As of 12:01 am this morning — for the first time in well over 20 years — it became illegal to ride a bicycle in a 146-acre parcel just west of the Sellwood Bridge known as the River View Natural Area. We’ve got more info on today’s protest ride and other updates below…
As we’ve been reporting for the past two weeks, the surprise decision to stop allowing bicycles in this area came from Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish. Despite an ongoing public process, the decision was made unilaterally without any input from citizen committee members. Adding fuel to frustrations to many people in the region is that neither politician has fully explained how they arrived at their decision other than to say that the City of Portland, “must ensure the uses of the natural area match the… mission to protect the watershed.” (More background here.)
Here’s the route for today’s ride:
As the community waits to hear more from the commissioners, River View Natural Area Technical Advisory Committee member Charlie Sponsel, says he plans to move ahead with his Protest Ride today at 4:00 pm.
Obviously because the dirt is still wet from weekend rains, all riders will be advised to stay completely off the trails. Here’s more from an update posted on the event’s Facebook page (emphasis mine):
“After talking to a lot of folks in the MTB community, we believe the bad weather has presented us a huge opportunity. There are people who are hoping we thrash the trails tomorrow so they can post pictures of the damage and claim “I told you so.” Instead of adding fuel to the hate fire, we’re going to take the high road and stay off the trails. This will drive our critics crazy, and will communicate three key points:
First it shows that mountain bikers are advocates for sustainability, and we are self policing. We want to be equal partners in protecting River View Natural Area, and we will take necessary steps to safeguard the trails from weather and abuse.
Second, by not walking our bikes on the trails we won’t inadvertently communicate that riding on wet trails is bad and walking is somehow better. It’s not.
Third, the sight of 325 mountain bikers out of place riding mountain bikes on the road around the park speaks powerfully about the fact there’s no where else to go. With the closing of River View, there’s really no place to ride mountain bikes in Portland.”
There’s also a new video (above) on the issue that has been published by Fat Tire Farm, a local shop that specializes in mountain bikes. In the video, Sponsel and others share why they feel maintaining access for bicycling in River View is so important.
On the media front, tune into OPB’s Think Out Loud radio show today at noon for a live conversation about this issue. I’m headed into the studio and producers say the River View segment will air at the top of the hour.
We’re continuing to work this story and hope to shed more light on it this week. Stay tuned.
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