Are you looking for more places to be active outdoors in your neighborhood? Are you an experienced off-road cyclist or perhaps wondering what it’s like to ride dirt on a bike with fat, knobby tires? Or do you like to walk or run on Portland’s trails? If so, this online open house is for you!
The City of Portland is looking for ways to increase off-road cycling facilities throughout the city so that more people can be active outside, experience nature and their city, and enjoy riding a bicycle. Through the Off-road Cycling Master Plan, community members can be a part of the decision-making process … about what kinds of trails, pump tracks and skill parks should go where. We’re particularly interested in creating more opportunities for people and families in underserved areas.
We invite you to make your way through this online open house, which describes the different types of off-road cycling, with photos and videos to illustrate them. It also explains how the Off-road Cycling Master Plan will help to create more trails and bicycle parks.You can also take a look at a map of potential future sites for trails and bicycle parks.
What is off-road cycling?
Off-road cycling trails are made from dirt or other natural components — instead of concrete pavement. Off-road cycling facilities also include bicycle parks with skill areas and family recreation. Off-road cycling can be several different types of bike riding, including:
- A leisurely bicycle ride along a smooth dirt trail.
- A more technically or aerobically challenging ride with additional obstacles, hills or distance.
- A ride at a pump track or skill park.
- A mountain biking or cyclocross race.
The Portland Off-road Cycling Master Plan addresses three different types of off-road trails and facilities:
- Bicycle parks
- Natural off-road cycling trails
- Urban off-road cycling trails
These facilities are for all riders — beginner to advanced. They are places where kids and adults can be active and have fun outside, spend time with friends and family, practice riding skills without car traffic, and experience nature and the city.
Kids in SE Portland get their first taste of off-road cycling.
At Hamllik Park in Washougal, Washington, young riders navigate the different features of the off-road cycling skills park.
Bicycle parks such as pump tracks, jump parks and skill trails, are places for people of all riding abilities to practice their riding skills and have fun. These parks can include trails, dirt or concrete tracks, and features like rocks, logs and “skinny” bridges. They can be built on a portion of a property or around the edges. Bicycle parks can be as small as 2,500 square feet or as large as an acre or more in size. However, they can only be located in developed parks, not in natural areas. Portland has two bicycle parks where you can ride now: the Ventura Park Pump Track and the New Columbia Bicycle Skills Park.
Natural off-road cycling trails
Natural off-road cycling trails are typically made of dirt. They are generally used by both people riding bicycles and walkers. Powell Butte Nature Park, Mount Tabor Park and Forest Park currently have natural off-road cycling trails. The Off-road Cycling Master Plan is considering whether these trails should be improved for safety and sustainability. The Plan is also exploring whether Forest Park’s trail system should be changed to allow more trail riding. Natural off-road cycling trails could also be added to more parks or natural areas. If built, trails would be designed and constructed according to best practices for user safety and environmental sustainability.
Natural areas offer a variety of trail experiences for people of all ages and abilities.
Urban off-road cycling trails
These urban trail corridors would combine paved and unpaved trails to create longer and more varied riding experiences. Urban off-road cycling trails could include new unpaved trails or skill features parallel to existing or planned paved trails (like the Springwater Corridor) or in parks nearby. Right now, Portland does not have any urban off-road cycling trails.
Off-road cycling isn’t just for boys. Girls ride, too!
Broken concrete finds a new purpose in skills parks like this one.
What is the off-road cycling master plan?
The Portland Off-road Cycling Master Plan is helping to create more off-road cycling trails and facilities in Portland. These trails and parks would provide places for healthy and safe outdoor recreation for children and families of all abilities as well as increase access to natural green spaces in the city.
Note: Building or improving a trail or facility on a City property will require additional future site planning, community engagement and funding. If a property has an existing master plan, the City and community may need to amend the plan to incorporate the planned trail or facility.
Portland currently has a few places where you can ride a bicycle off-road, such as in Forest Park, at Powell Butte or the Ventura Park Pump Track. The new Plan aims to support equity by bringing off-road cycling trails and bike parks to neighborhoods that have traditionally not had access to these types of places. The goal is to create more places to ride that are easy to get to from all neighborhoods by bike or transit. To achieve this goal, it’s important that we hear from as many Portlanders as possible.
So far, the project team has looked at all City-owned properties to determine if any are suitable for future off-road cycling trails and facilities. The project team analyzed the sites based on the vision statement and research into community needs, the impacts and benefits of off-road cycling, and the best practices for building safe and sustainable trails and facilities. The result is a map of potential sites for new trails and bicycle parks.
This diagram shows how a system of bicycle parks, natural trails, and urban off-road cycling trails might work together to expand riding options in all parts of the city.
What we heard
In March and April 2017, the project team asked the community for help to decide which places will be recommended in the Draft Plan. Thousands of Portlanders voiced their opinions through the online interactive map, community events and open houses, online questionnaires, and by email. This community input will be combined with that of City property managers and the Project Advisory Committee to inform the Draft Master Plan. The Draft Plan will also draw on best practices, additional planning, and visits to more complicated properties by environmental and off-road cycling specialists. Look for the Draft Plan and opportunities to provide feedback later this summer (2017).
Most participating community members supported plans to create a system of off-road cycling facilities, though there were mixed opinions about creating, enhancing or expanding trails in Forest Park and River View Natural Area. There was broad support for trails and trail connections that provided opportunities for youth and families to access nature. Connections to schools, neighborhoods and transit were also important. Some common themes about the overall system were:
- Access: Community members generally felt that having local access within neighborhoods and near schools was important. Facilities should be accessible by bike, on foot or via transit.
- Equity: Facilities should be distributed equitably across the City. All ages and skill levels should have opportunities to ride and experience nature, including walkers and people with strollers, wheelchairs or hand-cycles.
- Natural Resources: Protecting and enhancing the natural environment and wildlife habitat and avoiding adverse impacts on natural resources are priorities that the majority of respondents valued, whether or not they supported the expansion or enhancement of off-road cycling facilities.
- Safety: Safety and appropriate design and management practices were listed as important considerations when shared use trails are recommended.
- Funding: Funding to establish new facilities and long-term maintenance were listed among stakeholder concerns. Several people mentioned the opportunity to partner with cycling groups to coordinate work parties and trail maintenance efforts.
- Best practices: Many people mentioned best practice examples in other communities as examples to strive for. The Plan should look to best practices and tools across the nation to create a visionary, yet reasoned approach to planning, designing and managing off-road cycling trails and facilities.
Ways to get involved
Attend a Project Advisory Committee meeting, held once a month.
Sign up for project email updates.
The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is working on the Portland Off-road Cycling Master Plan in collaboration with Portland Parks & Recreation, the Bureau of Environmental Services, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the Portland Water Bureau and other local government and community partners.