Advocates line up to support singletrack in Metro parcels north of Forest Park

Advocates line up to support singletrack in Metro parcels north of Forest Park

tualatinlead

Detail of Metro trail proposal shown back in May.

If all goes according to their plans, Metro could build about a dozen miles of new biking trails in the North Tualatin Mountains Natural Area, a 1,300 acre section of hills just north of Forest Park. The agency will unveil their recommendation for where trails should be built and who should be allowed to use them at a meeting tomorrow night (11/17).

If the trails in this plan get built, they will represent the most comprehensive network of singletrack (made for cycling) in the history of Portland.

Metro used a voter-approved levy to purchase four parcels off NW McNamee and Skyline Roads and has spent the last year in a planning process to decide how to manage public access. The stakes are high because the new trails will be built a mere 12 miles from north Portland — far closer than any other similar riding opportunities in the region. The land is currently undeveloped with only rudimentary dirt roads running through it.

Back in May we reported that Metro had proposed, for the first time ever, a plan that included off-road singletrack trails built specifically for cycling (what they called “bike-optimized”). This came after Metro heard loud and clear at a meeting last December that many Portlanders are tired of driving 45-60 minutes just to enjoy quality mountain biking.

Not surprisingly, off-road cycling advocates are lining up to support the plan and build the trails.

Andy Jansky with the Northwest Trail Alliance has seen the plans and told us this morning that, “This is going to be a place to go for a ride, get out in nature and get some exercise.” He added that, unlike the miniscule amounts of singletrack in Forest Park (1/3 of a mile) and Powell Butte, there will be enough new trails in Tualatin Mountains to “go for a reasonable ride.”

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Jansky says Metro wants to built 6-8 miles of singletrack in one of the parcels and 3-4 in the other and it’ll be easy (and fun) to ride between the two. (Of the other two parcels, one will be set aside solely for conservation and the other will have hiking trails but no bicycle access.)

There has not been a very vocal opposition to these plans yet; but we’ve gotten word that some neighbors are now organizing a protest. At first their concerns were that bicycling would be incompatible with wildlife (herds of elk have been seen in the park), but now the opposition says that the 2013 Metro levy prohibits cycling trails in natural areas (it doesn’t) and they’re worried the new trails will attract too much traffic to the area.

The sign below was recently spotted by a reader at the entrace to one of the parcels:

tualatin-oppositionsign

In the wake of controversial decisions by the City of Portland to blatantly ignore much-needed improvements to bicycle access in Forest Park and the River View Natural Area, Metro has decided on a different route: Their plan will represent one of the most significant steps forward for off-road singletrack trails in the history of Portland.

Metro says they’ve arrived at this trail plan proposal after listening to, “a rich and respectful conversation.” They’ve also made it clear from the get-go that any trail access decisions would be made with ecological preservation as a top priority.

Jansky with the NW Trail Alliance says having people show up to the meeting and support this trail proposal is absolutely critical. The NWTA strongly supported the passage of the 2013 natural area levy with precisely this type of plan in mind and now he says it’s time to support Metro for making it a reality.

Tonight’s meeting is the final chance for public input. Once the plan is completed and approved, Metro will move into the design phase and decide the exact trail alignments. Construction could begin in 2016 with trails opening by 2017.

    North Tualatins Natural Area Final Community Meeting
    November 17th, 2015
    6:30 pm at Skyline Elementary School (11536 NW Skyline Blvd)
    Facebook event page

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


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