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.”
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.
The usual opposition 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.
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!)
NW Trail Alliance Action Alert
“It is incredibly important that NWTA members and other off-road cycling community members provide input to the Parks Board – your words can help ensure they understand the need for additional access to trails in Portland.”
Daniel Greenstadt is a Concordia neighborhood resident and off-road cycling advocate who has attended many of the Off-road Cycling Plan meetings. In a post on BikePortland last April he shared his hopes and concerns for the plan.
Imagine yourself, your family, or your children pedaling along Forest Park’s newly constructed, 1.5-mile, shared-use trail from the area of NW Thurman Street to the brand new, two-million-dollar Forest Park Entrance and Nature Center at NW St Helens Road and NW Kittridge. You’re riding on a 2-6 foot wide path – some of it not even within Forest Park – immediately adjacent to the industrial buildings, rail yards, commercial operations, and tank farms that crowd the Highway 30 corridor. You are riding in the most ecologically degraded area of Forest Park on what Northwest Trail Alliance has described as “essentially a dirt sidewalk.”
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.
This post was written by the Northwest Trail Allliance, a Portland-based nonprofit and a BikePortland supporter.
Portland’s Off-road Cycling Master Plan (ORCMP) is now in its final stage of development, the Draft Plan Phase. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) is asking the public for feedback on the Draft, which will be incorporated into the Proposed Plan presented to City Council for adoption. As an off-road cyclist in Portland, this is an important opportunity for you to tell the City what you think about the Draft. If you want urban trails, now is the time to elevate your voice.
To assist, we’ve distilled the main elements of the Draft Plan as well as suggested areas of improvement that you may wish to include in your feedback to the City.
Key ORCMP Elements – By the Numbers
5.7 miles of natural surface, narrow to mid-width trails are currently open to cycling across the city.
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.