Riders report dozens of nails on Williams Ave bike lane (again)

Posted by on February 14th, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Nails found on Williams Ave
last night by reader Josh H.

Several dozen roofing nails were strewn in the bike lane on North Williams Avenue last night. We’ve gotten three reports from readers so far and have confirmed three separate locations where nails were found. The development is troubling because this isn’t the first time we’ve covered nails in the bike lanes on Williams (and its couplet, Vancouver).

Last night, a reader named Xan H. wrote in to say she was riding north on Williams just before Skidmore (near Dalo’s restaurant) on her way home from work when she “cycled across a perfectly placed patch of variously sized nails.” Xan got a flat, so she looped back to find what caused it and ended up picking up about 22 nails.

I also received a phone call today from a man named James C., who says he also rode over “a bunch of roofing nails in the bike lane” just south of Tillamook. “It looked decidedly non-accidental,” said James,”It was in the darkest part, just in bike lane, not in the street.”

A reader named Josh H. also reported finding several dozen nails at N. Thompson and Williams.

When this happened last year, I got in touch with a contact at the Police Bureau. They got in touch with the commander of North Precinct and neighborhood officers with the hopes of spreading word to residents. If you experience nails that you feel have been intentionally placed in the bike lane, the PPB suggests you file a report of “Vandalism” (for lack of a more descriptive crime) using their online reporting system.

Back in September, we heard heard of over twenty different people whose tires were flatted by roofing nails/tacks. The incidents began on Vancouver Ave and then moved over to Williams a few days later. At one point, a frustrated citizen stepped up to offer a $500 reward for information leading to a suspect. The incidents made the evening TV news.

We hadn’t heard many other reports since then. But last night’s incident makes it clear that, either a lot of nails just happen to fall off trucks in this area, or the person who’s doing it isn’t done sending their message that bikes aren’t welcome.

UPDATE, 2/15 at 9:02 am: I asked PPB bike liaison officer Ty Engstrom about this situation last night. He said there really isn’t much they (or anyone) can do without evidence/leads to go on. As far as a crime, he said depending on the property damage amount, someone (if caught of course) could be charged with Criminal Mischief. He said Disorderly Conduct might also fit. But in the end, without solid evidence or leads on a suspect, this will likely just be a frustrating situation we’re all but powerless to stop.

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q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

<obligatory demagogic bloodthirsty comment calling for violent acts>.

Ok, now everyone calm down and plot our revenge calmly, rationally and within the law. That way it sticks.

Chris Daniel
Guest

Hey, this isn’t the angry mob I came here for!

Stretchy
Guest
Stretchy

Rabble Rabble Rabble Rabble!!!!

BURR
Guest
BURR

the easy thing to do here would be to just move the nails over to the motor vehicle lanes

😉

NW Biker
Guest
NW Biker

And be just as bad as they are? Don’t think so.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

that’s what I do with construction signs blocking the bike lane…

sorebore
Guest
sorebore

no, no, that’s where I like to ride!

Lindsay
Guest
Lindsay

I removed two nails from the Williams bike lane just north of Tillamook about ten minutes ago. I kept an eye out but didn’t see any more until I turned off at Skidmore.

Rick
Guest
Rick

At about 10:30am there were/are the same nails on Williams at Case Forensics. Some in the bike lane but most in the parking area there at the street sign for Williams and Blandena. I removed the ones from the bike lane but didn’t have time to pick up the ones in the parking lane. And just before coming to the light at Alberta I saw one more stray nail in the bike lane.

Rick
Guest
Rick

Should have included a link to Google Maps. Here ya go. The nails were approximately between where the two vehicles are in the picture.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=blandena+and+williams,+portland,+or&hl=en&ll=45.556635,-122.666066&spn=0.003118,0.006899&sll=45.557084,-122.666713&layer=c&cbp=13,98.72,,0,12.65&cbll=45.557088,-122.666754&hnear=N+Williams+Ave+%26+N+Blandena+St,+Portland,+Multnomah,+Oregon+97217&t=m&z=17&panoid=w982PA2NNFSkp932uEBGMA

John Lascurettes
Guest

I alternate between taking Williams to Going (when I’m tired or lazy) and NE Knott & Regents (when I want a nice workout). Somehow, I (fortunately) keep missing this anti-lottery of someone else’s bad will.

This really stinks. Such a chicken-shi†, passive-aggressive maneuver. If I lived on the Williams, I’d set up a webcam to see what I could catch. Alas, I do not.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Keep Portland passive-aggressive.

Tourbiker
Guest
Tourbiker

Take the lane…the whole freaking street..if confronted…refer them to the hazard clauses of the Veh code.

Alain
Guest
Alain

Hey John, I think this qualifies as “aggressive” since they are tacks, no? I catch your drift though.

: )

Alain
Guest
Alain

Actually, they are nails, so doubly aggressive.

Joe
Guest
Joe

car people do the dumbest stuff.

sw resident
Guest
sw resident

car and bike people do the dumbest stuff. FTFY. See burr at 5:17.

mark kenseth
Guest
mark kenseth

I wonder what the police would do if the same thing was happening to cars? Would they respond with educating the public or surveillance, or ?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Only one way to find out for sure.

spokesy
Guest
spokesy

So apparently this kind of vandalism is OK? It’s effected over two dozen people now at least from what is being reported. What if this were people driving cars? Over two dozen cars were getting flats? Would the city respond quicker? Should we start stringing out caltrops in the middle of the night? (I don’t condone this)

I commute from North PDX to SE every day for work, and while I take Vancouver southbound, I have started taking Interstate north a couple months ago just to avoid all that mess. So far so good on not getting a tack-flat. Now I feel I’m pushing my luck.

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

With all the technology out there when will someone come up with a truly LIGHTWEIGHT puncture PROOF HIGH PRESSURE tire?

Joseph E
Guest

If you want a tire that will not be punctured by sharp roofing nails, it isn’t going to be lightweight or flexible. It would need to be about as thick as a motorcycle tire.

Matt
Guest
Matt

I’ve ridden Bontrager Hardcase tires on my fixie for over 3 years now with zero flats. They’re cut up for sure but still ride OK. I’ve pulled glass and metal out of them but no nails. I run up to 120psi and, yes, they’re heavier and stiffer and a bear to get on the rim but I swear by them.

Editz
Guest
Editz

Check out the offerings from Schwalbe. Awesome tires.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Great, its terrorism! I heard there’s this great resort by the bay in Cuba the prez keeps open for these guys.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

“Vandalism”? No. This is no less terrorism than torching hummers in a parking lot, and those guys were charged with terrorism.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

That charge was highly criticized and debated. I would say it is the extreme minimum activity that could be potentially charged that way. This is less, as it doesn’t involve total property destruction. The risk of injury is much higher, though.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

I suspect the average Afghani who has experienced car bombings will not agree with you.

You may want to tone down your sense of persecution.

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

Idea: Stop taking the bike lane. They’re one way streets, take the left lane.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

the law says that if there’s a bike lane you have to take it, even on a 1-way… if there was no bike lane you could take the left lane…

Schrauf
Guest
Schrauf

Unless you are turning left eventually.

But regardless, legally take any damn lane you please (on this street) as long as the bike lane is a safety hazzard due to frequent nails. Hmm, wonder if the perpetrator thought this through…

Scott
Guest
Scott

Unless you prove the bike lane unsafe. I successfully beat that ticket on SW Broadway citing the string of hotels and valets.

Joe
Guest
Joe

sw resident
car and bike people do the dumbest stuff. FTFY. See burr at 5:17.
Recommended 0

boo hoo!

Doug Smart
Guest
Doug Smart

From various comments – What would happen if this were in the car lane? Not much, I’m guessing. My wife drives for her job and over a period of several months we had a series of nails in left front tires. No way to tell if they came from one spot in her travels or were random.
A nail in a car tire tends to embed and the rubber is thick enough to hold it in place and seal around it. The tire will generally hold pressure – it was probably days before I spotted the nails and then it was only because they were visible as the car was parked, not because of any flats. It’s an expensive fix – the flexing of a radial automobile tire limits the areas that can be patched so often its a replacement.

Kudos to the riders who took the time to stop and clean up what they found.

Zaphod
Guest

This message is directed to the person depositing the nails.

Hey, I can guess why you might be angry but it’s probably either a specific incident or an issue with the design of this now overloaded route, or maybe it runs deeper and I don’t understand. In any case, you are hurting innocent people. Getting a flat might seem trivial to you but most times cyclists, just as anyone else traveling, is trying to get to or from work, trying to pick up kids on time, trying to get kids somewhere. To intentionally throw a wrench into the workings of someone’s life is a pretty sh**y thing to do. You introduce financial hardship, physical discomfort, frustration. You introduce real risk to their safety.

This might please you and if it does, well I wonder how well you sleep at night. But know that your cowardly act against those who don’t deserve it will not somehow cause cyclists to vanish from the street. We all still need to get to where we are going. The only thing you might accomplish is to move us from the bike lane to the adjacent one which I would prefer anyway.

There are productive ways to voice whatever you are attempting to say.

matt picio
Guest

If this were in the other traffic lanes, the police response would be the same. At car speeds, the nails likely wouldn’t even be visible before it was too late to avoid them. Without an eyewitness, there’s nothing the police can do other than stake out the area in question – which they won’t do because it’s just not an important enough crime. Portland Police Bureau has limited resources. They have enough officers and detectives to handle major traffic issues, crimes in progress, domestic disputes and to investigate “top tier” crimes (Rape, murder) and firearm-related issues – that’s it. Robberies generally aren’t investigated. Neither are any crime which does not involve personal injury and causes monetary damages less than $1,000. I’ve even heard (secondhand from a county deputy, so take it with a grain of salt) that PPB does not respond to shoplifting calls if the amount shoplifted is less than $50.

The best strategy here is to be watchful and attentive – perhaps someone will see who’s doing this. And local cyclists could always try staking out the area themselves (legally, and call the police to confront the offender – don’t take the law into your own hands). Otherwise, we have to just deal with it, because these incidents don’t reach the level that triggers police response.

Or we could march on City Hall – the squeaky wheel eventually gets the grease.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

when I was still a driver I had a road-rager throwing things at me on the freeway and running me off the road… I called 911 and they wouldn’t respond because I wasn’t hurt yet… they asked if my vehicle was damaged but I couldn’t tell because I was inside driving and everything was being thrown at it from the outside…

the police really couldn’t care less… you have to already be hurt or somebody has to be pointing a gun at you…

matt picio
Guest

Exactly my point, although it’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they have to prioritize, and if your crime doesn’t make the cut, there’s not a lot you can do. (I’ll acknowledge some officers probably DON’T care – the percentage of “jerks” in the world seems pretty consistent across any given population – but they’re the minority. Most officers are decent folk, but it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the reputation of all of them)

John Lascurettes
Guest

Is there a number to call to get priority or “urgent need” street sweeping done?

Caleb
Guest
Caleb

I just noticed in Bike Farm yesterday that there’s a piece of paper on the bulletin board right by the door with a number to call if bike lane sweeping needs done. I didn’t look for a date on it or anything, though, so for all I know it’s outdated.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Doug Smart
From various comments – What would happen if this were in the car lane? Not much, I’m guessing. My wife drives for her job and over a period of several months we had a series of nails in left front tires. No way to tell if they came from one spot in her travels or were random.
A nail in a car tire tends to embed and the rubber is thick enough to hold it in place and seal around it. The tire will generally hold pressure – it was probably days before I spotted the nails and then it was only because they were visible as the car was parked, not because of any flats. It’s an expensive fix – the flexing of a radial automobile tire limits the areas that can be patched so often its a replacement.
Kudos to the riders who took the time to stop and clean up what they found.
Recommended 5

what its all about help each rider stay safe out there.

basketlover
Guest
basketlover

Security cam footage from a business or home owners/renters?

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

This type of behavior means we are not being nice enough to motorists. If more cyclists behaved as bike ambassadors I am sure motorists would be happy to have their economically important trips delayed by us “joyriding” cyclists.

sorebore
Guest
sorebore

Oh, PLEASE! do you really believe that? I don’t wanna come of as a chump, but that logic is full of holes. sorry.

John Lascurettes
Guest

I believe that was full of purposeful irony as evidenced by “I am sure motorists would be happy to have their economically important trips delayed …”

Matt
Guest
Matt

Sarcasm.

Joe
Guest
Joe

motorists happy? oh here we go.

Doug Smart
Guest
Doug Smart

From my perspective of the relative levels of bliss while pedaling and driving, I think being a motorist is an inherently unhappy state at the best of times. :^)

Jolly Dodger
Guest

OK, vandalism is a fine charge, if the culprit is caught…soon. But what happens (Karma forbid) if someone catches a blowout and goes down, hard? Will it take more than one coma bound cyclist to get the PoPo to care more? Vandalism is a property crime, sabatoge intended to cause pain and injury is another story altogether….you don’t have to intend to murder to be charged with wrongful death or manslaughter. If it is a by-product of a lesser crime, say shooting a store clerk and killing him/her durning a robbery, the charge of murder will stick. Using a weapon (nails) instead of just pushing me off my bike; (like a saboteur with balls); should be considered on par. Hopefully an extreme outcome won’t occur and we won’t have to bury a missed loved one due to inaction or disregard by the authorities…if it was the police department captain’s son/daughter having an accident due to this type of ‘vandalism’, there’d be fingerprint anylists working each and every freakin’ nail.

Caleb
Guest
Caleb

Can you be certain the captain treats his son/daughter’s safety any differently than the safety of anyone else?

Liz
Guest
Liz

Hi!

Was there ever any outcome from this being reported? I know there were a lot of flat tires, but did anyone find out any leads on who the culprit is?

Thanks,

Liz