View Full Version : springwater trail safe at night for the evening commute?

11-09-2007, 11:22 AM
now that it's getting dark earlier.. is the springwater trail safe at night? Anyone have any issues?

just curious.

11-09-2007, 12:32 PM
I travel between downtown and Sellwood. I've had one basic problem: Nearly hitting animals (possums, mostly) and people, on bike or on foot, who are wearing clothing so dark you can't see them until you're right next to them. Watch out for that.

11-09-2007, 01:14 PM
With the exception of this http://bikeportland.org/2007/08/25/cyclist-attacked-on-the-springwater/
I haven't heard of anything bad happening at night on Springwater. I think
this is a very isolated incident.

11-09-2007, 02:19 PM
Here are some experiences shared in November '06 by riders who biked through the downtown-to-Sellwood section after dark.


Also, this topic brought an idea to mind. I live in Sellwood and I wanted to participate in the bike rides in memory of Tracy and Brett but didn't because I would have been riding home alone in the dark either through the isolated, unlit, 3-mile long stretch of the trail between Ross Island Sand & Gravel and Sellwood or else on very undesirable streets. In the future, when there are evening bicycle events (hopefully for happier reasons), it would be nice if people in different neighborhoods could organize to ride home together after dark. Or maybe there already is a place where arrangements such as this can be made and I'm not aware of it. Like it or not, the Springwater Trail after dark reveals an arena of modern life where men have a bit more freedom than women.

11-10-2007, 10:48 AM
I tested some routes today that I think I would feel safe biking by myself coming home to Westmoreland/Sellwood from downtown after dark and I decided upon:

Hawthorne to Ladd,
Ladd to 21st (The tricky intersection at Division requires patience as the light cycle goes through several steps.)
21st to Clinton
Clinton to 26th
26th to Gladstone
Gladstone to 28th
28th swings around and becomes Bybee; cross the McLaughlin overpass and then you're in Westmoreland.

As Bybee curves past the golf course it is very dark at night and hard to actually see the road in some places. Passing motorists actually provide an assist with their headlights.

11-10-2007, 08:37 PM
As a woman, I refuse to bike on the springwater trail at night time.

I tried it once during the summer at 4:30am and holy beejus! Talk about most frightening experience ever. I couldn't see, plain and simple. Especially riding through the forest park.

But then again, I start the trail at Flavel over by 92nd and go to 17th.

Tomorrow I am going to be brave and not take the bus to work. Going to explore some alternative routes to get 17th, we'll see how that goes...

11-19-2007, 02:00 PM
Well I've had no problems at all at night... but my lights are blinding I actually might be scaring people away. I've seen a few sketchy people out there at night. I would be reticent to ride that trail alone at night if I was a lady.

right now my girlfriend buses it to downtown, but she want's to start riding her bike, I wouldn't want her riding out there at night alone... but she's not the most confident person on a bike, so the idea of here on the busy streets of portland skirting the river up to the hawthore bridge scares me a little. Especially with recent events involving cyclists and cars/trucks. Spring water seems like the lesser of 2 evils to me... but I wouldn't let her do it alone at night.

11-19-2007, 02:15 PM
As stated above, the only problem I've had on the trail are joggers who wear dark clothing with no reflective surfaces. I actually have a pretty bright light, too. Otherwise, its a pretty well-used trail by many cyclists and foot-bound folk so I feel pretty safe using it.

11-19-2007, 08:10 PM
I have no problem because I'm confident that I can repel any attack. But it really bothers me that people won't use such a great trail because of the perception of a lack of safety. I've said this before, but I ride the trail every morning between 6 and 6:30 am and again between 6 and 6:30 pm, and, for what it's worth, I will intervene in any situation if I feel someone is being hurt or threatened. But, whatever, there's no guarantee I'll be there.

But it begs the question for me: Is the Springwater really unsafe? I know of only the one incident, posted above, that I regard as one of those proverbial "could have happened anywhere" things. Other than that, is it just fear? I'm not sure.

Also, what would it take to feel safe? More lighting? It seems to me that the really dark stretch on the big bend along the Holgate Slough (where I hit the possum) is isolated no matter whether it's well-lit.

People should not be afraid to ride bikes in Portland. Idealistic yes, but an achievable and worthwhile goal, IMHO.

11-20-2007, 09:02 AM
My impression of winter rides on the Springwater is how incredibly DARK it is. I don't feel or see the human fear factor so much, but I certainly appreciate it. Its like solo backpacking when I have greater fear of people than the wildlife. That being said, I agree with AO that critters are more troublesome. Racoons tend to skidaddle, 'possums don't. Cats are a crapshoot what they are going to do.
Lights are a dilemma because you need enough to see, but they can blind oncoming cyclists on the narrow path. I remember a regular on-coming morning cyclist when the 205 path was still open who left me disoriented every time. If you use those blinding lights, please point them down at the path/road and if you have them mounted on your helmet, please divert your gaze away from me when we approach.
I've also wondered if there's some reflector technology that would be added to the edges (not middle) of these dark paths. They use them in the streets. Some blue reflectors could easily keep us on the trail and maybe dissolve some sense of the deep isolation of the dark. I would like to suggest it to Tri-met as they rebuild the 205 path, but sure who to direct it to.

11-20-2007, 09:53 PM
Like it or not, the Springwater Trail after dark reveals an arena of modern life where men have a bit more freedom than women.

Well, actually, women and men have the same freedom to use the trail, it's something else you're perceiving holds women back /should hold women back.

Using both phrases "after dark" and "arena of modern life" as you do, it sounds like you think darkness is inherently more dangerous (more likely to incur violence) and that modernity is inherently more safe... neither of which is really true, when you think about it.

Personally, I don't believe I'm more at risk of being stopped, mugged, raped, or killed during the night than the daytime; I should probably in fact be more worried about it during the day...

It's great to hear that (Oregonsis attorneuius) you're ready already to stop and help. That's nice to hear

Matt P.
11-21-2007, 08:29 AM
I've also wondered if there's some reflector technology that would be added to the edges (not middle) of these dark paths. They use them in the streets. Some blue reflectors could easily keep us on the trail and maybe dissolve some sense of the deep isolation of the dark. I would like to suggest it to Tri-met as they rebuild the 205 path, but sure who to direct it to.

Portland Parks & Recreation - they both own and maintain the Springwater Trail.

Matt P.
11-21-2007, 08:33 AM
I also ride the Springwater Trail (although since I'm moving, it'll be less regular), and I will absolutely intervene if I see anyone being harassed, intimidated or assaulted on the trail. (while dialing 911 of course)

I'm a big believer in community, and we've all got to look out for each other.

11-21-2007, 09:29 AM
I will stop as well if I see someone in trouble. Man or woman. And other creatures :)

My girlfriend and I stopped to offer assistance to a woman who had been arguing with a very irate-looking man. He was flailing his arms and yelling and she was crying. By the time we had turned around he had sped off on his bike (some janky fixed gear conversion). Apparently he had locked her bike to the bench they were arguing near, and had left with the key. We asked if she needed help, but she insisted that she didn't. He came back and we reluctantly and very slowly started pedaling away. We stalled and watched from a distance and the guy kept looking over at use warily. With what looked like reluctance he unlocked her bike and had stopped yelling and flailing. So we left.

Wouldn't you know that around a month or so later they were back. Arguing at the same bench.

11-21-2007, 03:06 PM
I've sent e-mails to Portland Parks and to Tri-met about the possibility of reflectors. I'm not expecting much from PP&R, but Trimet has full construction to complete on the upcoming 2009 205 bike path.
Here's the link to Tri-Met's comments if any of you future users of 205 want to chime in: http://www.trimet.org/contact/comments.htm
Wouldn't it be cool to ride a dark path framed in reflective blue by from our lights?

11-21-2007, 09:17 PM
I used to regularly ride the Springwater from Johnson Creek Blvd to Lloyd Center. I've changed my route this year because the Springwater is too dark for me. Critters wandering around, people moving around, super-bright bike lights approaching and blinding me.

Now I ride from Sunnyside Rd to 92nd. I follow the bike path signs north to Burnside. Then I take Burnside/Davis/Ankeny (follow bike path signs) to NE 12th Street and then to Lloyd Center. I can relax a bit since this route is much better lit.

My only problem is coming home. I get to the top of the hill at Bob Schumacher Drive (92nd st) and Otty Rd and then I go downhill and have to dodge glass in the bike path.

I've called Clackamas Road Maintenance twice and after the holiday, I'll call a third time.

My 2 cents.

11-23-2007, 10:09 AM
I gave up on the 92nd St hill. Going south, I veer down Fuller where it goes under 205. Where it ends I've found a series of alleys behind the big box retailers starting @ Walmart and going all the way to Clack Town Center. It just grated me to go up Schmacher only to go down again. After a few trial and errors you'll find it flows pretty easily, traffic is low and respectful and very little glass compared to the street. I see you headed the opposite way in the afternoons but rarely in the mornings. I'm on the road ~6-6:30 AM and have found the bike lane on 82nd south of Walmart very usable. Traffic's not bad that early. Glass can be a problem, but where isn't it in Clackamas Co?

11-23-2007, 10:44 AM
Thanks for the tip Oldguy - I'll give it a try.

11-24-2007, 07:48 AM
Other than dodging the ninjas I've not had any problems.