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Bike parts spill out of encampments on Springwater path

Posted by on December 30th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

chops-lead
Seen on the Springwater.
(Photo: Mike Skeels)

We’ve addressed the issue of suspected stolen bike chop shops several times; but we’ve never seen photos quite like the ones sent in by two readers in the past few weeks.

John Howe was riding along the Springwater Corridor path just south of the Ross Island Bridge yesterday when he saw bike parts literally spilling out of bins and boxes adjacent to a homeless encampment. The parts appear to be organized — one bin contains several wheels, another pile contains forks. Howe even spotted what appears to be a metal box that likely contains a power tool (which would be used for cutting tubes, scraping off serial numbers, and so on.)

image-3
Notice the red box with “HILTI” — a power tool brand — on the side.
(Photo: John Howe)
image-6
(Photo: John Howe)
chops-howe1
(Photo: John Howe)
image-1
(Photo: John Howe)
chops-howe
(Photo: John Howe)

And earlier this month, reader Mike Skeels sent in a few photos of what he referred to as “the most blatant chop operation I’ve ever seen out there.” (Location was west of SE 92nd.) Skeels said he saw two guys “actively taking a bunch of bikes apart.” Amazingly, one of the men actually allowed Skeels to take his photo…

chops1-skeel
(Photo: Mike Skeels)
chops-3-skeel
(Photo: Mike Skeels)
chops-2Skeel
(Photo: Mike Skeels)

These scenes are all too common among the numerous homeless encampments that have cropped up along the Springwater Corridor and Eastbank Esplanade paths in recent years. Unfortunately, addressing the issue is more complicated than you might expect.

Local agencies that have jurisdiction and enforcement responsibilities in these locations, including the Oregon Department of Transportation, Portland Parks & Recreation, and the Portland Police Bureau, are all aware of the issue. They have cleaned up many camps — but they always seem to return a few days later.

It’s also important to keep in mind that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. While you might be 100% sure these are brazen criminals, consider this: What if they’re just building bikes for friends using parts they’ve found? Or, what if they buy parts/get them donated/collect them from bike shop dumpsters and put bikes together as a way to make a bit of extra cash? What if these are their own bikes?

While we should keep those scenarios in mind, the fact is that the police often recover stolen bikes (and tools of the trade) from these camps, so it’s reasonable to assume that at least some of these parts are stolen property.

At this point, Portlanders like Howe and others are fed up. They’re talking about taking matters into their own hands. Howe wants to try and get the serial numbers off the frames. Another person said they’re considering getting some friends together, rolling up on cargo bikes, and simply carting away the parts themselves.

Vigilante actions are the result of frustration and a feeling that the police and other agencies are not taking care of the problem quickly enough. The good news is there are signs of progress.

We are aware of a group of citizens (organized by Roger Goldingay, owner of the Cartlandia food cart pod on the Springwater at 82nd) that’s working with the City’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement to clean up some of the camps. Another positive sign is that we’ve succeeded in raising the profile of bike theft and we have solid momentum to address these issues in a more strategic — and hopefully effective — way.

I’m happy to announce that next week I’ll be sitting down to talk about bike theft with new Police Chief Larry O’Dea. I’ll be sure to show him these photos.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

159 Comments
  • SilkySlim December 30, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    What a bummer of a situation… I’m a frequent user of the top-most section of Springwater (traversing from the dip under the railroad northward, twice a day, every day) and I’ve definitely noticed an uptick this year in people taking up residence. Haven’t had any incidents yet, but as camps grow – including some really out of control fires recently which drive me nuts – I’m getting on edge. There are definitely some very peaceful, permanent residents that have set up camp in the open flats, and some more volatile folks encroaching from all sides. People are setting up under the bridge, on the beach, up the hill on the other side of the tracks…. just about everywhere.

    Believe me, I get it that peoples lives are more important than my carefree commute, but damn. What a bummer.

    Recommended Thumb up 22

  • matt December 30, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    That camp by the Ross Island bridge has been there for months. It used to be very tidy, with nothing outside the tarp. But within the last few weeks they started to accumulate more and more and you could always see bike parts strewn around. I don’t think I ever saw anyone there during daylight commuting hours, but I have on several occasions seen people working there at night time with head lamps.

    A heads up to any vigilantes who want to commandeer these bikes: There are at least two semi-permanent-looking camps just down the embankment on the beach near this location. You can’t see them from the trail, but you can see them from the Ross Island bridge.

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  • Champs December 30, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    A personal anecdote: my riding partner and I were intimidated by visibly intoxicated people with open containers. Within eyeshot (and eye contact), a duo of Portland park rangers disappeared behind a thicket of blackberries as we approached.

    Parks doesn’t care and the police can always say they’re too busy. My confidence level is zero.

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  • tridork December 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    tldr; everyone is innocent but because these are ‘camps’ they are probably guilty. dae bike theft profile people?

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • joebobpdx December 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      If you hear hoofbeats in Wyoming, think horses, not zebras.

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    • was carless December 30, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      So what’s your explanation for these guys processing hundreds of bikes a month? You think a legit business would operate in a public park?

      Anyway you split it, its illegal:

      1) camping on public property for > 1 year… illegal
      2) dumping trash in a park and in the Willamette River… illegal
      3) open campfires in public parks… illegal
      4) likely in possession of stolen property… illegal
      5) tearing down said property for resale… ???

      So I can totally understand. One out of 5 points may be legal; I have no idea. But as for the other 3 points. They are totally breaking the law.

      Regardless if a business is legal or not, you aren’t allowed to simply operate a processing facility in a public park!

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      • are December 31, 2014 at 8:32 am

        and we are a nation of laws

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      • Wondering December 31, 2014 at 9:08 pm

        If only gross inequality were illegal, drugs legal, mental heath services freely available, maybe, just maybe, you’d have better lens for your questions and observations.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

  • ed December 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    I rode by the same scene just south of the Ross Bridge a few days ago and had the same reaction. I also went through the same deliberations there as Jonathan describes; one doesn’t want to jump to conclusions, innocent till proven guilty and etc. If the homeless are utilizing bicycles as transport it only makes sense economically (as it does for all us environmentally) and should be supported. But the sheer scale of a camp like that begins to defy explanations of personal use. It really does appear factory like – a production line business of sorts. The homeless have enough challenges and struggles with “public opinion” to contend with without being falsely accused of crime, yet it’s hard to look over a scene like that without thinking something very fishy is going on. Glad to hear the matter is being presented to new Chief, and let’s hope better determinations can be made.

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  • Todd Hudson December 30, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Parks & Rec doing nothing about these camps essentially induces demand, so expect more and more homeless campers (who know there are no consequences), de facto garbage dumps, and stolen bikes. People need to stop saying “it’s complicated”. Camping in parks is illegal, which isn’t complicated at all.

    It should be renamed the Dumpwater Corridor.

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    • Spiffy December 31, 2014 at 9:10 am

      it’s complicated because: where would you have them camp?

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      • Art Lewellan December 31, 2014 at 10:17 am

        No camping should be tolerated on the riverbank spawning habitat. Makeshift access trails down the embankment also debilitate that groundcover shrubbery. These people intentionally trash their campsites, like a statement against environment conscientiousness.

        I visited City Hall Bureau of Environmental Services near a month ago with photos of the trash heaps and got a couple emails expressing appreciation noting a cleanup was coming forthwith. Three weeks later, not much cleanup at all and the rising river has washed much of the trash downriver by now. I want to see signs posted – NO CAMPING on riverbed, nor edge of bluff or hillsides. Sanitary camping could be tolerated if the campers would leave the sites clean, but nooo. It’s not unfair to assume these trashy campsites are inhabited by ruffians.

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        • are December 31, 2014 at 12:42 pm

          you see something needs doing, you can step forward and do it, no need to wait for some government agency

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          • Jayson December 31, 2014 at 2:03 pm

            So we should be responsible for allowing these messes to happen? No thanks. Prohibit camping in environmentally sensitive areas (particularly along the Willamette River) and kick them out upon first sight. There are lots of other places to go and programs to help them (if they want it).

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      • Mike December 31, 2014 at 10:43 am

        “California is good to the homeless…
        Californ ya ya…
        Super cool to the homeless”

        Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Blinkie Seizure December 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    This is what not giving a single solitary F looks like..

    Recommended Thumb up 19

  • jeff December 30, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    oh, please. stop with this PC, “I don’t want to offend anyone” nonsense…that stuff is all stolen.

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    • q`Tzal December 30, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      And yet the law of the land is “Innocent Until Proven Guilty”.
      Probability ≠ Certainty.

      We as The People are not the Judge or the Executioner and are only the Jury when selected and ALL the evidence is placed in front of us.

      “Judge not lest ye be judged” in this case means “don’t be in a rush to judgement or you may find your innocence swept under the rug in the interest of expediency”.

      Recommended Thumb up 16

      • Buzz December 31, 2014 at 9:51 am

        And yet Jonathan (and PPR and PPB) continues to give them the ‘benefit of the doubt’ and considers them ‘innocent until proven guilty’ even after finding his own stolen bike in one of these camps. Others, I am sure, have similar stories; we have read any number of them here on BikePortland over the years.

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        • q`Tzal December 31, 2014 at 8:27 pm

          Therefore, according to your reasoning, we should ASSUME that everyone fitting this PROFILE is guilty without evidence or a trial.

          I’ll see you in the gulag comrade.

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    • Robert Burchett December 31, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Ha. Cheap wheels with worn-out knobbies still on them? Who was owning that stuff when it was ‘stolen’? How can so many people be so wrong?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Mike December 31, 2014 at 10:32 am

        Right- because only expensive bikes get stolen.
        Same with cars – all those super high end Honda Civic’s and Accords.

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  • Carol December 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Thank you for continuing to follow this issue and brining it forward. If we at Cartlandia can help in anyway let us know!

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Patrick December 30, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Looking through the photos above, all the parts (except the specialized frame) look like something that you could get in a free bin at a bike shop. Undoubtedly there are stolen bikes, but some of these guys may just be working a fringe business. It is a tricky situation & it would be dangerous to confront someone with very little to lose: long-term work with the appropriate agencies is the best bet.

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    • Blinkie Seizure December 30, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      fine, then simply shut down the fringe business aspect of it. Can I put up a table saw on the side of the trail, run a generator and produce fine myrtlewood clocks with airbrushed pictures of Mt. Hood?

      Recommended Thumb up 13

      • Caesar December 30, 2014 at 5:40 pm

        I’d buy one of those. Do you have a website? Take PayPal?

        Recommended Thumb up 9

      • are December 31, 2014 at 8:37 am

        not to name names, but a few years ago a guy put up a sandwich board on williams offering quick bike repairs on the spot. not long afterward he got a storefront. as things continue to fall apart, you may find business licenses and the necessity to rent space in a building that has passed inspections, etc. increasingly onerous.

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        • Blinkie Seizure December 31, 2014 at 9:33 am

          OK, Great, let them set up shop, but… if some of these businesses have become dependent on running their business in a mixed use district, maybe they should be assessed some portion of the cost of upgrading the transportation infrastructure they are in effect taking away from other users.

          Recommended Thumb up 3

  • rubbervose December 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    good job portland! property over people!

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Mike December 30, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      So it is ok for people to steal because they are homeless?

      Recommended Thumb up 19

    • Chris I December 30, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      I’m a person. Can I have your property, please?

      Recommended Thumb up 11

  • kittens December 30, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    How are these rusty, dirty parts even worth anything?

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Mike December 31, 2014 at 7:56 am

      To the bike stripping crew – they are worth scrap metal. Aluminum is worth more a lot more than steel and is worth the effort of dividing it up.

      Of course, these rusty parts probably meant something to the rightful owner too.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • are December 31, 2014 at 8:38 am

        since we are here judging strangers anyway, how could someone who cared about her bike allow it to get rusted

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        • Mike December 31, 2014 at 10:37 am

          Maybe that someone doesn’t have the time or money to invest in maintaining their bike.
          Maybe that someone doesn’t have the time or money to invest in a “nicer” bike.
          Either way, that someone is still a victim if their bike was stolen and it shouldn’t be considered any less of a crime or potentially devastating loss.

          I dare-say that it would probably be a bigger loss to a low income individual than Jonathan losing one of his 12 bikes (even though his Cielo is probably not rusty).

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  • Oliver December 30, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    This is a tough one. I gave away a no-name brand mtb that belonged to the wife’s boy a few years back because I had no use for it, but figured it could be put to use by someone who didn’t have the means to purchase one. (Any of those guys in the photos look like people without means.)

    The reason why the department store mtb is the bike of choice of the homeless is because they have no value on the resale market. People give them away, leave them unlocked, sell them for $25.00, lock them with cable locks, trade them for beer etc. I helped someone move some valuables out of a music practice space a while back and declined a Schwinn mtb that was brand new in the box/ never been assembled, just because I didn’t want the hassle of moving it.

    Are some of them stolen? Undoubtedly. Are they all? Of course not.

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    • Alan 1.0 December 30, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      Well said, Oliver, especially that last sentence. Also see q`Tzal’s “Innocent Until Proven Guilty” post. So, what the cops need to shut down illicit chop shops is proof that bikes in the “shop” are stolen. PPD says that it checks BikeIndex for serial numbers, so make sure all your bikes – and your family and friends bikes – are registered including s/n. It’s going to take that (small) effort from the vast majority of bike owners around PDX in order for the cops to have the proof they need to put those thieves out of “business.”

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Buzz December 31, 2014 at 9:57 am

        Oh please, the cops don’t even care to investigate or shut down any of the numerous illegal motor vehicle chop shops operating out of actual physical facilities in this city.

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        • Alan 1.0 December 31, 2014 at 10:44 am

          Do you have an example of that, one where the cops have actual evidence that will stand up in court, not just allegations or complaints?

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  • brian sysfail December 30, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    What epically pisses me off is that he’s parting out bikes then just throwing tubes/tires/etc down the embankment.

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    • are December 31, 2014 at 8:40 am

      you should see the stuff that goes into the dumpster behind any retail bike shop

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      • Grandpa December 31, 2014 at 9:01 am

        A dumpster behind a bike shop is not a natural resource, wildlife habitat for threatened and endangered species (Chinook) and scenic corridor.

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        • are December 31, 2014 at 10:59 am

          from the dumpster, stuff goes into landfills. these are of course an improvement over dumping into the river, but they are very far from perfect, and in any event these people may not have ready access to that system. what exactly did you do with your food waste before the city began offering curbside compost pickup. etc.

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          • Grandpa December 31, 2014 at 2:41 pm

            The food that I was finished with went into a toilet, which was subsequently flushed, unlike our rustic neighbors on the Springwater. Our society generates waste, and those who participate in society deal with the waste in the least negative means available. Those who don’t participate in society could if they cared, deal with their trash in that same manner. If those “campers” left nothing but footprints I would not care that they eschew cultural conventions, but they trash the commons that are set aside for everyone. That their are bicycle thieves among them is beyond dispute. I refuse to wear guilt because I want our nice places to remain nice. and I refuse to wear guilt for holding in low regard the persons who, for what ever reasons, trash the commons.

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  • Todd Boulanger December 30, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Jonathan – how about setting up a shared open Google Earth Map (with key) for folks to ID the locations of any camps with activities that potentially are bike “chop shops”? There are likely more locations outside of the spring water trail…especially if enforcement picks up.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Matt Pie December 30, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Totally off topic, but oh my goodness thank you for changing the header image!

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Mike Quiglery December 30, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    If that’s what you see on the paths imagine what’s in the river.

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    • was carless December 30, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Mostly their waste. There is an extended camp, which consisted of around 4-5 tents that was down by the water’s edge. That is all underwater now, like every time the river has risen. That means all of their clothes, trash, bags, and the other stuff that is kept down there just floats away…

      2 weeks later, they are back again. I’ve seen these guys get flooded about 8 times now over the past few years.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • Psyfalcon December 30, 2014 at 7:43 pm

        Can we at least give them a weather radio so they can pull some of it up before the rivers rise? Deliver river height forecasts?

        Recommended Thumb up 3

  • was carless December 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    I don’t know what’s more amazing, the fact that these operations are growing like they are, or the fact that there are houses where the neighbors can watch these going on daily. Obviously noone cares enough to do anything… hell, maybe we should just give them a plot of land and a business license! Make it legit!

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • eli bishop December 31, 2014 at 12:00 am

      i suspect they care quite a lot, but have found that no amount of reporting has any effect.

      Recommended Thumb up 10

    • are December 31, 2014 at 8:41 am

      maybe we should

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  • Toby December 30, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    2401–2739 NW 22nd Pl
    Portland, OR 97210
    Another location on NW Nicolai and 405 right near Grand Central. They are the same group that was under the 405 recently.tons of bikes, many are low end junk.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Spiffy December 31, 2014 at 10:18 am

      I work in the area… lots of homeless taking refuge under the freeway bridges… usually more than 1 bike per person…

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      • Toby December 31, 2014 at 2:55 pm

        They were on Nicolai between the tracks and NW Front for a few weeks. When they were setting up camp, it was like the pics above, piles of whole bikes partially stripped bikes, fully stripped bikes, bins of parts , and carts full of wheels.

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    • Moyst December 31, 2014 at 11:49 pm

      I’ve seen some decent bikes at the NW Recyclery Camp contingency. They have a lot of “laundry” under those tarps.

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  • Mossby Pomegranate December 30, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    America’s Bike Theft Capital. Here’s the photographic proof.

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  • James December 30, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    I want in on this cargo bike posse. Let’s haul those stolen bikes straight to the steps of the PPD. Count me in!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Randy December 30, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    “Unfortunately, addressing the issue is more complicated than you might expect.”

    It’s unclear what specific issue are you referring too? Please clarify.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • are December 31, 2014 at 8:42 am

      the quoted text has a hyperlink

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  • Esther December 30, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I think it is really disturbing to post a picture of this guy who is living outside simply because he is involved in bicycle reuse/rebuild which-you go to great lengths to stress-HE HAS NOT BEEN ACCUSED OF A CRIME- Yet the entire article (and therefore his picture) are rife with intimations of illegal activity

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    • caesar December 30, 2014 at 8:55 pm

      No one has accused him. He was there. His mere presence there is relevant to the story.

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    • bloodcircus77 December 30, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Golly gee! You’re right. I bet this man carefully went door to door in Ladd’s Addition asking for bike part donations.

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      • soren December 31, 2014 at 9:03 am

        I’ve donated an old mtb and misc. bike parts to people scrounging for cans as have my neighbors.

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    • Todd Hudson December 31, 2014 at 6:59 am

      Camping in public parks is illegal.

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      • are December 31, 2014 at 8:43 am

        sleeping on the street is illegal

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      • Spiffy December 31, 2014 at 10:20 am

        failing to come to a full complete stop at a stop sign is illegal…

        Recommended Thumb up 7

        • Mike December 31, 2014 at 10:46 am

          Many home improvements without pulling city permits are illegal.

          Recommended Thumb up 5

          • Alan 1.0 December 31, 2014 at 11:44 am

            Cargo Bike Posse Snatches Unpermitted Deck

            Recommended Thumb up 7

        • Esther December 31, 2014 at 12:07 pm

          Thanks, Spiffy & Mike. I wonder how many of the commenters here go a full day without comitting a traffic violation or crime? I’d bet very few. I jaywalk and run stop signs every day.

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  • Paul Wilkins December 30, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Similar shenanigans under the Burnside Bridge. Everyday Market, even Saturdays.

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  • Paul Wilkins December 30, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    For the record, Bike Portland is not a court of law, this is the court of public opinion and we are not subject to the innocent until proven guilty standard. Guilty is as guilty does.

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    • Esther December 31, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      I completely agree. But we also are human beings and I know Jonathan tries to think very carefully about his journalistic ethics. I agree there is a time and place for public court of opinion, particularly when there is interpersonal or systemic violence or harm that will be difficult if not impossible to prove in a court of law. Here there is NO victim alleging direct victimization by this guy, but the article is, as I said, rife with intimation of illegal behavior.

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  • q`Tzal December 30, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    This is the BikePortland readership.
    <sarcasm>
    We are THE Punisher when it comes to bicycle related crimes.
    We need no evidence.
    We need no proof.
    There are only victims and the guilty.
    The guilty will pay.
    </sarcasm>

    Do any of you realize just how lynch mob you sound?

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    • caesar December 30, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      “Do any of you realize just how lynch mob you sound?”

      Not to me. Instead, it sounds like a bunch of people exercising inductive reasoning.

      Recommended Thumb up 17

      • soren December 31, 2014 at 8:53 am

        and inductive reasoning has justified quite a few lynchings…and i’m not a fan of either.

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        • caesar December 31, 2014 at 9:17 am

          Sherlock Holmes never lynched anyone, to my knowledge….

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          • are December 31, 2014 at 10:12 am

            holmes’ reasoning was alleged to be deductive

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          • Mike December 31, 2014 at 1:23 pm

            would have made the books a bit more interesting….

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    • Mossby Pomegranate December 31, 2014 at 7:45 am

      Yeah we don’t want the folks who actually pay for this stuff to have any say now do we?

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  • are December 30, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    seems those who have not quite lost their grip on the lower edges of the so-called middle class have to kick at those who have. another crash will sort some of this out. if you have nowhere to live and nowhere to set up shop is it still okay to rebuild bikes from scrap? maybe not.

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    • Jeff December 30, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      when did “rebuilding bikes” include scratching the serial numbers off of them? head, meet sand.

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      • are December 31, 2014 at 8:28 am

        hilti makes a variety of power tools.

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      • Spiffy December 31, 2014 at 10:22 am

        “when did “rebuilding bikes” include scratching the serial numbers off of them? ”

        that’s quite the accusation…

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        • Mike December 31, 2014 at 10:40 am

          The “accusation” is directly from the article.

          “Howe even spotted what appears to be a metal box that likely contains a power tool (which would be used for cutting tubes, scraping off serial numbers, and so on.)”

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          • James Sherbondy December 31, 2014 at 11:26 am

            A. Hilti tools are in plastic boxes, not metal, so Howe was already wrong on one account.
            B. Howe doesn’t even know what tool, if any, was in that box. For all we know, it could have a sandwich in there, which would likely be used for eating.
            C. Even if it was a Hilti cordless grinder, there’s ABSOLUTELY no proof that it’s being used for illegal activity, none what so ever, unless I missed the part in the article where Howe had video evidence of it being used for illegal activity.

            There’s so much speculation in this article with ZERO evidence of illegal activity, that I find it appalling how so many of the comments calling for a lynch mob are liked so much.

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            • Esther December 31, 2014 at 12:16 pm

              Thanks James. I agree completely.

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            • Mike December 31, 2014 at 1:27 pm

              All the more reason Jonathan shouldn’t have published anything. Or maybe turned of commenting.

              God forbid we offend someone by thinking, suggesting, implying, or stating that stolen bikes are stripped along the Springwater Corridor.

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              • q`Tzal January 1, 2015 at 4:52 pm

                The funny thing is I agree that there is a very high likelihood that at least some of these bikes are stolen as the “STRING ‘EM UP AND BURN ‘EM AT THE STAKE!” crowd supposes.

                Great, charge them and try them in a court of law. That is what America is about: the Rule of Laws not Might Makes Right.

                Summary rounding up and expulsion of “vagrants” is one of those things that the 3rd Reich did as part of their Final Solution.

                I understand as a victim in my past of some fairly nasty crimes what is like to never ever trust anyone ever again. That’s fine, embrace your fear and hatred: it’ll keep you warm and might even help with that Dark Side thingy.
                But remember: your victimhood does not make whomever you look at guilty by default. You no more get to judge homeless as guilty of bike theft than I get to violently attack people preemptively to prevent getting attacked.

                Innocent until proven guilty … or we’re all dog food.

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                • chumbly January 1, 2015 at 5:32 pm

                  Godwin!

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  • reader December 30, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Personally speaking, I would think twice, and then a third time, before rolling up on a homeless camp with a plan to take all the bikes and parts laying around.

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    • soren December 31, 2014 at 8:55 am

      i’m pretty sure that most mittyesque vigilantes imagine themselves armed, dangerous, and ready to dole out final justice.

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  • Andy December 30, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    I am new to the site, so forgive me as I jostle this hornet’s nest.
    I ride the Springwater frequently, and I’ve noticed these camps for a while now.

    Personally, I love the fact that a handful of our city’s homeless are able to– legally or not–camp along this trail. Just like I appreciate the fact that the street-kids are able to gather under bridges along the Waterfront Park Trail rather than being harassed and “deported” like they may be in other cities: http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/nevada-patient-busing/article2577586.html (Sorry, I haven’t figured out how to hyper-link on here…).

    These two examples to me signify at least an iota-of-an-iota of decency (that we aren’t overtly hostile to our “down-and-out” neighbors; that we aren’t, yet, shooting the poor and homeless: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/apd_findings_4-10-14.pdf).

    To me what is outrageous isn’t so much that your Specialized was stolen, etc., or that your waterfront view isn’t quite as pristine as you’d like. That’s all aggravating and inconvenient no doubt. But instead what’s outrageous is that thousands of folks are simply unable to participate in our city’s economy. It’s that many people here in our fair city (humans mind you) feel relegated to tent-camps along a flooded river-bank, hoping to eke out some semblance of a living selling bike parts or drugs or whatever.

    What’s really unnerving to me is simply the inhumanity of poverty and the policies that are creating and nurturing it in our country: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/08/on-fighting-the-last-war-on-poverty/?_r=0.

    Before I jump off the soap box, I’d just argue that less of this “outrage” should be targeted at these homeless people: men and women who due to mental illness, addiction, immigration status, bad-luck, etc., are unable to “swing it” legitimately. Instead, more of it should be targeted at how we collectively treat the poor and the sick. Stolen bikes are a symptom of this greater neglect.

    …IMHO…

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    • random December 31, 2014 at 7:42 am

      “Personally, I love the fact that a handful of our city’s homeless are able to– legally or not–camp along this trail. Just like I appreciate the fact that the street-kids are able to gather under bridges along the Waterfront Park Trail rather than being harassed and “deported” like they may be in other cities:”

      Enjoy having your bike stolen repeatedly.

      I wonder how many other cities would allow obvious bicycle chop-shops in areas where it isn’t legal to camp in the first place.

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      • soren December 31, 2014 at 9:00 am

        So your counter-argument is that people who feel empathy for the houseless deserve to have their bike stolen?

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        • random December 31, 2014 at 9:13 am

          “So your counter-argument is that people who feel empathy for the houseless deserve to have their bike stolen?”

          People who are willing to tolerate obvious criminal activity in the name of “compassion” do have some karma waiting for them, I think.

          Alex’s attitude (and the people who upvoted him) are precisely why nothing is done about this problem, and why Portland is a nationwide magnet for transients and “street kids” – there is a constituency for doing nothing.

          Elsewhere on this board, you hear constant complaints if a Portland greenway is unsafe for an eight-year-old to ride on, yet we’ve allowed our major regional multi-use paths to become very, very threatening for anyone who isn’t a young, fit male.

          But if you’re not willing to do anything about the problem – don’t complain when your bike is stolen. View it as reparations or something.

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          • Spiffy December 31, 2014 at 10:27 am

            I tolerate the obvious criminal activity of cyclists rolling through stop signs because I’m compassionate towards their situations…

            guess I deserve to have my bike stolen…

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            • Mike December 31, 2014 at 10:48 am

              I tolerate people who speed because I am compassionate towards their situation.

              I guess I deserve to have my bike stolen too.

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    • Esther December 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Thank you, Andy!!

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  • reader December 30, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Caption contest for the photo of the guy in the red hat. Go!

    “I wonder if I should just stand here or cut this guy?”

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    • random December 31, 2014 at 8:03 am

      “Personally, I love the fact that a handful of our city’s homeless are able to– legally or not–camp along this trail.”

      Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Spiffy December 31, 2014 at 10:37 am

      “There can be only one.”

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    • Alan 1.0 December 31, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      &*#$ reindeer. $!@% chimneys.

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  • The Odd Duck December 31, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Mark the parts on your bike. Its as simple as that. Make it harder to sell.

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    • J_R December 31, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      None of the bikes, cameras or computers that I’ve had stolen has shown up and I was able to provide the police with detailed descriptions and serial numbers of all of them. I even had ID numbers on tools that were stolen – same non-result.

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      • Alan 1.0 December 31, 2014 at 1:01 pm

        Yup, it’s a numbers game (no pun intended). The number of positively identifiable things (bike s/n in this case) needs to be high enough among the vulnerable pool, and there must be easy access to that s/n data, that the odds of finding that s/n among a pile of questionably obtained bikes tilt to the cops favor. If it’s your bike they find then bingo, you get your bike back, but the bigger picture is that if it is *any* identifiably stolen bike then they have grounds for further investigation and charges.

        Register your bike!

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  • Mike Quiglery December 31, 2014 at 5:35 am

    In Eugene volunteers with the financial and enforcement help of the Union Pacific RR cleaned out homeless camps along the river before the river rose. Most camps are on UP right of way. Railroad cops seem to kick ass a bit harder than city cops, although even city cops in Eugene seem to be a bit harder on transients than Portland cops judging from comments in BikePortland. Use to live in Boise. Now there’s a city that’s hard on transients.

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    • Spiffy December 31, 2014 at 10:41 am

      looking at PortlandMaps.com it seems that the surrounding area is divided away from the tracks… I don’t know that the railroad owns it… they probably sold it to the city/county…

      but yes, railroad cops are more like federal marshals so they have a lot of power…

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    • B. Carfree December 31, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Mike Quiglery
      In Eugene volunteers with the financial and enforcement help of the Union Pacific RR cleaned out homeless camps along the river before the river rose. Most camps are on UP right of way. Railroad cops seem to kick ass a bit harder than city cops, although even city cops in Eugene seem to be a bit harder on transients than Portland cops judging from comments in BikePortland. Use to live in Boise. Now there’s a city that’s hard on transients.
      Recommended 0

      No, I’m afraid not. That “clean up” along the river in Eugene was just propaganda from the embarrassed mayor and her friends of homelessness. My wife took a video of the garbage dump, mostly tarp-covered, weeks after the supposed clean-up and before the river rose and sent it all to Portland.

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  • Cycledad December 31, 2014 at 6:24 am

    Why doesn’t the city crackdown on the so called street people that are running these camps? The large population of them under Burnside, the groups a that sell drugs on the Waterfront and block the path. This is the issue Portland needs to deal with.

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  • Tom Aichele December 31, 2014 at 7:23 am

    10 years of commuting on the S/W and have only seen Portland Police ONCE. (Of course they were driving down the trail :). What happened to community policing? Put some cops on e-bikes for a regular spin on the S/W trail. At least have some presence down their; and making some contact with homeless. Otherwise, this will stay the Wild West of Pdx.

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  • davemess December 31, 2014 at 9:56 am

    I ran on the section of the Springwater between 205 and 82nd today, and was surprised to see all the camps in that section cleared out. It looked like they have been cleared by the authorities (very clean with nothing left behind) versus people just moving somewhere else because it is too cold.

    As someone who lives in a neighborhood abutting the Springwater, we’ve seen a large uptick in property crime and theft this year in our area. Major issue with package theft.

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  • middle of the road guy December 31, 2014 at 11:37 am

    While you might be 100% sure these are brazen criminals, consider this: What if they’re just building bikes for friends using parts they’ve found?

    Yeah, so the next time you see a man sexually assaulting a woman, ….just assume they are acting and take no action. Don’t let the 0.001% exception dictate your reactions.

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    • Robert Burchett January 1, 2015 at 9:36 am

      The people in question are in possession of bikes and parts of unknown origin, in public. They are not, in our sight, taking them away from another person or some premise where they were being kept (committing theft in open view).

      Theft is not sexual abuse, OK? Public sexual assault no doubt occurs, but mostly it happens in private between people who are acquainted or even related.

      I own various bikes and I don’t love bike thieves. Sure the camps are fishy and lots of them trash the local environment. However, those of you who slept inside last night, grow a heart.

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    • are January 1, 2015 at 10:21 am

      the guy was willing to be photographed. maybe he could also talk. maybe he has a perfectly sensible story about what he is doing. maybe a human being could engage him on a human level, rather than spreading slander on a public forum.

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  • Peter R December 31, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Kind of off topic, but relevant……PDX has a fairly low “violent crime” statistic from what I can tell. However, the petty crime/property crime seems to be a lot higher than cities of similar size.
    If you don’t think that the petty crime has a direct correlation to PDX’s lax attitude towards homeless/street kids/transients (whatever you want to call it) then you are nuts.

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    • J_R December 31, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      I’m not sure I understand. So, am I supposed to be content, relieved or pleased that I have only suffered vandalism, a car break-in, a house burglary and three stolen bicycles rather than a mugging or shooting?

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      • Peter R December 31, 2014 at 3:32 pm

        Don’t worry…some day you’ll figure out what I mean…..

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  • Glenn December 31, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    “In it’s majestic equality the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal loaves of bread.”

    — Anatole France

    In the absence of jobs, fair distribution of wealth or a functioning public welfare system, what are the options available to poor unemployed people? It would seem that many people, including the rich, would like them to roll over and die while handing $20 bills out of their graves. And now you are unpleasantly surprised that some have turned to crime to stay alive?

    Decent solutions are far from the core of this site, but like many of the other class based obstacles to cycling, really need to be addressed constructively if cycling is to thrive.

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    • Andy January 1, 2015 at 12:33 am

      Beautiful. Thanks for writing this.

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  • Jim Lee December 31, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Sherlock used abductive reasoning.

    And John Howe is a really cool guy.

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  • J_R December 31, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    The prevalence of homeless camps with huge quantities of bike parts, some of which are undoubtedly stolen, may be an indicator of lawlessness, especially when one also observes aggressive behavior, drunkenness and other behaviors along the Springwater Corridor and other MUPs.

    Those behaviors make me, a reasonably fit male, somewhat uncomfortable about cycling in those areas. Due to these same factors, my wife won’t ride these section unaccompanied and we prohibit our children from riding their bikes to school on the Springwater Corridor even though it’s otherwise a pretty good route.

    Whether it’s turning a blind eye, giving the benefit of the doubt, or whatever, the tolerance for or inaction relative to these camps and their inhabitants is having a negative impact on cycling. If my family and I, all committed cyclists, are using the paths less, you can bet the “interested but concerned” segment of the community will be unlikely to embrace cycling.

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  • Paul G. December 31, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    It’s hard to know what to think about this. I built my own single speed out of recovered parts at the Sunday salvage at Community Cycle, and there are quite a few individuals who I meet on Sundays who seem to be able to scrape out a living assembling bikes out of the discarded parts.

    I also suspect that a lot of the parts we’re looking at in the picture are stolen, but it would not be hard in this city to salvage a very similar load from Community Cycle, the discards from garage sales, and dumpster dives.

    The concern I have is two, first, if these are “bike chop” operations and the City is turning a blind eye, it will only encourage additional activity. It would not take much to dissuade the activity; just a few roustings by the police. No arrests, just identify the person, photograph the bikes, take down serial numbers, and see if there is any reported stolen property. If there is, confiscate the whole load. If this happens a few times in a row, the message will get received pretty quickly.

    The second related concern is for safety and comfort on the Springwater. It would be a pity if fringe elements and homeless camps drove out bicyclists, families walking with children or pets, and runners.

    BTW none of this will work unless people report stolen bikes including serial numbers.

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  • Blinkie Seizure December 31, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    http://bikeportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/springwater_camps_lead.jpg

    I have an idea honey, let’s walk to Oaks Park today!

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  • Jayson December 31, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    These camps should not be tolerated. In my experience (I have campers across the street from my home!), they are drug addicts, drunks, and thieves. Rarely have I encountered a mentally disabled camper. They are just plain thugs. I believe in helping those in need, but some people don’t want help and they should have the book thrown at them.

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    • q`Tzal January 2, 2015 at 1:10 am

      Buy an LRAD and play PTSD inducing sound effects: sirens, warfare, theme song to Barney the Dinosaur.

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  • Blinkie Seizure December 31, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    My coworker rides a POS Schwinn to work every day. If it was stolen, it would fit right in to one of these photos and you all would dismiss it as junk parts…

    ..It’s his primary mode of transportation.

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    • gutterbunnybikes January 3, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Don’t knock the Schwinns (or at least the ones built in Chicago (pre 82)). They’re good bikes, They last forever,are comfortable, dependable, easy to repair and inexpensive – great bikes all the way around.

      And likely 90% of the readers and posters on this site own their current interest in cycling to the Varsity which first popularized adult riding in America in the 60’s and early 70’s.

      No other bike company has had, or will likely ever- influence the modern bike movement in the US as Schwinn has.

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  • tnash December 31, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Personally, I would love it if Portland outlawed homelessness (and enforced) — it would a much cleaner, safer city. They don’t contribute to our city in any positive way.

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    • soren January 2, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      “I would love it if Portland outlawed homelessness”

      So do we compost them or, perhaps, entice a soylent plant to the portland area.

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      • tnash January 2, 2015 at 5:20 pm

        I Like your outside-the-box thinking, but they’re probably too diseased to be of much value to plants or humans. Typically, making something against the law means arresting and charging them with a crime. They’ll get the hint and relocate to Seattle or San Fran.

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    • are January 2, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      i would love it if portland outlawed poverty

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  • william olson December 31, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    I was running by that camp today and saw someone meticulously photographing lots of parts above and down below the bank. Good work, sir. Just a couple minutes after I passed it (that camp is very close to the Ross Island cement factory where the trail entrance is) two cops on four wheelers were checking out a camp just a bit further south. I love running on those short trail sections right off the paved path, and recent camps have actually been blocking access, so hopefully some progress will be made. I try to have empathy and sympathy for the possibilities of what got those people where they are, especially in an ever increasingly unjust and unequal society, but when folks out there trash the environment around them my sympathy evaporates. Can’t help it, though I know they have bigger things to worry about day to day.

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  • Adam December 31, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    You don’t have to go as far out as the Springwater to see this.

    I ride daily under the Burnside Bridge on Waterfront Park. Despite the fact there is the entire underside of the bridge to camp under, the several dozen homeless citizens have decided to camp DIRECTLY on the bike/ped path.

    And when I say directly, I do mean directly. On one occasion, they were spread out across the entire path, sitting down, smoking cigarettes etc. I had to get off my bike, and LIFT it over somebody’s legs, since they had only left about a two and a half foot gap on the bikeway.

    It’s frustrating. If they had been camped on Naito Parkway where CARS are, the cops would have cleared them in an instant.

    But because they are “only” on the bikepath, the police do nothing.

    And let’s not mention the piles of really nice bikes I see them all dismantling day in, day out.

    It is frustrating as hell, having your daily bike commute literally, not figuratively, blocked by people camping.

    I hate to say it, but it makes me lose a great deal empathy for the homeless.

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  • Randy December 31, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Jonathan. I look forward to better journalism from you and your team. I understand you are ouching from your own recent bike theft. Tacitly equating bike thieving with homeless camps without the facts?

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  • q`Tzal December 31, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    “First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for the Communists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me.”

    When you lay the first brick of a society that assumes guilt before innocence you are paving the road to your own death.

    These people might be guilty but they are PEOPLE not garbage.

    If you think you are incapable of being the next bit of garbage to be crushed under the boot of a police state just keep this up; you get what you deserve.

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    • J_R January 2, 2015 at 11:11 am

      I don’t care about the homeless camps along the Springwater Corridor because I don’t ride there.
      I don’t care if people along paths intimidate some people because those people don’t intimidate me because I’m bigger and fitter than most of them anyway.
      I don’t care if they have illegal campfires because I have an occasional bonfire to roast marshmellows with the kids.
      I don’t care if they find the occasional stolen bike in the camps because I’m smart enough to never use a cable lock.
      You see, I don’t care if there are some alleged, petty infractions because it doesn’t affect ME.

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      • q`Tzal January 2, 2015 at 12:55 pm

        I admire your poetic/lyrical/synchronized rebuttal; I’m fairly certain their must be a precise word that describes a reply to a statement that attempts to copy the rhythm, size and sentence structure of original statement. The only thing that comes to mind is “rap battle” and that doesn’t seem to work.

        The problem I have with this is I agree with both sides of this argument to a degree but am unwilling to give up on Innocent Until Proven Guily. Gimme an Official Court Verdict I’ll be there to help bring down the hammer of justice but I’m too Lawful Good on this. It isn’t the place of the public or even police to issue and execute summary spot judgment on other people.

        Once you’ve been sent to jail for a crime you didn’t commit (by my own father, the dark lord) you develop a more definite appreciation of Innocent Until Proven Guilty.

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  • Moyst January 1, 2015 at 12:28 am

    Yeah, you all sound like the kkk mom of pdx horse thieves!

    While I support your vigilante jocks, maybe a bit less aggressive approach?
    Forming a party of 3-7 persons, organize a ride searching industrial portland, locate the piles of smut in shopping carts and get serial numbers/take pictures/yadda. And don’t forget to check the shady storefront under the Morrison bridge east side. Personally, I don’t have the balls to confront campers alone, but I’ve poked around enough to make them uncomfortBle…doesn’t take much

    If you go and take suspected stolen parts, what are you then? A batman? Nah

    Also, homeless profiling is no bueno…but I don’t know what the correct term is for bike thief.

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    • Mossby Pomegrante January 1, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      The homeless scumbags trashing the environment and stealing our property should be afraid, not the other way around.

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      • Alan 1.0 January 1, 2015 at 3:50 pm

        As should the homed scumbags.

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  • Andy Margeson January 1, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    While the problem you describe is real and significant, your perspective is narrow-minded and heartless. You and the Mayor insist this is about lawlessness not homelessness, that’s a fig leaf. You see it as “cleaning up” homeless camps, which just means taking away their meager possessions and moving the problem somewhere else. A more compassionate response would be to look for win/win solutions, such as finding a space along the trail where the homeless could camp with sanitary facilities and patrols to prevent illegal activity. Address their need for food and shelter and you’d have an ethical basis for “cleaning up” their encampments.

    As for bike theft, there is a clear need for more secure bike parking solutions. An ounce of prevention …

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    • J_R January 1, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      How much more secure do you need than the inside of a locked garage in a residential neighborhood? I’m not certain the thieves were homeless, but based on the quantity of bikes and bike parts one sees at camps, there’s a fairly good chance that my neighbors’ bikes ended up there.

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  • Cory Poole January 2, 2015 at 9:25 am

    An amusing sidenote, Yesterday I was on the springwater skating when I passed the large friendly camp at 45°30’0.62″N 122°39’39.14″W
    The guy sitting by the large tent asked me to walk my skateboard because it disturbs his aggressive pitbull dogs. I had to chuckle to myself, that my use of the path is a disruption to his illegal camping. I skated through and the dogs went nuts.

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    • lynn January 4, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Is that the first time anybody (homed or homeless) asked you to walk your board because it drives dogs nuts? It’s a fairly common thing: dogs hate the sound of the wheels on the pavement. This reaction is definitely not just because they are “aggressive pitfalls.”

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      • Cory Poole January 5, 2015 at 10:16 am

        Lynn, It’s less the sound of the wheels. I ride soft quiet wheels. while my board likely is a bit louder then a bicycle it is not disruptive. The reason why some dogs freak out when they see skateboards is because they don’t see enough skateboards. I recall when I lived in chicago in the 90’s I would ride my bicycle through neighborhoods where few cyclists ever went. The dogs would go nuts. In portland dogs are quite used to bicycles so they don’t bark and lunge at them. I’ve noticed in areas where dogs see more skateboards (inner SE, downtown) dogs generally do not react to me riding by. When I am in areas where skateboards are less common (West hills) the dogs react aggressively. It is the dog owners responsibility to control their animal regardless of what kind of road user is going by.

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    • Robert Burchett January 4, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Paraphrase: ‘You’re breaking the law so I won’t agree to your fairly reasonable request.’ Apparently the dogs were leashed, or should we look for the amusing video?

      Have you only ever skated in the park?

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      • Cory Poole January 5, 2015 at 10:18 am

        How is it reasonable to expect me to dismount and walk to accommodate him? Would you get off your bike and walk 200ft to accommodate him? I don’t think the request was reasonable. I am using the path in a legal and responsible way. He is not.

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  • Adron @ Transit Sleuth January 2, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Here’s what really angers me about this situation.

    #1: The Springwater should be a path for the 8-80 riders to feel absolutely safe and comfortable riding away from the real threats – i.e. automobiles. But currently except for a few hours of daylight here and there it is NOT a path that 8-80 riders/walkers will take because of these individuals trashing the space.

    #2: The individuals, regardless of whatever excuse or problems they have, are polluting, trashing, destroying and desecrating what is designated a protected park space. An area which is supposed to be held with some respect. We as a city should find a way to enforce that it is held with more respect and treated better. The current trashing of the area and ongoing camping needs to be stopped somehow… BUT…

    #3: The fact that the homeless exist, is a reflection of how American society just can’t open its collective mind enough to actually step up and resolve this problem. Other nations and states have effectively resolved the issue, there is ZERO reason we should allow barriers to resolution to continue.

    The lowest priority problem is the bike theft. Here’s why. Resolve these three issues and we won’t have a bike theft problem that culminates in chop shops on the Springwater Corridor.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 2, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      The lowest priority problem is the bike theft. Here’s why. Resolve these three issues and we won’t have a bike theft problem that culminates in chop shops on the Springwater Corridor.

      Adron,

      You make important points that I agree with… But I disagree that bike theft should be the lowest priority. Unlike the issues of drug use/homelessness/illegal camping in general, bike theft is something that is relatively simple — both strategically and politically — for us to address. And what if we used the issue of bike theft to rally partners and people to the table — and then those same people could tackle some of the related problems? That’s actually what is starting to happen:

      – We had homeless advocates at our Bike Theft Summit and the conversation has sparked some very neat efforts (too soon to share but I’m hopeful a very cool thing will come out of it).

      – If we get the PPB out there to check on stolen bikes and parts, they can have the conversations with campers and work with other agencies to do the work of cleaning up the sites and/or working to get people help if they need it. Roger and Carol from Cartlandia have already put together a group of folks (including city agencies) tackling the camping on southeast portions of the trail — and they have been largely inspired to do it due to their desire to reclaim stolen bikes.

      What I’m trying to say is that I think the bike theft piece of puzzle shouldn’t be downplayed — instead we should seize the momentum it creates as a way to build the partnerships necessary tackle not only the bike theft but some of the larger problems as well.

      politics are important. Go to a police chief or a mayor and tell them your ideas for addressing the illegal camping/homelessness issue. They’ll likely be scared stiff about such a sensitive and controversial issue and paralysis is likely to be the response… But go and tell them about bike theft and they’re much more likely to want to engage and do something about it. That’s been my experience thus far and I think we are barking up the right tree.

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      • are January 4, 2015 at 11:23 am

        i agree this problem requires a systems approach, and it is good to see several constituencies at the table, but i am anxious about the police having “the conversations with campers,” etc., given the fact the police are by definition the enforcers of the propertied status quo, emphasis on the word “force.” this is a very large problem, and we are unlikely to be able to address all components effectively in any short term. but the enforcement component might turn out to be low-hanging fruit, with the most vulnerable taking the brunt, and then several constituencies walk away from the table thinking the stuff they care about has been resolved.

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    • esther2 January 3, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      The bike theft seems to be a major part of the economy that supports the the rest of the activity that trashes the place.

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  • esther2 January 3, 2015 at 1:48 am

    Just because you’re homeless doesn’t mean the police should be harrassing you and demanding to see proof of ownership of your bike. But if you are operating a chop shop on public land they have every right to question you. For one, camping on public land like that is illegal. I’m sure they don’t have any permits to operate a bicycle shop there either. You know if a cop sees you shooting up heroin in public he arrests you, he doesn’t say gosh maybe he’s a diabetic and thats his insulin.

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    • gutterbunnybikes January 3, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Honestly I don’t see any bike in the picture that I haven’t seen at the CCC Sunday scrapper event (all parts 50 cents a pound – I’ve gotten entire bikes there for $20, just needed a new cottered crank arm, or the 3 speed hub was seized – and yes after I fixed them I sold them). Or anything that isn’t often found at Goodwill. And guess what there are two Goodwills on either side of this part of the trail. The one on MLK and the Bins.

      One of the frames in the pictures is likely bent (potentially a head on), one an old JC Penneys Free Spirit, a kids Schwinn, Next, and a Specialized (they turn up in junk piles all the time too- especially ones with cheap suspension forks).

      The Goodwill Bins actually gets some pretty nice bikes in there fairly often. And the prices drop by $10.00 a day until they are sold, and if not sold they are discarded. Though I’m sure Goodwill tries to protect their garbage piles, I doubt much that they are impossible to dive.

      And there aren’t too many bikes that you can’t make a profit at a $10.00 purchase.

      Having worked in the past with a Charitable Thrift Store at one time, garbage disposal is the biggest expense (*many people just send in garbage) and I doubt many people who work there would even prosecute or chase off someone diving their dumpsters, especially considering the volume of space a bicycle would take in a dumpster.

      It could also be that the bikes are stolen from donation trailers and doors later than the facilities are open. People often leave their donations by the doors at night despite the fact it’s posted not to. It’s still stolen, but that does kinda fall into a grey area morally.

      I’m not saying that their aren’t stolen bikes. I know GW doesn’t check the donated bikes. And I’ve bought bikes from GW that I suspect were stolen at one time, though none have come up when I ran the numbers. But really I don’t see bike in those pictures that couldn’t be had somewhat legally- dumpster diving is illegal in OR) or legally for next to nothing.

      Also with a little homework, you can easily make some pretty educated guesses of bikes that will soon be thrown away by searching craigslist.

      Remember most the bikes that are sold, usually are ridden for less than 100 miles and then set aside. The longer they sit around the more likely they’re just gunna get put out with the trash at some point.

      And I’m willing to bet that for every stolen bike 20 or 30 that are simply thrown away.

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      • gutterbunnybikes January 3, 2015 at 11:32 am

        this wasn’t suppose to be a reply…..

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  • raggy23 January 4, 2015 at 12:46 am

    Same thing in Eugene. Talked to a Eugene cop I know that rides bikes. He could clearly tell the bikes were stolen and he had also arrested these same people in the past for stealing bikes. This chop shop was right in a city park. He said the mayor and others at the city gave strict orders to leave homeless alone even if they knew the bikes were stolen I sure some at Portland city hall are giving the same orders.

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