Activist claims Forest Park trail being “ruined by cyclists”

Activist claims Forest Park trail being “ruined by cyclists”

Photo by Marcy Houle sent to Mayor Hales
and other City Council members. It shows bike tires
in the mud on what she says is Wildwood Trail.

As we shared last month, the debate over improving bicycle access in Forest Park seems to be heating up once again.

On March 14th, Marcy Houle, an activist and author of One City’s Wilderness: Portland’s Forest Park who has been very outspoken in opposition to bicycling in the park, emailed Mayor Charlie Hales and the rest of City Council urging them to do something about people who ride illegally on Wildwood Trail.

Houle’s email (sent on March 14th) focused on the Wildwood Trail, which she describes as being, “arguably the most pristine, natural, and heralded city park hiking trail in the United States.” Houle shared photos she says show damage to the trail from bicycle tires and she called on the Mayor, City Council members, and Parks Director Mike Abbate to stop the “criminal activity.”

Read the full text of her email below (emphases mine):

Marcy Houle.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Dear Mayor Hales, Commissioners Fritz, Fish, Saltzman, Novik [sic], Park Superintendent Abbate, and To All Citizens Who Care About Forest Park:

In all of my years of researching, exploring, and writing about Forest Park, I have never witnessed such devastation to a Forest Park footpath as I did today.

The prized Wildwood Trail is being usurped and ruined by cyclists riding illegally and without any regard for the health of the park nor the safety of walkers.

Please review the attached four photos (out of approximately 50) that I took today that show the incredible damage caused by this one user group, and one photo that shows the rampant vandalism to the signs that say “No Cycling.”

Mayor Hales, Commissioner Fish, and Park Superintendent Abbate: what are you doing to put a stop to this criminal activity?

Where is the enforcement? Where is the park ranger (whom, as we know, has no authority to write citations) to safeguard the footpaths of Forest Park?

The flagrant, unsafe, and criminal behavior exhibited by cyclists who are riding illegally on pedestrian only trails throughout the park needs to be made public for all to see. Their actions need to be immediately addressed and stopped.

I will be happy to take anyone on a tour who wants to see first hand the destruction of Wildwood Trail — arguably the most pristine, natural, and heralded city park hiking trail in the United States.

After reviewing these photos, I hope you will finally begin to live up to your responsibilities and show true leadership in protecting this city park that is unequaled in all of the United States. We received it intact from prior leaders, and it is a treasure. Under your watch, if you show no action and let rogue users take it over with impunity, and then, cater to their demands, we risk losing its unparalleled and unique qualities forever.

I encourage everyone who cares about Forest Park to pass this letter on.

Sincerely,
Marcy Houle

It’s worth noting that Houle was the main anti-mountain biking force during the year-long public process that concluded in 2010 with a recommendation for no new bicycle access in the park. Houle is concerned by steps being taken by Director Abbate to improve bicycle access in Forest Park. In December, following a wildlife study of the park that found bicycling does not pose a major threat to the park’s ecology, Abbate said he supports more bicycling and plans to create new trails where bicycling will be allowed.

For more on the Forest Park mountain biking issue, browse our past coverage.

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