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Rather than change Parks policy, Board will consider Cheasty pilot MTB project – UPDATE: Passed

From the Beacon Bike Park group
From the Beacon Bike Park group

An exciting park restoration and mountain bike project in the Cheasty Greenspace on the eastern edge of Beacon Hill hit a roadblock last year: There is a long-forgotten Seattle Parks policy that prohibits bicycle use in parks.

At first, organizers of the Cheasty Greenspace Trails and Bike Park were hoping to overturn the policy, but there were concerns about making such a change in whole. Instead, the Parks Board will consider allowing the Cheasty project as a pilot, demonstrating how mountain bikers can help rehab and maintain the often under-used space.

UPDATE: The issue passed Thursday, giving the green light for the project to move forward. From organizers:

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It’s on!!!! The Parks board recommended Cheasty as a pilot project for mountain biking in Seattle Parks, so it’s happening! It would have never happened without your support, enthusiasm, and dedication. So thank you all!

Back to original story:

Cheasty has a serious problem with invasive species and has few easy paths and trails, whether on foot or bike. The plan would focus volunteer hours on creating sustainable hiking trails, mountain bike trails and restoring the greenery.

If approved, it would also be a test to see how mountain bike trails, and the volunteer efforts they can draw, could be a solution for some other underused or invasive-filled areas. It would also be a good step to finding a way to balance acknowledging mountain biking as a legitimate and valuable park use while also making sure it does not diminish the parks for others (safe for dog walkers, strolls, children, etc).

From the Cheasty Greenspace Trails & Bike Park project:

Friends and supporters of the Cheasty Greenspace Trails & Bike Park project,

As you know, we, The Friends of Cheasty Greespace/Mt.View have been on quite the journey with the City and Seattle Parks since submitting our rather dynamic proposal for use of the Rainier Valley’s largest contiguous forest for the 2013 Levy Opportunity’s Fund.  Our Opportunity Fund proposal was not funded due to an outdated Bike-Use Policy that prohibited bikes in natural areas.  Due to our unprecedented amount of support for introducing a new user group (mountain biking) to this space as well as removing barriers of privilege and access to both Nature and this sport, Seattle Parks formed a mountain bike task force this past summer to evaluate both the policy and possibilities of urban mountain biking in Seattle’s greenspaces.

In November, Parks presented a policy-change to the Seattle Parks Board of Commissioners, who requested a pilot/demonstration project for this sort of recreational use before signing off on a broad-base policy change that could allow mountain biking on designed trails in designated parks.  We have continued to work with executive Seattle Parks staff on this model and tonight they will be presenting to the Board that Cheasty Greenspace be considered as the perfect primary location for a demonstration project that involves both mountain biking trails and pedestrian walking/hiking trails.  This meeting will be held at 6:00pm tonight at Parks Headquarters 100 Dexter Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109.  This is a public meeting and you are more than welcome and invited to come and show your support!

This is very exciting to have this kind of support now from Seattle Parks for this kind of use in Parks lands, specifically in a community where daily access to nature in variable ways could transform the health and wellness of our children, youth and families.

Here’s the memo from Parks staff to the Board:

Bike Pilot Memo by tfooq

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9 responses to “Rather than change Parks policy, Board will consider Cheasty pilot MTB project – UPDATE: Passed”

  1. Q

    What about all the other bike paths / routes that go through parks? Are they off limits to bikes? The mountains to sound greenway passes through several parks. How about Seward park? The waterfront path that goes through Myrtle Edwards / Elliot Bay parks? Lincoln park? How is this addressed?

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Sorry, I should have specified this is about “natural areas.” You can’t just go biking wherever you want through the woods, and you can’t make your own mountain bike trails. Obviously, all roads and constructed bike trails are ok.

      1. meanie

        I would say the point stands for Colonnade, Woodland, Lincoln, and Discovery park to name a few.

        Seems like uneven application of the rule. ” constructed” is being used differently as it suits them.

      2. Q

        How about the colonnade park under I-5? It’s specifically dedicated to biking and not paved aside from the stairway.

  2. fred mulder

    I think the cheasty green space should be left the hell alone. The last thing I want to see is a bunch of yahoos bombing through there on fully suspended bikes. Keep people out of the green space and let it continue to be a fine provider of oxygen and habitat to critters.

    1. Matt

      Be realistic…demand to move to this city is through the roof. We are building on every sq in of land available. If it’s not built into some type of park then it’s going to be used for a housing development or something else. Take your pick.

    2. I don’t know the specific situation in Cheasty, but when they talk about having lots of invasive species in there, that’s not uncommon in Seattle parks. In some cases the invasive species choke out native species — for example, Himalayan blackberry chokes out young evergreen trees, which perform that important “lungs of the city” function all year. I’ve worked in volunteer parties trying to clear blackberry from rarely-visited parts of Seattle parks that are forested but not performing their ecological function as well as they ought to.

      I don’t think any Seattle parks are in a situation where they can be left without maintenance and function as mature ecosystems. This isn’t the remote wilds of Yosemite and will never be. As I understand it, essentially all the old trees in Seattle were cut down in its early history, and we can only get new ones with some work. Recruiting the mountain bike community for help with maintenance and improving human access to the park could actually make for a stronger forest.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        That’s the concept, and Evergreen MTB has proven it to be effective in other natural areas in the region.

        Especially because a lot of Seattle green belts are on steep slopes or otherwise difficult-to-access areas (AKA great places to mountain bike), it seems like a perfect combination. If there is enough volunteer energy to maintain trails and restore habitat that’s a win-win.

  3. […] I first heard about this strange tale on a bike blog post, from one of dozens of blogs I follow via rss. And I am a bike rider, well, a street bike rider. […]

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