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With Forest Park on the table, Portland’s off-road cycling debate is heating up

With Forest Park on the table, Portland’s off-road cycling debate is heating up

Forest Park-4

A common sight in Forest Park.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Here we go again.

After seven months of advisory committee meetings, tonight the City of Portland will unveil a first draft of a list of potential sites to build new off-road cycling facilities. And like we’ve seen several times in the past, now that the moment of truth is drawing closer, people who want to prevent any improvement in bike access in local parks and natural areas are digging in for a fight.

This time the action is swirling around the city’s Off Road Cycling Master Plan process, a $350,000 effort to once-and-for-all create a comprehensive strategy to address the growing demand for places where Portlanders can ride a bicycle on dirt trails that doesn’t require a drive to Hood River, Sandy, or the Coast Range. The plan doesn’t draw any lines on the map, nor does it mandate the construction of any new trails. Its goal is to create a citywide inventory of where off-road cycling could work and what type of facility could be built at each site (it’s looking at all forms of dirt riding, from singletrack to skills parks and “pump tracks”). Part of that inventory is likely to include Forest Park, a location steeped in emotion and controversy on boths sides of this debate.

And since this is Portland and the city is talking about riding bicycles on dirt trails in Forest Park, a group of people who are vehemently resistant to any changes to the status quo have emerged to try and stop any forward movement.

A group calling itself “Friends of Forest Park” has been sending around emails (PDF) and has launched a petition to gather support for their cause. They say “Forest Park is facing the greatest threat in its history,” because the city plans to allow bicycling on existing trails like Wildwood. That’s not true at all, but it hasn’t stopped the group from spreading the same fear-mongering statistics and propaganda they’ve spread for many years. The group is spearheaded by Marcy Houle, the same woman who helped persuade the city to punt on the issue at the end of a lengthy public process seven years ago.







Houle and her groups’ tactics have had some impact already. 536 people have signed their petition since it was launced one month ago and “Wild” author Cheryl Strayed shared it with her 101,000 Twitter followers. For what it’s worth, a petition calling for more bicycle trail access in Portland got 1,500 signatures in just 36 hours.

The local media has helped the Friends group too. KGW-TV ran an unbalanced story a few weeks ago and the NW Examiner, a neighborhood paper whose publisher is infamously sour on biking, ran yet another one-sided story on the issue.

For their part, bicycling advocates have been working within the public process by participating in the advisory committee meetings. They’re taking a similar tact that they used to great success in a Metro planning process for a parcel of land just north of Forest Park: Make the very strong case for responsible off-road cycling, work in partnership with government to help answer the demand for more of it in the Portland area, and then do everything possible to support the often difficult process of making it a reality.

After much deliberation and even protests by anti-biking groups, Metro council recently sided with bike advocates on this issue. The City of Portland now must decide if it will do the same.

Portland needs a roadmap for off-road cycling. If we get it right we can usher in an exciting new era of stewardship and conservation in our local parks and natural areas while providing a new, healthy, outdoor activity for thousands of people. If we succumb to the status quo based on the non-factual and hyperbolic arguments of some residents who are unwilling to share our public spaces, than we will have missed a valuable opportunity to become a better city.

The Off Road Cycling Master Plan advisory committee meets tonight (8/25) from 4:00 to 7:00 pm at 1900 SW 4th Avenue (7th Floor). Here’s the agenda (PDF).

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

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The post With Forest Park on the table, Portland’s off-road cycling debate is heating up appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Parks’ new ‘land stewardship manager’ could have big impact on off-road cycling

Parks’ new ‘land stewardship manager’ could have big impact on off-road cycling

Forest Park "No Bikes" signs-2

(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A new position currently being offered by the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) bureau could have a huge impact on the future of off-road cycling.

PP&R’s new Land Stewardship Division Manager will be a senior-level manager who will make between $95,000 and $128,000 and will report directly to bureau director Mike Abbaté. Currently when Parks approaches a large policy or project they use a number of different types of planners and managers who all report to one project manager. This new position would, “bring together all land management expertise, knowledge and strategies under one manager.”

Here are the responsibilities of the new position as taken from the official job description:

Responsibilities include planning, organizing, directing and evaluating the programs, activities, and personnel of the division of approximately 150 employees who protect, maintain, restore and enhance the 11,000 acres of land managed by the Bureau that are part of a regionally ecologically significant system of open spaces, ranging from natural resource areas to highly developed parks to active recreation facilities. This position also oversees ecologists, horticultural services, community gardens, a plant nursery, turf and irrigation maintenance, environmental education, the integrated pest management program, and the recreational trails program.

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Given the ongoing tensions within PP&R around the balance between conservation and recreation and how best to manage bicycling in parks and natural areas, the person who gets this job will have to weave through some difficult issues.

While the much-anticipated Off-Road Cycling Plan is (thankfully) being managed by the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, PP&R will ultimately be involved in conversations regarding bike access at key sites like Forest Park, River View, Powell Butte, Gateway Green, and others.

If the person who ultimately fills this roll embraces the possibility and potential of bicycling in Portland’s parks and natural spaces, he/she could have a major impact on the future.

The Land Stewardship Division Manager position closes on December 14th, so be sure to apply if you are interested and pass along the listing to friends who are qualified.

In related news, PP&R is currently hosting an important online survey to gauge “Community Budget Values.” Please take a few minutes and fill it out.

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


The post Parks’ new ‘land stewardship manager’ could have big impact on off-road cycling appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Forest Park to get new main entrance, nature center on Highway 30

Forest Park to get new main entrance, nature center on Highway 30

forestpark

Red star is approximate location of future Forest Park main entrance and parking lot.

Thanks to a $1.5 million gift secured by this legislative session by State Representative Mitch Greenlick, the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau announced today they’ve begun the planning for an official entrance to Forest Park.

5,200 acre Forest Park is a gem. As urban greenspaces go it’s almost without compare in America. But for all its use and popularity, it doesn’t have an official front door. Instead, it has a half-dozen or so trailheads with very little in the way of amenities or interpretive facilities.

According to the Parks Bureau, this new project will include a nature center, an ADA accessible trail, and a parking lot (which Parks says will be big enough for schools buses so local kids can take field trips to the park). The location for the entrance will be just off Highway 30 at near the intersection of Yeon and Kittridge (about 3.5 miles northwest of NW 9th and Lovejoy). Parks purchased the lots, former brownfield sites that are now cleaned up, using Metro bond levy funds from measures passed in 2005 and 2014.

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With an additional $800,000 into the project from Parks System Development Charges (SDCs), Parks can now move forward with surveying, site planning, engineering, permitting, and so on.

Any project that aims to improve access to Forest Park is worthy of our attention. Especially if you are interested in bicycling access.

This new entrance will be built right next to Firelane 1, which is legal for cycling. I’ve never ridden it, but my experience in Forest Park makes me think it’s probably not beginner friendly. A look at the Forest Park bike map tells us that Firelane 1 takes about 1.4 miles to rise 500 feet before it reaches Leif Erikson Road (the popular bicycling road that runs north-south through the park). That’s a steep climb that’s not feasible for most Portlanders.

firelane1

Elevation profile of Firelane 1 from Forest Park Biking Map.

Makes me wonder: Will Parks use this project as an opportunity to make Forest Park more bike-friendly for a wider range of users?

Let’s look back at the the 1995 Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan (an official and still binding plan adopted by City Council) for some context. When I talked to a Parks planner about the project today, she referred me to the plan as the official document that will help guide construction of the new trailhead.

That plan called out this project as a “high” priority. Here’s what it says (emphases mine):

“Develop regional trailhead with parking for 20 cars, drinking fountain, and seasonal restrooms. Built multi-use trail up to Leif Erikson and Fire Lane 1 — to handicap standards, if possible. Pedestrians will continue on Leif Erikson and cyclists will continue on Fire Lane 1.

Arrange for possible use of old fire station or construct new building for use by organized events — runs, walks, bike events, etc. Study use of shuttle bus service from new parking area to other park access points. Service could be for small fee with buses capable of carrying bicycles.”

Judging by that text, I’d say bicycling advocates should pay very close attention to the upcoming planning process that will kick off in the coming months.

The Parks planner I spoke with today confirmed that the new ADA accessible trail is definitely still in the plans — although she didn’t say anything specific about accessibility improvements for park users on bicycles. If new trails designs are being built and funded, why not built one that’s open to bicycling all the way up to Leif Erikson?

Stay tuned. Parks will hold a public process to get input on design of this project. Current estimates are that planning will take up to two years and construction could start in 2017.


The post Forest Park to get new main entrance, nature center on Highway 30 appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Route advisory: Leif Erikson closure means major detours through Friday

Route advisory: Leif Erikson closure means major detours through Friday

Vernonia Overnighter

(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland.org)

Sorry for not warning you sooner but a portion of Leif Erikson, the main road for bicycling in Forest Park, is closed through the end of this week.

The closure is due to a City of Portland project to replace several culverts between mileposts 8.0 and 9.0. Since the road is completely closed, bicycle riders must detour around it. Portland Parks & Recreation is recommending two different detour routes. The shorter detour (1.9 miles) includes a very steep uphill/downhill where Parks recommends walking your bike for 1.2 miles. The other detour is five miles long and puts you on Highway 30.

Here are the maps (provided by PP&R):

leif-detour1

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leif-detour2

And here’s the text description:

Option 1: Please WALK your bike up Firelane 7A to Firelane 7—CAUTION: STEEP SLOPE. Turn right, continuing to walk your bike, on Firelane 7 to Springville Rd, which is open to bikes. RIDE down Springville Rd to return to Leif Erikson. (Walk: 1.2 mi; ride: 0.7 mi. Total: 1.9 miles)

Option 2: Take NW Saltzman Rd. 1.25 miles to Hwy 30/NW St Helens Rd. Take NW St Helens Rd. 2 miles north to NW Bridge Ave. Turn left on NW Bridge Ave. Turn right on NW Springville Rd. Continue up NW Springville Rd. 0.5 miles to the park gate. Continue up Springville Rd to Leif Erikson. (Within Forest Park: 1.6 mi; outside Forest Park: 3.4 mi. Total: 5 miles)

“We recognize that Leif Erikson is a popular and widely used trail for multiple user groups and this may be an inconvenience for many,” PP&R said in a statement, “However, it also serves as the primary north-south emergency access route in the park; we hope these improvements will serve the park’s users and wildlife well into the future.”

Download a PDF version of the above maps and detour notice.


The post Route advisory: Leif Erikson closure means major detours through Friday appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Guest Article: Popping My Trail Poaching Cherry

Guest Article: Popping My Trail Poaching Cherry

umaDear-portland

A manifesto of sorts, by Üma Kleppinger.

Publisher’s note: This article was written by author and journalist Üma Kleppinger and was originally published on her blog, The Ümabomber.

I’ve been a cyclist for over 25 years and a dedicated mountain biker for the past 8 years. I have ridden trails all over the Western US. And I have never poached a trail that was closed to riding. Ever. Until today.

“People — especially conservative people — love to hate what they don’t understand… When we ride bikes, we are perceived as less human.”

Today I popped my poaching cherry.

People who know me can’t believe I’ve never poached. I’ve been an outspoken advocate for bike access on trails since I started riding dirt. I’m a noisy upstart, an outspoken firebrand, and I rail against the machine. I’m good at rallying the troops and making noise, and with a name like The Ümabomber, it’s easy to see why people would expect me to ride rogue.

But I’m also possessed of some weird conscience that feels horribly guilty if I go against the law. Partly, it’s that I didn’t want my actions to negatively impact the work others are doing to create positive change. I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

But there’s a problem with that problem.

Bike Gallery warehouse sale!

The problem is “the problem” is manufactured. The problem is a matter of perception. Mountain bikers (and cyclists in general) are perceived as threats to most non-bike riding humans in the United States. People—especially conservative people—love to hate what they don’t understand; gays, people of other nationalities, other belief systems, other social classes.

When we ride bikes, we are perceived as less human. We are perceived as earth-raping, road-sucking monsters whose only purpose is to create havoc and ruin other people’s lives. We are in the way. We are obstacles to other people’s enjoyment of reality—or their escape from it.

After the recent Portland Parks & Recreation decision to ban bikes from a trail system where bikes had not been identified as threats to the preservation of a large city park, it was clear that railing against the machine would no longer be enough. It was time to ride against the machine.

So, today I rode my bike on single track trail in one of the largest public parks in the country, on trails that are closed to anyone except Nature Conservancy hikers, their (illegally) off-lease dogs, and uber-fit long distance runners in safety orange day-glo running shoes.

umavince2

From last night’s protest ride.
(Photo by Vince Rodarte)
umawalkingfree-forest-park-1-1024x678

From last night’s protest ride.
(Photo by Üma Kleppinger)

I took about 55 friends with me. My deflowering was public: the loss of my poaching virginity made the evening news. Even more poignant, the trail is named Wild Cherry.

We were courteous. We made way for people to pass. We said hello. We didn’t descend upon them—wheeled hellions from the sky—screaming blood curdling death cries, snatching up their soft, furry canines in our talons to rip to shreds and feed to your young. We didn’t hate. I can’t say we met the same courtesy in everyone we encountered. And don’t look now, but according to the comments left on the news channels who covered our ride, there are many people who feel they can and should run us over with their cars and trucks.

You’d think we were pedophiles or rapists instead of people who ride bikes, that’s how much mainstream America has in their hearts for us.

As rides go, it was anti-climatic. Short and sweet-ish. The purpose was to show our numbers and to take the trails with the same unapologetic ownership other user groups take for granted. As we headed out for the trail, I climbed up on a garbage can and delivered our message:

Dear Portland: We’re here. Our numbers are growing. We are not terrorists. We are people who ride bikes. We live here. We work, and pay taxes, and volunteer in our communities. We vote. We probably do more trail work than you do. And we build better, more sustainable and environmentally beneficial trails than you do. You need to stop treating us like we are some kind of criminal class. We are going to ride. Get used to it.

As [Bike Magazine reporter] Vernon Felton mentioned in his recent article, Portland does not deserve to be awarded any kudos for being “bike-friendly”. The truth is, Portland is “bike-friendly” if you are a commuter, sort of. Certainly, Portland does not deserve the League of American Bicyclist’s “Platinum Status” for Bike-Friendly Cities when she systematically and repeatedly refuse to accommodate or include an entire user group.

I propose a new designation: Prohibition Status.

In the 20s, prohibition supporters were referred to as “Drys” and anti-prohibition adherents were “Wets”. Here in Portland, as mountain bikers, we are under siege by a new breed of “dry crusaders”; conservative NIMBYs who reject reason and logic and refuse to share what isn’t even theirs to give.

So while I applaud my local trail advocacy groups for their letter writing campaigns and ongoing conversations with city policy makers (and especially for filing suit against the city) I think my days of playing nicey-nice with the Drys are over. I simply refuse to be part of “the problem” any longer. I refuse to play into the expectations forced upon me by other, more entitled user groups, these new prohibitionists.

See, I’ve had my trail poaching cherry popped, now. Amanda Fritz made me do it. And now there’s no going back. I’m going to ride more… wet and dirty.

I asked Üma to clarify whether or not she and the 60 or so other riders who showed up to the protest ride last night actually rode bikes on illegal singletrack in Forest Park. Here’s how she responded:

“I can neither confirm nor deny ‘reports of riding on illegal trails’.

I can tell you this:

While some of the hikers we passed were courteous and friendly, others were not amused and downright pissed off. It doesn’t matter if we ride or walk from a user conflict point of view. People who don’t ride bikes do not want to share with people who do. Now now. Not ever. Not anywhere.”

Check out the TV news coverage of the ride via KATU and KPTV.

The post Guest Article: Popping My Trail Poaching Cherry appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Guest Article: Riding against the machine

Guest Article: Riding against the machine

umaDear-portland

A manifesto of sorts, by The Ümabomber.

Publisher’s note: This article was written by The Ümabomber and was originally published on her blog.

I’ve been a cyclist for over 25 years and a dedicated mountain biker for the past 8 years. I have ridden trails all over the Western US. And I have never poached a trail that was closed to riding. Ever. Until today.

“People — especially conservative people — love to hate what they don’t understand… When we ride bikes, we are perceived as less human.”

Today I popped my poaching cherry.

People who know me can’t believe I’ve never poached. I’ve been an outspoken advocate for bike access on trails since I started riding dirt. I’m a noisy upstart, an outspoken firebrand, and I rail against the machine. I’m good at rallying the troops and making noise, and with a name like The Ümabomber, it’s easy to see why people would expect me to ride rogue.

But I’m also possessed of some weird conscience that feels horribly guilty if I go against the law. Partly, it’s that I didn’t want my actions to negatively impact the work others are doing to create positive change. I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

But there’s a problem with that problem.

Bike Gallery warehouse sale!

The problem is “the problem” is manufactured. The problem is a matter of perception. Mountain bikers (and cyclists in general) are perceived as threats to most non-bike riding humans in the United States. People—especially conservative people—love to hate what they don’t understand; gays, people of other nationalities, other belief systems, other social classes.

When we ride bikes, we are perceived as less human. We are perceived as earth-raping, road-sucking monsters whose only purpose is to create havoc and ruin other people’s lives. We are in the way. We are obstacles to other people’s enjoyment of reality—or their escape from it.

After the recent Portland Parks & Recreation decision to ban bikes from a trail system where bikes had not been identified as threats to the preservation of a large city park, it was clear that railing against the machine would no longer be enough. It was time to ride against the machine.

So, today I rode my bike on single track trail in one of the largest public parks in the country, on trails that are closed to anyone except Nature Conservancy hikers, their (illegally) off-lease dogs, and uber-fit long distance runners in safety orange day-glo running shoes.

umavince2

From last night’s protest ride.
(Photo by Vince Rodarte)
umawalkingfree-forest-park-1-1024x678

From last night’s protest ride.

I took about 55 friends with me. My deflowering was public: the loss of my poaching virginity made the evening news. Even more poignant, the trail is named Wild Cherry.

We were courteous. We made way for people to pass. We said hello. We didn’t descend upon them—wheeled hellions from the sky—screaming blood curdling death cries, snatching up their soft, furry canines in our talons to rip to shreds and feed to your young. We didn’t hate. I can’t say we met the same courtesy in everyone we encountered. And don’t look now, but according to the comments left on the news channels who covered our ride, there are many people who feel they can and should run us over with their cars and trucks.

You’d think we were pedophiles or rapists instead of people who ride bikes, that’s how much mainstream America has in their hearts for us.

As rides go, it was anti-climatic. Short and sweet-ish. The purpose was to show our numbers and to take the trails with the same unapologetic ownership other user groups take for granted. As we headed out for the trail, I climbed up on a garbage can and delivered our message:

Dear Portland: We’re here. Our numbers are growing. We are not terrorists. We are people who ride bikes. We live here. We work, and pay taxes, and volunteer in our communities. We vote. We probably do more trail work than you do. And we build better, more sustainable and environmentally beneficial trails than you do. You need to stop treating us like we are some kind of criminal class. We are going to ride. Get used to it.

As [Bike Magazine reporter] Vernon Felton mentioned in his recent article, Portland does not deserve to be awarded any kudos for being “bike-friendly”. The truth is, Portland is “bike-friendly” if you are a commuter, sort of. Certainly, Portland does not deserve the League of American Bicyclist’s “Platinum Status” for Bike-Friendly Cities when she systematically and repeatedly refuse to accommodate or include an entire user group.

I propose a new designation: Prohibition Status.

In the 20s, prohibition supporters were referred to as “Drys” and anti-prohibition adherents were “Wets”. Here in Portland, as mountain bikers, we are under siege by a new breed of “dry crusaders”; conservative NIMBYs who reject reason and logic and refuse to share what isn’t even theirs to give.

So while I applaud my local trail advocacy groups for their letter writing campaigns and ongoing conversations with city policy makers (and especially for filing suit against the city) I think my days of playing nicey-nice with the Drys are over. I simply refuse to be part of “the problem” any longer. I refuse to play into the expectations forced upon me by other, more entitled user groups, these new prohibitionists.

See, I’ve had my trail poaching cherry popped, now. Amanda Fritz made me do it. And now there’s no going back. I’m going to ride more… wet and dirty.

I asked The Ümabomber to clarify whether or not she and the 60 or so other riders who showed up to the protest ride last night actually rode bikes on illegal singletrack in Forest Park. Here’s how she responded:

“I can neither confirm nor deny ‘reports of riding on illegal trails’.

I can tell you this:

While some of the hikers we passed were courteous and friendly, others were not amused and downright pissed off. It doesn’t matter if we ride or walk from a user conflict point of view. People who don’t ride bikes do not want to share with people who do. Now now. Not ever. Not anywhere.”

Check out the TV news coverage of the ride via KATU and KPTV.

Publisher’s note: This story was originally posted with a different title. It was changed after it became a distraction and many readers contacted me to say it was offensive to them. — Jonathan

The post Guest Article: Riding against the machine appeared first on BikePortland.org.

‘Free Forest Park Ride’ aims to keep heat on trail access issue

‘Free Forest Park Ride’ aims to keep heat on trail access issue

forestparkride-lead

A group of frustrated and fed-up mountain biking advocates hope to keep the pressure on local decision-makers by staging a mass ride in Forest Park tonight.

While much of the recent focus in the community has been on River View Natural Area, Forest Park remains essentially off-limits to trail-riding. With a paltry 1/3 mile of singletrack trail open to bicycle users, it’s a potent symbol of what many see as a systematic bias against mountain biking from the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau.

The image chosen to publicize tonight’s ride (above) expresses some of the building frustration in the community. Scrawled across a billboard advertisement from the Forest Park Conservancy that features people happily pedaling in Forest Park is the hashtag and rally-cry, “#PortlandHatesMTBers.” (The billboard really chaps the hide of mountain bikers, many of whom see it on Highway 26 as they drive home from the Sandy Ridge Trail Area — a drive they do in large part because bikes are not allowed on trails at Forest Park).

The ride has been organized by individual activists and is not sanctioned by the Northwest Trail Alliance or any other non-profit advocacy group. Here’s more from the ride leader Üma Kleppinger:

Bike Gallery warehouse sale!

“The City of Portland doesn’t deserve to be called “Bike Friendly” when year after year mountain bikers are denied access to park trails. Portland boasts some of the largest city parks in the country, yet selfishly hoards access for a few user groups. Let’s keep the heat on and build upon the momentum established at the River View Protest Ride — this time with a protest in Portland’s iconic Forest Park. Although this ride is staged in Forest Park, it’s meant to show a need for access to city parks, period.”

So far, 181 people have RSVP’d for the ride. A similar ride on March 16th to protest the River View bike ban drew over 300 people.

Kleppinger says the ride is meant to be a “show of force.” Details of the ride are being kept secret, but Kleppinger is urging everyone to wear good walking shoes — which leads us to believe part of the protest will include walking bikes on what are currently designated as hiking-only trails.

“This is a peaceful protest and a no-conflict ride,” Kleppinger explains on Facebook, “When we encounter other users on the trail, we will explain why we are there and why this measure is necessary… This is a demonstration of need, pure and simple.”

It’s been four and-a-half years since bike advocates last took to Forest Park. In October 2010 the NW Trail Alliance held a rally there after being left at the altar of access by the City of Portland.

Tonight’s ride meets at 6:00 pm (4/6), rain or shine, at the NW Thurman Street gate. See the Facebook event for more info.

The post ‘Free Forest Park Ride’ aims to keep heat on trail access issue appeared first on BikePortland.org.

MTB advocates will deliver petition, request planning funds at Parks budget hearing

MTB advocates will deliver petition, request planning funds at Parks budget hearing

Ventura Park Pump Track grand opening-19

Portland kids deserve more places to ride off-road.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Almost one year after Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz quietly destroyed hopes of new singletrack bicycling opportunities in Forest Park (at least in the short-term), off-road advocates plan to deliver a strong message to her at an upcoming budget hearing.

Their request? Find the money to fund a citywide mountain bike master plan that would address Forest Park trails and other cycling opportunities like family-friendly pump tracks in local parks.

It’s an idea proposed by Fritz herself and one they feel will finally break the logjam that’s preventing the Parks Bureau from moving forward on any significant projects that improve access for bicycles.

“Show up and tell Commissioner Fritz that the time is now to fund that plan and start moving forward on making Portland more off-road biking friendly.”
— NWTA call to action.

In February 2014 Fritz announced via a blog post that, “I believe that a citywide Master Plan for cycling recreation is needed prior to embarking on individual projects.” That was a blow to advocates who had spent years working in good faith with Fritz’s predecessor (Commissioner Nick Fish) only to have promises broken and processes derailed.

Some off-road advocates feel the call for a master plan (made first by Parks Director Mike Abbate in a letter to the president of the Northwest Trail Alliance on January 21, 2014) and claims of budget woes are just more stall tactics. They say the current Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan does not prohibit the creation and use of singletrack and they cite several examples where Fritz has found Parks funds for projects she personally cares about. There’s also some concern that advocating for the master plan would effectively halt any projects in the pipeline.

Regardless of those reservations, advocates plan to support Fritz’s idea and put all their weight behind the citywide master plan at a public hearing on Wednesday. With that plan in place, they figure there will be no more excuses for City Hall

“Show up and tell Commissioner Fritz that the time is now to fund that plan and start moving forward on making Portland more off-road biking friendly,” reads a call to action sent out by the NWTA this week.

Andrew Jansky with the NWTA says they plan to ask for $200,000 for the planning effort. Most of the money in Parks’ 2015-2016 budget is spoken for; but there’s still room for Fritz to use discretion and fund other priorities.

The NWTA launched a petition on Moveon.org back in November urging City Council to create a “citywide master plan for recreational cycling” that they say is, “decades overdue.” The scrappy organization with about 1,000 members has collected over 2,500 signatures so far.

NWTA staff and members plan to present that petition at Wednesday’s hearing. A key argument they’ll try and make is that too many kids lack safe places to ride bikes in Portland parks. They’re hoping for a large turnout of people who value mountain biking and off-road cycling in all its forms — from pump tracks to singletrack.

If last month’s huge show of support for bike trails in Metro’s North Tualatin Mountains project is any indication, they won’t be disappointed.

    Portland Parks Budget Dialogue
    Wednesday January 7, 2015
    6pm-8pm
    Ladd’s Addition
    St. Philip Neri Church (Carvlin Hall, 2408 SE 16th Ave)
    Facebook event here

The post MTB advocates will deliver petition, request planning funds at Parks budget hearing appeared first on BikePortland.org.

After years of disappointment, single track lovers have reasons for optimism

After years of disappointment, single track lovers have reasons for optimism

Newton Rd in Forest Park

With renewed energy from Portland’s off-road biking advocates and a Metro project that could open up 1,300 acress of trail possibilities, 2015 could be a very big year for advocates itching for more local single track trails.

As we reported yesterday, local advocacy and trail building group the Northwest Trail Alliance has thrown down a gauntlet of sorts by launching an online petition in the form of an open letter to members of Portland City Council. The petition urges them to “catch up with the overflowing demand for off-road cycling opportunities.” By the time this story is published there will likely be close to 1,000 signatures collected in its first two days.

It’s been four years since a bruising public process ended without any real progress on bike access improvements in Forest Park. After that loss, the NW Trail Alliance vowed to stay focused on the issue.

Now, with the passage of time and healing of wounds, it looks like they’re ready to start pushing once again. The Trail Alliance can start fresh with lessons learned and new faces in charge at City Council and on their staff.

Also working in bike advocates’ favor is a Metro plan to develop 1,300 acres of land known as the North Tualatin Mountains along Forest Park’s northern boundary. As we reported back in September, Metro is entering this planning process with eyes wide open.

But then again, mountain biking advocates were also optimistic back in 2009 when former Parks Commissioner Nick Fish made a bold promise that he was ultimately unable to keep.

However, this time around advocates have even more reason to expect a good result. The biggest difference is that their fate is in Metro’s hands now, not Portland Parks & Recreation. And unlike the 2009 Forest Park effort, biking hopes can be based on clear policy language, not a politician’s promises.

mccarthycreek

At 403 acres and accessible right off Skyline Blvd and McNamee Road, the McCarthy Creek parcel holds great promise.

The North Tualatin Mountains project is funded through Metro’s natural areas levy that voters passed in 2012. The NW Trail Alliance came out in support of that levy because it included specific language about mountain biking.

The levy was adopted by Metro Council in December 2012. Page 14 of Exhibit A in the adopted resolution contains an initial project list. Among the projects listed is one of parcels of the North Tualatin Mountains project. Here’s the text of that project description:

Agency Creek/McCarthy Creek
Various parcels near to but outside of Forest Park are currently or could be used by walkers or cyclists to access nature close to Portland. Access to the site is challenging and there may be opportunities to enhance use. Over the past decade the demand for single track mountain biking trails has increased. This project would explore the potential to provide quality cycling and hiking experiences for formal single track cycling and walking trails, and as appropriate, construct the facilities.

While that language doesn’t set anything in stone, it’s clear Metro has been thinking about single track from the outset and they’ve left the door wide open.

As you can imagine, people who want more single track trails within riding distance of downtown Portland are taking this Metro process very seriously. If they succeed here, it won’t just give them a great new place to ride, it would serve as a symbol of success right next door to where the City of Portland has thus far only failed.

Metro is holding four community meetings to gather feedback on this project. The second one is coming up on December 2nd.

Ryan Francesconi and Andy Jansky, two volunteer advocates with the NW Trail Alliance, hope to see a large contingent of bicycling supporters at the meeting. “Allowing bikes on trails is currently very much a possibility,” they wrote on Facebook, “however if we don’t attend this meeting and give voice to our perspective we may lose out.”

    North Tualatin Mountains Open House
    Skyline Grange
    Tuesday, December 2, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m
    11275 NW Skyline Blvd. Portland, OR 97231

The post After years of disappointment, single track lovers have reasons for optimism appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Bomb squad disarms tripwire device found on trail near Forest Park – UDPATED

Bomb squad disarms tripwire device found on trail near Forest Park – UDPATED

Newton Rd in Forest Park

(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Police called in the bomb squad Saturday night to disarm an explosive device connected to a tripwire strung across a trail that leads into Forest Park.

According to a statement released this morning by the PPB, the tripwire was strung across Firelane 3, a wooded and overgrown old fire access road located east of NW Thompson Rd and accessible via Skyline Road from Thunder Crest Drive. Firelane 3 is open to bicycling and walking.

Here’s more from the PPB:

The device was an improvised firearm with a pipe loaded with a shotgun shell. The device was connected to a tripwire across the trail. The tripwire was slack and it appeared that it had been tripped and the device was inoperable.

The PPB have taken in the device as evidence and are conducting interviews with local residents. The police say there have been no other reports of similar devices and “it is unclear why someone would place this device on what is believed to be a well-used trail by hikers, bikers and equestrians.”

The PPB is urging anyone with information about this incident or device is asked to contact the bureau’s Gun Task Force at (503) 823-4106 or guntaskforce@portlandoregon.gov.

UPDATE, 2:30 pm:

We learned via The Oregonian that the tripwire was found by Mike Colbach, a Portland attorney whose law office happens to be a large supporter of bike racing via the BicycleAttorney.com Cycling Team. I just talked to Mike on the phone to learn a bit more about the situation.

Colbach said he and his wife discovered the paracord across the trail on Thursday afternoon around 3:30 pm.

“This has nothing to do with bikes as far as I know,” he said. “This whole thing is just some weird stuff.”

Colbach said, judging by the way the cord was set up, a bicycle could have actually rolled downhill over it and nothing would have happened. The trail where it was found is not a popular access point to Forest Park. It’s not even marked from the main road (Skyline) and it’s at the back of a semi-private subdivision. Colbach knew something was amiss when, during a recent hike with his wife, he says two men he described as being “sketchy, slimy, and sleazy” were hanging out near the trail talking on a cell phone. “They weren’t hikers, they didn’t fit in. They looked to be up to no good.”

Colbach said his wife got a better look at them and she’s now working with detectives to come up with a sketch of the suspects. It has been an unsettling experience for him and he hopes Portland Police and Parks take it seriously. He’d like to see a sweep of the entire park to make sure there are more similar booby traps scattered around.

“Forest Park is sacred,” he said, “And we want to keep it that way.”

The post Bomb squad disarms tripwire device found on trail near Forest Park – UDPATED appeared first on BikePortland.org.