Splendid Cycles Big Sale

UPDATE: Headed to the Gorge? Watch for tacks in the road

Posted by on May 15th, 2008 at 11:39 am

[UPDATE: 5/16, 10:30am – ODOT has responded. Read full story here.]

“The cyclist-haters out in the Gorge are at it again, spreading tacks across the Historic Columbia River Highway.”
–From a BikePortland reader email

With weekend temps promising short-sleeve weather, many Portlanders are planning to head out on their bikes and take in the grand vistas of the Historic Columbia River Highway beyond Troutdale.

Unfortunately, from two reliable reports I’ve gotten in the past day, some Troutdale and Corbett residents aren’t so thrilled about bike season.

In what has become something of a yearly ritual, certain residents along the popular bike route have once again scattered sharp tacks on the shoulder hoping to dampen the cyclists’ day with an untimely tire puncture.

This is why the Historic Highway is
so popular to ride on.
(Photo © J. Maus)

I first heard of this phenomenon from Cycle Oregon ride organizers. Most communities are thrilled to have 2,000 cyclists roll through their area, however some Troutdale residents expressed their disdain by throwing tacks in the shoulder — forcing Cycle Oregon volunteers to sweep the entire area before riders went through.

Now, according to two BikePortland readers who ride a lot of longer distance routes in the area, they’re at it again.

Red arrow marks area where tacks have been thrown into the shoulder.

One reader emailed to say, “the cyclist-haters out in the Gorge are at it again, spreading tacks across the Historic Columbia River Highway – this time around Tad’s Chicken & Dumplings – I heard from a friend that he ended up with tacks in both front and back tires, couldn’t repair the damage, and ended up having to walk his bike back to Troutdale and take a bus home.”

Another reader said there were “lots of tacks on the highway from Troutdale to the Stark Street Bridge,” and added that on a recent group ride, they had nine flats on six bikes, and a few other cyclists were repairing tires at the same time.

If you’re planning to pedal out to the Gorge via the Historic Highway this weekend, keep an eye out, and bring extra tubes and patch kits (or maybe even a broom).

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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a.O
Guest
a.O

This is unbelievable. Two things (1) From whence comes this HATE? and (2) maybe we need to go find who\’s doing this and introduce them to aunt SUE.

J
Guest
J

Reminds me of the people who sabotage MTB trails (high test fishing line across the trail, etc). Amazing.

john
Guest

time for a letter to Troutdale\’s council.

Grimm
Guest

How dare cyclists use the roads (usually the shoulders) that they pay for. And I hate they ride places and spend their money in places like the Corbett market to refuel with drinks and water. What jerks!

For crying out loud. Are people along the corridor just so bored they have nothing better to complain about than they have to go around cyclists? Christ, we all paid for a freeway that is nearly exclusively for cars that is a mile away, what are they so upset about?

Vance
Guest
Vance

I\’m in agreement with a.O. I\’m a little surprised to hear the authorities haven\’t taken action. Transportation sabotage is serious business. Bet we hear about something now.

Schrauf
Guest
Schrauf

No, I bet we don\’t hear about any action, until autos begin getting flats. Which is unlikely.

What are cyclists doing on this road anyway? Don\’t they know all those cars need to get where they are going as quickly as possible? =)

Aaron
Guest

I think they should be tacksing drivers more than cyclists.
but all humor aside there is greater resentment for cyclists. The Corbett store has stopped offering to refill water bottles (though if you want to refill your gas tank, they\’ll gladly oblige).
There is going to be a certain amount of anger as fuel prices rise, against cyclists who (real or imagined) don\’t pay for gas.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Yes, because cyclists who don\’t buy gas are reducing demand, thereby lowering gas prices…Oh, wait, economics makes cyclists the friend of beleaguered motorists…Hmmm, now they\’re going to have to find another reason to hate us.

Or maybe they can just use the excuse that they don\’t understand economics.

xb
Guest
xb

how totally lame.

hmm…. hang a huge magnet out in front of your bike? haha

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

I used to mountain bike in the 80\’s and early 90\’s in Marin County, CA. The hikers hated the bikers so much that they\’d bury spike strips in the trails so you couldn\’t see em til it was too late.

Nice, the sense of entitlement people have.

scdurs
Guest
scdurs

They have been doing this for years. I have usually seen the tacks between Springdale and Corbett. I\’ve also been yelled at by motorists. It\’s usually indistinguishable, but I get the main idea; we are not welcome up there.

By the way, I can\’t blame the Corbett Store for not wanting to fill water bottles for free. They SELL water in bottles, so why would they want to give it away? Don\’t be cheap, just buy the water and support the local economy. Then maybe they\’ll be more welcoming to us. Don\’t give them any more ammunition.

R
Guest
R

Ah, the Annual Corbett Hates Cyclists and Wants to See Them Dead festival of flat tires has begun!

In August 2003 some criminals seeded Louden Rd with tacks. This road is part of the Portland Wheelmen\’s Torture 10K route. Cyclists easily reach 40+ mph as they travel down Louden (I know I do). Several flats were reported because of these tacks.

This surface treatment has been repeated of over the years in Springdale and other places near Corbett.

This matter was discussed in depth on the Cycle Oregon board a couple years ago when the ride was due to pass through the area.

Glad CO took care of themselves.

I\’ll just pack more tubes and patches.

I suggest we hold a suburban mass ride and loiter in Corbett, but spend no money in the Hate Town.

R.

chuck
Guest

Jeff: My uncle did a lot of mountain biking in Marin County as well. He did tons of photography for the local MTB mag down there when things were just starting to pick up. He\’s got a friend that was one of the first single speed mountain bikers in the area, if I\’m remembering right. Does the name Bainbridge ring a bell at all?

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

I\’ll bet it the owner of the Corbett store could make a profit selling things to cyclists– water, energy bars, bananas, whatever– cyclists would be welcomed, at least at the Corbett store.

Or maybe the store is selling tubes. 😉

Note to Corbett store: Start stocking items cyclists need.

Note to cyclists: Start buying things you need in the places you visit.

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

The Gorge Highway is primarily a recreational highway, except to the relatively few people that live up there. I can understand the local\’s frustration with hoards of cyclists slowing them down, but there are plenty of other tourists in CARS, oohing and aahing over the various sights, that are befouling the road as well. Somehow, they seem to get a pass on the hatred? Seems to me that if you live on a designated Scenic Highway, you\’d kind of have a clue that it\’s going to be a tourist attraction. I don\’t get it.

a.O
Guest
a.O

So, I don\’t get it either. I guess the answer to my question is that there really isn\’t any rational explanation for this kind of behavior. Right? I haven\’t heard any legitimate reason here explaining why people should be *that* upset with us (yes, I do this ride).

Also, am I the only one who is outraged by this? I guess I see this as a manifestation of the attitude that we don\’t belong on the road and that they can assault us or do whatever else they want to us. That\’s the kind of crap that keeps people off bikes and that I don\’t stand for. Am I overreacting here (yep, been known to happen)?

brewcaster
Guest

Amazing, absolutely amazing. Jealous much?

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

a.O., people wee throwing tacks in the road to harass cyclists back in the \’90s– the 1890s.

But you\’re right, it is irrational, and it is outrageous that one demographic of tourists is singled out for abuse, based on their choice of vehicle. It would be far more rational to heap abuse on tourists in their SUVs. 😉

But scdurs in post 11 has hit upon an important point– the more positive impact cyclists have on local economies, the more welcome they\’ll be (even if a few irrational types do continue to hate cyclists for keeping the price of gas down, making the roads less congested, etc.)

Diogo
Guest
Diogo

a.O – no, you\’re not the only one. This is outrageous. We should put some cameras there to find out who is doing this shit, and then a bunch of us should go there and beat the crap out of them.

Keith
Guest
Keith

I like rixtir\’s ideal. Hmm a bike shop in Corbett.
Hey..those slow moving tractors clog up the road as well out there, I wonder if they they have problems with framing nails??
Doubtful.
All seriousness aside, I imagine a big noise in the media or travel papers explaining how this particular area is unfriendly to visitors could affect the dollars spent there.Money usually is a big motivator.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Rixter, I\’m aware that this is a long-standing practice, but I like to cling to the fiction that we\’re becoming more civil over time. Believe it or not, I am actually trying to further that goal, though I am aware of my failures.

And I hold the very firm belief that, unless this kind of stuff stops, bike rides in the Gorge (and everywhere else) will only be undertaken by a few hardy sould such as myself rather than becoming a great pasttime and transportation choice for everyone. Further, it\’s discreet situations like this where that difference is made or lost.

People seem eager to tell stories, speculate on the motivation, or mock the impotent rage – but what is to be done?

a.O
Guest
a.O

sould = souls

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Well, I think we\’re being marginalized, and I think what we need to do is marginalize those who would marginalize us.

That means we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard– we need to be courteous to other road users on the historic highway, and observant of the traffic laws.

We also need to be seen as a desirable asset to the local economy.

Doing those two things keeps us from being marginalized, and if there are still some haters out there anyway (and we know there will be), it is they, and not us, who will be marginalized.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Portland has a number for sweeping up things, does ODOT have a similar number. Maybe some calls would at least get the road swept more regularly.

BURR
Guest
BURR

Tacks on the shoulder? Take the lane!

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Well put, BURR. 😀

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Actually, that points out an interesting dilemma. The obvious solution to tacks on the shoulder is to take the lane. But doing so furthers the impression that we are discourteous scofflaws, leading to further public resentment of cyclists. Drivers won\’t be able to see that there are tacks on the shoulder (assuming that they\’d even care), or that we\’re entitled by law to take the lane because there are tacks on the shoulder (assuming that they\’d even care). All they\’ll see is an arrogant cyclist taking up the entire road when there\’s a perfectly usable shoulder, thus confirming their negative perception of cyclists.

So what are our options, then?

Take the lane and public opinion be damned? That will only lead to more resentment…

Avoid the highway altogether? That will only be letting the terrorists win…

A third way? If so, what? A public information campaign? (Terrorists attacking tourists in the Gorge?)

Pete
Guest
Pete

Just like you needed to show an ID to buy spray paint when tagging got out of control, maybe stores should force customers to show bikes before they can be sold tacks!?

Seriously though, letters to city councils in Corbett and/or Troutdale and Chambers of Commerce may help bring the matter to light. Maybe something along the lines of \”as a cyclist I\’ve made the decision to reorganize rides away from your area and avoid all business within your city due to the clear message being sent by your residents that we are not welcome there. I will utilize communication within the biking community to broadly advertise that (Troutdale/Corbett) residents aggressively dissuade bicycling by placing tacks and nails on the roadway on popular touring routes.\”

I heard on KINK FM this morning about bicyclists in LA staging dangerous rides on the freeway weaving in and out of stop-and-go traffic and posting the video to YouTube. The announcer likened it to Critical Mass events, where \”cyclists block the roadways in order to assert their belief that they *should* be allowed to ride on the streets.\” (emphasis mine, knowing we *can* ride on streets in accordance with ORS). Anyway, back on topic, using media contacts might also help this make slow news day filler.

I live further out in the Gorge and haven\’t had to endure any tacks (yet). Just rednecks throwing trash and running us off the road, vertical drain gates, shouting and honking drivers, etc. No tacks though.

a.O
Guest
a.O

I respectfully assert that being a courteous road user and spending money in local establishments is not going to solve the problem – the vast majority of cyclists I see riding there, myself included, already do that.

The third way is BTA and other organizational contact with relevant authorities in the area and some sort of public dialogue with the community to draw out these elements and address the issue directly. Or probably better ideas I haven\’t thought of yet.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Being respectful and law-abiding won\’t solve the problem by itself, a.O. You\’re right about that.

What it will do, however, is remove the one charge against us that sways opinion in public debate, and that will make it easier for us to marginalize the haters, and engage in the kind of advocacy you\’re suggesting.

ambrown
Guest

I agree with rixtir. For whatever stupid reason they are attempting to keep us off the road, we\’d be wise to figure out why they don\’t like cyclists. Perhaps some cyclists have been rude in the past, cut people off, not been as courteous as I\’m sure everyone on this board is.

While we should definitely contact the local council, I think that encouraging other cyclists to be as friendly as possible isn\’t a bad idea either.

Eric
Guest

@18 – Section 10 of the statewide 1899 Bicycle Tax (italics mine):

Such paths shall be constructed in such a manner that they will not materially interfere with any road, street or crossing, and when so constructed it shall be deemed a misdemeanor for any person or persons to in any manner injure or deface said path, to place tacks, glass, wire, iron, sticks, stones or any other object or substance upon said path whereby the safety of the path is imperiled or injury to the bicycle or any part thereof, or to the rider, or to a pedestrian, result or is liable to result. This provision is not to prevent ingress or egress to any field, yard, lot or other place, to road crossings or the driving of loose stock; providing, the loose stock is not wantonly driven upon said path and due care is taken to prevent injury to paths by loose stock being driven along highways. Any person injuring any path provided for by this act shall, upon trial and conviction, be fined not less than ten dollars ($10) or be imprisoned for not less than five (5) days, or both, in the discretion of the court.

They were pretty serious about protecting the paths!

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

chuck,

Sounds like it may have been before my time. Things were already well under way when I started riding there. Still, if you ever get down that way with a bike (or not, rent one), the fire roads around Mt. Tam on a sunny day are truly one of the Bay Area\’s lasting treasures….

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

\”…maybe we need to go find who\’s doing this and introduce them to aunt SUE.\”

Aunt Sue? How about uncle Beat The Hell Out Of Them?

a.O
Guest
a.O

@ #29:

I don\’t think it will do that, Rixter, because there will always be some red herring example to point to of someone on a bicycle who broke some rule, or who was perceived to have broken some rule and because that accusation is really an excuse, rather than a legitimate concern (mostly), and is used by people who are not being rational anyway.

That said, I still think it\’s necessary but just not sufficient to get the job done. So I guess we agree there, as usual.

Jason P.
Guest
Jason P.

One word: CALTROPS!

http://bp3.blogger.com/_ZipDZRRuTRA/RrberrwNMrI/AAAAAAAAAYE/9vGNrmvqnN0/s200/Caltrop.jpg

(Uhhh…I\’d never do this…but motorists should be aware that it\’s a two way street…)

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Necessary, but not sufficient to get the job done. Well put, and agreed.

matt
Guest
matt

If this is happening in consistent places, I\’m sure someone can rig up and plant some cheap cams (a la the CVS cams) to record the crime. Public relations aside, this needs to be prosecuted.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

By the way, there\’s a somewhat-related issue in Iowa, where a cyclist ws killed during RAGBRAI, and his estate settled with a county for $300,000. The county really only paid a $5,000 deductible on its insurance policy, but the County Commissioners were so outraged that they banned RAGBRAI, and other counties have also talked about doing something to limit their liability. Nevertheless, every other county in Iowa still welcomes RAGBRAI. The reason? Every town along the route reports boosts of up to $2 million in the local economy. Iowa towns WANT RAGBAI, because it\’s good for business.

Something we can learn from.

Jessy
Guest

Funny how a few days ago there was a HUGE story on the news about a bunch of people in an apartment complex who had their tires slashed…

Where\’s the news now (besides on BikePortland.org)? Why aren\’t they covering this? It\’s pretty much the same idea/problem…

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

Maybe part of the solution is to start knocking on doors of the residents or stopping on a ride to talk to the locals? Not necessarily to find out who exactly is spreading the tacks or to get vengeance (\’tho that would be nice). But rather to acknowledge that we cyclists realize that there seems to be some hard feelings towards us and we\’d like to start a conversation to see if there\’s a way we can all get along. We have a right as cyclists to use the road, but we have a responsibility as citizens to look for solutions, too.

pushkin
Guest
pushkin

come on guys, there is no realistic way to stop the tack throwing from happening.

and forget about actually catching someone in the act.

i wish it were otherwise.

Adam
Guest
Adam

For as beautiful of an area that this is it is not always very cyclist friendly. While on a ride about a week ago heading out to Women\’s Forum, a friend and I had an encounter with an angry driver. Out of nowhere he takes a right turn onto a street and off the highway all the while honking like mad and yelling at us. We didn\’t cut infront of him, he was just mad he had to slow down a little to make his turn. Excuse me for delaying your oh so busy life by half a second!

Zaphod
Guest

I\’ll never understand the anger and hatred that we cyclists experience. I can\’t think of any other activity, be it recreational or functional (i.e. commuting) where such anger is generated.

In any case, it would be easy… quite easy for all of this tack mayhem to be caused by ONE person. So enforcement is the probably the best approach in bringing this to resolution.

I can think of a handful of ways that the tacks might be traced back to the person. Alternatively, a reward might work as well as the person surely has bragged to his buddies. i.e. $500 is a strong motivator.

Hillsons
Guest
Hillsons

Updated road kit: tubes, pump, wooden bat.

Kirsty
Guest
Kirsty

That\’s so sad. I have also had a glass bottle thrown at me from a moving car as I was biking near Multnomah Falls.

Somehow, driving got to be the American people\’s way of venting their frustrations on anonymous people. I don\’t really understand it.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

\”Where\’s the news now (besides on BikePortland.org)? Why aren\’t they covering this?\”

I\’ve had call/email from KGW and KATU tv so far… might be on the evening news.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Expect copycats.

Ron
Guest
Ron

Not saying this report is wrong, but I _just_ returned moments ago from a ride from NoPo out to Larch Mountain and back, along this very route, and while we experienced a couple of flats, we saw no tacks on the road. Maybe they\’ve cleaned them up at this point.

Was an awesome day for a ride — snow on Larch stopped us at mile 9 up the road. Fairly horrible head wind heading west on the way back.

joeb
Guest
joeb

This is really annoying. My passive aggressive desire would be to sweep up a pile of these tacks, locate the rightful owner and redistribute them in his front yard to assist his riding lawnmower. Flip flop season… no I’m not that kind of aggressive. And the kiddies… Changed my mind. I like a.O’s aunt SUE.

I have never had a flat with Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase tires. I put 3200 miles on the first set and am currently at about 2300 on the second set without a flat. I ride through glass all the time and picked up a non-malicious tack (just litter) one day that was deflected through the sidewall. I pulled it out and kept going. The tires eventually wear out from all the cuts in the surface, but never a puncture.

Now I’m probably jinxed for Reach the Beach on Saturday.