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Woman assaulted, man spooked: More security concerns on Springwater Corridor

Posted by on August 7th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

“I have lived in Portland a long time, been down plenty of pretty sketchy roads and this was the first time I was concerned about getting mugged.”
— Duncan Newberry

What can we do to improve safety and security for people who ride on the eastern reaches of the Springwater Corridor?

Back in October I shared the experiences of several people who said riding on the Springwater in the area around (and east of) SE 82nd Ave at night makes them feel unsafe. “I never take it when it’s dark… It’s really dicey back there and I definitely don’t feel safe,” said one person. “This is unacceptable!” and “This has to stop!” said others.

It’s a question I ask again today because of two more incidents that have come across my desk this week.

Last night, Portland Bike Forums user randy5235 posted that his wife had been pushed off her bike while riding on the Springwater:

“My wife was pushed off of her bike on spring water east of Powell butte. around 8:30 PM 8/6/12. Thought the community should know. She was not robbed. She got back on her bike and rode off. Two white males in t-shirts and jeans.”

randy5235 says his wife suffered a bit of road rash but was not seriously injured. They have filed a report with the police.

And already in my inbox from a few days ago was an “odd series of events” shared by reader Duncan Newberry who bikes home from work on the Springwater from SE 122nd to Sellwood (before turning south to Milwaukie):

“Three different times on the way home I had people who were hanging out (drinking and smoking mostly) tell me to slow down… I was going no more than 13-15 MPH with lights and all. The last time there were a bunch of people at least one whiskey bottle and they were all over the path standing chatting. Given I was alone, outnumbered by people who were already yelling before I got there (I heard them blocks away) I decided to proceed with all due haste through the party.

They were fairly pissed (both in general and at me) but I have to wonder what they were thinking — no one is going to want to slow down for a bunch of drunk people on an unlit pathway at night. I started wondering if something else was going on. Is saying “slow down” a way to advertise drugs? Or do they really think its OK to just hang out on a dark path dressed in black and drinking and everyone should stop so that they won’t hit them? I have to say I have lived in Portland a long time, been down plenty of pretty sketchy roads and this was the first time I was concerned about getting mugged.”

Duncan thinks the answer lies in more police presence to stop a downward spiral. “My concern is that the more this kind of thing happens without response, the fewer people will use the trail after dark, the worse this problem will get.”

These experiences show that the problems I shared back in October are still very much happening today. So, what should be done about it? I asked the question on Twitter this morning and here’s what people said:


I think all of these ideas have merit and should be considered. Unfortunately, thus far, the issue has not gotten the attention of regional leaders. KATU-TV will run a story about it tonight, so perhaps a few more folks will hear about it. Perhaps we can get county commissioners and the mayors of Gresham, Portland, and Milwaukie out on a bike ride one night this summer for a bit of first-hand experience?

In my opinion, this issue deserves attention. It’s clear that people are getting messed with and that many people don’t even ride in the area in night out of what might happen to them. This is unfortunate. The Springwater is a transportation facility and just because it is only used by people walking and biking, doesn’t mean people should have to accept dangerous conditions.

How would people respond if a major arterial road like SE Powell or 82nd went completely dark at night and people were hanging around assaulting and heckling drivers as they passed by?

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Comments
  • jaime August 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    What about the community organizing a Volunteer Bike Patrol? That would be easy, free and draw more attention to the matter.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      I love that idea. Just use the template already created by the City of Portland’s Neighborhood Foot Patrol network. In fact, some n’hoods have already tried bike patrols. All it would take is some dedication/commitment from a few volunteers.

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    • gl. August 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Try contacting Tom Barnes. He’s the Public Safety Committee Chair for the Powellhurst Gilbert Neighborhood Association. A couple of years ago he was doing a bike patrol in the neighborhood, so there’s a good chance he’s still doing it or would be interested in starting one up again.

      http://pgpride.org/tom-barnes-1

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    • q`Tzal August 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      Groups of 3 minimum.
      Don’t arm anyone with anything more dangerous than pepper spray.
      No clubs, no knives, no tasers and ABSOLUTELY NO GUNS!

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      • Ben August 8, 2012 at 8:27 am

        You’re hilarious.

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    • Alan 1.0 August 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      jaime
      What about the community organizing a Volunteer Bike Patrol?

      +1. Good suggestions for such a patrol in this thread, too. Also:

      > Arrange to buddy up, sort of like ride-share stations. For example, set up a location (I-205? or several!) where riders would wait until a buddy showed up. It could be scheduled (dept. at each 1/4 hour) or shuttled (dept. when a rider or two of about your pace shows up). Sort of a mini bike train for adults.

      > Arrange an emergency communication channel. Two that come to mind are FRS-band radio on a pre-arranged channel (9?), or a text-messaging group such as http://cel.ly/. It could provide a heads-up warning for other riders as well as potentially summoning assistance (after 911, of course).

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    • Sarah H August 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      This is exactly what Minneapolis is doing about similar crime problems in the greenway: http://midtowngreenway.org/about-the-greenway/safety/trail-watch/

      They have a 3-person minimum for their patrols and free Krav Maga training for volunteers.

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      • Ben August 8, 2012 at 8:29 am

        Krav maga takes years of training. And when you actually get to use it, media will sensationalize it, claiming you used deadly force.

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  • Elliot August 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    “How would people respond if this were happening on a major arterial road like SE Powell or 82nd?”

    Jonathan, you might consider removing this sentence. You don’t need to ask this question to make a point. Obviously crime happens on “major arterial roads”, and it’s an issue there too. I invite you to compare:

    SE 82ND AVE & SPRINGWATER TRAIL CORR
    versus
    SE 82ND AVE & SE POWELL BLVD

    I think the issue that intimidates most people is the level of isolation on the Springwater; that if something were to happen while they were walking/riding through, there might not be anyone else around to help.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 7, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      Elliot,

      thanks for the comment. I realize crime happens on those other streets.. what I was trying to communicate is that, unlike Powell and 82nd, there is nowhere near the attention and resources dedicated to deal with the issues on the springwater. When crime and conditions hit a tipping point on 82nd Ave, the City of Portland launched a massive effort to address the issues and rename it to 82nd Avenue of the Roses.

      What if those big arterials had an electrical problem where the lights went out and people were hanging out in the middle of the street, heckling folks trying to pass by and at times even physically assaulting them? I can guarantee there would be police on scene and it would be big news politically-speaking. It would get fixed (or at least acknowledged and dealt with). Can the same be said for the Springwater?

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      • matt picio August 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm

        One of the problems re: law enforcement is that the Springwater Trail goes through multiple jurisdictions. Between 45th Avenue and 182nd it goes through Milwaukie, unincorporated Clackamas County, Portland, unincorporated Multnomah County, and Gresham. That’s 5 separate law enforcement jurisdictions within 7 miles. In most of the jurisdictions, the trail is on the fringes, not easily accessible by road, and not all of those law enforcement agencies have bike cops. The ones who do, generally don’t work at night – and if they did, they’d need nearby motorized backup in case something went awry.

        This is a complicated set of circumstances without an easy solution, but yes, something needs to be done about it.

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        • q`Tzal August 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

          Can Bill Stites mod one of his truck trikes as a paddy wagon?
          Of course he can!

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  • peejay August 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I’m glad of the attention but I don’t trust KATU not to sensationalize the story. They could scare away many of the potential new users of the path who might make the route safer.

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    • Andrew K August 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      I 100% agree. We need MORE people riding on that trail not less and quite often the way television news handles these stories just makes people afraid.

      I’m not saying we shoudl ignore it. I’m just saying I wish KATU would report on this from all angles. I doubt they will though.

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  • S. August 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    How interesting…that this post appears after I encountered more sketchy characters on I-205 and the Springwater (east) yesterday evening. This includes a young man riding a motorized Vespa-type scooter down the trail! It would have been nice to have bike cops around to nab this fellow.

    Also, just generally speaking, I think that we can only expect to find at-risk folks hanging out in the few areas that can still be considered public/the commons. Symptomatic of an increasingly privatized society, like so much else. That along with dwindling social services, poor economy, etc. … deep root causes that are harder to solve in the long term but could be assuaged by shorter-term measures.

    Love the Sunday Parkways idea, especially if it means involving East County folks more directly, allowing them to have a bigger stake in conditions along the trail.

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  • paul g. August 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    This is a hard issue and potentially volatile since class, race, and bike/ped divisions may overlap.

    The corridor passes through one of the highest crime areas in town at that point (just search on 87th and Flavel at porlandmaps.org, for example, and you’ll see crime rates that are at the highest frequency category available–500+ incidents annually). It’s an area with lots of working class folks and recent immigrants who may be less familiar with or sensitive to the concerns of cyclists.

    For instance, yes, I DO think a lot of users think it is OK to hang out in the evening in dark clothing drinking and partying–that’s what they use the path for at that time of night. Yes, they DO think you should slow way down or stop.

    I realize that for many here this is a bike freeway, but for local residents, this is their version of a park. Is that wrong?

    It’s a multi-use path, after all, and I’m not sure why this is any different than slowing way down on the east side promenade on a sunny weekend. (I suspect it’s not intention above, but why do we assume “slow down” means “slow down” on the promenade but means “hey man want to buy some weed” at 82nd and the corridor? Maybe slow down just means slow down.)

    The best way to avoid walker / loiterer and bike conflict would be to widen the area where people can hang out, as they did west of 47th. Problem with that suggestion is that the corridor is very narrow at that point.

    The problem with more lighting is that this is a dense residential area and lighting would be very invasive for the residents.

    As a regular rider on the corridor, frankly I would simply avoid that area once evening approaches, no different than I avoid other sketchy areas when riding or walking.

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    • D_G August 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      If I read you correctly, you are suggesting to develop some actual “places” along this trail where it encouraged, comfortable and safe to hang out?! I love that idea. I think Springwater would be much better with more places to be. This would also send a clear message to cyclists that it IS a shared space. It may also get more people using the trail in more diverse ways (not just pass through) which would be beneficial for everyone.

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      • q`Tzal August 7, 2012 at 4:32 pm

        Some nice one piece poured concrete picnic tables with that eccentric Portland charm we put in to our bike racks.

        Social focal points and weird art installations all in one step.

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    • davemess August 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      There are parks all over this area of SE. They are hanging out on the path because it’s isolated and law enforcement never goes there!!! I don’t know that we should be encouraging that.

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  • CaptainKarma August 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I use this trail a lot. I have never had a problem, but I think the groups hanging out there lately are getting less, er, stable. The best thing in the world would be to make it less inviting for those groups. That means actual police or park rangers on bikes, or atv type vehicles, randomly and often, shining lots of spotlights into the bushes. Checking IDs of loiterers, etc. Not sure that citizen patrols would deter that much, but am willing to join one today! At least there would be dedicated eyes to report incidents after the fact.
    In actuality, the most trouble I’ve seen or heard of was from neighborhood punks, not vagrants.

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  • Granpa August 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    When patrolling the trail, take cell phones, not firearms.

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  • thefuture August 7, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I really wish the city would do a campaign to encourage donations to organizations that offer services rather than just hand people on the street cash or change. I think handing someone cash / change enables this type of lifestyle and behavior that happens along the springwater and in a lot of other places in the city. No, not everyone ends up on the street because of alcohol or drug abuse and yes it feels good to try to help someone but IMO if you really want to help save that change and give it to an organization with professionals who really know how to assist someone.

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    • Spiffy August 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      a charitable donation coffee-can at every off-ramp!

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  • Carter August 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    This sounds like young men with nothing better to do than hang out, drink, and look for trouble. More cops should do the trick. With cops around, they would risk arrest. Then it would no longer be fun and they will go do something else.

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    • Scott August 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      Cops never make anything better. All that will happen is people already down on their luck will be under more pressure to find new spots to drink (that is not going to stop) and regular cyclists will get harassed for infractions when the cops are bored. I got a defective vehicle ticket once for have a slash in my tire from glass. Cops suck and will continue to do so as long as serving the public is secondary to generating revenue to justify their existence.

      If you have ever said that you are about community then be about community and simply introduce yourself to these people you all are so frightened of.

      I bet you 90% of the people you meet will be maybe one or two steps removed from where you are in life. This is a reccession, we could all be drinking on a trail with just a couple of CEO descisions to blame.

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      • Caleb August 7, 2012 at 10:29 pm

        For a person to blame their own choice to drink on the decisions of someone else is basically to lie to themselves.

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        • Tom M August 8, 2012 at 1:59 am

          Hence why they call it the disease of denial

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        • Scott August 8, 2012 at 9:39 am

          Who said anything about denial?

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  • Brian August 7, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    FYI, Fanno Creek Creek is patrolled by the THPRD Park Patrol. They either work on foot or drive the SUV on the trail.

    I’ll tell you It’s a bit of a surprise when you come upon them at night. The first time I saw them I thought it was a drunk driver that was lost.

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  • Sunny August 7, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Call 911 and let the K9 units track down the perps.

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    • Scott August 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      Too much TV here. No injury? No serious crime? You would be lucky if you could even get a cruiser to meet you halfway. These ones get phoned in.

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  • Brian Willson August 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I am interested in being part of a Volunteer Bike Patrol on the Springwater Corridor. How does this get organized?I am a handcyclist who lives not far from the Springwater, meaning I don’t travel as fast as a cyclist. How many cyclists makes a practical size volunteer patrol?

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    • gl. August 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      I wrote this above, but in case you don’t see it…

      Try contacting Tom Barnes. He’s the Public Safety Committee Chair for the Powellhurst Gilbert Neighborhood Association. A couple of years ago he was doing a bike patrol in the neighborhood, so there’s a good chance he’s still doing it or would be interested in starting one up again.

      http://pgpride.org/tom-barnes-1

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    • Psyfalcon August 8, 2012 at 10:37 am

      I don’t know, there is at least one hand cyclist out there that that is very fast! Very impressive on the long, straighter bits of the trail.

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  • Terry D August 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    More police presence is not the answer, as a city and country we already have enough of a police presence. This is too long a corridor with too many neighborhood problems to prevent all the congregation from occurring. You have to build more inviting areas to be than in the middle of the trail.

    The problem is that there is not enough space next to the trail to congregate in, so people congregate on the trail. Some sections are narrow, but there is enough empty space…..by empty I mean filled with blackberries or other nice invasives……that hang-out nooks could be and should be built at regular intervals with benches, rocks or other focal points. Think of it as a “ribbon park” while of course keeping the environmentally sensitive areas off limits. At the same time post occasional warning signs to not “congregate and block the trail.”

    Night time lighting could be accomplished through either downward facing overheads, or possibly even reflector type LED’s at the side of the trail. We were just down there at about 11 pm a few nights ago. It was so dark that I could have easily ran into someone and I was not going very fast and had a head light. The locals hanging out did not bother us. The 205 path on the other hand was a breeze to ride on since it is wider and mostly well lit.

    There is over head electrical lines so access is not the problem. As always the problem is having the will to pay for it. Lighting would solve much of the problems and personally I do not see the difference from a safety and transportation perspective between the 205 and the Springwater paths.

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    • q`Tzal August 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      It would be cool if we could hit up some of our local semiconductor industry for little solar panels and LED fixtures.

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    • matt picio August 8, 2012 at 11:55 am

      “as a city and country we already have enough of a police presence”

      As I stated above, it’s 2 counties and 3 cities, not “a city and a county”. I disagree. In the 6 years I’ve been riding the trail, I’ve seen police officers on the trail ONCE, in Gresham near 242nd/Hogan. The trail is underpatrolled, and because incidents are fairly rare and rarely reported, few if any of the 5 jurisdictions the trail runs through are allocating any real police resources. When I sat on the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Citizen’s Advisory Committee, it wasn’t even on our radar. (this was before the assault Bike Portland reported a couple years ago east of Bell Ave)

      There’s a perception of a lack of safety, whether or not that perception is justified, and it may be affecting ridership numbers, which is the one thing that demonstrably improves safety.

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  • jocko August 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    The problem spot is the trail from johnson creek up to east 82nd. This is the only stretch where I have encountered large groups of party animals on a semi regular basis. Mostly right after you pass 72nd going east. This is also an easy part of the trail to cut out with a detour.

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  • Bike Milwaukie August 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    We’ve invited the Milwaukie City Council out on a ride every month for the last year. They are either too old and out of shape, or too busy with other things to go on a 2 hour Sunday morning ride. Meanwhile we’ve had many great rides with many residents.

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  • gl. August 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    those are scary stories! i was in that area at the same time last night as randy5235′s wife; so sorry it happened to her. this type of behavior is undoubtably worse in the summer months, but still scary.

    having a place to ride that is beautiful and dark at night is a rare and wonderful thing, and is one of the things i treasure about the springwater — when people aren’t being jerks.

    i’s like to see more patrols. i understand why lights seem appealing, but the people who cause trouble on the Springwater at night also cause trouble there during the day. or in a MAX car full of people. or in other areas where supervision is light and consequences don’t exist.

    has anyone noticed the super bright and ugly light clusters they’ve installed on the esplanade, pioneer square and in the park blocks? is that part of the same theory of security? because i notice that it makes someone like me unlikely to want to stay in the area, but it seems to have no effect on the groups and individuals who camp in those areas during the day, too.

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  • El Biciclero August 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I thought I had heard a while back that the problem with lighting was that it would disrupt the nocturnal rhythms of local wildlife. If that is true, then it sounds as though the confusion about whether the Springwater is a park or a travel corridor still exists. Is it both?

    Don’t complain too loudly, or some agency will make sure the whole thing is closed 1/2 hour after sunset, making anyone’s presence illegal. I know some municipality (Gresham?) attempted this a couple years ago for one segment and was overruled, but nothing says it couldn’t still be done. The irony of that would be that to enforce a closure, some kind of patrol would need to be added to roust the ne’er-do-well scofflaws that would jump the gate and continue to hang out…

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    • matt picio August 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      That’s only true in the two sections that pass through/adjacent to wildlife areas – Tideman Johnson and the other one out at 122nd Ave. In the other areas, it’s more likely that adjacent property owners don’t want streetlights shining in through their bedroom windows.

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  • Craig Harlow August 7, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Ding Ding! I think it’s worth considering the old standby of ringing your bike bell well before you overtake someone on foot or on a bike, in motion or not. Especially after daylight fades.

    Be properly lit.

    Also, adopt a riding style that includes slowing down well before someone feels the need to ask you to slow down. The path is narrow, and in the dark a suddenly approaching bike is probably startling.

    If you don’t have a bell or proper lights, or if you overtake other path users without regard for their safety or their perception of safety, shame on them, expect startled, instinctively hostile responses.

    This, of course, doesn’t excuse assault of any kind.

    Ride safer. Ride nicer.

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    • Chris I August 7, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      Have you ever “ding dinged” a group like this at night? The response is not always friendly… with some groups it is better to slip by as quietly as possible, not attracting attention to yourself.

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      • Craig Harlow August 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm

        And risk a collision or near-collision? I’m not presuming to know your habits, but if you sound your bell when you’re 100 feet off, instead of 30, it will probably be better received and possibly appreciated. Accompany the bell with “sorry guys!” and you may just ingratiate yourself.

        Different scenario, same idea: I rode my bike north along the NE MLK sidewalk on Monday night after dark, from Failing to Alberta, and found every single bus stop populated by groups of teens blocking my path. I rode slowly, rang my bell before approaching, and said “sorry fellas” or some such, and without exception each group made way for me without incident, and one young fella said “my bad!”.

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  • Dan V August 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    One problem I see is that for the vast majority of the population, the Springwater is NOT a transportation corridor, but a recreational path (you know, since bikes are kids/idle rich toys).

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  • pdxbikeworm August 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Folks, as a regular rider – including at night during the winter – I’ve encountered maybe 3 iffy situations, mostly in the areas near 82nd Avenue, but also some threatening teenagers one night at Foster Rd. One thing I do when passing is to try and shield my light – its pretty blinding, and that pisses people off. I think the bell works as well, and a few polite words. A lot of these folks aren’t really threatening – they’re just poor and want to be treated with respect, not fear.

    I don’t like the idea of lighting the path – its not a bike freeway, its a park, and one of the beautiful things about the park is taking a night ride on a warm evening to a quiet, unlit spot (rare in the city) to enjoy the night sky and the quiet. There are some particularly wonderful spots between 136th(?) and Jenny Road, near the pasture where the sheep graze and the city has reclaimed the original Johnson Creek landscape. In addition, the street lights along/near this path tend to be rather blinding, making visibility even worse, as there are few lights around to provide a more consistent light “landscape”.

    I’ve been riding the Springwater Corridor since before it was paved. The best deterrent I have found is increased usage.

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    • Beti August 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      Agreed. My experience biking the Springwater in that area is a smile, a timely ding of the bell, and a slight speed reduction does the trick.

      Also, more cops? No thank you. The only time I’ve seen PPD patrol a bike trail, they were driving in a squad car (this was on I205 path between Division and Holgate). I did not feel safer.

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  • DIO August 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    So if the issue is having law enforcement patrolling the Trail at night, why can’t this be done? I don’t know when it was exactly, but definitely within the last 3 years, I was taking a break by the Linneman Station one day. Off in the distance, I saw this bright headlight coming down the path. As it was broad daylight, this bright light was really interesting to me, so I waited to see who this rider was, thinking that I’d ask him/her where they got their headlight since it was so bright. As it turns out, it wasn’t a bicycle rider at all, it was a Portland Police officer on a motorcycle riding down the Springwater Corridor Trail. If this can happen during the day, why can’t they send someone down the path at night?

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  • Ed August 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I commute along the Springwater from SE 17th to Flavel at least once or twice every week. I’ve done that for more than 13 years. The homeward leg is always after 8 PM, so often in the dark. Granted, I’m a male, so it’s a very different experience than for a woman. There’s definitely a population of homeless people, men and women, along the route. Waxes and wanes, but seems to be growing over the past couple of years. Of course, there are more of them in the summer. There’s a concentration somewhere between 82nd and Bell Ave, where there’s sort of a continuous party happening at one point on the south side. Yeah, they look pretty wasted. Occasionally one of them yells at me about my light being too bright and sometimes they spill over across the path. But I’ve never felt any real threat. I’ve had male teens yell or even throw things from windows of pickup trucks on ordinary streets, which is far worse. More often these folks are actually friendly and quite a few actually have bikes–hopefully not stolen from some of the readers of this blog!! So, I’ve got mixed feelings about this issue. On the one hand, I want everyone who wants or needs to ride a bike to be and feel absolutely safe riding on that corridor, male and female. On the other, this homeless population exists, will continue to, needs to be somewhere, are mostly harmless, and I don’t want to see them hassled and abused by the police, as they will be. Probably not a terribly helpful comment, but from the heart.

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    • Sunny August 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm

      For those using “to see” lights: tape over the top half or get a wide angle lens so your light doesn’t go above the horizon. This is the same concept as high beams in cars in that the high beam is no brighter than the low beam, it’s just aimed higher, above the horizon.

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      • CaptainKarma August 8, 2012 at 2:48 pm

        Yes, please! Or shade the light with your hand, esp when coming up to another cyclist . Super lights are not cool, but annoying, for everyone else and dangerously blinding for the other guy.

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  • Scott August 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    The second email disturbs me. I read it as “I was afraid my person may come to harm, or my property may be taken, so I sped up to a speed I felt increased my safety although it put others in harms way.”

    This is acting under the assumption that anyone drinking on a public trail at night is bad. That’s just plain stupid an borders on puritanicalism in its leaps past points of logic.

    Assuming that at some point you will be hit by a car is good math. Assuming that at some point you will be mugged is fox news.

    Quit getting Rush Limbaugh’d. Stop and introduce yourself to the people, then next time yell, “Hey So and So, it’s me so and so just coming through.”

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    • Scott August 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Also there are no sketchy roads in Portland, so that part of his statement must be disregarded. This town is butter soft, if you feel unsafe in this city it is because you have never really experienced a place where you were not supposed to be.

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      • Caleb August 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm

        Do you assume a car moving away from you is going to hit you? I doubt it, so assuming you will be hit by a car is only “good math” if the math correctly describes the situation. In the same sense, assuming you will be mugged in any case might be iffy math, of course, but assuming you won’t might be iffy, as well. It’s not unwise to consider such a possibility when you’re outnumbered by a large group of people you know absolutely nothing about, and in the dark where you don’t know how many of them there actually are or what they have in their possession. Yes, Portland is butter soft compared to many other towns, but it’s not as if violence doesn’t exist here. Who’s to say when, where, how, and by whom it will occur next?

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        • Scott August 8, 2012 at 9:46 am

          That is completely lilly livered. The same logic could be applied to ethnic foods because they might be spicy. Sure you won’t get a burning mouth, but you also won’t experience tons of fantastic restaraunts.

          In Afghanistan and Iraq, yes, a group of unknowns could pose a threat, but do you really think there are masses of mal adjusted people that just hang out to do bad?

          How would these people even hang out with one another?

          I really hope that you start stopping and talking to random people whom you fear. You will see that you could not have been more wrong. People are just people.

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          • Caleb August 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm

            It’s rather presumptuous of you to assume that I fear anybody. I was speaking on behalf of those you were belittling rather than for myself. I’ve not encountered such groups, so I can’t say how I would react. But hey…what if I actually did have a liver made of lily, and it somehow put me at a crippling disadvantage to mostly everyone else in the world? Don’t you think that might make me err on the side of caution, even though I could also acknowledge people aren’t necessarily as dangerous as I could imagine? If you wish to encourage open-minded behavior between folks, why don’t you try to get to know these people who actually are afraid rather than just insult them?

            Yes, we can take logic from any circumstance and apply it to any other if we wish…but that doesn’t mean we can apply it fittingly. How often does spicy food carry possibilities as extreme as killing? As far as I know, spicy foods can’t use weapons against you, let alone just push you off your bicycle. Yes, we miss out on foods we might like by not eating spicy foods, but by that logic, what “fantastic” things are we missing out on by not giving strangers a change? That’s a prediction involving many more possibilities than simply whether or not we like them on our taste buds.

            What’s it mean to you for somebody to be “mal adjusted”? I agree with you in saying that people are people, because every person is an entirely unique individual, so we can only completely understand anyone on a particular basis. Given that, how can we consider anybody to be “mal adjusted”? Any why does somebody have to be “mal adjusted” for us to acknowledge the potential everybody has to do a wide variety of harmful things if they so choose?

            But I’ll go along for a moment with your idea of “mal adjusted” people in groups. Could it be perhaps that multiple “mal adjusted” people might get along well much in the same way that everybody else identifies with each other and thus spends time with each other? People are just people, right? What makes their hanging out habits so different from yours and mine?

            I believe in giving everybody a chance if there’s no perceived reason to believe they will do anything harmful, but at the same time, I believe in keeping my mind open to any sudden changes in their behavior that might indicate newly negative intent, because I have no way of knowing what’s going on in their virtually infinitely complex mind. I don’t, however, believe in belittling those who have less confidence in themselves and others, because that doesn’t help anything except maybe my ego.

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            • Scott August 9, 2012 at 10:22 am

              How can they be scared with you out there to stick up for them?

              Also I spoke to your comment. So any presumptions were based on me not knowing that you spoke for those that are too scared to speak for/introduce themselves.

              http://www.thefreedictionary.com/maladjusted

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              • Caleb August 10, 2012 at 12:21 am

                Was that meant to be a smartass comment? Obviously people were commenting before I made my comment, so their fear was independent of any stance I took on anything.

                In terms of your presumptions relating to my comment, you could have asked questions to possibly find confirmation to your assumptions. I would have done my best to answer honestly. I didn’t say I was afraid of anything, so for you to assume I was went against logic.

                Also, the definition you posted for “maladjusted” is a subjective matter. By asking for your definition, I was wanting your specific opinion…not the dictionary’s definition. For example, you talk about drinking as if it’s a reasonable thing to do in response to a poor economy, but I’d say that’s not the most economical way to adjust to a poor economy, and thus isn’t the healthiest given the current state of affairs. It’s a matter of opinion. Please allow me to be sarcastic in my drunkenness by saying “way to be thoughtful!”

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    • q`Tzal August 7, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      There is no human powered speed that is fast enough to be safe.
      To avoid any chance of harm you’d have to get by unnoticed.
      This involves either complete silence, invisibility or enough speed to clear the entire area in less than an average person’s reaction time.
      With some lines of sight over 300′ to be truly safe you’ll need to pedal through faster than 100 or 200 MPH.

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    • matt picio August 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      That may be true for men, but for many women the experience is quite different – both actual safety and perceived safety. I think for many the concerns are warranted – dismissing them as hyperbole does nothing to address the actual issues.

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  • dan August 8, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Scott
    Also there are no sketchy roads in Portland, so that part of his statement must be disregarded. This town is butter soft, if you feel unsafe in this city it is because you have never really experienced a place where you were not supposed to be.
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    LOL at the Internet tough guy. I used to work in Old Town, and one morning they found a corpse in front of my building. I think that qualifies as sketchy…though I continued to leave work on my bike at 10 or 11 p.m., I was always very mindful of my surroundings.

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    • jocko August 8, 2012 at 10:01 am

      Scott seems like a real tough guy all right.

      Scott please pedal your bike out in between 72nd and 82nd on the springwater and introduce yourself to the large group of hammered folks who populate that perma-party spot. Unless you fear them……wait no..then….right, people are just people.

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      • CaptainKarma August 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm

        I ride through there all the time. What these folks appreciate is a simple greeting or acknowledgement – “hey guys” or “what’s up.” You don’t have to stop. Even if they are out on the street now, they were some mom’s kid, somebody’s brother or sister. I’ve never seen aggression towards riders, even though a lot of riders can be real di%ks. It’s usually youth from the nearby houses who lack judgement that I’m concerned about.

        I see no problem with a robocop rolling through there at no-wake speed every time they’re in the neighborhood handing out $173 tickets to bicyclists and such. Not to bust or oppress, just to keep everyone “honest” and aware that consequences could actually occur for anti-social behavior. Again, I’m thinking more of the neighborhood residents than the homeless

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      • Scott August 9, 2012 at 10:25 am

        I do. The most dangerous thing on the Springwater is hitting a Nutria and going over the bars.

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    • Scott August 9, 2012 at 10:23 am

      My grandma turned into a corpse. Does that mean a retirement home in Tallahasee, FL is sketchy?

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      • Caleb August 10, 2012 at 12:25 am

        I’m actually with you here in wishing for more specifics about that corpse, as “corpse” doesn’t inherently indicate anything violent.

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  • GlowBoy August 8, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I remember another story about the Springwater, not too long ago, where the dominant comments seemed to be that the people hanging out along the trail were ALL just harmless homeless folk, and anyone who was concerned for their safety — even women riding alone — were just being wusses.

    Glad to see that (with the exception of Scott) there seems to be more respect for what appear to be valid concerns. Personally I don’t want Portland to get dragged down to the level of other, higher-crime cities. Including my hometown of Minneapolis. People assaulting or harassing others for simply trying to go about their daily business should NOT be tolerated. Anywhere. I refuse to shrug my shoulders and accept that as an inevitable consequence of life in a city.

    As for paul g’s advice to simply avoid the area at night … I doubt that most people passing through there at night are riding recreationally. I’d bet a fair number are trying to get home from (or to!) work. Riding many of the surface streets of outer east Portland at night may be less likely to get you assaulted, but probably more likely to get you killed. So really, “avoiding the area” means taking a car instead.

    And BTW, I would second Chris I’s comment that ding-dinging a group like this with your bell is NOT a good idea. Riding along with high-powered overly-broad-beamed headlight (such as the ultra-popular MagicShine) is not a good idea either. I’ve attached a shroud to the top of my light so help keep the light on the pavement where it belongs. No guarantees, but avoiding blinding everyone you meet on the trail might just help avoid conflict with groups of people hanging out there.

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  • Tom August 8, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I ride from 122nd to Ochoco a couple of times a week, tho never after dark. Yes , there is usually a group near the 72nd crossing …but I give them a smile and weave through slowly and they are mostly friendly.

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  • Jessie August 8, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Ok look, I ride this from Sellwood to SE 128th everyday. I have worked security in malls as well as in a tough night club for over 8 years. I would never ride this trail alone after dark. Not just the felony flats sections, around 52nd and Johnson Creek area is very dangerous as well; I think due to the proximity to public restroom facilities many homeless live nearby.

    Having friends in law-enforcement and also friends who have lived the not so straight and narrow path; I have been told by both sides that the tactic of taking over the entire path is to actually get you to slow down, which makes robbing you easier. Typically they want you to slow down so that they can surround and rob you. Those of you defending these vagabonds have clearly never encountered them. Yes, we understand social inequality and its consequences on society. I worked very hard with organizers during Occupy Portland, and from day 2 there was already a “rape” committee formed due to the high amount of sexual assault from the homeless population.

    Great article and something definitely needs to happen soon. Unfortunately if we want the city to act it would take a serious incident :(

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    • CaptainKarma August 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      How many robberies have happened through that stretch? Ever. Compared to well-lit downtown with video spy cameras watching you?

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  • John, Doh! August 8, 2012 at 11:44 am

    “Outlaw” bike clubs, part of the problem or part of the solution?

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  • Sunny August 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    A handful of pennies dropped on to pavement makes it as though lots of free money is available for the taking. No thug or homeless could resist. This gives enough distraction to pedal away.

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  • davemess August 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    More (or any) police presence is needed. I ride and run these sections of the path consistently and agree that it is a sketchy area. I’m pretty sure that the area around SE111th at Beggars Tick Refuge is a big drug dealing spot. Always suspect folks/cars hanging around there.

    There are all kinds of little paths and homeless areas on and around the path in this area, and yes it makes me a little nervous on the rare occasion. I can’t foresee my wife ever wanting to go on this section after dark, and I definitely don’t blame her. And that’s a problem, as this is one of the only MUPs in the entire city. It should be safe for users.

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  • Joe August 8, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    carry spare change.. FTW :)

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  • Marsh August 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Lived in Gresham for 22 years growing up, and now 6 years in the Woodstock neighborhood. I use the trail often and love it! That being said, last Sunday around 10:30 I had a very intoxicated woman jump out at me,just west of 82nd, then literally 10 blocks east, rocks thrown at me. Would be interested in a volunteer bike patrol.

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  • Brian Willson August 8, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Volunteer bike patrol would be good. How to organize it?

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    • Alan 1.0 August 9, 2012 at 11:55 am

      Set up social media including a mailing list and web interface (e.g. Google Groups, Facebook, Twitter). Announce that/those contact points here and on Shift. Stir up some discussion with plans to ride soon (meet-up location and time, distance, pace, maybe an attractive theme). On a parallel track, contact Tom Barnes (above) and neighborhood associations and let them in on the buzz, including ride info.

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      • Alan 1.0 August 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm

        PS – Post flyers along the trail, especially at junctions on both sides of trouble areas, with the social media contact info and any other channels like FRS or cel.ly. Use words like “Social Ride” or “Ride with Friends” rather than scarey/divisive “Safety Patrol” type language.

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  • Seth Alford August 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    This story illustrates yet another hole in the BTA’s (and others’) theory that MUPs are going to address the timid but looking-for-an-excuse demographic’s fear of riding a bicycle.

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  • CaptainKarma August 9, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I’ve been assaulted twice on the west bank with lotsa lights and people around, on my bike. Never, ever on Springwater. Just sayin.

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    • Caleb August 10, 2012 at 12:27 am

      It’s all circumstance, yes!

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  • Duncan August 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I am the Duncan quoted in the article. Let me clear up a couple of points:
    1) I am not a person who is, in general fearful of my personal safety. I go pretty much wherever I please in Portland without worrying- then again I am 6′ 6″ and close to 300lbs (hey I said I was out of shape) but at a fairly youthful-feeling 44 I still feel up to dealing with one or two unarmed men. If someone like me feels hesitent to deal with a group, how do you think that a more timid person my feel?

    2) To all the people who suggest slowing down- THIS IS A VERY BAD IDEA- given the situation (out-numbered, presumably unarmed versus an unkown adversary or group of adversaries) slowing down/stopping is giving up your one advantage. Once a group knocks you down, out there far from any help you are at the mercy of a group whose motives are unkown to you- maybe they are just partying, but drinking groups can and do make bad decisions. Keep moving. If I (in my current desk jockey condition) can out pace them, so can you. The safest thing you can do is flee with all due haste.

    3) Craig do you really think that it is impossible for groups of macontents to hang out planning to do harm? Jesus have you never heard of gangs? What the hell do you think they do? Have you never heard of riots, gang rapes, or the mafia? Yes those people exist, yes they work together. Yes also they are the tiniest minority of the human race, but the last thing you want to do is put your welfare in the hands of a group of drunk angry men in the dark far from help, because while it is unlikely that they are capable of seriously harming someone if they are your are seriously, rightously screwed.

    4) The true equivilent of my experience on 82nd would be if a bunch of drunk people attempted to block the road and tell me to get out of my car- or in the case of the assualted woman had they broken her window and dragged her out of her car. Had either of these two events happened on 82nd AVE, the police response would have been immeadate and thourough. I am sure that whatever jurisdictional issues existed at the time of either of these hypothetical instances would have been quickly and efficently worked out.

    I am sorry that these people feel they have nowhere else to go, but this is a pathway- sitting in the middle of it defeats the porpose of having it. Yelling/ threatening/ injuring people who are lawfully using the commons is unacceptable behavior. I have no issue with people getting drunk in public (lord knows I have done it enough times) but however drunk I got I never thought that it was OK to harrass, threaten or intimidate anyone. Nor did I ever stand in a street and get pissed that people were driving on it. This behavior needs to stop. In some countries the locals would just go and beat the crap out of them. Here in this country we give the task of dealing with people acting in a way that threatens or harms others to the police. I am totally OK with that- but they need to do their job.

    The area where I was approaced was right after an intersection with a store. Perhaps this is where the alcohol fueling the party comes from? Perhaps the OLCC can make sure that the visibly intoxicated are not getting more stupid juice.

    I will end with the advice my Uncle (another drinker) gave me before I went camping with my friends at 16. “If you are going to drink in publice, don’t be an asshole to anyone. It just invites scurtiny”. My belief if the police whould intensify their scrutiny, the drinkers would mellow out or face the consequences of their own choices.

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  • Duncan August 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Also I would encourage anyone who has an incident on the springwater to report it to the correct authorities. Be the squeaky wheel on this one.

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  • Jeff August 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Eyes. It’s too solo.

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  • Julie September 12, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Re Duncan…”slowing down/stopping is giving up your one advantage”.

    As a rollerblader/unicyclist/walker on public pathways, too often have my kidneys been threatened (stealthily, from behind) by…yup, biker’s handlebars. I haven’t been knocked down (yet!), but I have been suddenly grazed, or at least, had cold steel passing an inch or two from my soft body parts by speeding bikers. So, Duncan, “your one advantage” is a telling one. Yes, you (6’6″, 300#) can threaten others with your speeding machine…and still you wonder why you encounter hostility from the (rest of the) World? C’mon…

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