Portland Parks’ Off Road Cycling Plan for Pier Park — Considering Conflicts and Friends of Pier Park Response

Brown Eyed Junco nest
Brown Eyed Junco nest. Photo taken at Pier Park on Earth Day, April 2016.

Next Parks Board meeting will be in a new location and is scheduled for:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018, from 3:00 – 5:00 PM
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
1900 SW 4th Avenue, 7th Floor, Conference Room 7A
Portland, Oregon

At its April 3rd meeting, the Parks Board will consider making comments on the current Discussion Draft of the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan (ORCMP). Any comments made by the Parks Board will be delivered to the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability which is tasked with producing a final ORCMP.

The ORCMP Proposal and How It Impacts Pier Park

Link to Parks proposal, PortlandMaps.com/bps/offroadcycling; click on the map at Pier Park to see the changes proposed at Pier Park.

It appears that Pier Park is heavily recommended to be a part of the City’s off-road cycling plan. As stated in the plan, “this will include a natural surface loop trail for family-friendly cycling, walking, running and enjoyment of nature. Off-road cycling skill features (like rocks, logs, or skinny bridges) could be added along the sides. Care should be taken to limit potential conflicts with disc golf course.”

Friends of Pier Park Response

From Vice Chair Kelly Pergande

First of all, the description of Pier Park as a candidate listed most of our amenities, but does not include the pool, or tennis courts (they are in need of repair… but they are an amenity). I point this out to highlight what Pier Park already offers and instead of adding a new amenity, we should invest in existing ones.

Also, I concur that there are real potential conflicts with off road cycling mingling with other users of the Park. During peak spring and summer season it is already a high volume well utilized park. The increase of dogs off leash in Pier Park is already a hazard and there is a contained off leash area across the Bridge to Chimney Park. I do not have faith that off road cyclists will remain in a designated area. It is inevitable that there will be off road cycling throughout the park.

Many members of our community have expressed that Pier Park is a beautiful place to engage with nature while walking or running as a recreation activity. Preserving the ability to utilize the pathways for pedestrians and current cyclists without adding off road to the mix, will be even more important as the population increases in our city.

Another amenity in the park is unnecessary and will compromise other activities already offered in Pier Park.


Friends of Pier Park Letter to Portland Parks and Recreation

From Chair Matt Kuntz

March 21st, 2018

To Hailee Vandiver & others at Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R):

I am writing on behalf of the Friends of Pier Park (FoPP), in response to the most recent Portland Off-road Cycling Master Plan and its involvement & connection with Pier Park.

Our group and community has been following and providing input to this plan for several months, while working through our standard North Portland PP&R channels, but feel it is best if our stance is formally documented through your official feedback process.

As you likely know, we have several major concerns with the inclusion of Pier Park into this plan that I hope to summarize in this memo:

  • Park safety is one of our core tenants, and as such, we do not feel that PP&R Recommendation #3 (“natural surface loop family friendly trail…inside park”) could be feasibly designed without drastically reducing safety and usability for other park users. The current family friendly path (paved & mixed-gravel) that exists today is heavily used by walkers, joggers, strollers, kids, dogs, bird-watchers, and slow moving bicycles. Any sanctioned off-road bike course or track would add speed and unrestrained bike riding styles into the equation that would be unfit to mix into a family friendly path. Course features mentioned such as “rocks, logs or bridges” would have these higher speed bikes moving back off-and-on to the trail which would be unpredictable for regular traffic flow. Our regular path users would not want to use such a trail.
  • Another of our core tenants is restoring the Park’s natural beauty. Any path or trail as denoted in PP&R Recommendation #3 would have to be a new trail (due to above speed/traffic concerns), which would lead to biodiversity and habitat loss in the Park, which we firmly oppose. Additionally, we challenge your rating of Pier Park as “healthy to degraded conditions” as a green light to move forward.
  • The last point on PP&R Recommendation #3, is that logistically, it would be virtually impossible to cut a new path that doesn’t cross or is in proximity to any of the heavily used disc golf courses or our softball and baseball fields. It should be very apparent that off-road cycling and discs being thrown at 60+mph do not mix well.
  • Yet, we are open to working with PP&R on Recommendation #2, a “small to medium sized bike park near the current skate park”. Let’s work closely together on this plan as we do share concerns on which paths the intended users would take to get to the bike-park, and where this bike-park would actually sit.
  • We also would like to be heavily involved as you formulate Recommendation #1, the park Master Plan, as we also have strategic plans for the future of the park that we would like to ensure alignment with. Thanks in advance.If you would like to discuss in person I can be made available; my contact information is listed below and would be happy to talk with you or others, and we also plan on attending the board review meeting on April 3rd.Kindest regards,

2-Page PDF copy of letter.

We Need Your Help

If you are able, please attend the April 3rd meeting.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018, from 3:00 – 5:00 PM
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
1900 SW 4th Avenue, 7th Floor, Conference Room 7A
Portland, Oregon

Trilliums blooming at Pier Park

By Mary Ann Aschenbrenner

Mary Ann Aschenbrenner is President of Waterlink Web, a web development firm located in the St. Johns neighborhood of North Portland. An active neighborhood volunteer, Mary Ann served on the Friends of Pier Park board for over eight years and is the designer and administrator of this site.


  1. My husband and I submitted the following comment regarding off-road bicycles and/or bike park in Pier Park:

    We are opposed to Pier Park being included as an off-road cycling park in any form.

    We live three houses from the skate board park in Pier Park. We regularly use the park to walk and run it’s trails, watch birds, and as a place of peaceful solace among its trees. It is a popular place for walkers, joggers, dog walkers and nature lovers. The trails of Pier Park are a major asset and are used by the young and elderly, the able and the disabled. Any off-road bike activity, including a bike park, would encourage increased bicycle use of the trails. This would impact the safety and enjoyment of those who use these trails.

    We oppose the creation of any new bike trails within the park. Pier Park is unique for its diversity of plant life and wildlife habitat. Bicycle paths among the trees would have a negative impact on the ecology of the park. In addition, a disc golf course and off road bike trail could not safely co-exist within the park.

    We understand that a bike park is being considered next to or near the skate park. East of the skate board park is a grove of trees, which must remain intact, and a ball field. The only open space that could be available is a narrow strip just north of the skate park. We are opposed to filling this small area of open space with a bike park. It is inevitable that many of those who use the bike park would naturally extend their biking to the park trails, posing a safety concern with those enjoying the trails.

    Parking for park users already spills into the residential streets. An additional activity would add to the problem of inadequate parking options.

    Pier Park already offers a wide array of recreational opportunities with its disc golf course, ball fields, walking trails, swimming pool, playground, basketball court, picnicking areas, and tennis court. There is no reason for Pier Park to attempt to accommodate any additional recreational use. Funds for our park should be put to better use providing a needed bathroom, improved drinking fountains, park benches and a renovated tennis court.

    There has been a lack of communication between Portland Parks and Recreation and the North Portland community regarding this proposal. Through open house events, community members in SW, SE, NW, East and Downtown Portland have been informed of how the Off Road Cycling Master Plan will affect their parks. To our knowledge, no open house was held in North Portland. No informational flyer was posted within the park. As a result, community members and users of Pier Park have not been given a similar opportunity to learn of this proposed change to our park. This oversight needs to be corrected. No decision should be made regarding Pier Park until the North Portland community has an equal opportunity to learn about and provide their concerns and comments on this proposal.

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