Members of the newly formed mountain bike advocacy group, MTB Eugene, and the Disciples of Dirt (DoD) mountain bike social and trail maintenance club attended the Eugene City Council meeting on Monday, April 26th to protest the recent closing of the Ribbon Trail to cyclists. Over 50 people met in front of the city council chambers before the meeting to plan and make pro-mountain bike trail-use signs. The goal of the gathering was to show the city council that mountain bikers are a large constituency, and to explain to them that mountain bikers and hikers can live together in harmony on Eugene’s trails. Even though the signs were not allowed inside the chambers, the sheer number of attendees and convincing testimony from several MTB Eugene and DoD members definitely got the attention of the city council.
In what is being characterized as a severe blow to local mountain biking and the general advancement of cycling in Eugene, the newly constructed multi-use Ribbon Trail connecting Hendricks Park to 30th Ave was closed to cyclists as of 5pm Thursday. In a letter to stakeholders (see PDF at the bottom of this post) Neil BjÃ¶rklund, The Eugene Parks and Open Space Planning Manager explains:
“Based on our conversations with a variety of stakeholder groups, there are enough concerns about safety of allowing both hikers and bicycles on this trail that we cannot with confidence recommend both uses on this trail.”
The letter also states that maintenance concerns and the trail’s proximity to Hendricks Park also factored in to the decision, but local advocates retort that the trail was designed with bike use in mind, and that these concerns do not warrant the closing of one of Eugene’s only mountain biking trails.