Mt. Tabor "Trail nanny"

I had sent an email via BikePortland site form, and was asked to post to the forums (original contact sent February 28, 2020. The gist was to find out accurate trail access information for Mt. Tabor Park, just blocks from home.

Based on what I could find, including on the city’s site is that only the lower reservoir trail (off 60th Ave) is closed to bikes.

– Paula

I was just up on Mt. Tabor, doing my usual, quick ride just to be outside. At the top, my typical is to drop down onto the dirt trail just below the westside paved road, near the bathrooms. Note: There is no no bikes sign up there. Down just before the trail junctions, I slowed because I saw a walker.

She immediately told me the trail was no bikes, then pointed to a sign behind me. I said there wasn’t a sign at the other end (near the bathrooms).

She continued on, I pushed my bike up to the road, then cruised down to the gate. I then entered the trail just past the gate junction and, sadly, met up the same lady. She proceeded to shake her head and tell me no bikes. I said, there wasn’t any sign down at the other end (note, I have ridden up there many times).

After I told her no sign, she then proceeded to tell me my bike was motorized, to which I said it was not.

I am so done with PDX parks, incomplete information, and the bitty boldness of people feeling like they get to tell someone on a bike what is or is not.

Anyway, I just tried to find accurate information and the only map I found is from parks and in no way shows that trail as closed to bikes.

Any chance you can find correct, accurate information?

Paula

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Hi Paula,
I live nearby and have been riding up there for a long time now. Accurate info is difficult to findThe signs are so poorly done and the options provided by Parks are so few that I just ride whatever up there. I stop/slow for hikers, always greet others, and if someone says something I reply with a friendly “thanks” and roll away.
This is the map from the “Friends of Mt Tabor” website and it doesn’t mention what is open/closed to bicycles, which is why I don’t worry about it.

Cheers!
Brian

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Thanks, Brian.

Yeah, the worse part really is the judgmental notion people have. Then, when they have been found wrong, rather than admitting it, they find something else to complain about.

Here’s the map I found that shows the single trail closed to bikes.

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Yep, many in Portland love to tell others what to do. Especially mountain bikers. That’s why I simply thank them and keep on keeping on. All it would take on Mt. Tabor is one or two trails designed to be fun for mtb’ers to pull us to those specific trails and away from other trails, but it just isn’t a priority. Ridiculous.

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That seems to be the official PPR map, so that along with posted signs are what will be your guide.

Do you know what sign this woman was pointing at if there wasn’t a No Bikes sign?

How wide was the trail you were on?

She may be thinking of the Mt Tabor Master Plan, which states the trails they want to limit bicycles on.

In this BP article they talk about restricting bicycle use on paved paths and narrow dirt trails. https://bikeportland.org/2011/06/08/new-signs-clarify-no-bicycles-please-on-mt-tabor-trail-54407

The 2000 Master Plan is now located here: The City of Portland, Oregon

It’s possible that she’s imagining it because she overheard “no bikes” and “Mt Tabor” in the same sentence at some point.

Either way, if there’s no sign explaining it then people can’t be expected to know.

People will yell at cyclists all the time for things that are legal, but since most people don’t know the laws they will make assumptions. Mostly people will yell at you if you annoy them in any way, no matter your legal status or mode of transport.

Next time offer to walk with the woman to the sign that she’s referencing.

Sort of like the no-sidewalks zone for bicycles in Portland. I know exactly where that zone is, but just how exclusive is that knowledge? I’ve certainly seen evidence both inside the no-sidewalk zone (people riding on the sidewalk) and outside the zone (nanny’s chirping, “you can’t ride on the sidewalk”) that I’m confident in saying that most people of Portland have no idea where that zone is.

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Thanks for sharing this paulaf. I share your frustrations.

A few weeks ago I was riding up Holman Lane, an unpaved dirt road/trail in Forest Park and I got the same crap from someone. The person said I wasn’t allowed to be there… which is totally wrong. So much entitlement among nimby hikers in that area. Their attitude has so poisoned the local trail access debate that it makes me livid inside.

And you bring up such a great point. So much of the problem is just simple lack of clarity by PP&R. If they managed the spaces better, more people would understand the rules and we might have fewer interactions like this.

It should not be hard to figure this stuff out. Every park and trailhead should have clearly legible, updated map signage. Or people can just relax and not get all up in other peoples’ business unless there’s truly something dangerous going on.

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Hi!

At the top, this is an old sign down near the curve where you enter the top, but on the dirt trail. It is readable if you are on the trail going toward the restrooms. I entered by the restrooms where there is no sign.

If anything, that sign would apply only to the section between it and the bathrooms.

I should also note, as I approached that point, I slowed to a crawl, as I usually do, and smiled and nodded at her. Try to be nice to all users.

If I ever decide to go ride the trails up there again, I’ll take a print out of the map - just in case.

Seems if there are no bikes trails, there should be equivalent bikes only trails in those parks - equity and all. It’s just crazy that having clear shared use or same amount dedicated use space is so difficult.

An example of lack of clarity on Parks’ part…When the Japanese Garden went through its land use review for its expansion a few years ago, it proposed removing (with Parks’ approval) an important trail that provided access from the Rose Garden area to the Wildwood Trail. When people complained, Parks said it wasn’t an official trail, it was an “informal shortcut” that people had cut through the woods. When people then took photos of Parks’ official trail signs along that trail, to show it was official, Parks removed the signs, and testified to City Council that it wasn’t a trail. Then people showed Council Parks’ official trail system maps that showed the trail as an official trail. Parks then conceded it was official but tried to close it anyway, and ultimately lost that fight. Point is that Parks–at the highest staff levels–had no idea what it was talking about in regard to its own trails.

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Trying to orient myself. You’re saying you dropped onto the dirt trail to the west of that uppermost loop, and went to the left/south down toward where the trail branches in different directions? If so, I’ve ridden that section many many times and am not aware of any restriction there.

From my experience, the Powell Butte Nature Park signage would be a good model to follow. Almost every trail intersection has signposts with the trail names and symbols for what uses are allowed. It’s more important up there due to the equestrian use, but I would think that they could do something similar at Mt. Tabor, given some funding.

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Hi, yes, from the bathrooms, dropped onto trail heading left/south. There is actually an old sign facing back toward the bathrooms that says no bikes. But, that is the only one.

Wow, I’ve never seen that - and so far I’ve never gotten any flack for riding there. That trail is relatively wide, relatively smooth, not too steep. As long as people show common sense and courtesy I don’t see a good reason bikes should be prohibited there!

Now I did have a weird interaction a couple of months back, down along the loop trail that overlooks the upper reservoir. I got a stern scolding for going too fast, even though I’d slowed down and went about 8 feet to the right of the trail. Sometimes people just have a deep seated need for someone or something to get chafed about I think.

It sounds like in this case the “nanny” was right. Which raises the question of when it is appropriate to call someone out for breaking the rules. Jonathan suggests we should only do so when it’s something truly dangerous.

I’m not a big caller-outer myself, but if I saw someone throwing trash on the ground (for example) I might ask them to pick it up. Does that make me a nanny or a nimby? What if I yelled at vandals, or someone tearing down BLM signs, or going on social media to criticize someone for calling them out for some minor transgression?

When thinking about these situations, I believe it helps to have empathy. If you try to understand the situation from the nanny’s perspective, you might see that they’re not always unreasonable.

Your takeaway differs from mine. I don’t think it’s clear that they were “right”. It sounds to me like there’s some old sign that’s posted at one part of the trail but not at others and which is apparently inconspicuous enough that I’ve never noticed it. Plus the trail is not shown as being off limits to bikes on PPB’s map of the park. So, on a 1-10 “rightness” scale, I’d call that maybe a… 3.5?

Personally, I try to save my calling-outs for instances where I believe someone’s actions are creating a hazard or are significantly inconsiderate. Trouble is, the person we’ve referred to thus far as “nanny” probably feels like that’s just what they were doing.

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Trouble is, the person … probably feels like that’s just what they were doing.

This is exactly it. They saw someone riding on a trail that was closed to bicycles, and probably thought that was dangerous or at least rude and inconsiderate, and felt a scolding was justified.

You may not agree with their conclusion, but they no longer seem quite so unreasonable.

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I don’t sweat unsolicited advice from strangers.

Having said that, I’m hardly alone in not liking being on foot near cycles. If I’m walking somewhere bikes should be expected (something I don’t do except in streets), that’s on me. But if they shouldn’t be there, I wouldn’t be above making them feel unwelcome and uncomfortable.

Some people go into natural areas to feel their connection with nature. Some treat everywhere as an amusement park. If I wanted to watch out for fast moving things, I’d just walk in town. That’s why I prefer backcountry and unmaintained trails.

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One of the things I’ve heard in the context of events surrounding George Floyd’s death is that it’s incumbent on all of us to be more proactive in challenging the wrongness around us, even when it seems slight enough to ignore. Overlooking or dismissing those slight wrongs, I’m told, seeds a social context that allows greater wrongs, in essence unwittingly supporting systemic bias and oppression. The lesson I gather is that if we want society to look like X, we need to reinforce the behaviors that lead to X at even the smallest level.

Respecting the rules for use of shared spaces is a very different X than racial injustice, but does the lesson apply any less for that difference?

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So, is this the sign we’re talking about?


If so, then on the trail is exactly where bikes are being directed. It’s off trail that’s not allowed.

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