Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) 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:
@bikeportland Ultimately the answer is more users so you always know others are coming soonBreakfast day for all? Sunday Parkway for loop?
— Nathan Farney (@The_Farnster) August 7, 2012
LIGHTS PLEASE!!! Pretty please. With a cherry on top.RT
@bikeportland: How to make Springwater less scary to ride on?
— Milwaukie Rules! (@MilwaukieRules) August 7, 2012
@bikeportland The concern is mainly crime? If so I would think cops on bikes would help. Do they do that already?
— Spencer Boomhower (@SBoomhower) August 7, 2012
@bikeportland a better economy would also help. it seems like assaults & robberies are on the rise in general.
— gl. (@gretchin) August 7, 2012
@bikeportland Bike ambassadors and School cycling parties!
— JaeH (@JaeJibe) August 7, 2012
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?