Portland’s Off Road Cycling Master Plan is finally legit

Forest Park is among the locations the plan recommends for trail access improvements. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

There’s always been something a bit off about Portland’s Off-Road Cycling Master Plan (ORCMP). Despite two years of work that went into it, and despite the plan being unveiled to the public in 2017, it was never an officially binding plan. For some odd reason, the City of Portland refused to finalized it and the word “draft” was never removed. It was supposed to go to City Council for adoption in 2019 and there was a concerted push from advocates to get it over the finish line at that time — but it just never happened.

I’m not sure if it was out of fear of controversy, or disagreements about various recommendations in the plan, or that it was never prioritized amid the constant shuffle of bureau leadership at City Hall. But what I do know is, because the plan was still in draft form, Portland was not able to move forward on any type of off-road cycling trail projects, plans or policies. If you know anything about how planning works in Portland, you know that nothing gets built or added to a project list or even considered for funding unless it can be tied back to an adopted plan.

So I’m very happy to report that today, finally, the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau has finalized and published the Off Road Cycling Master Plan! Advocates from Northwest Trail Alliance, the group that has spent eight years on this effort, say it provides, “a blueprint for Portland’s off-road cycling opportunities.”

Detail of interactive Off Road Cycling Master Plan map (Source: Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability)

“The ORCMP is an exciting new and critical piece in a framework of guidance that planners and city officials rely on to implement new access to trails across the city,” NWTA said in a statement this afternoon. “Further, off-road cycling will contribute to safe routes to school; help Portland reach its climate action plan; and all-around promote the healthy, outdoor lifestyle that Portlanders value.”

NWTA Executive Director Lisa Olivares said, “While the ORCMP doesn’t imply immediate, dedicated funding for any locations identified, NWTA looks forward to continuing our work with land partners to support growth in off-road cycling opportunities as presented in the plan.”

To coincide with the (late afternoon on a Friday!) publication, Portland Parks has flipped the switch on a new webpage that lays out the basics of the plan and answers some key FAQ.

Parks lists eight locations where we could see “improvements to existing trails or new natural surface off-road cycling trails”:

  • Powell Butte Natural Area  
  • “Dog Bowl” at N. Willamette and N. Jessup  
  • Mt. Tabor Park  
  • Forest Park  
  • Lesser Park  
  • Loll-Wildwood Natural Area 
  • River View Natural Area  
  • Washington Park 

There are 16 existing parks identified in the ORCMP as potential sites for bike parks (like Gateway Green) and there are three corridors where the plan recommends adjacent off-road cycling trails: the Springwater, the North Portland Greenway alignment, and the I-205 path.

While there is no dedicated funding attached to the plan, now that it’s published, Parks can begin to add off-road bike trail projects to it’s all-powerful Capital Improvement Program (CIP) list where they can be considered for funding during the annual budget process.

This might seem like a boring administrative step, but the finalization of this plan is big step forward and we’re looking forward to what happens next. Stay tuned!

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

14 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paul Hobson
11 months ago

Hard to overstate just how hard folks like Erin Chipps, Andy Jansky, Juntu Oberg, Lisa Olivares AND SO MANY OTHERS worked to represent Portland’s off-road cycling community and build the relationships with PP&R during this process.

Kudos and thanks for putting our best foot forward!

Frank Selker
Frank Selker
11 months ago
Reply to  Paul Hobson

They worked hard with good intentions, but unfortunately the compromises made along the way were death by a thousand cuts. The result enshrines terrible compromises in stone, locking us out of much hope of good riding ever.

Michael Whitesel
Michael Whitesel
11 months ago

So happy to see this approved!

Leon M
Leon M
11 months ago

I’ll be too old for off road cycling before any of this gets built. In dysfunctional ideology over action Portland, working on something like this is really “doing it for your grandchildren”. Good work but it’s a long term investment.

EP
EP
11 months ago
Reply to  Leon M

Seriously, I can’t wait to someday take a guided hoverpod tour of the new MTB trails!

Atreus
Atreus
11 months ago

So they’ve finalized the plan, but are they not taking it to City Council? That seems very odd. If it’s not adopted by City Council, then it doesn’t really have any strong policy teeth and is unlikely to be more than a rough, completely-optional guide. Seems pretty weak to me.

Boyrd
Boyrd
11 months ago
Reply to  Atreus

Agree that not getting official adoption from city council lessens the weight of this plan. But, to be fair, it would still be a completely optional guide if it was adopted (see 2010 bicycle master plan).

Cyclekrieg
11 months ago

I’m torn here. The work by NWTA needs to be acknowledged and celebrated. But on the other hand, this ORCMP is friggin’ trap, seemingly designed to bake in bad trail layouts and outdated modes of thought regarding trail usage. The proposed River View trail layout is one of most dangerous trail layouts I’ve ever seen. Trying to put hikers and bikers on that trail is asking for conflict. My head-canon/conspiracy theory is that is what Parks wanted in the process (remember, they, not NWTA, insisted on adding trail layouts to this master plan) so when they built the first trail and there was conflict, they could “Oh this doesn’t work, we can’t do the rest”.

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
11 months ago

This is great news in this supposedly “bike friendly” city that’s been very anti-mountain bike.

Alain
Alain
11 months ago

I don’t mean to belittle all the hard work of NWTA and others, however, new in-town trails seem unlikely to develop anytime soon. For whatever reasons, building trails inside Portland, and in multiple locations to increase accessibility for all, has been made impossible by city leadership and bureaus, not to mention the groups in opposition. Would be a dream to have access as near as 1-3 mile bike ride, or combining bike ride with MAX. Washington Park is ideal IMO. The area east and south of SW Kingston Drive down to the HWY 26 looks good. Also nice to see that “Dog Bowl” is on the list. And please make some downhill and FLOW trails with optional lines to hit jibs-jumps and tech features.

I wear many hats
I wear many hats
11 months ago

This is great news for our grandchildren! I’ll be too old to enjoy them. I too fought the fight, spoke publicly, attended the sham of the RVNA public advisory meetings etc. Trails do NOT get planned in the USA. They get built, used, and then agencies adopt them. Its a fools errand to think otherwise. Ride to where you ride and be polite when you encounter others. There are many great trails already in PDX that can be shared.

alex
alex
11 months ago

I have said it 1000x, the only way we are getting trails in FP is if we build them without permission. It will never happen otherwise. It works. It has 1000s of times before. What hasn’t worked has been working with the city and the amti-mtb groups. How many times can Lucy pull away the football?

Frank Selker
Frank Selker
11 months ago

I don’t think it is good news for our grandchildren, but I agree with your statements about trails and sharing. It’s time to share politely.

fselker
fselker
11 months ago

I have read this document in detail, and unless it has substantially changed this virtually removes hope of good mountain biking in Portland. It permanently locks us out of good stuff, it misrepresents original park priorities and includes text to relegate us to permanent second-class status, it rules out strategies that work well elsewhere with no justification. Park neighbors and their allies (Audubon, FPC, Parks) win. We lose again. In spite of good intention of friends and NWTA who worked on it, this casts a terrible “deal” in stone. Sometimes no deal is better than a terrible one – this was such a time.