Someone at the Portland Parks and Recreation Bureau decided it would be OK to install signs at Mt. Tabor Park with incorrect information and in the wrong location in what appears to have been at worst a coordinated strategy — and at best a clumsy effort — to scare bicycle users away from parts of the park they have the legal right to use.
We were first notified about the signs on December 28th by a reader named Zack. Two signs on one pole were erected at a busy location (see map) in the popular park just southeast of the main reservoir at the junction of SE Reservoir Loop Road (which is paved) and several dirt trails. The larger of the two signs read, “No Bicycles Please” and the smaller one stated, “Bicycles Prohibited: Bicycles are permitted on paved roads only in Mt. Tabor Park.”
But it turns out these signs were illegitimate. One of the city codes they reference no longer exists, and the other one does not even apply to trails or bicycle use.
Despite their very official appearance and installation Zack was skeptical (more skeptical than even I was initially). He knows the rules and wondered why the signs were posted away from trails where bicycling off-road is actually prohibited in the park. Zack reported the signs to 311.
Around the same day (12/30) we learned that another person, bike advocate and BikeLoud PDX Member Carrie Leonard began to email Portland Parks about the signs. 10 days after her first inquiry, a Parks staffer wrote to Leonard in an email that, “The signs are to indicate no off-road cycling as this is discouraged and we would prefer that bicycles stay on the paved pathways.”
The problem with that response — and with the sign — is that cycling off-road is allowed in Mt. Tabor Park and the “preference” of city employees should have absolutely zero bearing on that fact. According to the official Mt. Tabor Park map, bicycle use is prohibited on the Green Trail (marked in red on the official map) and all trails marked with small dots as “informal trail.” The 2000 Mt. Tabor Park Master Plan states that bicycles are allowed on all paved roads and all dirt (“gravel”) roads and trails that are over six feet wide.
Somewhat shocked that a Parks employee would casually admit to installing misleading signs with nonexistent and non-applicable codes simply because they’d “prefer” something else, Leonard, who recently served as an advisor to a member of the Oregon State Legislature, looped Parks Commissioner Dan Ryan into the issue. “I want to reiterate my deep concern that it appears that Parks staff is commissioning and posting signage that directly contradicts current City Park rules and statute,” Leonard wrote in her email to Ryan. “I am very troubled if that is actually what is occurring here.”
On January 12th (two days after that email to Commissioner Ryan), Leonard received a response from Portland Parks Public Information Officer Mark Ross. “The sign in question was put up in error,” Ryan wrote. “And our staff has removed it.”
Ross repeated the same answer when I asked him about the signs. He also added that Parks is working on a clearer map and a “system-wide comprehensive signing program that will prioritize safety and be informed by city code.”
But a troubling issues remain: Why would Parks staff feel authorized to create and install a misleading sign? And why has Parks waited over 10 years to clarify and update its signage and maps?
I asked Ross whether or not the employee(s) involved in this episode will be disciplined and/or investigated. He didn’t address the question directly and reiterated that the sign was erected in “error” and that it was “unintentional.”
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This is not the first time we’ve covered trail-related cycling concerns in Mt. Tabor Park. In 2007, parkgoers began to complain about inconsiderate bicycle riders on dirt trails. Those concerns were brought to a neighborhood meeting a few months later.
Confusion is a big part of the problem on Mt. Tabor. Even well-meaning and courteous riders might not know where it’s legal to ride off the pavement. In 2011, that confusion led to the installation of “No Bicycles Please” signs on the Green Trail. (Note how even back then Parks displayed the sign with that reference to an outdated city ordinance. In 2011 they said they would edit the sign, but 12 years later they are still using it.) In 2012, we again covered trail use confusion and conflicts in the park.
This confusion has real impacts on park users. Just yesterday I received the following text:
“Just had an unpleasant run-in at Mt Tabor – i was riding on a dirt trail around the top reservoir when a man began to yell at me. He stated there are no bikes allowed off paved roads at Mt Tabor. I told him I believed he was misinformed, I live near the park and ride (and or walk) there almost daily. He asked if I wanted to see a picture of a new sign that had gone up, and I said sure. Sure enough he a picture of a Portland Parks sign saying bike on paved roads only—- but then he said the sign had been removed, possibly vandalized and stolen. I’d love to know what the deal is, as this is the first I heard of it. I rode by the visitor center to the info board, but couldn’t see any updates about a rule change. Curious what’s going on.”
This is one big reason why Parks must do better when it comes to managing these sensitive issues. Keep in mind this is a Parks bureau that has not lived up to its promises of increasing bicycle access in our large urban parks. The context of this “unintentional” sign in Mt. Tabor includes a Parks bureau that has had every opportunity to improve off-road cycling in Forest Park and River View — but has fallen on its face both times.
There’s a reason t-shirts emblazoned with: “Portland Hates Me: Mountain Biking Is Not A Crime” were sold at a protest ride in 2015.
In the past 10 years, it appears that no progress has been made to update and clarify the maps and signage that govern off-road bicycling in Mt. Tabor Park — so it’s not surprising that these unfortunate episodes continue to play out. Hopefully this latest signage fiasco leads to a fresh look at the issue by Parks bureau management and/or Commissioner Dan Ryan’s office.
Woefully inadequate response from Parks, perhaps there’s a conflict of interest.
The assumption that the sign may have been removed via vandalism highlights the lack of effective and clear communication with the public.
Jon, you mention the outdated city ordinance, I would be curious what replaced it, or caused it to lapse if you or another reader knows off hand?
This is a great example of why Parks should have been folded in with the 3 other infrastructure bureaus (PBOT, Water, BES) during the commissioner shakeup. It would have been an ever larger lift, but it would make a lot of sense for a couple more reasons:
If Urban Forestry wants the City to “own” the trees, then why isn’t the City taking care of them? I have limbs around utility lines, but since they aren’t electrical I’m on my own to trim them back.
Seems like they want to own the trees and make us pay for the upkeep, oh and don’t forget about having to get a permit to trim some limbs on your, excuse me, the City’s trees in your yards.
Isn’t this exactly how public sidewalks work, which are maintained by private property owners?
I think Urban Forestry could be folded into a PBOT/BES bureau, but I think it would be a mistake to give PBOT any control over our parks. They have no training nor respect for the recreational aspects of park use and design. Remember, PBOT proposed to run a bike path through the center of Irving park, bisecting the recreational spaces and placing a high-speed commuting route adjacent to ballfields and toddler play areas. PBOT is not at all equipped to make decisions about parks.
Pbot didn’t propose to run the trail through the park. They proposed a very sensible greenway alignment on the popular NE 7th biking route, with some modest diverters in couple of locations. They went with the park alignment when a handful of people that live in the neighborhood raised opposition to the proposed diverters and traffic calming.
Boyrd, I wish that were true, but I attending a number of the public events. PBOT had the 7th alignment because it is really the only one that makes sense as a direct n-s route, but they also presented the 9th street alternative that went through Irving Park. I assume that PBOT assumed (correctly) that the vast majority of people of strongly favor and support the 7th alignment, PBOT did not anticipate organized, vocal resistance from a few Black-owned business owners. Instead of working with them to hear their concerns and develop design modifications, PBOT launched a black-only public process that came to the foregone conclusion to prefer 9th and avoid the perceived proposed impacts to their businesses. PBOT wound up with 2 public processes that reached opposite conclusions, but only viable route (7th). So they did nothing.
I guess I wasn’t following the process from the start. I didn’t realize that the park alignment was on the table from the very beginning. That’s not smart at all. The problems with that route are obvious.
Just to be clear I don’t mean rolling all the bureaus up together, I would just like to see them under one commissioner. When there are problems, instead of running all the way up the chain instead of landing at two competition commissioners’ feet, it would go to just one to make the final call. I think this is more how it will look anyway when the city administrator is on board in a couple years and commissioners are no longer assigned to bureaus.
Urban Forestry is out of control and needs to be destroyed. This should be a small department within BES. They clearly have too much funding and too much power:
There are hundreds of other examples of why these infrastructure bureaus should not be combined. In fact, they are combined into the “City of Portland”. Separating out the independent functions makes sense. A big part of this bike signage problem is the sheer size of the Parks bureaucracy. Making a bigger bureaucracy will do more harm than good.
Surely, this never would have happened had it been under the purview of the City Signs Bureau.
A reply to myself, this and this seem to be the masterplan as of 2017, there is mention that “BPS will make revisions before the plan goes to City Council for adoption in 2019.” but nothing that I have found beyond that.
How much did this sign escapade by some
“rogue Parks employee” cost Portland taxpayers (their hours spent, sign cost, installation and removal). That would be a good question for PP&R spokesperson Ross and Commissioner Ryan.
How do we know for certain for sure that a parks employee actually put these signs up in the fist place? IMO, the parks people saying they don’t know which of their employees put them up is another way of saying they simply don’t know who put them up at all. You know anyone can order these signs from the same commercial sources as the city often uses? That there’s nothing really to stop an individual or neighborhood group from putting up these signs, as a passive form of vigilantism? The citation of a long-ago outdated city code would indicate to me that the signs were put up by an overzealous local neighborhood group wanting to keep bicyclists out, similar to Forest Park. Even the sign design looks amateurish.
Well for starters, when given an opportunity to respond to the signs, the PP&R staffer said, “The signs are to indicate no off-road cycling as this is discouraged and we would prefer that bicycles stay on the paved pathways.” And after over a week, the PIO said, “The installation of incorrect signage, which has been removed, was an error and unintentional.”
Those two responses sure sound to me like an admission of responsibility.
“Unintentional” is a truly bizarre word choice. Someone tripped, and to catch themself from falling they accidentally designed a sign with false information, ordered it from a vendor, received it (weeks later?) from that vendor, drove to the park in a city vehicle and installed it? PP&R are insane if they expect anyone with half a brain to believe that line of bullshit. The comment suggesting a rogue neighbor makes more sense but for the fact that PP&R already copped to it.
This was my original assumption as well David. But the correspondence I have from Parks is very clear that the signage was installed by and eventually removed by Parks employee(s).
I’ve tried riding the legal trails at Mt. Tabor a few times, but it just never seems worth it. There are too many walkers, dogs, etc, and any climbing you do isn’t going to be rewarded with a fun descent, as you can’t really hold speed anywhere in the park. It would be great if they let NWTA build something usable.
This is why you go after-hours for night rides. The best!
No thank you. Mountain bikes have an impact on wildlife and the quiet enjoyment of the park. Of course I do support bikes on Tabor, but not new trails built specifically for mountain biking. Just my opinion.
That’s why (IMO) it would be better to improve existing mountain bike-friendly routes with features that enhance the user experience. Features like rollers, insloped turns, strategically placed rocks for chokes/decreasing speed and narrowing the trail are all well-documented design enhancements.
That said, half that park is a paved road, it’s not like it’s friendly to wildlife other than birds and squirrels.
Most of the “wildlife” I see appear to be off leash canines.
The impact of mountain bikes on wildlife is a tiny fraction of the impact of cars. I think people of losing a bit of perspective: off-leash dogs, hikers, road bikes and mt bikes added together are way less impact on wildlife, enjoyment of nature, air quality, etc.
@Citylove – impact on wildlife from mountain bikes is equivalent to hikers.
There are some fear mongering articles out there, but they mainly cite the expanded trail networks and nothing specific to mountain biking.
If you have any empirical evidence that there is something intrinsic about mountain biking and its impact on wildlife, I would love to read it.
I ride a few of these trails as a mellow diversion from my early morning or lunch-time rides. I don’t go up there expecting a double-black-diamond North Shore downhill experience, I just want to ride my bike, in a chill manner, in a nice setting. It’s fun to mix things up, and it’s fun to connect trails and explore.
Pushing for MTB development at Tabor is a non-starter. Forest Park or River View are way more suitable for that sort of thing.
Off-road cycling in Portland is incredibly sad. Curious if anyone else would be interested in hosting monthly protest rides in Forest Park to bring attention to this. Silently working in the background doesn’t seem to be working.
Off road cycling around Portland, however, is fantastic. I hate the drive, but I make up for it by making sure the hours spent in the saddle are satisfying and rewarding.
Tabor is good for hill repeats on the pavement. The gravel trails are awful. Far too many peds, kids, dogs, hermits.
(speaking of Tabor, if you’re new here, there’s a leash law. It’s as much for your dog’s safety as it is for mine or other park users, and I’ll call you out on it every single time. Strap the mutt. Thank you.)
I have mentioned the leash rules to many a letting their dogs run free outside the sanctioned dog park. People just laugh in my face. There’s no enforcement, no consequences. It’s worse in Forest Park.
And the law is that a leash can’t be longer than 8′. So having your dog on a 12′ retractable tether isn’t a good idea either.
I respectfully disagree that the gravel trails at tabor are awful. Agreed they are not suitable for fast descending, but they make for great car-free climbing with nice surrounding scenery and good variety. I include a lap or two in my commute home on a gravel bike frequently in the winter, and I see plenty of others doing the same thing. I think it’s quite high quality for something that can be integrated into a short ride or a commute, and I’ve never had a conflict with a pedestrian. But to the point of the article, it’s far from clear which trails (if any) are off-limits to bikes.
Forget protest rides, let’s just change the signage.
Who cares??? On road transportation cycling – the kind that actually serves a purpose – is sad. Sport cycling is, at best, a nuisance to people who are trying to get around and at worst a drain on resources that could be used to build infrastructure for regular people. Boo hoo, you can’t blow through a public park in the middle of a dense city on your $6K gravel bike.
I think we can have both. Safe streets should be the first priority, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have MTB trails. We have great hiking trails in Forest park. We can have great biking trails, too
Why tie sport cycling in with transportation cycling at all? Cycling as a sport or recreation is as legitimate as any of the countless other sports public money is spent on. If spending money on it is a “drain on resources that could be used to build infrastructure for regular people” so is spending money on running trails, sports courts and athletic fields, or libraries for that matter.
And the vast majority of trail riders aren’t on bikes costing anywhere near $6K. Many are families with kids who just want some trails to ride on in town similarly to what are provided for people who like to walk or run. The bike I’ve used on Rocky Mountain trails is the same one I ride on in town, and it cost under $1K new.
Different budgets, so Parks money isn’t really in competition for Transportation money. We should be able to have both.
Everybody using the park is doing it for sport or exercise, this isn’t unique to cycling. People walking around in a park are doing it for the same reason the cyclists are riding in the park. Your argument about transportation cycling works just as well for transportation walking. “Boo hoo, you can’t stroll through a public park and complain if someone is riding a bike”.
@dw This is exactly the attitude from “transportation only” cyclists that slows down adoption of cycling in general. Having a condescending view of people who are generally on the same page as you is just setting the movement back. We really need to support each other. I got more into transportation cycling because of the recreational aspect. And there is nothing wrong with a $6k or a $12k gravel bike. If you want to help transportation cycling in Portland, you really need to help all of cycling in Portland.
The bike snobbery never seems to end.
@Christopher As long as it includes poaching hiking trails.
The walkers and runners and dogs and whomever else can have Mt. Tabor if it means we can get some decent singletrack MTB trails built. As much as I appreciate the crumbs of trails at Gateway Green, I need something a bit more substantial to satiate the hunger for REAL MTB trails in Portland!
No. Build protected intersections and traffic diverters for people of all ages and abilities to use. There should exactly zero public money spent on sport cycling facilities.
I can understand why someone might be opposed to off-road cycling in this particular park, as you state you are in your other comment.
But why do you believe “There should exactly zero public money spent on sport cycling facilities” in response to someone who stated they’d be happy to NOT have them in that park?
Public money is spent on all kinds of recreation–the running, walking, and strolling you mention in your other comment, plus tennis, swimming, golf, basketball, soccer, baseball and all kinds of other types of recreation.
Why exclude sport cycling from public funding? If you don’t like people riding on trails in Mt. Tabor Park, wouldn’t providing trails for them elsewhere–that they’d prefer to Mt. Tabor trails–be a positive thing?
Not to mention that the Parks Bureau provides an organizational umbrella for a large car race track in what would otherwise be a wetland. The city says that the track is funded by user fees (and they’re pretty good at assessing swingeing fees across departments to cover overhead) but I think mountain biking is at least as worthy as car racing or running four golf courses. Those aren’t in “wild areas” but they are in formerly wild places that could support more or less intact plant and animal communities.
I don’t ride off road much but I do have friends who do. Some of them would certainly be happy to trade a reasonable fee for the travel time and expense they lay out to get reach existing trails.
I would invite you to head over to Gateway Green on a sunny weekend and watch all the kids (and “people of all ages and abilities”) having SO MUCH FUN biking in a protected greenspace that is a wonderfully car-free environment.
Obviously we need more diverters and protected intersections but we can’t just chase those forever at the cost of much cheaper “sport cycling facilities”, which I prefer to just call “trails” in the woods.
Portland needs to get out if its own way in gatekeeping access to safe infrastructure and natural areas. Safe pedestrian and cycling street level infrastructure partnered with access to off road trails is a symbiotic relationship, leading to lowering the economic impacts of recreation/play time. In short, the economic barrier to accessing recreation needs to be lowered and improving both opportunities is a huge step forward. This signage only highlights that pdx’s us vs them nimbyism is as strong as ever.
Many thanks to Zack for noticing this and photographing it, and to Carrie for researching it and contacting first Parks & Rec and then the commissioner’s office! And thanks to Jonathan for writing this up. I’m hoping this sorts of rogue shenanigans are less likely because we citizens are a bit savvier than perhaps some folks would prefer.
Hot take, but I don’t think that off-road cycling should be allowed in Mt. Tabor. This is coming from someone who bike commutes through the park daily. City parks should be a place where people can run, walk, stroll, or just relax without having to worry about getting hit by an arrogant sport cyclist or feeling like they are in someone’s way. What we really need to do is severely limit car access to the park.
I tend to agree. Given the size of the park and the number of hiking trails, tabor doesn’t have room for good MTB facilities. But Forest Park does. There’s no reason not to have better MTB trails there.
I am a responsible trail rider on Mt. Tabor. I don’t have a car, so Tabor, Powell Butte and Gateway Green are my only options to ride in the dirt in Portland.
As long as you’re riding sensibly and in a controlled fashion on the trails that are designated for bicycle use, then that’s great. I imagine the rogue Parks employees were probably erecting the signs in response to irresponsible people that have been cutting new informal trails into the woods that are not part of the designated trail system (there are dozens on such trails in the park that are clear and obvious), or riding on pedestrian-only trails. That’s a problem.
Your obvious grudge against recreational cycling is very apparent… yet oh-so-overstated that it’s hard to take your comments seriously.
Very few cyclists who ride fast or aggressively give two hoots about the facilities at Mt. Tabor. The trails aren’t built for mountain biking, and they’re not suitable for the “gravel” biking you seem to hate for some reason, either. As such the trail use conflicts are minimal– because nobody is really clamoring to bike there. It’s almost entirely a non-issue even without an outright ban or complex rules on who or what can enjoy these facilities.
But please, by all means, keep grinding that axe. I’m sure it amuses you to no end.
It’s not really all that hot of a take. Plenty of people in the world clearly feel that way. Personally, I’m in favor of cutting each other some slack and sharing space. I live near Tabor, so I’ve been riding around up there for years. I try to avoid it when it’s crowded of course, especially the trails. And when I do ride the trails, I understand I may have to slow down and engage with people along the way. Most of the time I actually enjoy the exchange of “good morning” and/or “thanks” and/or “have a good one!” I also regularly walk/run with a dog on those same trails. Truth is I just don’t see a ton of conflict here and question whether this strident “hot take” is grounded in reality.
Cyclists are biased too, and it really comes out when we discuss off road cycling. So many in this community instantly equate off road cycling with full face helmet/body armor jumping/barreling cyclists. Whereas in reality I’d guess there’s a lower proportion of downhill MTB cyclists to ‘people riding wider tire bikes on dirt” than there are Lycra/carbon roadies to ‘people riding bikes on pavement’ in the Portland area.
My personal experience with mountain biking is that I really despise the type of riding that would even require bombing down a mountain and a full face helmet. And I do not think I’m alone here. Because when I’m out on the shared hiking/biking/horse trails across many Western states I see folks like me out riding.
Do I think folks should be flying down Mt Tabor, on or off road? Not really — it’s too crowded. Just like I don’t think folks should be in full aero position on their tri bike on parts of the Springwater in July. But I do think we can all share space and one group shouldn’t be banned (either in rule or desire) because of this weird perception.
That was a very long comment to just say “check your biases at the door” when someone suggests that off road cycling is a reasonable activity to be participating in X location.
COTW, thanks Carrie
@Carrie I agree with the sentiment, the problem is that every place in Portland has been deemed that off road cycling is not “reasonable activity”, when other cities use similar spaces in an environmentally safe way and there are very few user conflicts. I am not sure how much you have seen from the anti-offroad community, but they are vicious and their biases are, imo, much more out of control than the offroad crowd. You should read Marcey Houle’s response to the single track advisory committee, it is visceral. The meeting participation is ridiculous.
There needs to be some sort of happy medium, but the political forces in Portland have not allowed that.
Alex — I got to receive Marcey’s vitriol in person as a member of the ORCMPC. However I do want other cyclists to be aware that they are helping to perpetuate this stereotype, even though they may not realize it.
She’s a special person.
I guess my point was this – do you really think it is the mtber’s bias that is setting this back? From my witnessing many meetings over the past 20 or so years, it really seems like there is no convincing a key contingency of very political groups and specific people. It honestly seems more like a leadership/political problem than a group of people bringing their bias through the door.
@dw This “hot take” isn’t really all that hot. Just like traffic, if you have the right infrastructure, there is almost 0 likelihood of getting hit or hitting another person on the trail. Totally get that you dislike recreational cyclists, but do you think I should fear getting hit by a baseball from people playing baseball in a park? getting hit in the face by a soccer ball? or maybe a frisbee? do we just limit parks to “run, walk stroll, relax” because of someone’s irrational, not statistically based fear?
I’m more afraid of getting bit by an off-leash dog than being hurt by any other trail/park user group! I wonder what Marcey’s take on trail running and dog walking would be these days. They were less of a problem back in 2009.
The trails are the best places to ride on Mt. Tabor!
Good show BikePortland et al!
As for the signage, I strongly doubt it was bought on line as that bike icon is very “1970 bike boom” and only a low volume sign shop would still have it in use / on hand…like a parks department vs DOT / PNW private sign shop. Plus I doubt it was ever in the MUTCD. [Though its a siren call for help for Bud Clark…to clean up these “administrative” anti bike bias.]
Yes, why dont we all do more things like this. Just make up whatever you want and put it on a sign to try and make everyone do it….
I wish I could say I was surprised. I’ve been yelled at by people more than once for running in open areas on Tabor that they felt I shouldn’t be in. Not like trampling vegetation – literally open grass.
I’d temper your expectations from commissioner Ryan’s parks department.
If you hadn’t noticed from his tenure at the housing bureau, he’s not the most effective leader.
The entire CoP gov’t is a s**tshow right now. Can’t wait for the commission form of city gov’t to end in 2025 so that qualified and capable managers can take over and root out rogue employees who post unauthorized and inaccurate signs (“grudge” signs).
Never fails to amaze me how the city can stonewall progress its citizens ask for with impossible bureaucracy, but the whim of a corner office in city hall or a rogue employee at the bottom of an org chart can do all sorts of things that nobody asked for.
Still waiting for traffic calming on my street, what with all the drive by shootings and murders.
I am always shocked at how all these parks don’t have any bike racks. I believe that the only bike racks I have ever seen at ANY park in Oregon are the three racks at the back at Laurelhurst Park, a popular biking destination. Of course, you can just have the bikes with you and keep an eye on them, but that is not convenient for all scenarios, like a person who likes running through trails of the park but lives too far to walk to it.
Tabor has lots of bike racks on the Lincoln street entrance. I agree with you though, I went to a concert in East Portland last summer and walked around for 15 minutes looking for a bike rack before deciding to just sit further back and lay my bike on the grass.
Why is the writer of this article asking Dan Ryan questions about this when he is not the commissioner of parks. If you can’t even get who runs parks correct i wonder about the facts of this entire article. FYI Carmen Rubio is the commissioner for parks
I ride one of my bikes up Mt. Tabor any day of the week. I live close by and don’t have a car.
After 9 years of sharing trails, roads, hillsides, public artwork, and volcano calderas on Mt. Tabor, I have had NO conflicts. I keep off the Green Arrow trails and share the rest.
Lol, everyone seems to want someone to be fired or destroy the department because some people probably had a meeting and thought they had a good idea to reduce erosion or pedestrian conflicts. Then somehow urban forestry and the whole city needs to go because of a couple of bike signs.
It’s a handful of signs, you’d think that there was another death at 26th and Powell by everyone’s reactions.
Just go ride your bikes. Ride them on Tabor or not, ride them on the closed trail there or not, it’s not a CX course, be nice to pedestrians and parks employees
I am an avid cyclist. I own 7 bikes. However, it’s not my only identity. I want to be able to enjoy parks for walking, hiking, and enjoying nature. Bikes are vehicles, like ATVs and, yes, cars. They have a greater impact and require more maintenance on park infrastructure than slower, non-wheeled activities. We have to draw the line somewhere: no vehicles off paved paths in urban parks, and that includes bikes.
If you really mean “no bikes off paved paths in small, heavily used parks and/or environmentally sensitive parks like Mt. Tabor or Oaks Bottom” I can see the logic.
But “no vehicles (bikes) off paved paths in urban parks” is extreme. Urban parks have tennis courts, dog parks, swimming pools, sports fields and all sorts of facilities with much higher maintenance, costs, and impacts than off-pavement bike riding. If parks have those, why not some unpaved biking trails?
Forest park is environmentally sensitive, but on the other hand seems large enough it could handle some trail riding. Or what about converting a golf course to off-road riding, hiking, dog areas, etc.? Maintenance and impacts could be far less, and use much higher.
Despite all the ‘sturm und drang’ by the writer of this article, undiscussed is the bigger question: Does it really make sense environmentally for anyone to be riding bikes off-pavement on Mt. Tabor?