River View was the site of a big protest after cycling was banned in 2015. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
Portland’s Off-road Cycling Master Plan got a shot in the arm today from an influential city advisory committee.
The Portland Parks Board expressed strong support for the plan in a letter to Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Project Manager Tom Armstrong. The letter clears the way for Portland City Council to approve the plan — and to push back against those who are using false narratives to oppose it. The Parks Board has dismissed two of the main talking points of people trying to stop the plan: That that off-road cycling is incompatible with nature and that it can’t be done safely in an urban environment.
Signed by Parks Board Chair Patricia Frobes, the letter outlined a few relatively minor concerns and said the Board is “generally supportive” of the plan because it is, “a good conceptual road map for a city-wide system of off-road cycling.” And that system, Frobes wrote, should include even more places to ride. “Although the ORCMP proposes a good locational mix of bicycle parks,” she wrote, “it proposes no new urban off-road cycling trails on the west side. Further, the ORCMP does not adequately identify opportunities to connect parks to parks, parks to schools and parks to trails.” [Read more…]
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. [Read more…]
A 2011 map created by Timberline of the proposed bike trails and chair-lifts.
A plan to create a full-service, lift-assisted mountain bike park on the southwestern slope of Mt. Hood got a boost last week when United States District Court Judge Ann Aiken denied a motion by three nonprofit groups who aim to stop it.
Judge Aiken’s 21-page opinion (see it below) signed on March 31st denies a Motion for Reconsideration filed by four plaintiffs: Bark, Friends of Mount Hood, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, and Sierra Club. The defendants on the case were the U.S. Forest Service, three regional forest staffers, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The conservation groups have made several attempts to derail it through the courts and this is just the latest judgment to go against them.
As it stands, the project would build 17 miles of bike trails and a small skills park. When we first covered the park in 2010 we likened it to a major destination on the order of Whistler’s famous bike park. On a website (that has since been removed), Timberline said, “We see mountain biking as an integral part of our year-round recreation plan, and will treat this project as one of the primary pillars of our company’s future.”
Everything was going according to plan after the USFS issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact” with their 2012 permit approval. Then in May 2013, several nonprofits filed a complaint seeking judicial review of that decision. The groups alleged that the USFS has failed in their duty to uphold the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and that more rigorous environmental analysis was required. In August 2013, a conservation group discovered the presence of Western bumblebees in the project area. USFS biologists analyzed that finding and determined the project, “may impact individual bees or habitat but will not likely contribute to a trend toward federal listing or loss of viability of the population or species.” Shortly thereafter, the plaintiffs filed another lawsuit7 saying that the USFS failed to perform additional environmental analysis on bumblebee populations and on steelhead. [Read more…]
The usualopposition to better bike access on dirt trails in Portland is very well-known. But I’ve noticed something new in the past few weeks: Advocates for local parks who oppose parts of it based on fears that anything that attracts more off-road bikers will negatively impact the park and its current users.
I find this reflexive opposition very unfortunate. [Read more…]
After years of meetings and planning, advocates are making their final arguments, a draft version is being reviewed by the influential Portland Parks Board, and a date at City Council for final adoption is likely this summer.
Everyone agrees this is a plan our city needs; but it’s less clear if this is the plan our city wants.
I was at the March 12th Parks Board meeting and shared a snapshot of how Mayor Ted Wheeler and a few advocates are feeling about the plan. Earlier this week I shared a guest post from Daniel Greenstadt, an advocate who has followed the plan’s development very closely and has participated in several of the planning meetings.
Those two stories, along with a search of our archives on terms like “forest park singletrack” and “off-road cycling master plan” should give you plenty of background information to understand this issue and make an informed opinion about it. (We’ve covered every twist-and-turn of this issue for over a decade, so there’s a clear historical thread that can be easily woven by anyone with the energy and interest. If you have a question about the plan, the process, or the politics, feel free to ask in the comments!) [Read more…]
A rider finds the groove on a trail in Gateway Green, a signature project for Northwest Trail Alliance. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
[This is the second part of a two-part post from Northwest Trail Alliance President Chris Rotvik. Don’t miss Part 1, a recap of 2017.]
Almost 30 years ago, Theo Patterson spoke up to make sure mountain bikes weren’t banned from Forest Park. To help, Patterson founded Portland United Mountain Pedalers, or PUMP. In 2009, PUMP became Northwest Trail Alliance, and we turn 30 this year. With our Big Three-Oh looming, let’s glance back and gaze forward.
A father and daughter enjoy the new trails at Gateway Green’s Dirt Lab. (Photos: J. Maus)
Standing with our partners (I’m on the left in green shirt) — including City Commissioners Amanda Fritz, Nick Fish, and Portland Parks Director Mike Abbaté — at opening day for the Dirt Lab at Gateway Green.
Throughout 2017, more than 1,700 mountain bikers — from shredders to striders — dropped in to Northwest Trail Alliance-hosted digging and riding events. And, all tolled, our volunteers carved a smidgen over 12,000 hours into our trails and the political arena that sustains the flow of riding in our region. Those hours equate to $360,000 of hard labor invested in elevating both our sport, and the tide on which our local cycling industry floats. Think of it as your membership and sponsorship currency, multiplied tenfold, and paid forward.
The urban scene captured the lion’s share of 2017’s effort. To date, we’ve brought forward more than 1,500 hours (and we’re not yet at the finish line) shaping Portland’s Off-Road Cycling Master Plan (ORCMP). Simultaneously, our expertise, labor, and equipment helped bring the Dirt Lab at Gateway Green — the prototype of how ORCMP will reshape our urban riding scene — to life.
Opened in late June, the Dirt Lab has reinvigorated riding and advocacy, and there’s much good yet to come of it— in Forest Park, River View Natural Area, Washington Park, and drizzled across the smaller parks in Portland. Icing that cake is our sweet partnership with Metro, who’ll soon be bringing delectable riding in the North Tualatin Mountains beyond Forest Park, in Oregon City, and in the Gabbert Buttes to the east of Portland.
So, after 30 years, the urban tide is turning. Are you out there, Theo Patterson?
Take a Kid Mountain Biking day at Ventura Park.
Let’s step from the urban scene to our front-country venues: First, we wrote Stub Stewart State Park the equivalent of a $60,000 check in the form of 2,500 volunteer hours, the highest across all our sites (Gateway Green and Growler’s Gulch ranked second and third at 1,800 and 1,600 hours, respectively). At Stub, we put paid to two new bridges, two new coach-ready, skill-building loops, a significant trail re-route, and two riding events. Next, the trail gnomes of Southwest Washington topped the mileage charts by adding — with their usual surgical precision — another five miles of new line to the fabled Growler’s Gulch system. (Digging is your ticket to entry, so if you’d like to ride Growler’s magic carpet, sign up for the work parties … find them on nw-trail.org.)
Elsewhere in the region, we buffed-out the trails. And buffed some more, for a total of 1,900 hours of wax on, wax off at Sandy Ridge, St. Helens, Coldwater Lake, Scappoose, Tillamook, Lacamas, Cascade Locks, Eichler, Powell Butte, Hagg Lake, and Whipple Creek. That’s the equivalent of re-shaping and brushing seven hours a day, five days a week, year-round. Mister Miyagi would be proud.
OK, then. We’ve brought almost two thousand of our new best friends to the party, opened a bike park, gained significant urban mountain biking momentum, raised Stub and Growler’s yet another notch, kept Sandy Ridge a premier destination despite the onslaught of almost one hundred thousand gravity-fueled runs, and sustained 10 other regional riding destinations. Not bad, eh?
While 2017’s achievements just might be a high water mark for the organization, we’re already over it, aside from just one thing … our gratitude. If it weren’t for you — member, sponsor, volunteer — mountain biking in the region would be dirt poor. Thank you for all you do for our shared passion.
Oh, and 2018 promises to be a gangbuster. Care to join us?
— Chris Rotvik, President, Northwest Trail Alliance
Ever wished your child could compete on a cycling team based at their school? Now they can.
Today the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) announced that Oregon is the latest state to join what is already a bustling league with 800 school-based teams, 14,500 student athletes and 6,000 licensed coaches nationwide. NICA is a nonprofit founded in 2009 with a mission to use cycling as a way to foster a healthy lifestyle for young people in 6th through 12th grades. States with existings programs include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Northern California, Pennsylvania, Southern California, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Heather Wolfgang will be director of the new Interscholastic Oregon Cycling league. Wolfgang recently moved to Portland from the San Francisco Bay Area where she helped grow the Norcal High School Cycling League, which boasts over 1,200 student-athlete members and is one of the largest NICA leagues in the country.
“A lot of people say that they wish they had something like this when they were in high school because of how inclusive and fun it is,” Wolfgang said in a NICA statement. “What we’ll be able to do is bring teens of all abilities, experiences, and backgrounds into the same space to create a truly unique experience. My favorite part of this organization is that we’ll help show teens what they’re capable of through riding bikes. I’m honored to be involved with the Oregon League and look forward to building up our youth cycling community across the state!” [Read more…]