Bikers ride without pedaling – at new ‘Pump Track’

See where this promised outer East Portland park amenity was built, and why this may not be a permanent feature, depending on what folks think of it …

These youth are learning how to “pump” their way around this unusual “track” for bike riding.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Portland’s first “Pump Track” at Ventura Park in the Hazelwood Neighborhood was officially inaugurated earlier this month.

What’s a “pump track”, you ask?

  • Read our April, 2011 story heralding this park feature: “New-style bicycle track comes to Hazelwood park: CLICK HERE.


Tom Archer, Advocacy Director of Northwest Trail Alliance says he loves seeing bike riders, of all ages, improve their riding skills on the Pump Track.

Northwest Trail Alliance Advocacy Director Tom Archer told East Portland News about these tracks, which, to the untrained eye, look like a couple of large, brown dirt patches in the middle of an otherwise lush, green city park.

“Yes!” Archer began. “In a sense, that’s what these tracks are. And, they provide a unique place for bike riders of all proficiency levels to learn, and build their skills.  The barrier to entry is very low; you can ride with pretty much any kind of bike.”

Some ride, while others wait their turn to try out the Ventura Park Pump Track.

Archer described these features as “continuous loops that can be ridden, on a bike, without pedaling”. The tracks consist of a series of rolling bumps – called “rollers” – and banked corners, or “berms”, that allow the rider to gain momentum. The track is not designed for skateboarders or BMX riders.

“By pumping,” Archer continued, “a rider is lifting up in the handlebar, shifting their weight as they ride. It’s kind of like taking yourself for a ride on a swing set.”

Although the Ventura Park tracks have been rideable since spring, they held off until this day to “officially” open the mid-County facility, Archer said.

Tom Archer explains how a Pump Track works – to Parks Commissioner, and Portland City Commissioner, Nick Fish.

As both kids and adults pumped their way around the tracks at the July 9 celebration, the Parks Commissioner, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish, walked up to the track area in Ventura Park.

“First of all, this is part of our E-205 Initiative,” Fish said. “We’re creating park amenities east of Interstate I-205.”

  • Read our story about the E-205 Initiative’s genesis: CLICK HERE


“As you know, City budgets are really tight,” Fish went on. “What’s great about this is that it was built and operated, under a formal agreement with the City, by our partners, Northwest Trail Alliance.”

These kids get personal coaching on how to ride around the Pump Track without pedaling.

A group of kids whizzed around Fish as he walked closer to the track. “For me it doesn’t get any better than this – seeing all these kids here today, using it.

Fish also said he came to thank the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association’s support of the project. “When Arlene Kimura and Linda Robinson get involved, good things start to happen both here, in this neighborhood, and across outer East Portland.”

Asked if this will remain the City’s only Pump Track facility, Fish replied, “We hope to replicate this elsewhere. We think this is a great addition to any park.”

The site is being monitored carefully during the ongoing trial period, we learned. After a year of operations, Portland Parks & Recreation will again work with the community and the neighborhood association to understand the benefits and challenges of this feature.

“After that assessment, we will determine whether or not a Pump Track is a good fit for this park,” Fish said.

Before you jump into riding the Pump Track, check out these rules, posted at Ventura Park.

The Ventura Park Pump Track is located about midway between SE 115th and 117th Avenues on SE Stark Street.

To learn more about the Ventura Park Pump Track, or to record a comment regarding Pump Tracks, see the official webpage on the Portland Parks & Recreation website: CLICK HERE.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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