphalt pump track.
I work with the company that ” owns” that and been trying to pitch that idea for a asphalt pump track but it keeps falling on death ear…
PIR – plenty of space outside the entry gates and it’s near existing bike trails and a Max stop. The downside is the surroundings have some crime, homeless camp and drug problems but a pump track might help bring some attention and positive activity to the area.
Another downside is that it’s crazy far away for the majority of Portlanders (esp. kids from East Portland). If you’re just looking to do a pump track, would be easy to fit one in Delta Park as well, right? Downside of PIR for actual trails is that there isn’t much elevation to work with.
PDX really needs these kind of parks in all quadrants (and they have the land to do it, they just need the will: Forest Park, Powell Butte, River View and PIR would all seem like obvious choices.
Please no. Not all bike activity has to be quarantined to PIR!
how bout some cross country trails for us old timers not interested in catching air? Wish there was a bikes only single track trail thru forest park.
Have you been to Gateway Green? They have XC-ish trails.
The area and lengths of trails are tiny – fine for pump track and jumps, but no, no XC experience to be had there.
Totally agree. There are some serious little groms shredding the new jump lines. And in maybe 10 years we’ll have some X Games level dirt jump talent in Portland. But GG is kinda a one trick pony in terms of offroad biking. The single track in the trees is a joke. If you can’t or don’t want to do dirt jumps it really has minimal utility, in my experience. The fact that there isn’t a long parameter xc loop is a miss.
There’s a decent XC trail around the perimeter of the park that I’ll do laps on, and there’s a trail with some doubles on it that follows the gravel road past the bathroom and center of the park, and it’s all rollable. Even the “gravity lines” are fun to roll down, just take the easy green line to the right. The pump track is great exercise with your wheels on the ground. The only things with “mandatory” air are the main big jump lines in the middle of the park, and the drops in the skills area.
Heck, even the big jump line and the smallest of the skills area drops are rollable. It is scary rolling the jump line… but not as scary as getting air (I haven’t worked up the nerve yet).
I’ve been in the habit of doing XC laps where I roll the big jump line, then go north on the east-side perimeter trail, descent down the west side trail to the bathrooms, hit one of the smaller jump lines by the pump track, and then huff it back up the hill.
GG isn’t perfect, but I can ride there from my house. Sometimes you don’t have a full day to spend hauling your bike to some mountain biking destination. I love being able to get in an hour early in the morning or after the kids go to bed. I can’t do that at Sandy Ridge.
Gateway Green does not have a big footprint. You can only do so much for XC trails. What they have there now is decent enough for the space that it has to work with.
The XC line on the hill and the “advanced” XC line below HAD decent flow, but were altered to put jump-y features in a couple years ago. Honestly they’ve been kind of ruined ever since; now you have to brake to avoid being launched involuntarily, into a downhill, hillside traverse slope zone with no safe area to land. It’s pointless and makes me wonder who came up with this trail design. I don’t even see the dirt jump kiddies riding it; it’s just bad.
Overall I was really looking for something in Phase 2 that didn’t cater to the dirt jump crowd but that didn’t happen; now it’s just another playground / daycare. Another missed opportunity for MTB in Portland.
Some of this might be catering to the shifting interests in MTBing. There is a lot more interest in free ride/jumping-style riding, versus XC.
I drove to Bend recently for the first time in a couple years and was amazed to see how much the Redmond pump track has grown. GG should set a good model of what’s possible, and someday I hope we’re keeping pumptrack builders busy around town.
More XC trails built out in the Rocky Butte/ Grotto/ Old BMX jumps area. GG vision plan shows land bridges over 205 in the future. Would be nice to have a huge trail network linking RB with GG.
Did they give up on that plan to put a bike tunnel under 205 to connect the two?
My loop to GG takes me up and over the East side of rocky butte and down the old road and into the woods. It’s nice back there, minus the camper trash, and would be a lot nicer if it was an official park. At this point in time I think any kind of long tunnel under a highway is a bad idea. Not sure on the cost difference with a bridge. I’m sure tunnels are cheaper, but I’d rather have a bridge.
There are pedestrian bridges over 205 at salmon st and Steele st. They’re 2 miles apart. Gateway green to rocky butte is 2 miles north of the salmon bridge. Hmmm…
Cool! It will offer a progression of trails with various challenges and terrains designed to introduce riders to the sport and sharpen their skills. Thanks for such a nice job. Especially, kids will love this.
I’m surprised that many people noticed the diversity at the park. East Portland has many of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city, yet some of the worst active transportation infrastructure.
The I-205 MUP is the most critical piece of biking infrastructure in East Portland and one of the only ways to ride to the park safely. Let’s hope the city continues to monitor this path for safety issues and correct them promptly once identified.
I love Gateway Green and agree that it is a great asset for our city. I don’t, however, see the diversity you’re touting in those pictures, which seem to include predominantly white boys. I’m also curious where you got the information on participants’ social and economic backgrounds and in what region they reside? Did you interview folks at the park?
I hear you. I think the park gets a diverse range of riders. Ages, cycling styles, bike types, socio-economic backgrounds, and yes, race. You’re right that there could be more women and girls at the park! Diversity is a big word and I use it pretty liberally here and elsewhere.
I don’t have any data to back this up. I’m just sharing my hunch based on observations over many visits over the years and my understanding of the nearby neighborhoods. Perhaps I should have labeled this post as an opinion to clear up any confusion.
Great to see this kind of use and popularity! Next please: 20 miles of Singletrack in Forest Park. Could be existing trails open to bikes at selected times – alternating use works in many places!