Support BikePortland

Vandals spread hundreds of tacks on Springwater Corridor Trail

Posted by on April 21st, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Craig Harlow (L) and Adam Marx
fixing flats caused by tacks
strewn on the Springwater Trail.
(Photo: Lauren Bayard)

“Frigging HUNDREDS of them,” is how Portland Craig Harlow described the scene when he and a group of friends noticed tacks strewn along the Springwater Corridor Trail on a recent ride.

Harlow says that they came across the tacks on Sunday, just east of Powell Butte near the bridge at SE Circle Ave. Harlow reported the incident into our B-SMaRT tracking tool where he wrote:

“We noticed a few more tacks on the path, and as we were picking them up we stopped approaching riders to warn them, so they started looking too. With about 10 of us looking we found about 300 strewn long 50 yards of the path.”

Story continues below


As riders rode up on the scene, Harlow said three of them reported getting flats in the same location in the past week. Harlow estimates that it’s likely “dozens, if not hundreds” of riders have gotten flats by these “tack-vandals”.

Harlow thinks this goes beyond a prank; “This seems to me like a criminal act,” he says, “on the basis of the clear intent to cause wanton damage to property and harm to persons.”

Has anyone else encountered this type of vandalism while riding on the Springwater? This story reminds me of a similar incident out near Corbett on the way to the Columbia River Gorge back in May 2005.

Please support BikePortland.

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

  • Hollie Teal April 21, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Yes, I’ve come across broken glass deliberately ground in and strewn across the trail under the 205 overpass and the Ross Island bridge in the last few months.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • toddistic April 21, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    That’s just tacky!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Mike April 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I also think it’s criminal. Has anyone reported it to the police yet?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe April 21, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Also, this can cause tire damage! tires=not cheap these days.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • aljee April 21, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    wow, i rode that with my 5yo daughter (in the burley) this weekend. that would have stranded us on the last leg of a 45+ mile ride.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • HH April 21, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    I heard that this was done a few years ago along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Can you imagine hitting tacks whizzing down that road at 30-40 mph?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Craig April 21, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    That’s Adam MARX, not Mark.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Elly Blue April 21, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks, Craig — fixed it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • One Less :( April 21, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I rode the Springwater from Gresham to Portland and back on Sunday. I did see some tacks, but I guess I missed the majority of them. Luckily I was spared from getting a flat. I did though encounter some kids on my way home, closer to Gresham, breaking glass bottles on the path. Got them to clean it up with when I pulled out my cell and told them they had 5 minutes to get home, grab a broom, and clean it up or I was going to call the cops. They worked fast!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • K'Tesh April 21, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    If they catch the people responsible, I vote that we make them run a marathon naked and barefoot through the lava flows in eastern Oregon. (w/a full pack).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Craig April 21, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Credit is due to Steve Batchelor for actually spotting the tacks.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Zaphod April 21, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Be careful out there.

    Few tires can withstand a well positioned tack. Slime tubes are sometimes effective.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Allison April 21, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    When this happened on the Columbia River highway, what I heard was that some kind ODOT employee went over the area with a magnet to clean it up on his own time. Does anyone know what kind of magnet would do the trick or have one? I’d be willing to go out and help clean it up if I knew how. Or make homemade lemonade for another who wanted to do this.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Vich April 21, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I got a flat from takes last Friday. In this case, I was West of Powell Butte heading East. I also know of a few other regulars that got hit last week.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Perry April 21, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Allison (#13) they are available at hardware stores (won’t name the big-box places, but that’s where I’ve seen them) for picking up nails for about $15. Some come with rollers…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Craig April 21, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Perry, sounds like you could be the man to earn some lemonade from Allison.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • JR April 21, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Tacs were also spilled onto Hawthorne Blvd during a pedalpalooza bike ride I did last June… If I was in the Bush administration, I’d call this “terrorism” and ship them off to Guantanamo..

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Adam April 21, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    I have a flat on my bike that I haven’t taken the time to diagnose and fix yet. Maybe it’s a tacky situation.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • ScottG April 21, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Fortunately I haven’t had the pleasure of encountering this on a MUP yet.

    I have heard of this being used as a technique to assault bicyclists or steal bikes. Generally the assailants distribute the glass/tacks/whatever and wait nearby for a cyclist to ride by (generally in darkness). Then wait for the rider to flat and go after them and steal the bike. For bike theft, usually a pickup is parked nearby to take off quickly with the bikes.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • hanmade April 21, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I don’t know if this is a guarantee, but they make a liner that goes in between the tube and tire. I was getting a rash of flats last fall, started using the liner and haven’t had a flat since. Actually, I did have one flat, but that is because I got a hole in my tire, the liner worked for awhile, wore through, then I got the flat. I fixed the flat, rotated the liner, and was able to ride 4 more miles ’till I got to a bike shop for a new tire. Joe’s has them (20% off!)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Michael April 21, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    I have used Kevlar tires and have not had a puncture for years. Too sweet.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Q`ztal April 21, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Is there any way to motivate the police to find the perpetrators?
    The answer to that is probably no but is there something we can do to investigate and identify this situation so all the cops have to do is arrest someone?
    Has this occurred before? I think I’ve read of the tack problem on Springwater trail before but I don’t see any entries on B-SMART.

    Does SE Circle Ave dead end south of the trail? It appears from here that

    there are only two adjacent land owners.

    The one to the east appears to have horse corrals

    and is listed as residential

    with a double wide manufactured home.

    The one to the west appears to be residential as

    well and has been there much longer. There also appears to be light agriculture or just a big garden too.

    Though maybe it’s just kids passing through.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • craig April 21, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Actually, it happened Saturday at around 11.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Johnny April 22, 2009 at 9:25 am

    It is a shame someone has to voice their frustration with this kind of maliciousness. It wouldn’t surprise me if this was done by someone who frequently walks along the path and gets buzzed by cyclists.

    Remember, there is no TT along the Springwater so be courteous to others and give some notice & room.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Kt April 22, 2009 at 10:35 am

    That’s terrible.

    It’s not just cyclists who get hurt by this—-

    What about people walking dogs down this stretch?

    With this nice weather, what about people in sandals or flip-flops?

    What about little kids who sometimes fall down?

    Even if it was aimed specifically at cyclists, this sort of action harms everyone who uses the trail.

    People who use this section of the trail (cyclists or not) should be calling the police. Also, which entity is responsible for this stretch, City, County, State? They should be contacted as well to get it cleaned up.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • buzz April 22, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Dang, makes me kind of glad I was having some bike problems and had to turn around on 82nd on Monday.

    This is pretty scary considering how many people use these trails other than cyclists. Hopefully they can catch some of the people doing this.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • El Biciclero April 22, 2009 at 11:19 am

    As inexcusable and borderline criminally dangerous as this is, if it was done out of frustration by someone who has a “thing” against cyclists due to some past affront by a bike rider, it is an example of how my riding affects you and your riding affects me. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.

    In the broader scope of things, though, it is interesting that some people think “getting even” with cyclists by causing indiscriminate terror/damage/injury/death is somehow OK to do, or even “funny”. Yet would someone who has been cut off repeatedly by drivers, or been narrowly missed by a car in a crosswalk, or has observed cars speeding or running stop signs go around wantonly attempting to run drivers off the road? Would they pound some nails through a 2×4 and lay it across the road to “teach those scofflaw drivers a lesson”? You don’t hear about that kind of thing very often. Why? Because most people identify with motor vehicle operators. The vast majority of people either drive a car themselves, or see drivers as “normal” regular folks. I would bet that a good portion of this majority also sees anyone on a bike as one of
    a) a hippie weirdo
    b) a poor loser that can’t afford a car c) an arrogant yuppie tool
    d) a garden variety weirdo
    e) a moron
    f) an impediment to my daily activities
    g) any combination of the above

    Messing with the “weirdos” is apparently as popular and acceptable today as it was in high school…

    Classic “us” vs. “them”. When are people going to realize that “them” is “us” and vice versa?

    The unfortunate extension to this attitude is that law enforcement also seems to tend to favor the majority and give lower priority to incidents involving bikes. It would be interesting to see how authorities would view

    a) an incident where someone went around a parking garage and slashed one tire on each of 50 vehicles (~$60 – $100 damage to each vehicle)


    b) an incident where someone went around a college campus and slashed both tires on 50 bikes (~$40 – $100 damage to each bike)

    Would these cases be treated equally?

    Sorry to ramble.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • KJ April 22, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Seriously what is wrong with people? What about the dozens of people that walk with their dogs along the path? What about the hazard these tacks pose to dogs feet? The stupidity of it is unbelievable.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • oliver April 22, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I think it was someone who hates dogs.

    Plenty of idiots around that think it’s funny to hurt peoples pets because one too many inconsiderate dog owners neglected to clean up after their pooch in local park.

    What sort of view will the general public take now that it’s become merely a cowardly assault on Portland’s dogs.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jered April 22, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Maybe somebody had a bike trailer full of tacks and they spilled when they hit a bump in the trail… Imagine how sad you’d be when you got to work and all the tacks you brought so you could pin you work to the cork board were gone…Sorry, I had this picture in my mind of a bike trailer full of tacks spilling and it made me giggle!

    Seriously though, not cool.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Pete April 22, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    we’re going to have to patrol 24/7, and post snipers. This will not stand!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • matt picio April 22, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    This didn’t just happen in 2005 in Corbett, it also happened again last year. The tack issue along the HCRH is recurring, and my understanding is that locals know the individual responsible but refuse to turn that person in.

    If someone were tossing caltrops on the road, guaranteed it would get police attention – it’s a shame that many people don’t view threats to bikes as serious.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • redhippie April 22, 2009 at 2:33 pm


    Make sure to notify the folks over at cycle oregon website so they can update their web-site and proposed routes. Last thing we want is for bike-tourist to spend thousands of dollars to come to Oregon, only to get a bunch of flats caused by ignorant locals. How embarasing. I think they like cyclists down by Crater Lake and Ashland. Why should Corbett and Troutdale get any tourist money when they don’t try to create a welcoming atmosphere. Nice.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • El Biciclero April 22, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    “it’s a shame that many people don’t view threats to bikes as serious.”


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Craig April 22, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    If locals know the individual responsible, do you know which locals those would be? If so, then I’ll report this to the police and give them someone to talk to.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spotter April 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Maybe a Page 2 item? Seems very minor in the scheme of things.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • maxadders April 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Harbor Freight might have what you’re looking for:

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bob_M April 22, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    RedHippie #33
    On Cycle Oregon about 10 years ago neighbors off Cow CreeK Road down by Glendale spread broken glass for the rolling circus. It was just one family of haters and that is all it takes. I did not get flats and that stretch of road was awesome!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • RonC April 22, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the undershorts of these tack spreading miscreants.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mike Murray April 22, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    What is needed to clean this up is:

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donna April 22, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Anyone think about letting the Humane Society know? I know going down the wrong way because of a bunch of tacks could be injurious to a cyclist, but I can’t help but think of all those poor doggie paws…

    My housemate used to walk her late dog on the Springwater, although not in that area. Ophelia had a bleeding disorder. A path full of tacks could have caused her to bleed to death.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donna April 22, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    How to contact the Oregon Humane Society:

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mark April 22, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    weird. I rode on the springwater on sunday, I guess it’s a good thing I decided to go up the trails at Powell Butte instead of going further down the path.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • k April 22, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    The tacks aren’t good, but obvious anger retaliation. Maybe they could post their frustrations vs. making a statment in that manner.

    That said, I am a daily commuter and a road biker…with the sun arriving means family outing, more pedestrians, animals etc. on SHARED trails like Springwater. SLOW DOWN. The Springwater is not a trail for agro cyclists looking for a 20mph workout on their bike. Come on…you’re giving the rest of us a bad name. Be courteous.

    And if it about dogs, leash them on shared areas and scoop!

    It seems pretty simple.

    I don’t think any of would want our pets or friends/family hit by cyclists, especially traveling at excessive speeds.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • DJ Hurricane April 23, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Blame the victim. Great idea.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • eli bishop April 23, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    good news: i went there this afternoon with a big magnet to pick up tacks and couldn’t find even one. i was worried because there are a lot of horses in this neighborhood, too. but i wonder if this explained the flat tire i had a couple of weeks ago!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • G April 24, 2009 at 6:28 am

    ScottG, wow, I’ve always suspected this could be a motivation. I carry over $13,000 worth of medical and work-related equipment on me at any given moment, and I have thousands invested into the bike itself…that thing is my car…

    I sure hope nobody tries that “tack, assault and rob” with me; if its not raining, I’ll use my taser, if its not windy, I’ll mace them, and if the rain and wind are in-force my 9mm will most-certainly stop them. I refuse to become a victim to criminals.

    As for the flats…I’ve been experimenting with AirFreeTires, and the one on my front tire works VERY well. Now, if I could just get them to ship me the one for my back tire…

    Recommended Thumb up 0