Support BikePortland

Tacks move to Williams, claim several more victims

Posted by on September 20th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Small tacks continue to cause flat tires
on a popular North Portland bike route.
(Photos: Rob Story)

When I reported about tacks in the bike lane on N. Vancouver Avenue last week, I hoped it was just an isolated incident. They could have even been — as one commenter suggested — debris from a construction site near Legacy hospital.

Unfortunately it seems this isn’t just a random, isolated incident.

I’ve now received several more reports of people getting flats from small, sharp tacks and they seem to all be coming from N Williams Ave (which is one street over and part of a north-south couplet with Vancouver). To date, I have 15 17 separate reports of flat tires caused by these tacks.

Reader Rob Story wrote in to say, “Another day, another handful of tacks thrown on Williams. I picked these up somewhere between Rose quarter and Tillamook”…

Rob Story’s flat.

Reader Marion Rice wrote in to say her husband Chuck got two tacks in his tires yesterday while biking on Williams. “One in the front tire and one in the back tire.”

Also reported yesterday was a commenter named Miles, who said he fell victim to the tacks on Williams as well. Same with commenter joeb, who thinks he picked up his tack right after Weidler Ave. And yet another person said they got a flat last night on Williams between the Rose Quarter and Tillamook.

Reader Noelle also wrote in, saying her husband was “at-tacked” on his evening commute up Williams “by the restaurants.” She says she saw two others with flats hoofing it home.

Noelle also offered this up to whoever dropped the tacks:

“Dear tack person: property damage is an unacceptable way to express yourself. It costs real actual people time, money, and puts their safety at risk. Nor should anyone’s clients, students, patients, or coworkers be inconvenienced because you think we should be driving. I don’t slash SUV tires…”

And Rob Story is now convinced the tacks aren’t a random occurrence: “One day is an isolated incident,” he wrote via email, “numerous days is malicious.”

I’ve contacted the City of Portland to find out how many reports they’ve gotten about the tacks and whether or not they plan to send out a maintenance crew to clean them up. I’ll update this post if/when I hear back. If you’ve gotten a flat from these tacks, please let us know and dial 823-SAFE to let the City know about it. The Portland Police Bureau suggests that victims report the incident as vandalism via their Citizen Online Reporting tool.

And if you are one of the unfortunate flat victims, remember the handy guide to simple flat repair we published last month.

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

  • brewcaster September 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Yup, found one in my flat front tire this morning. 🙁

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  • JohnO September 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Cyclists demand safe places to ride, it’s a “war on cars.” People put tacks in bike lanes, it’s … what, exactly?

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Spiffy September 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      war against bikes…

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  • rayterrill September 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I rode up Williams yesterday on my way to the Airport, and I specifically looked for tacks due to Jonathan’s reporting. I didn’t see any.

    What a bummer. Can’t we all just get along, guys?

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • jennlevo September 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    i got tacked last night too….!

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  • was carless September 20, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Note to self: replace all commuter bike tires in family w/puncture proof ones.

    I’d hate for my wife to get stuck somewhere when I’m at work.

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    • brewcaster September 20, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      I have these installed, they are no match for these tacks….

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    • Indy March 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      There is no such thing as a “puncture proof” tire for bikes, I don’t care what the claim is.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Esther September 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Go ahead and at-tack me folks- I have a flat repair kit in my bike basket and the know-how to use it.

    Seriously, no blaming the victims here, this is a lame petty crime. I hope the city gets on this fast.
    BUT, I encourage regular Williams commuters to use this as an excuse to learn how to change a flat! You can learn by volunteering or taking classes at Community Cycling Center (just 3/4 mile off the Williams bikeway), Bike Farm (2 blocks from Williams) or here on BikePortland. It’s actually fun and empowering. A patch kit, levers, and a portable pump can set you back as little as $15.

    Recommended Thumb up 10

    • El Biciclero September 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm

      “fun”–unless it’s 34 degrees and raining…

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      • sorebore September 21, 2011 at 11:49 am

        Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! gosh sakes!!

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    • kerry September 20, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      I’m good with a tire change but that doesn’t mean I want to do it in the dark, alone, in a neighborhood in which it’s been made increasingly more clear how unwelcome my “type” are. :/

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      • jeff September 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm

        really? you think you’re going to be assaulted by the same individuals that threw tacks out of their car window on a drive-by hours ago? the tacks could have fallen out of a work truck for all you know…

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        • Noelle September 20, 2011 at 7:54 pm

          No, I think I’m a woman who rides home after dark in a residential area. I’m not paranoid, but it’s wise to keep moving.

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        • tonyt
          tonyt September 20, 2011 at 8:49 pm

          “you think you’re going to be assaulted by the same individuals that threw tacks out of their car window on a drive-by hours ago?”

          Actually that’s not what Kerry’s post said, AT ALL.

          and “the tacks could have fallen out of a work truck for all you know”

          Really? Seriously?

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          • jeff September 21, 2011 at 6:58 am

            you assume you know where they came from?
            so a dozen people or so go flat tires. what’s the increase in prevalence? I got a flat about 3 days ago. I didn’t blame it on someone throwing broken glass down in the bike lane. Seems the rush to blame is pretty swift in this crowd.

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          • Dabby September 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm

            I fully agree that these tacks could have come off a truck accidentally.

            If you do not agree that this is a distinct possibility, you are simply lying to yourself…

            Of course they could have been tossed there on purpose too, but either scenario is as feasible as the other.

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          • sorebore September 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm

   investigates the conspiracy that the Metropolis Bikes space on Williams once housed a carpet store!!!! Perhaps we are target fixated on the usual suspects.

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        • Jason September 20, 2011 at 9:31 pm

          Jeff, fell out of a work truck? On both Williams and Vancouver over the course of several days? Right. Maybe if it happened once but with as widespread as these reports have been there is no way it was an accident.

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        • Tiara October 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm

          This isn’t the first time this has happened. It could have possibly been an accident but there has been instances where tacks were poured into the bike lanes. I understand that people get angry at inconsiderate bikers…they are out there, but there are also inconsiderate drivers and this is not the way to handle things.

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    • Seager September 20, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      That’s all good unless your running a fully loaded Xtracycle; changing the back tires of those is a pain. Or if you have a couple kids with you, or it’s raining, or you are trying to get to work on time, etc etc.

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  • Chris I September 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    This is just frustrating. Unless someone happens upon the perp while they are placing the tacks, there is no way to even get vigilante justice. You sir (or ma’am), are a coward.

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    • Spiffy September 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm

      correction, there’s no way to get justice… there’s always a way to get vigilante justice…

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      • Chris I September 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm

        Against whom? How can you target just the individual that is doing the tacking?

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      • middle of the road guy September 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm

        I suspect that’s what the tack tosser thinks he/she is doing, as well.

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  • jennlevo September 20, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Before I realized I had a flat, I took a corner way too fast and almost biffed it majorly in an intersection. I then rode my bike for another block home before I realized the culprit. A pain in the a**, but really it could have been worse. Actually, the incident inspired me to spend a few hours last evening patching all of my tubes that have been hanging in my basement since the winter.

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  • rootbeerguy September 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    major dislike… black tacks against black/charcoal colored pavement is tough to see…

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • rootbeerguy September 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    major dislike… black tacks against black/charcoal colored pavement is tough to see…

    Recommended 0

    I meant to say …are tough to see… i am english-impaired

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  • Natalie September 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I’m probably going to bike up North today. I’ll try to look out for tacks on those two streets if I use them and pick up anything I can find. The best way to handle this (aside from reporting it to the City) is to frustrate the jerk by calmly ruining their efforts.

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  • beth h September 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Suggested tire upgrades, in descending order of cost:

    1. Schwalbe Marathon Plus.
    2. Vittoria Randonneur Hyper w/Kevlar.
    3. CST Selecta w/Kevlar.
    4. Tuffy tire liners.

    All will help reduce the occurrence of flats from sharp objects. Most are available at your local independent bike shop. Add a patch kit, tire levers and mini-pump and you should be good to go.

    Being prepared is more effective than stopping a tack-tossing vandal.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Chris I September 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm

      The Schwalbe Durano Plus tires are also good if you are looking for something faster than the Marathons. I did get tacked out in Gresham, though. One flat after 2000 miles of glass and metal in outer east Portland/Gresham isn’t bad, though…

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Emre September 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm

      also Conti Gator Hardshell, especially if you’re riding on skinnier tires.

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    • Dabby September 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      None of those will be stoping one of these tacks.
      You must be selling tires…..

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Chris I September 22, 2011 at 7:56 am

        The marathons might actually be thick enough to do it. And no, I don’t sell tires. I just feel like sharing which tires have worked best for me. Do you ever make constructive comments?

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        • Will October 29, 2011 at 10:17 pm

          Kevlar is intended to stop high-velocity impacts – not punctures.

          Any kind of tire with a Kevlar lining claiming to stop punctures is lying to you. You can still successfully stab someone wearing a bulletproof vest if your stabbing implement is pointy enough…

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  • XB September 20, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    an obvious solution: lets all just start riding in the road on williams and vancouver!

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    • Pete September 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      This may be a juvenile prank, but if this person’s strategy is to get cyclists off the road they will more likely have the opposite effect.

      814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path; exceptions; penalty. (1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section…
      (3) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of:

      (c) Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.

      Recommended Thumb up 18

  • Mark Allyn September 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Could this be an opportunity to look into non-pneumatic tires?

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    • beth h September 21, 2011 at 9:58 am

      1. I have yet to experience a satisfactory ride on them.
      2. They are what inspired the invention of the pneumatic tire in the first place; why go back?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Dabby September 21, 2011 at 10:15 am

      Yeah, we should just go backwards a bit to non-Pneumatic….

      We then will have to improve bike shop insurance policies to take care of the broken fingers and hands from trying to replace them…

      Hard tires are just that alone..
      And bad.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Wheelz September 20, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Hopefully, the person responsible is enjoying reading this .. I’d like the opportunity to tell him how his immature little “protest” against bicyclists impacts the wheelchair users who get stranded because they have the audacity to cross the street. Asshat.

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  • Nathan September 20, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I pulled a tack from a friend’s (flat) tire Friday morning. The flat was discovered just south of the Rose Garden after a trip down Vancouver and Wheeler. Lots of smiling riders passed by while the rubber cement did its drying thing before applying a patch.

    Some enterprising bike shop should put patch kits on sale.

    Us vs. them is really getting old. We are all road users.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • El Biciclero September 20, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      Some enterprising and unscrupulous (not that we have any around here) bike shop could put patch kits on sale…and then spread more tacks…

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      • Otto September 21, 2011 at 10:22 am

        Yeah, because patch kits are such huge money makers and everyone with a tack flat would just magically go to that bike shop. (roll eyes)

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  • Rol September 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Everyone who tries to meddle in other people’s lives like this, has deep problems he’s unwilling to confront in his own life. What can you tell about this person? He would have to have an inflated sense of how important it is (compared to other activities in his life) to continue using resources (time, money, effort) to put tacks in the bike lane. Which means either he has strong feelings (not necessarily related to bikes), and/or he doesn’t have much else to do that’s more important. Hence he’s probably some combination of pissed-off, unemployed, and/or not getting laid very often or at all. And of course any one of those three things strengthens the probability of the other two. You would also tend to think he probably doesn’t ride a bike, and lives in America, which implies he’s probably obese. (Which also contributes to being pissed off and not getting laid.) Also since I’m using the masculine pronouns I’ll make it explicit: he’s probably male. And he probably soaks up a lot of mainstream news coverage, hence the anti-bike bias and being that much more pissed off (due to the inherently infuriating nature of the media). And this seems like the act of someone without much in the way of smarts or charm, so probably blue-collar (or no-collar), and again, probably having trouble finding a) a job, and b) a girlfriend. So look for an overweight unemployed male social loser fast-food customer and dupe of the system of below average intelligence driving or walking by late at night throwing tacks in the gutter before going home to masturbate to internet porn.

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    • middle of the road guy September 20, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      I’m sorry…was this about critical mass?

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      • Dabby September 21, 2011 at 10:12 am

        Critical ASS..
        So glad it died here..

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    • q`Tzal September 20, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      So … that would a major percentage of the male population, right?

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    • S September 21, 2011 at 7:34 am

      “…an inflated sense of…”

      I see what you did there.

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  • kerry September 20, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    So…we all right in the “car” lane on the way home tonight, then? Who’s with me?

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  • John Landolfe September 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Hmm. As a regular Williams commuter (I do live on the street), I suppose I can count myself lucky. My sympathy to the other people just trying to get back and forth from work and school. Until someone gets to the bottom of this, I might just have to bike in one of the car lanes.

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  • Mark Allyn September 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm


    Nicely said! Luv it!

    It was the same with the person who stole the ham radio gear off of my bike years ago. Only it was a high school age girl who had similar problems.

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  • dwainedibbly September 20, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Those are carpet tacks.

    My biggest concern is that someone is going to have a tire go down quickly, at speed, crash hard, and maybe get run over. If that happens, this becomes manslaughter.

    I agree with taking the lane. Cars & trucks will pick up all of the tacks in no time, so unless you’re riding by shortly after the tacks are thrown, you shouldn’t get any of them.

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  • Champs September 20, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Rode up Williams again this afternoon from Broadway. Besides the backup at the light being too long to cross the street and queue up, neither I nor my dozen or so cohorts appeared to have any problem.

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  • pam September 20, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Tacked yesterday on williams. Will spread the word.

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  • Joe C September 20, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Sadly this kind of behavior doesn’t just constitute vandalism; it’s also a form of intimidation. I told my girlfriend about the tacks earlier today, and she remarked that it’s one more reason she doesn’t always feel comfortable biking to/from our place on Williams, and one more reason why she may choose not to.

    Adding fear of mindless, malicious behavior to the usual harassment and danger people biking face on the list of obstacles to more widespread cycling, it’s little surprise why many remain reticent. Frankly, that’s sad, as anyone who lives on or near the street can easily observe the clear benefits this noiseless, pollution-less, slower-speed, more space-efficient (and more fun!) form of transport provides. And if anyone doubts it, they should spend time at my front window. It should be welcomed. I welcome it. On days as warm as this one, walking down the street and seeing all the people biking… Well, I want to give them all (vegan) cookies.

    So keep riding! Take the lane if you must. But don’t let some a*holes scare you into taking Rodney.

    Anyone want to loan me a big push-broom?

    Or rig one up to a bike??

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Oliver September 22, 2011 at 9:27 am

      I’m sorry, begging your pardon for sounding melodramatic, but it’s terrorism.

      Common definitions of terrorism refer to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or ideological goal, and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians).

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  • Emre September 20, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Someone should sweep those tacks off the bike lane and onto the road. If it’s intentional, then let a bunch of drivers get flat tires and see how quickly the city takes care of the problem. Plus, that way it’s even, and everyone gets to feel how frustrating it is to get a flat tire. Not that most of us don’t know already. It wouldn’t really be criminal, just sweeping some obstruction and safety hazards off the bike lane. In fact, it’s kind of like a public service if you ask me. Since the city obviously doesn’t care about the state of the N Williams bike superhighway, cyclists just have to take charge of what’s theirs and clean it up.

    I’m only being half-way sarcastic here. How miserable does your life have to be to intentionally sabotage public infrastructure like that? I mean, come on. Crashes are bad, people die, they get paralyzed. The speed limit on N Williams is under 40mph, which means a car blowing out a tire due to, uhm, relocated bike lane road debris, isn’t so bad. It won’t flip in the air and mangle your limbs like it would to someone riding on a bike (in the worst extreme case). So even though my solution is a bit cruel and revengeful, and probably sets the wrong example and is, not to mention, just as illegal as the actions of the original culprit, I think sweeping the tacks onto the road wouldn’t be all that sadistic. They might not even cause flats because of their size vs. a car tire.

    Anyway, let’s hope it’s just constructions crews renovating a bunch of rooms near by, and they just happen to spill a few tacks here and there, once every few days. It’s possible, maybe.

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    • Noelle September 20, 2011 at 9:06 pm

      Let’s not sink to that level.

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      • Emre September 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm

        What exactly are you implying here? You mean cleaning up the bike lane / removing safety hazards — something that my tax dollars should be doing 24/7? I’m confused. I thought I made it clear that tiny tacks pose very little danger to cars with 25cm wide tubeless tires traveling at less than 40mph vs. someone on a bike. Cars often drive over big nails at 60mph on the freeway and don’t have blowouts.

        Anyway, it’s cool, it would just be beautifying the neighborhood and sweeping some trash off the bike lane. No big deal.

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  • kittens September 20, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Too bad those rampaging spray trucks are never where you need em.

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  • Tom September 20, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Surveillance cameras…

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  • captainkarma September 20, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I’m a “blue-collar” person that doesn’t “get laid” enough, and am unemployed, lets see, what else…. I felt a whole lot worse after reading that rant than about the actual flat tire situation.

    Instead of falling prey to the negativity and divisiveness which the tack-attacker probably wants more than actual flats, why not go over there with some wrenches, patches and a pump and help people get back on the road quick. Wouldn’t that show and encourage the opposite of what the instigator is trying to instill?

    Well, if you see someone with a kitchen broom sweeping the bike lane in the next days, that’d be me. Unless some of *you* beat me to it.

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    • jeff September 21, 2011 at 7:01 am

      thank you for saying this.
      why is it that more people don’t simply respond with “I have a broom, I’ll be out there tonight”. Why is the city responsible for undoing a situation? No one knows where the tacks came from, but we all know how to remove them and get on with life.

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      • El Biciclero September 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

        Who wants to file the necessary paperwork to obtain a permit for using an unauthorized sweeping device to perform citizen maintenance on a city roadway? Chances are, if the right (wrong) person saw you sweeping the bike lane with a kitchen broom, you would get a cease and desist order from somewhere, and if you didn’t cut it out, the police would be called to settle a “disturbance”. After all, anyone who performs unauthorized maintenance on city property is (I’m sure) violating some labor law (or at least a union rule) and virtually stealing food from the mouths of some city worker’s children. In this country, fixing things of your own accord is oftentimes punishable by harsher consequences than the vandal who damaged them can ever expect to see.

        But maybe I’m just cynical.

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        • Richard September 21, 2011 at 11:13 am

          Yes, you are quite cynical. I’ve taken a broom and dustpan out to clean up broken glass in bike lanes in my neighborhood, and all I have received are encouragement and positive comments. I live in southeast, but I think the idea of a citizen “broom patrol” on Williams and Vancouver sends a much stronger message than having a City street sweeper come by.

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    • S September 21, 2011 at 7:37 am

      Capital idea! Our response to the a-tacker is to descend, critical-mass styles, with brooms and dustpans in hand. 🙂

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      • kerry September 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm

        It’s annoyingly positive! I like it, a nonchalant cheery response would likely infuriate the tacker.

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    • Oliver September 22, 2011 at 9:35 am

      I’m a blue collar person who doesn’t get laid enough, and though I’m employed (sorry dude, I do rage at the powers that be often enough on your behalf) but god-dammit. I pay good, hard-earned money for my bicycle tires and tubes, and my time is valuable to me and my family.

      This terrorism makes me furious (I know, it’s supposed to, but I can’t help becoming enraged at t-bagging bozos either)

      It’s not a prank, it’s not an accident, it’s not a tack truck. It’s deliberate to cause fear, frustration, inconvenience and injury to cyclists.

      These people deserve bodily harm.

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  • Paul Johnson September 20, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Hopefully, Portland takes this more seriously than Beaverton; I requested that Murray be swept full length due to an extreme amount of broken glass and sharp debris in the bike lanes (and even the cycletrack by St Mary’s) a month ago. Result? Murray is still littered with broken glass and sharp debris. It’s unrideable.

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  • Buck September 21, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Here’s a better solution. Someone rig up one of those powerful magnets that weigh a few ounces and devise a way to attach it to the front forks of the bike and then have the magnet placed directly in front of the front wheel close to the ground. Voila! A tack remover bike. A few people doing this could help make it safer for all.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Chris September 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      Along with every other piece of junk and rock/gravel with a high enough iron content. I think a cow guard type thing might work better (push all the junk into the road).

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    • Emre September 21, 2011 at 6:33 pm

      That’s actually a damn good idea. A Bullitt cargo bike would be ideal for this, not only because the frame has low lying tubes (and an even lower steerer arm), but they’re usually built with tough/indestructible rims & tires. You could tape little sticky magnets to the bottom side of the tubes, have them pick it all up, then dump the tacks into the front-loading cargo box to clear the magnets. Then repeat…if you have a lot of spare time that is.

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  • spokesy September 21, 2011 at 7:32 am

    can we start putting caltrops in the middle of the street for cars now?

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    • q`Tzal September 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      Red light and radar speed cameras that rely on facial recognition crosschecked across the DMV database of licensed drivers residing at the address of the vehicle registered to the license plate.

      The search depth of licensed drivers for a specific vehicle should usually be less than 4 allowing a quick and accurate match of the vehicle to actual driver allowing automated ticketing that sticks in court.

      Multiply this installation by every traffic light.
      Take the police force off stupid automotive enforcement and put them on human perpetrated crime issues that might be preventable if they didn’t have to spend so much of their time herding cars.

      Institute prohibitive punishment for negligence and rage related automotive offenses that are non-negotiable and fearsome. For some people only fear of punishment is the only thing between them and anarchy therefore punishment must be extreme enough not be considered as an acceptable outcome to the criminal.

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  • redhippie September 21, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I’m suprised nobody is correlating these events to the local community’s backlash to PDOTs proposal to upgrade the cycling facilities on Williams. Is this an elephant in the room?

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    • Chris I September 21, 2011 at 10:14 am

      No one wants to be accused of being racist…

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      • middle of the road guy September 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm

        Or that it might be a white elephant

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 21, 2011 at 10:19 am

      I think that’s because if we did that it’d be purely speculation. Obviously many ppl in the community are aware of the context of these streets, but I for one do not want to connect that dot until further evidence exists to suggest it’d be warranted.

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  • w September 21, 2011 at 8:48 am

    they got me too, but my team car was close behind.

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  • Jay September 21, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Okay totally off-topic here, but nice ring, Rob! 🙂

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  • Joe Rowe September 21, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Please call the city to get the data recorded. (503) 823-SAFE. Then call the Mayor’s office to request the Williams and Vancouver streets get a street sweeper at least once a day until this goes away. It will go away. The tack person has a mild anger problem. We hope it will vanish with time. Sweeping streets will help the time pass with the least damage.

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    • Dabby September 21, 2011 at 10:09 am

      Yeah like once a day sweeping is going to happen…LOL

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  • Michael September 21, 2011 at 9:35 am

    You can increase the flat count in the article. I got one from at tack on Williams last night around 10:30pm next to the Broadway Toyota.

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  • Frank September 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

    The easiest solution: $250 or $500 reward for ratting out the tackster. If the BTA or someone else offered that I bet it would be effective. The kind of person who engages in this sort of behavior is probably the sort of enraged individual who also talks about it or has partners in crime… and these kinds of people would flip on their friends in the name of cash in a second.

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    • Mark Allyn September 21, 2011 at 10:19 am

      I will be willing to help put that up. I could put in $250.

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      • middle of the road guy September 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm

        And I’ll just rat out one of my neighbors I don’t like. because there’s no way to prove they didn’t do it.

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        • Frank September 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm

          Well maybe with a little good ol’ fashioned water-boarding your neighbors will confess! Kidding of course. A near impossible to obtain conviction would be required for the reward; but the publicity generated and increased risk for the tacker would be a deterrent.

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          • Jobot November 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm

            People here are serious about their bikes. This is probably the best method really, raising awareness + community watch sort of thing. See something, make note of it, description, maybe photographs of hazard, and remove the hazard before it can really hurt someone. I’d hate to see what a handful of tacks could do to someone who took a spill right on top of them =(

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  • Karen September 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Sunday Parkwayss this week in North & Northeast Portland. Would be nice not to have this problem.

    Does street sweeping actually pick up tacks, or could it be spreading them around?

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    • q`Tzal September 21, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      I don’t know.
      If the tacks are still there when massive amounts of the public go walking and cycling through the issue might just get some respect and visibility.

      I don’t want anybody injured or more property damage but up until now this is a problem that is happening to “someone else” that happens to be a minority.

      When the general public, and not some socially maligned minority, discovers that is a real problem and not some persecution complex it won’t be a simple issue of litter – it’ll be a anarchist terror plot.

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  • Dabby September 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Once again, people getting roiled up over an old occurrence.

    Tacks, nails, etc. thrown into bike lanes is nothing new in this town. Has happened for 20+years in different sections of town.
    I have pics from 2001 of small nails spread across the entrance to the Burnside bridge……

    While it is no good, it is not new, it is not controllable, and the City sadly does not have the resources to clean them up.

    Illegitimus Non-Carborundum.

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  • Robert Dobbs September 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Caltrops in the car lane. Let’s all get out and walk!

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    • q`Tzal September 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      I like chlorine based toilet tablets in the gas tank.

      If any dissolves and gets in to the fuel system it will cause high speed rust rot of the fuel-air path, the exhaust and realistically the entire engine block as oil, fuel and chlorine leak past the piston rings and circulate through the whole system.

      I’m saving up that stunt for use during some ridiculous Red Dawn-esque scenario which is hopefully as likely as zombie apocalypse.

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  • Dabby September 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Once again, people getting roiled up over an old occurrence.

    Tacks, nails, etc. thrown into bike lanes is nothing new in this town. Has happened for 20+years in different sections of town.
    I have pics from 2001 of small nails spread across the entrance to the Burnside bridge……

    While it is no good, it is not new, it is not controllable, and the City sadly does not have the resources to clean them up.

    Illegitimus Non-Carborundum.

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  • Jenny September 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I was at-tacked last Thursday morning somewhere around Williams and Tillamook… thankfully I haven’t seen/hit any in the roadway since.

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  • AliceC September 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Thought mine was an isolated incident. Front tire was tacked Tuesday am. 🙁

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    • q`Tzal September 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm

      At which point we hope the juveniles responsible are not smart enough to switch to brass tacks or some other non-ferrous material.

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  • Frannie September 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I am not a bicyclist (would be afraid to be), but many of my co-workers are, and after hearing the ‘tack’ story on the news last night, I emailed them, with a link to your article, as they use both Vancouver and Wm’s to commute. Altho I think spreading the tacks behavior is deplorable, some of the comments on here, re: retaliation, sound just as immature. Isn’t this part of the problem, arrogance on both sides, with a dose of stupidity and criminal behavior added on the part of the people dropping/spreading the tacks? These streets go thru areas that are often not safe, so even without the extra added hazard of tacks, bicyclists may be at some risk.

    On another note, one thing that I would like to see is ALL bicyclists wearing reflective clothing, with adequate lights on their bikes (front, back and sides). Riding dressed in dark colors, with one small light on the front of the bike, is really not enough to guarantee safety. I’ve also seen several bicyclists cruising without helmets, another risky behavior. As a driver, I try to be mega careful watching out for them, and it can be stressful, especially now that the days are getting shorter. There is nothing scarier than having a black, lightless form whoosh in front of one’s car, and I’ve had that happen several times around town.

    I’d like to see bike lanes that are wide enough to assure safety, with some sort of barrier separating them from the driving lanes. To me, that would make it easier on everyone.

    There is no reason intelligent people can’t co-exist; the problem is usually the lack of intelligence, consideration and common sense!

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    • Paul Johnson September 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm

      Sometimes, it’s necessary to leave the bicycle lane. Left turns, passing slower cyclists, and avoiding obstructions left in the lane are good examples, so hard barriers aren’t good. I’m in favor of rumble strips with gaps (similar to how Kansas buffers bike lanes on highways) and a buffered bike lane on Wms and Van; they get enough traffic to warrant it.

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    • Joe C September 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

      Most comments here are of the “let’s sweep it up ourselves!” or “let’s use magnets” variety. Anyone suggesting “retaliation” is I’m sure joking.

      As for the Vanc-Williams area being “not safe,” I am a resident of Boise-Eliot and completely disagree. It’s a lovely neighborhood and I’ve never felt my safety was at risk. If you lived in the area, perhaps you’d agree.

      Re: your advice to “ALL bicyclists,” the readers of bikeportland are just one sliver of the overall population who bike, many of whom your comments probably don’t apply to. Contrary to what many seem to think, the “bicyclist” community is not monolithic, and no group of people who bike have any real sway over the actions/decisions of others. It isn’t that your advice isn’t appreciated, but it’d perhaps be better directed at City or state officials (particularly if you want to see all people who bike wear helmets–it’s perfectly legal to go without!).

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  • Steady Eddie September 22, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Here’s a better solution. Someone rig up one of those powerful magnets that weigh a few ounces and devise a way to attach it to the front forks of the bike and then have the magnet placed directly in front of the front wheel close to the ground. Voila! A tack remover bike. A few people doing this could help make it safer for all.
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    This IS a great idea..the best magnets to use are those in/from an old Hard Drive..the only downside is if the perp springs enough money to buy non-magnetic brass tacks..

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  • redhippie September 22, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I think I figured it out. The carpet tacks are either an effort to get more tire repair buisness into the two local cycle repair shops on Williams, or as part of an advertising campaign for the sandwich shop on Vancouver called “the brass tacks”. :-}

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  • Peder Horner September 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Easy solution – tubular tyres with Stan’s or Caffelatex sealant. Ride the Dugasts Portlanders!

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  • Amy September 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Add one more victim to the list. My partner and I commute the Will-Couver corridor daily, and he removed a carpet tack from his tire yesterday just like the ones pictured. It likely happened last week but took awhile to embed itself.

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  • efairlay October 21, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Jonathan, I wonder if you ever heard from the police the # of victims reported.

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  • Genevieve November 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    This happened to me LAST WEEK on N. Williams! The cyclist in front of me got a flat right at the same time I did. We both managed to get off the bike lane without getting injured but I am concerned for the safety of cyclists on this popular bike commute lane. When I called the Non-Emergency Police Line, I was transfered around to about 6 different departments before getting sent over to the street cleaning department where they said there was not much they could do. I don’t know what to do from here, but this is an issue that worrys me about my safety and the safety of other cyclists in Portland 🙁

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  • Mark September 13, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    For motorcycles we have bib mousse. Essentially hard foam inserts. Curious if that exists for bikes.

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    • Psyfalcon September 13, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      Nothing designed to keep the tire functional once punctured like that.

      There are a number of strategies and products to prevent a tack getting through, plus tire slime. Those bib mousses are fairly heavy for pedal power, and are apparently only 13psi equivalent. You’d need more pressure equivalent for bike size tires (<2 inches wide instead of ~6 inches).

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      • Alan 1.0 September 13, 2015 at 10:17 pm

        There are similar things for bicycles, for example Bell NoMorFlat or, and others. They are heavy and don’t roll as easily as pneumatic tires, but they exist for those that want or need them.

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