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Portland Mountain Bikers Launch Petition for More Trails

Saturday, November 22, 2014



A cyclist climbs a double-track road in Forest Park. With over 70 miles of trails available to hikers and runners, less than one mile of actual single track is open to bikers.

For over a decade Portland area mountain bikers have been asking for more off-road cycling access within the metropolitan area, to little avail. The off-road advocacy group Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA) petition has launched a petition which aims to change that.

For years, advocacy groups such as NWTA have worked to improve off road access but with every change of the guard in City Hall the group has encountered more road blocks than trail access.

Prompted by an announcement made by Portland Park & Recreation (PPR) Commissioner Amanda Fritz earlier this year, the NWTA authored this petition to demonstrate the demand and gain both public and civic support for a citywide recreational cycling Master Plan.

Off-road advocates had found support with Commissioner Nick Fish who was overseeing PPR and working on the development of a particular cycling trail in Forest Park. When that progress was suddenly and unexpectedly halted, advocates and riders found themselves at a loss to proceed.


The majority of "off-road" cycling opportunities in Portland's urban growth boundary are actually old fire roads, not actual trails.

Fritz admitted “a citywide Master Plan for cycling recreation is needed.”  At the same time, she has yet to designate the resources needed to continue development of that plan. 

“We are disappointed in the outcome of the Forest Park project, but we still want drive a positive conversation,” said Kelsey Cardwell, President of NWTA. “We’ve been working with the city to continue the discussion, but feel like we’ve just been spinning our wheels.”

NWTA supports the development for the comprehensive plan, but wants to see increased urgency on the part of the city to step up to meet the needs of Portland cyclists. After months of voicing their objection to the commissioner’s decision, the group has suggested the city dedicate $200,000 to fund the development of the master plan.  

“Off-road cycling has seen a spike in participation in the past decade, and Portland is out-of-step with surrounding communities and the increased demand.” Cardwell said. “NWTA can offer a wealth of local and national resources, access to grants monies for building trails, and expertise that could be utilized to meet both short-term and long-term goals.”


Off-road cycling provides year-round recreational access which is not only healthy physically, but also provides a boost to the local economy.

Sandy Ridge, a trail system located an hour east of Portland, provides a good example of this increased demand for recreational trail riding. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) estimates that the Sandy Ridge trails will see between 80,000 and 90,000 visitors in 2014, up from 32,000 in 2012.

With the growth of recreational cycling, NWTA has seen increased support from all land managers within their region (e.g. Metro, Oregon Parks, BLM, Forest Service, Port of Cascade Locks, private landowners, various cities and counties) except for the City of Portland.

Cardwell claims the usual arguments against urban trails are that they are economically unjustified and present user conflicts. A citywide master plan would ultimately reduce user conflict and illegal riding that has stigmatized legitimate users. “We are excited about the idea of working with diverse user groups to reach a plan we can all get on board with.”

The Northwest Trail Alliance is calling on all outdoor recreationalists to sign this petition and help spread the word.

Add your voice to the petition, here.

For more information about Northwest Trail Alliance, visit. www.nw-trail.org

Photos courtesy Brandon Sequoia Rothauge.  Billboard photo by Üma Kleppinger.


Üma Kleppinger is a Portland-based copy writer, author and bike addict. A recovering sesquipedalian who writes about life in the saddle and outdoor adventure, she is also the author of Bike Yoga, a flexibility and recovery program for cyclists. When not writing, she can be found riding and racing her mountain bike throughout the Pacific Northwest.


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