Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Tack vandal strikes again: Parks, Police ramp up efforts to stop them

Posted by on May 21st, 2009 at 10:38 am

Riders assess damage after
tack incident last month.
(Photo: Lauren Bayard)

We may have a serial trail vandal on our hands who’s out to cause flat tires and puncture wounds for folks using the popular Springwater Corridor Trail — and now the Parks department is working with the Police to track them down.

Last month we reported that vandals had spread hundreds of tacks on the trail. BikePortland reader Craig Harlow reported the incident saying that after he and several other riders got flats they fanned out and found “about 300 [tacks] strewn along 50 yards of the path.”

Story continues below


The location was just east of Powell Butte near the bridge at SE Circle Ave (around milepost 12 on the trail).

Then yesterday, I got an email from City of Portland Parks department spokeswoman Beth Sorensen. She wanted to alert the community that they received a call that vandals had once again spread tacks on the trail. The location? Just east of Powell Butte within a mile or so of the incident last month.

Parks & Recreation staff responded immediately to the incident yesterday and had the tacks cleaned up before the evening rush of commuters. But I’m left wondering if this is these tacks have been put down by a serial cycling hater.

Sorensen says Parks’ public safety manager Mark Warrington is filing a police report today and he, along with park rangers and the Portland Police Bureau are working together on a plan to address the situation.

According to Sorensen, park rangers will comb the area and talk to people who might have witnessed the vandal in action and to find out if there have been other, unreported incidents. Warrington might also put up flyers offering a reward for information. “He [Warrington] wants to make it clear that this is something that won’t be tolerated.”

She added that, “Hopefully we’ll be able find the person or persons responsible, or at the very least make them aware that their actions are getting police attention.”

— If you spot any hazards on the trail call the Parks general maintenance number at (503) 823-1600 or notify a park ranger at (503) 823-1637. If you spot the crime in progress, call 911.

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

  • Michael Ballard May 21, 2009 at 10:44 am

    This news is really not making me happy. I’m planning to take that trail in August. I’d rather not have to divert to other roadways to cross greater Portland.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Allison May 21, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Bright side: It’s getting wider attention. When even my dad knows about an anti-cycling action and is disgusted by it, that’s something.

    It’s his neighborhood, too.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Daniel (teknotus) Johnson May 21, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Tacks are just bad for cyclists. For pedestrians with thin soled shoes the tacks would go right into their feet, and most animals have no protection at all.

    Of if say you have Nike air soles your expensive shoes would be ruined.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Michael Ballard May 21, 2009 at 11:06 am

    How well travelled is the trail on Sundays? I’ll be riding through there on a Sunday morning.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt Picio May 21, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Not to mention that there are people who walk the trail barefoot – and horses who also walk the trail, especially in that area east of Powell Butte.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Schrauf May 21, 2009 at 11:35 am

    If it truly is a bike-hater rather than random stupid kid pranks, ironically more cyclists will now avoid the separated trail in exchange for taking a lane on surrounding roads, annoying this self-righteous, likely SUV/truck driver even further.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Lillian May 21, 2009 at 11:37 am


    Depending on the weather and what events are happening in town, the trail can be really crowded (mostly with walkers) on Sunday morning or pretty sparse. This trail is a very well-loved part of the Portland transportation system.

    I certainly wouldn’t divert your trip through other parts of Portland because of these two acts of vandalism. Currently, while definitely uncool and a pain in the ass for possibly a few dozen people, it isn’t enough for me (at least) to recommend taking an alternate route on one trip through Portland

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Anonymous Coward May 21, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Sigh… Sounds like a stupid prank that I would have done as a kid. I was a bad kid 🙁 Hopefully that’s all it is…

    If I’m down in Portland I’ll have to ride that stretch of trail with thin non-flat resistant tires without a spare or patch kit as self-punishment…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • q`Tzal May 21, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I’m glad to see the police getting involved finally. This a public right of way that is also a transportation facility.

    Realistically we should be getting a regular Police patrol out on the Springwater trail from downtown to at least Gresham.
    If cyclists are half the troublemakers that we are made out to be then the cops need to be there.

    No money for it yet, not until one of two things happens: some over-privileged person dies of a heart attack on the trail in the city (family will sue city “it’s not a park, where are police like other roads) or people suspect terrorism is being plotted on the trail

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Tay May 21, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    DESPICABLE. I know EXACTLY how to beat these wiseguys at their own game, without really trying.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Larry K May 21, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    “…self-righetous likely SUV/truck driver…”

    Really? You had to go there?

    Guaranteed this is nothing more than a couple 12-year old boys doing what 12-year old boys do. I’m not excusing it, of course, just sayin’.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Adam May 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Tacks weren’t everywhere, but this past Sunday I stopped and helped someone change a flat. He was walking his bike, I stopped and found that he had no pump. I gladly lent him mine. The culprit of the flat? Not a blackberry thorn which is very common out there but a tack. I kept my eyes open while continuing on but didn’t see any other tacks strewn about.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jeff May 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Similar happenings in the UK recently. They tracked down the guy who did it. A 62 year old church elder. Not 12 year old boys.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • hanmade May 21, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Several times a couple of months ago I saw a Milwaukie cop riding his motorcycle on the trail heading East near the Three Bridges. maybe the local police could do the same out near the butte?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Larry K May 21, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Ummmmm…. yeah, so? What’s your point? In that case, it was an old disgruntled man who is pissed off that the roads are closed for a cycling event. Since the incident here is on a dedicated cycling/hiking/horseriding trail, I doubt seriously that Portland’s villian has a similar beef.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jeff May 21, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    My point Larry is that it’s easy to chalk this up as a simple prank by “kids”, but how do you know? In the UK incident, a whole bunch of folks ended up in the hospital after getting front and back flats at the same time.

    When you see glass strewn throughout a bike lane for 200 meters, do you think that’s the work of 12 year old kids? Are you that naive?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • tony May 21, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Larry K,

    You sure seem to know what’s going on here… maybe you should put your money where your mouth is and put a wager on the kids vs. adult issue.

    Two things I see that point to adult: First, I don’t think 12 years olds would pull the same “prank” twice in the same place. Secondly, most the kids I’ve seen out on that part of the trail are riding their bikes too… it would be a bit silly for a local kid to “shit where [he] eats” don’t you think?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Hart May 21, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    A 62 year old church elder. Not 12 year old boys.

    Perhaps it’s both, and they’re on some sort of NAMBLA date.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Michael Ballard May 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I would disagree with the use of a MOTORCYCLE on a BICYCLE path, regardless of who is riding it. Motor vehicles do not belong on bicycle paths, especially busy ones.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Larry K May 21, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Jeff and Tony – Nope, I don’t know at all… no more than the person I was responding to, who wanted to chalk it up to a self-righteous SUV driver.

    Which scenario is more likely – an adult who doesn’t like bikes, spreading tacks in an area where the bikes don’t affect him one bit, or a couple teen boys with time on their hands?

    Tony, I disagee that the kids wouldn’t do the same prank twice… OF COURSE they would! Especially if they saw some of the people get flats. They’d get their jollies off it and do it again! That’s what vandals do. And good Lord… kids often “shit where they eat”. They’re kids, they don’t think things through! By your logic, kids wouldn’t vandalize their school, either, but they do that all the time. I was a dumb kid and shat where I ate all the time. 🙂

    Jeff – Not sure how I’m naive about the glass in the bike lanes, especially since that has nothing to do with tacks on the Springwater.

    But anyway, sure Tony, I’ll place a wager with you. Might as well make this discussion fun. I doubt anyone ever gets caught for it, but if so and they’re 18 or over you win, and if they’re 17 or under I win. $10?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • KWW May 21, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Hart FTW!

    Seriously, the cops/media should be announcing LOUD AND CLEAR that this is a felony charge. No different that if you threw nails onto I-5.

    I agree, it is an adult who is doing this.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bob_M May 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Kids 10-14 are out and about and know everything that goes on. Regardless if the tacky perp was a kid or a NAMBLA member church elder there is a kid out there who knows who did it and would be willing to rat out the vandal. Kids that age own their neighborhoods and most of em are good people.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Larry K May 21, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Bob_M that is probably the smartest comment yet made on this topic.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jeff May 21, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    “Not sure how I’m naive about the glass in the bike lanes, especially since that has nothing to do with tacks on the Springwater.”

    When you see that much glass in a bike lane do you again think “12 year old boys”?

    If you can’t draw a parallel between two deliberate acts of vandalism, both involving the placing debris with the intent to cause harm to cyclists, then I take it back – you are not naive, but simply lacking common sense and reasoning skills.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bahueh May 21, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    nice to the see the typical bikeportland crowd arguing with themselves over everything but the actual issue…

    they’re tacks, not exactly a signal to the end of days…

    y’all need to grow up.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Larry K May 21, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Geez, Jeff, you’re connecting two entirely different scenarios and environments, assuming what my thoughts on the new one would be, and then insulting me based on your assumption.

    Wow! And you say I’m the one with flawed reasoning skills.

    In your case of 200 yards of glass in a bike lane, I would doubt that to be a kid’s prank. In that case, I agree that it would be more likely to be an adult acting with an agenda. But so what? Entirely different scenario than tacks on the Springwater.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mamawolf May 21, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Anyone know where the new incident occurred? Saw the story on KPTV news, but they didn’t say.

    I worry about my teen son, riding parts of the trail at night, coming home from his job…


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jeff May 21, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    “y’all need to grow up.”

    From you bahueh, that’s just rich. You’re the poster boy for moronic comments around here. And again, as usual, you add nothing to the dialog.

    I take issue with the suggestion that it’s a simple prank by kids, and I take issue with the suggestion that it’s not important.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Larry K May 21, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I will give you credit for one thing, Jeff. My reasoning skills MIGHT be suspect after all, since I just reread Schrauf’s original note that I commented on. And the “If” on the front of his sentence means that I might have ignited this shitstorm for no good reason….

    But I still think it’s kids.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Hart May 21, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Regardless of age, I guaruntee whomever is doing this is a frequent contributer to OregonLive.com

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Q`ztal May 21, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    #22 Bob_M: A reward for information leading to the successful prosecution of the “Tack Vandal”.
    Post reward signs on trail for quarter mile around targeted area.
    Also post in adjacent neighborhood; may need higher reward to get adults to narc on their other adults. Kids can be bought cheap.

    …cop riding his motorcycle on the trail…
    Bad bad bad idea. It is tacit permission for the public to do the same.

    Pair of bike cops. At least every hour. All day – especially at night if they think there is illicit activity going on.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Aaron May 21, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I talked to a salesperson at Bike Gallery where they were introducing a new feature on they’re high end bikes. There’s a detector built just above the front wheel. If it sees a large amount of reflective shiny material it activates the brakes, thus preventing flats. It’s designed for just such issues as are featured above. I asked what the general price for a bike with this feature, and he replied $2200. What?!, I yelled, that’s like tacks brakes for the rich
    okay it’s just a joke to get your mind off the absurdity of this.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Larry K May 21, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Haha, Aaron, that was fantastic!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Blah Blah Blah May 21, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Man, this must be real news…It’s on Fox 12.

    And I’m with Larry K, probably a few punk kids, the reason for this thought process…I was once one of those punk kids and this would be something I woulda done and I woulda done it more than once too, and even pooped in my own neighborhood.

    And I’d say it could be an adult too, somebody just pissed off at the world, but more likely a prank.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Hart May 21, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    new feature on they’re high end bikes

    Wrong. Their.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Donna May 21, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    The person who is doing this could also be a serial dog-hater.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bjorn May 21, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    ever wonder if stories like this might give other bike haters ideas? I kind of think making a big deal out of it may make it worse.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bill Larson May 21, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Go tubeless with Stan’s solution in your tires. Its available for road bikes now. the fluid in the tire will thwart most small protrusions made in tires. The only thing that will typically get by is a good sized slash in the tire due to glass. then tacks, small glass, little pieces of wire, some nails & screws along with thorns wont stop you from getting where you need to be.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Kt May 22, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I also think it’s kids doing this.

    And look, now they’re getting “rewarded” for their actions, it’s on all the newschannels!

    Kids are like dogs that way. And about as smart, if you ask me. Not to disparrage dogs, some are pretty smart. 🙂

    I’ve never seen tacks out on the Fanno Creek Trail… 🙂 Just an observation…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • RonC May 22, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Why would someone do this? If it’s because someone is mad at cyclists, it should give us all pause regarding the unintended consequences of our behavior. Next time you have the urge to flip someone off when you’re riding, you might want to think twice about it. Not saying it justifies what was done, but there are a lot of people on-edge out there. That said, I hope it was just kids doing a no-class, stupid, and very dangerous prank.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • carless in pdx May 22, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Thank god for my puncture-proof kevlar lined 700c’s. Over a year of daily commuting and not one flat yet!

    Sucks for everyone else, tho. They need to nab this devious fellow.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Hart May 22, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Fellow or filly.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • RonC May 22, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Uh-oh. carless in pdx (#41) your in trouble now. Anytime you even ‘think’ about how long it’s been since you’ve had a flat is always when it happens. Writing and boasting about it is just inviting the wrath of the the flat tire pixies…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Justin Doty May 22, 2009 at 7:45 pm


    yup i can attest to that one. just this past wendesday i was turning onto gladstone for the uphill portion of my commte when i said, aloud, for no good reason, “sure haven’t had a flat in a long time” 1 block later things got bouncy, and then i started to wobble, and looked down to see a nice flat rear.

    So i set about replacing my tube with my spare, when I though too myself “gee, you know, i have never used one of my co2 cartridges before!” and with that i reinflated my new tube… and promptly ruptured my new valve.

    So i repatched tube 1 only to find that the valve stem was ripped. and I walked me and my sad bike all the way home 🙁

    but back to the topic, incidents like this seem to be popping up with the changing of the season. Riding home yesterday a a commuter coming the opposite way from me came under a barrage of water balloons, and while they all missed him and were obviously out of ammo for my approach, i can just imagine getting smacked by one of these weapons, losing balance and easily ending in the car lane.

    I’m no advocate for big brother and having cameras everywhere like in the UK/beaverton, but unless the culprit(s) is/are caught in the act i don’t really see how this is going to stop other than it just becoming disinteresting, or too difficult to perpetrate due to actual police patrols (hopefully in non motorized vehicles)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • skeetermike May 25, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I would identify the type of tacks used. This would help identify the source of the tacks. Then canvas a three to five mile radius from where the incidents occurred and see if there have been any large purchases of this type of tack. You would be surprised how this old way of investigating incidents like this can turn up some really good leads.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • April May 25, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Aaron!! Your pun is SO AWFUL!!

    ….awfully AWESOME!

    I laughed so hard, and then had to repeat the joke to a housemate. She laughed too.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Pete May 26, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Y’all need to take that money you’re betting each other pointlessly and put it toward a reward for info leading to an arrest. That might get the rats out of the cellar.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • hickeymad May 26, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Aaron; that was fantastic. Where did that come from?

    As far as the debate about the perps; it takes only a quick look at the oregonlive site to understand that there is a dedicated anti-cycling crowd out there who seem to be filled with hate. The frequency and intensity of the comments by this crowd give plenty of credence to the theory that there is an individual or group that is out to make things difficult for cyclists. Either way, the incident(s) should be treated by authorities as a real and serious crime.

    Recommended Thumb up 0