If you think it’s hard to comply with social distancing guidelines on narrow sidewalks and bike lanes in Portland, you should try doing it on singletrack trails in Forest Park.
But that hasn’t stopped the City of Portland from keeping the much-loved urban park open.
While trails in the Columbia River Gorge and elsewhere throughout Oregon are closed — and the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau has opted to close basketball courts, skateparks and roads around 10 other local parks in an effort to discourage use and help people maintain their distance, Forest Park has avoided closures thus far.
I’ve biked through the park several times recently and the parking lots have been very crowded. It got me wondering; if the Parks Bureau has closed basketball courts and skateparks, why would they keep Forest Park trails open while they continue to attract such large crowds? I was also curious how it’s physically possible to maintain a six-foot passing distance on trails in heavily forested areas that are just 18 to 30-inches wide.
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.”
Since last summer we’ve heard from several readers who are curious about the proliferation of “Private Property: No Trespassing” signs on NW Saltzman Road as it approaches Skyline Boulevard and the Firelane 5 trailhead.
Saltzman is a revered route in Forest Park. It’s a key connector between Highway 30, Leif Erikson Road, and Skyline. The road is so well loved there’s been a bike jersey and a bicycle named after it.
In case you haven’t read or heard yet, it’s crunch time for the City of Portland’s Off-road Cycling Master Plan.
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!)
As they prep for its big day at City Council this spring, the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is in the final stages of their Off-road Cycling Master Plan.
The plan has already been over two years in the making and Portlanders have made nearly 900 individual public comments about what type of trails they want and where new trails should go.
Now comes the politics and last-minute lobbying.
The Oregon Department of Transportation has begun an internal process to analyze a safety risk to bicycle users on Highway 30.
After we highlighted how people park their cars in the shoulder of the busy highway near a Forest Park entrance north of Linnton last week, we urged people to flag the issue via the AskODOT system.
It turns out at least one person took the advice and did so.
A few days after our story went up we heard from ODOT Region 1 Public Information Officer Don Hamilton. “In response to an AskODOT query,” he shared via email, “ODOT will conduct a parking prohibition study at that location. This will take up to six weeks to complete, with appropriate action, if any is necessary, to follow.”[Read more…]
Highway 30 is a crucial connection for bicycle riders between Portland, Sauvie Island, Forest Park, the West Hills, and beyond.
On a dry weekend it often feels like there are just as many people using bicycles on the road as there are people using cars and trucks. But it’s much more dangerous than it should be.
I could write thousands of words about how the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the Oregon Department of Transportation (all of whom share ownership/management of different sections) have completely failed to do their job to maintain and design this highway so that it provides an adequate level-of-service for all users.
But today, I want to focus on one specific issue: People who park cars in the shoulder, forcing bicycle riders into a scary merge.
This post was written by Daniel Greenstadt. Daniel last appeared on BikePortland for his testimony in favor of funding the off-road cycling plan at City Council in 2015. He’s a Portland-based hiker, bicycle rider, Girl Scout leader, and occasional equestrian trail user who also serves on the Board of Directors of the Concordia Neighborhood Association.