#portlandhatesme – The City of Portland’s Fight Against Mountain Biking Mar 24, 2015

No Thanks, but Thanks - Kyle Von Hoetzendorff

Locally accessible mountain bike trails are a privilege. Fact. If you live in a place with quality riding right out your front door, then you have a good thing going. Now if you live in a city that has, for years, laid claim to the crown of the the nation’s best cycling city you would expect that with a number of hills and park lands within the city limits there would be a decent set of trails for the countless cyclists that call this city home. You’d expect, that to have the confidence, the audacity, the gall to wear such a crown, to print it on city walls and propagate the message in travel brochures and in-flight magazines you would have a infrastructure for all manner of cyclists. For the most part we do pretty damn well, heckfire we even have a special bike rack for our Zoo Bombers, but the one thing Portland doesn’t have is mountain bike trails, there are those who will try to convince you that Leif Erickson is a MTB track, it’s not, it’s hardly a dirt road. If you can push a stroller on it, its not a mountain bike trail.

Hey I like Portland, I am not going to say love because well Love is a heavy word, but I really like this city. There are so many good things about it, like tons of non-mountain bike things, food things, coffee things, drinking things, book reading things, movie watching things, dog walking things; and the rest of Oregon, fuuuuuuuuu*k, are you kidding me, it’s so good! If you are willing to drive the variety of terrain you can ride on is unreal.

But come ON. Wearing the kingly crown of the Nation’s Best Cycling City without having or supporting proper mountain bike trails, is like someone laying claim to the presidency without actually tallying all the votes because his brother (read snobish society, backwards officials, or obstinate land-use advocates) calls off the recount, the result of which is that you spend the majority of your 20s embarrassed by your president and horrified by the foreign and domestic policies that are being implemented under his watch that will effect world affairs for decades to come. It’s just not right.

Last Monday the last remnants of a semi-legal semi-illegal MTB trail in Portland became fully-illegal.

Ethan Fruniss has the story:

The Riverview Trails have been enjoyed by trail enthusiasts for years. On March 16th the trail system officially become illegal for bicycling.

Located on an embankment between the Willamette River and Lewis and Clark College this little natural refuge has seen light use by college students and vagrants over the years. The primitive trails seems to dead end into muddy ivy covered ravines.

That didn’t hold back Erik Tonkin, local Portland bicycle professional, super shredder, owner of Sellwood Cycles and stakeholder in the Riverview Trails. Erik started riding there on a rented MB-3, 22 years ago on a visit to the college. Since then he and his shop team have hosted a Wednesday Night mountain Bike school that makes frequent use of the trails. You can read more about his stake in Riverview on his blog: Sellwood Cycle

Professional rider and local Charlie Sponsel has been a major steward to the trails, regularly polishing and refining the trails  for better flow and fun for the riding community. Charlie is huge part of keeping the trails proper riding condition.

Despite there efforts, efforts that included continued appeal to the local officials, the trails are now illegal to ride. You can read more about it on Charlie’s  blog.

Here are couple videos that show that the trails are really fun to ride.
Vital MTBEddy Merkin
More Team Robot
More Eddy Merkin
More Vital
More Sellwood Cycles

  • PC Mountain Biking

    Super bummer… #keepportlandfat

  • Eddie Barksdale

    I live near these trails. I was planning on dropping some cash on a nicer setup to ride them this summer and am absolutely crushed to hear they’re closed. I’m infuriated as well that they’re closed due to “preservation,” yet most of the damage you see on the trails are from hiking boots. I’m happy that the whole area is not townhomes as was suggested several years ago, but can’t believe I live next to two large parks and neither of them have legal biking trails (Tryon Creek being the other park, it closed to cycling on all the dirt trails despite being open to horses on some).

  • Kerry Nordstrom


  • Cort Percer

    What’s IMBA’s take on this? Are local cyclists working with horse riders and hikers on an all-inclusive solution? Are people riding the trails wet? Sorry I’m too lazy to seek out these answers, this is lunch-time reading…

  • Tommaso Gomez

    I’ve lived in Portland for less than a year, but I’ll try to provide some limited insight from the one meeting I’ve attended at Skyline Grange in December. The Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA) does a killer job building and maintaining local trail systems like Sandy Ridge and host of other trails in the state of Oregon that are an hour drive (or more) from Portland. The more remote the areas are, the more creative license they have to develop mtb-specific trails. Unfortunately, any public land in metro Portland is subject to the demands of other users (horseback riders, bird watchers, dog walkers, etc.). They don’t outnumber mountain bikers but they’ve been in the city longer and they have more money and political clout. I get the sense that any new land that is approved for mtb trail development in greater Portland will ultimately be neutered into some ugly compromise that isn’t much better than the existing fire lanes in Forest Park. I hope I’m proven wrong and things change, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • PC Mountain Biking

    For anyone directly involved in this fight, perhaps it’s worth noting the transformation towns like Fruita have seen as a result of MTB tourism. Even Park City, which has historically been a winter/ski destination, has seen it’s summer’s boom thanks to the cycling options available from the door. Worth reading – http://www.gjfreepress.com/news/15455852-113/opinion-the-great-mountain-bike-migration-has-begun-in-fruita

  • Ultra_Orange

    Here in KC we have an association for mountain biking that ranges from the challenged(me) to the challenging. Most of it is maintained by volunteering and donations. It wasn’t until I helped out this winter that I realized that the trails don’t keep themselves. I grew up riding game trail single tracks with pretty low traffic, but today more people are riding and I totally understand when a Parks department is stressed about keeping up old trails and people cutting new trails through what is a protected but public space.

    Hopefully they come to some resolution.

  • Abraham Perez-Negron

    Mt Hood anyone? granted its a bit out of ‘ride there’ range

  • Oliver

    Every municipality has a view of cycling that at some level serves to include and exclude certain groups… interesting to see Portland working to further exclude in the face of their claim to being a national leader for cultivating and supporting urban cycling.

    Cities want to claim to be taking action to attract cyclists, believing it will bring in their ‘creative class’ dollars, but policy tends to only account for and accept the ‘right’ cyclist as they see it…