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Off-road Cycling Master Plan Focuses on Sustainability

Learning about the best practices and guidelines for trail design and management to protect people and natural resources.

The intent of the Portland Off-road Cycling Master Plan is to develop a citywide system of off-road cycling facilities, including sustainable trails. Creating sustainable trails starts with selecting the right locations, and requires designing and managing trails to protect natural resources and other users.

A screening and assessment of City-owned properties as potentially suitable for off-road cycling facilities is just getting underway. To inform this process and to help develop guidelines for sustainable trail development and management, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff and the Off-road Cycling Master Plan consulting team researched and summarized studies from around the nation related to the impacts of off-road cycling, and the best practices to address impacts.

The reports describe impacts to soil, vegetation, wildlife, water and safety, and provide an array of best practices for the planning, design and management of off-road facilities to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts. The reports also find benefits of off-road cycling to health and the economy.

Take a look at the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan website for more information about off-road cycling issues and project progress. You can follow the discussions of the Project Advisory Committee, sign up to receive project emails, and fill out our online questionnaire about off-road cycling needs and priorities. Once the initial site screening process is complete, there will be an online mapping tool to provide input on potential sites for off-road cycling.

You can also send the project team an email at offroadcycling@portlandoregon.gov with questions or general comments.

Help define the future of off-road cycling in Portland

Share your ideas and needs for off-road cycling facilities throughout the city

BPS is developing an Off-road Cycling Master Plan to help meet community recreation needs and to provide Portlanders more opportunities to be active and experience nature in the city.

The project is working to create a plan for future off-road riding facilities, such as trails, skill parks and pump tracks, for children, adults and families of varying skill levels. It will make recommendations for the development and management of trails and facilities based on community needs and input.

An assessment of community needs for off-road cycling facilities is the next step in the process and will be the basis for planning a City-wide system of off-road cycling opportunities.

The project needs your input to help identify the types of off-road cycling trails and facilities that make sense for Portland. This summer, BPS is providing a variety of ways for Portland residents to get involved and share their ideas and feedback.

An online questionnaire will help gather information about off-road cycling needs and priorities.

Staff will offer the questionnaire and conversation at Sunday Parkways and other events around the city, and will be reaching out to underrepresented communities to learn from people whose voices are sometimes not heard in public planning processes.

Residents can also send the project team an email at offroadcycling@portlandoregon.gov with questions or general comments.

For more information about the project, browse the website to find the project vision, an overview of the types of off-road cycling trails and facilities, and project news and updates.

And explore the new Off-road Cycling Master Plan interactive map where you'll find an inventory of existing places to ride off-road in Portland.

If you would like to receive monthly emails about the progress of the Off-road Cycling Master Plan, please sign up to receive project emails. 

Laying the Groundwork for the Off-road Cycling Master Plan

Off-road Cycling Master Plan facilities overview and inventory

Developing Portland’s Off-road Cycling Master Plan requires a strong foundation. This foundation starts with a collective vision and desired outcomes, and understanding the types of off-road cycling trails and facilities and what types are currently available in Portland.

Vision and Desired Outcomes

The Off-road Cycling Master Plan Project Advisory Committee developed a shared vision, goals and outcomes to guide the planning process.

Existing Off-road Cycling Trails and Facilities

The City of Portland allows off-road cycling in seven City-owned locations. These include trails in Forest Park, Powell Butte Nature Park, and Mt. Tabor Park, as well as bike parks at the New Columbia Bicycle Skills Park and Ventura Park. In addition, the Portland International Raceway is open to off-road cycling for competitive events. Gateway Green is planned for off-road cycling trails, but is not yet developed.

The inventory maps the off-road trails and bike parks at each of these locations that are open to people on bicycles.

Types of Off-road Cycling Facilities

The Off-road Cycling Master Plan is planning for a system of different types of facilities to meet the range of off-road riding experiences sought by Portland residents. Trails and bike parks can differ greatly in type and in technical challenge and experience offered. This overview describes the factors that help define the spectrum of off-road experiences: preferred riding style; age and skill level; setting; scale and type of facility. The typology table lists the universe of facility types, from small neighborhood-scale bike skills parks, to various types of off-road trails, to large competitive venues. Not all types of facilities will be appropriate to community needs and sites in Portland.

Through community input and technical analysis, the planning process will identify the types of trails and facilities that make sense for Portland and meet the needs of the community. These community needs will be defined in a needs assessment. This information and further community input will drive the discussion about which of the possible types of facilities, at what scale and setting, should be included in the Master Plan for the City.

Project timeline, process, and community engagement

The planning process for the Off-road Cycling Master Plan will occur in 2016, in four phases.

The planning process for the Off-road Cycling Master Plan kicked off in earnest in January. The Plan will be developed in four phases, over the course of 2016:

  1. Discovery phase (January through March)

    This phase will help establish a vision and goals for the project and lay the groundwork for understanding off-road cycling needs in the community as well as impacts and benefits. The project website, Project Advisory Committee (which will meet throughout the planning process) and an interactive online map tool will offer Portlanders ways to learn about and add their ideas to the planning process.

  2. Analysis phase (March through June)

    This phase will focus on reaching out to the Portland community to gather feedback on how the City might provide a variety of off-road cycling experiences and how to determine which sites are most appropriate. Community members can lend their ideas to this phase by talking directly with the project team at a project open house and a youth-focused event as well as at various community events, and through the online map tool.

  3. System planning phase (June through September)

    This phase will carefully consider how the City might develop a system of off-road cycling trails and facilities that meets the goals of the Plan and is accessible by bike and transit. Community members will have many opportunities to add their ideas to this phase, including a second project open house and youth-focused event, the online map tool, and at conversations focused on specific proposed locations.

  4. Draft Plan phase (September to December 2016)

    During this phase, the project team will develop a draft Master Plan, including design and management recommendations and implementation strategies. The draft plan will be refined based on community input and then presented to City Council for adoption. Community members will be able to comment on the draft plan at an open house, on the project website, and directly to City Council.

Meet the Consultant Team for the Portland Off-road Cycling Master Plan Project

The Toole Design Group will lead the consultant team for planning, technical and community engagement services.

On December 16, 2015, City Council authorized a contract with the Toole Design Group for planning, technical and community engagement services for the Off-road Cycling Master Plan. With this authorization, work on the Off-road Cycling Master Plan can now begin in earnest!

The Toole Design Group is excited to lead a team that includes JLA Public Involvement, bringing broad skills in public engagement and relevant experience facilitating public dialogue on off-rood cycling and outdoor recreation; Hilride Progression Development Group, a California based team of off-road cycling experts with experience planning and designing off-road cycling facilities; and Winterbrook Planning, local experts in environmental and natural resource planning and assessment.

More about the Consultant team

Toole Design Group is the nation's leading planning, engineering and landscape architecture firm specializing in bicycle and pedestrian transportation. The Toole Design Group believes that active living is essential to community health and well-being; that bicycling and walking are fundamental forms of transportation and recreation, and should be available to everyone: young or old, rich or poor. Their mission is to help communities plan, engineer, build and retrofit their transportation and trail systems so that bicycling and walking are safe, attractive, efficient, and healthy forms of travel and recreation. Toole Design Group has significant experience in planning and design for shared-use paths (multiuse trails) and on-road facilities (bicycle lanes, cycle tracks, and shared lane markings). Past work includes everything from individual facility concept plans to statewide trail master plans.

JLA Public Involvement works to build meaningful and constructive communication between government and the communities affected by, and interested in, their planning and decision-making efforts. JLA is one of the leading public involvement firms in the Pacific Northwest, having designed some of the most significant, complex, and successful public involvement programs in the region. With a long history engaging communities in complicated public projects, JLA focuses on creating transparent, fair and productive processes that find consensus-based, resilient solutions. Their local work has included numerous community and parks master planning efforts, including the recent Washington Park Reservoir replacement and site design, the Powell Butte Master Plan, Clatsop Butte Park Master Plan, and the Westmoreland Park Master Plan and the subsequent Skatepark System Plan. Other multi-site planning efforts include numerous transportation system plans, comprehensive plans, and Metro's siting of future high capacity transit corridors.

Hilride Progression Development Group is dedicated to promoting economic development, environmental conservation, tourism, recreation, and healthy, active communities through the establishment of progressive bike park facilities. Hilride provides progression-based consulting services for the development of off-road cycling trails and parks through integrated master planning, design, development, environmental resource consulting. They specialize in the design of sustainable bike parks, trails and trails systems, the integration of progression based riding, and education and training in the design, construction, management, and maintenance of these facilities.

Winterbrook Planning brings leadership in land use and natural resource planning across the Pacific Northwest. They strive to deliver creative, locally-tailored solutions and have expertise in planning and environmental studies for public parks, botanical gardens, natural areas, wildlife refuges, open spaces and trail systems. Portland projects have included preparation of Comprehensive Natural Resources Plan for the Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area in North Portland; management of the land use and environmental compliance process for the Powell Butte Reservoir #2 project, which included an update to the master plan for Powell Butte Nature Park; and development of the Leach Botanical Garden Master Plan and Upper Garden Plan.