Should Forest Park have more bike-friendly trails?

An advisory committee is looking into adding more off-road bike trails

A family walks in Forest Park in Portland, August 12, 2016 (KOIN)
A family walks in Forest Park in Portland, August 12, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There’s a battle going on between pedestrians and bicyclists in Forest Park.

The hot-button issue in the park is paths that don’t allow bikes. A city advisory committee is looking into the possibility of adding more off-road bike trails to Forest Park.

A trail in Forest Park. (KOIN)
A trail in Forest Park. (KOIN)

Some claim bikes are a safety hazard, while others argue the city should allow bikes on more trails.

Brian Raab and his group typically do a 30 mile loop using legal trails when they ride through Forest Park. They’ve been riding in the area for about 25 years.

“It kind of limits the number of trails you can ride, but we know them so well, they are just a blast to ride up and down,” Raab said.

A project advisory committee in conjunction with the city’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is working to develop an off-road cycling master plan that could open parks up to more bike trails.

“20 to 30% more, that would make a huge difference to bikers,” Raab said.

But not everything thinks it’s a great idea. A group called “Friends for Forest Park” started an online petition to keep the number of bike-friendly trails as they are. The group says 90% of the half-million park visitors are pedestrians and more bikes would damage the environment and pose a danger to those on foot.

The petition was signed by “Wild” author Cheryl Strayed, who lives in Portland.

Lori Jensen, who runs a cross country training camp for middle schoolers, agrees with the petition.

“I would not support further trails being open to bikes,” Jensen said. “The city is trying to make this a very family friendly place to come out on trails and it wouldn’t make sense to have more trails accessible to bikes.”

Sara Hottman say the mayor’s office has not received the petition and has been told Portland Parks and Recreation is responding to the issue.

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s spokesperson told KOIN Fritz doesn’t have a comment yet, but is looking forward to seeing the recommendations of the committee.

According to JoEllen Carothers with the Bureau of Sustainability, the Off-road Cycling Master Plan is still in early stages. Carothers says the committee is meeting again in late August and they are working on creating an interactive map to show the community.

There will be opportunities for the public to comment on the plan when it is more complete.

Many Forest Park trails are off limits to bikes. (KOIN)
Many Forest Park trails are off limits to bikes. (KOIN)

 

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