Here's the deal:
The city of Portland just announced plans to close Riverview Natural Area to mountain bike access, the last remaining set of trails for mountain biking in Portland. Forest Park trails are off limits, and Powell Butte is a series of crushed gravel sidewalks.
The official reason given for closing mountain bike access in Riverview was fish. The seven cold water streams in Riverview "support critical habitat for coastal steelhead, coho, and Chinook salmon in the lower Willamette.” Mind you steely, Coho, and Chinook don't actually live in the streams in Riverview, so the argument is water temperature. Apparently my bike tires are warming those cold water streams so much that salmon in the Willamette River are jeopardized. Right.
Some more context:
I've been in contact with Portland Parks regarding Riverview since 2011, and I've participated in the public process to determine land use in Riverview for the past 18 months as part of the "Riverview Natural Area Political Advisory Committee." I served with about a dozen others, including neighbors and representatives of local interests. Brian Baumann of Northwest Trail Alliance was the official "mountain bike guy," and I was the designated unofficial citizen "mountain bike guy" on the committee. We were supplied lots of environmental studies and documents outlining the threats and impacts to the natural resources. We were constantly inundated with graphs and charts and bold statements reinforcing how "highly sensitive" the natural resources in Riverview are. And all of those graphs and charts and studies pointed to dogs and off-trail use as far and away the two greatest threats to natural resources in Riverview. We discussed mountain biking, trail planning, trail etiquette, best practices, and parking zones, but we also discussed dogs and cats and neighbors and trees and birds. We discussed a lot.
The committee meetings stopped about 12 months ago, and our June 2014 meeting was canceled. All communication from Portland Parks and Rec went dark after that. And then today I received word from Portland Parks that the area would be closed to mountain bikes.
This has nothing to do with natural resources, because the two biggest threats to Riverview as (rather extensively) outlined in our meetings and in public documents were not addressed in this recent decision. Dogs are still allowed in the park, and nothing has been done to limit off-trail use.
The real reason we've been kicked out of Riverview is that a small collection of powerful, monied interests hate mountain bikes. Our elected officials answer to these individuals, thus, by the transitive property, Portland hates mountain bikes. Don't believe me? Ask the Northwest Trail Alliance members who worked on the Forest Park proposal.
Show your disdain, show your displeasure, show your disgust. Don't let Portland hide behind fish or birds or trees anymore, this is basic NIMBYism at it's worst. Call it like it is. Portland hates mountain bikes.